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Bora’s Picks (June 14th, 2013)

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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A Sunken Egyptian City is Rediscovered, Stunning Researchers and Enthusiasts Alike by Khalil A. Cassimally:

Named Thonis by the Egyptians who built it but known as Heracleion to the Greeks of the time, this great city was once a central part of ancient Egypt. Older than Alexandria, Thonis was probably founded during the eighth century BC. The city began on a downstream shore of the great Nile river where the land was fertile and freshwater was abundant. Thonis was strategically situated between the Mediterranean Sea and a great mostly landlocked lake, which also linked to the Nile river. The lake could (and indeed would) essentially be used as a huge parking space for ships….

Scientist: Cicadas can mate first before being studied by Kelly Poe:

The cicada emergence may be on its way out, but scientists are still swarming here to collect massive amounts of data on the billions of insects that have emerged across the East Coast since May. From North Carolina to New York, neighborhoods have been inundated with the red-eyed bugs and their ear-splitting summer song…

Art Competition Shows Off the Unexpected Beauty of Science by Nadia Drake:

Science isn’t just about collecting data and making charts and graphs. Experiments often produce moments of inspiring beauty: A dye dropped into water gives the impression of a green flame erupting from a murky black sea. Boring black cobalt oxide becomes brilliant blue when heated to 800 degrees Celsius. And an image of coral takes on a different character when two eyes suddenly peer out from its center…..

Will tiny drones cure Floridians’ cynicism toward hurricanes? by Rebecca Burton:

Most residents of Florida–a state constantly pummeled by tropical storms and hurricanes—have become overly cynical of the often hyped-up weather news warning that the latest tropical action in the Gulf of Mexico or off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean could be deadly….

Interactive map: Wisconsin’s most profitable state parks by Kate Prengaman:

This interactive graphic shows data for Wisconsin’s state parks in profits and visitors….

Sunday Comic: Toothbrushes and Toilets don’t Mix by Arielle Duhaime-Ross:

A couple of weeks ago, science and food writer Michael Pollan wrote a piece in the New York Times about the bacteria that surrounds us and lives within us. The reason I bring it up is that I have had trouble getting one specific bacterial “fun fact” out of my head….

Incredible Technology: How to See Inside the Mind by Tanya Lewis:

Human experience is defined by the brain, yet much about this 3-lb. organ remains a mystery. Even so, from brain imaging to brain-computer interfaces, scientists have made impressive strides in developing technologies to peer inside the mind….

Marked: A discussion of scars and their meanings by Caitlin Q. Davis, Rachel Feltman and Andrew Han:

Scars are a normal part of the body’s healing process after injury, causing fibrous tissue to replace normal skin. Whether we wear them as a badge of pride, hide them or forget about them, scars are a part of what makes us individuals. In this video by Caitlin Q. Davis, Rachel Feltman and Andrew Han, several people share what experiences have scarred them, and how their scars have shaped their life experiences…

Seaside petition by Laura Geggel:

Following the suspension in early May of two clinical trials of arbaclofen, a candidate drug for treating autism and fragile X syndrome, parents are appealing to the U.S. government and several pharmaceutical companies to continue testing the drug….

Even in the world’s richest country, it takes smartphones to end internet inequality by Rachel Feltman:

Cell phones are expected to bring the next billion internet users on board by 2015, but not all those new users will come from Africa and Asia. Plenty of them are members of late-adopting ethnic groups within the US…

Stem Cells May Be Secret to Regenerating Fingers and Toes by Tanya Lewis:

Mammals can regenerate the very tips of their fingers and toes after amputation, and now new research shows how stem cells in the nail play a role in that process A study in mice, detailed online today (June 12) in the journal Nature, reveals the chemical signal that triggers stem cells to develop into new nail tissue, and also attracts nerves that promote nail and bone regeneration….

Thriving Microbe Community Lives Beneath Seafloor by Douglas Main:

Beneath the seafloor lives a vast and diverse array of microbes, chomping on carbon that constantly rains down from above and is continually buried by a never-ending downpour of debris — some whale dung here, some dead plankton there. For the first time, a study has shown that these microbes are actively multiplying and likely even moving around in the compressed, oxygen-devoid darkness beneath the abyss….

New Project Will Send Your Messages to Potential Exoplanets by Miriam Kramer:

A group of scientists, businessmen and entrepreneurs are tired of waiting around for E.T. to get in touch. Instead of passively listening for signs of intelligent life in the universe, the Lone Signal project is asking everyone with an Internet connection to help beam messages into outer space in an attempt to make our presence in the universe known….

What Butterflies Have in Common with Straws by Paige Brown:

What part of a butterfly is like a straw? If you guessed ‘their proboscis” for what butterflies have in common with straws, you are right! The butterfly proboscis is a slender, tubular feeding structure that works like a straw through which a butterfly drinks its food. When the butterfly first emerges from its pupa or chrysalis, its proboscis is actually in two parts that are later brought together and fused to create a structure that is hollow on the inside, like a straw. …

Seeing is believing — the visual interface by Sedeer el-Showk:

“Pics or it didn’t happen,” has become a common refrain in the camera-rich 21st century. We rely on our senses to report the world to us, and we tend to trust that their report is truthful. Eyewitness testimony is still generally considered strong evidence despite its demonstrable flaws. Our senses are the skein through which we perceive the world, and we assume that they provide a picture that’s roughly accurate. But what if we’re wrong? What if our senses aren’t honestly reporting the objective world, but rather simply constructing a useful metaphor? …

Is It True That More People Have Been in Space Than Seen a Siberian Tiger in the Wild? by Rose Eveleth

There are less than 350 Siberian tigers still alive in the wild. The beast has only been caught in fleeting footage, a tail here, a nose there. The BBC Natural History Unit, the department of the BBC that films documentaries like Planet Earth and other famous programs mostly hosted by David Attenborough, has never caught one on camera. Until now. …

Spotting the collapse of a species before it happens by Adam Kucharski

In the summer of 1992, the north Atlantic cod population collapsed. For five hundred years, the offshore fishery had been a central part of life on the Canadian coast. But overfishing had led to a sudden decline in stocks, with numbers falling to less than 1% of their earlier levels. …

How Do You Get Around If You’re Moving At A Snail’s Pace? by Sara Mynott

Geographic isolation is a key factor in the generation of new species, as it prevents diferent populations interbreeding. This lack of genetic exchange means the characteristics of the separated populations diverge, and gives rise to new species. This is why New Zealand, which has remained in isolation for 80 million years, and Hawaii, which has never been connected to another landmass, have so many species that are only found there. …

When Glaciers Get Dirty: Attack of the Cryoconites by Paige Brown

If you’ve ever jumped up from a chair or a car seat that was too hot because it had been exposed to the summer sun, you might be familiar with the fact that dark-colored materials absorb more heat than light-colored materials. Your black t-shirt or dark-colored leather car seat absorbs more heat from the summer rays than does your white t-shirt or tan-colored car seat. …

Water, water, everywhere by Jane Robb:

Water. It is one of the key components of our lives but also one of the defining factors of what we commonly refer to as our rocky planet and yet, 70% of Earth’s surface is covered in it. But let’s look again: when you compare the amount of water in volumetric terms to the volume of the rocky Earth, you find that water makes up less than 1% of the rocky volume of the Earth. That is, 1,386,000,000 km3 of water on Earth (including all water on, in and above the Earth) while the Earth is 1,083,206,916,846 km3 of rock! …

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