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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    This Week in Science Sept. 30: Math explains sheep and there is water on Mars

    Martian cowabunga

    No, it wasn’t aliens. NASA’s big announcement on Monday didn’t provide the flash of a science fiction movie, but its discovery was just as awe-inspiring. NASA scientists have discovered that liquid water exists on the surface of Mars. This groundbreaking discovery means it would be possible for Mars to sustain life.

    According to CNN, researchers made use of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to come to their conclusion and find the telltale signs of light waves associated with the planet’s water.

    The lead author on the study was UA alumnus Lujendra Ojha, who first identified the streaks that absorb light at wavelengths associated with chemicals used to pull water as an undergraduate student at the UA in 2011.

    The rise of the blood-red supermoon

    Perhaps as you were gazing up at that blood-red moon, you not only had time to wonder about life and your place in this crazy world, but also maybe asked yourself: just what is going on?

    Well, here are the answers; everything you’ve ever wanted to know about an eclipse, and maybe more. No promises.

    The moon turned red because light was bent around the edge of the Earth. That light was reflected onto the moon. Well, there’s the light part, but why red? As that light traveled through our atmosphere, light with shorter wavelengths became phased out, leaving the remaining colors, red and orange, to hit the moon.

    If you were not one of the many people who flocked outside Sunday night to get a glimpse at the lunar eclipse, you missed your chance until 2033. That’s the next time a lunar eclipse and a supermoon—when the moon is closest to the Earth in its orbit—will fall on the same day.

    Legionnaires invade NYC

    Health officials have reported that another seven people have become ill with Legionnaires’ disease recently. These new cases are not related to the summer’s outbreak, which affected 120 people. An investigation into this new cluster has begun, and the city is taking the necessary precautions to combat the problem. So far, the number diagnosed has been low, according to Scientific American.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 8,000 and 18,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized each year due to Legionnaires’ disease.

    Legionnaires’ disease is caused by a bacteria from the Legionella genus. Patients with the disease experience symptoms similar to pneumonia.

    Snowless in Sierra Nevada

    It might be common knowledge to some, but the snowpack of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California has been reduced to its lowest point in 500 years. Not only is this concerning, but so is the fact that researches are not optimistic about it being replenished in the near future.

    The effects of a hard winter cause a lack of water, which is used in a variety of ways in the spring, namely replenishing streams and reservoirs and providing water for vegetation. As the winter months, which have been abnormally dry, turn to spring and summer, there will be an even greater demand for water in the region.

    Valerie Trouet a UA professor for the Labratory of Tree-Ring Research said in an interview with LiveScience that human-caused climate change is a potential cause of the severity of the drought. She came to that conclusion after she and her colleagues conducted a study following California Gov. Jerry Brown’s decision to enact water restrictions for the state. Trouet and her colleagues used tree-ring measurements and historical snowfall data to conduct the study.

    Math finally explains sheep

    Scientists have come up with an equation that can describe the behavior patterns of Merino sheep while in a herd.

    According to a report by researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an equation has been made to determine how sheep move. Needless to say, the possibilities with this discovery are endless. Just imagine all the fun young science enthusiasts can have over summer break with a herd of sheep and the power of math.

    “The results suggest that a herd of sheep may exist in a delicate balance, close to a ‘tipping point’ between dispersing and huddling together,” said Andrea Cavagna, statistical physicist for the Institute for Complex Systems of the National Research Council in Rome, in an interview with ScienceNews.

    Results gathered from researches showed that a group of 100 sheep slowly began drifting apart while grazing. Then, unprompted, the group would suddenly spring back together every 15 minutes.

    Follow Daniel Burkart on Twitter.

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