Read the best science news from around the world this week
Trump’s not-so-great wall
Only 1 week into office and Donald Trump has caused great disruption in the environmental activism community. It began with the freezing of all EPA grants and contracts, a gagging order on all EPA and agricultural scientists, and now the building of Trumps infamous “Great Wall” poses new threats to animals and the environment. It is estimated that the wall will threaten 111 already endangered species by restricting their territory, and release 2 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Scientists are calling the potential damage an “insane act of self-sabotage”.
Killer air in London
Air pollution in London has now surpassed levels of that in Bejing. This has led Mayor Sadiq Khan issuing the highest level of air pollution alert, calling it a “public health emergency.” Earlier this month London breached its annual air pollution limit for 2017 in only 5 days. NO2 pollution, produced largely by diesel vehicles, causes nearly 6,000 deaths a year, with the second largest contributor to pollution being wood burning stoves during the winter time. Some schools have now banned kids from playing outside, and Public Health England warns against outdoor exercise.
Scientists are growing human organs in pigs
A stem cell research team, based in California, are in the very early stages of growing human tissue in pigs to produce human organs. If successful, growing organs this way can be used to alleviate pressure from already struggling transplant lists.
Dr Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte has said: “It’s important because we have been able to respond to a question that the field was asking: Can human cells be mixed with a large animal? The answer is yes.”
Despite showing promise, opponents of the research argue that these studies could be dangerously close to crossing ethical boundaries.
‘Metallic Hydrogen’ is world’s rarest material
Scientists from Harvard have created one of the most valuable and rarest materials on the plant, nearly 100 years after it was theorised. News of the breakthrough could mean ‘revolutionary’ changes to technology, including substantial changes to electricity.
Prof Silvera, one of the team leaders, says that “it’s the first-ever sample of metallic hydrogen on Earth, so when you’re looking at it, you’re looking at something that’s never existed before.”
The amount of pressure to create the material was more than is found at the centre of the Earth.