SciTech Briefs

Newly discovered species of frog appears to lie

Conservation International announced the discovery of a new species of frog, nicknamed the “Pinocchio frog,” in the Foja Mountains of New Guinea. This lost-world amphibian was found by Paul Oliver, a herpetologist at the University of Adelaide, who happened to spot one perched on a bag of rice at the campsite during a downpour.

The Pinocchio frog’s nose is noted to stand up when the frog is excited, and droop down otherwise. Other functions of the Pinocchio frog’s nose remain unknown.

Source: Discovery News

American Lung Association creates air pollution app

The American Lung Association (ALA) introduced its new “State of the Air” app, available for both iPhone and Android, which also connects to Twitter and Facebook. This app informs residents of the air quality in their living area for following days, as well as of the danger of the air pollution and ozone levels that occupy nearby areas.

It depicts a character with the name Alvin Grimes collecting air particles in jars as a way to influence users to think about the particles they collect in their own lungs. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer of the ALA, said that over 40 percent of Americans live in areas where pollution continues to be a threat.

Source: The Huffington Post

Neurobiologist studies singing mice

Scientists discovered that mice can sing, similar to dolphins and songbirds. Enrich Jarvis, a neurobiologist at Duke University, stated that mice have more similarities with humans in vocal communication than with any other species. Jarvis verified that mice did not have brain connections to pick up new songs by conducting experiments that involved destroying mice’s motor controls.

In the future, Jarvis plans to study how genes affect vocalization in mice and brain structure to determine its similarities of that to humans and songbirds. Jarvis’ ultimate question lies in whether mice can sing better than songbirds can.

Source: CBS News

Dinosaurs may have used feathers for mating

Paleontologists looking at Canadian dinosaur fossils discovered in 1995 believe that the juvenile ornithomimus had feathers.

The dinosaur still did not have the ability to fly, and the exact purpose of the feathers remains unknown. As the feathers are only found on adults, some scientists speculate they may have been used for reproductive purposes.

“The idea is that these were for communication,” said bird expert Richard Prum of Yale University. The new findings were published in the journal Science.

Source: NPR

Scientists one-up nature with synthetic solar cell

Researchers, led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Daniel Nocera, have produced an advanced solar cell in the shape of a leaf that is 10 times more efficient at carrying out photosynthesis than a natural cell is. The cell has catalytic materials on both sides, and needs no external wires or control circuits.

When placed in a container of water under sunlight, the cell produces oxygen bubbles from one side and hydrogen bubbles from the other. Both of these are collected to produce energy if the cell is placed in a container that separates the two sides. The cell itself is composed of widely available materials such as silicon, cobalt, and nickel.

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Times

[BOLD]**Ozone Hole Smallest Size in Decades**[BOLD]

Scientists have determined that the hole in the ozone layer reached its smallest maximum extent in two decades. The ozone layer, which protects the Earth from UV light, thins during late September and early October; this year’s largest reported hole was 21.2 million square kilometers.

The hole in the ozone layer is created by frigid temperatures and reactions between chlorine and man-made chlorofluorocarbon gases. Scientists say that the shrinking of the hole can be attributed to warmer Antarctic temperatures from changing weather.

Source: Science News