Science

Sub-categories

Science
Microplastics from laundry machines found in the arctic
Esmarkbreen,Isfjorden, Spitsbergen
Esmarkbreen,Isfjorden, Spitsbergen Credit: Gunvor Røkke (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Polyester fibres traced from laundry machines in North America and Europe have been discovered in Arctic seawater. The microplastics are thought to have drifted into the Arctic from the Atlantic ocean.

Scientists do not yet know the impact of these microplastics on the Arctic, its marine life, and the communities that live there.

Science • Animals
Gorillas at Californian Zoo have tested positive for Covid-19
Gorillas at Californian Zoo have tested positive for Covid-19
Credit: Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo Global

Gorillas can contract Covid-19. The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) today announced confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) in three gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in California. These are the first gorillas in the United States to be confirmed positive for SARS-CoV-2.

Science • Medicine
Argentina starts distribution of hyperimmune equine serum to treat COVID-19
Argentina starts distribution of hyperimmune equine serum to treat COVID-19

The serum is obtained by injecting horses with SARS-CoV-2 protein, which causes the animal to generate a large amount of neutralizing antibodies. On trials it reduced mortality by 45%, internment by 24% and respiratory assistance by 36%.

Science • Humans
10-year study: Violent computer games do not make people more aggressive
10-year study: Violent computer games do not make people more aggressive
Credit: unsplash.com/Alex Haney

Those who spend their entire teenage years playing violent computer games need not expect harmful psychological consequences. This is the result of a U.S. study now published in the journal "Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking," in which scientists observed a group of children and adolescents between the ages of ten and 23 over a total period of ten years and assessed their behavior.

Science • Archaeology & History
Ancient teeth from Peru hint now-extinct monkeys crossed Atlantic from Africa
Ancient teeth from Peru hint now-extinct monkeys crossed Atlantic from Africa
Credit: Courtesy of University of Southern California

"This is a completely unique discovery," said Erik Seiffert, the study's lead author and Professor of Clinical Integrative Anatomical Sciences at Keck School of Medicine of USC. "We're suggesting that this group might have made it over to South America right around what we call the Eocene-Oligocene Boundary, a time period between two geological epochs when the Antarctic ice sheet started to build up and the sea level fell," said Seiffert.

When Seiffert was asked to help describe these specimens in 2016, he noticed the similarity of the two broken upper molars to an extinct 32 million-year-old parapithecid monkey species from Egypt he had studied previously. Fossils discovered at the same site in Peru had earlier offered the first proof that South American monkeys evolved from African primates.

Science • Space
To cut space junk, Japan is developing LignoSat, a wooden satellite
To cut space junk, Japan is developing LignoSat, a wooden satellite

The Japanese company Sumitomo Forestry and the Kyoto University have joined forces to develop what they hope will be the world's first satellites made out of wood by 2023.

As space junk becomes an increasing problem, wooden satellites would burn up without releasing harmful substances into the atmosphere or raining debris on the ground when they plunge back to Earth.

Science • Archaeology & History
Ancient snack bar excavated in Pompeii
Pompeii
Pompeii Credit: Mark Vuaran (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Archaeologists have found a snack bar during excavations in Pompeii that is surprisingly well preserved. Rooster on a stick or lamb to go instead of burgers and fries - in the ancient city of Pompeii, fast food was apparently also eaten, but not the same dishes as we do today. The reason for this assumption is a find by archaeologists. The researchers have excavated an exceptionally well-preserved street restaurant: a colourfully painted counter and imprints of food.

In clay pots, archaeologists also discovered duck bones and remains of pigs, goats, fish and snails that may have been cooked together. The findings are expected to provide information about eating habits in Pompeii at the time of the disaster in 79 AD.

Science • Space
ARTEMIS: NASA Has Picked Astronauts for new Moon Mission
ARTEMIS: NASA Has Picked Astronauts for new Moon Mission
Credit: NASA

We're going back to the Moon! 18 astronauts, nine of them women, are training for NASA's upcoming Artemis missions to travel to the Moon and, eventually, to Mars. The group includes the first woman who will walk on the lunar surface in 2024.

