Jul 22, 2014

Global temperature reaches record high in June following record warmth in May

According to NOAA scientists, the globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for June 2014 was the highest for June since record keeping began in 1880. It also marked the 38th consecutive June and 352nd consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average global temperature for June was in 1976 and the last below-average global temperature for any month was February 1985.

Most of the world experienced warmer-than-average monthly temperatures, with record warmth across part of southeastern Greenland, parts of northern South America, areas in eastern and central Africa, and sections of southern and southeastern Asia. Similar to May, scattered sections across every major ocean basin were also record warm. Notably, large parts of the western equatorial and northeastern Pacific Ocean and most of the Indian Ocean were record warm or much warmer than average for the month. A few areas in North America, Far East Russia, and small parts of central and northeastern Europe were cooler or much cooler than average.

A monthly summary (http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2014/6) from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, NC, is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, the business sector, academia and the public to support informed decision making.

Selected significant climate anomalies and events: June 2014.

Global temperature highlights: June


  •     The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for June 2014 was record high for the month at 61.20°F (16.22°C), or 1.30°F (0.72°C) above the 20th century average of 59.9°F (15.5°C). This surpasses the previous record, set in 2010, by (0.05°F) 0.03°C. Nine of the ten warmest Junes on record have all occurred during the 21st century, including each of the past five years. The margin of error associated with this temperature is +/- 0.16°F (0.09°C).
  •     The June global land temperature was the seventh highest for June on record at 1.71°F (0.95°C) above the 20th century average of 55.9°F (13.3°C). The margin of error is +/- 0.25°F (0.14°C). The seven highest June global land surface temperatures have occurred in the past decade.
  •     Thirty-one countries across every continent, with the exception of Antarctica, reported at least one station with a record warm June temperature. The period of record varies by station. Some national temperature highlights include:
  •         New Zealand observed its warmest June since national records began in 1909. The warmth was notable for both its intensity and coverage, with above-average temperatures from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island.
  •         France observed its fifth warmest June in the country's 115-year period of record at 2.3°F (1.3°C) above the 1981-2010 average. A week-long heat wave contributed to the overall warmth for the month.
  •         Parts of Greenland were record warm during June. Kangerlussuaq in southwestern Greenland observed its record highest maximum June temperature of 23.2°C (73.8°F) on June 15, surpassing the previous record of 23.1°C (73.6°F) set in both 1988 and 2002. Records at this station date back to 1958.
  •     For the ocean, the June global sea surface temperature was 1.15°F (0.64°C) above the 20th century average of 61.5°F (16.4°C), the highest for June on record. This surpasses the previous all-time record for any month by 0.09°F (0.05°C), set in June 1998 and tied in October 2003, July 2009, and just last month in May 2014. The margin of error is +/- 0.07°F (0.04°C).
  •     Although neither El Niño nor La Niña conditions were present across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean during June 2014, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center estimates that there is about a 70 percent chance that El Niño conditions will develop during Northern Hemisphere summer 2014 and 80 percent chance it will develop during the fall and winter.

Polar ice highlights: June

  •     The average Arctic sea ice extent for June was 4.4 million square miles, 220,000 square miles (4.9 percent) below the 1981-2010 average and the sixth smallest June extent since records began in 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The seasonal sea ice extent decline during June was faster than average, with rapid ice loss near the end of month.
  •     On the opposite pole, the Antarctic sea ice extent for June was 5.9 million square miles, 510,000 square miles (9.6 percent) above the 1981-2010 average. This marked the largest June Antarctic sea ice extent since records began in 1979, surpassing the previous record large June Antarctic sea ice extent that occurred in 2010 by about 100,000 square miles. Seven of the past 12 months have had a record large Antarctic sea ice extent.
  •     Combining the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice, June global sea ice was 10.3 million square miles, 2.9 percent above the 1981-2010 average. This was the third largest global June sea ice extent on record and the largest since 1982.

