Scientific discoveries this week: 10-03-11

Ames Research Center California – Researchers at the Ames Research Center, a NASA laboratory, have created the most accurate simulation of the universe, running on NASA’s Pleiades supercomputer. The simulation, called Bolshoi, “great” in Russian, used data from NASA’s WMAP Explorer mission as a starting point, and computed how the universe should evolve from that state. The WMAP Explorer has been mapping the Microwave Background Radiation, the radiation that resulted from the Big Bang.

Copenhagen, Denmark – Further validating Einstein’s theory, a group of researchers in Denmark have confirmed that the way light escapes the clusters conforms with Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. Einstein’s theory of general relativity states that the gravitational pull of an object warps time and space around it. This effect should be observed in the way light is observed leaving a galaxy cluster. Galaxy clusters are composed of thousands of galaxies, which results in a large gravitational pull. Einstein postulated that light emitted from the center of the cluster would be detected at a longer wavelength than the light toward the outer edges, a phenomenon known as gravitational redshifting.

Ann Arbor, Michigan – In an ongoing study of epidemiology in South America, researchers at the University of Ann Arbor have postulated that the new roads connecting remote villages deep in the forests of Ecuador have increased the incidence of antibiotic-resistant microbes. They believe that the roads have made it easier for these resistant microbes to travel from hospitals in larger cities. They also hypothesize that the new roads increase the availability of common antibiotics. When these antibiotics are used liberally they cause the microbes to build up resistance. This study shows that roads are a contributor to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Odense, Denmark – Bats produce their high-pitched “locator beacon” using a set of super-fast muscles that vibrate at very high frequencies. Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark discovered this remarkable ability, finding that bats have a set of weak muscles that are able to contract at speeds up to 100 times faster than a human’s muscles. These muscles are able to produce a set of 190 calls every second. The researchers also found that the bat’s brain was able to process the responses from these calls even faster, being able to run through 800 responses per second.

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