Discovered: A fattening gene mutation, we're doing a good job keeping the turtles safe, what Earth was like 2.5 billion years ago, and what makes the most popular orbits in the solar system popular.
- A gene mutation that will make you very, very much fatter. There's good news and bad news with this discovery. First the bad news: A gene mutation causes one to uncontrollably eat. Though that sounds delightful from an eating perspective — one never gets full! — it sounds mighty unhealthy. A defect in the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Bdnf) gene prohibits brain neurons from transmitting leptin and insulin chemical signals through the brain, finds the research. Leptin and insulin tell our bodies to stop eating when we're full. The good part of all of this is that this could lead to a scientific cure for fatness. "This discovery may open up novel strategies to help the brain control body weight," explains researcher Baoji Xu, which sounds both terrifying (hello, abuse!) and exciting (goodbye, obesity epidemic). [Georgetown University Medical Center]
- We're doing a good job keeping the sea turtles safe. Good. Those turtles, if they are anything like their animated portrayal in Finding Nemo, are too cool (and adorable!) to die on our account. But we don't need to worry about that, because they are doing okay for now thanks to Marine Protected Areas, research finds. Marina Protected Areas are areas where fishing and human activity are prohibited. 35 percent of the world's sea turtles hang out in these sea spas, which are lush with algae and sea grasses for the turtles to eat. That's a much higher percentage than researchers expected, leading them to believe these areas are sustaining the population. "There has been debate over the value of MPAs, but this research provides compelling evidence that they may be effective in providing safe foraging habitats for large marine creatures, such as green turtles," explains Professor Brendan Godley. [Global Ecology and Biogegraphy]
- When Earth used to be like Saturn's moon. About 2.5 billion years ago humans would have had a hard time breathing on our planet. The "hazy" atmosphere would alternate between hydrocarbon-free state into a hydrocarbon-rich state due to microbial activity. Basically organisms causes the air to alternate between these two states. All of this ended when the earth became oxygenated. This finding is important because: "Besides the obvious importance for the evolution of the atmosphere, the role of aerosol formation is one of the most poorly understood components in the present day climate models," explains researcher Professor Mark Thiemens. "This provides a new look into this process that is quite new and valuable," he continues. [New Castle University]
- The most popular orbit in the solar system. Giant gas planets like to hang out in certain parts of their orbits and not others. Science has now discovered the secret to these locale's popularity. "Our results show that the final distribution of planets does not vary smoothly with distance from the star, but instead has clear 'deserts' — deficits of planets — and 'pile-ups' of planets at particular locations," explains researcher Ilaria Pascucci. It has something to do with high energy radiation from stars, which carve "gaps" in the orbits, which then cause these pile-ups. So, it's a kind of manufactured popularity. [University of Leicester]
Image via Shutterstock by staticnak.