Browsing: Discovery

Space travel is expensive. It costs several thousand dollars per pound of weight in transport, as well as roughly $11,000 per astronaut per day for life support systems, $22,000 per day for crew supplies, and around $42 per hour for power. The process has to be made more efficient wherever possible to limit some of the costs. This means getting creative with building materials as scientists look to set up a permanent base on the moon. Transporting huge amounts of building materials would be financially draining and require many hours of careful planning to make sure not one screw is…

Photo by Radhika Mehrotra (CC BY-SA 4.0) Now, let me start by telling all the do-gooders that this is a story for you… Well, unless you’re worried about the impending doom of the planet – then I would probably advise you skip this one.   You may be thinking that this is a dramatic way to start a factual piece of writing. However, all we tend to see, especially nowadays, are David Attenborough documentaries or speeches from young teens, which are emphasising their extreme worries. Obviously, the world that we rely on is a world on a downward trajectory into chaos.  …

Photo by Sparrow (麻雀) (CC BY-SA 4.0) In Belgium on 4th October Petra De Sutter (a Green Member) was sworn in as one of 7 Deputy Prime Ministers in the country’s new coalition led by new prime minister Alexander De Croo. This makes her the highest-ranking transgender politician in Europe. She will also take on the role of Minister of Civil Service (being in charge of public administration and enterprises). The appointment of a new government ends a 16-month period of Belgium being without a fully functioning government. De Stutter tweeted:  “I am proud that in Belgium and in most of the…

Photo by Sophie Chappuy (CC BY-ND 2.0) For anyone not familiar with MIKA (also known as Michael Holbrook Penniman Jr.), he is a British-Lebanese singer-songwriter who rose to fame in 2007 when his first album Life in Cartoon Motion sold more than 5.6 million copies and he won the Brit Award for Best British Breakthrough Act with his song ‘Grace Kelly’ which topped the UK Singles Chart in January 2007. He has also gone on to be a judge on the Voice France, and is currently a judge on the Italian X Factor. MIKA announced on August 21st that he…

We are approaching Halloween during a global pandemic where people are advised to wear masks, so what could possibly be more topical than the iconic appearance of Plague Doctors? Now, most people are quite familiar with their striking and spooky appearance, but let´s take a look at what they did, some common misconceptions about them, and the history of the Plague Doctor costume! The term “Plague doctor” refers to the physicians that treated victims of the Bubonic Plague (also known as ‘The Plague’, or ‘The Black Death’) during its multiple outbreaks throughout the 14th to 19th centuries. Often regarded as…

Photo by Mouenthias (CC BY-SA 4.0) Scientists hope that a new super-enzyme that is able to convert plastic back to its original materials in a matter of days will be a huge help in battling pollution. It was created by combining two enzymes, known as PETase and MHETase, that are produced by the bacteria Ideonella sakaiensis which eats plastic. Natural degradation of plastic can take hundreds of years, but this super-enzyme works at room temperature to break it down up to six times faster than the previously engineered enzymes. The super-enzyme could enable us to completely recycle the most common…

Photo Credit: Marco Verch According to the biomedical research charity The Wellcome Trust, there are 321 potential vaccines for COVID-19 in development around the world, with 32 of those in clinical trials, and at least 15 in human trial stages. Although vaccines typically take up to a decade to develop, test, and manufacture; researchers have collaborated to streamline this process as much as possible, meaning there could be an effective vaccine in as little as a year. The UK has already ordered 340 million doses of a completed vaccine from 6 different manufacturers: Oxford University & AstraZeneca; BioNTech-Pfizer; Valneva; GSK-Sanofi;…

Photo by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website (CC BY 3.0 AU) David Attenborough can tell me that the world is well and truly collapsing around us and yet I still love nothing more than listening to him. Maybe it’s in his comforting voice, or the fact that he has been blessing our screens for almost 70 years, but he can make even the most overwhelming and devastating topic palatable. Apparently, I am not the only one invested in whatever the national treasure has to say, as the ratings for Attenborough’s recent BBC One presentation ‘Extinction: The Facts’ can attest. Despite…

