Test your smarts on the tree of life The Martian and more

first_img Beaver. Oregon State University scientists are betting on sports fans to help them raise funds for a project to sequence the genome of their beloved school mascot, the beaver. Scientists will analyze the DNA of Filbert, a 4-year-old American beaver—son of Aspen and Willow—who lives at the Oregon Zoo in Portland. If the school can raise the funds by 30 October, it will make Oregon State the first university in the Pac-12 Conference to sequence its mascot. Take that, ducks! Coca-Cola. Think soft drinks are bad for you? Think again. According to research supported by Coca-Cola, sugary drinks in your diet don’t have nearly as much to do with getting fat as inactivity. This was just one finding of a study supported by the company, the world’s largest soda producer. In addition to funding health-related projects and organizations to the tune of $118 million since 2010, the company revealed last week that it has given $22 million of that to research. That’s something you might want to share with a friend. Meeting God in His Ready Room Start Quiz Sunday’s super blood moon What book did the new Vatican astronomer co-author? Score Pepsi Yellowfin tuna 105 Duck NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI Trash. U.S. dumps took in 262 million metric tons of solid waste in 2012—more than double what some experts had previously estimated. The new data also show that most of the planet-warming methane emitted from dumps, about 91%, comes from those still taking in trash. That high number may inspire scientists to invent better ways to reduce methane emissions, from lining trash pits with impermeable rubber barriers to installing gas-blocking covers over top. In the meantime, start the countdown clock: The nation’s landfills, on average, have only about 34 years of life left. Without the right kind of ultraviolet light, it’s impossible to grow kale on Mars. InBev Time’s Up! No way Matt Damon could grow that much facial hair in 3 days. Neutrinos LOADING As tempting as it might be to play Monday morning mission controller with Ridley Scott’s new sci-fi flick, The Martian got a lot of details right. What was one it overlooked? Beaver A surprising new study shows that in 2012, Americans put out twice as much what as predicted? Dust storms are not nearly as hazardous on Mars as they are in the movie. How many mini-trees did the new “supertree” of life cobble together? Results: You answered out of correctly – Click to revisit 15 Bacteria 500 Dino “hair” Last week, scientists found that all people are surrounded by a cloud of what? Pluto Researchers recently started a crowdfunding campaign to sequence the genome of which school mascot? You A Room With a Very, Very, Very Long View Coca-Cola America’s “first fishermen” gathered up what gourmet treat 11,500 years ago? Boll weevil Coho salmon Methanethiol Sea bass Blue mussels Would you Baptize an Extraterrestrial? No, really, would you? That’s one question the newest director of the Vatican Observatory tried to answer in his latest book, a response to some of the “off” questions he and his co-author find in their inboxes. Guy Consolmagno, an American planetary scientist from Detroit, is a Jesuit brother who studies meteorites and asteroids, and—until his appointment last week—curated the Vatican meteorite collection. He’ll be talking with reporter Edwin Cartlidge in an exclusive interview on ScienceInsider this week. As for those aliens? Of course he would baptize them. But only if they asked. 0 September 28, 2015 The Science Quiz Test your knowledge of last week’s hottest science news! Bat guano Airborne chemical messengers called pheromones Wastewater Fish scales. How did our teeth get so tough? A new analysis of fossils shows that ancient fish once sported enamel to toughen bones and scales long before the hard substance coated teeth. Previously, researchers had suggested that over millions of years of evolution, hardened structures like this migrated into the mouth and changed shape to become teeth. But now, scientists are saying the patchy distribution of enamel in a particular fish suggests that enamelmaking proteins shifted to new body parts over time. 0 / 10 Banana slug Blogspot posts Auto emissions Nestlé Bacteria. You might not want to tell your OCD friends, but scientists have found that physical contact isn’t the only way we spread germs. Last week they revealed that humans are surrounded by their own microbial clouds, which differ from person to person. These germy “fingerprints” hover around our heads in a 90-centimeter (or 3-foot) radius, meaning there’s a high chance our microbes are mingling at the office, in the locker room, and even on the subway. Scientists think that when microbes mix, we may pick up bacterial souvenirs from one another and transform our own microbiomes in the process. Comet 67P/Churymov-Gerasimenko Trash Fish scales Dust storms are not nearly as hazardous on Mars as they are in the movie. The opening scene, which shows a team of astronauts bailing on the Red Planet after a fearsome storm strikes, was the one part of the film that “deliberately sacrificed reality for drama,” according to author Andy Weir. “In a man-versus-nature story, I decided I wanted nature to get the first punch in.” The upshot? Because the atmospheric pressure on Mars is so low (just 1% of what it is on Earth!), even a 100-year dust storm doesn’t have the punch to blow over big objects. You can read more in an exclusive interview with Weir, director Ridley Scott, and NASA science adviser Jim Green. Electromagnetic “life forces” What beveragemaker revealed that it gave more than $118 million in funding since 2010 to health-related projects, including research? The faster you answer, the higher your score! Trick question: There is only one supertree. Average September 28, 2015 NASA just put out its latest images of this celestial body. Is it: Top Ranker The Science Quiz Pluto. Have we found a new Dune? Probably not, but NASA scientists are saying they’ve spotted what appear to be sand or ice ridges on the surface of our former ninth planet. Photos from last month’s New Horizon flyby reveal the features, which are sculpted by blowing winds here on Earth. But Pluto’s current atmosphere is too thin to pull off the same trick, suggesting it once possessed a much thicker atmosphere. 500. Want to know how related you are to a wombat? Or an amoeba? Now you can, thanks to the newly released Open Tree of Life, which knits together more than 500 family trees of life to form a “supertree” representing 2.3 million species on Earth. Over the past 3 years, about 35 scientists have spent 100,000 hours scouring the scientific literature for mini-trees. The main problem: There is no single database of accepted species names, so the group had to come up with its own whenever disagreements arose. More may be coming soon—the tree is open source, so it is constantly growing (and being pruned). Coho salmon. If you think most fish stinks after 3 days, try 11,500 years: That’s the age of salmon bones scientists have uncovered at the Upward Sun River site, one of Alaska’s oldest human settlements. They say the cooked bones provide the first clear evidence of salmon fishing among the earliest Americans, Paleoindians who crossed from Siberia into Alaska over the Bering Land Bridge more than 13,000 years ago. The finding debunks the idea that these first peoples relied on big game for food, and it explains how they adapted to life on a new continent at the end of the last ice age. The most likely landing spot for a Mars mission Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Question There is no such thing as a radioactive water bear. Would you Baptize an Extraterrestrial? An error occurred loading the Quiz. Please try again later. Where did the enamel in your teeth come from? Our Lady of the Black Hole Share your scorelast_img