Month in STEM: October 2014

October is heading to close, and we’ve got you covered with the latest in STEM news for the month. We’re keeping things a little creepy to celebrate Halloween. From ghostly stars to creepy critters that help solve crimes, here are some of our top picks.

The Animal Kingdom IconAnimal Kingdom

A new report recently came to light about the rapid evolution of a lizard species native to Florida in response to pressure from an invading Cuban species. Scientists have observed and documented this lizard species evolve in the relatively short span of 15 years and 20 generations.

After initial contact with the invasive species, native lizards, called Carolina anoles, began perching higher in trees. From one generation to another, their feet evolved to become better at gripping the thinner, smoother branches found in the higher parts of the trees. Now, their toe pads are larger and there are more sticky scales on their feet.

Researchers believe that the changes are a response to competition for food and living space. It’s also noted that both lizard species have been documented to eat the hatchlings of the other species. Thus, the ability to scale trees at a quicker pace may be the difference between getting to safety and becoming a meal. Read more here.

Under the Sea IconUnder the Sea

New science suggests that if you’re a leatherback sea turtle, staying on the plump size may make it easier to get around the ocean. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Florida Atlantic University (FAU), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have found that long and lean sea turtles are not as efficient swimmers as the ones that are more robust in size. To come to these conclusions, scientists measured the forces that act on a swimming animal and the energy that is expended by the animal to move through the water. After using their measurements and recreating an environment with virtual sea turtles and experimenting with different parameters, they found that rounder sea turtles are able to cover more ground while using up the same amount of energy as their skinnier counterparts. Read more here.

Forensics

We’re getting into the spirit of Halloween with this creepy video. Dead or alive, a body plays host to all sorts of organisms. There are innumerable types of flora that are naturally found on a person’s skin, as well as inside stomachs, noses, mouths and other body parts. But when a dead body begins to decompose, it also becomes a breeding ground for certain types of bugs that act as decomposers to return the body’s nutrients back to the earth. Knowledge of the life cycles of these bugs can help forensic scientists during crime scene investigation. Watch more here.

Medical Innovations IconMedical Innovations

Miniature human stomachs can now be grown in Petri dishes. By bathing stem cells in a concoction of chemicals that boost growth, scientists have managed to create clumps of gastric tissue the size of a pin head. Like normal human stomachs, the lab-grown stomach globs contain cells that are able to make mucus and pump hormones. Scientists are hoping to use the tissue to further study gastric diseases, such as stomach cancer. Read more here.

Robotics IconSpace

NASA’s Hubble Telescope has picked up the faint glow of stars that were ejected from ancient galaxies that were gravitationally wrenched apart several billion years ago. The “ghost lights” from the dead galaxies are no longer bound to any one galaxy. Instead, the stars drift freely between the nearly 500 galaxies in the cluster known as “Pandora’s Cluster”. By observing the light from the stray stars, scientists have gathered enough evidence to believe that as many as six galaxies were torn apart over the course of 6 billion years. Read more here.

Video Games IconTechnology

A team of scientists and engineers at the University of California recently created a new nanoparticle-based material that has the capacity to convert absorb and convert to heat more than 90% of the sunlight that it captures. It is also able to withstand temperatures of more than 700 degrees Celsius, and has the ability to withstand many years of outdoor exposure to air and humidity. In comparison, current solar absorbers have significantly shorter life spans, and are unable to function at higher temperatures. The type of energy that the material is harvesting is called concentrated solar power (CSP). The sun is still an emerging source of power, but it has a great deal of potential within the alternative energy market. CSP currently produces approximately 3.5 gigawatts worth of power at power plants around the globe, or the equivalent to the energy needed to power more than 2 million homes. Read more here.

Okay STEM lovers, what stories did you enjoy? What stories did we miss this month? We want to hear your thoughts!

This Month in STEM: September 2014

September is wrapping up, and we’ve got your monthly STEM news! Here are some of our favorite stories.

