Science Briefs – March 1, 2011

Compiled By Kelsey Gobroski / Sun Star Reporter
March 1, 2011

Bears hibernate cozily

Black bears drop their metabolism instead of their temperatures when they hibernate. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game captured nuisance black bears and brought them to artificial dens to be studied. While metabolism dropped to 25 percent the normal rate, the bears’ temperature only barely dipped, the study found. A reduced metabolism normally brings temperature down with it. If science can unlock how bears can lower their body temperature so minutely, the findings could solve the mystery of how to induce short-term body temperature decreases in stroke patients.

Source: New York Times

Carbon spikes when permafrost melts

In 20 years, permafrost that’s stuck around since the Ice Age will begin to melt. In 210 years, 60 percent of the Northern Hemisphere’s permafrost will have melted. Scientists in Boulder, CO stamped these numbers onto a phenomenon that once again brings the Arctic to the forefront of climate change concerns. As permafrost melts, frozen roots begin to decay and release carbon. This will release amounts equivalent to a fifth of the carbon that is in the atmosphere today. The process will add to the world’s warming trend, and is irreversible.

Source: Discovery News

Coral reefs bleach under pressure

Thirteen years of fishing noticeably destroyed polyp communities responsible for the health of coral reefs. Researchers recently revisited coral reef sites from the 1998 Reefs at Risk project. Warming temperatures and ocean acidification will play a part in the death toll soon. Both the temperature and ocean pH changes are side effects of high atmospheric carbon dioxide. Only five percent of the world’s coral reefs will remain unbleached 40 years from now.

Source: BBC

Camera changes focus after shot

A cell phone camera in development by Pelican Imaging will rescue image quality by holding to the adage of safety in numbers. The new camera splits up the work by taking 25 overlapping fragment photographs of a larger picture. This method makes it possible to adjust a photo’s focus after taking the shot.

Source: Popular Science

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