MI weekly selection #83
The role of turbulence in the formation of stars
A pair of recent studies sheds new light on turbulence, a factor in the formation of stars when galaxies collide. In one study, researchers simulated the collision of two Antennae Galaxies and found that the collision produced “compressive turbulence,” which could get fusion started by pushing gas clouds to a high density. The second study suggests that turbulent eddies could cause gravitational collapse in such a way as to create stars made of heavier elements than hydrogen or helium.
Chimpanzees inherit intellectual ability from parents
Chimpanzees may inherit their intelligence from their parents, a study in Current Biology suggests. Researchers studied 99 captive chimpanzees, measuring their abilities in 13 standard tasks to calculate their general intelligence, called “g,” taking into account their family relationships, environment and social culture. “Our results in chimps are quite consistent with data from humans, and the human heritability in g. The historical view is that non-genetic factors dominate animal intelligence, and our findings challenge that view,” said study leader William Hopkins.
Frogs may be building immunity to lethal fungus
Frogs may be developing defenses to a fungus that has been killing off amphibians since the 1990s, according to University of South Florida researchers. Scientists hope that the discovery can lead to a vaccine-style effort to stem the infection’s devastation. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis has spread throughout the world, driving some species of amphibians to extinction.
Nearly everyone carries age-related disease gene mutation
Research focusing on mitochondrial DNA shows how some age-related diseases take hold in the human body and may offer clues on ways to prevent them. The study indicates that almost everyone carries mutations of genes that could cause age-related disease, and managing their expansion could lead to preventing the disease’s progression.
Strange ditches predate Amazon rainforest
Mysterious ditches dotting the Amazon region of Bolivia and Brazil were there before the rainforest came to be, according to a study. The discovery has left researchers with questions about how indigenous people may have affected the landscape before Europeans arrived.