Science photos as art

The finalists of the Wellcome Image Awards showcase the best science-related imagery from the past year.

The winners will be announced on March 15 in London, but here are some good ones.

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A bioluminescent Hawaiian bobtail squid. (Credit: Mark R Smith, Macroscopic Solutions)

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Vessels of a pig eye. Peter M Maloca, OCTlab at the University of Basel and Moorfields Eye Hospital, London; Christian Schwaller; Ruslan Hlushchuk, University of Bern; Sébastien Barré

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Surface of a Mouse Retina: Gabriel Luna, Neuroscience Research Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara

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Unravelled DNA in a Human Lung Cell: Ezequiel Miron, University of Oxford

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#breastcancer Twitter Connections: Eric Clarke, Richard Arnett and Jane Burns, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

 

Talking with whales

While captive in a Navy program, a beluga whale named Noc began to mimic human speech.

Since the early 1960s the United States had been deploying marine mammals, beginning with dolphins, for tasks including mine detection and recovery of test torpedoes. By the mid-1970s, the locus of the naval cold war had shifted to the Arctic, where the latest Soviet submarines were secreting themselves under the ice cap, an environment off-limits to animals including dolphins and sea lions used in the Navy Marine Mammal Program (NMMP). Experiments commenced on weaponry that could function in such extreme conditions. The Navy needed marine mammals with built-in sonar, capable of locating and retrieving sunken experimental torpedoes in the frigid waters and low visibility of the Arctic, and they landed on beluga whales.

Due to his close work with his trainers, Noc began to mimic human speech in an attempt to communicate, work that is presented in “Spontaneous Human Speech Mimicry by a Cetacean,” in the October 23, 2012, edition of the journal Current Biology. Or read about it over at the Smithsonian!

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Senior Republican lawmaker has some advice for U.S. science marchers

On April 22 (Earth Day!) scientist will march on Washington. The march is a call to support and safeguard the scientific community.

But before we march (I’ll be marching in either Leipzig or Berlin), scientists have recently gotten advice from the strangest of places… from senior republican lawmaker John Culberson (R–TX).

Read about it over at Science.

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Oldest fossil on earth?

The history of life on earth is fascinating, and largely one of the reasons I started studying evolutionary biology.

There is solid evidence of life dating back to 3.5 billion years, at which point the earth was a billion years old.

Last August, Dr. Van Kranendonk and his colleagues reported discovering fossils in Greenland that are 3.7 billion years old and were once mats of bacteria that grew in shallow coastal waters.

But then, a new study, published in the journal Nature, Mattew S.Dodd, Dominic Papineau and their colleagues at University College London studied rocks that are older.

They came from a remote geological formation in Canada called Nuvvuagittuq, which stretches across four square miles on the coast of Hudson Bay.Researchers have variously estimated its age at 3.77 billion years or 4.22 billion years — just 340 million years after the formation of the planet.

Want to read more? Check it out at the Washington post!

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Iron-rich chert, shown here in red, containing ancient fossils was formed near hydrothermal vents on an ancient seafloor, according to a new study. 

 

Superbugs: A list of priority antibiotic resistance bacteria

The World Health Organization announced its first list of antibiotic-resistant “priority pathogens” on Monday, detailing 12 families of bacteria that agency experts say pose the greatest threat to human health and kill millions of people every year.

The list isn’t meant to scare people, but to call attention to microbes for which research into antibiotics is needed.

Read about it at the Washington Post.

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National Invasive Species Awareness Week!

Happy National Invasive Species Awareness Week!

And because a number of the invasive species of concern in the United States are insects, then entomologists are the front line of defense. In 2016 the Entomological Society of America developed a formal position on invasive species here “The Not-So-Hidden Dangers of Invasive Species” [PDF].

Or you can read all about Invasive Species Awareness week over at Entomology Today.

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