What We’re Reading: Giant Crayfish, Wacky Weather and Geomagic Squares

BY Jenny Marder  January 24, 2011 at 11:27 AM EST

Giant Crayfish Found in Tennessee is new Species

Reuters.jpgA new species of crayfish was spotted climbing out from under a rock in Tennessee, according this Reuters story. It is five inches long — that’s twice the size of other crayfish species — and covered in tiny, hair-like bristles. An interesting closing quote here from a scientist who says lots of money is spent looking for new species elsewhere, instead of in our own backyard. (Maggie Fox, Reuters)

Ancient puzzle gets new lease of ‘geomagical’ life

New Scientist.jpgAll this time, Sudoku has been concealing a more complex geometrical form, New Scientist reports. This story looks at the geometry and history of the “geomagic square,” which legend says, was first found carved into the shell of a turtle. (Jacob Aaron, New Scientist)

West Africa’s Toxic Problem

Nature.jpgMysteriously high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been found off the western coast of Africa, Nature reports. PCBs are cancer-causing chemicals. The finding is surprising because this is not an area known for its pollution. Illegal dumping and toxic waste disposal may be the cause. Another possible source is the decaying of old ships in an underwater ship graveyard. (Daniel Cressey, Nature)

Topsy-Turvy Weather: U.S. Is Frigid, Arctic Balmy

Thumbnail image for New York Times.jpgA good story on the wacky weather of the last two years, including severe cold and storms in the South and temperatures as high as 20 degrees Fahrenheit above normal in northeastern Canada and Greenland. The immediate cause: “a pattern of atmospheric circulation that tends to keep frigid air penned in the Arctic has weakened during the past two winters, allowing big tongues of cold air to descend far to the south, while masses of warmer air have moved north.” But is it linked to the same global warming that’s causing sea ice melt in the Arctic? Turns out there are a lot of theories out there that tackle that question. (Justin Gillis, the New York Times)

And in case you missed them, some stories from our Science page last week:

Giffords’ Case Offers Insight on Mysteries of the ‘Changeable’ Brain

NOVA’s ‘Making Stuff’ Explores Spinning of Steel-Strength Spider Silk

How Does Salt Battle Road Ice?