Free ride over for carbon dioxide absorption in oceans, scientists say
The world’s oceans have long been helping to cushion the effects of climate change by absorbing massive amounts of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. This buffering process, however, is taking its toll on the oceans, which are experiencing a dangerous rise in acidity due to the dissolving gas.
A panel of 155 scientists from 26 countries released a report calling for “urgent action” to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The group warned that increasing acidity will negatively impact the growth and health of shellfish and erode coral reefs.
Effects can already be seen in decreases in the number of shellfish, shell weights and the growth of coral reefs, the panel said. Oceans absorb approximately a quarter of carbon dioxide emissions. As the gas dissolves, it produces carbonic acid, resulting in a 30 percent increase in ocean surface water acidity since the 17th century.
The group said the process can only be slowed by decreasing atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, but a possible strategy could be to “fertilize” the oceans by promoting the growth of marine plants to take up the gas
Good news from the surface of Mars
NASA’s glitch-prone Mars Spirit rover was back in action this weekend after it mysteriously aborted an attempted drive and deleted its memory the previous Sunday.
Engineers are guessing the rover somehow went into what they call “cripple mode” in which it writes its memory data into a different location that isn’t saved when the rover turns itself off.
In addition to its cripple mode glitch, engineers say the craft thinks the Sun’s position is four degrees from where it actually is. NASA thinks this is likely a problem with the gyroscope, which they are confident they can work around.
Two rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, have been collecting images and research on the Martian surface for the last five years.
Placebo effect could be genetic
Scientists at Uppsala University in Sweden may have discovered why it is that some people feel the effects of a medicine during clinical trials when in fact they received a placebo. As it turns out, the effect could be the result of your genetic makeup.
When a patient believes they are receiving a treatment, studies have shown that the same neurotransmitter dopamine is triggered as when the brain anticipates a reward.
Scientists conducted a study in which patients previously diagnosed with social anxiety disorder (SAD) were asked to give a speech in front of a group to trigger their anxiety while researchers mapped brain activity. They discovered that patients who received relief from the placebo had a common gene called tryptophan hydroxylase-2.
In their findings, the researchers expressed concern about whether genetic markers for the placebo effect could raise ethical questions for clinical studies. They worry researchers could start screening participants for the gene and selecting only those without it to further their hypothesis.
The scientists called for further research to determine if their research with SAD can be generalized to other diseases.
(Source: Science Magazine)
ALYSOUN BONDE compiled SCIENCE SCENE and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.