cubbi (cubbi) wrote,
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March 2012 in science: from enthalpy of forgetting to snail batteries

Just as everyone is talking about Higgs, here's another one of my hopelessly delayed news reviews...


Animals (snails in this article, but roaches and beetles were done too) with implanted biofuel cells produce electricity. They go about their life, but they have electrodes sticking out, which you can connect to and draw power.

Experiment proved that forgetting (destruction of information) carries a thermodynamic penalty, which puts Maxwell's demon back into its grave after it was brought to life by information-to-energy conversion experiments two years ago.

Heard enough of graphene? Enter graphyne, another 2D conductive allotrope of carbon, with triple bonds and "amazing" [sic] electronic properties..

Careful analysis of scattered light makes it possible to see, in 3D, around the corners.

The 2012 Abel Prize went to Endre Szemerédi, a professor at Rutgers, for many cool theorems deep at the base of graph theory, number theory, theoretical computer science, and the like. Too bad his optimal sorting network is impractical.

The accepted Moon formation theory gets questioned due to titanium isotope ratio, which is exactly like Earth's (theory says 40% of Moon's mass came from Theia which hit the infant Earth)

Neat way to store hydrogen for fuel needs: with the right catalyst, it can reversibly combine with CO2 to form formic acid.

Many carnivore animals lost their ability to taste sugars, independently. Also, sea lions and bottlenose dolphins can't taste umami (they don't need to taste the meat, they swallow food whole).

Since 1996, Tasmanian devils are suffering from transmissible face cancer that spreads through biting (and they *love* biting faces), which has now been sequenced and studied.

Embrionic diapause, the ability to postpone embrio growth after fertilization if the conditions aren't right, may be common to all mammals (rather than 2% as previously thought), including humans.

Proof-of-concept first-ever neutrino communication experiment was successfuly conducted. It took two hours to send the 8 characters of the word 'neutrino' through 210 meters of solid rock.

The atomic nucleus has a neutron skin, and the thickness of that skin was measured.

The palm trees of Australian outback, assumed to be remnants of the lush past, are invasive species, brought in by the humans 15-30k years ago.

Male fruit flies are more likely to choose to eat alcoholic food if they have been sexually rejected by females.

During famine, humans, like other animals, give birth to more girls than boys.

A single dose of LSD can prevent alcoholism

Marijuana-triggered memory lapses happen because it activates astroglial cells, which were previously thought to be supportive material only.

An autonomous robot was launched in the ocean to record fish farts.
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