Photo by Izabela Janachowska (CC BY 3.0) The growing popularity of gender reveal parties might be a cause for alarm given that expecting parents have gotten more creative and more dangerous with their methods, resulting in disaster, wildfire, and even death. What started as a phenomenon in the U.S has slowly started to pop up throughout the UK. Gender reveal parties involve revealing the sex of an unborn baby using the colours pink and blue, often it is a surprise even for the parents. Initially, gender reveal parties mostly involved parents cutting into a cake and revealing pink or blue frosting…

Astronomers are considering the possibility that there is life in the clouds of Venus after telescopes detected a gas which they can’t explain.  Astronomers from the university of Cardiff have published a paper in the journal Nature Astronomy showing that there are high concentrations of the gas phosphine in the cloud of Venus (roughly 10-20 parts in every billion molecules), as well as the accompanying investigations they’ve carried out to demonstrate that this molecule could have a natural origin. Phosphine is a molecule which is typically associated with feaces, rotting microbes, or microbes living in the gut (like in penguins)…

Scientists from Bangor University’s BioComposites Centre are working with North Wales company Pennotec to produce a modified chemical found naturally in crab shells. The chemical Chitosan is thought to have long-lasting, anti-viral properties, and could potentially be applied to personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect workers from the coronavirus, and to reduce the risks of contamination. It is a polymer made of modified Chitin, found in the exoskeletons of arthropods and the shells of shellfish. Once the modified chitosan-based chemical has been fully developed, it will be tested in the lab for its effectiveness against viruses, including the coronavirus. Dr…

Photo by Vortexrealm at English Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.5) Research by Bangor University has been used in Feedback’s Bad Energy report demonstrating that Anaerobic Digestion (AD) may not be as beneficial in mitigating carbon emissions as was previously hoped. AD is the process of breaking down organic materials like food waste and manure using microorganisms to produce methane-rich biogas that can be used as a renewable energy source. It was heralded as an “environmental silver bullet” that would be comparable to wind and solar energy in its potential impacts. AD would simultaneously address organic waste management and provide renewable energy…

On the 13th of July, Boris Johnson announced that face coverings will be mandatory in shops in England from the 24th of July in order to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). This has been a requirement in shops in Scotland since the 10th of July and has been compulsory on public transport in England, Scotland, and Wales since as early as the 15th of June. In Northern Ireland, masks are also compulsory on public transport, with circumstances in indoor spaces being considered and ‘under review’.  So how do face masks prevent the spread of COVID-19? COVID-19 spreads from person…

A consortium led by Bangor University has been awarded nearly half a million pounds for research into monitoring Covid-19 outbreaks using sewage. Dead fragments of the virus’ genetic material can be found in faeces up to two weeks before symptoms appear, meaning mass testing could predict outbreaks before they appear. “I’m delighted that the ground-breaking environmental monitoring work, which combines different areas of expertise at our College of Environmental Science & Engineering, is to contribute to the nation’s vital work to protect communities against Covid-19 and further outbreaks of coronavirus and other infectious viruses.” said Professor Iwan Davies, Vice-Chancellor of…

We are social creatures. The popularity of social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have shown how much we want to show off and share with others. We aren’t the first to do this though, as new research has uncovered a social network in Lesotho from 33,000 years ago. Researchers were initially puzzled when they found prehistoric ornamental necklace beads made of ostrich eggs, around 1,000 km from the nearest ostriches. So how did they get there? 33,000 years ago, humans lived in tribal communities. It was important for them to maintain a relationship with their neighbours; this…

Governments all over the globe are asking their citizens to practice ‘social distancing’, but what is it and how does it help? On March 11th, 2020 the World Health Organisation upgraded the COVID-19 outbreak to pandemic status, meaning that the virus had spread to a significant portion of the world. The virus behind the diseases, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (or more snappily, SARS-CoV-2), is highly infectious, spreading easily from person to person. COVID-19 is a new disease and scientists the world over are frantically developing a vaccine, but as of yet one has not been created. Our best…

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