The Power of Paramedic Ants

Ants are a communal insect that has their strength in their numbers. After they find food, possibly battle for it, there can be many battle wounds along the way. It has been found in African Matabele ants, which leave their home base in masses to attack termite nests for food. Many ants loose limbs and even their lives during the process. Yet, an interesting discovery has shed some light on how the group manages to recover from the war of food.

 

Paramedic Ants

When Matabele ants feed attack termites, they do it in groups up to 600 ants. The larger ants break through the natural environment while the smaller ants attack their targets and bring the dead termites back to the ant’s nest. Research has found that ants have the ability to not only pick up their fellow comrades after injury and take them back to home base, but they also have antibiotic saliva to help heal any wounds.

Field experiments conducted in the humid savannah woodland at Comoé National Park, Ivory Coast, scientists found that returning ants carried any ant with one or two injured limbs back to the base. Yet, if the injuries were too extensive, they were left to die. The researchers moved six different ant nests into artificial ones and recorded footage of their behaviors.

“We don’t know if they are just removing dirt from the wound or applying an antimicrobial substance to fight off an infection. But we do know that if they don’t receive the treatment, 80% die within 24 hours. If you allow the treatment for an hour, the ants survive,” said Erik Frank, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Wurzburg.

The ants in distress from the injury communicate to the other ants through pheromones. Once the paramedic ants come to the rescue, the injured ants tuck in the legs to allow a smooth transport back to their nest. Frank also attempted to create an artificial rescue by coating an ant in pheromones. The ants came to the rescue but promptly abandoned the mission when the “suffering” and failed to position its legs for proper transport.

This fascinating aspect of ant society is quite complex and sophisticated behavior. Biological advances like this can open many doors in the knowledge of animal behavior and science itself.

Why Science Blogging is Important

Alexander-Lakhanpal-science

In today’s ever-evolving world, science data advances almost in the blink of an eye. This is why science blogging is so important. Science blogging helps to disperse state-of-the-art scientific data nearly as soon as research is done and validation is complete.

It is difficult to imagine what daily life would be like without science blogging offering a wide range of topics updating scientific research into major health, nature and environmental issues.

For example, with the avid interest in ancestral genealogy, science bloggers use links to the most recent scientific research on an 8 million-year-old gene that could help citrus growers or the recent discovery that a praying mantis has 3-D vision. Each of these spins off into blog articles with comments by online readers.

 

Breaking News and Science Blogging

When the U.S. NASA launched a huge Delta 4 heavy rocket known as Space X’s Falcon Heavy rocket, science bloggers were full of the scientific details.

 

Not only is science blogging important in the U.S., but access to science blogs from around the globe provide a different perspective of important scientific studies and research, such as how genes may cause mental health problems or the new tick-borne disease discovered by Swedish scientists.

The United Kingdom’s science news that underwater volcanoes may be the cause of dinosaur extinction has science bloggers posting their views on this issue.

 

Science Blogging Supports the Public

One of the biggest benefits of science blogging is that it supports the public and stakeholders by continually injecting a consortium of public and stakeholder views and opinions on scientific issues.

During the late 1990s, the effects of acid rain kept science bloggers busy providing the public with a variety of opinions and ideas.

Online science blogs are a form of scientific communication shared over the internet platform and social media. Choices of science blogs range from those dedicated to science research, specific branches of science and science blogs that encourage students to take a greater interest in science.

 

The Convenience of Science Blogging

For professionals and neophytes alike, science blogging is readily accessible. It requires only minimal knowledge of using a search engine to find the science blog of choice. For example, one of the most popular nature science blogs is found at https://nature.com.

When to Look up to the Stars in 2018

Stargazing and space exploration enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to in 2018. The exciting events taking place in our solar system begin in January. Unique lunar displays, meteor showers, and international journeys into space make for an exciting new year.
Blue, Blood, Supermoon
The complex names describe a number of events occurring on January 31. First of all, we will witness the second full moon for the month, which is referred to as the Blue Moon. The event happens approximately once every 30 months. The moon will also venture 50,000 kilometers closer than usual. The path makes the “perigee-syzygy” or Supermoon appear 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than usual. The Blood Moon is so named due to the lunar eclipse that occurs when the moon passes into the shadow of the Earth. Although the moon is fully shadowed, light from the sun refracts toward the celestial body creating a blood red color.

March Moon Exploration
During the month or March, the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, lander, and rover take a trip to the moon. The Chandrayaan mission is one of the many that countries have scheduled throughout 2018. The craft will be equipped with a variety of instrumentation designed to map and study the moon’s contents, which include minerals and water content. The country is excited as this will be the first lunar landing for India. They plan on making the journey to the planet’s south pole.

