News Article | December 21, 2016
Polar adventure The Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition (ACE) set off from Cape Town, South Africa, on 20 December on a three-month research cruise around the frozen continent. A 55-strong international research crew on board the Akademik Treshnikov, a Russian research vessel chartered for the voyage, will collect a variety of marine data for studies on the impact of climate change in the Southern Ocean. Swedish philanthropist Frederik Paulsen, founder of Ferring Pharmaceuticals, is the main sponsor of the expedition, which has been organized by the newly established Swiss Polar Institute in Lausanne. Replica of ice-age cave opens in France A replica of Lascaux, a cave in southwestern France that is famous for its galleries of ice-age paintings, opened its doors to the public on 15 December. The original cave has been closed to visitors since 1963, after heavy tourist traffic caused the stunning paintings, estimated to be 18,000 years old, to deteriorate. The €57-million (US$59-million) centre, Lascaux 4, is at the foot of the hills in which the original was discovered in 1940 and is a replica of almost all of the cave, including its dark and damp atmosphere. The first replica of the cave, which opened in 1983, featured just the two main galleries. Newton first edition A rare copy of Isaac Newton’s groundbreaking work Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica has become one of the most expensive printed science books in history. On 14 December, an anonymous bidder paid US$3.7 million for a first edition of the book at an auction at Christie’s in New York City — more than twice as much as the auction house had expected. First published in 1687, the work includes Newton’s law of universal gravitation and his laws of motion. A copy that had been presented to King James II of England sold for $2.5 million in 2013. Eczema activity On 14 December, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the first new drug to treat eczema — a chronic inflammation of the skin that causes severe itching — in more than a decade. The drug, an ointment called Eucrisa (crisaborole), inhibits the protein phosphodiesterase 4 and was developed by Anacor Pharmaceuticals of Palo Alto, California. Two days later, Swiss drug-manufacturing giant Novartis announced its intention to buy a separate company, Ziarco in Sandwich, UK, which is developing an oral eczema treatment that targets a histamine receptor. Novartis did not disclose how much it was paying for the company. Gene triangle Britain’s fertility regulator has decided to allow, in “certain, specific cases”, the birth of babies from embryos that have been modified to contain three people’s DNA. On 15 December, the UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority announced that clinics can start to apply for licences to conduct limited trials of the technique, which aims to prevent mothers from passing on mutations in cellular organelles called mitochondria. The move makes the United Kingdom the first country to explicitly permit the controversial therapy. ‘Corrosive’ Brexit Uncertainty in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union is having a “corrosive effect” on UK science that could cause lasting harm to the country’s economy, according to an inquiry by a committee in the House of Lords, the United Kingdom’s upper house. The inquiry’s report, published on 20 December, underscores the importance of freedom of movement for EU scientists and criticizes ministers for sending mixed messages on whether immigration rules for students will change. To strengthen UK science, the committee recommends finding opportunities to establish at least one new international research facility, and offering compelling research-funding and settlement packages to attract top talent from around the world. Trump energy pick US president-elect Donald Trump nominated Rick Perry to run the US Department of Energy on 14 December. Perry (pictured) governed Texas from 2000 to 2015 and sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. As governor, he supported fossil-fuel production, and questioned the science underlying climate change. Critics have voiced concern over his lack of scientific or technical background. In 2013, he proposed eliminating the energy department. Despite his ties to the fossil-fuel industry, the share of energy production from renewables in Texas increased substantially during his term as governor. Trump has also reportedly selected Montana congressman Ryan Zinke to head the Department of the Interior, which oversees federal public lands, natural resources and Native American programmes. Like Perry, Zinke has expressed doubt over human-induced climate change. He has voted in favour of coal extraction and oil and gas drilling. Both nominations will need confirmation by the Senate. Science exile In a display of solidarity with troubled particle physicist Adlène Hicheur, scientists held an international high-energy-physics workshop on 13 December in the small town of Vienne, southeast France, where Hicheur is under house arrest. Hicheur had previously been jailed in France for alleged terrorism offences — a conviction strongly disputed by him and his colleagues — and after his release in 2012 had restarted his research career in Brazil. He was mysteriously deported from Brazil in July. Having renounced his French nationality in October, the Franco-Algerian physicist intends to fly to Algeria within two weeks. French authorities have agreed to lift the house arrest on his departure