Here are some brief reports about science and technology from all over, including one from Antarctica about how there’s something funny about penguin poop.
Hi, I’m Scientific American assistant news editor Sarah Lewin Frasier. And here’s a short piece from the August 2020 issue of the magazine, in the section called Advances: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Science, Technology and Medicine. The article is titled “Quick Hits,” and it’s a rundown of some noncoronavirus stories from around the globe.
A new study models how a gigantic, morphing blob of liquid iron in Earth's outer core underneath the Canadian Arctic is losing its grip on the North magnetic pole. A second, intensifying blob below Siberia is pulling the pole away.
A geologic-dating effort suggests the fossil of a millipedelike creature found on the island of Kerrera formed 425 million years ago, making it possibly the oldest-known fossilized land animal. (Older land animals have been spotted indirectly, through preserved tracks.)
Researchers discovered Africa's largest-ever collection of fossilized human footprints, left in volcanic mud about 10,000 years ago. Many of them came from a group of 17 people, mostly women, all walking in the same direction.
Archaeologists are excavating a 20-meter Viking ship, buried below a farmer's field, to stop a wood-eating fungus from destroying it. Ground-penetrating radar had found the ship in 2018, and a new wood sample analysis revealed that it could not be preserved underground.
From Zambia and Mongolia:
This spring a satellite-tagged cuckoo completed an epic 12,000-kilometer journey from Zambia to Mongolia. It had originally been tagged in Mongolia in 2019 and traversed 16 countries in its round-trip migration.
And from Antarctica:
Scientists found that king penguin excrement releases nitrous oxide–also known as laughing gas. It forms as soil bacteria eat the droppings' nitrogen-rich compounds.
That was “Quick Hits.” I’m Sarah Lewin Frasier.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]