ResearchBlogging editor's selections: Phytoliths, Hubble bubbles, computer-generated hypotheses, and plasma shields

skyskull “Dr. SkySkull” selects several notable posts each week from a miscellany of ResearchBlogging.org categories. He blogs at Skulls in the Stars.

  • Past lives caught in the dust of trees. Alun at AlunSalt describes a little-discussed botanical and archaeobotanical phenomenon called phytoliths. This dust, formed in the interior of some living plants, can form a valuable record of a region’s botanical history.
  • Hubble bubble. The eponymous The Astronomist explains the concept of a “Hubble bubble” — an alternative interpretation of phenomena typically linked to dark energy — and explains why this hypothesis is unlikely to be true.
  • Can computers help scientists with their reading? Every scientist out there knows that the flood of new publications is impossible to keep up with, and is in general overwhelming! Rob Mitchum of ScienceLife describes a proposal to not only use computers to sort through the torrent of results, but pinpoint new hypotheses and identify large-scale patterns that would otherwise be overlooked.
  • Force fields and plasma shields. We’ve seen lots of science fiction ideas become reality over the past 100 years, but one that has not been realized is the “force field”. Is it possible to make a force field or plasma shield with today’s science? In an entertaining post, Ryan Anderson of The Science of Starcraft looks at what might work… and what has been proposed already!

Check back next Monday for more “miscellaneous” selections!

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