Science Channel - InSCIder

28 Aug

WATCH: Scientists Raised 111 Fish To Walk On Land

Screen-Shot-2014-08-28-at-10.50.59-AMFish that can walk on land and breathe air exist, and they're providing important clues to how their ancient ancestors evolved from swimming in the sea to living on land.

In a study published in the journal Nature, researchers at McGill University studied Polypterus senegalus (the Senegal bichir or "dinosaur eel"), fish with "functional lungs and strong fins" that can pull themselves out of the water.

The scientists raised 111 juvenile bichir on land for eight months and monitored changes compared to a control group of fish remaining in water.

"Fish raised on land walk with a more effective gait," lead author Emily Standen told The Verge. "They plant their legs closer to the body’s midline, they lift their heads higher, and they slip less during that walking cycle."

Scientists found major differences between land-raised and aquatic-raised bichir, NBC News reports:

"They found that the land-raised fish lifted their heads higher, held their fins closer to their bodies, took faster steps, undulated their tails less frequently and had fins that slipped less often than bichir raised in water. The land-raised fish also underwent changes in their skeletons and musculature that probably paved the way for their changes in behavior. All in all, these alterations helped bichir move more effectively on land."

So, what does it all mean for the study of evolution?

"This is the first example we know of that demonstrates developmental plasticity may have facilitated a large-scale evolutionary transition," Hans Larsson of McGill University said in a statement, "by first accessing new anatomies and behaviours that could later be genetically fixed by natural selection."

For more, learn how another species of fish also evolved a unique method for getting a meal:

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26 Aug

Massive Half-Mile-Long, 26-Foot-Deep Crack Appears In Mexico

What caused a giant crack to suddenly appear in the ground in Mexico, alarming locals and puzzling scientists?

The trench is a half-mile long and up to 26 feet deep in some places; theories for its cause include an earthquake or the erosion of an underground stream.

According to The Weather Channel:

"Martin Moreno Valencia, Chief Regional Station of the Institute of Geology at UNAM in Hermosillo, told Excelsior it's unlikely the crack was created by an earthquake because both sides of the fissure are on equal planes. Usually, he added, an earthquake will elevate one side or the other, and drone footage shows people and automobiles on both sides of the crack with neither side elevated or shrunk. Valencia says that makes the underground stream theory more likely, but experts are still investigating."

A drone shot this footage of the giant crack:

For more mysteries from Mexico, tune in to The Unexplained Files TONIGHT at 10/9c for an investigation into the legendary chupacabra. Here's a sneak peek:

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25 Aug

Visit A National Park For Free Today On National Park Service's 98th Birthday

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 10.22.56 AMThe National Park Service turns 98 today. To celebrate, all national parks are FREE today.

Find a national park near you.

Officially established on August 25, 1916, the National Park Service now oversees "401 areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands."

The parks range from Alaska's massive Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, spanning 13.2 million acres, to .02-acre Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

America's oldest national park actually outdates the NPS: Yellowstone National Park was created by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872.

Yellowstone's "supervolcano" frequently makes headlines over rumblings that it's getting ready to erupt; one rumor earlier this year claimed bison were fleeing the park ahead of an eruption (a story Yellowstone officials debunked).

So, what are the odds a volcano will erupt in Yellowstone National Park this century?

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22 Aug

Blood From Young People Will Be Given To Alzheimer’s Patients

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 10.58.18 AM"Blood might contain the fountain of youth after all. And it is within us all -- that's the crazy thing. It just loses its power as we age."

While it may sound like a statement from Dracula himself, it's actually Stanford professor Tony Wyss-Coray, who's leading a trial in which blood donated by people under 30 will be injected into older Alzheimer's patients as an experimental treatment for the disease.

According to New Scientist:

"The scientists behind the experiment have evidence on their side. Work in animals has shown that a transfusion of young mouse blood can improve cognition and the health of several organs in older mice. It could even make those animals look younger. The ramifications for the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries could be huge if the same thing happens in people."

The trial starts in early October in California.

Learn more about how blood donations work:

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21 Aug

Neil deGrasse Tyson Just Solved the Eternal 'Chicken Or Egg?' Question

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 10.14.07 AMIt's an age-old question: "Which came first: the chicken or the egg?"

Stephen Hawking believes it was the egg. A team of researchers in 2010 concluded that "the chicken must have come first as the formation of eggs is only possible thanks to a protein found in the chicken’s ovaries."

What does astrophysicist/author/science rock star Neil deGrasse Tyson have to say?

