Bizarre Things 

The ultrafast dance of liquid water

Typically we consider that water molecules in the liquid state move randomly on ultrafast timescales due to thermal fluctuations. Now, scientists at Stockholm University have discovered correlated motion in water dynamics on a sub-100 femtoseconds timescale. This appears as “caging effects” due to buildup of tetrahedral structures upon supercooling. The results, reported in Nature Communications on the 15th of May 2018 are based on a combination of experimental studies using x-ray lasers and theoretical simulations.

Read More
Bizarre Things 

How the gut influences neurologic disease

A study published this week in Nature sheds new light on the connection between the gut and the brain, untangling the complex interplay that allows the byproducts of microorganisms living in the gut to influence the progression of neurodegenerative diseases. Investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have been using both animal models and human cells from patients to tease out the key players involved in the gut-brain connection as well as in the crosstalk between immune cells and brain cells. Their new publication defines a pathway that may help guide therapies for multiple sclerosis and other neurologic diseases.

Read More
Bizarre Things 

Evidence for stars forming just 250 million years after Big Bang

An international team of astronomers used ALMA to observe a distant galaxy called MACS1149-JD1. They detected a very faint glow emitted by ionised oxygen in the galaxy. As this infrared light travelled across space, the expansion of the Universe stretched it to wavelengths more than ten times longer by the time it reached Earth and was detected by ALMA. The team inferred that the signal was emitted 13.3 billion years ago (or 500 million years after the Big Bang), making it the most distant oxygen ever detected by any telescope [1]. The presence of oxygen is a clear sign that there must have been even earlier generations of stars in this galaxy.

Read More
Bizarre Things 

World’s Strongest bio-material outperforms steel and spider silk

At DESY’s X-ray light source PETRA III, a team led by Swedish researchers has produced the strongest bio-material that has ever been made. The artifical, but bio-degradable cellulose fibres are stronger than steel and even than dragline spider silk, which is usually considered the strongest bio-based material. The team headed by Daniel Söderberg from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm reports the work in the journal ACS Nano of the American Chemical Society.

Read More
Bizarre Things 

New device could increase battery life of electronics by a hundred-fold

Among the chief complaints for smartphone, laptop and other battery-operated electronics users is that the battery life is too short and — in some cases — that the devices generate heat. Now, a group of physicists led by Deepak K. Singh, associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Missouri, has developed a device material that can address both issues. The team has applied for a patent for a magnetic material that employs a unique structure — a “honeycomb” lattice that exhibits distinctive electronic properties.

Read More
Bizarre Things 

A shipwreck and an 800-year-old ‘made in China’ label reveal lost history

Centuries ago, a ship sank in the Java Sea off the coast of Indonesia. The wooden hull disintegrated over time, leaving only a treasure trove of cargo. The ship had been carrying thousands of ceramics and luxury goods for trade, and they remained on the ocean floor until the 1980s when the wreck was discovered by fishermen. In the years since, archaeologists have been studying artifacts retrieved from the shipwreck to piece together where the ship was from and when it departed. The equivalent of a “Made in China” label on a piece of pottery helped archaeologists reevaluate when the ship went down and how it fits in with China’s history.

Read More
Bizarre Things 

Worm-eating mice reveal how evolution works on islands

Australia has a bunch of kangaroo species, Madagascar has multiple species of lemurs, the Galapagos Islands have boulder-sized tortoises — islands get lots of cool animals. That’s because when animals are isolated on islands, they can evolve into strange new species found nowhere else on Earth. But what’s the cut-off — how small can an island be and still support the evolution of multiple new species from a single common ancestor? A team of mammalogists just discovered that four species of mice evolved from one common ancestor on Connecticut-sized Mindoro Island in the Philippines, making it the smallest known island where one kind of mammal has branched out into many more.

Read More