SCIENCE INITIATIVE HARIPAD KERALA INDIA

What gives frog tongues the gift of grab



Frogs’ remarkable power to tongue-grab prey — some as big as mice or as oddly shaped as tarantulas — stems from a combo of peculiar saliva and a supersquishy tongue.
The first detailed analysis of the stickiness of frog saliva shows that the fluid can shift rather abruptly from gooey to runny, says mechanical engineer Alexis Noel of Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Those quick changes come in handy during the various phases of a single tongue strike. And it all works because the tongue itself is so soft, Noel and colleagues report February 1 in Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
Internet videos of frogs feasting sparked Noel’s curiosity about their ability “to eat furry things, hairy things, slimy things,” she says, and to do so with speed and power. A frog tongue strikes five times more quickly than a human can blink.
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Mineral veins found in Mars's Gale Crater were formed by the evaporation of ancient Martian lakes, a new study has shown.

Drill hole into the John Klein target within Sheepbed Member of Yellowknife Bay, with a light-toned sulfate veinlet visible on the back wall. The light-toned veins have been identified as sulfates by ChemCam (Nachon et al.; Schroeder et al.) and CheMin (Vaniman et al.). Drill hole is 1.6 cm diameter. Image is white balanced. Scale bar is 2 cm.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Leicester
The research, by Mars Science Laboratory Participating Scientists at The Open University and the University of Leicester, used the Mars Curiosity rover to explore Yellowknife Bay in Gale Crater on Mars, examining the mineralogy of veins that were paths for groundwater in mudstones.The study suggests that the veins formed as the sediments from the ancient lake were buried, heated to about 50 degrees Celsius and corroded.Professor John Bridges from the University of Leicester Department of Physics and Astronomy said: "The taste of this Martian groundwater would be rather unpleasant, with about 20 times the content of sulphate and sodium than bottled mineral water for instance!"However as Dr Schwenzer from The Open University concludes, some microbes on Earth do like sulphur and iron rich fluids, because they can use those two elements to gain energy. Therefore, for the question of habitability at Gale Crater the taste of the water is very exciting news."The researchers suggest that evaporation of ancient lakes in the Yellowknife Bay would have led to the formation of silica and sulphate-rich deposits.Subsequent dissolution by groundwater of these deposits -- which the team predict are present in the Gale Crater sedimentary succession -- led to the formation of pure sulphate veins within the Yellowknife Bay mudstone.The study predicts the original precipitate was likely gypsum, which dehydrated during the lake's burial.

Seventh Row of Periodic Table Completed

What do the nation of Japan, the state of Tennessee, and the city of Moscow have in common with Russian nuclear physicist Yuri Oganessian? If you hadn't guessed, all four just had elements named after them, marking the observation and naming of all elements in the seventh row of the periodic table.Nihonium, moscovium, tennessine, and oganesson are the latest additions to the chart, assigned to elements with atomic number 113, 115, 117, and 118 respectively. Atomic number refers to the number of protons in each atom's nucleus, and correspondingly to the number of electrons that orbit the protons and neutrons. It is the number of electrons that primarily determines an element's physical properties.

Element 113, nihonium, was named after the nation of Japan—Nihon means "Land of the Rising Sun" in Japanese. Nihonium was synthesized in Japan, by bombarding a block of bismuth with a ions of a heavy zinc isotope (zinc-70) at extremely high speeds. Researchers didn't identify the new element directly, but rather its decay products—nihonium is highly unstable, so right now the only way to figure out that you had some is to look at the pieces it breaks into.
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