Scientific Discoveries This Week: 9/6/12

Hinxton, United Kingdom – According to a new study by a group of bioinformaticians, the human genome is more than just genes. Bioinformaticians study DNA and how the DNA stores information for the creation of cells. This particular group “took apart” the genome, and discovered that the four “letter” building blocks (A,T,C,G) of DNA actually only compose up to about 2% of the genome. They determined that the building-block letters were partly controlled by the rest of the genome, leading them to believe that the genome also switches the building-block molecules on and off, determining what type of cell the DNA will create.

Chitwan, Nepal – Tigers need their space, and many people are concerned that they are losing that space to urban expansion. As a result, bengal tigers in Nepal have been the subject of an ongoing field study in Chitwan National Park, a 1000 square kilometer wildlife reserve that lies on the southern border of the Asian country. The study determined that the tigers and the humans in the area have found a way to coexist, by “time-sharing” the land. By setting up camera traps in the reserve, the tigers were observed being more active at night than tigers in other parts of the world. The scientists involved in the study have speculated that the tigers have adapted, and simply wait until after dark when the humans are out of the woods to do their hunting and breeding.

La Palma, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain – Last week a group of physicists from Austria, Canada, and Germany set a new record for the longest teleportation distance ever achieved. The team successfully teleported quantum information a distance of 89 miles, beating the previous record of 60 miles. The process involved “entangling” a set of two photons. Then one of the photons is transported over a long distance. Any measurement or change in the transported photon was reflected in the photon that remained behind, 89 miles away. Quantum entanglement means that the two particles are connected on a quantum level, and when one is disturbed in some way the other is disturbed along with it.

Racine, Wisconsin – Beachgoers in the Great Lakes states may be in for some welcome news. It has long been known that seagull droppings are full of dangerous bacteria, and until recently keeping beaches clean of the waste was a time consuming process. Dogs may be the answer. A recent study by environmental microbiologists of a beach on Lake Michigan in Wisconsin found that training border collies to chase seagulls away significantly reduced the concentrations of dangerous disease bacteria in the sand.

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