SciNews May 21

Bugs in your belly button, bones, and fried brains – this weeks best science stories to captivate your students.

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

7308778_s  from 123rfBiology

 Bones: Custom cushioning helps heal a bad break. Science News for StudentsBadly break a bone in your arm or leg and you’ll almost certainly get a cast. These sturdy sleeves of plaster or fiberglass are intended to hold the limb firmly in one position for a few weeks as the fractured bone heals. But costly or painful problems can develop, especially if the limb swells a lot after the cast has hardened into its final shape. Now, a pair of Israeli teens has come up with a solution that doesn’t require replacing the cast. They’ve developed a computer-controlled inflatable bladder to fit between the limb and the cast. Electronics monitor the pressure inside the bladder. As needed, they adjust how much air it holds to keep the liner’s grip on the limb firm but comfortable. Read More…


Flashback Friday: Here’s a list of what’s currently living in your belly button. Discover

Have you ever wondered what exactly is inside your belly button? Well, besides the lint (which is mostly derived from actual lint), there is a whole ecosystem of microorganisms that call the navel their home. The authors of this study used DNA sequencing to identify these organisms, determining that the belly button microbiome is dominated by a few common members (see excerpt below), but the remaining species are diverse. The most surprising result, however, was the discovery of two different types of Archaea (a domain of single-celled organisms often found in extreme environments such as hot springs and not previously reported on human skin) from “an individual who self-reported not having showered or bathed for several years.” Talk about an “extreme environment”– I just feel sorry for whoever had to swab that person’s belly button! Read More…


13698187_s from 123rf

As carbon emissions climb, so too has Earth’s capacity to remove CO2 from atmosphere. Science Daily

New research confirms that as carbon emissions continue to climb, so too has the Earth’s capacity to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Read More…

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Scientists ‘see’ thunder for first time. Science News for Students

With thunder, there’s always lots to hear. Now there’s also something to see. For the first time, scientists have precisely mapped the loud clap radiating from a lightning strike. This picture of thunder’s origins could reveal the energies involved in powering some of nature’s flashiest light shows. Read More…


Physicists observe attosecond real-time restructuring of electron cloud in molecule. Science Daily

The recombination of electron shells in molecules, taking just a few dozen attoseconds (a billionth of a billionth of a second) can now be viewed ‘live,’ thanks to a new method. Read More…


Earth and Space Science12693495_s from 123rf

 Trip to Mars could damage astronauts’ brains. Science News for Students

Particles zipping through space could be the wrong stuff for Mars astronauts. A study using mice found these high-energy particles slice through the brain. They pruned back connections linking brain cells. This left the animals with memory and learning problems. The study’s authors now worry that astronauts could suffer similar effects on long missions outside Earth’s protective atmosphere. One example: traveling to Mars. Read More…