Pacific Islanders appear to be carrying the DNA of an unknown human species
A third extinct human relative.
By Bec Crew

Hints of an unidentified, extinct human species have been found in the DNA of modern Melanesians - those living in a region of the South Pacific, northeast of Australia.

According to new genetic modelling, the species is unlikely to be Neanderthal or Denisovan - two ancient species that are represented in the fossil record - but could represent a third, unknown human relative that has so far eluded archaeologists.

“We’re missing a population, or we’re misunderstanding something about the relationships,” Ryan Bohlender, a statistical geneticist from the University of Texas, told Tina Hesman Saey at Science News.

Bohlender and his team have been investigating the percentages of extinct hominid DNA that modern humans still carry today, and say they’ve found discrepancies in previous analyses that suggest our mingling with Neanderthals and Denisovans isn’t the whole story.

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Cleofé Calderón

Cleofé Calderón was born on October 26, 1929 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Calderón was a botanist who conducted field research throughout Latin America, particularly Brazil, where she re-discovered a species of bamboo that hadn’t been seen for over 90 years. Her work with Dr. Thomas R. Soderstrom was significant for the study of bamboo evolution and systematics, and ultimately to the modern understanding of grass evolution. Overall, Calderón named 18 new species of grass, and about 1,000 of her collections are housed in the US National Herbarium.

Cleofé Calderón died in 2007 at the age of 77.
West Antarctica Begins to Destabilize With ‘Intense Unbalanced Melting’
Warmer ocean water is attacking ice at its base, adding dangerously to sea-level rise.

If you want to see the future of New York, Tokyo, or Mumbai, look no further than West Antarctica, where a warmer sea is turning ice into water that may be headed to your doorstep.

The bottom of the world has drawn increased scrutiny from scientists over the last few years, as West Antarctic ice loss in some places shows signs of becoming “unstoppable.” There’s enough water locked up in West Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea region alone to raise the global average sea level by four feet, and it’s the fastest-melting spot on the continent. The National Science Foundation and a U.K. counterpart last week announced that they’ll fund up to $25 million in research that will help the scientific community better understand the timing and mechanics of a critical glacier, the Thwaites. It’s basically the climate-science equivalent of an FBI “Most Wanted” poster.

A study issued on Tuesday in Nature Communications measures directly just how dramatically glaciers are being gnawed at from beneath. The research focuses on those that empty into a section of the Amundsen Sea just south of the Thwaites Glacier. A significant portion of Antarctica is now subject to “intense unbalanced melting,” the authors write.

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Three Black Female Astronauts Share Their Small Steps, Giant Leaps
Three Black female astronauts share their story.

What made you want to become an astronaut?

Stephanie Wilson: It was 1969 and I was 10 years old. I was at the top of an old oak tree looking at the sky and the moon. My dad called me into the house, telling me to watch a human walking on the moon for the very first time. That was that seminal moment and I never looked back. I just wanted to keep looking and looking until I could see my footprint on the moon.

Photo Credit: NASA

Jeanette Epps: It actually started when I was 9 years old years old. I have a twin sister and we have a couple of older siblings. My older brother was in college and came home for break. Janet, my twin and I had just gotten our report cards and we had done really well in math and science. His comments to us were, “wow you guys are doing well, you can become an aerospace engineer or even an astronaut or some kind of scientist because there were a bunch of women selected to be astronauts.” I thought they probably won’t select me to be an astronaut, but I can definitely become an aerospace engineer. But, that one little seed he planted in my mind back then stuck with me forever. My sister went on to earn a PhD in molecular cell biology. 

Photo Credit: NASA

Dr. Yvonne Cagle: I became interested in space when I was about 13 years old. My first interest was in astronomy and I was given a school assignment to interview someone interesting and I chose an Astronomy professor and was fascinated by his work. This is what sparked my first interest in science and in space. Later though I became interested in engineering and I thought that aerospace engineering would be a good combination of my interest in space and my interest in engineering. I was very fortunate, my parents encouraged me to pursue my dreams and told me that I could be anything I wanted to be.

Photo Credit: NASA

via Three Black Female Astronauts Share Their Small Steps, Giant Leaps - NBC News
The science world is freaking out over this 25-year-old's answer to antibiotic resistance
Could this be the end of superbugs?
By Fiona MacDonald

A 25-year-old student has just come up with a way to fight drug-resistant superbugs without antibiotics.

The new approach has so far only been tested in the lab and on mice, but it could offer a potential solution to antibiotic resistance, which is now getting so bad that the United Nations recently declared it a “fundamental threat” to global health.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria already kill around 700,000 people each year, but a recent study suggests that number could rise to around 10 million by 2050.

In addition to common hospital superbug, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), scientists are now also concerned that gonorrhoea is about tobecome resistant to all remaining drugs.

But Shu Lam, a 25-year-old PhD student at the University of Melbourne in Australia, has developed a star-shaped polymer that can kill six different superbug strains without antibiotics, simply by ripping apart their cell walls.

“We’ve discovered that [the polymers] actually target the bacteria and kill it in multiple ways,” Lam told Nicola Smith from The Telegraph. “One method is by physically disrupting or breaking apart the cell wall of the bacteria. This creates a lot of stress on the bacteria and causes it to start killing itself.”

The research has been published in Nature Microbiology, and according to Smith, it’s already being hailed by scientists in the field as “a breakthrough that could change the face of modern medicine”.

Before we get too carried away, it’s still very early days. So far, Lam has only tested her star-shaped polymers on six strains of drug-resistant bacteria in the lab, and on one superbug in live mice.

But in all experiments, they’ve been able to kill their targeted bacteria - and generation after generation don’t seem to develop resistance to the polymers.

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I get so many messages where people tell me they want to pursue science, but they aren’t good at math & it makes me really sad. Math is a skill, and it just needs to be worked at. Bad teachers make it hard, but with extra resources and extra practice you can do. Feeling “bad” at math is often caused by low self-confidence early on, and can stick through life. Math is difficult, but its also beautiful and extremely useful. 

Anyone who feel like they are too bad at math to pursue their dreams, please message me and I will send you all the love and support you need. I can even help with math problems. Just don’t give up.
Scientists need your help looking at photos of adorable penguins. Seriously
"We can't do this work on our own."
By Fiona MacDonald

Guys, this is not a drill. Antarctic scientists need you to study photos of penguins to help them figure out how climate change is affecting these stumpy little flightless birds.

Scientists from the UK have installed a series of 75 cameras near penguin territories in Antarctica and its surrounding islands to figure out what’s happening with local populations. But with each of those cameras taking hourly photos, they simply can’t get through all the adorable images without your help.

“We can’t do this work on our own,” lead researcher Tom Hart from the University of Oxford told the BBC, “and every penguin that people click on and count on the website - that’s all information that tells us what’s happening at each nest, and what’s happening over time.”

The citizen science project is pretty simple - known as PenguinWatch 2.0, all you need to do is log on, look at photos, and identify adult penguins, chicks, and eggs in each image. Each photo requires just a few clicks to identify, and you can chat about your results in the website’s ‘Discuss’ page with other volunteers.

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🔹PRO TIP🔹 for Medblrs, Nurblrs, Health Care workers, lab researchers, and other people with long hair.

If you accidentally forget your hair tie and rubber bands/elastics aren’t available to you, use a glove to make a hair tie in a pinch! Just cut off the part around the wrist and use as you normally would, as depicted above.

Speaking from experience, it’s actually gentler on your hair than an rubber band, while not quite as sturdy as a real hair tie/scrunchie. The latex or nitrile glove hair tie is best for keeping a braid or low ponytail together and a high bun can be possible if gravity is on your side.