Perseids Meteor Shower
From August 11 through August 13, the skies come to life with streaks of meteors sailing through the northern hemisphere. The popular event takes place when our planet collides with the tail of the 109P/Swift-Tuttle comet. The size of debris pieces scattered varies. Larger pieces create the spectacular fireballs that thrill observers. There will be a new moon during the three days, which heightens visibility. The show entails approximately 100 meteors per hour.

Geminids Meteor Shower
From December 13 through December 15, the sky once again puts on a show as the Earth impacts with debris from the tail of the 32 Phaethon asteroid. However, optimal visibility will not occur until after midnight due to there being the first quarter of the moon. At that time, there will be an estimated 120 meteors per hour flashing through the atmosphere.

The Best of Science in 2017

Alexander-Lakhanpal-2017

This year has been an interesting year for the science community. From the political woes of evidence-based knowledge to the extreme natural disasters across the globe, science and research are more important than ever. Here are some of the highlights of major science news of 2017.

 

Iceberg Breaking

In July, an iceberg that was sized to be the same as Luxembourg broke away from the Antarctic Peninsula. The iceberg broke away over 10 percent of the surface area of Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf. The result of the breakaway is still unsure but if it collapsed completely, Larsen C, the ice shelf, would create glaciers that have enough water to increase the global sea level by one centimeter.

 

CAR-T Cancer Therapy
An approval for a new form of cancer treatment called CAR-T cell therapy has pushed the field of cancer research and treatment forward. This new technique involved genetically modifying and engineering a patient’s immune cells to then attack cancerous tumors. CAR-T sparked some concerns regarding safety yet the US Food and Drug Administration approved the therapy to use in children and young adults who have been diagnosed with an acute form of leukemia.

This gene-editing, in a clinical use setting, has been pushed forward this year. The beginning use of CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing was used to repair a diseasing-creating mutation in human embryos. The research conducted showed that the given technique was safe and found no side effects.

 

Artificial Intelligence

AI is booming in various markets and is even beginning to trickle down to American consumers. DeepMind’s AlphaGo Zero game playing bot was one of the biggest strides in pushing AI forward by beating its predecessor 100 percent of the time. AlphaGo Zero also taught itself how to play the game and became the ultimate champion while doing it.  It may seem simple that a robot can win a game but in the larger picture, it shows the intelligence of robotics is increasing at a fast rate.
We are finding various markets such as smartphone technology begin to understand human patterns and cater the user experience. The medical field is even beginning to adapt AI into their industry to improve efficiency and accuracy of healthcare.

Pythons Invading Florida: How Science is Fighting Back

Alexander-Lakhanpal-plastic

Florida is known for their Everglades being homes to large gators, pesky mosquitos and now 15-feet long pythons. The Burmese Pythons are not native to Florida but have populated enough to negatively influence the natural food cycle of the Everglades and become a threat to humans. These invasive snakes are big, hidden, and reproduce in large amounts. Researchers and scientists are studying not only their influence on the food chain but also how to get rid of this species from the area.

 

The Invasion

The reasons for this quick increase of pythons are quite simple. Not only South Florida the perfect wet, mammal-rich environment for snakes to thrive, these snakes are egg-producing machines. One single female can lay over 50 eggs. The population of pythons has increased so much that the state has created programs that allow for rewards for the successful elimination and capturing of pythons. Many of the pythons being captured through this program are spanning over 10 feet long and are becoming so large that they have the ability to consume a grown adult. These snakes have the ability to grow to over 20 feet long and could consume a human in minutes.

 

The Food Chain

One of the other negative impacts of the increasing presence of pythons is their influence on the availability of food in the Everglades. Pythons eat many sized mammals from small rats to large deer and anything in between. These snakes are now clearing out many of the food sources for other animals and insects, especially mosquitos.

Prior to the arrival of pythons, hispid cotton rats were about 15 percent of the mosquitoes’ diet. Mosquitos also preyed on raccoons, opossums, and deer. Due to pythons taking a bite out of the other animals’ populations, mosquitos are left to only rats. Their diet now is made up of three-quarters rat. The negative to mosquitoes feeding off of rats more means there is an increase of them spreading the Everglades virus, which is common among rats of the Everglades. Nathan Burkett-Cadena, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of entomology has stated, “As far as I am aware, this is the first time that researchers have found that an invasive predator (such as the python) has caused an increase in contact between mosquitoes and hosts of a human pathogen,”.

Breaking Down the Science of a Hurricane

Alexander-Lakhanpal-hurricane

Hurricane season has devastated communities this year along the Caribbean Sea. Puerto Rico, Florida, and even the Bahamas felt the wrath of these powerful storms. With the number of storms increasing during the season, paired with unprecedented wind strength, understanding the science of how these storms form and why they are so strong.

