Sci/Tech briefs

Scientists find new dinosaur species

According to paleontologists, dinosaurs were not common in Australia, so the discovery of dinosaur bones there presents the possibility of a new species of dinosaur.

A few years ago, another dinosaur (named “Matilda” by scientists) was found, but these new bones do not match the dimensions of Matilda, suggesting that this may be a new species.

David Elliott, the paleontologist who organized the dig, is optimistic about the find.

Since Australia is so isolated, the species of dinosaurs and wildlife found there are different from those found in other areas of the world, and each new find has a good chance of being a new species.

Scientists are unable to say for certain whether this find is a new species, but chances are good and scientists remain hopeful.

Source: AFP

Preliminary rocket design approved

The preliminary design for a newly engineered rocket to send astronauts to the moon was approved by NASA management.
This marks a milestone in the design phase, but the final design will not be finished for several years.

There will be many more reviews of the design before it is implemented, but this is the first design review approval since 1973.

The engineers have a few design flaws to fix before 2011, when the next review will take place. The issues relate, for the most part, to safety, and include problems like shaking and noise.

The rocket, named Ares I, is being developed to allow NASA to return to the moon by 2020.

Source: AP

Scientists discover primitive ants

Insect experts at Harvard have discovered a primitive species of ant in Brazil. The ant, which they have named Martialis heureka, is the oldest living species of ant.

This discovery has surprised scientists because it differs from fossils of ancient ants they have studied.
Modern ants evolved from the wasp, and the Martialis heureka has not.

Scientists have determined that it is a sister branch of the modern ant, not an ancestor. This new species of ant is pale and blind, something the scientists did not expect.

It seems to have evolved for life underground and has not changed much since its origin.
The ant was discovered in 2003, but its study is more recent.

Source: New York Times

Proof of planetary collision found

Astronomers have found that two Earth-like planets collided and destroyed each other 300 million years ago, showing the frightening possibility that such collisions can happen in an established solar system.

The discovery was made after the researchers spotted huge amounts of dust floating around a distant solar system.
The planets, whose orbits roughly resembled those of Earth and Venus, seem to have collided, leaving their solar system full of huge clouds of dust. The current concern among scientists is whether something like this might be possible in our own solar system.

Source: Reuters