What do human scalps, deep sea vents, and Antarctic soil have in common? As it turns out, all of these places are home to one weird group of fungi. A study published today in the journal PLOS Pathogens found that fungi of the genus Malassezia are just about everywhere. And we do mean everywhere.
May started his research with a pair of pickled woodpeckers borrowed from a zoologist. In studying their cranial anatomy, he and his collaborators found a patch of spongy bone at the front of the skull, which they thought might act like a shock absorber. Woodpeckers also have a bone called the hyoid, which supports the tongue and then winds all the way around the bird’s head. A researcher later argued that the hyoid could function as a sort of cerebral safety belt.
Over the past week, scientists have published the results of studies analyzing two very strange -- and very different -- lakes. One is Pitch Lake, a lake made of asphalt and filled with hydrocarbon gases on the Caribbean island of Trinidad. The other is Lake Whillans, a freshwater body located 800 meters under the surface of a glacier in West Antarctica. You might say the lakes seem unearthly, although they're located right on our home planet. Titan, Saturn's moon, has hydrocarbon lakes like Pitch Lake, and several moons in our solar system are thought to host liquid water underneath a thick layer of ice.
Now Iceland is warning airlines that another volcano named Bárðarbunga may be about to blow. On Monday scientists registered the area’s largest earthquake since 1996, and they’ve spotted magma welling beneath the ground, causing Iceland’s Met office to issue a code orange risk level to the aviation industry, Reuters reports. On the scale, which comes from the International Civil Aviation Organization, the only thing riskier than orange is red. Now, the Iceland Review reports that areas north of the volcano are being evacuated.
Power companies channel electrons around using copper wires. As it turns out, certain bacteria appear to do something similar. In the absence of oxygen, a number of common soil bacteria species grow tiny nanowires, along which they push electrons to nearby rocks. This movement of the electrons produces energy, which the bacteria use to make ATP -- the molecule all cells use to power everything they do. However, this energy production strategy is rather unusual; outside of these species, most cells, including human cells, produce their energy using internal processes, not external ones.
Six weeks worth of rain fell on greater Detroit on Monday, much of it during afternoon rush hour. Local drainage systems quickly topped out, and the deluge transformed highways into lakes studded with hundreds of stranded drivers and submerged cars. Flooded roads and highways in greater Detroit began to reopen on Wednesday, two days after the storm, according to The Wall Street Journal, but the cleanup and repair is likely to take months.