MI weekly selection #535

Source: Birch Aquarium at Scripps

A way to grow plants in lunar soil

Scientists have discovered a way to turn the moon’s soil into fertile ground for growing plants. Researchers used volcanic material to create simulated lunar regolith and treated the soil with bacteria to increase phosphorus availability, which allowed benth, a relative of tobacco, to grow with healthier stems, roots and leaves than plants in the untreated soil.

Full Story: Reuters

How do hummingbirds fly through narrow openings?

Hummingbirds are able to pass through gaps that are narrower than their wingspans by either flattening their wings against their body and shooting through the opening like a bullet or rolling their body and turning their head to pass through sideways while flapping their wings. Hummingbirds use the bullet approach more frequently, regardless of the shape and size of the opening.

Full Story: The Guardian

Ancient pyramid, mausoleum discovered in Kazakhstan

Archaeologists have uncovered an ancient monument, called the pyramid of Karazhartas, built by the the Begazy-Dandibay culture in Kazakhstan more than 3,000 years ago. “Considering the cut stones found in the Karazhartas pyramid and the monumental size of the mausoleum, the construction of such a gigantic structure in the Bronze Age — in a very arid region such as the steppe — is indicative of the high artistic understanding and rich spiritual beliefs reached by the Begazy-Dandibay communities,” said historian Serhan Cinar of the Kazakh National Museum.

Full Story: Newsweek

NASA: Strong El Niño may cause more winter flooding

More flooding could occur in parts of the US during the upcoming winter if a strong El Niño emerges, with more frequent high-tide flooding along the western coast of the Americas, according to a NASA report. The potential for increased flooding comes as the US this year has experienced a record 25 weather disasters causing damage at least $1 billion apiece, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report.

Full Story: NBC News

How animals get their patterns

A team of engineers has updated mathematician Alan Turing’s theory of how animals get their patterns by studying the mechanism called diffusiophoresis in animals such as the ornate boxfish. While Turing proposed that the diffusion of chemical agents through the skin tissue causes pattern formation, the researchers discovered that pigment cells also move along the diffusion trajectory in diffusiophoresis, causing pigments to clump and form sharply-defined spots and stripes.

Full Story: CNN

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