April 13, 2012

Science News Roundup

Nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas
A Burke Blog post on the highlights of recent natural history and cultural news:

Chemists at the University of California at Berkeley have found the chemical fingerprint of fertilizer in the increase of nitrous oxidea greenhouse gasin the atmosphere; the rise of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere can now be linked to increased fertilizer use.

A partial foot discovered in Ethiopia provides evidence of another human-like species that lived at the same time as Lucy, 3 million years ago in northern Africa. Unlike Lucy's foot, the new foot has an opposable big toe bone.

The "classic" magma chamber diagram
New research on volcanoes has turned up surprises about the location of magma chambers (which are often drawn as a little bubble under a volcano but in reality are very difficult to map) that could help predict large eruptions.

The building blocks of proteins, RNA and DNA, and cellular membranes probably emerged from our young solar system, according to scientists at NASA and the University of Chicago. Turns out, the secret to life is really just a natural consequence of particle dynamics in the initial stage of planet formation ;-) (I apologize for butchering that quote, Dr. Ciesla, but it was all light-hearted fun.)

A note about Science News Roundups: these short blurbs are based on press releases and, therefore, represent one perspective on a news item. If you're interested in a story, be sure to look for more news pieces that feature a variety of sources, including experts who were involved in the work as well as experts in the same field who weren't.

Posted By: Winifred Kehl, Communications