Tag Archives | Nature

For One Tiny Instant, Physicists May Have Broken a Law of Nature

So does this now mean the evil, “mirror” universe exists? Beware your doppelganger, especially if he (or she?!) has a goatee … Suzanne Taylor Muzzin reports on PhysOrg:
Mirror Spock

For a brief instant, it appears, scientists at Brook haven National Laboratory on Long Island recently discovered a law of nature had been broken.

Action still resulted in an equal and opposite reaction, gravity kept the Earth circling the Sun, and conservation of energy remained intact. But for the tiniest fraction of a second at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), physicists created a symmetry-breaking bubble of space where parity no longer existed.

Parity was long thought to be a fundamental law of nature. It essentially states that the universe is neither right- nor left-handed — that the laws of physics remain unchanged when expressed in inverted coordinates. In the early 1950s it was found that the so-called weak force, which is responsible for nuclear radioactivity, breaks the parity law.

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Rare Buddhist Flower Found Under Nun’s Washing Machine

From the Telegraph:

A rarely seen Buddhist flower, which blossoms every 3,000 years, has been discovered under a nun’s washing machine.

The Udumbara flower was found in the home of a Chinese nun in Lushan Mountain, Jiangxi province, China.

The rare Youtan Poluo or Udumbara flower, which, according to Buddhist legend, only blooms every 3,000 years, measures just 1mm in diametre.

[Read more at the Telegraph]

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Moscow’s Stray Dogs Evolving Greater Intelligence, Including a Mastery of the Subway

From PopSci:

For every 300 Muscovites, there’s a stray dog wandering the streets of Russia’s capital. And according to Andrei Poyarkov, a researcher at the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, the fierce pressure of urban living has driven the dogs to evolve wolf-like traits, increased intelligence, and even the ability to navigate the subway.

Poyarkov has studied the dogs, which number about 35,000, for the last 30 years. Over that time, he observed the stray dog population lose the spotted coats, wagging tails, and friendliness that separate dogs from wolves, while at the same time evolving social structures and behaviors optimized to four ecological niches occupied by what Poyarkov calls guard dogs, scavengers, wild dogs, and beggars.

The guard dogs follow around, and receive food from, the security personnel at Moscow’s many fenced in sites. They think the guards are their masters, and serve as semi-feral assistants. The scavengers roam the city eating garbage.

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A Drop of Water Can Start A Forest Fire

DropWaterLeafSounds like a joke, but it’s for real. Truly bizarre. Reports LiveScience:

Many gardeners swear you should not water in the midday because water droplets on plants can magnify the sun’s rays and burn leaves. But the idea has never been rigorously tested, until now.

“This is far from a trivial question,” said biophysicist Gabor Horvath at Eotvos University in Budapest, Hungary. “The prevailing opinion is that forest fires can be sparked by intense sunlight focused by water drops on dried-out vegetation.”

Horvath and colleagues used both experiments and computer modeling to figure out the physics that goes on. The results varied depending on the type of leaf.

On smooth surfaces, such as a healthy maple leaf, no leaf burn occurred.

But on leaves with small wax hairs, such as those of the floating fern, the hairs were able to hold water droplets above the leaf surface, creating a magnifying-glass effect that gave the leaves a noticeable sunburn — though no open flames resulted.

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Heroic Animals More Common than Thought, Say Scientists

From The Telegraph:

Heroic behaviour among animals is far more common than previously thought, according to scientists.

Creatures including dolphins, monkeys, fruit bats and even ants are all capable of selflessly coming to the rescue of others, researchers found.

Dr Elise Nowbahari, from the University of Paris, said there is mounting evidence that willingness to go to the aid of others at personal risk is common in a range of species and far from a solely human trait.

Dolphins endanger themselves to rescue trapped dolphins, lifting an injured dolphin to the water’s surface to help it breathe, she said.

Monkeys will drive away an attacker from a vulnerable female or infants and female fruit bats help other fruit bats in labour to ease the birth.

She also said that ants frequently help other ants from the same colony if they are caught in traps or by a predator – though their heroism does not extend to helping ants from other colonies whose actual cries for help are ignored.

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