Science: Findings

1 If your science teacher told you eyespots on butterfly wings frighten off predators, she was misinformed. Researchers recently found that large markings are more important for survival than spots that mimic eyes.

2 Forests and oceans are often lauded for their ability to store CO2, but don’t discount the desert—scientists discovered sand housing certain bacteria can trap significant amounts of greenhouse gases, too.

3 Scientists can tell where you’ve been living without looking at your driver’s license. They pinpoint the place you call home by comparing oxygen and hydrogen isotopes in tap water to your hair clippings.

4 Not all biofuel blends contain what they say they do: Only 10 percent of 20-odd retail samples tested had blends that were 20 percent biodiesel, as advertised. The discrepancy could cause engine problems in cold climates.

5 Your sweet ride may one day run on a sweet fuel. Scientists have developed
a process to convert plant sugars into hydrogen, which could eventually
power fuel-cell cars.  

6 For the first time, scientists have identified a link between pesticide exposure and Parkinson’s disease, a chronic illness marked by tremors and muscle rigidity that affects 1.5 million Americans.

7 Alligators have a deadly reputation, but proteins in their blood might provide new antibiotics to fight drug-resistant “superbugs,” infections from diabetic ulcers, and severe burns.

8 Ironically, scientists have identified trees as a threat to tropical rainforests; non-native trees (some, like strawberry guava, were introduced for their fruit) can alter the ecosystem and possibly make it inhospitable for native flora and fauna.

9 The US and other countries dumped more than 200,000 tons of chemical weapons into the ocean between 1946 and 1972, but nobody marked down the locations. Now scientists are calling for those weapons sites to be mapped before toxic chemicals seep into seawater.

Issue 25

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