SciTech

Briefs

Giant cave found with new species

A mammoth cave has been discovered in southern Venezuela that contained a new species of frog. “Cueva del Fantasma” — Spanish for “Cave of the Ghost” — was found deep in Venezuelan Guayana, one of the most inaccessible places on Earth. The cave is so large that the explorers’ helicopters were easily able to fly in and land next to a towering waterfall. Scientists soon discovered a new species of poison-dart frog, the Colostethus breweri, which lives along small streams in the cave. This is the 18th new frog species found in the area.

Source: LiveScience

Underwater aircraft proposed for Navy use

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin is designing a jet-powered unmanned aircraft that launches from a submarine. Capable of being deployed from 150 feet underwater, the jet-engine drone could be outfitted with short-range weapons or surveillance equipment. After completing its mission, the plane lands in the water above the submarine, and an underwater robotic vehicle launched by the sub returns the drone to the submarine. The craft’s gull wings fold around the fuselage, allowing it to fit inside a seven-foot-diameter missile tube. Tests on a splashdown model and an underwater recovery vehicle are expected to be complete by September.

Source: Popular Science

Quantum cryptography test successful

University of Toronto scientists successfully tested a commercial-style quantum cryptography technique that promises hacker-proof communication. In such tests, photons of specific polarization are sent via fiber-optic cables from sender to receiver. If any of the photons are observed by an outsider, the state of those photons is altered, and the receiver can detect that the signal has been hacked. The Toronto scientists varied the intensity of transmitted photons and introduced photonic “decoys,” which were transmitted over a 15-kilometer telecommunication fiber.

Source: ScienceDaily

“Gay genetic factors” may be found

A new study carried out at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that mothers with two gay sons had a much higher chance of a certain gene arrangement than mothers without gay sons did. The research investigated the functionality of the mother’s two X chromosomes. In female cells, either of the two X chromosomes must be inactive for normal reproduction to occur. However, researchers found that in 23 percent of mothers with two gay sons, all cells’ DNA had the same X chromosome deactivated. This extreme skewing only occurs in four percent of mothers without gay sons, and in 13 percent of mothers with one gay son.

Similar research has uncovered other oddities in the genome of homosexuals, and some are suggesting that there are multiple genetic factors involved in determining a person’s sexual orientation. Instead of a single “gay gene” that determines a person’s sexuality, some scientists argue that it is the combination of several genomic features, combined with environmental influences, which will ultimately determines whether a person is gay.

Source: LiveScience