On Wednesday, Tyson Tweeted:

Mind = blown? Does this settle it for good? This is actually not the first time Tyson has answered the chicken-egg query, so expect the debate to rage on.

Now here's another fowl question: How much weight can 64 eggs handle? Physics solves the problem:

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20 Aug

Cosmonauts Complete Spacewalk But Most Dangerous EVA Ever Could Lie Ahead

Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev completed a 5-hour, 11-minute spacewalk Monday, launching a Peruvian nanosatellite and installing and retrieving various science experiments from the International Space Station's exterior.

Artemyev shared photos from his second spacewalk on Twitter, including a stunning shot of sunset from outside the ISS:

The tiny Chasqui-1 satellite measures just 4 inches by 4 inches by 4 inches and weighs only 2.2 pounds. According to NASA,

"Shortly after the spacewalk began at 10:02 a.m., Artemyev manually deployed Chasqui 1, a Peruvian nanosatellite designed to take pictures of the Earth with a pair of cameras and transmit the images to a ground station. The project is part of an effort by the National University of Engineering in Peru to gain experience in satellite technology and emerging information and communication technologies."

While spacewalks may seem routine these days, an extra-vehicular activity is still the most dangerous activity an astronaut can do in space... and spacewalks of the future could get even more menacing. Tonight on "Man vs. the Universe" (10/9c), learn about scientists' efforts to stop an asteroid from crashing into Earth. One method calls for catching an impending asteroid in a giant bag, then sending astronauts on the most dangerous spacewalk ever.

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19 Aug

America, The Beautiful Revealed In Breathtaking Timelapse of Milky Way, Northern Lights

When you live in a city, it can be hard to remember that the brightest lights aren't downtown -- they're right above you.

Photographer Randy Halverson breathtaking timelapse video, shot in some of the most remote parts of America, reveal the incredible astral show happening in the sky, from the glorious Milky Way to the rumbling of thunderstorms.

Wednesday night on How the Universe Works, dive deep inside the Milky Way for a closer look at the galaxy we call home. Here's a sneak peek at tomorrow night's episode: "Did a black hole create the Milky Way?"

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18 Aug

This Is For Everyone Who Asks, "Why Aren't There Stars When Astronauts Take Photos From Space?"

We get this question a lot when we share astronauts' pictures on social media: "Why can't you see any stars in the photos astronauts take from space?"

The fact that there are no visible stars in photos and videos from the moon landing has also fueled some conspiracy theorists' suspicions, though NASA scientists explain that "the camera was unable to capture the light emitted from the stars because the bright sunlight hitting the moon's surface washes out the light from the stars."

That same bright light is the reason many astronauts' photos from the International Space Station appear to show space as pitch black and void of stars, write experts at PhysLink.com:

"The reason why no or very little stars can be seen is because of the Earth. The Earth, when lit by the Sun, is many thousands times brighter than the stars around it. As a result the Earth is so bright that it swamps out most if not all of the stars."

"The reason that the stars do not show up on the film is that the stars are so dim that the camera cannot gather enough of their light in a short exposure. Our eyes are a lot more sensitive to light than photographic film."

So American astronaut Reid Wiseman's latest space snapshot, taken with a longer exposure, shows that, yes, of course there are stars in space:

Question: Why aren't stars extinct?

Answer:

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15 Aug

5 Fun Shark Videos For Your Friday Viewing Pleasure

In honor of Shark Week, here are five favorite shark videos that we've shared on SCI2. Head over to SCI2 to see more incredible science videos from around the Internet.

Great White Shark Poops Underwater, Delights Divers

Shark Spits Water Into Man's Mouth

Dolphins Save Swimmer From Nearby Shark

6 Animals More Dangerous Than Sharks

Face-to-Face With Sharks

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13 Aug

Commercial Spacecraft Prepare to Mine the Moon

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

-President John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962

More than 50 years after President Kennedy's famous moon speech, his words continue to inspire. Now a new generation prepares to heed the president's call and aim for the lunar surface, not for human exploration but to mine the moon for its precious minerals.

Among the rare earth elements found on the moon are titanium, magnesium and iron; there's also helium-3, which "could provide safer nuclear energy in a fusion reactor, since it is not radioactive and would not produce dangerous waste products."

Silicon Valley titans like Google are looking toward the lunar surface and offering scientists prizes "designed to inspire pioneers to do robotic space transport on a budget."

Is this the start of a new space race?

Tonight at 10/9c, Science Channel's three-part special Man vs. The Universe looks at commercial spacecraft preparing to mine the moon and the benefits these groups hope to reap. Here's a sneak peek:

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