Precipitation highlights: June

  •     Extreme wetness was observed during June over regions including central North America and parts of eastern and northern Europe. Extreme dryness was scattered across different parts of the globe, including much of South Asia and Australia.
  •     In India, the southwest monsoon onset over Kerala occurred on June 6, five days later than the normal date of June 1. For the period June 1-30, rainfall across the country was just 60 percent of the 1951-2000 average for the country as a whole. Every region experienced rainfall deficits during this period, ranging from 43 percent of average in Central India to 72 percent of average on the South Peninsula. The monsoon season lasts from early June through late September.
  •     Australia received 68 percent of average rainfall during June. Western Australia received just 28 percent of their average rainfall for the month, the seventh lowest for June for the state.
Read more at Science Daily

Mammoth and mastodon behavior was less roam, more stay at home

Their scruffy beards weren't ironic, but there are reasons mammoths and mastodons could have been the hipsters of the Ice Age.

According to research from the University of Cincinnati, the famously fuzzy relatives of elephants liked living in Greater Cincinnati long before it was trendy -- at the end of the last ice age. A study led by Brooke Crowley, an assistant professor of geology and anthropology, shows the ancient proboscideans enjoyed the area so much they likely were year-round residents and not nomadic migrants as previously thought.

They even had their own preferred hangouts. Crowley's findings indicate each species kept to separate areas based on availability of favored foods here at the southern edge of the Last Glacial Maximum's major ice sheet.

"I suspect that this was a pretty nice place to live, relatively speaking," Crowley says. "Our data suggest that animals probably had what they needed to survive here year-round."

Could the past save the future?

Crowley's research with co-author and recent UC graduate Eric Baumann, "Stable Isotopes Reveal Ecological Differences Among Now-Extinct Proboscideans from the Cincinnati Region, USA," was recently published in Boreas, an international academic research journal.

Learning more about the different behaviors of these prehistoric creatures could benefit their modern-day cousins, African and Asian elephants. Both types are on the World Wildlife Fund's endangered species list. Studying how variable different types of elephants might have been in the past, Crowley says, might help ongoing efforts to protect these largest of land mammals from continued threats such as poaching and habitat destruction.

"There are regionally different stories going on," Crowley says. "There's not one overarching theme that we can say about a mammoth or a mastodon. And that's becoming more obvious in studies people are doing in different places. A mammoth in Florida did not behave the same as one in New York, Wyoming, California, Mexico or Ohio."
 
The wisdom in teeth

For their research, Crowley and Baumann looked to the wisdom in teeth -- specifically museum specimens of molars from four mastodons and eight mammoths from Southwestern Ohio and Northwestern Kentucky. Much can be revealed by carefully drilling a tooth's surface and analyzing the stable carbon, oxygen and strontium isotopic signatures in the powdered enamel.

Each element tells a different story. Carbon provides insight into an animal's diet, oxygen relates to overall climatic conditions of an animal's environment and strontium indicates how much an animal may have traveled at the time its tooth was forming.

"Strontium reflects the bedrock geology of a location," Crowley says. "So if a local animal grows its tooth and mineralizes it locally and dies locally, the strontium isotope ratio in its tooth will reflect the place where it lived and died. If an animal grows its tooth in one place and then moves elsewhere, the strontium in its tooth is going to reflect where it came from, not where it died."

Read more at Science Daily

Secret Grizzly Bear Feeding Site Discovered

For a bear, it's the equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet.

A secret feeding site that draws dozens of grizzly bears has been identified along a Canadian river where salmon spawn.

Finding the feeding site for the grizzly bears and the "highways" they take to get to it could help policymakers ban trophy hunting in the region. The resulting protection could allow dwindling grizzly populations to rebound.

"Our hope is for grizzly bears to start returning to their historic range," said study co-author said Chris Filardi, director of Pacific programs at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

The Heiltsuk people, a coastal First Nations people in British Columbia, have long known that grizzlies congregate along the Koeye (pronounced "kway") River.

"We have this traditional knowledge that has existed amongst our people for thousands of years now," said study lead author William Housty, the director of Coastwatch, a scientific initiative led by the Heiltsuk to manage resources and conservation in their territory.

To the Heiltsuk, the bear is a symbol of strength and authority, to be treated with respect.

"We look at it as though we're on their territory," Housty told Live Science, referring to the grizzly bears. "So we keep our distance, we give them their space."