The Animal Kingdom IconAnimal Kingdom

Researchers have discovered a brand new species of poison dart frog in Donoso, Panama. At 12.7 millimeters in length, the freshly dubbed Andinobates geminisae is tiny enough to fit on a fingernail and is distinguishable by its unique call and smooth, bright orange-colored skin. Scientists believe that habitat loss is a significant issue of concern for these newly found frogs, as it appears to only be found in scarce regions of the Panama rain forest. To guarantee the survival of their species, the creation of special conservation plans have been recommended. Read more here.

Under the Sea IconUnder the Sea

Several groups of fish in Antarctica have developed the ability to manufacture their own “antifreeze” proteins in their blood that help them survive in the icy Southern Ocean. Unfortunately, it appears that this evolutionary survival tactic has created some undesirable consequences. Researchers have discovered that the same temperature regulation proteins are helping internal ice crystals that accumulate inside the fish resist melting, even when the temperatures warm. Read more here.

Extreme Weather IconExtreme Weather

At least 36 people have been killed following the unanticipated eruption of Mount Ontake, Japan’s second largest active volcano. The eruption is believed to have stemmed from a kind of steam-driven explosion that scientists say are especially difficult to predict. Ontake had a minor eruption in 2007, but it’s first major recorded eruption was in 1979. Japan is considered by seismologists to be a hotbed of seismic activity. Read more here.

Medical Innovations IconMedical Innovations

Each year, over 2.5 million children die worldwide because they do not receive life-saving vaccinations. To combat this global issue, researchers at Michigan State University are currently developing a fingerprint-based recognition system that has the potential to save babies’ lives through vaccination tracking. Vaccinations are normally tracked by paper documentation. However, keeping track of babies’ vaccinations on paper is highly ineffective in developing countries because they are easily lost or destroyed. Researchers are hoping that, over time, the new electronic registry systems will fix the issues of lacking and lost patient information in third world countries. Read more here.

Robotics IconSpace

Water is crucial for sustaining biological life. Consequently, scientists believe that finding the original source of Earth’s water is crucial for understanding how life-fostering environments are created, as well as estimating the likelihood of finding other environments that have the potential to hold life. Scientists at the Carnegie Institution now believe that the water found on Earth is older than the Sun, and originated in interstellar space. Read more here.

Video Games IconTechnology

Harry Potter fans likely dream of owning an Invisibility Cloak. They may be excited to learn, then, that researchers at the University of Rochester, in New York, have discovered innovative new ways to use complex lenses to hide objects from view, in a process called cloaking. The so-called “Rochester Cloak” is realistically not cloak-like at all. Nonetheless, the cloaking device has been able to successfully make a hand, face, and a ruler disappear from view. Earlier versions of cloaking devices have been complicated and financially unfeasible. This new device breaks the mold, costing researchers little more than $1,000 in materials. The implications for these types of devices are broad, and researchers believe that they can be applied everywhere, from health care to the military. Read more here.

Okay STEM lovers, what stories did you enjoy? What stories did we miss this month? We want to hear your thoughts!

This Month in STEM: August 2014

Summer wrapped up with a plethora of exciting STEM news. Here are some of our favorite headlines for the month of August.

The Animal Kingdom IconAnimal Kingdom

According to a new study, we have more in common with spiders than we may like to think. Researchers have discovered that some spider species are capable of forming friendships and developing personalities. The study focuses on the idea that within social groups, individuals feel the need to stand out from each other, a theory known as social niche specialization. In this case, relationships between spiders were tested by creating colonies of spiders and testing the spiders’ responses to environmental stress or stimulus. The spiders were then classified as having either a “bold” or a “shy” personality based on their responses. Read more here.

Under the Sea IconUnder the Sea

Whether you’re soaking up some last minute summer rays on the beach or splashing around in the shallow end of the ocean, chances are that you don’t want to take a bathroom break when you’re having so much fun. Nature calls though, so what do you do? Well, according to the American Chemical Society, why bother walking all the way to the bathroom stall when peeing in the ocean is A-okay! In case you needed any more convincing, the American Chemical Society has also taken the liberty of creating a video to assure everyone that tinkling a bit in the ocean is completely backed by science. Watch it here.