day. No Stamina The Republic of Georgia has banned controversial stem-cell entrepreneur Davide Vannoni from working in the country. In March last year, Vannoni was convicted in Italy on charges of conspiracy and fraud for administering unproven stem-cell therapies in that country, but his sentence was suspended on the condition that he halt his procedures. In October, Italian prosecutors investigated allegations that his Stamina Foundation was offering treatments again, in Tbilisi. They sent documentation about Vannoni’s case to the Georgian government, which responded with the ban, according to news reports. Mini accelerator Physicists are a step closer to creating a miniature particle accelerator, it was announced on 14 December. The Advanced Wakefield Experiment, or AWAKE, based at CERN, Europe’s particle-physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, has yet to accelerate particles. But tests in its initial week of operation showed for the first time that pulses of protons can generate the wave of plasma needed to do just that. Harnessing the effect, which had previously been seen only in simulations, could eventually lead to smaller, cheaper particle accelerators. Telescope setback A judge in Hawaii has overturned the 2014 state approval of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) consortium’s sublease with the University of Hawaii at Hilo, which the project needs to build its US$1.5-billion instrument on Mauna Kea. Plans to build the telescope have been mired in conflict, but the 15 December ruling is a smaller stumbling block than the state supreme court’s decision a year ago to rescind the building permit for the project, on which a fresh round of hearings is under way. The sublease ruling stems in part from a legal challenge from Native Hawaiians, some of whom say that the TMT will desecrate sacred land. The telescope has a back-up site in the Canary Islands if it cannot be built in Hawaii. US drug approvals fell by more than 50% in 2016, according to a 14 December presentation by an official at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agency has approved 19 new drugs so far this year, its lowest annual tally in nearly a decade. The FDA attributed the decline to fewer submissions and the approval of five drugs ahead of schedule in 2015. The agency also rejected more drugs: in 2016, 61% of the FDA’s decisions were approvals, compared with more than 95% in 2015. “If Trump turns off the satellites, California will launch its own damn satellite.” California governor Jerry Brown responds to suggestions that budget cuts could threaten Earth-observing-satellite programmes, at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, California, on 14 December. 55,006 The overall number of doctorate recipients in the United States in 2015, of whom 25,403 were female. Source: National Science Foundation
News Article | November 23, 2015
Named after Isaac Newton's text Naturalis Principia Mathematica, ESA's Principia mission will be the eighth long-duration mission to the International Space Station. British astronaut Tim Peake will be launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan onboard a Russian Soyuz vehicle, spending five months in orbit. He'll carry out an intensive schedule of European and international experiments, in addition to numerous educational activities from space. Explore further: Third spaceflight for astronaut Paolo Nespoli
News Article | December 15, 2015
Three more astronauts are set to fly to the International Space Station on Tuesday at 11:03 a.m. GMT. One of the crew members is the first British astronaut named Tim Peake. The other two team members are Tim Kopra from NASA and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko from Russia. They will be performing experiments aboard the space station for six months. Peake, in particular, has created quite a bit of a buzz as he is the first British astronaut to fly under the European Space Agency (ESA). After a long preparation, it is now his time to fly off the planet. Peake graduated from the the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and worked as a helicopter test pilot. He saw ESA's online advertisement entitled, "Do you want to become an astronaut?" and tried out. Soon, he found himself a new job as an astronaut. He was chosen from about 8,000 applicants from all across Europe. Peake trained for a total of six years for his mission called Principia. The said mission is derived from Isaac Newton's "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica," which tackles the laws of gravity — a topic which, once fully understood, can help enhance knowledge of life on Earth and beyond. Specifically, Peake will be performing experiments on himself to evaluate the effects of space flight on the human body. Such investigations would be thoroughly helpful to the future human mission to Mars. Peake is the second engineer of the crew and is also the youngest of the three. "Tim is a fantastic astronaut," said Libby Jackson, manager of the Astronaut Flight Education Program in the UK Space Agency. He added that Peake is friendly, calm, and thinks logically without putting off the smile on his face. While aboard the ISS, Peake plans to participate in the London marathon, which is set for April 2016. While the 26.2-mile-run for earthlings may sound difficult, it could not get any more challenging for ISS-bound Peake, who will be running the marathon from space. "I have to wear a harness system that's a bit similar to a rucksack," said Peake. He further described the device as having shoulder straps and a waist belt to help him stay on the treadmill as he runs. He anticipates getting uncomfortable 40 minutes into the run. The last time a British national flew in space was in 1991, when Helen Sharman went to the Russian Mir space station via Project Juno. She wishes the best for Peake and even advised the young astronaut to look out the window and remember the colors in sight. The three-man crew will fly via the 50-year-old Soyuz rocket, which will orbit for nine minutes and circle Earth for about four times before it finally arrives at the ISS. If no delays will be encountered, Soyuz will dock at 5:23 p.m. GMT.
