Saturday, November 19, 2011

Science Saturday 1.7: Giant Amoebas, Light Metal, & More

*Disclaimer: I am in NO WAY a science writer/journalist.  I will most likely get some facts wrong (hopefully not).  I simply want to share news that I find interesting.  Knowing that my blog readers are most likely not science people, I will try to explain what I can in the simplest way possible so that anyone can learn something about science today.*

Science Saturday is back!  Sorry for the two week hiatus - real life got in the way.  To start off, if you haven't seen this amazing footage of Earth from NASA's International Space Station, you are in for a treat.  Between the natural wonder of the Aurora Borealis and the man-made wonder of city lights, our small rock in the big universe is a beautiful place to call home.

Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceonography at UC San Diego have identified xenophyophores, giant amoebas, down at the unexplored depths of the Mariana Trench.  Individual cells were found as large as 4 inches, accustomed to survival in dark and cold waters (6.6 miles deep).  Further research can shed more light on understanding cellular life in extreme environments.

The world's lightest material has been developed by researchers at HRL Laboratories in CA.  This metal "micro-lattice" is 99.99% air, made up of hollow tubes 100 nanometers thick.  The material is 100 times lighter than Styrofoam, yet it can recover from compression exceeding 50% strain and high energy absorption.  Possible uses for this material include battery electrodes or shock energy damping.

Featured Microbe: Ebola virus
A member of the RNA virus family Filoviridae, Ebola virus was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire) in Africa.  The origin of the virus is still unknown, and outbreaks occur sporadically in humans and other primates.  The virus is spread via contact with blood or secretions of an infected person and causes hemorrhagic fever, a severe often-fatal disease.  There is currently no treatment for Ebola hemorrhagic fever.


1 comment:

  1. The lightest material in the world is amazing, I can't wait to see the uses for it in the future!

    Time lapse video defies descriptive words, it honestly leaves me humbled!

    Ebola virus/Ebola hemorrhagic fever scares me silly.

    Again, thank you for your fabulous and insightful science Saturday posts!