Origins of the elements

In a January 2, 2017 column, Aileen O’Donoghue wrote of the detection of the kilonova by both gravitational and electromagnetic waves in August of 2017. The detections, themselves, were remarkable and ushered in the completely new era of Multi Messenger Astronomy. But the data from the event also gave evidence confirming the origins of very heavy elements such as gold and platinum. Read more.

Why one second is one second

Just what is a second, exactly? The question has been open to interpretation ever since the first long-case grandfather clocks began marking off seconds in the mid-17th century and introduced the concept to the world at large.

The answer, simply, is that a second is 1/60th of a minute, or 1/3600th of an hour. But that’s just pushing the question down the road a bit. After all, what’s an hour? Read more.

Salmon is on the menu for Lake Clark’s wolves

University collaboration shows what and when wolves eat

Deep within Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, staff at a remote ranger station on the north shore of Telaquana Lake noted something amiss. Wolves, a mighty apex predator of the park, were seen scraping fish carcasses from the ice.

Though odd, the observation made sense. Wolves are opportunists and Lake Clark, situated at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, is flush with fish. Likewise, salmon make a relatively safe dinner. While moose fight back and can break a wolf’s legs, salmon simply flop or freeze.

Still, as one of the park’s top predators, wolves affect the balance of everything in the ecosystem. Seeing a wolf scrounging for salmon in an ice block raised a few eyebrows about the ecological balance of the park. Read more.

New study suggests coastal and deep ocean sharks have different feeding patterns

UK, UMass Amherst ecology researchers use isotopes to track feeding habits

An international team of researchers studying globally declining shark populations report that they used carbon isotopes as biochemical markers in shark muscle tissue to identify where in the oceans the mobile predators have been feeding, in the hope that such analyses provide a useful tool for conservation. Read more.

Skimping on sleep makes for more Aß in the brain

Mounting evidence suggests that the concentration of Aß rises in people’s cerebrospinal fluid if they don’t sleep enough. However, scientists are unsure why that is. Do people make more of the peptide, or do they degrade less of it? A pilot study led by Brendan Lucey and Randall Bateman at the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, now implies that enhanced production is to blame. Read more.