Scientific discoveries this week: 11-29-10

Heidelberg, Germany – What may be the first extra-galactic planet was discovered by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany. The planet orbits a star that is apparently from another galaxy, one much older than the Milky-Way. The star is estimated to be roughly 3 to 6-billion years older than the sun, and very low in metals. This leads astronomers to question the origins of this planet, wondering if perhaps there is a different mechanism for the creation of orbiting bodies then what was previously thought.

Geneva, Switzerland – Special Relativity may not be all it is cracked up to be, after a remarkable accomplishment by particle physicists at CERN in Switzerland. Physicists have managed to capture hydrogen antimatter in a magnetic field trap, allowing them to study it more closely. Einstein, in his theory of Special Relativity, argued that antimatter will have the same absorption spectra as it’s counterpart. Capturing atoms of antihydrogen in a magnetic field will allow physicists to study the actual properties of antimatter, which has the potential to disprove Special Relativity.

New Haven, Connecticut – The bacteria in human guts appears to have more to do with ancestry than diet, according to a new study by researchers at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Howard Ochman is a biologist at Yale, and he conducted this study to see if diet really played a significant role in the bacteria that is most common to humans and primates. What he found surprised him; it turns out that humans and primates share many of the same bacteria, and he postulates that this may be due to the physiological similarities of the digestive tracts of humans and primates more so than diet.

Alberta, Canada – The Tyrannosaurus-Rex may have been a high-speed active predator after all, a new study by Scott Persons of the University of Alberta in Alberta, Canada, shows. The study focused on the tail of the T-Rex, and compared and contrasted it with the tails of modern-day Komodo dragons. Persons found that the design of the T-Rex tail was such that the muscle group on the upper part of the tail was allowed to grow much larger. This increased size allowed the T-Rex to run much faster than scientists previously thought possible, making it more likely that the T-Rex was an active predator, not a slow-moving scavenger.

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