April 9, 2010

Science Pick of the Week? You Decide.

by Heather Falconer

It’s been a very exciting week in the realm of scientific discovery. On Wednesday, the journal Biology Letters announced the discovery of a new species of monitor lizard in the Philippines. (See Wednesday’s blog entry below.)

Thursday brought about the announcement of a new element, number 117 (still nameless), by a team of American and Russian scientists. By smashing together isotopes of calcium and berkelium, a radioactive element, in a particle accelerator, they have managed to create a new element, and possibly provided supportive evidence toward an “island of stability” theory. (That periodic table may need updating soon.)

And today, the journal Science is publishing a report on the discovery of a new species of Hominid in South Africa: Australopithecus sediba! According to the research team responsible for the find, the young male and adult female fossils “were a surprising and distinctive mixture of primitive and advanced anatomy and thus qualified as a new species of hominid, the ancestors and other close relatives of humans.” you can view amazing pictures at National Geographic.

So which of these fascinating and exciting discoveries gets our science pick of the week? All of them! Each holds important implications for further research in biology, chemistry and anthropology (and likely other disciplines). Each also shows the importance of creativity, determination, and a keen eye for observation in the process of science.

Have you been talking about these events, or similar, in your classes? Share with us here!

A. sediba photograph copyright National Geographic.
Heather Falconer

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Heather Falconer holds undergraduate degrees in Graphic Arts and Environmental Science, as well as an MFA in Writing and an MLitt in Literature. She is currently completing her PhD in Rhetoric and Composition, with an emphasis on rhetoric in/and/of science. Heather has worked internationally in academic publishing as both an author and editor, and has taught a wide range of topics – from research writing to marine biology – in the public and private educational sectors.