Discovered: Scientists control feeble worm brains with lasers; the earth shook for six days after April's Indian Ocean quake; a view into deep space; vampire squids are gross.
Space is ready for its Hubble Space Telescope close-up. Calling the Hubble Space Telescope's new image of deep space a photograph doesn't do it justice. It took over 500 hours to collect all the light needed to see this cluster of galaxies, which is so far away from Earth that we're seeing light from just shortly after the Big Bang. "We stared at this patch of sky for about 22 days, and have obtained a very deep view of the distant Universe, and therefore we see how galaxies were looking in its infancy," says Dr. Michele Trenti, one of the astronomers who worked on the eXtreme Deep Field image. Watch a video that illustrates just how deep into space this image goes below. [BBC]
Vampire squid have really gross eating habits. The vampire squid is far crazier and much nastier than the honey badger could ever hope to be. Marine biologists from Hendrik Hoving and Bruce Robison of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute have discovered how the squid sustains itself—and no, it doesn't feast on the blood of virgins. Rather, it feeds on "marine snow," a term for the chunks of corpses and feces that float down to the 3,000-foot depth the solitary squid hovers near. The researchers filmed the vampire squid's strange eating habits, which involves extending a long, eight-armed tongue filament to catch the upper ocean's waste. "Vampyroteuthis’ food consisted of agglomerated copepod parts, faecal pellets, diatoms, radiolarians and fish scales; often embedded in a mucus matrix," write the researchers. The diet suits the species, whose Latin name Vampyroteuthis infernalis literally translates as "squid from hell." Watch it feed below. [WIRED]
Remote controlled worms. Scientists are now capable of mind control! But don't freak out just yet; we're only talking about worm mind control, so far. Because they want to come across as diabolical as possible, Harvard University researchers used targeted lasers to hi-jack worms' brains. By manipulating the neurons in the brains of tiny, transparent Caenorhabditis elegans worms, Sharad Ramanathan and his colleagues can make them turn whichever way they want and even trick them into hunting for food that isn't there. The worms were chosen for this experiment because, with only 302 neurons in their brain, they were easiest to commandeer. "If we can understand simple nervous systems to the point of completely controlling them, then it may be a possibility that we can gain a comprehensive understanding of more complex systems," says Ramanathan, deviously. "This gives us a framework to think about neural circuits, how to manipulate them, which circuit to manipulate, and what activity patterns to produce in them." [Harvard]
Huge earthquakes in the Indian Ocean are still shaking the earth. The two huge earthquakes that hit off the coast of Indonesia in April weren't isolated temblors, researchers are saying. A study published in Nature says that this year's pair of quakes (8.7 and 8.2 on the Richter scale) happened as part of the ongoing break-up of a large tectonic plate beneath the Indian Ocean. "You’d be nuts to think it was all over in offshore Sumatra," said Kerry Sieh, a seismologist at the Earth Observatory of Singapore. She says the quakes were harbingers of more devastating quakes to come. The after-effects were apparent in April, when smaller earthquakes continued to break out for six days following the big ones. There are signs that the Indo-Australian crustal plate is splitting in two, meaning seismic risk will be high for areas stretching from the Himalayas all the way down to Australia, which lies on the plate's southern border. [ScienceNews]