Discover Magazine: Latest Posts, 04-05 Jan 2019


Welcome to another edition of “Hawaii Science Digest”–a Hawaii Island-based blog focusing on science, technology, medicine, health, the environment, cyber security, and artificial intelligence (AI).  Views expressed in this post are those of the reporters and correspondents.  Today’s science news summary comes from contributors to “Discover Magazine”.  Here are the details:

Accessed on 05 January 2019, 0206 UTC.


Please click link or scroll down to read your selections.



With A Genetic Tweak, Crops That Grow 40 Percent Larger

By Amanda Cavanagh, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | January 4, 2019 1:58 pm

What if your ability to feed yourself was dependent on a process that made a mistake 20 percent of the time?

We face this situation every day. That’s because the plants that produce the food we eat evolved to solve a chemistry problem that arose billions of years ago. Plants evolved to use carbon dioxide to make our food and the oxygen we breathe – a process called photosynthesis. But they grew so well and produced so much oxygen that this gas began to dominate the atmosphere. To plan …

citizen science day logo


Calling all librarians: Invitation to participate in Citizen Science Day 2019

By cnickerson | January 4, 2019 1:55 pm

Dear Librarian,

Libraries and similar venues are public spaces where community members, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, economic level, or education level, can engage in a variety of activities.  May we suggest citizen science, which enables ordinary people to advance real scientific research?  Professional scientists need your help, and connecting through citizen science projects offers robust opportunities for patrons to address local or global concerns and to stoke and support cu …


Why We Still Can’t Read the Writing of the Ancient Indus Civilization

By Bridget Alex | January 4, 2019 1:11 pm

Today, when we’ve unlocked the secrets of Egyptian hieroglyphs, Maya writing and hosts of far lesser known scripts, it seems as though there’s nothing left for enterprising epigraphers. Fear not, for there are actually a number of ancient writing systems still to be cracked. They include texts of the Olmec and Zapotec (Mesoamerican cultures preceding the Classic Maya), Proto-Elamite (writings of the earliest civilization of present-day Iran) and Rongorongo of Easter Island.

But if it’s fa …

Pictures from Tree Snap, the Great Pumpkin Project, and The Pieris Project.


Citizen Science Needed to Help Feed the World

By Kristin Butler | January 4, 2019 1:06 pm

For more than a hundred years, the United States government has paired university scientists with local farmers to study how best to feed the world.

These extension programs helped to more than double agricultural production in the U.S. between 1948 and 2001 by sharing knowledge between farmers and university researchers.

These extension programs—which bring knowledge gained through research to agriculture and knowledge gained through practice to education—helped to more than doubl …



China’s Chang’e-4 Lands on Moon’s Far Side, Snaps First Image

By Chelsea Gohd | January 3, 2019 11:01 am

Making Lunar History
For the first time in history, a spacecraft has landed on the far side of the moon. At 10:26 am, Jan. 3 Beijing time, China’s Chang’e-4 spacecraft made a successful soft landing in the Von Kármán crater within the moon’s South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin. A few hours after the landing, the craft sent back its first close shot of the far side of the lunar surface via the relay communication satellite Queqiao, according to the state-run China Global Television Network.



China’s Chang’e-4 Spacecraft Ready to Make Historic Landing on the Far Side of the Moon

By Chelsea Gohd | January 2, 2019 4:37 pm

Landing on the Far Side
Nearly a month after launching from Earth, China’s Chang’e-4 mission is set to make a historic lunar landing, according to news reports. The spacecraft’s exact landing time has not yet been specified. But, if all goes according to plan, the craft will be the first in history to land on the far side of the moon either today or tomorrow (January 3).

The spacecraft is currently orbiting about 9 miles (15 km) above the lunar surface. The craft is prepared to to …



What the Earliest Texts Say About the Invention of Writing

By Bridget Alex | January 2, 2019 3:59 pm

Though we call the last several decades of computational invention the Information Age, we might better look thousands of years in the past to see its true beginnings. That’s when writing, a system that has served as the basis for our collective store of information ever since, began.

This revolutionary idea likely emerged four times in human history: in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and Mesoamerica. In each case, it seems that people with no prior exposure to writing invented symboli …



Climate Change Could Ramp Up Electricity Use in China

By Roni Dengler | January 2, 2019 1:41 pm

As the Earth heats up thanks to climate change, people are cranking up the air conditioning. Pumping in that cooled air also increases electricity use, and especially so in countries where people are just beginning to make heavy use of the electrical grid. Case in point: China, where researchers find that climate change will significantly escalate electricity consumption.

“China is now the largest economy in the world, and their electricity sector is probably the largest single place wh …



New Horizons’ First Close-up Pictures of Ultima Thule Reveal a Binary World

By Jake Parks | January 2, 2019 1:10 pm

NASA’s New Horizons’ team released the first close-up images from Ultima Thule on Wednesday afternoon. Even at the speed of light, signals from the outer solar system take a long time to reach Earth. But the pictures were well worth waiting for. They reveal Ultima Thule is actually two objects stuck together. That’s prompted scientists to dub the big one “Ultima” and the small one “Thule.”

And while the first images may still be a bit disappointing, the best pictures will be arriving in …



Instead of Throwing Christmas Trees Away, What If We Recycled Them?

By Roni Dengler | January 2, 2019 12:44 pm

With the holiday season over, millions of people are taking down their Christmas trees. Only a few days ago, the iconic symbols brought visions of the sugar plum fairy and the magic of Santa. Yet, the trees will get tossed out with the rest of the week’s trash by week’s end to decompose in landfills. But now, researchers from Britain say they’ve found a way to bring second life to Christmas trees.

“A potential solution is to convert these used Christmas trees … into useful materia …

For the latest trends in science and technology, please check this blog daily.
Until next time,
Russ Roberts

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