SciNews Feb 2

Zebras, immune system, Gulf oil mystery, exoplanets and the physics of flight – lots of cool science to satisfy the science enthusiasts in your class.  This eclectic collection of current science news stories is brought to you by STAOBlog.

SciNews is published every Monday and Thursday. Stay tuned for more

7308778_s  from 123rfBiology

Why do zebras have stripes? Temperature counts. Science Daily

One of nature’s fascinating questions is how zebras got their stripes. A team of life scientists has found at least part of the answer: The amount and intensity of striping can be best predicted by the temperature of the environment in which zebras live. Read more…

Immunity: Environment can have big impact. Science News for Students

When germs enter the body, a powerful defense system may turn on. Known as the immune system, it calls in cells that serve as combat troops, snipers and medics. Some of these cells take on invaders. Others clean out sick and dead cells. Still more trigger healing. Genes hold instructions for making many of those immune troops and their weapons. But a study now finds that the environment may play a bigger role than genes do in revving up the immune system and shutting it down when the battle is over. Read more…



13698187_s from 123rf

Where did the missing oil go? New study says some is sitting on the Gulf floor.  Science Daily

Some 6 million to 10 million gallons of oil from the BP oil spill are buried in the sediment on the Gulf floor, about 62 miles southeast of the Mississippi Delta, researchers have discovered.  Read more…



Dust erases evidence for gravity wave detection. Science News

An elusive signal from the dawn of the cosmos is officially still elusive.

Galactic dust accounts for much of the signal that researchers originally interpreted as ripples in spacetime imprinted on the universe’s first light, a new analysis confirms. The study, conducted by the BICEP2 team that claimed the discovery and scientists with the Planck space telescope, nullifies a result that would have provided the first direct evidence of cosmological inflation, a brief moment after the Big Bang when the universe rapidly ballooned in size. Read more…


How birds stay in the air. Science News for Students

The force a bird exerts to keep itself aloft has always been a bit of a mystery. Engineers are particularly eager for this information because it could inspire designs for futuristic drones. These pilotless flying robots might flap, dart and hover with birdlike grace and agility. Read more…

12693495_s from 123rfEarth and Space Science

This Exoplanet’s Ring System Puts Saturn to Shame. Discover

A newly discovered planet makes Saturn’s famed ring collection look downright tiny by comparison.

Astronomers from the Leiden Observatory in Netherlands and Rochester University in the United States discovered a planet encircled by a ring system more than 200 times the diameter of Saturn’s. With more than 30 rings, it’s the first system of its kind to be discovered outside our solar system, and it may be churning out more moons and protoplanets. Read more…

Oldest solar system unearthed by Kepler .Science News

The Kepler space telescope has unearthed the oldest known solar system. Five tiny rocky worlds snuggle up to the 11.2-billion-year-old Kepler 444, a cool red star more than twice as old as our sun. Because planets form at the same time as the stars they orbit, the discovery implies that the universe has been churning out rocky planets throughout its entire history, providing ample time for alien life to develop and perhaps flourish (SN: 2/7/15, p. 7). Read more…