 

Hurricane 101

It takes various different circumstances for a powerful hurricane to form. If one small ingredient is missing, a storm that could destroy a city can be turned into a rainy day with big clouds. Tropical cyclones, which is an umbrella term for tropical depressions, storms, and hurricanes need the basic ingredients to form. A preexisting thunderstorm, warm water, humid air, and light winds must all be present to be the foundation for a hurricane. These mighty storms need fuel, and that fuel is heat from the ocean. When the surface of the ocean rises to 80°F, that is when trouble begins.

The moisture in the air is what fuels the thunderstorm needed and the winds cannot be strong enough to hinder the shaping of the hurricane. When all of these factors meet up perfectly is when a power thunderstorm is able to take off. Depressions are normally the spark of growing into something greater.

 

This 2017 Season

This hurricane season has proved to be one of the most aggressive in the history of weather. Not since 2005, the top busiest year for Atlantic hurricanes with 28 storms, has the U.S. been affected by this many storms. This season alone has had 13 identified storms so far. For this season to be put into the books for the top 15 hurricane years, it needs two more named storms by November 30th, 2017.

The true source, specifically, for this year’s intense season is due to the Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO). We are currently in the warm phase of the AMO which allows for a lack of vertical wind shear paired with increased surface temperatures on the ocean. This creates frequent storm developments. This warm AMO phase has been active since 1995 and prior to the was a cold phase the lasted between the years 1971 to 1994.

The other factor that is making this season so brutal is its ability to direct itself so well. An area of dominant subtropical high pressure, known as the “Bermuda High” is located above the Atlantic. It forces winds to turn clockwise and pushes them to directly hit towards the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and the east coast. It is essentially a steering wheel towards land.

What We Know About Our Planets

Planets seem like a foreign idea to most but there is quite a bit of information and research we have about the planets in our solar system. It has been said that we know more about our neighboring planets than we do our own oceans. With a solar system that has been in place for billions of years, there is so much history so far away that has yet to be discovered.

 

What We Know

The planets closest to the sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars are all terrestrial planets. These planets have solid, rock-like surfaces which are quite different from earth. These planets are also, naturally, uninhabitable for humans. They have varying atmospheric differences that make them impossible for humans to naturally breathe. As well, the two outer planets beyond Mars’ orbit, Jupiter and Saturn, are known as “gas giants” while Uranus and Neptune are dubbed “ice giants”.

 

NASA is at the forefront of obtaining more information about our planets. Voyager 1 and 2, launched by NASA, are the first space crafts to explore the outer reaches of earth’s solar system.

 

Pluto has been downgraded from a planet to now considered a dwarf planet. With the redefinition of a planets and dwarf planets, new dwarf planets have been identified. These dwarf planets reside in the Kuiper Belt, which is past Neptune. This is information that has lead researchers to believe that there is an existence of a ninth planet. The California Institute of Technology believes that Planet Nine does in fact exist but it is also 10 times the size of Earth’s mass. Planet Nine is so far out of the norm circumference of this solar system that takes 20,000 Earth years to completely orbit the sun.

 

The Next Earth

The search for a planet similar to earth has not been that successful in the past few years. It was not until NASA’s Kepler telescope discovered over 3 thousand planets. With researchers making some great strides to an Earth 2.0, many have been a bit unsuccessful. There is a new European observatory that is expected to be completed by 2024 with the goal of finding that Earth 2.0. A planet similar to Earth would give society something to compare our world to. It would also further the discussion of life in space and a place where humans could travel to.

New Research on Super Bugs

The term “super bug” may be a scary idea but the more we research this global issue, the more we can prevent them from taking over. Superbugs refer to illnesses that normal vaccines or modern medications can not seem to manage because they have become resistant to modern medicine. Imagine the common cold that not even antibiotics can not take care of. There have been some more recent breakthroughs with the superbug situation but there are a few things that everyone must know.

 

In the U.S.

In 2015, it was reported that 2 billion people get infected with superbugs and that over 2,000 die from them. The government has also stepped in and begun releasing plans on how to combat this life threatening issue hitting the medical field and society itself. Superbugs can form from any type of bacteria. The worry is that doctors will run out of antibiotics to treat them.

 

Recent Discoveries

Combining Vaccines

Researchers from the University of Buffalo has found that a new trio of antibiotics will be able to stand up to these antibiotic-resistant microbes. The researchers turned to new antibiotic dosing strategies by creating antibiotic cocktails. They conducted studies of multiple different combinations of over 15 antibiotics paired with polymyxin B to find that after 24 hours, the bacteria were undetectable. On a more technical level, the microbes had the ability to regrow to normal after 96 hours. It was only the triple combination that allowed for the prevention of regrowth in bacteria.

 

Bats and Bees?

New research out of Halifax is also looking for alternative ways to fight medicine-resistant “bugs”. Rather than combining different vaccines to halt bacteria growth, this research is looking for a more natural solution. Bats and bees are now being researched to find new ways to fight bacteria. These two creatures are always in bacteria’s way and have biologically adapted to naturally fight off bacterial infections. There are millions of different bacteria thriving in the same places where bats and bees thrive. With a better understanding of how bats form white-nose syndrome or how colony collapse disorder occurs in bee groups.

A better understanding of how this influences other animals could lead to a better understanding of how we can handle the situation occurring in humans. Superbugs could become a much more prevalent issue in society if we do not find new ways to keep them at bay.

What You Should Know About Coral Reef Bleaching!

Alexander-Lakhanpal-Coral

The Great Barrier Reef and other locations that are home to large amounts are coral are under attack by changes in their climate. Coral is becoming pearly white in the warming water temperatures of the Great Barrier Reef. These white coral are a symptom of a larger issue that is influencing our oceans. Here is all you need to know about the current issue of widespread coral bleaching.

 

What is Coral Bleaching?

In normal coral, the color of ranges from dark browns and greens paired with some splashes of vibrancy. The reason for these dark colors is because coral has algae that live inside their tissue. The coral polyps have an endosymbiotic relationship with the algae and are essential for any healthy coral. With coral bleaching, the polyps expel the algae, leaving the coral to look abnormally white. The coral polyps are still alive but the algae serve as 90 percent of the coral’s energy which leads to coral starvation

A recent estimation from this year stated the about 70 percent of shallow water corals had died near Port Douglas which is a town that is home to the Great Barrier Reef. The bleaching is not only hurting the visible part of the reef but it also has to harm non-visible parts as well.  It has been verified that 29 percent of shallow water corals died from bleaching during the year 2016.

Why many are so concerned with coral bleaching is because of how it creates environments for animals to dwell and how it could affect not only the ocean but also local economies. Reef tourism creates an annual income of $3.9 billion and also employs many Australians (70,000 people).

 

Why is it Happening?

There are quite a few factors as to why coral bleaching has become such a massive issue for most of the globe’s reefs. Above-average sea temperatures caused by a general increase of temperature is the leading cause of coral bleaching globally. Oxygen starvation increased solar irradiance, and changes in salinity are also factors that are influencing the death of coral reefs.

The years from 2014 to 2016 had some of the longest global bleaching events ever recorded.
El Niño, the major weather event, also played a major part in the change in temperature for an extended period of time. The weather event creates warmer than the average temperature in the Pacific Ocean. The impact of El Niño was seen directly in the Great Barrier massive bleaching event.

Current NASA News

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been announcing groundbreaking strides in understanding more of space, other planets, and how the earth functions so efficiently. NASA continues to push the field of science further and further to collect more data of the unexplored. Here are some of NASA’s upcoming plans that have recently been announced.

 

Touch the Sun?

The space agency has announced that it has plans of a mission to create and launch a probe to get closer to the sun than ever before. They anticipate the probe to come within 3.9 million miles of the sun, which has never been done before. The mission is set to depart in the summer of 2018. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is set to handle environments of over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit paired with extreme solar radiation.

The purpose of this mission is to take away data regarding the trace of energy that sources the corona and solar winds. As well, NASA is looking to find more specific information about the magnetic fields and plasma structures from the solar winds. The goal of the probe’s mission is to circle the sun 24 times between the years of 2018 through 2024.

 

Artificial Clouds

NASA has recently released colored artificial clouds on the East Coast of the United States. They released faux blue, green, and red clouds in June of 2017 to test a new system that will aid scientists with studying the auroras of the ionosphere.

Essentially, NASA launched a small sub-orbital rocket off of the coast of Virginia that released fist-sized canisters filled with vapor tracers into the atmosphere. These canisters may appear as colorful clouds. The canisters, or tracers, are made of vapors of lithium, barium and tri-methyl aluminum that react with other elements in space, which create the glow. This glow is to visually trace the flow of the particles throughout space.

 

A Hole on Mars?

One of earth’s closest neighboring planets, Mars, has shown a new, giant hole on the surface of the planet. This abnormally deep crater is a bit larger than Mars’ normal swiss cheese surface. NASA has yet to find the source of this new pit formed on Mars but there are many reasons for holes to be formed on Mars’ terrain from meteorite impacts to collapsing lava tubes.