Science Illustrated

Science Illustrated Issue 72

Science Illustrated delivers natural science, break through discoveries and an understanding of the world for the entire family. Packed with stunning photography and in-depth editorial it’s a visually spectacular gateway to the world looking into the beginning of life to distant objects in the universe.

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1 minutos

Blue planet: Do water drops draw dark lines on Mars? Landslides are constantly changing the Martian landscape. In this photo of the Cerberus Fossae region taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the blue surface lacks the oxidised iron dust which elsewhere gives Mars its rusty red colour. However, scientists still ponder over the thin dark lines. According to one theory, salts on the surface cause water vapour to condense from the atmosphere into drops that push the sand grains in a ‘flow’ through the landscape, leaving these clear paths. The light dots are larger stones. Skin sight: Caterpillars can feel colours with their skin Colour is a matter of life or death for peppered moth caterpillars, because they disguise themselves to avoid being consumed by birds. But how do the larvae know what…

1 minutos
those brush turkeys on your block have ancient ways

WILD LIFE One of the oldest models of how Australian land birds organised reproduction is provided by the malleefowl, brush turkey, emu and the southern cassowary, the handful of birds that do not pair up and do not feed their offspring, says Professor Gisela Kaplan in Bird Bonds (Macmillan Australia, RRP $34.99). These species are living symbols of a very ancient world. In malleefowl and brush turkeys, the only parental involvement is the female’s laying of eggs into a mound the male has prepared. When the hatchlings emerge, they are on their own, and are among the most independent (precocial) of any birds. However, this model of reproduction has not taken off. Unlike mammals, most avian offspring have parental support: about 95% of all birds have both parents care for offspring,…

3 minutos
drone will search for life on saturn moon

AERO SPACE NASA has completed its plans for the next major expedition to one of the most fascinating worlds in the Solar System. A drone is to explore the surface of Saturn’s Titan moon, which hosts a varied landscape that resembles Earth’s in many ways. The moon is Saturn’s biggest, and has an atmosphere, rocks, rivers, deserts, and oceans. Titan’s atmosphere, like Earth’s, consists mostly of nitrogen, but the rocks are believed to be frozen water ice, while the rivers and oceans consist of ethane and methane that exist on Earth only in their gaseous states; they are liquid on Titan because the temperatures there max out around -180°C. In spite of the cold, scientists believe that Titan’s combination of water and organic molecules could have provided a breeding ground for…

1 minutos
sabre-toothed enamel reveals cats’ destiny

PALAEONTOLOGY The sabre-toothed cat, with its impressive canine teeth, became extinct some 10,000 years ago, but not, as scientists used to think, because it was outcompeted by other predators. New studies indicate that it fell victim to climate change and the resultant shifts in the landscape. Scientists from Vanderbilt University in the US have analysed 700 teeth from a series of prehistoric predators discovered in La Brea Tar Pits in California, an area rich in fossils from the many animals that died there after becoming stuck in the tar. The scientists measured two isotopes of carbon in the teeth, because tooth enamel in all animals can reveal what they ate. The relationship between the two isotopes differs depending on the vegetable food consumed. The teeth’s isotopic ratio is passed through the food chain…

1 minutos
and talking of cannabis…

CANNABIS WORKS BETTER THAN PAINKILLERS Canadian scientists have discovered how the hemp plant produces painkilling chemicals by the name of flavonoids, and that their effect is 30 times better than the acetylsalicylic acid included in pain-killers. The flavonoids might replace powerful painkillers such as highly addictive morphine. VIKINGS HAD ACCESS TO POT IN AMERICA Discoveries of cannabis pollen in a settlement in Newfoundland, Canada, show that Vikings used the plant around the year 1000, either as an intoxicant or for textiles and rope. The plant does not grow there, so the Vikings must have brought it from places further south. In Norway, there is also evidence of Vikings using hemp. CANNABIS CAN KILL RESISTANT BACTERIA An ingredient of cannabis, CBD, could become a new weapon in the struggle against infection. Australian scientists have discovered that…

2 minutos
new rescue plan: snow guns to save antarctica’s ice

CLIMATE The sea ice off Antarctica is collapsing, with possible global consequences. Without the sea ice, the continent’s huge glaciers will slide more quickly into the ocean, accelerating the melting and making ocean levels rise. In recent years, several scientists have proposed drastic measures to stabilise the sea ice, including artificial islands or submarine walls that could keep warm ocean currents away from the ice. Now, scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany have introduced a new idea for a rescue plan: snow guns. The scientists have carried out computer simulations showing that if the area where the glaciers flow into the ocean were to be reinforced with artificial snow, the ice could be stabilised. Over a period of 10 years, the snow guns would spread at least eight…