News Article | November 6, 2015
British astronaut Tim Peake poses before a news conference at the Science Museum in London, Britain November 6, 2015. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth More LONDON (Reuters) - The man who will become the first British astronaut to visit the International Space Station said on Friday he hoped his mission would inspire young Britons to one day journey to Mars. Tim Peake, 43, a former army major, will blast off on a six-month mission for the European Space Agency (ESA) in December, the first Briton to go into space since Helen Sharman traveled on a Soviet spacecraft for eight days in 1991. "After a gap of 24 years since Helen Sharman flew to the Mir space station, the Union (Jack) flag is going to be flown and worn in space once again," Peake told reporters. "What that means is that there's nothing to stop the schoolkids in Great Britain today from being amongst the first men and women to set on foot on Mars in the future." Peake said he would be carrying out a series of scientific experiments, including some medical research where he would be a "human guinea pig". The Briton, selected as an astronaut in 2009, will launch from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for the mission titled Principia after Isaac Newton’s ground-breaking Naturalis Principia Mathematica, which describes the principal laws of motion and gravity. Britain originally opted out of the European program for human space flight but decided to reverse its decision in 2012. The space station is a laboratory in which an international crew of six people live and work while traveling at a speed of five miles per second, orbiting Earth every 90 minutes. It was launched in 1998 and has been continuously occupied since November 2000. In that time, more than 200 people from 15 countries have visited.
News Article | December 16, 2016
A bound copy of Sir Isaac Newton's seminal book on mathematics and science was sold for $3.7 million, making it the most expensive printed scientific book ever sold at auction, according to Christie's, the auction house that handled the sale. The book has a Latin title — "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica," which translates to "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy," but scholars often call it the Principia. After Newton (1642-1727) wrote the book, he gave it to the English astronomer Edmond Halley (1656-1742) for editing, and it was printed and sold in London more than 300 years ago, in 1687. The book is a pivotal piece of science and history, and theoretical physicist Albert Einstein called it "perhaps the greatest intellectual stride that it has ever been granted to any man to make." Even so, Christie's expected the goat-skin-covered book to bring in between $1 million and $1.5 million, but the unnamed bidder bought it for nearly four times that value at $3,719,500. [Creative Genius: The World's Greatest Minds] The Principia famously elucidates Newton's three laws of motion, explaining how objects move under the influences of external forces. Physics students today still use the laws, which include: -An object will remain in a state of inertia unless acted upon by force. -The relationship between acceleration and applied force is force equals mass times acceleration (F=MA). -For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The crimson book measures about 9 inches by 7 inches (23.7 by 18.6 centimeters) and contains 252 leaves — some with woodcut diagrams — and a folding plate, according to Christie's. Only one other original leather-bound copy of Newton's Principia has been sold at auction in the past 47 years — a copy that was presented to King James II (1633-1701) and bought at Christie's New York for about $2.5 million in December 2013. In the Principia's preface, Newton thanked Halley for encouraging him to write the book, saying, "Mr. Edmund Halley not only assisted me with his pains in correcting the press and taking care of the schemes, but it was his solicitations that its becoming public is owing; for when he had obtained of me my demonstrations of the figure of the celestial orbits, he continually pressed me to communicate the same to the Royal Society..." (translated by Andrew Motte).In a letter to the king in 1687, Halley wrote, "And I may be bold to say, that if ever Book was worthy the favourable acceptance of a Prince." Halley also paid for the printing of the book; the Royal Society didn't have enough money at the time to cover the costs because it had just published another book, "De Historia Piscium" or "The History of Fishes" by John Ray and Francis Willughby. Luckily, Halley's contribution paid off: Newton's work was not seriously challenged until Einstein's theories of relativity and German theoretical physicist Max Planck's quantum theory were published in the 1900s. In fact, Newton's principles and methods are still used by scientists today.