Science • Archaeology & History
Enviromentalists discover WWII Enigma machine in the Baltic Sea
Enviromentalists discover WWII Enigma machine in the Baltic Sea
Credit: WWF / Christian Howe

Underwater archeologists, who were commissioned by the environmental organization WWF to clean the Baltic sea from abandoned fishing nets, found inside of one of those fishing nets an old German Enigma machine from the Second World War. The Enigma machine from the M3 series was probably part of one of the vessels which were sunk by the German Kriegsmarine in 1945 during the operation "Regenbogen" to avoid surrendering them to the Allied Forces.

Science • Space
Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency successfully lands capsule with asteroid samples
Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency successfully lands capsule with asteroid samples
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter / Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

According to the project manager for the asteroid mission, Dr Yuichi Tsuda, the capsule with asteroid samples has been successfully landed in Australia, and "the capsule collection was perfectly done". The samples will now be analyzed for research purposes in order to gather further information about our solar system.

Science • Nature
DeepMind announces that their AI can predict protein folding
DeepMind announces that their AI can predict protein folding
Credit: Courtesy of DeepMind

DeepMind has presented an AI application that makes it possible to predict protein structure with high accuracy. According to John Moult, a biologist at the University of Maryland, it is the first application of artificial intelligence "that has solved a serious problem".

Independent scientists said the breakthrough would help researchers tease apart the mechanisms that drive some diseases and pave the way for designer medicines, more nutritious crops, and “green enzymes” that can break down plastic pollution.

Science
Tourists are venturing to the mysterious metal pillar found hidden in the Utah desert
Tourists are venturing to the mysterious metal pillar found hidden in the Utah desert
Credit: Courtesy of Instagram

A mysterious 3.6m tall metal pillar found recently in the Utah desert has been sought out by a number of tourists eager to have their photo taken with it. Discovered by a helicopter crew surveying bighorn sheep in the area, the monolith displays no indications of how it was placed there or for how long it has been in place.

Current speculation suggests it may be the work of the late John McCracken, a New Mexico based artist who passed away in 2011 and was known for his large freestanding sculptures of pyramids, cubes, and shiny slabs.

Local authorities are keeping the location of the pillar a secret, fearing hikers may risk their lives attempting to find it.

Science • Animals
Galapagos now has another inhabitant: a white penguin
Galapagos now has another inhabitant: a white penguin
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter / Parque Galápagos

A penguin considered "rare" because of its white colour was discovered in the national park of Galapagos, which has unique flora and fauna in the world.

Parque Galápagos states that "This case could be a genetic condition known as leucism that produces a partial loss of pigmentation in the animals' plumage or coat while maintaining the normal colour of their eyes, which differentiates them from albinos,".

Science • Nature
Mass stranding off New Zealand coast kills 100 pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins
Mass stranding off New Zealand coast kills 100 pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins
Credit: Source: Department of Conservation (NZ)

97 pilot whales and 3 bottlenose dolphins have died as a result of a mass stranding on the remote Chatham Islands, located 800 kilometers off New Zealand's east coast. New Zealand's Department of Conservation was notified of the incident on Sunday, however rescue efforts were thwarted by the remote location and rough sea conditions.

Science • Archaeology & History
Notebooks written by Charles Darwin worth millions have been lost for 20 years according to Cambridge University Library
Notebooks written by Charles Darwin worth millions have been lost for 20 years according to Cambridge University Library
Credit: Julia Margaret Cameron / via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Cambridge University Library has announced that two notebooks written by Charles Darwin, have been missing for 20 years. One of them contains the 19th Century scientist's famous Tree of Life sketch, exploring the evolutionary relationship between species. Curators have now concluded they have probably been stolen.

Science • Space
SpaceX schedules Starship high-altitude test flight for the upcoming week

SpaceX's biggest is about to go higher. The CEO of space company SpaceX, Elon Musk, has announced that their biggest rocket prototype the Starship SN8 is ready to go on a 15-kilometer high test flight in the next week.

Science • Archaeology & History
Archaeologists unravel the mystery of the Paleolithic children's grave in Krems-Wachtberg (Austria)
Archaeologists unravel the mystery of the Paleolithic children's grave in Krems-Wachtberg (Austria)
Credit: Copyright OREA ÖAW

The mystery of the 2005 excavated grave in Krems-Wachtberg in Austria, which is about 31000 years old and in which two skeletons of new-born children were found, was unraveled by Archeologists of the Natural History Museum Vienna and the University Vienna. Gene analytics showed that the two boys, who were buried under a mammoth scapula, were identical twin brothers.

The one boy died during or shortly after birth, the second one about six or seven weeks later. Those children are the oldest recorded identical human twins. A nearby found skeleton of a male toddler of 13 or 14 weeks appears to be related to both brothers - he was their cousin.

Science
Legendary Arecibo telescope will close forever
Legendary Arecibo telescope will close forever
Credit: Twitter Reproduction

The 305-metre-wide radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico is permanently closing. Engineers cannot find a safe way to repair it after two cables supporting the structure suddenly and catastrophically broke, one in August and one in early November.

"Even attempts at stabilization or at testing the cables could result in accelerating the catastrophic failure," said Ralph Gaume, the NSF's head of astronomy, at a 19 November media briefing.

Science • Nature
Fourth-largest marine protected area in the world created in the South Atlantic
Fourth-largest marine protected area in the world created in the South Atlantic
Credit: unsplash.com / Yannis Papanastasopoulos

The British South Atlantic island of Tristan da Cunha has created the world's fourth-largest marine reserve and has banned deep-sea mining and fishing with beam trawls over an area of 627,000 km². This created the largest protected area in the Atlantic Ocean and the fourth largest in the world.

The protected area is part of the so-called blue belt, a protection program for British overseas territories, which the British government is funding with 27 million pounds (approx. 30 million euros). So far, a total of 11.1 million square kilometers have been protected - that is one percent of the world's ocean area.

Science • Archaeology & History
Doubts about the age of the Nebra sky disk unfounded research group says
Doubts about the age of the Nebra sky disk unfounded research group says
Credit: Munzel52 / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

In September 2020, two archaeologists, Rupert Gebhard from the Bavarian State Archaeological Collection in Munich, and Rüdiger Krause from the Goethe University Frankfurt/Main, expressed doubts that the world-famous Nebra sky disk, part of the UNESCO Memory of the world register, which is assumed to be the oldest concrete depiction of the cosmos, really is 3.600 years old, as stated by the state archeologist of Saxony-Anhalt.

Gebhard and Krause claim, that the sky disk is about a thousand years younger and thus from the Iron Age, not the Bronze Age. A research group, consisting of thirteen scientists, now has found more evidence, that the original dating was correct and therefore the doubts are unsubstantial.

Science • Animals
Hungry camel hurts two women after the animals probably have removed "Do Not Feed" sign by themselves
Hungry camel hurts two women after the animals probably have removed "Do Not Feed" sign by themselves
Credit: Basile Morin / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

As the police reported, a 38-year-old and her 65-year-old mother wanted to feed the camels of a circus stranded in the Austrian town Ried (Innkreis). They each had a sack of carrots with them. One of the camels in the enclosure grabbed the vegetables greedily and knocked its mother over. Then it grabbed the carrots a second time and caught the woman lying on the ground by her forearm.

The 65-year-old had to be admitted to the hospital in Ried after the accident. According to the circus staff there was a sign saying that feeding the animals was forbidden. But before the incident, the sign was obviously torn down by an unknown person or by the camels themselves, according to the police report.

Science • Space
SpaceX-NASA to launch Crew-1 mission
SpaceX-NASA to launch Crew-1 mission
Credit: NASA / Joel Kowsky (Public Domain)

The Crew Dragon capsule, placed atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, is expected to launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday at 19:49(ET). Three NASA astronauts — Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker — will be joined by Soichi Noguchi, an astronaut with Japan's space agency, JAXA, on the trip.

The flight of four astronauts to the International Space Station in a Crew Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket follows the success of the Demo-2 mission and its historic splashdown. It will also set a few key spaceflight milestones.

Science • Nature
Scientists discover new mammals in Australia
Scientists discover new mammals in Australia
Credit: Mark Gillow, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Australian scientists have discovered two new mammal species. They belong to the marsupials and are assigned to the type of the Great Gliders. The marsupials are different in their size, fur color, distribution and physiology, which is why research teams of the James Cook University and the University of Canberra examined DNA-samples of Flugbeutler from 5 populations and found considerable differences in the genetic material.

Science • Archaeology & History
New insights into the mills of Barbegal
New insights into the mills of Barbegal
Credit: maarjaara / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Scientists at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz got new insights into the famous mills of Barbegal, which date from the Roman imperial age. The sophisticated techonology of the mills is a strong indicator for industrial work in the Roman antiquity according to Professor Cees Willem Passchier, lead researcher of the team.

Science • Space
Microbes could mine valuable elements from rocks on the moon or Mars
Sphingomonas desiccabilis, the bacterium capable of “biomining” rare-earth elements from basalt rock.
Sphingomonas desiccabilis, the bacterium capable of “biomining” rare-earth elements from basalt rock. Credit: Rosa Santomartino

Recent experiments aboard the International Space Station have shown that some microbes can harvest valuable rare-earth elements from rocks, even when exposed to microgravity conditions. Microorganisms are already used on Earth to mine economically important elements from rocks, including rare earth elements, used in mobile phones and electronics.

It's unlikely to be economically viable to mine these elements in space and bring them back to Earth, according to Charles Cockell, a professor of astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh's School of Physics and Astronomy, who led the project.

Science • Archaeology & History
New findings indicate female huntresses in Mesoamerican Palaeolithic
New findings indicate female huntresses in Mesoamerican Palaeolithic
Credit: Courtesy of Sciencemag

New findings from the period between 12000 and 6000 BCE, made in South America, indicate that about 30 to 50 percent of women in that period in Mesoamerica have been huntresses and regularly engage in hunts even for big game like mammoths. This stands opposite of common ideas about women being gatherers and men being hunters in the Palaeolithic age.

Science • Animals
Platypus found to have biofluorescent fur
Platypus found to have biofluorescent fur
Credit: Mammalia 2020; 10.1515/mammalia-2020-0027

Scientists have found out that the fur of the Platypus is glowing in a greenish-blue color when under an ultraviolet lamp. The Platypus joins the ranks of several animals who are found to be biofluorescentin in recent years, like the hawksbill sea turtle in 2015 and the northern flying squirrel and the polka-dot tree frog in 2017

Science • Space
NASA has managed to contact Voyager 2 after repairs and upgrades to radio antenna
NASA has managed to contact Voyager 2 after repairs and upgrades to radio antenna
Credit: CSIRO / via Wikimedia Commons

NASA has successfully contacted the Voyager 2 spacecraft for the first time since March. The Deep Space Station 43 in Canberra, Australia, is the only radio antenna that is able to contact and command the Voyager 2, which is now 43 years old, and has been under maintenance to receive repairs and upgrades since March. Now it has successfully re-contacted the spacecraft and Voyager 2 has confirmed the signal and executed the commands that had been sent.

Work on the radio antenna is expected to wrap up in February.

Science • Physics & Engineering
Ballast stones store energy in the port of Hamburg
Ballast stones store energy in the port of Hamburg
Credit: Courtesy of Siemens

In the Port of Hamburg, ballast stones with electrothermal energy storage systems can store renewable energy from wind or sun in the form of heat. The project, in which Siemens Gamesa and the Technical University of Hamburg, among others, have been involved since June 2019, is called ETES. ETES stands for Electro-Thermal Energy Storage and could be used in the future to become independent of weather conditions. This would make it possible to draw on the energy generated even when the sky is overcast or there is no wind.

Science • Nature
Coral reef in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia discovered
Coral reef in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia discovered
Credit: Great Barrier Reef Encounter / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

In the famous Great Barrier Reef in Australia, researchers of the Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI) have discovered a new coral reef. It is the first new discovery after 120 years. The reef is 500 meters deep - and thus larger than the Empire State Building in New York City. The research team came across the reef by chance when they were making a 3D map of the seabed with the help of the underwater robot SuBastian.