B.C. shellfish-farming regions highly contaminated by microplastics

Researchers sampled sediments from 16 sites within Lambert Channel and Baynes Sound, British Columbia. They found microplastics at all sites, the three main types being microfibers, microbeads, and microfragments. Microbeads comprised up to 25,000/kg sediment. The greatest number of microplastics was found within Baynes Sound, in Henry and Metcalfe bays—regions of intense shellfish aquaculture. Original […]

Plasma lensing in an eclipsing binary star system amplifies pulsar emissions

Pulsars scintillate because their radio signals travel through space along multiple paths that interfere with each other. Researchers have used one of these scintillation-causing regions as an interstellar lens to localize the ‘black widow’ pulsar, B1957+20, near the phase in its 9.2-hour orbit at which its emission is eclipsed by its binary companion’s signal. During the lensing […]

Wildfires and their carbon emissions decreasing over time

Both total area burned by wildfires globally and the associated CO2 emissions have decreased since the 1930s as population density and cropland area have increased. Researchers quantified the effects of increasing cropland area and population density on wildfires between 1850 and 2014, and the associated impact on carbon uptake by land. They found that reduced […]

Widespread ocean anoxia caused past mass extinction

In the first study of its kind, geochemical evidence left behind in marine limestone sediment from Quebec’s Anticosti Island suggests a mass extinction that occurred more than 450 million years ago was caused by a period of global cooling that led to the world’s oceans abruptly losing life-supporting oxygen. The Late Ordovician Mass Extinction was […]

Learning music or another language increases brains’ efficiency

Whether you learn to play a musical instrument or speak another language, you’re training your brain to be more efficient. Researchers found that musicians and people who are bilingual utilized fewer brain resources when completing a working memory task. Individuals with either a musical or bilingual background activated different brain networks and showed less brain […]

From an ass’s mouth: Earliest evidence of use of donkey bit

Teeth from a 4,700-year-old domestic donkey skeleton from Israel reveal unevenly worn enamel that is indicative of bit wear. The findings suggest that bits may have been used to control donkeys in the ancient Near East as early as the third millennium, long before the arrival of the horse. This early evidence emphasizes donkeys’ significance […]

Researcher identifies 15 new species of stealthy cuckoo bees

Cuckoo bees sneakily lay their eggs in the nests of other bee species, after which their newly hatched prodigies kill the host egg or larva, and then feed on the stored pollen. The host, a solitary bee, never knows anything is wrong. Nine new species of these clandestine bees were recently found in collections and […]

DNA reveals ancient story of First Nations group

In the first population-level nuclear DNA analysis of a Native American group from ancient to modern times, the ancient genomes of coastal British Columbia’s and Alaska’s Tsimshian First Nations reveal that, 6,000 years ago, their population was slowly and steadily declining. The findings contradict popular belief that, after ancestors of today’s Indigenous North Americans crossed over the Bering Strait, […]

A massive and extremely dense cluster of galaxies discovered

A recently discovered massive and extremely dense protocluster—the progenitor of a galaxy cluster—could be building one of the most massive structures in the universe today. Researchers surveying a region of the sky with the South Pole Telescope discovered a population of rare, extremely bright objects. Based on observations of carbon monoxide and ionized carbon emissions, […]

Weather associated with sentiments expressed on social media

To examine the association between weather and expressed sentiments, researchers gathered 2.4 billion posts from Facebook and 1.1 billion from Twitter between 2009 and 2016 and analyzed sentiment. Temperature, precipitation, humidity and cloud cover correlate with expressions of sentiment. Positive expressions increase up to 20 degrees Celsius and decline as the temperature goes over 30 […]

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