[QUOTE]The week in science: the Hubble breaks down, HIV origin found, and two stories on sex
By John Timmer | Published: October 04, 2008 - 09:30AM CT
Sex sells, and this past week's science news was no different. Two of our most popular stories focused on how sex helps drive things like speciation and lifecycles. In the first case, sex and vision were the key factors. In Africa's Lake Victoria, a species of fish is diverging in two: one group is living in a red light environment, where red-shifted vision is favored and males are evolving red coloration. Their former species-members live just a few meters above them, where blue rules the vision and male coloration.
In the oceans, it was sex, viruses, and a single-celled organism called E. hux. E. hux. switches between two states, diploid and haploid, through its own version of sex. The diploid grows better, but can be completely wiped out by a virus; the haploid is immune. This is all made significant by the fact that the diploid sequesters carbon and undergoes population booms large enough to be detected from space. In effect, this virus helps control the planet's carbon cycle.
From sex, we move to sexually transmitted diseases. Researchers combing a sample collection from a Kinshasa hospital have found an HIV-infected sample dating from 1960, which helps place the origin of the virus near the turn of the century. That time marked the urbanization of Kinshasa, which the authors contend both brought in the bush meat that contained the virus, and provided it a large enough population in which to adapt to its new host.
We warned you they were coming: the 2008 Ig Nobel Awards have been handed out, and unsafe sex was a big winner. The spermicidal properties of Coke (hint: go with diet) and the correlations between fertility and tips in strippers both took home plaques this year.
Enigma, Isia Leviant
My apologies if the image at the right is a bit distracting, but it's actually the subject of our most popular piece this past week. Stare at it long enough, and you're likely to see the rings appear to undergo a flowing motion. Researchers have now pinned the blame on brief flicks of the eyes that all of us make without even realizing it.
Also making scientific waves:
* The Hubble suffered a hardware failure, but conveniently did so before the mission to service it had lifted off. The repair has been pushed back to next year so that a replacement part can be installed.
* One of the last bits of metal in organic solar cells has been replaced, producing a bendable organic cell. Low efficiency, but cheap, printable, and flexible.
* Not all of Greenland's glaciers are created equal. Those that sit over deep fjords are retreating faster because of warm, deep currents slipping under them.
* Dark flow anyone? A new, unidentified attractive pull seems to have galaxy clusters streaming toward a point outside our observable universe.
Check back at Nobel Intent to keep up to speed on the odd and interesting developments in science.
So thats why its bad to "inbreed" across subspecies..... :eek: