This week in science – Sept. 24

Mark Hendricks, Science & Technology Editor Ω

More trouble for BlackBerry

Troubled Canadian cell phone manufacturer Blackberry is shifting the focus away from consumer products and towards businesses. Enrique Dans/Flickr Commons

Troubled Canadian cell phone manufacturer Blackberry is shifting the focus away from consumer products and towards businesses. Enrique Dans/Flickr Commons

BlackBerry has announced that it will be laying off 4,500 employees and is expecting a $950 million loss in the second quarter.

BlackBerry has not had the success it hoped for with the Z10. The phone manufacturer, which had a 20 per cent market share back in 2009, now takes only 1.5 per cent..

BlackBerry is planning on leaving the consumer market and is instead tailoring its production towards business-oriented products and services.

“Going forward, we plan to refocus our offering on our end-to-end solution of hardware, software and services for enterprises and the productive, professional end user,” BlackBerry president Thorsten Heins told CBC. “This puts us squarely on target with the customers that helped build BlackBerry into the leading brand today for enterprise security, manageability and reliability.”

Find out more: www.cbc.ca

 

The case for life on Mars weakens

The Mars Curiosity rover has found that there are no traces of methane on the surface of Mars. This according to a study published Sept. 19 in the journal Science Express.

Methane is a gas that is found in abundance on Earth, and is considered to be one of the key signifiers of life. The absence of it on the Martian surface is a significant blow to the case of life on the planet, as 95 per cent of the methane on Earth is produced by living organisms.

Methane was previously detected in the atmosphere by other probes, so the discovery came as a surprise to NASA.

Find out more: science.time.com

 

The key to better wine

The discovery of the tannosome may soon open up a plethora of new wine tastes.  Uncalno Tekno/Flickr Commons

The discovery of the tannosome may soon open up a plethora of new wine tastes. Uncalno Tekno/Flickr Commons

Tannins are one of the key components in wine. They give wine that “pucker” quality when you’re drinking it. Tannins are known to be associated with the bitterness of wine, but until now nobody was sure where they came from.

French researchers have discovered a new organelle in plant biology that is responsible for producing tannins, the tannosome.

“We were very happy because nobody knew exactly where it occurred. It was really a mystery,” study co-author Charles Romieu told the blog Scientific American.

The tannosome produces the bitter compounds that try to make the plant taste unappealing to other animals. It is primarily found in tree bark.

The discovery of the tannosome may give insight into how to modify the amount of tannins in plants. This could be used to modify the flavor and smoothness of wines and teas.

Find out more: blogs.scientificamerican.com