This week in STEM Oct. 16

The world runs on science, at the Lumberjack we're bringing you the top stories every week.

By | Bryan Donoghue

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Doomsday theorists may start gearing up for the coming of the end as Yellowstone National Park’s super volcano could erupt a lot earlier than predicted. A group of scientists from Arizona State University analyzed incredibly old ash from 630,000 years ago, and found that based on the timeframe from the last explosion, we may be close to another one. It won’t happen for the next few decades at minimum, but when it does explode, the ash would cover most of the United States and the Earth would go into a volcanic winter.

Source: National Geographic, New York Times, New York Post, Reddit (for doomsday theorists)

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Forget crop circles, a mysterious hole called a polynya was spotted near Antartica by researchers earlier this week. National Geographic reports that it’s the size of the state of Maine, around 30,000 square miles. Another gigantic hole was also found near Antartica last year, though it was smaller. It is still unknown what this polynya means for Antartica’s oceans and climate.

Source: CBS, USA Today, National Geographic

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We’re all just people, so the notion of race based on skin color is truly outdated. Researchers from University of Pennsylvania have found eight genetic variants within four regions of the human genomes that influence pigmentation.
These special cells in the skin called melanosomes that act as pouches to hold pigment molecules. This essentially means some skin is just darker or lighter. Humans genetically develop colors just like other mammals through evolution. A researcher on the study says this discovery helps dispels the biological concept of race.

Source: University of Pennsylvania, Science Magazine, New York Times

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There are worm like creatures under the sea known as bryozoans, and they might just be the medicine we need. A compound known as Bryostatin 1, which is found naturally in the bryozoan Bugula neritina, has been studied for decades as a potential drug for cancer, HIV, and Alzheimers. Its supply is severely limited, and finding a way to recreate the compound in a lab setting has been difficult. Researchers at Stanford University have been able to successfully recreate 2 grams of the compound so far, and they plan to continue research on benefits of the drug.

Source: Stanford, Science News, Chemical and Engineering Magazine


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