Archive for July, 2013

Sparrows and Cigarette Butts

What can our avian friends have to do with smelly cigarette butts? Quite a lot it would seem as per ecologist Monserrat Suarez-Rodriguez from the University of Mexico City. A scientific study of 57 sparrow nests in the region has allowed the researcher to come to the conclusion that sparrows keep a sharp look out for cigarette butts when feathering their nests.

The common house sparrow has derived health benefits for their fledglings by adding as many as 48 cigarette butts to a single nest. The cellulose fiber in the filter has a protective effect by eliminating a large percentage of parasitic mites in the nest. No they are not interested in the nicotine containing material and will remove it from the filter by pecking before adding the filter to the nest.

Still the residual material is highly efficient in reducing the amount of parasites that would be found in a nest without the cigarette filters. This was confirmed in tests conducted by the researcher. A unique way to ensure your baby’s health indeed. However these sparrows may find it difficult to come by cigarette butts in the future as stricter non smoking laws come into effect. It would be an interesting science project to find out what they substitute the cigarette filter with.

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Glaciers Melting Leading to Volcanic Activity

Global warming has been happening for a while now resulting in the melting of the polar ice cap on the planet. As the huge ice glaciers melt they Earth is heating up and this may be the cause of increased volcanic activity as per scientific research being conducted in the field.

The reason for this is plate tectonics. As the glaciers melt they make the sea level rise and the weight of this affects the oceanic tectonic plates. The stress on the continents decreases and the earth’s crust cracks as the weight shifts around. These form new locations for the magma at the core of the Earth to escape to the surface.

Researchers from the Geomar-Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research in Kiel in Germany have been collaborating with others in Boston, USA on a study of this phenomenon. They have demonstrated that warm periods on the planet have always been followed by increased volcanic activity.

As per them we are living at the end of a warm period which was additionally impacted by human created global warming. So be ready to face the increased volcanic activity as it hits the earth next. Perhaps it would be well worth creating a science project to see how humans can survive the next round of volcanic activity relatively unharmed.

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Sugar – Life’s Building Block

There is a constant barrage in popular media against sugar being harmful to the human body. The truth is that while excessive sugar consumption can lead to a number of health problem like diabetes and obesity, without sugar there would be no life at all. Sugar is not the villain that it is made out to be. In fact certain scientific research projects think of sugars as major potential blockbuster heroes.

Sugars are studies under the discipline of glycomics. This area of study deals with sugars in the form of carbohydrate chains called glycans. Sugar molecules along with cellulose and starch are a major part of green plants around us. Simply put without the presence of sugar molecules it would not be possible to have such abundant greenery around us.

Researchers have also come up with new innovative means to use sugar molecules. One science project is looking at splitting cellulose into lactic acid to form chains of polylactic acid which is essentially a biodegradable plastic. So sugar based plastic bags could be the next big thing.

Some scientists are also looking forward to diagnosing skin cancer with the help of sugar based complex. So the next time you look at a candy bar remember its not a bad thing, it could be the basis of the next big science experiment revolution.

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The World’s First Flying Car

Today its a common sight to see sleek shaped cars zipping through the skies in science fiction movies. It doesn’t matter that its mostly graphics, the concept is still as popular today as it was way back in 1949 when innovator Moulton Taylor built the world’s first flying car.

The Taylor Aerocar was a unique concept at its inception and took the imagination of the world by storm. The American designer ensured that the car was able to drive on the road just as easily as it was able to fly in the sky. The design allowed the car to fold its wings when it was being run on the road as a regular car.

The flying car was the peak of 20th century automobile design. It was expected to be a huge success, unfortunately commercially it never did find a backer. Moulton was in talks with Ford but was unable to strike a deal.It was a fuel guzzler and the oil crisis of the 1970s was the final nail in its coffin.

Along with the original prototype only four other 21 feet long Aerocars were ever built. Today these collector’s items are being auctioned off for $1 million. Just goes to show that even an innovative science project may not always emerge the winner.

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Innovative Scientific Solution to Deal with Arsenic Poisoning

Arsenic is a toxic element that can cause severe side effects of poisoning in human beings and animals. It is also a by product of mining and leaching of ores in countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh and China. This process of leaching allows arsenic to enter the groundwater and subsequently the food chain causing problems for the population of the region.

It is not all bad as it is used in production of certain drugs and also in the semi conductor production industry. However high levels of arsenic in the human body can lead to problems such as blindness, skin problems and in some cases even cancer. This is why it is important to reduce, if not entirely eliminate, arsenic from groundwater supplies.

Researchers in the US have come up with a simple and user friendly antidote to the problem. Plastic bottles are cut up into small pieces and coated with an amino acid called cysteine. These plastic pieces are then immersed in the ground water like wells and the arsenic gets attracted to them.

After a while the plastic pieces are removed from the well and the water is found to be safe for consumption. The science project proves that a big problem does not always have to have an expensive solution. Sometimes the simplest way may prove to be the best.




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