A pair of supermassive black holes about 2.5 billion light-years away appear to be on a collision course with each other in a few more billion years, but astronomers say they can learn a lot about gravitational wave background noise now by observing them. Andy Goulding, author of a study published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, compared the research to a cricket chorus, noting, ""You can't discern one cricket from another, but the volume of the noise helps you estimate how many crickets are out there."
The approximately 99 million-year-old remains of a tiny bird with an unusually long toe were found encased in amber in Myanmar in 2014. The new bird species, Elektorornis chenguangi, is described in Current Biology and researchers say it may have used the extra-long digit to dig into tree cracks for insects.
The brain activity of slumbering zebrafish registers much like REM sleep experienced by mammals, a study published in Nature suggests. Researchers say zebrafish ancestors evolved the basics of sleep about 450 million years ago, well before animals evolved, and that sleep may have first begun underwater.
A new study of the magnetic signature of Tamu Massif, an extinct volcano in the Pacific Ocean, has revealed it is not a shield volcano but rather an oceanic plateau, meaning it is no longer considered the world's largest shield volcano, according to findings published in Nature Geoscience. Researchers say it is an unusual hybrid, formed through seafloor spreading.
Southern right whale mothers might be using quiet calls to keep their calves close by, a study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology suggests. Researcher Mia Nielsen says the quiet call is "only meant for the whale right next to you," possibly to keep calves close so they don't become easy prey for orcas.
Green infrastructure designs that fail to consider the effects of the installation's placement or the types of wildlife it may attract can increase risks of spreading serious diseases, according to research published in Ecology and Epidemiology. "There seems to be a prevailing assumption among the general public that everything that is nature -- that is part of wilderness -- is good and safe," says Mare Lohmus of the Karolinska Institutet.
A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that youths born to mothers with a body mass index of at least 40 were 57% more likely to develop leukemia before age 5, compared with other children. The findings were based on data involving about two million Pennsylvania births from 2003 to 2016.
The NIH has awarded a $129 million grant to Scripps Research Institute to continue working on a potential vaccine for HIV. The vaccine is being developed for children so they can build an immunity to the virus, says researcher Dennis Burton.
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