Extreme Weather IconExtreme Weather

The number of man-made earthquakes in recent history is on the rise. From 1978-2008, Oklahoma averaged only 2 earthquakes over a magnitude 3.0 per year. Now midway through 2014, Oklahoma has surpassed California’s record, with 230 earthquakes registered at a magnitude 3.0 or higher. So who is at fault? Scientists are dividing the blame between global warming and fracking disposal methods that inject waste water from the fracking process into the ground to avoid contaminating water sources. Read more here.

Medical Innovations IconMedical Innovations/Robotics

Xenon gas is already used in the medical field as an anesthetic, but a new study believes that xenon gas holds the key to treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at the root of the problem. The study found that xenon disrupts the process in which memories, and fear or trauma associated with those memories, are processed and re-encoded. Scientists believe the xenon gas works by interfering with specific receptors in the brain that are involved with the memory re-consolidation process. Read more here.

Robotics IconSpace

A number of international astronomers have compiled a video of two entire galaxies colliding with each other. Since the light from the collision would have taken a significant amount of time before it became visible on Earth, scientists believe the actual collision occurred when the Universe was half of its current age. Watch the video here.

Video Games IconTechnology

We live in a world saturated by smart phones, smart cars and smart houses. The next natural step would be a smart motorcycle helmet. The Skully AR-1 is a new gadget that intends to protect motorcyclists from all angles by putting a real-time video of their surroundings in a transparent screen directly in their line of vision. The helmet also comes equipped with GPS navigation, traffic conditions and weather updates. Read more here.

Wind Energy IconWind Energy

As the overall cost of mass producing wind turbines decreases, the total cost of wind energy is also dropping to record lows in the United States. This is great news for those in search of sustainable sources of energy to combat the environmental impact of fossil fuel consumption. Despite a growing market in the United States for wind energy, other countries are still at the forefront of converting and committing to sustainability. Nationally, wind energy only constitutes 4 percent of America’s electricity production. This is in comparison to the 35 percent of total electricity that is garnered by Denmark through wind farms. Read more here.

Okay STEM lovers, what stories did you enjoy? What stories did we miss this month? We want to hear your thoughts!

July 2014 Recap: Exciting STEM News

July has been filled with exciting headlines for STEM subjects. Here’s a summary of some of our favorite stories for the month.

The Animal Kingdom IconAnimal Kingdom/Under the Sea

Scientists from York University have found a new solution to combat a certain species of toxic grass fungus: moose and reindeer saliva! As plants evolve defense mechanisms like thorns or poisonous berries, scientists wondered how moose were able to eat grass that harbored toxic fungus in such large quantities without showing symptoms of illness. The team of scientists collected samples of moose and reindeer saliva and smeared them onto samples of grass that carried toxic fungus. Results showed that the saliva inhibits fungal growth within 12-36 hours. Read article.

Extreme Weather IconExtreme Weather

The heavy drought in California means trouble for locals, who have resorted to extreme measures, like punishing those who water their lawns to often, in an effort to conserve water. The effect of the extreme drought affects more than Californians, though. Those of us who enjoy avocados, almonds, walnuts or any of the other 250 plus agricultural commodities produced in California will be seeing a steep increase in prices as the drought continues to impact agriculture. Watch video.

Medical Innovations IconMedical Innovations/Robotics

3D printing is having a huge moment in STEM as scientists find a multitude of ways for their application. An 12-year-old boy who lost both his arms during a bomb explosion in Sudan is benefitting from this new technology as a 3D printer recently created a new robotic arm that allows him to regain some of his mobility.  Read article.

Robotics IconSpace

New reports show that an exploding asteroid that injured more than 1,000 people with flying glass and debris in Chelyabinsk, Russia last year collided with another asteroid about 290 million years ago before the asteroid chunk headed towards Earth. Scientist believe that the asteroids struck each other at a speed of 3,000 mph. Blasts from the asteroid destroyed buildings as it exploded with a force nearly 30 times as powerful as the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima. Read article.

Video Games IconTechnology

No matter where you turn, you can’t get away from technology. This is now literally the case, as a new Indian company has created a shoe equipped with an app and Google maps to help guide the wearer to the right place. The shoe and insole is connected to a smartphone via Bluetooth, and it vibrates to let you know if when should turn left or right. Read article.

