Discover Magazine: Latest Blog Posts

Welcome to the Thursday edition of “Hawaii Science Digest”.

Views expressed in this science news summary are those of the reporters and correspondent of “Discover Magazine”.

Content provided by “Discover Magazine”.


Please click link or scroll down to read your selections.



Researchers Think They’ve Identified the Brain Pattern that Signals Consciousness

By Lacy Schley | February 7, 2019 9:00 am


Imagine lying in a hospital bed, conscious, but unable to convey that to the world around you. For sufferers of strokes, traumatic brain injuries or the ever-terrifying locked-in syndrome, it’s not just nightmare fuel — it’s reality for some patients. What’s potentially more frightening is that neuroscience hasn’t landed on a way to truly test for consciousness. That’s not for a lack of trying. But a new paper published in Science Advances could help pave the way for spott …



NASA Honors Fallen Astronauts with Day of Remembrance

By Korey Haynes | February 7, 2019 8:00 am

Every year, NASA recognizes astronauts who lost their lives in the pursuit of spaceflight with an official Day of Remembrance. This year, it’s celebrated Feb. 7. And NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. Another wreath-laying ceremony will also happen at Kennedy Space Center’s Space Mirror Memorial. Both ceremonies will also include observances for NASA’s lost explorers.

The three great disasters in NAS …



The First CubeSats Ever to Visit Mars Have Gone Silent

By Korey Haynes | February 6, 2019 4:00 pm

When NASA’s InSight mission reached Mars last year, it wasn’t alone. It was accompanied by two tiny satellites called CubeSats, or in this case, MarCO, for Mars Cube One. They were the first CubeSats ever to visit the Red Planet. The pair, nicknamed EVE and WALL-E, after Pixar’s fictional robots, relayed information from InSight’s descent. But their real mission was simply to show off their abilities so far from home and prove that such small missions – the total MarCO program only c …



Deaf Infants Already Process Information Differently

By Bill Andrews | February 6, 2019 3:50 pm

Babies, many people agree, are pretty interesting. Not because of their personalities (although, to be sure, some babies are great wits), but because of everything going on in their little baby brains. The complex and intricate processing power of an adult brain is literally taking shape within a newborn’s head, as experiences and sensory input forge new neural connections. And if a baby is missing one of those senses — say, hearing — it’s reasonable to think her brain would look and …



Silent Neurons: The Dark Matter of the Brain?

By Neuroskeptic | February 6, 2019 3:38 pm

Now here’s a paper with an interesting title: The dark matter of the brain

Author Saak V. Ovsepian argues that “the great majority of nerve cells in the intact brain do not fire action potentials, i.e., are permanently silent.” This is a remarkable claim, and it raises the question of what these silent neurons are doing. However, I didn’t find myself convinced of the existence of this ‘dark matter’.

Ovsepian points out that numerous studies have found that only a minority of the neur …



Melting Ice Sheets Will Really Mess With a Fundamental Ocean Current

By Roni Dengler | February 6, 2019 3:30 pm

Researchers have updated their predictions for what melting ice sheets will do to the planet within the next century. By 2100, the shrinking Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets will raise sea levels by nearly 10 inches. The influx of water will disrupt an ocean current vital to our weather, with dangerous consequences.

“We’re dealing with a very delicately balanced system,” said Nicholas Golledge, a climate scientist at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, who led t …



Women’s Brains Are Younger Than Men’s of the Same Age, Study Finds

By Megan Schmidt | February 6, 2019 1:05 pm

Scientists have found an odd difference between the brains of men and women. Women’s brains appear younger than their age, but men’s brains appear to be older.
When looking at the brains of both sexes of the same chronological age, women’s brains were 3.8 years younger and men’s brains were 2.4 years older on average. The finding, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, may explain why older women tend to outperform their male peers on reason, memory …



With ALMA, Astronomers Find A Bounty of Organic Molecules Near a Young Star

By Korey Haynes | February 6, 2019 11:29 am

One of the fundamental questions in looking for life in the universe is figuring out where the materials necessary for making life are likely to exist. These complex organic molecules are, somewhat surprisingly, found all over: in giant dust clouds in space, and on lonely comets in our own solar system. The question for astronomers is figuring out how they make their way onto planets like Earth.

Astronomers looking to learn about the solar system’s early history often turn to comets, as  …



Marijuana May Not Hurt Sperm Counts Finds A Surprising Study

By Roni Dengler | February 6, 2019 9:38 am

In a surprise find, researchers discover smoking pot may not hinder sperm counts. According to a new study, men who had smoked marijuana at some point in their lives had higher sperm counts than men who had never smoked weed. The finding contrasts previous research showing regular cannabis use lowers sperm numbers.

“These unexpected findings from our study highlight that we know too little about the reproductive health effects of cannabis and, in fact, of the health effects in general t …



As Earth warms from human activities, brutal cold waves are becoming less severe, not more so

By Tom Yulsman | February 5, 2019 5:49 pm

As brutal cold spilled out of the Arctic and enveloped much of the U.S. Upper Midwest and Great Lakes in late January, news stories tied the event to global warming. Here’s a sampling of headlines:

“Brace for the Polar Vortex; It May Be Visiting More Often” (NY Times)

“The Polar Vortex And How It’s Related To Global Warming (Forbes)

“Polar Vortex Linked to Climate Change (WGBH)

An increasing but still contested body of science suggests that rapid and intense warming in the Ar …

For the latest trends in science, technology, medicine, health, the environment, cyber security, and artificial intelligence (AI), please visit this site daily.  Thanks for joining us today.
Until next time,
Russ Roberts

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