MI weekly selection #561

An aerial view of the rust-colored Kutuk River in Gates of the Arctic National Park in Alaska. Thawing permafrost is exposing minerals to weathering, increasing the acidity of the water, which releases metals like iron, zinc and copper. Source: Ken Hill / US National Park Service

Fossils reveal worm with toothed, retractable throat

An examination of well-preserved fossils uncovered in the 1920s has found a previously unidentified species of 10-centimeter sea worm with rows of sharp teeth covering a retractable throat that it could throw out to catch prey. Radnorscolex latus likely became extinct 424 million years ago and was the last surviving species of a group of worms called Palaeoscolecida.

Full Story: Interesting Engineering

Exoplanet could offer habitable atmosphere

Gliese 12 b, a recently discovered exoplanet about the size of Venus, could be habitable one day depending on its atmosphere. The planet, part of the Pisces constellation, is about 40 light-years away and could have an average surface temperature of 42 degrees Celsius if it has no atmosphere.

Full Story: Popular Science

Solar storms will fuel years of scientific discovery

NASA says the auroras observed around the world from May 10 to May 12, triggered by Earth’s most powerful geomagnetic storm in over 20 years, were among the most intense in 500 years, and scientists expect to be studying the event for years. Five back-to-back solar storms from sunspot AR3664 temporarily weakened Earth’s magnetosphere, allowing vibrant auroras to be seen as far south as Florida and Mexico in the Northern Hemisphere and New Caledonia in the Southern Hemisphere.

Live Science

Thawing permafrost is turning rivers in Alaska orange

Streams and rivers have turned orange in remote areas of Alaska. Researchers say the phenomenon, which is caused by minerals that have been exposed by thawing permafrost, could significantly impact drinking water and fisheries in Arctic watersheds as the climate changes.

Full Story: University of California, Davis

Promethium study closes knowledge gap in periodic table

Scientists have characterized properties of promethium, a poorly understood rare earth element that is used in extended-life batteries and medical imaging and treatments. The team used advanced techniques like X-ray spectroscopy to reveal the element’s chemical bonding properties, and the discovery fills a longstanding gap in lanthanide research with potential applications in fields ranging from medicine to space travel.

Full Story: PhysOrg

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