But Canadian laws don't dictate that everyone leaves the bears alone: Grizzly hunting is still allowed in the region, Housty said.

To better protect the bear population, the Heiltsuk teamed up with scientists from the American Natural History Museum and the Nature Conservancy to create a bear census.

Grizzly bears are incredibly driven to investigate new and interesting smells, Filardi said.

"They're like big, thousand-pound noses wandering around," Filardi told Live Science.

So Housty and two other Heiltsuk researchers laced barbed-wire lures with a pungent scent such as skunk musk, and strategically placed them on trees and other spots that bears like to rub against.

The bears, lured by the scent, would sniff around, rub themselves on the snares, and leave stray hairs behind.

The team then genetically analyzed the hairs to identify individual bears. There were 50 to 60 bears congregating along a 5-mile-long (8 kilometers) stretch of river, Filardi said. (For comparison, Yellowstone National Park's grizzly population boasts just a few hundred, he noted.)

Many came all three years of the study, but a significant fraction came one year and not the next, or vice versa, suggesting the underlying grizzly population was fairly large, he added.

Over the course of the study, they team counted fewer new bears, which suggests the population was decreasing along the Koeye River, likely because fewer salmon were spawning there

By coordinating their findings with those of other First Nations tribes, the team found that some of those bears were coming from many miles away, along several bear "highways," with "on" and "off" ramps at certain key sites, Filardi said.

In some spots bears' footprints have worn holes the size of dinner plates in the mossy forest floor, Filardi said.

"The bears have just been stepping in each other's footprints for hundreds of years," Filardi said.

Those footprints make it easy to figure out how some bears reach the Koeye River watershed. But there may be many more as-yet-undiscovered bear migration routes to piece together, Housty said.

The Heiltsuk are now creating a map of these bear trails, though they are not sharing the map with outsiders, to avoid giving trophy hunters clues on where to hunt, Filardi said.

Read more at Discovery News

'Transformer' Pulsar is More Than Meets the Eye

Astronomers may have not yet found Cybertron but this “transforming” pulsar definitely has a shape-shifting double personality.

Using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope, an international team of researchers has observed a peculiar type of binary star system named AY Sextantis that consists of a rapidly-spinning millisecond pulsar — that is, a bright radio-beaming neutron star, the compacted corpse of a dead star that’s since gone supernova — with a larger, low-mass star.

The dense neutron star periodically slurps up material from its swollen companion as the two whirl around each other every 4.8 hours, but when too much material from the low-mass star crowds the accretion disk surrounding the neutron star it gets hot enough to glow in x-ray wavelengths.

At this point turbulence in the disk at a mere 50 miles above the surface of the spinning neutron star gets the superheated material caught up in powerful magnetic fields. The radio beacons are snuffed out as jets blast from the star’s poles, crackling with gamma rays… AY Sextantis has transformed from a low-mass X-ray binary to a transient, compact, low-mass gamma-ray binary.

“It’s almost as if someone flipped a switch, morphing the system from a lower-energy state to a higher-energy one,” said Benjamin Stappers, astrophysicist at the University of Manchester, England, and lead on the research team. “The change appears to reflect an erratic interaction between the pulsar and its companion, one that allows us an opportunity to explore a rare transitional phase in the life of this binary.”

With such close proximity and rapid orbital period, the pulsar will soon completely dismantle its larger companion through its intermittent but energetic feeding periods.

Watch the video for an illustration of how this complex process is thought to occur:

Named PSR J1023+0038 (J1023 for short) the pulsar was first discovered in 2007 by Anne Archibald, a postdoctoral researcher at the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy. It’s located about 4,400 light-years away in the southern constellation Sextans.

Read more at Discovery News

Jul 21, 2014

Science and art bring back to life 300-million-year-old specimens of a primitive reptile-like vertebrate

Paleontologists from the Natural History Museum and academics from Lincoln, Cambridge and Solvakia have recreated the cranial structure of a 308-million-year-old lizard-like vertebrate that could be the earliest example of a reptile and explain the origin of all vertebrates that belong to reptiles, birds and mammals.

