Stellar Vampires, Snake Sperm and Optomechanics

BY Jenny Marder  October 24, 2011 at 2:39 PM EST

Did Giant Stars Feed Blue Stragglers?

Science Friday.jpgLast week, scientists presented new theories on blue stragglers, stars that are bluer and brighter than other stars. The origins of how these stars formed have long confounded scientists. Astrophysicist Aaron Geller from Northwestern University explains the latest evidence on how these stars most likely formed, and why some are calling them “stellar vampires.” (Ira Flatow, Science Friday)

Different method, Same Result: Global Warming is Real

Nature News.jpgA team of scientists, led by Richard Muller of UC Berkeley, who has been critical of climate scientists in the past, have released an independent analysis of the data of “virtually all temperature stations on land.” Their report concludes that the climate is getting hotter, and global warming is happening. This article, in question and answer form, compares this new study, which, the piece points out, is still undergoing peer review, to its predecessors. (Jeff Tollefson, Nature News)

Snake Stores Sperm for Five Years Before Giving Birth

New Scientist.jpg

Short but fascinating. This post looks at a study of a rattlesnake that was kept in a Florida collection for five years with no contact with other snakes, and then suddenly, unexpectedly, gave birth to 19 little snakes. Warren Booth of North Carolina State University, who studied the snake mom’s DNA, believes she mated before she was captured and then stored the sperm for years. More in this Discovery News post. (New Scientist)

Using Light to Flip a Tiny Mechanical Switch

Science News.jpgScientists have flipped a nanometer-sized mechanical switch, using only the force of laser light. Researchers call it “a promising new twist into the hot field of ‘optomechanics,’ which marries nanotechnology and optics.” A great explainer on how it was achieved. (Adrian Cho, Science)