What’s new in Science this week?
- NASA has revealed new evidence of a massive ocean hidden under the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa that may be more accessible than thought before. Evidence has surfaced from pictures taken by the Hubble Space telescope in 2014 showing plumes of water some 200 km above the surface and containing a few million kg of water.
- Scientists at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory are using X-rays to examine the chemical make-up of modern bird feathers to map pigment patterns in the hopes of tracing the same pigments back to extinct species. This could lead to accurate portrayals of dinosaurs’ true colours.
- Robyn Miranda and Donald Schaffner of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey tested various foods including gummy candy, watermelon and bread to determine how true the five second rule is. After dropping the food onto surfaces coated with Enterobacter aerogenesbacteria, they have determined wet food picks up the bacteria almost immediately. The rule does not apply to soup.
- To the confusion of some, NASA has not updated the Zodiac signs. Over the past week, news has circulated stating that NASA had added another sign to the Zodiac called Ophiuchus (November 29th-December 17th). The 12 zodiacal constellations are recognised by most countries in addition to the International Astronomical Union. A simple statement was released by NASA – “Here at NASA, we study astronomy, not astrology.”
- Researchers at The University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Prostate Centre have discovered how cancer cells become invisible to the body’s immune system, allowing them to tumours to spread and grow. The loss of interleukein-33, or IL-33, a protein used to identify cells, allows the cancer cells to spread as the body has no way to recognise the cells. The loss of IL-33 was discovered in epithelial carcinomas (cancers that begin in tissues lining the surfaces of organs).
(Image courtesy of Zhao Chuang/Peking Natural Science Organization)