Science

Reconstruction of the Iceman by Kennis © South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, Photo Ochsenreiter
News Science Technology

DNA Reveals Clues About “Ötzi The Iceman”

Scientists studying a 5,000-year-old mummy have learned that the man had brown eyes and hair and that he couldn’t digest milk. They also think he may have relatives alive today.

The mummy is nicknamed “Ötzi the Iceman.” He was discovered in 1991 by two people hiking in the Alps in Italy.

By examining the body, scientists found that Ötzi (pronounced “`oetsi”) died from an arrow wound about 5,300 years ago. His body was preserved by ice and snow.

They discovered that he about 45 years old when he died, 1.6 metres tall and weighed 50 kilograms. He wore a goatskin coat, had shoes made from grass and deerskin, and he carried a bow, an arrow and some tools.

Recently scientists have learned even more about the Iceman, by studying his DNA. DNA is a collection of molecules that contains information about the characteristics of an individual plant or animal. This information is stored in the cells that make up each individual.

chocolate; image: Nieuw, Wikimedia Commons
Health Lighter News Science

Chocolate May Be Good For Your Heart

Chocolate – eaten in moderation – may actually be good for you, according to a new study.

The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, said that people who ate small amounts of dark chocolate instead of other high-fat treats, had slight improvements in the health of their heart.

For some participants, their blood pressure came down slightly. Some people had lower insulin levels.

The researchers, at the Norwich Medical School in the UK, studied more than 1,000 people. They asked people to eat chocolate (or not eat chocolate) and then they monitored them to check for changes in their blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a type of waxy fat; too much of it can cause damage to the heart.

World's smallest chameleon with a finger
Animals Environment News

World’s Smallest Chameleon Discovered

Scientists have discovered a chameleon so small it could sit on your little finger.

The chameleon, which is about three centimetres long, lives on a small island called Nosy Hara, off the coast of Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean.

It is the smallest chameleon and possibly the smallest reptile ever discovered. It lives among rocks and leaves on the forest floor. At night it sleeps on plants, about five to 10 centimetres above the ground.

It is mostly grey and brown with an orange tail, and it doesn’t change colour like most chameleons do. The scientists say this is because it’s already the right colour to blend in with its surroundings.

Giant Panda
Animals News Politics

Canada To Get Two Panda Bears

Canada is expecting two very special visitors from China.

Er Shun and Ji Li are two giant panda bears, which China will be lending to Canada. The pair will live in Toronto for five years, and then in Calgary for five years.

The giant panda is unique to China. They are more than just a native species, however. To the Chinese, panda bears are very symbolic.

If China lets one of its panda bears live in a country, it’s a sign that China feels warmly towards that country.

In this case, the offer came during a recent four-day visit to China by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Cycad at the royal palace grounds, Laung Prabang, Laos
Environment News Science

12-Million-Year-Old Plant May Soon Be Extinct

Cycads, a very rare type of plant, are in danger of becoming extinct because of poachers.

Poaching usually means to hunt animals illegally. In this case, trees are being taken from the wild.

They are then secretly sold for a lot of money – up to $100,000 each – to people who collect unusual plants.

The first cycads existed during the time of the dinosaurs, during the Jurassic period. The kinds of cycads that are alive today have been around for 12 million years.

They look like a cross between a fern and a palm tree, and they can take hundreds of years to grow to their full size.

Southeast Europe storm 26 January 2012
Environment News Science

Europe In The Grip Of A Cold Snap

Some countries in Europe are experiencing a bitterly cold winter.

Ukraine, in eastern Europe, has been especially hard hit. More than 100 people have died there in the last week, as temperatures dropped as low as -30C. Many of the people who froze to death were homeless people living in the city’s capital, Kiev.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, there have been avalanches and strong winds. The country declared a state of emergency.

One woman in Croatia had to have neighbours help her give birth to her baby after the ambulance could not reach her because of a blizzard. She later named her baby Snjezana, which is Snow White in Croatian.

Two students launch a legonaut into space.
News Science Technology

Toronto Teens Send Legonaut Into (Near-) Space

Two teenagers in Toronto, Ont. have taken a giant leap – for themselves, and for one little Lego man.

The teens launched a Lego figure into near-space.

They hooked a helium weather balloon, a home-sewn nylon parachute and four cameras to the figure. And then they went out to a soccer field and let their contraption go.

The cameras were set to take pictures every 20 seconds.

When their figure came back to Earth, they looked at the pictures the cameras had taken.

They were shocked to see their little Lego figure, clutching his Canadian flag, with a picture of the curved horizon of the Earth in the background.

Zebra
Animals News Science

Zebra Dung May Be New Fuel Source

Thanks to zebra dung, cars could one day run on fuel made from old newspapers.

Today, we use mostly oil and gas to run our cars; oil and gas come from fossilized plants and animals. But fossil fuels are expensive, and there aren’t enough of them. Scientists are looking for cheaper and more plentiful fuels.

David Mullin is a biology professor at a university in New Orleans. He and his students are trying to make a fuel from plants. Plant-based fuels are called “biofuels.”

He knew that if he could break down “cellulose,” he could turn it into a fuel that could run vehicles.

School children
Kids Lighter Science

Are Parents Smarter Than Their Kids In Math And Science? Maybe Not

Do you think you know more about science than your parents do? You could be right.

At a big science fair in England last November, 2,000 moms and dads were asked what sort of questions their kids had about science, and how they answer them.

Most of the parents said they found it hard to answer their children’s questions. A few of them said they think their kids know more about science than they do.

Stephen Hawking (1980s)
News Science

Stephen Hawking Turns 70

Stephen Hawking turned 70 on Jan. 8.

Cosmologists – scientists like Hawking who study the origins of the universe – gathered in Cambridge, UK, to pay tribute to him.

Hawking was a mathematics professor at the University of Cambridge for 30 years. He retired from that job in 2009. He still works for Cambridge, in cosmology research.

Hawking is a mathematical genius, who changed the way scientists think about the universe.