Mercury Rising : Close look at Mercury suggests even there, life is a possibility.

Mercury - a planet with a surface hot enough to melt lead - might once have contained ingredients needed for life.

The new theory is based on a particularly muddled feature on the planet orbiting closest to the sun; a jumbled landscape of fractured rock, mismatched peaks and collapsed craters.

The study suggests that subsurface volatiles - elements that can easily switch from solid to a liquid or a gas - heated up and caused those elements to transform into a gas, forcing the terrain above them to collapse into a jumbled mass.

It's a thrilling prospect, given that volatiles are needed to kick start life. Though the researchers cannot say which volatiles were present, there is reason to hope that water might be one of them. [Shannon Hall]

Hawaii Striking Out :

The Army bombed a Hawaii lave flow, it didn't stop the lava.

In 1935, the United States Army dropped 40 bombs to try to stop the lava from plowing into Hilo, a town on the island of Hawaii. [Not all exploded]

While Hilo was spared as the lava flow naturally lost its forward momentum, it wasn't the only time that humanity tried to fight volcanic fire with a fire of its own.

History is filled with efforts to stop  kinetic motion rock, and the 1935 bombing and others show that lava flows are very rarely ''a force we humans can reckon with,'' said the volcanologist Janine Krippner.

Superheated lava does whatever it wants. It cannpt be drained away, though if lava threatens a harbor by the sea, pumping billions of gallons of seawater at it may slow it down, as Iceland discovered at Heimaey island in 1973. [Robin George Andrews]

WonderChicken :

Belgium : A very early branch on the bird family tree.

In 2000, a fossil collector found a chunk of rock  about as a big as a deck of cards in a limestone quarry in Belgium.

Eighteen years later, scientists took a CT scan of the chunk and found an almost perfectly preserved ancient bird skull.

The fossil is between 66.7 million and 66.8 million years old, making it the oldest fossil in modern bird family tree.

The researchers have given the bird the scientific name Asteriornis maastrichtensis. It has a pet name too : the WonderChicken.

When an asteroid hit earth  66 million years ago, many branches of the bird family were sheared off.  Those that survived produced the birds that we know today. [Cara Giaimo]

The honor and serving of the latest global operational research in Science Lab Students, continues. 


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