Dr Marcello Ruta, from the School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, UK, was one of the authors of the paper which is published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology and produced a series of intricate hand-drawn recreations of the cranial structure of Gephyrostegus.

Paleontologists have provided a new cranial reconstruction of a long-extinct limbed vertebrate (tetrapod) from previously unrecognised specimens found in coal deposits from the Czech Republic.

The team of academics reviewed the cranial structural features of the Late Carboniferous Gephyrostegus bohemicus -- a small animal of generally lizard-like build that lived 308 million years ago.

This early tetrapod could be the earliest example of a reptile and explain the origin of amniotes, all vertebrates that belong to reptiles, birds and mammals.

Experts from, Comenius University in Bratislava (Slovakia), University Museum of Zoology in Cambridge, The Natural History Museum in London, and the University of Lincoln, UK, have been able to study additional specimens unavailable in previous works.

Their aim was to provide an analysis of early tetrapod relationships incorporating their new observations of Gephyrostegus. Their analysis used skeletal traits across a sample of early tetrapod groups to identify the likely affinities of Gephyrostegus.

Their results are detailed in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Dr Marcello Ruta, from the School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, UK, was one of the authors and produced a series of intricate hand-drawn recreations of the cranial structure of Gephyrostegus.

Read more at Science Daily

Mysterious dance of dwarf galaxies may force a cosmic rethink

The discovery that many small galaxies throughout the universe do not 'swarm' around larger ones like bees do but 'dance' in orderly disc-shaped orbits is a challenge to our understanding of how the universe formed and evolved.

The finding, by an international team of astronomers, including Professor Geraint Lewis from the University of Sydney's School of Physics, is announced today in Nature.

"Early in 2013 we announced our startling discovery that half of the dwarf galaxies surrounding the Andromeda Galaxy are orbiting it in an immense plane" said Professor Lewis. "This plane is more than a million light years in diameter, but is very thin, with a width of only 300,000 light years."

The universe contains billions of galaxies. Some, such as the Milky Way, are immense, containing hundreds of billions of stars. Most galaxies, however, are dwarfs, much smaller and with only a few billion stars.

For decades astronomers have used computer models to predict how these dwarf galaxies should orbit large galaxies. They had always found that they should be scattered randomly.

"Our Andromeda discovery did not agree with expectations, and we felt compelled to explore if it was true of other galaxies throughout the universe," said Professor Lewis.

Using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a remarkable resource of colour images and 3-D maps covering more than a third of the sky, the researchers dissected the properties of thousands of nearby galaxies.

"We were surprised to find that a large proportion of pairs of satellite galaxies have oppositely directed velocities if they are situated on opposite sides of their giant galaxy hosts," said lead author Neil Ibata of the Lycée International in Strasbourg, France.

"Everywhere we looked we saw this strangely coherent coordinated motion of dwarf galaxies. From this we can extrapolate that these circular planes of dancing dwarfs are universal, seen in about 50 percent of galaxies," said Professor Geraint Lewis.

"This is a big problem that contradicts our standard cosmological models. It challenges our understanding of how the universe works including the nature of dark matter."

The researchers believe the answer may be hidden in some currently unknown physical process that governs how gas flows in the universe, although, as yet, there is no obvious mechanism that can guide dwarf galaxies into narrow planes.

Read more at Science Daily

Mystery of Stone Arch Formation May Be Solved

Arches of stone seem to defy explanation, but a new study may have solved the mystery of how these and other strange natural stone wonders form.

The bewildering shapes apparently owe their origin in large part to how rock can strengthen when squashed from above, scientists explained.

Mysterious rock formations such as arches, bridges, pillars and mushroom-shaped pedestal rocks occur all over the world. Geologists mostly think these form due to erosion from wind and water, as well as from the weathering effects of salt and frost.

However, lead author of the new study Jirí Bruthans, a geologist at Charles University in Prague, and his colleagues did not think erosion and weathering alone could explain how many of these natural sculptures arose. They also noted that prior research did not explain how the upper parts of arches remain stable.

Now, the researchers said they can help explain how these rock formations develop by accounting for the way rock can strengthen when compacted by weight from above.

