Hi, I'm Scientific American podcast editor Steve Mirsky. And here's a short piece from the February 2020 issue of the magazine, in the section called Advances: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Science, Technology and Medicine.
The article is titled "Quick Hits," and it's a rundown of some science and technology stories from around the globe, compiled by assistant news editor Sarah Lewin Frasier.
From the U.S.:
Off the California coast, scientists measured a blue whale's heart rate for the first time, using a device attached to the animal's skin by suction cup. The heart, likely weighing hundreds of pounds, beats from two to 37 times per minute, varying dramatically between diving, feeding and surfacing.
Researchers analyzing satellite and imaging data have found 143 new Nazca lines—large line drawings of humans, animals and symbols etched into the Peruvian landscape millennia ago. The drawings include a humanoid figure 16 feet across, spotted by IBM's Watson AI system.
Despite the long dry spells in Brazil's Caatinga region, scientists found the tree Hymenaea cangaceira drizzles copious nectar from flowers to attract pollinating bats; a full-size tree can release 240 gallons of the stuff, with 38 distinct scent compounds, over a single dry season.
Archaeologists' ground-piercing radar found a Viking-era ship, surrounded by a filled ditch, lurking below the soil of a western Norway farm. The ship was once within a burial mound.
Researchers uncovered a two-horned figure in early Islamic ruins that may be the earliest chess piece ever found. The roughly 1,300-year-old object matches a rook found in an Iranian chess set from about 400 years later.
And From Ethiopia:
Microbes thrive in many of Earth's harshest environments, but researchers found no life at all in briny, scorching, acidic pools near Ethiopia's Dallol volcano. Knowing boundaries for life's adaptation helps to narrow the search for Earth-like life on other planets.
That was "Quick Hits," by Sarah Lewin Frasier.