News Article | December 16, 2016
On the block: The $500,000 farmfind Aston Martin DB4, Newton's Principia fetches $3.7 mil, a Hendrix acoustic guitar sells for $260,000 and the only remaining Indian-Vincent prototype from 1949 are the highlights of this week On the Block. A first edition of Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica sold for $3,719,500 on December 14 at Christies, setting a new record for the foundation work of modern science. The auctioned copy was one of the original first printing of just 300-400 copies in Latin. Only one other copy of Newton's Principia bound in contemporary morocco has sold at auction in the past 47 years, being the presentation copy to King James II, which was sold by Christie's (New York) in December 2013 for $2,517,000 (see also The most valuable scientific documents of all-time #20-11) and held the record until this auction. This copy was estimated to fetch between $1 million and $1.5 million, but the record fell easily in the end, as the estimate was more than doubled. Of the original indeterminate number of copies printed, roughly 150 copies are known to still exist. Jimi Hendrix's longest-owned guitar might have been estimated to sell for between £80,000 and £120,000 (US$100,000 to $150,000), but Hendrix has special cachet on the auction block and the acoustic 1951 Epiphone sold for £209,000 (US$259,557) at Bonhams' London Entertainment Memorabilia auction on December 15. As the guitar Hendrix owned longest, he used it more than any other in his tragically short career and as predicted, it easily moved into our list of the 60 most valuable guitars ever sold at auction. Items of significance in American history always do well at auction, and this autograph 6-page letter from George Washington (1732-1799) to François Jean de Beauvoir, Marquis de Chastellux (1734-1788) fetched $307,500. The letter was written while Washington was awaiting news on the ratification of the constitution: "Should it be adopted … America will lift up her head again and in a few years become respectable among the Nations." The Bonhams auction on December 16 also included the instantly recognizable custom-made Schecter Cloud Guitar used by Prince. Prince used a number of Cloud guitars during his career, purchasing his first in 1983, and he used numerous examples of different colors to match the theatrical themes of his concert performances, sometimes respraying existing guitars. The image above shows Prince with this guitar from the Act II program, a copy of which is included in this sale with the New Power Generation band members' autographs on the back. There are more Vincents in our list of the top 250 motorcycles ever sold at auction than any other marque. Indian ranks fourth behind Harley-Davidson and Brough Superior. There were however, two Indian Vincents created when a joint-venture was planned in 1948. This is one of them and it is potentially one of the most valuable motorcycles on the planet. It will sell at auction at Bonhams Las Vegas sale. This incomplete set of the North American Indian sold in the centre of the estimated range at £70,000 ($86,755). The full set was produced in 40 volumes between 1907 and 1930 by Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952) and was one of the most expensive undertakings in the history of book production and the most comprehensive ethnographic records of any aboriginal people. According to author and critic A.D. Coleman, it is "an absolutely unmatched masterpiece of visual anthropology, and one of the most thorough, extensive and profound photograph works of all time." The world record price for a complete set of The North American Indian is $2,882,500, set by Christie's (New York), in April, 2012. See also the most valuable scientific documents of all-time #10-1. First edition of the "The Hobbit" fetches $8,675 Many of our readers would have seen a copy of Tolkien's The Hobbit that looked equally as loved as this one was, but few would have such a back story. The gift inscription is from Tolkien's aunt Emily Jane Suffield, to Bertram