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Thursday, January 23, 2020


The European Space Agency (ESA) has now a prototype plant that produces oxygen out of simulated moondust, i.e. out of stuff similar to the actual regolith, "a layer of loose, heterogeneous material, composed of mostly dust and rock fragments" [quote] that covers almost all Moon's surface and is made up of "40–45% oxygen by weight" [quote].

ESA's final goal is to have a working plant "that could operate sustainably on the Moon, with the first technology demonstration targeted for the mid-2020s" [quote].   

ESA's new prototype facility is in the Materials and Electrical Components Laboratory of the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, in the Netherlands.

The following cartoon reports the Moon's comment on this news.

Moon's comment on ESA making oxygen out of moondust! (by @sciencemug)
Moon's comment on ESA producing oxygen out of moondust (by @sciencemug)

[Moon's free pic by Neven Krcmarek (source: Unsplash); adapted by @sciencemug]

Thursday, January 16, 2020


Soo, dear reader, there's this transparent plastic box, divided by a partition with an opening that lets the two halves communicate.
And there're two African gray parrots, one in each half of the box.
And there're two researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany, that do an experiment. 

The researchers give to one of the parrots (parrot A) a bunch of metallic rings as a token. After the token the parrot is given food.
To the other parrot (parrot B), the researchers don't give the token and, therefore, neither food.

At this point parrot A, seen this, passes parrot B one of the metallic rings so that its buddy can have food too.

Researchers then publish a paper on the journal Current Biology where they say that their "findings show that instrumental helping based on a prosocial attitude [...] is present in parrots, suggesting that this capacity evolved convergently in this avian group and mammals" [quote] but that whether "the parrots’ helping behavior was caused by an intrinsic motivation to provide help to familiar conspecifics (= spontaneous prosociality) or by their anticipation of reciprocated help in the future (= reciprocity) remains to be addressed" [quote].

So, dear reader, to sum up, a couple of researchers have found scientific evidence of the first non mammals (parrots) that can be altruistic and help one other (see the video here).

But this dumb blog have a different theory about the "help" thing. See the cartoon to find out.

One parrot is a shark and loan one metal ring to the other one (by @sciencemug)
The true reason why parrots show "kindness" and altruism to one another (by @sciencemug)

[African Gray Parrot's pic by OPi.Toumoto, and cigar pic are under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license (source: Wikimedia Commons); all pics adapted by @sciencemug]

Thursday, January 9, 2020


Soo, dear reader, a bunch of scientists goes and studies seabirds (more specifically Atlantic Puffins) on Skomer Island, Wales, and sees two of 'em using wooden sticks to scratch themselves.
The researchers publish their finding in a paper on PNAS, stating that this is a "previously unknown tool-use behavior for wild birds, so far only documented in the wild in primates and elephants" (quote). 

But this dumb blog thinks that the researchers got it wrong, and that the true reason why those seabirds evolved the tool use skill, more specifically the ability to use wooden sticks, isn't to scratch their bodies, but it is indeed the one showed in the following cartoon...

Two Atlantic Puffins discussing about the true reason why seabirds evolved the ability to use tools (by @sciencemug)
The true reason why seabirds evolved the ability to use tools (by @sciencemug)

[Atlantic Puffins pic, by Thomas O'Neil, is under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license (source: Wikimedia Commons); adapted by @sciencemug]

Thursday, January 2, 2020


Soo, dear reader, it seems that evidence be accumulating about the fact that plants, like animals, evolved kin recognition (for instance, apparently there's the possibility they regulate their root spread according to the presence of relatives nearby).

Here's the true reason why, in this dumb blog's opinion, plants might have evolved the ability to recognize kin.

The true reason why plants too evolved kin recognition (according to @sciencemug)
The true reason why plants too evolved kin recognition (according to @sciencemug)

Happy new year!

Thursday, December 26, 2019


Hallo dear reader! So there's this thing called the World Magnetic Model (WMM), "a [data-based, mathematical representation] of the planet’s magnetic field that gives compasses dependable accuracy" (see) and is updated every five years.

Well, dear reader, the 2020 version of the WMM has just been released.

Given what it is, then, the World Magnetic Model shows where's at the North Magnetic Pole (aka Mr. NMP). This impalpable fella is indeed quite a walker as, since its formal discovery in 1831, it has already taken a 2250 kilometers (1400 miles) long stroll. Mr. NMP's been heading from Canada, westbound, toward Siberia, in Russia, at a pace that now is of about 40km a year (faster than the previous centuries, but slower than the 55km/year of the last two decades) (see).

Officially, the magnetic poles move (independently of each other) (see) 'cause the Earth's magnetic field is created, for its 95%, by the planet's moving, molten iron+nickel core (well, to be more specific, the inner core is solid, while the outer one is liquid and flows, and thus generates the geomagnetic field) (see).

But, ahah!, this dumb blog, dear reader, has another cartoon-explanation for that, and precisely for the NMP's expected future location, Siberia.
Oh, dear reader, before you go to the cartoon, a short but essential clarification: in this dumb blog's reality, Santa Claus lives in correspondence of the North Magnetic Pole, not at the North geographic Pole.

Santa Claus shouting at Rudolph the red nosed reindeer: The real reason why the North Magnetic Pole moves toward Siberia (by @sciencemug)
The real reason why the North Magnetic Pole moves toward Siberia (by @sciencemug)
[Free pic by Marcus Löfvenberg (source: Unsplash); adapted by @sciencemug]

Oh, dear reader, for your information, here you can find why it is important to update the WMM and to know exactly where the Magnetic North Pole be.

And, dear reader, for your information 2 - the return of the notions - the World Magnetic Model is released by the guys of the "National Centers for Environmental Information" (NCEI), in collaboration with the dudes of the "British Geological Survey" and those of the "Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences" (CIRES).

The NCEI's is part of the "National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration" (NOAA). The NCEI "hosts and provides access to one of the most significant archives on earth, with comprehensive oceanic, atmospheric, and geophysical data" (see), and it is a source of environmental information, "products and services to private industry and businesses, local to international governments, academia, as well as the general public" (see).