Wind Energy IconWind Energy

Powerful winds are nothing new for the residents in “Tornado Alley”, the colloquial term for the area in the U.S. where tornadoes hit hard and often. For those looking to harness wind energy, those strong winds may have an upside,  particularly as wind turbines continue to pop up as a source of generating renewable energy. Read article.

So there, various STEM subject lovers. We’ve got you covered!

Last month’s exciting STEM news – June, 2014

This month has been an exciting one for STEM subjects across the board. Here’s a recap of
some of our favorite stories that made headlines in June.

The Animal Kingdom IconAnimal Kingdom/Under the Sea

Did you know that over 1,200 species have evolved with the ability to walk on water? It’s physics,
not a feat of magic or miracle, that makes this possible. This list compiled by National
Geographic ranges from tiny insects to lizards, and everything in between. All of these animals
rely on surface tension, the force created when water molecules cling to each other, to rest on
the water’s surface. Read article.

Extreme Weather IconExtreme Weather

New research has revealed that tsunami earthquakes may be caused by extinct undersea
volcanoes that create “sticking points” between separate tectonic plates. The undersea
volcanoes hinder the smooth sliding of the plates, which causes a large amount of pressure and
energy to build up. When the energy is released, the plates “unstick” and cause large
movements of the sea floor, which results in the formation of massive tsunami waves. The study
may lead to improved detection measures for tsunami earthquakes and their resulting tsunamis. Read article.

Medical Innovations IconMedical Innovations/Robotics

For those of us who suffer from vision loss, this month in medical innovation brings a story that
can provide some hope or comfort for the future of ophthalmology. A bionic eye system called
the Argus II has given a man diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease that damages
the retina of the eye, his vision back. Read article.

Robotics IconSpace

NASA has discovered a new ocean underneath a layer of ice on Saturn’s sixth moon. At least the
size of Lake Superior, the discovery of this new body of water means that this particular moon
has the potential to be hospitable to life. Read article.

Video Games IconTechnology

It’s now possible to shoot high quality videos using technology like Google Glass, smart phones
or GoPros, but there are often superfluous sections of the videos that must be endured in
between the good parts. Luckily, Carnegie Mellon computer scientists have invented a new video
highlighting technique that can filter out the best parts of videos.  Read article.

Wind Energy IconWind Energy

Texas is known for it’s affinity for barbecue and cowboy boots, but the Lone Star State is making
waves this month for breaking the record for wind power production. Texas is the country’s
biggest producer of wind power, leading the nation with more than double of the next state,
California, in wind capacity. Read article.

So there, various STEM subject lovers. We’ve got you covered!

This month’s exciting STEM news – March, 2014

Many of our featured subjects collided in the headlines last month. Here is a recap of some of our favorite STEM stories that surfaced in March.

The Animal Kingdom IconAnimal Kingdom/Under the Sea

The Animal Kingdom and Under the Sea subjects are equally represented in this month’s first story. National Geographic recently reported the longest dive lengths and deepest dive depths of any mammal ever seen. A long-term study of Cuvier’s beaked whales recently revealed that these underwater mammals travel to unprecedented depths of almost 10,000 feet. This new information is particularly important in the continuing study of the effects of sonar activity on sealife. Read article.

Extreme Weather IconExtreme Weather

A report highlighting the impact that climate change is already having across the globe was released by the U.N. last month. From agriculture to human health, this report shows that all areas of the globe are being equally affected. Read article.

Medical Innovations IconMedical Innovations/Space

This month brought another mash-up headline from the fields of Medical Innovations and Space. While it’s no secret that space travel has certain repercussions for the human body, a new study actually revealed that the shape of human heart changes while in space. The heart, which is normally, well, heart-shaped, becomes more spherical by a factor of 9.4% when exposed to low or no gravity environments. Read article.

Robotics IconRobotics

Google has taken an interest in robots. A large interest. The fact that this tech giant has been buying up robotics companies has left some people asking, “Why robots?” That question is explored in this month’s robotics article. Read article.

Video Games IconVideo Games

MIT psychologists have uncovered that when trying to make physical sense of our world, our brains act much like…video games.  Read article.

Wind Energy IconWind Energy

There’s no doubt that the use of wind energy has been on the rise in America. To show the progress that we’ve made as a country, the federal government produced these interactive maps. They’re pretty cool and definitely worth checking out. Read article.

