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Friday, June 10, 2005

Recent Science News

Nature has a report that gelatinous filters produced by larvaceans, which filters may be up to a meter long, are occasionally discarded, and sink to the ocean bottom, where they are a significant source of food for communities on the bottom of the ocean. The larvaceans, or appendicularians, are members of the Chordata, the same phylum that humans are placed in, but are relatively simple animals. See here and here for previous posts on how undersea communities get energy.

Speaking of energy: the sun, and other stars, use nuclear fusion, a procedure wherein small atomic nuclei are fused into a larger one, to generate energy. In the process, mass is converted into energy. Over fifteen years ago "cold fusion," that is, fusion without the necessity for an extremely high temperature, which makes fusion possible in stars, was announced. Most scientists remain skeptical of these claims. A report in the Christian Science Monitor says that this time, by a different mechanism, cold fusion may really have been achieved.

Most scientists believe that most behaviors are present because they give the organism exhibiting such behavior a selective advantage over competitors who might not possess it. Slate reports a claim that human female orgasm is not present as a result of selection in females, but is a by-product of selection for orgasm in human males. (Female and male sex organs develop from the same embryonic tissue.)

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