Europa’s salty surface may indicate an ocean that’s good for life

newscientist.com – Jupiter’s moon Europa has an ocean buried beneath its icy shell which may be full of regular table salt. That’s a good sign for the possibility of life there.

Source: Samantha K. Trumbo, Michael E. Brown, Kevin P. Hand. Sodium chloride on the surface of Europa. Science Advances, 2019.

Animals' brain activity 'syncs' during social interactions

sciencedaily.com – Egyptian fruit bats and mice, respectively, can 'sync' brainwaves in social situations. The synchronization of neural activity in the brains of human conversation partners has been shown previously, as a result of one person picking up social cues from the other and modulating their own behavior based on those cues. These studies suggest that something similar occurs when animals engage in natural social interactions.

Source: Lyle Kingsbury, et al. Correlated Neural Activity and Encoding of Behavior across Brains of Socially Interacting Animals. Cell, 2019.

Tombs in China reveal humans were smoking cannabis 2500 years ago

newscientist.com – Chemical traces on 2500-year-old wooden braziers are the earliest evidence that people had begun growing mutant marijuana strains that could get them stoned

Source: Meng Ren, et al. The origins of cannabis smoking: Chemical residue evidence from the first millennium BCE in the Pamirs. Science Advances, 2019.

New Technique Maps RNAs in Cells Without a Microscope

the-scientist.com – DNA microscopy pinpoints the locations of transcripts by laying a grid of tags over the molecules and labeling each connection.

Source: Joshua A. Weinstein, Aviv Regev, Feng Zhang. DNA Microscopy: Optics-free Spatio-genetic Imaging by a Stand-Alone Chemical Reaction. Cell, 2019.

A teenager's jaw shattered after a vape pen exploded in his mouth, once again raising concerns about e-cigarettes

businessinsider.com – A 17-year-old boy had to have his jaw wired shut after a vape pen exploded in his mouth last year, once again raising safety concerns about e-cigs.

Source: Micah G. Katz, Katie W. Russell. Injury from E-Cigarette Explosion. New England Journal of Medicine, 2019.

Watch: Seals Trained to Sing ‘Star Wars’ Theme, ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’

geek.com – And tell me, grey seal, how does it feel to be so wise? Grey seals ain’t got nothin’ on Elton John. But they can, it turns out, mimic songs using the same sound …

Source: Amanda L. Stansbury, Vincent M. Janik. Formant Modification through Vocal Production Learning in Gray Seals. Current Biology, 2019.

Neolithic Çatalhöyük Experienced Modern Urban Problems

sci-news.com – An international team of researchers has found that the inhabitants of the Neolithic settlement Çatalhöyük (7100-5950 BCE) experienced overcrowding, infectious diseases, violence and environmental problems.

Source: Clark Spencer Larsen, et al. Bioarchaeology of Neolithic Çatalhöyük reveals fundamental transitions in health, mobility, and lifestyle in early farmers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019.

Rotavirus Vaccine May Help Protect Against Type 1 Diabetes

nytimes.com – Children who completed a full course of rotavirus vaccine were at lower risk of developing Type 1 diabetes.

Source: Mary A. M. Rogers, Tanima Basu, Catherine Kim. Lower Incidence Rate of Type 1 Diabetes after Receipt of the Rotavirus Vaccine in the United States, 2001–2017. Scientific Reports, 2019.

Uranus’ rings shine brightly but hold a puzzle for astronomers

digitaltrends.com – New images reveal the rings around Uranus, almost invisible to most telescopes, shining brightly as they reflect light in the visible and near-infrared range. But there's a strange puzzle about them -- why they don't contain any small dust-sized particles.

Source: Edward M. Molter, Imke de Pater, Michael T. Roman, Leigh N. Fletcher. Thermal Emission from the Uranian Ring System. arXiv, 2019.

‘Meteoric Smoke’ May Play Key Role in Formation of High-Altitude Clouds on Mars

sci-news.com – Planetary scientists have long observed water-ice clouds in the Martian middle atmosphere (18.6-37.2 miles, or 30-60 km, above the surface). Now, a University of Colorado, Boulder-led study suggests that those clouds owe their existence to a phenomenon called ‘meteoric smoke.’

Source: V. L Hartwick, O. B. Toon, N. G. Heavens. High-altitude water ice cloud formation on Mars controlled by interplanetary dust particles. Nature Geoscience, 2019.