We’ve been a bit quiet recently on the Lost in Science blog. But that doesn’t mean the team hasn’t been busy, oh no!
- Analysis of corporate ownership networks shows that out of 43,060 transnational companies, only 147 of them – mostly banks – control 40% of the wealth. Read more in New Scientist, or see the entire paper in the arXiv database.
- Protesting about this risks exposure to pepper spray, or Oleoresin Capsicum, which uses the chemical capsaicin ((CH3)2CHCH=CH(CH2)4CONHCH2C6H3-4-(OH)-3-(OCH3)), extracted from chilli peppers, to cause eye and skin irritation. Read about its health effects in Investigative Opthalmology and Visual Science and the North Carolina Medical Journal, or see treatment recommendations from Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital.
- The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study, partly composed of and funded by climate change sceptics, has performed a massive re-analysis of global land temperature records and verified that yes, the world really is warming.
- Aside from being real, climate change seems to have caused Australian seaweed species to move between 50 and 200 km south, risking the habitat of many other species that depend on them. Read more at ABC Science, or see the paper in Current Biology.
- In more extinction news, Tasmanian devils are currently threatened by a contagious cancer, which seems to spread due to their genetic similarity. Hope is held for a small, genetically different and mostly disease-free population in the northwest of the state, research into which has won a team of scientists the 2011 Eureka Prize for Environmental Research (also see their paper in Conservation Biology). Although the recent discovery of devils with facial tumour disease in even that remote area has increased concern for this unique species.
- (A good friend of ours, John Cook of Skeptical Science, was also awarded the 2011 Eureka Prize for Advancement of Climate Change Knowledge. Congratulations John!)
- Speaking of genetic diversity, research on the Sandy Island mouse has shown that polygamous females produce more viable embryos. See the paper in Ecology Letters, or read more at the University of Western Australia.
- Finally, to space. Three recent discoveries have shed new light on how solar systems like ours form: there’s a planet called LkCa 15b, 473 light years away, which has been discovered in the process of forming; water seen in the planet-forming disk around the young star TW Hydrae (175 light years away) supports the theory that it collects around grains of dust to make comets, which then deposit the water on planets like Earth; and photos of the asteroid Lutetia, taken by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe, suggest that, at around 3.6 billion years old it’s a relic of the early Solar System, and have given clues to its formation.
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