and Dorothy Stone and their two sons; "Aunt Jane" had famously passed letters between Tolkien's parents when they were initially courting, and her Cotswolds cottage was in part the inspiration for Bag End, home to Bilbo Baggins. The pencilled note addended to the blurb on the lower inside flap of the jacket refers to the secret back door into the Lonely Mountain. The book and assorted papers sold for £7000 ($8,675). Finding buried treasure has been a fantasy for everyone at some stage, and that's why barn-finds make such good stories. This 1961 Aston Martin DB4 was recently discovered after 45 years in the New Hampshire woods and will be one of the more interesting lots at this year's Scottsdale auctions – this one at Worldwide Auctioneers' inaugural Scottsdale sale on 18 January, 2017. It represents a lot of work, plus the estimated $375,000 to $475,000 for the car in current condition. The math adds up at that price.
Anderson L.C.,Louisiana State University |
Wesselingh F.P.,Naturalis |
Hartman J.H.,University of North Dakota
Paleobiology | Year: 2010
The Corbulidae are one of a handful of a primarily marine bivalve clades that exhibit a remarkable radiation, marked by increased species richness and divergent morphologies, within a long-lived lake. For corbulids, this diversification occurred within the lower to middle Miocene Pebas Formation of western Amazonia. Only one taxon associated with this radiation (Anticorbula) remains extant. We conducted a series of phylogenetic analyses to characterize diversification of Corbulidae within the Pebas Formation and relate that diversification to geologically older freshwater corbulids from the Paleocene Fort Union Formation of the northern Great Plains (United States). We used these results, as well as a quantitative examination of morphospace occupation, to infer whether Pebasian corbulids represent a true species flock, and whether the lacustrine system represented by the Pebas Formation represents a cradle of, or reservoir for, freshwater corbulid diversity. We conducted two sets of phylogenetic analyses using shell morphology characters. A genus-level data set incorporated type species of freshwater corbulid genera, any Paleocene representatives of these genera, and selected brackish and marine corbulid genera. A species-level analysis added all described freshwater corbulid taxa to the genus-level matrix. Our results were highly resolved (few most-parsimonious trees), but not particularly robust (low branch support). For the genus-level matrix, we used a taxon jackknife procedure to explore the effects of taxon sampling on tree stability and topology. Jackknife results recover a subclade of freshwater taxa (including both Anticorbula and Pachydon species and the Paleocene Ostomya sp.) in 92.4 of trees, although placement of this subclade across the ingroup varies, as do the topologic positions of other freshwater species. Freshwater and marine corbulids also are morphologically distinct from each other, a factor that likely reduced the robustness of our phylogenetic results. By combining these results with paleoecologic, stratigraphic, and morphologic data, we infer that freshwater corbulids arose once within the family, prior to the Cenozoic, with three distinct freshwater lineages present at their first appearance in the late Paleocene of North America. Within the Miocene Pebas system of South America, we reconstruct supralimital morphologic evolution within three lineages as freshwater taxa became variously adapted to the fluid, dysoxic muds characterizing lake-bottom facies representative of the Pebas lacustrine system. In addition, corbulids apparently successfully coped with high predation pressures from co-occurring shell-crushing predators. Finally, we consider that freshwater Corbulidae were primarily fluvial taxa throughout their geologic history, with a relatively ephemeral radiation within the Pebasian lake system, thus making the Pebasian system a cradle of diversity for several corbulid lineages. © 2010 The Paleontological Society. All rights reserved.
