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Science News highlights for students: Today’s top stories

Science News highlights for students- Modern life can be fast-paced and ever-evolving, so it is imperative that students keep abreast of current affairs to help them quickly adapt. Every day there are numerous scientific advancements taking place that are both fascinating and alarming.

Science News highlights for students: Today's top stories
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Science News highlights for students

1. Mercury’s Comet-Like Tail

Science News highlights for students- Mercury, the innermost planet in our Solar System, features a long comet-like tail. This is caused by solar wind – a stream of energetic particles released by both the Sun and its clouds and carried through space and time by it.

Mercury’s close proximity to the sun means it frequently endures impacts from meteorites and asteroids, which can leave its surface unevenly roughened up, making sunlight hard to penetrate its dense atmosphere.

Researchers have observed that impactors liberate small amounts of sodium from Mercury’s surface and push it out into space via solar wind currents, giving off a yellow hue when sunlight scatters off their atoms.

The brightest sodium emission occurs 16 days prior to Mercury’s closest point to the sun, known as perihelion. Astronomers are more likely to observe its radiance during this period.

These observations also indicate that Mercury’s exosphere is being continually replenished with materials from both its surface and solar wind as well as from its own magnetic sheath, known as its magnetosphere.

As such, the exosphere does not remain exactly unchanged from one observation to the next.

Scientists are using data gathered by MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging) mission to study how these effects work out on Mercury’s surface. Their results were published in Icarus special issue “Renewing the Exosphere: Effects of Magnetosphere and Exosphere on Mercury.”

These discoveries demonstrate how studying the effects of dynamic forces can give scientists insight into a planet’s history.

2. The Second Deepest Blue Hole in the World

Science News highlights for students- Divers with enough training can find diving Dean’s Blue Hole off Clarence Town on Long Island in The Bahamas one of the most thrilling experiences ever. However, it is essential that they remain aware of their air consumption, depth, and duration underwater – it can be easy to get distracted by its spectacular sights; to ensure your safety.

Blue holes (also referred to as submarine sinkholes) are mysterious geological formations formed when seawater meets limestone, an extremely porous substance easily worn away by water erosion.

Many of these holes began forming during the last ice age, when repeated flooding and draining of coastal areas created voids that eventually filled with seawater as sea levels rose, producing caverns.

These voids have since become home to an array of species that have evolved to thrive in low oxygen, sunlight-free conditions. Furthermore, they serve as excellent fossil preservers allowing scientists to identify extinct creatures as well as human remains that lie therein.

Researchers recently discovered a deep blue hole in Chetumal Bay, Mexico. Measuring approximately 900 feet (274.4 meters), this pit falls short of being the deepest blue hole – Dragon Hole which sits 300 meters beneath the South China Sea surface.

Researchers discovered a gap through scuba dives and water samples, taking samples in order to measure dissolved carbon levels in the waters.

Researchers discovered that blue hole waters contained both organic and inorganic carbon molecules, making them older than ocean waters in general. Furthermore, these waters showed unique microbial communities, sediment archives and chemical gradients; providing greater insight into ocean’s role within environmental context.

3. The World’s Largest Animals

Science News highlights for students- The world is home to many diverse species of animals, from microscopic organisms such as fungi to gigantic beasts – with some of the largest and most impressive marine creatures being some of our planet’s best examples.

The blue whale is one of the largest marine animals, reaching 100 feet long and weighing 200 tons! Additionally, these mammoth creatures consume up to 50 million calories daily – enough for powering over 30,000 Big Macs!

Komodo dragons, one of the largest-scale creatures, can reach 10 feet long and 200 pounds, and possess swimming capabilities, making them faster than most land-dwelling reptiles.

Live Science notes the capybara is one of the world’s largest rodents and a common sight across South America, often looking like a large guinea pig but possessing more teeth than its average-sized counterpart.

If you prefer something with less fur, consider the Goliath beetle, an amphibian commonly found in tropical forests of Africa that weighs up to 3.5 ounces (100 grams) and measures up to 4.5 inches (11.5 cm). These brown/black/white colored amphibians can weigh as much as 100 grams each and come from tropical climates like Brazil.

Finally, pythons are long, serpentine creatures that can reach up to 26.2-feet long! They are known to use asphyxiation techniques when killing their prey while maintaining their size by feeding on large animals such as pigs and deer.

The world’s largest animals are truly incredible to witness in their natural environments; seeing these massive beasts up close inspires conservation efforts while giving a thrilling thrill of seeing something so incredible up close!

4. A New “Shape-Shifting” Antibiotic

Science News highlights for students- Antibiotics are indispensable in treating infections of various sorts; however, their misuse has led to an explosion of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi posing a significant public health threat; particularly lethal in developing countries where supplies of antibiotics may be limited.

John Moses of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York devised an antimicrobial that can change its shape and rearrange its atoms for maximum effectiveness, called bullvalene, that allows him to configure its molecules into numerous configurations.

Moses combined two “warheads” of existing vancomycin antibiotic with this new core molecule using click chemistry, a process in which catalysts cause molecules to “click together like Lego blocks.” According to Moses – who studied under Nobel laureate K. Barry Sharpless (pictured), click chemistry is both fast and specific.

The team conducted tests using wax moth larvae infected with vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus bacteria and discovered that their newly developed antibiotic was significantly more effective at clearing away infection than standard vancomycin. Furthermore, researchers noted that their antibiotic reduced surface-to-volume ratio of bacteria cells resulting in less membrane bound antibiotics which likely help prevent resistance in future.

As well as combatting antibiotic resistance, this new drug offers other potential uses. For instance, it could potentially be used against space-borne germs that have adapted to living in near-weightless environments, like onboard the International Space Station.

5. The Total Solar Eclipse

Science News highlights for students- One year from now, millions of people across the United States will witness one of nature’s grandest spectacles: a total solar eclipse. Scheduled for April 8, 2024, this remarkable event can be seen from Mexico to Maine.

The path of totality will cross five time zones from Mountain to Newfoundland within one hour and 43 minutes, passing through national parks such as Arizona’s Four Corners region with Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah.

NASA reports that this eclipse will also traverse major American cities. There, the moon will cast its shadow over these locations and viewers in its path will experience totality for themselves, according to NASA.

Even if you don’t live within the path of totality, partial solar eclipses are still visible; however, they will appear darker than during total eclipses according to NASA.

At a partial eclipse, only part of the Sun’s disk is covered by the moon; these areas remain exposed, creating what is known as penumbra – an irregular dark area surrounding its shadow.

When the Moon completely covers the Sun, an extended layer of its outer atmosphere – the solar corona – shines through. Although too faint for everyday visibility, total eclipses provide scientists with an unprecedented opportunity to study it for new discoveries.

NASA is funding 11 ground-based science investigations for this solar eclipse to examine how its corona impacts Earth. Three will focus on understanding how it protects life on our planet from extreme ultraviolet radiation from the Sun by absorbing it into an ionosphere layer that absorbs it.