Scientific discoveries this week: 3-26-12

San Diego, California – Molecular biologists recently discovered a way to force mice to confuse memories of past experiences with current experiences. The study involved placing mice in a cage with non-descript white walls, and injecting them with a shot of clozapine, a schizophrenia drug. The mice’s brains developed receptors that would trigger whenever clozapine was injected, which resulted in the brain’s neurons recreating whatever memory was associated with the drug. The researchers then placed the mice in a cage with checkered walls, and delivered a set of mild electric shocks to their feet while injecting them with clozapine. Interestingly, every time the mice were placed in the cage with the shocks, they would expect no shocks or pain, because they confused the checkered cage with the plain one. The researchers also found that another shot of the drug would essentially unscramble the mice’s thoughts.

New Brunswick, New Jersey – According to a new study, sea levels were much higher three million years ago than they are now. Three million years ago sea levels were about 66 feet above where they are now, and the major cause, according to the study at Rutgers University, is the East Antarctic ice sheet. The sheet is composed of about 7.2 million cubic miles of ice, about ten times the size of the Greenland ice sheet. The researchers came to this conclusion after studying the greenland ice sheet and the West Antarctic ice sheet, which together would have caused about a 42-foot rise in sea levels.

Geneva, Switzerland – Last year a group of researchers managed to record neutrinos reaching a target before a group of photons, defying much of what the modern world knows about physics and special relativity. According to special relativity, there is a theoretical “speed limit” at the speed of light in a vacuum, which means that no particle can move faster than a photon. The group of scientists at CERN have re-conducted the experiment, and found a technical fault in the setup that skewed the original data. CERN has now proved that neutrinos do not travel faster than light.

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