Extinct kangaroos may have been hopless
Extinct giant kangaroos most likely could not hop and used a more rigid body posture to move their hind limbs one at a time, according to a Brown University study published this month in the journal PLOS ONE.
The short-faced, large-bodied sthenurine kangaroo – a relative to modern-day kangaroos – became extinct in the late Pleistocene, which ended approximately 17,700 years ago. The largest of these animals had an estimated body mass almost three times the size of the largest kangaroos alive today. Scientists speculate that a kangaroo of this size may not have been physically able to hop. Comparison of different sthenurine limb bones to those of other kangaroos shows a number of anatomical differences, especially in the larger species.
The physical differences suggest that these ancient kangaroo species lacked many specialized features for rapid hopping but had anatomy suggesting they supported their body with an upright posture and were able to support their weight on one leg at a time using their larger hips, knees and stabilized ankle joints. plos.org
LED breakthrough can mean warmer hues, cheaper cost
The phaseout of traditional incandescent bulbs in the United States, as well as a growing interest in energy efficiency, has given LED lighting a sales boost. But the light from white LED bulbs is generally colder than the warm glow of traditional bulbs. Plus, most of these lights are made with rare earth elements that are increasingly in demand for use in almost all other high-tech devices, adding to the cost of the technology.
But a research team led by Jing Li of Rutgers University has developed a group of lighting materials that don’t include rare earths and are instead made of copper iodide, which is an abundant compound. They tuned the materials to glow a warm white shade or various other colors using a low-cost solution process.
Their findings are reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. acs.org
Clemson team explores better storage for nuclear waste
Minerals that endure in nature for millions of years are inspiring a Clemson University-led research team to explore whether new materials could be developed to encase nuclear waste for safe storage.
Glass is now used to isolate nuclear waste, but a team led by Kyle Brinkman, a professor of materials science and engineering at Clemson, is hoping to develop materials that are more stable. Their work could help broaden disposal options and lower storage and disposal costs. The three-year project recently won an $800,000 research grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Nuclear Energy University Programs.
The Clemson research is focused on crystalline ceramic that will be based on naturally occurring minerals that endure for millions of years. One example is hollandite, a mineral dug out of the Italian Alps that shows promise for housing cesium. clemson.edu