Sunday, September 20, 2020

Failure to Preserve Science Journals


Today online research can supplement field and lab research in multiple sciences, but a study suggests that some potentially important findings are no longer available because they have not been preserved.

The work of archiving and preserving science journals is time consuming and there is no uniformly applied process to preserve free downloadable journal articles. If the publisher ceases to exist, the journals may vanish. 

Eighty-four online-only, open-access (OA) journals in the sciences, and nearly 100 more in the social sciences and humanities, have disappeared from the internet over the past 20 years as publishers stopped maintaining them. The average duration of online access appears to have been about 10 years.

“The analysis demonstrates that research integrity and the scholarly record preservation … are at risk across all academic disciplines and geographical regions," says Andrea Marchitelli, managing editor of, the Italian Journal of Library, Archives, and Information Science.

The authors of the study are Mikael Laakso (Hanken School of Economics), Lisa Matthias (Free University of Berlin), and Najko Jahn (University of Göttingen). To determine the list of the 176 vanished journals, they did some digital detective work because clues about them are fragmentary. After the journals go dark their names no longer appear in bibliometric databases.

The authors defined a vanished journal as one that published at least one complete volume as immediate OA, and less than 50% of its content is now available for free online. Some of the content may be accessible as printed copies or in paywalled commercial services.

They used a historical archive of internet content, the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, to determine when production ceased and when content disappeared from the internet (within 5 years for three-quarters of the journals). The journals had been based in 50 different countries. Most of the now dark journals published articles only in English.

The study found that only about one-third of the 14,068 journals indexed in the Directory of Open Access Journals in 2019 ensure the long-term preservation of their content. Some commercial services offer it, and the Public Knowledge Project Preservation Network, does so for free.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

The Moon is Rusting


Map of hematite on the moon—redder color means more hematite. 
(Photo credit: Shuai Li)

Planetary scientists are amazed to find the oxidized iron mineral hematite at high latitudes on the Moon. That’s according to a study published in Science Advances led by Shuai Li, an assistant researcher at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST).

When iron reacts with oxygen it forms reddish rust. However, the Moon's surface is virtually devoid of oxygen, which accounts for he pristine metallic iron that is prevalent on the Moon. Also highly oxidized iron has not been confirmed in samples acquired from the Apollo missions. 

In addition, solar wind blasts the lunar surface with hydrogen, which acts in opposition to oxidation. Thus, the presence of highly oxidized iron-bearing minerals, such as hematite, on the Moon was an unexpected discovery.

“Our hypothesis is that lunar hematite is formed through oxidation of lunar surface iron by the oxygen from the Earth’s upper atmosphere that has been continuously blown to the lunar surface by solar wind when the Moon is in Earth’s magnetotail during the past several billion years,” said Shuai Li.

This new research was inspired by Li’s previous discovery of water ice in the Moon’s polar regions in 2018.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Corn Moon Rising


On Wednesday, September 2 the full moon, called the Corn Moon - will reach peak fullness at 1:22 a.m. EDT (5:22 UTC). The Moon will appear full for about three days, from Monday evening through Thursday morning. The Corn Moon occurs every 3 years.

In Europe, the Corn Moon is called the Fruit Moon, as fruits ripen around this time, and the Barley Moon, from the barley harvest.

Coming so early in the month, this sets the stage for two full moons in October. The second full moon - called the Harvest Moon - will shine on Oct. 31.

The Algonquin tribes called this the Corn Moon, as this was the time for gathering their main staple crops of corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Kilauea's Bubbling Lake


According to the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory the newly-formed lake inside Kilauea volcano is almost 130 feet deep, 880 feet long and 430 feet wide. The temperature of the water at the surface is now between 160 and 180 F, with temperatures beneath potentially higher. This makes the lake one of the world's hottest bodies of water. Scientists are using thermal cameras to monitor temperatures.

The water in the volcano's belly began to form a lake after the volcano erupted in 2018. In July 2019, helicopter pilots began to notice water pooling in the lowest part of the crater. Since then, water levels have risen steadily. Today, the lake has an area larger than five combined football fields. The water color is rust brown due to chemical reactions.

In May 2018, lava poured from fissures to the east, the lake swiftly drained and part of the caldera floor collapsed. This lowered the base of the volcano to the level of the water table. Don Swanson, at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory explains, “We know that the crater floor dropped a little more than 70 meters below the water table in 2018. Any time that you punch a hole below the level of the water table, water is eventually going to come in and fill that hole.”

Kilauea has an explosive history. Now scientists are concerned about the possible effects of the water coming into contact with the magma. The magma could rise up the conduit and intersect with the lake, causing a steam explosion. Or the crater floor could collapse and the water drop to a zone where it would become steam. Either scenario is likely to produce a steam explosion.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

A Late Neolithic Structure at Durrington Walls


How Durrington Walls might have looked with this structure at the exact center. 

Durrington Walls in the parish of Durrington, England is the site of a large Neolithic settlement and later henge enclosure located in the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. It lies 2 miles north-east of Stonehenge. Researchers have been studying ancient shafts there.

There are at least 20 shafts or pits that formed a circuit exceeding 1 mile (over 2 kilometers) in circumference. There is evidence that an inner post may have existed within the circuit of pits. 

The circle of pits is much larger than any comparable prehistoric monument in the UK. The team of archaeologists estimates there may have been more than 30 post holes originally.

The researchers believe that one of the pits (5A) was recut during the Middle Bronze Age, suggesting that the site continued to be important long after the major period of development and modification of the henge at Durrington Walls.

Testing of the shafts indicates that they were dug more than 4500 years ago, around the time Durrington Walls and Stonehenge were built. The Late Neolithic was a period when ritual structures of an enormous scale were built in various parts of he world.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Brain's Drainpipes

The human body is an extraordinary thing! It has intrigued scientists and fascinated painters and sculptors for thousand of years. As early as 3100 BC the ancient Nilotic priests were studying human anatomy in their efforts to heal the sick and injured. The Edwin Smith Papyrus is an example.

Today scientists have been talking about parts of the human anatomy that have become more evident through the use of advanced microscopy and imaging techniques.

The discoveries include the 2017 MRI evidence for lymphatic vessels in the human meninge, the membrane that covers the brain. These vessels drain fluids and removes waste from brain tissues.

Early reports of lymphatic vessels in the meninges appeared in the 18th century but were met with skepticism. However, lymphatic vessels in mouse meninges were reported in 2015.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Amazing Human Eye!

The human eye is an extraordinary member of the body. The human retina contains 125 million rods and about 6 million cones. This is 70 percent of all the human sensory receptors for touch, taste smell, hearing and sight all put together. That’s how important vision is to our survival. But how does the eye actually see?

Light bouncing off an object goes into the eye, through the cornea and the oval-white lens, which focuses that light on the retina. That’s a thin layer of tissue covering the eye’s back wall (inside the sclera). The retina hosts the eyes’ rods and cones. At the center back is the fovea. Most color-sensing cone cells are here. These cells relay signals that move through the optic nerve to the brain.

Read it all here.