TED Science worth knowing newsletter

Image: Flickr / Ed Dunens (CC BY 2.0)

How much longer can the oceans suck up carbon dioxide?

Global warming would be much, much worse without the ocean. That's because the waters of the ocean absorb nearly one-third of the carbon dioxide that people release by burning fossil fuels and other activities. That percentage has stayed roughly steady since the 1990s, and the ocean has shown no signs of slowing down in its ability to absorb CO2 -- yet. But it also means ocean water is growing steadily more acidic, even in the depths.

TED Talk: How pollution is changing the ocean's chemistry

Image: Flickr / Márcio Cabral de Moura (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Otters leave an archaeological record

People leave behind all kinds of detritus, tools and marks that constitute a record of human activity down through the ages. Turns out sea otters can leave a similar archaeological record through the marks they make on rocks when hammering open food like mussels, or in the shells they leave behind when done. These distinct wear patterns on stone and shell can tell researchers where sea otters have lived as well as how long exactly otters have been using tools.

Playlist: My favorite animal
wooly mammoth

Image: Flickr / Corn Farmer (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Implanted woolly mammoth DNA lives again in mouse cells

Yuka the woolly mammoth died 28,000 years ago or so. But after digging her out of the Siberian permafrost, researchers were able to extract some of her undamaged cells. And by transplanting the undamaged nuclei of these cells into mouse egg cells, scientists were able to jumpstart them back into activity, though not full cell division. It's another step on the road to the possible de-extinction of an animal that last lived thousands of years ago.

TED Talk: Bring back the woolly mammoth!

Recently discovered

TED Talk: Where did the Moon come from? A new theory
The Earth and Moon are like identical twins, made up of the exact same materials -- which is really strange, since no other celestial bodies we know of share this kind of chemical relationship. What's responsible for this special connection? Looking for an answer, planetary scientist and MacArthur "Genius" Sarah T. Stewart discovered a new kind of astronomical object -- a synestia -- and a new way to solve the mystery of the Moon's origin. Watch now

Physicists "reverse time" using quantum computer
Researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology teamed up with colleagues from the US and Switzerland and returned the state of a quantum computer a fraction of a second into the past. They also calculated the probability that an electron in empty interstellar space will spontaneously travel back into its recent past. The study is one in a series of papers on the possibility of violating the second law of thermodynamics. (EurekAlert)

Radical plan to artificially cool the climate could be safe, study finds
A new study contradicts fears that using solar geoengineering to fight climate change could dangerously alter rainfall and storm patterns in some parts of the world. Published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Changethe analysis finds that dialing back sunlight enough to eliminate roughly half of warming, rather than all of it, generally would not make tropical cyclones more intense or worsen water availability, extreme temperatures or extreme rain. Of course, methods to block sunlight, like hazing the sky, might have other side effects, too. (The Guardian)

A shape that blocks all sound
Offices and tiny apartments could be transformed by the work of Boston University researchers, who recently unveiled an “acoustic metamaterial” that blocks all sound. The mathematically designed, 3D-printed metamaterial is shaped in such a way that it sends incoming sounds back to where they came from. It could have remarkable implications for architecture and interior design. (Fast Company)

Study finds racial gap between who causes air pollution and who breathes it
A study published Monday in the journal PNAS adds a new twist to the pollution problem by looking at consumption. While we tend to think of factories or power plants as the source of pollution, those polluters wouldn't exist without consumer demand for their products. The researchers found that air pollution is disproportionately caused by white Americans' consumption of goods and services but disproportionately inhaled by black and Hispanic Americans. (NPR)

On this day in science

On March 15 ... in 1493, Columbus returned to Spain after his first voyage to the Americas, bringing back turkeys and tobacco, among other items -- items that would go on to transform the world's cuisine and population, to name just a few impacts. And John Snow, the father of epidemiology for his use of the technique to track and end a cholera outbreak in London, was born in 1813.

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