"The results were shocking for me when I started to realize how simply nature carves all these shapes," Bruthans said.

The scientists conducted experiments with oven-dried cubes of sandstone that were weak enough that running water could erode them. As the sides of the cubes disintegrated from exposure to water, researchers saw that the weight of the sandstone above was held up by fewer and fewer sand grains. This increased the amount of force placed on those remaining grains from the sand above.

Experiments and numerical models revealed that once a critical weight from the higher parts of the sandstone was reached, the downward force locked the lower grains of sand together more tightly, increasing their resistance to erosion. In contrast, other parts of sandstone bearing less weight stayed vulnerable to erosion, and washed away.

The researchers also found that introducing weaknesses, such as notches or fractures, into the sandstone cubes could yield a diversity of shapes, including arches, pillars and pedestal rocks.

Read more at Discovery News

Oceans Make Exoplanets Stable for Alien Life

The role that Earth’s oceans have on our planet’s habitability is undeniable, but now scientists think that exoplanetary oceans are essential for alien life to evolve.

In a new study published by the journal Astrobiology, University of East Anglia (UEA), UK, researchers have come to the conclusion that, to make a planet habitable, a large liquid ocean is needed to stabilize its atmosphere.

“We know that many planets are completely uninhabitable because they are either too close or too far from their sun,” said David Stevens of UEA’s School of Maths. “A planet’s habitable zone is based on its distance from the sun and temperatures at which it is possible for the planet to have liquid water.

“But until now, most habitability models have neglected the impact of oceans on climate.”

The habitable zone surrounding any star is the distance at which it’s not too hot and not too cold to support liquid water on a planetary surface. Liquid water is vital for the evolution of life as we know it.

Earth orbits within our sun’s habitable zone, unsurprisingly, whereas Mars is located on the outside edge and Venus on the inside edge. The life-giving contrast between Earth, Mars and Venus couldn’t be more stark; Mars is a frozen, dry wasteland with dramatic surface temperature variations, and Venus is a choked, broiling world with searing surface temperatures. But Earth is stable, a factor that has allowed life to thrive for billions of years.

Although a planet’s distance from its star is important, whether or not it has an ocean appears to be a huge factor. In fact, the presence of an ocean is the ultimate planetary “climate control” for any planet, according to new computer models created by Stevens’ team.

“Oceans have an immense capacity to control climate,” he said in a UEA news release. “They are beneficial because they cause the surface temperature to respond very slowly to seasonal changes in solar heating. And they help ensure that temperature swings across a planet are kept to tolerable levels.”

Although Mars is located on the outside edge of the sun’s habitable zone, planetary scientists believe the red planet once possessed large bodies of water when the planet’s atmosphere was thicker. The presence of liquid water on the surface of ancient Mars is exciting — after all, on Earth, where there’s water there’s usually life. But the presence of possible Martian oceans may have stabilized the atmosphere, making it less prone to wild temperature fluctuations and more comfortable for life to gain a foothold. Modern Mars endures air temperature fluctuations of over 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit).

Read more at Discovery News

Jul 20, 2014

Researchers identify brain network with mapping technique

Investigators at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research have utilized a new image-based strategy to identify and measure placebo effects in randomized clinical trials for brain disorders. The findings are published in the August issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the US. Those who suffer from Parkinson's disease most often experience tremors, slowness of movement (bradykinesia), rigidity, and impaired balance and coordination. Patients may have difficulty walking, talking or completing simple daily tasks. They may also experience depression and difficulty sleeping due to the disease. The current standard for diagnosis of Parkinson's disease relies on a skilled healthcare professional, usually an experienced neurologist, to determine through clinical examination that someone has it. There currently is no cure for Parkinson's disease, but medications can improve symptoms.

A team of researchers at the Feinstein Institute's Center for Neurosciences, led by David Eidelberg, MD, has developed a method to identify brain patterns that are abnormal or indicate disease using imaging techniques. To date, this approach has been used successfully to identify specific networks in the brain that indicate a patient has or is at risk for Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

"One of the major challenges in developing new treatments for neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease is that it is common for patients participating in clinical trials to experience a placebo or sham effect," noted Dr. Eidelberg. "When patients involved in a clinical trial commonly experience benefits from placebo, it's difficult for researchers to identify if the treatment being studied is effective. In a new study conducted by my colleagues and myself, we have used a new image-based strategy to identify and measure placebo effects in brain disorder clinical trials."

