MI weekly selection #79
Identified a new type of stone formed by plastic
Discarded plastic has created a new type of stone, mixed with other materials, both natural and manufactured. The strange plastiglomerate formations were first discovered in 2006 on a polluted beach area in a remote part of Hawaii’s Big Island, but the significance of the find wasn’t realized until 2012, when 205 pieces were collected of the hybrid stone, believed to have been created by bonfires lit by locals. Scientists believe plastiglomerate could be found in other parts of the world and may one day become part of the future fossil record.
Earth’s mantle holds oceans of water
Vast stores of water have been found within the Earth’s mantle trapped in the mineral ringwoodite, according to a study published in Science. The transition zone can hold a lot of water, and could potentially have the same amount of H2O as all the world’s oceans.
Genetic study finds diverse mix of people in Mexico
The population of Mexico is extremely diverse genetically, according to a study published in Science that also suggests close biological ties between the country’s indigenous Native Americans and those of mixed Native American and European ancestry.
Engineers study fire ants’ versatile clumping
Fire ants clump together as a single unit to form bridges, rafts and balls when faced with various stresses, and engineers are studying the clumping technique in search of design hints for materials and robots. Researchers froze an ant ball into place with glue vapor to study how the ants interlocked. They noted that the ants oriented themselves and distributed their weight to create a light, buoyant shape.
Dormant LHC could reveal new particle when it boots up in 2015
A new particle may be awaiting discovery when the Large Hadron Collider at CERN goes back online next year after undergoing upgrades. While reviewing data produced by the LHCb detector, researchers noticed Z bosons that appeared to decay into electrons about 25% more frequently than muons, suggesting the rate was altered because of an unknown particle.