I stumbled upon a number of cool sciency stories this afternoon, and thought I’d package them together to pass them along.
The first relates to New Zealand and the long held belief that New Zealand had never been home to a native land based mammal, until they were introduced first by the polynesians (who bought rats and dogs) and the europeans (who bought just about everything else). There were bats, and seals, but nothing land based. Now fossils have been found which suggest that NZ was once home to a small native mouse sized mammal, which lived about 16 million years ago – Better get your history and biology books out kids and cross out that particular paragraph…
Secondly, earlier this week a telescope in New Mexico caught some damn cool footage of a shock wave spreading out across the surface of the sun. The technical name for the phenomenon is a Moreton wave, however for popular consumption the press releases all referred to it as a solar tsunami. Either way the picture is pretty cool.
Next was an article on slashdot relating to some research on how smell worked. The traditionally proposed model for how it worked was one smell molecule fits one receptor. The new research however was proposing that the receptors worked through some system of quantum electron tunneling, so that it was the nature of the quantum interaction that triggered the receptor (and thus the sensation of the smell) and not the shape of the molecule (thus explaining the previous observation that differently shaped molecules can have the same smell).