News Article | April 25, 2016
Last winter saw the lowest winter mortality of bee colonies for many years. While the loss rate was still around 20% in 2011, it fell below 10% over the last two years and this year was just 6.5%. Winter mortality in the Netherlands is measured by a honeybee surveillance programme conducted by Naturalis and Wageningen UR in partnership with the Dutch Beekeepers Association (NBV).
News Article | April 26, 2016
Dissection might prove unnecessary when identifying new molluscs after scientists Corey Whisson, Western Australian Museum, and Dr Abraham Breure, Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, the Netherlands, and Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Belgium, described a previously unknown land snail based on its genitalia, yet without damaging the specimen in the slightest. The new species is published in the open access journal ZooKeys.
News Article | October 31, 2016
The leaf-mining pygmy moths (family Nepticulidae) and the white eyecap moths (family Opostegidae) are among the smallest moths in the world with a wingspan of just a few millimetres. Their caterpillars make characteristic patterns in leaves: leaf mines. For the first time, the evolutionary relationships of the more than 1000 species have been analysed on the basis of DNA, resulting in a new classification. Today, a team of scientists, led by Dr Erik J. van Nieukerken and Dr. Camiel Doorenweerd, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, The Netherlands, published three inter-linked scientific publications in the journal Systematic Entomology and the open access journal ZooKeys, together with two online databases, providing a catalogue with the names of all species involved. The evolutionary study, forming part of the PhD thesis of Doorenweerd, used DNA methods to show that the group is ancient and was already diverse in the early Cretaceous, ca. 100 million years ago, partly based on the occurrence of leaf mines in fossil leaves. The moths are all specialised on some species of flowering plants, also called angiosperms, and could therefore diversify when the angiosperms diversified and largely replaced ecologically other groups of plants in the Cretaceous. The study lead to the discovery of three new genera occurring in South and Central America, which are described in one of the two ZooKeys papers, stressing the peculiar character and vastly undescribed diversity of the Neotropic fauna. Changing a classification requires a change in many species names, which prompted the authors to simultaneously publish a full catalogue of all 1072 valid species names that are known worldwide and the many synonymic names from the literature from the past 150 years. Creating such a large and comprehensive overview became possible from the moths and leaf-mine collections of the world's natural history museums, and culminates the past 35 years of research that van Nieukerken has spent on this group. However, a small, but not trivial, note in one of the publications indicates that we can expect at least another 1000 species of pygmy leafminer moths that are yet undiscovered. Doorenweerd C, Nieukerken EJ van, Hoare RJB (2016) Phylogeny, classification and divergence times of pygmy leafmining moths (Lepidoptera: Nepticulidae): the earliest lepidopteran radiation on Angiosperms? Systematic Entomology, Early View. doi: 10.1111/syen.1221. Nieukerken EJ van, Doorenweerd C, Nishida K, Snyers C (2016) New taxa, including three new genera show uniqueness of Neotropical Nepticulidae (Lepidoptera). ZooKeys 628: 1-63. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.628.9805. Nieukerken EJ van, Doorenweerd C, Hoare RJB, Davis DR (2016) Revised classification and catalogue of global Nepticulidae and Opostegidae (Lepidoptera: Nepticuloidea). ZooKeys 628: 65-246. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.628.9799. Nieukerken EJ van (ed) (2016) Nepticulidae and Opostegidae of the world, version 2.0. Scratchpads, biodiversity online. Nieukerken EJ van (ed) (2016). Nepticuloidea: Nepticulidae and Opostegidae of the World (Oct 2016 version). In: Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life, 31st October 2016 (Roskov Y., Abucay L., Orrell T., Nicolson D., Flann C., Bailly N., Kirk P., Bourgoin T., DeWalt R.E., Decock W., De Wever A., eds). Digital resource at http://www. . Species 2000: Naturalis, Leiden, the Netherlands. ISSN 2405-8858. http://www.