Read the best science news from around the world this week
UK Antarctic Base Moved
Following the recent extension of a 100-mile-long crack in an Antarctic Ice Shelf, the UK Halley Antarctic research station has been successfully moved 23km further inland. The research station has been located on the ice shelf since the 1950s, but for safety reasons the base was forced to move. The sudden extension was discovered on the 31st of October, and continues to grow due to increasing global climate temperatures.
March for Science date confirmed
Scientists have officially declared the date on which they will be marching in Washington. Americans will be taking to the streets on 22nd of April 2017, which coincides with Global Earth Day. The walk has been prompted by the increasing threat to scientific research, funding, and evidence-based policies, because of the new US president’s recent decisions. This includes recently leaked presidential plans to completely eradicate the Environmental Protection Agency by the end of 2018. Many satellite marches have been planned in the US and globally, with similar protests in place for London and Manchester on the same day.
“Super-Yield” GM wheat trials to begin
A new genetically modified wheat strain has been given the go ahead to begin planting in the UK. The wheat has been engineered to increase yields by up to 40 per cent under normal growing conditions. With the rapidly growing global population, food production will need to increase by over 70 per cent by 2050 to match the demand. This project is one step towards reaching that goal.
Mysterious child mortality linked to lychees
A mysterious illness that kills more than 100 children a year in northern India has been linked to eating lychee berries on an empty stomach, a new study reports. This solves a mystery that has been investigated since 1995. Lychees contain toxins that inhibit glucose production, which in turn causes low blood sugar. When combined with an empty stomach, the result can lead to seizures, loss of consciousness, and even death. New measures have now been taken to treat children with these symptoms for low blood sugar.
New fossilised sea animal found
A team of researchers have discovered fossilised traces of a tiny sea animal, which is suspected to be the earliest known ancestor of life as we know it, in China. The research, published in Nature, details a creature called ‘Saccorhytus’, which was approximately 1mm in size, and lived on the sea bed. The study of the creature’s fossilised remains was conducted by an international team of scientists from the UK, China and Germany, and the team have classified ‘Saccorhytus’ as a ‘deuterostome’, which may well represent the primitive beginnings of many species, including humans.
Telescope records magnetic breach of Earth
Scientists in India have managed to capture elusive data from a breach of the Earth’s magnetic field. Scientists at the Cosmic Ray Laboratory in Ooty, Southern India used a telescope called the GRAPES-3 muon telescope to record a giant cloud of plasma from the sun breaching the Earth’s magnetic field for a couple of hours. They found that the Earth’s shield opened up and allowed low-energy cosmic rays into our atmosphere. The observations were made completely by chance but have given scientists insight into what happens during a magnetic breach and prepared them to observe future breaches with the same telescope.
Scientists suspect ice shelf collapse is imminent
This week, Professor Mark McCaughrean of the European Space Agency revealed that the European Satellite Sentinel-1, had taken new photos of the Larsen C ice shelf in the Antarctic. Since October of last year, scientists have been monitoring a growing crack in the ice shelf, and new photos have caused concern, with many of the scientists at the ESA believing that the collapse of the Larsen C ice shelf is fast approaching. It is believed that a huge iceberg 5,000 square kilometres across will cave into the Southern Ocean soon, and that it would be directly caused by anthropogenic climate change.