cubbi (cubbi) wrote,

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December 2011 in science: from buttercups lighting up your chin to emu bits

I know I'm slow, new job and all, but still, let's see what kind of news marked the end of 2011

Hummingbirds generate lift on upstroke (not just downstroke), as suggested back in 1939 but never proven until december.

We *just* discovered that elephants have six toes. The sixth toe was dismissed 300 years ago as weird cartilage, but it is real, supports weight, has joints, and is built the same way as the panda's thumb.

The 2009 paper linking the XRMV virus to cronic fatigue syndrome was fully retracted.

In a rare math article in Science, new correlation analysis was developed, which is awesome at finding bizarre but true trivia that applies to a hundred cases out of ten million.

The old Voyager spacecrafts are still discovering new stuff, or, in this case, experimentally proving an old hypothesis about star-forming regions.

There's a dense gas cloud three times the mass of the Earth that's rapidly moving straight into the otherwise quiet Saggitarus A* supermassive black hole, it's expected to hit it in 2013

Also in astronomy, have you heard about the bar at the center of our galaxy?

In other news, The U.S. Presidents don't age faster than other humans.

Rats free each other from cages.

Pigeons can count as well as primates.

And something I never knew about, buttercups light up human chins and there's some interesting physics behind that effect.

Also, the long-standing question of how do ostriches achieve erection was finally solved: it's a lymphatic burst, like in ducks, and nothing like the reptilian and mammalian blood-based setup. If you want pics, Nature News has a close-up.
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