In the current study, the researchers used their network mapping technique to identify specific brain circuits underlying the response to sham surgery in Parkinson's disease patients participating in a gene therapy trial. The expression of this network measured under blinded conditions correlated with the sham subjects' clinical outcome; the network changes were reversed when the subjects learned of their sham treatment status. Finally, an individual subject's network expression value measured before the treatment predicted his/her subsequent blinded response to sham treatment. This suggests that this novel image-based measure of the sham-related network can help to reduce the number of subjects assigned to sham treatment in randomized clinical trials for brain disorders by excluding those subjects who are more likely to display placebo effects under blinded conditions.

From Science Daily

Universal three-body relation: Physicists succeed in revealing the scaling behavior of exotic giant molecules

When a two-body relation becomes a three-body relation, the behaviour of the system changes and typically becomes more complex. While the basic physics of two interacting particles is well understood, the mathematical description of a three- or many-body system becomes increasingly difficult, such that calculating the dynamics can blast the capacities of even modern supercomputers. However, under certain conditions, the quantum mechanical three-body problem may have a universal scaling solution. The predictions of such a model have now been confirmed experimentally by physicists of Heidelberg University. The scientists under Prof. Dr. Matthias Weidemüller investigated three-particle molecules, known as trimers, under exotic conditions. The scientific results were published in Physical Review Letters.

The scientific work done in Heidelberg is based on a theory which was posed by the Russian physicist Vitaly Efimov more than 40 years ago. It focuses on finding physical laws capable of predicting the behaviour and energy states of an arbitrary number of particles. According to Efimov's prediction, bound states of three atoms can be universally described under certain conditions. The scientist found that infinitely many quantum mechanical bound states for the "ménage à trois" exist, even if two of the atoms cannot bind together. These so-called Efimov trimers are formed due to the long-range quantum mechanical interaction and they are completely independent of the underlying type of the three interacting particles.

Prof. Weidemüller says that Efimov's prediction was considered "exotic" for a long time, since the conditions under which these molecular three-body bound states exist seemed unattainable in research. "Physicists with different scientific backgrounds have tried in vain to find signatures of the Efimov trimers," explains the Heidelberg scientist. It was only about ten years ago that scientists from Innsbruck were able to provide clear evidence for these trimers in systems consisting of three identical atoms. Shortly afterwards, physicists working with Prof. Dr. Selim Jochim in Heidelberg succeeded in measuring the exact binding energy of the Efimov trimers. In the course of scientific work performed at the Center for Quantum Dynamics and the Institute for Physics of Heidelberg University, further properties of the exotic Efimov trimers were investigated. To this end, the researchers cooled a gas of two different atomic species -- caesium and lithium -- to temperatures close to absolute zero. At the same time, they took care to precisely control the interaction between these lithium and caesium atom pairs.

In an ultra-high vacuum chamber the atoms were cooled solely by laser light and stored by light forces in a focused laser beam for several seconds. The coupling strength between the atoms can then be controlled by changing the magnetic field. For this Prof. Weidemüller's team made use of what are known as atomic scattering resonances. The evidence of the trimers is based on the decay into their three components at a well-defined coupling strength. The strength of this coupling scales independently of the respective trimer bound state according to a purely numeric scaling factor. "We proved that the universal scaling is also valid in systems with different atoms," says Rico Pires, who is working on his dissertation in Prof. Weidemüller's team.

These scientists also succeeded in confirming that the scaling factor changes for a trimer of different particles as opposed to a trimer state of identical atoms, as PhD student Juris Ulmanis explains. They thus showed that Efimov's theory is applicable to a large number of systems. Project leader Dr. Eva Kuhnle points to another success of the experimental work: "For the first time we were able to not only prove the existence of the trimer ground state, but also the first two excited states. These molecules consisting of three atoms then reach macroscopic sizes, comparable to that of a bacterium."

Read more at Science Daily