The Sciences

Daily Roundup: Ice Melt Wins, Backs Get a Break, Discover(y) Returns

80beatsBy Patrick MorganMar 9, 2011 10:51 PM

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  • Unwelcome melt: The results are in for a 20-year study of Antarctica and Greenland ice melt, and though you shouldn't grab your swim trunks yet, the results show that ice sheets have been melting at an accelerated pace for the past 20 years. "What is surprising," Eric Rignot from Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, told the BBC, is that ice melt will soon be the single biggest driver of sea level rise.

  • But don't take these dripping glaciers as a reason to sit on your hands: A new report says that climatologists aren't factoring in soot in the climate debate---and that merely reducing the output from cooking fires and industry could cut global warming by 0.5C. Food for thought (oy) the next time you barbecue.

  • Lessons from a tree: Engineers have crafted a self-repairing plastic based on the natural self-repairing traits of rubber trees---a discovery that could save energy (and the planet) by extending the lifespan of many consumer products.

  • Talking about repairing worn-out products, scientists have for the first time grown intervertebral discs using living cells, giving patients better support and flexibility than their metallic counterparts.

  • Do we make tools or do tools make us? Identifying gripping skills that are different from the great apes, new research suggests that the human hand evolved partly because of our use of stone tools.

  • Goodbye space dust, hello museum dust: Discovery---America's oldest space shuttle---touched down today, marking the end of its 27-year career. With its mission to the International Space Station complete, it's museum time for this old craft.

Image: Wikimedia Commons / Hgrobe

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