This week’s science news: sinking cities and the mysteries of the tree of life
Between a state-of-the-art gravitational wave detector coming back to life and the discovery of a 3,000-year-old bakery still covered in flour, the world of science has once again excited us with another week of groundbreaking news. And nothing is more revolutionary right now than the combined mass of New York’s 1,084,954 buildings, literally sinking the city at the rate of about 0.08 inches (2.1 millimeters) per year.
Speaking of heavy objects, Argentinian paleontologists discovered the remains of a gigantic, long-necked titanosaur, which was about 100 feet (30 meters) long. The dinosaur fossils were so heavy that when they were transported to Buenos Aires for study, they caused a traffic accident and broke the asphalt of the road. Fortunately, no bones, human or dinosaur, were broken.
Finally, we know that life is full of little mysteries (and we should know a thing or two about them), but what really taxed us this week was whether octopuses have nightmares, which that China is depositing in space and if we will ever find evidence of a “dark matter star”. However, one thing we are now a little more certain of is the answer to the chicken-or-egg equivalent of evolutionary scientists – which came first, the comb jelly or the sea sponge?
Picture of the week
A photo of the all-white echidna Raffie spotted in New South Wales, Australia. (Image credit: Bathurst Regional Council)
This unusual little creature is an extremely rare albino echidna, one of two known mammals in the world (along with platypus) in which females lay eggs but also produce milk. Spotted earlier this month on a road in New South Wales, Australia, this all-white, feathered creature has been named Raffie by local authorities.
Albinism is a genetic disease that interferes with the body’s production of melanin, the main pigment that colors the skin, fur, feathers, scales and eyes of animals. When melanin cells are not functioning properly, animals may appear partially or completely white.
“An albino echidna is a rare sight,” representatives of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) wrote in a Twitter post on May 22, 2022. “Spotting a non-albino echidna is also quite rare.” , officials added.
Reading of the weekendAnd finally…
The James Webb Space Telescope continues its impressive streak of discovering the secrets of our universe, spying a gargantuan geyser on Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus blasting water hundreds of miles into space – could it contain chemical ingredients for life ?