So there, various STEM subject lovers. We’ve got you covered!

Last month’s exciting STEM news – February, 2014

The news was buzzing from all ends of the STEM spectrum last month, so we thought we’d share some of our favorite highlights.

The Animal Kingdom IconAnimal Kingdom

The National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Bird Studies Canada spent some time crowd sourcing science last month during the Great Backyard Bird Count. This event, which takes place for a few days every February, allows casual bird enthusiasts to participate in scientific data collection by helping track wild bird populations. This year’s event yielded interesting information about snowy owls, robins, and doves, among others. Read article.

Extreme Weather IconExtreme Weather

There’s no doubt that the past few months have yielded some strange weather. From droughts in the west to snow and cold in the east, weather in the U.S. continues to disrupt the lives of many. Read article.

Medical Innovations IconMedical Innovations

February marked the 50th anniversary of American Heart Month. While the risk of heart issues is often attributed to adults, students from California to Alabama got in on the celebratory action by jumping rope for heart health. And in case you missed our heart-themed scavenger hunt, there’s still time to check it out! To the Scavenger Hunt!

Robotics IconRobotics

One person’s pest is another person’s inspiration. Harvard engineers have drawn inspiration from termites in order to develop a network of self-organizing robots. These little critters are self-regulating and cooperate by modifying their environment.  Read article.

Space IconSpace

Who says STEM has no sense of romance? Valentine’s Day sweethearts were treated to a full moon—called a “snow moon” due to its appearance in February. But while couples on earth could only dance in the moonlight, a host of spacecraft actually celebrated the romantic holiday by dancing with the moon. Read article.

Under the Sea IconUnder the Sea

Pop quiz: Who said that her view of the deep was like watching the Discovery Channel in real time? Deep-sea researcher and Cool Jobs alumna Shannon Johnson, of course. In February we caught up with Shannon to hear all about her recent tour of the South Pacific. Read article.

Video Games IconVideo Games

Get ready to dramatically bolster your supply of coasters. A February article from CNN Money reported that disc-based video games may be a dying breed as smartphone and tablet games take over the video game market.  Read article.

Wind Energy IconWind Energy

Wondering how renewable energy is faring in the overall market? A recent report from the Global Wind Energy Council recaps the findings from the previous year. Read article.

So there, various STEM subject lovers. We’ve got you covered!

Last month’s exciting STEM news – November, 2013

Here we go again folks… some cool STEMy things from the month of November:

The Animal Kingdom IconAnimal Kingdom

Humans aren’t the only ones affected by devastating natural disasters. Read about these animals that were rescued in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. Read article.

Extreme Weather IconExtreme Weather

Extreme weather found itself front and center in the news this month as Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan was one of the strongest storms ever recorded. In case you’re not up to speed about what happened, here’s a synopsis of the storm. Read article.

Medical Innovations IconMedical Innovations

Due to a shortage in physicians, one medical school in California is offering free medical school. Where was this deal when we were in college? Read article.

Robotics IconRobotics

If India Jones and the Bionic Woman had a turtle for a baby, this would be it. U-CAT is a robotic turtle that will help archaeologists investigate undersea shipwrecks…  Read article.

Space IconSpace

A meteorite that surfaced in the Sahara Desert is revealed to be a piece of ancient Mars. Thanks to this little piece of Martian crust, scientists are able to unlock secrets of the ancient planet. Read article.

Under the Sea IconUnder the Sea

A recent study published in the journal Nature Genetics reveals how whales evolved their deep and lengthy diving abilities and their baleen teeth replacements. This is way cool. Read article.

Video Games IconVideo Games

Did you know that your performance in first-person shooter games can predict career success in STEM fields? No, seriously. The American Psychologist has recently published an article summarizing a decade of video game research. While people are rushing to say that this article proves video games are good for you, the more realistic tagline might be “video games still have pros and cons”. Read article.

Wind Energy IconWind Energy

Are you constantly left wondering why “clean energy” hasn’t taken off? Well, this article brings up some interesting points about the complications of clean energy prospects. Read article.

So there, various STEM subject lovers. We’ve got you covered!