ICYMI: This Week’s Science News (6/30/17)


By: Jaclyn Cascio (@jaclynator)

Eggs, glue, and turtle herpes are just a few of the stories coming from the science world this week. You might have blinked and missed it. We’ve got you covered! ICYMI, here’s some of the science news from the last week!

Are you afraid of needles?

The CDC reported that only 37% of adults in the United States had gotten their flu shots by November for the 2016-2017 flu season. Whether you’re afraid of needles or just don’t make time to get around to it, researchers are working on a way to make it more accessible. In the research published this week, researchers tested patches with tiny needles (so small they’re considered painless), that people can stick on themselves. The needles dissolve and the patch can be removed, eliminating any sharp biohazardous materials. The method appeared to be successful and safe, with an antibody response in the research subjects. The new administration method might make the important vaccine easier and more accessible for everyone!

Stretching the limits of superglue…

Superglue is an incredible product that can fix just about anything…as long as the thing you’re gluing doesn’t need to move or stretch. However, experimental physicists have concocted a new adhesive using the main ingredient in superglue that can diffuse into the surfaces being stuck together, allowing for a solid bond but with some stretch to it. Now, hard and soft surfaces can be reliably attached to hydrogels, which means it can be used in moving robotic parts, human spines, electronic skin, etc. It’s a new discovery, so it’s not going to be on the market for a few years, but stretchy glue is in our futures!

If you want to make an omelet…

Maybe you’ve always wondered about different egg shapes. Maybe you haven’t. Either way, a gigantic study was conducted and the results are in. A team of researchers looked at more than 49,000 pictures of bird eggs collected from 1400 different bird species (about 14% of the world’s bird species). Long story short, the length of a bird egg generally correlates to bird body size and the shape of the egg (spherical, elliptical, and/or asymmetrical) generally relates to the bird’s flying habits. For example, the stronger the flight abilities of the bird, the more elliptical or asymmetrical the eggs will be. There are exceptions to these findings, of course, but found the correlations to be generally true. (And if you’re craving an omelet now, it’s okay. No one would have expected any less.)

Turtle Herpes

Green sea turtles around Hawaii, Florida, and Brazil suffer from benign tumor growths that often appear around their eyes, mouth, and neck. While the tumors themselves are not malignant, some turtles die when the tumors affect their vision, block their airways, etc. The tumors are believed to be caused by a herpesvirus specific to turtles. Scientists have, for the first time, grown non-mammalian skin, specifically that of the green sea turtle. Being able to study the skin in the lab, the researchers may be able to learn more about the problem affecting the endangered turtles, and might even provide insight into other herpesvirus diseases, even in humans!

Polly want a cracker?

Look out parrot world! There’s a new player in town! A new species of parrot has been discovered, now named the blue-winged Amazon parrot (Amazona gomezgarzai). Found in the rainforests of Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula, the newly discovered species has a unique call, which is what ultimately gave it away. Upon closer visual inspection, the new parrot species has other unique markings, differentiating it from similar species in the area. The birds appear to live in small families of about 12 birds and love to snack on their fruits and veggies. Very few have been found, suggesting a need for conservation, so don’t expect to have one as a pet!

Future Forest City

There has been talk about China’s green city for some time – a city designed to be covered with plant life and run on renewable energy. Talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words; China has officially begun construction of the “Forest City” in Liuzhou, Guangxi Province. The green city project is expected to a home for approximately 30,000 people, one million plants, and 40,000 trees. The project is expected to finish in 2020, and if successful will set a precedent worldwide for earth-friendly city design!

Bye-bye, fossil fuels

Renewable energy methods are being developed and tested in many countries around the world, some with greater success than others. Last week, China set out to show that green energy is the future by powering the entire Qinghai Province (with about five million residents) for seven days, using only renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydro power. What crazy and amazing plans will China roll out next?

And this little piggy went to Egypt…

A female mummy from a gravesite in Egypt has a 3,000 year old prosthetic toe. The prosthetic toe appears to have belonged to a priest’s daughter, who may have had several re-fittings of the toe for comfort or aesthetic reasons, according to the researchers studying the interesting piece. I guess you need good looking toes, real or not, to show off the new sandals you just bought at the local market, right?

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