Modern birds capable of flight all have a specialized wing structure called the propatagium without which they could not fly. The evolutionary origin of this structure has remained a mystery, but new research suggests it evolved in nonavian dinosaurs. The finding comes from statistical analyses of arm joints preserved in fossils and helps fill some gaps in knowledge about the origin of bird flight.
For a long time now, we have known modern birds evolved from certain lineages of dinosaurs that lived millions of years ago. This has led researchers to look to dinosaurs to explain some of the features unique to birds, for example, feathers, bone structure and so on. But there’s something special about the wings of birds in particular that piqued the interest of researchers at the University of Tokyo’s Department of Earth and Planetary Science.
Also known as a Corsi-Rosenthal box, this DIY method of building your own air filter with MERV13 furnace filters and a box fan are an easy and cost-effective way to help clear indoor air from airborne virus particles, wildfire smoke, pollen, dust, and more!
If you can seal a box, you can build one (or 100!) of these!
While studying food diversity in 2011, environmental scientist Morgan Ruelle, now at Clark University, accidentally stumbled across one possible technique that could help stabilize dipping crop yields.
The once widespread practice is now only used by small farms in places like Caucasus, Greek Islands, and the Horn of Africa. Despite being incredibly simple, most of the agroecology community weren’t aware of it.
Yet farmers have been using this technique for more than 3,000 years across at least 27 countries. It may have even been what gave rise to agriculture in the first place.
The method is planting maslins – a combined mix of cereals that can include rice, millet, wheat, rye, barley and more – and harvesting them all together to be separated or used as a single product.
In Ethiopia, for example, where Ruelle discovered the existence of maslins, duragna contains multiple species and varieties of barley and wheat, all grown together. The locals consider the mix to be one crop, using it to make bread, beer and traditional savories with it.
Local farmers reported this mix ensures at least some yield under unfavorable conditions, and now researchers have the experimental trials to back up these claims. Working at Cornell University, Ruelle and colleagues conducted a review of previous work, demonstrating maslins yielded higher stability under changing conditions. By shifting species composition each season, farmers could hedge against climate impacts without the need for additional intervention.
Declining native species could be planted in urban green spaces. Researchers from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), Leipzig University and other institutions describe how to use this great potential for species protection. In their most recent study, published in the journal Nature Sustainability, they recommend practical conservation gardening methods in a bid to restructure the horticultural industry and reverse plant species declines.
Despite global efforts to protect biodiversity, many plant species are still declining. In Germany, this includes 70 percent of all plant species, with almost a third (27.5 percent) threatened, and 76 species are already considered extinct. Much of this loss can be attributed to the decline in natural habitats, in part due to increasing urbanization. Ten percent of the total area of Germany, for example, is settlement area.
However, it is precisely these settlement areas that hold enormous—albeit untapped—potential for nature conservation. After all, these areas include millions of private gardens, balconies and green roofs, as well as parks and other public green spaces. Researchers from iDiv, the Universities of Halle and Leipzig and other institutions propose using these potentially available areas for conservation gardening.
Evolving Floor Plans is an experimental research project exploring speculative, optimized floor plan layouts. The rooms and expected flow of people are given to a genetic algorithm which attempts to optimize the layout to minimize walking time, the use of hallways, etc. The creative goal is to approach floor plan design solely from the perspective of optimization and without regard for convention, constructability, etc. The research goal is to see how a combination of explicit, implicit and emergent methods allow floor plans of high complexity to evolve. The floorplan is ‘grown’ from its genetic encoding using indirect methods such as graph contraction and emergent ones such as growing hallways using an ant-colony inspired algorithm….
The results were biological in appearance, intriguing in character and wildly irrational in practice.
Russian scientists prepare to explore the most alien lake on Earth
Buried over two miles beneath the East Antarctic Ice sheet lurks Lake Vostok — an isolated body of subglacial water, removed from the rest of the world for more than twenty million years. Now, Russian researchers are just a few meters of ice away from entering an environment unlike any we’ve ever seen… at least, not here on Earth.
A team of physicists at Cornell University has created a wrinkle in time. Actually, it’s more like a teeny tiny moth hole in time. Inside it things can occur that are entirely undetectable, at least to ordinary observers. It’s as if they never happened.
This phenomenon, known as “temporal cloaking,” is the latest addition to a world that once existed only in children’s literature and science fiction — a place where objects are invisible and events are unrecorded.