How oceanic evolution took a left turn 170 million years ago

New research reveals a major shift in what pressures life used to face.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash
  • For the vast majority of the evolutionary history of ocean life, sudden changes in climate and oceanic chemistry had a huge impact on what life could flourish and what life could not.
  • But about 170 million years ago, this changed. The ocean became more stable, and things like predator-prey relationships started to dominate how life evolved.
  • The reason for this sudden change? Calcifying plankton came to dominate the oceans.
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Scientists create an "eye on reality" camera that sees invisible light

Harvard engineers make a breakthrough polarization camera.

  • Harvard researchers create a tiny camera that can see polarization.
  • Seeing the invisible light can help in numerous applications, from self-driving cars to satellites.
  • The scientists used nanotechnology to achieve this feat.
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No more squeaky voices: We're running out of helium

Its scarcity could impact scientific research as well as the high-tech industry.

Photo by Luca Upper on Unsplash
  • Although it's commonly used to make balloons float, helium is actually a precious, non-renewable resource.
  • Without helium, a great deal of scientific research can not be conducted, and technology like MRI machines won't work.
  • The demand for helium is enormous and growing; there is no way to create artificial helium economically and no way for the Earth's helium stores to sustain the demand.
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Where do atoms come from? Billions of years of cosmic fireworks.

The periodic table was a lot simpler at the beginning of the universe.

  • Michelle Thaller's "absolute favorite fact in the universe" is that we are made of dead stars.
  • The Big Bang, when it went off, produced basically three elements: hydrogen, helium, and lithium. Every atom more complex had to be formed inside a star. Over time, stars such as the sun produce things like carbon and oxygen.
  • They don't really get much more far off the periodic table than that. If you want to go any farther than the element iron, then you actually need a very violent explosion, a supernova explosion.
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Psychedelics may be a powerful treatment for alcoholism

It's been difficult to research the illicit drugs, but we're slowly building a better understanding of their potential.

Flickr user Denis Pavlyuk
  • A survey supplied to 343 individuals showed that psychedelic drugs such as LSD or psilocybin may have serious benefits when it comes to treating alcoholism.
  • The majority of the participants reported having severe alcoholism, but 83% of these individuals significantly reduced their drinking to more manageable levels after taking a psychedelic.
  • This research underscores the potential that currently illegal drugs may have in as methods of treatment, but more research is needed to say so for certain.
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