Published: Saturday 31 December 2005

singing iceberg: Scientists monitoring earth movements in Antarctica believe they have found a singing iceberg. Sound waves from the iceberg had a frequency of around 0.5 Hertz, too low to be heard by humans, but by playing them at higher speed, the iceberg sounded like a swarm of bees or an orchestra warming up, according to researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany.

planetary view: Astronomers may now be able to view planets outside the solar system without the disturbing glare of the parent star, following the development of a new optical device by Grover Swartzlander and his colleagues at the University of Arizona.

Called an optical vortex coronagraph, the device works by cancelling out the light of the parent star by exploiting its wave nature, leaving the reflected light from the nearby planet to be observed in space-based detectors.

nano damage: A nanoparticle commonly used in industry could damage plants. A report by Daniel J Watts and Ling Yang at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in the US, shows nanoparticles of alumina (aluminium oxide) slowed the growth of roots in five plant species -- soybean, cucumber, cabbage, carrot and corn.

Alumina nanoparticles are commonly used in scratch-resistant transparent coatings and environmental catalysts that reduce pollution. Other nanoparticles included in the study, such as silica, did not show this effect, Watts added.

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