MI weekly selection #22

Pear-shaped nucleus. | Credit: Gaffney et al (2013)
Pear-shaped nucleus. | Credit: Gaffney et al (2013)

Pear-shaped nuclei in some atoms may help explain antimatter

Researchers have used a particle accelerator called REX-ISOLDE at CERN in Switzerland to discover an atom with pear-shaped nuclei. The discovery could lead scientists to extend the Standard Model in physics and help to explain why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe.


Gaffney et al (2013) Studies of pear-shaped nuclei using accelerated radioactive beams Nature DOI: 10.1038/nature12073

Invisibility cloak for heat

Experimenters guide heat around a two-dimensional object without leaving a trace.


Robert Schittny et al (2013) Experiments on Transformation Thermodynamics: Molding the Flow of Heat Physical Review Letters DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.110.195901

Researchers find evidence of ancient common human language

Researchers say words such as “mother,” “fire” and “hand” could have been part of a common human language at least 15,000 years ago. Some linguists have dismissed the idea of a common language, but common words have been traced back nearly 10,000 years so far.

The Guardian

Pagel et al (2013) Ultraconserved words point to deep language ancestry across Eurasia PNAS DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1218726110

Kids with autism spot motion faster

Children with autism see simple movement twice as quickly as other children their age. Researchers say this hypersensitivity to motion may provide clues to a fundamental cause of the developmental disorder.


Jennifer H Foss-Feig et al (2013) A Substantial and Unexpected Enhancement of Motion Perception in Autism Journal of Neuroscience DOI: 10.1523/NEUROSCI.1608-12.2013

Ancient sea DNA will help scientists understand climate

Researchers have discovered DNA in tiny, one-celled sea creatures that lived up to 32,500 years ago. The creatures were found in a part of the South Atlantic that is devoid of birds and contains few fish. Other researchers have also found DNA in plankton dating back 11,400 years in the Black Sea. Studies could reveal climate changes and how sea creatures evolved.


Franck Lejzerowicz et al (2013) Ancient DNA complements microfossil record in deep-sea subsurface sediments Biology Letters DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0283

Marco J.L. Coolen et al (2013) Evolution of the plankton paleome in the Black Sea from the Deglacial to Anthropocene PNAS DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1219283110

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