Now Playing Tracks


New Species of Venomous Jellies Discovered in Australia
By Megan Gannon, News Editor, Live Science | August 13, 2014 

Two new species of jellyfish (Keesingia gigas and Malo bella) have been discovered off the coast of Western Australia. One is surprisingly large. The other is tiny. Both are extremely venomous.

These two newfound creatures are thought to pack painful stings that cause Irukandji syndrome, a constellation of symptoms that includes lower back pain, vomiting, difficulty breathing, cramps and spasms. Though Irukandji syndrome usually isn’t life threatening, two people who were stung in the Great Barrier Reef in 2002 died from severe Irukandji-related hypertension.

Research scientist Lisa-ann Gershwin, who is director of the Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services, described the new box jellyfish, or cubozoans, last month in the Records of the Western Australian Museum [available as a PDF].

Gershwin said that in all of the photos the jellyfish did not appear to have tentacles and that the specimen was also captured without them.

“Jellyfish always have tentacles … that’s how they catch their food,” she said. “The tentacles are where they concentrate their stinging cells. … Some of the people working with it through the years actually got stung by it and experienced rather distressing Irukandji syndrome.”

IMAGES:  [1] An example of the Keesingia gigas jellyfish. Photograph: John Totterdell/MIRG Australia. Via The Guardian  [2] Keesingia gigas in bloom of sea tomatoes, Crambione mastigophora. Image credit: John Totterdell / MIRG Australia.. Via Sci-News  [3] That’s not a plastic bag. That’s a newly described species of box jellyfish, Keesingia gigasImage Credit: Lisa-ann Gershwin


What does Ebola actually do?
By Kelly Servick, 13 August 2014 ||  Science/AAAS | News

Behind the unprecedented Ebola outbreak in West Africa lies a species with an incredible power to overtake its host.

Zaire ebolavirus and the family of filoviruses to which it belongs owe their virulence to mechanisms that first disarm the immune response and then dismantle the vascular system.

The virus progresses so quickly that researchers have struggled to tease out the precise sequence of events, particularly in the midst of an outbreak. Much is still unknown, including the role of some of the seven proteins that the virus’s RNA makes by hijacking the machinery of host cells and the type of immune response necessary to defeat the virus before it spreads throughout the body. But researchers can test how the live virus attacks different cells in culture and can observe the disease’s progression in nonhuman primates—a nearly identical model to humans

Continue reading to find out some of the basic things we understand about how Ebola and humans interact …


The Journal Science Just Published a Paper with 30780 Authors

Andrew J. Westphal, with 65 other listed authors and 30714 Stardust@home citizen scientists: “Evidence for interstellar origin of seven dust particles collected by the Stardust spacecraft”.  Science 15 August 2014: Vol. 345 no. 6198 pp. 786-791 

Seven grains of interstellar dust reveal their secrets [Science/AAAS]

Eight years after a NASA mission brought them back to Earth, seven grains of interstellar dust keep giving scientists fresh puzzles to ponder.

Here’s the Editor’s Summary in Science:

Can you spot a speck of space dust?

NASA’s Stardust spacecraft has been collecting cosmic dust: Aerogel tiles and aluminum foil sat for nearly 200 days in the interstellar dust stream before returning to Earth.

Citizen scientists identified most of the 71 tracks where particles were caught in the aerogel, and scanning electron microscopy revealed 25 craterlike features where particles punched through the foil.

By performing trajectory and composition analysis, Westphal et al. report that seven of the particles may have an interstellar origin. These dust particles have surprisingly diverse mineral content and structure as compared with models of interstellar dust based on previous astronomical observations.

Probing the solar system’s prenatal history
Science 8 August 2014
This is an overview and intro to Maria Lugaro et al, “Stellar origin of the 182Hf cosmochronometer and the presolar history of solar system matter” in Science 8 August 2014: Vol. 345 no. 6197 pp. 650-653 [not open access]

  • The Sun’s age (T0) is inferred from the most accurate estimate for condensation of the solar system’s first solids, which occurred 4567.3 ± 0.16 million years ago (Ma).
  • The epoch before the birth of the Sun reflects progressive isolation of the matter precursor to the solar system from the chemically evolving galaxy.
  • This process leads to the formation of the giant molecular cloud from which a dense fragment collapsed to form the Sun and planets.
  • The current architecture of the inner solar system was largely established within 100 million years of solar system formation.


To Tumblr, Love Pixel Union