It has been reported that new archeological finds have pushed back the age of Rome. A team of archeologists discovered the remains of a wall built to channel water, which dates back to the ninth century BC.
Media attention has focused on the fact that the dating is significantly earlier than the traditional idea that Rome was founded on April 21, 753 BC by the twins Romulus and Remus. With Rome due to celebrate its 2,767th birthday, the timing makes for a particularly good story.
Today in Lab History: April 17, 1930- Synthetic Rubber
On April 17, 1930, the discovery of a new rubber-like compound was recorded by Arnold Collins in his laboratory notebook. He had noticed that a mixture that had stood from some weeks before, had solidified, “to white, somewhat rubber-like masses,” from polymerization of monovinylacetylene mixed with concentrated HCl. He theorized the new compound was 2-chloro-1,3-butadiene.
Today in Lab History: April 14, 1932- Scientist Split the Atom
On April 14, 1932, the atom was split by a proton beam on a lithium target. Two physicists, Englishman Sir John Cockcroft and Irishman Ernest Walton had developed the first nuclear particle accelerator. With the accelerator, Walton succeeded in being the first to split the atom.
Greenland’s Ice Holds Record of U.S. Clean Air Act’s Success
The rise and fall of acid rain is a global experiment whose results are preserved in the geologic record.
By analyzing samples from the Greenland ice sheet, Univ. of Washington atmospheric scientists found clear evidence of the U.S. Clean Air Act. They also discovered a link between air acidity and how nitrogen is preserved in layers of snow, according to a paper published in PNAS.
Today in Lab History: April 11, 1899- Percy Julian
Percy Julian was an African American chemist, born April 11, 1899, whose 100 patents included the synthesis of cortisone, hormones and other products from soybeans. He isolated from plants simple compounds and investigated how they were naturally altered into chemicals essential to life, including vitamins and hormones; then he attempted to create the compounds artificially.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have pinpointed the location of a gene in a little-known ancient grass that could help save one of the world’s most important cereal crops from an unrelenting fungus.
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists Matt Rouse and Yue Jin, with the agency’s Cereal Disease Research Laboratory, found the gene while studying the DNA of ancient grasses. They were searching for genes that could make wheat more resistant to Ug99 (Puccinia graminis), a type of stem rust that is constantly evolving. ARS is USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency, and this work supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security.
Concerns about climate change and its impact on the world around us are growing daily. New scientific studies from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County working at the La Brea Tar Pits are probing the link between climate warming and the evolution of Ice Age predators, attempting to predict how animals will respond to climate change today. The La Brea Tar Pits are famous for the amazing array of Ice Age fossils found there, such as ground sloths, mammoths and predators like saber-toothed cats and powerful dire wolves. But the climate during the end of the Ice Age (50,000-11,000 years ago) was unstable, with rapid warming and cooling. The research has documented the impact of this climate change on La Brea predators for the first time.
Research into lower limb bones shows that our early farming ancestors in Central Europe became less active as their tasks diversified and technology improved. Anthropologist Alison Macintosh has shown that this drop in mobility was particularly marked in men.
Human bones are remarkably plastic and respond surprisingly quickly to change. Put under stress through physical exertion – such as long-distance walking or running – bones gain in strength as the fibers are added or redistributed according to where strains are highest. The ability of bone to adapt to loading is shown by analysis of the skeletons of modern athletes, whose bones show remarkably rapid adaptation to both the intensity and direction of strains.
Method Precisely Deduces Age of Stars, Pinpoints Events
Reconstructing the history of our Galaxy has just become a whole lot easier, thanks to a team of international astronomers led by Luca Casagrande from the Australian National Univ.’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
By examining both the light and sound waves from stars, the team has developed a more precise way to deduce the ages of stars and to pinpoint when our Galaxy’s big events happened.
Calm Down: Ancient Environmental Viruses Aren’t a Threat
You may have seen recently that scientists recovered and “revived” a giant virus from Siberian permafrost (frozen soil) that dates back 30,000 years.
The researchers raised concerns that drilling in the permafrost may expose us to many more pathogenic viruses. Should we be worried about being infected from the past? Can human viruses survive in this permafrost environment and come back to wreak havoc?
Today in Lab History: April 7, 1809- James Glaisher
James Glaisher, born on April 7, 1809, was an English meteorologist and aeronaut who, between 1862-66 with Henry Coxwell, made balloon ascents, many of which were arranged by a committee of the British Association.
Modern humans of European descent have a lot in common with their Neanderthal ancestors when it comes to genes related to fat breakdown in the brain. A team led by investigators from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai has found that people of European descent have three times the number of Neanderthal-like sequences in such genes compared to other modern human populations examined. The results, published this week in Nature Communications, point to how studying ancestral sequences could help researchers better understand modern humans.
"This paper presents a sort of second-phase research using what we know about where genes have come from,” says John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist at the Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, who was not involved in the study. “For some that come from Neanderthals, we can use that information to learn something new about human genetics and human biology.”
On April 2, 1978, Velcro, the hook-and-loop fastener, was released. It was developed by Swiss engineer Georges de Mestral, who noticed how thistle burrs clung to his clothing during a hike in the mountains.