SCIENCE IN THE NEWS DAILY
Six-Legged Giant Finds Secret Hideaway, Hides for 80 Years
They call it "Ball's Pyramid." It's what's left of an old volcano that emerged from the sea
about 7 million years ago. A British naval officer named Ball was the first European to see it in
1788. It sits off Australia, in the South Pacific. It is extremely narrow, 1,844 feet high, and
it sits alone.
What's more, for years this place had a secret. At 225 feet above sea level, hanging on the
rock surface, there is a small, spindly little bush, and under that bush, a few years ago, two
climbers, working in the dark, found something totally improbable hiding in the soil below. How
it got there, we still don't know.
Here's the story: About 13 miles from this spindle of rock, there's a bigger island, called
Lord Howe Island. On Lord Howe, there used to be an insect, famous for being big. It's a stick
insect, a critter that masquerades as a piece of wood, and the Lord Howe Island version was so
large--as big as a human hand--that the Europeans labeled it a "tree lobster" because of its size
and hard, lobsterlike exoskeleton.
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Using the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ATC), a 6.5-meter microwave collector in Chile, cosmologists are piecing together the early history of the known universe. In an exclusive American Scientist interview, Arthur Kosowsky—a member of the ATC team and a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh—discusses how he is using ATC to reach back in time billions of years to search for gravitational waves that could verify inflation and reveal unprecedented details about how the cosmos was born.
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