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Browsing: Science

“Destabilising and provocative” says the United States as reports from state-run North Korean TV claim that, at 9.09am on Sunday the 7th of Feburary, Kim Jong-un’s nation successfully launched a satellite into space despite sanctions banning ballistic missile technology. An emergency meeting of the UN Security Council is to be held in New York City after Japan, South Korea and the US have called for a discussion on a response to North Korea’s space oddity. Space, and the fragile satellites that hang in it, are of key military importance. Peter Singer from the New America Foundation explains that satellites are…

Briton Tim Peake and American Tim Kopra have just embarked on a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk. Although not the first Briton to carry out a spacewalk (the first was Michael Foale in 1995), Tim Peake is the first Briton to do so under the UK banner with Nasa. They will travel 50m (the same length as an olympic swimming pool) along the outside of the International Space Station hand-over-hand to replace a faulty component on the sequential shunt unit that has compromised a power channel. The failed electrical box regulates power from the solar panels. Watch Tim’s spacewalk live with this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDh4uK9PvJU

Light is a factor that influences marine organisms in a multitude of ways. A recent surge in LED lighting to be used at coastal residential sites and industrial areas (oil rigs) is illuminating marine ecosystems at night. Set to peak in 2020, it’s hoped that CO2 emissions and costs will be reduced as a result of their introduc-tion. Stuart Jenkins from the School of Ocean Sciences at Bangor University and his team measured the impacts of this lighting on sessile and mobile invertebrates. Their findings produced mixed results. For 12 weeks in July 2013, a floating raft was deployed in…

Nearly 30 years ago, reactor four of Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, sending vast amounts of radiation into the atmosphere. However, this disaster is rearing its ugly head once more. Soon after the explosion, a concrete shell was constructed over the decimated reactor to prevent any further radiation leakage, although, as you may expect it was made in a rather bit of a hurry. It was never going to last for ever. This old crumbling tomb is decaying more and more each day; a new solution is required. In 2007 work began on an enormous steel arch, or new…

Scientists have recently discovered the existence of flowing water on Mars. It’s been known for some time that flowing water did once occur on the red planet’s surface. A raft of geological evidence shows us that 4.1 billion years ago (only 0.4 billion years before the formation of Earth), liquid water flowed on the surface, eroding a network of river valleys, lakes, and oceans. Pictures of the planet taken by NASA in 1970 also show evidence of dried-up rivers and lakes etched into the Martian surface. A vast, one mile deep, ocean that once existed in the Northern hemisphere and…

Scientists have recently discovered a new species of human, Homo naledi, or at least they think they have. In September earlier this year, 15 partially complete skeletons of varying ages, ranging from infants and juveniles to one very old adult, were unearthed in the largest assemblage of fossil human remains ever discovered in Africa. Over 1,500 bones were found in Rising Star Cave, 50km from Johannesburg in an eight-inch-wide crevice called Dinaledi chamber. The chamber was so hard to access that six lightly built female researchers were brought in to excavate the bones. The remains were not encased in…

Physiology or Medicine: William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura. A new drug, Avermectin, has been developed. This drug is helping humanity to dramatically reduce the occurrences of some of the world’s deadliest parasitic diseases, including river blindness and Lymphatic Filariasis. Another revolutionary drug, Artemisinin, has also been created by Youyou Tu that is reducing the mortality rates of malaria. These newly discovered drugs are of course revolutionising the way major parasitic illnesses are being treated, especially in poor, developing countries with little or no access to effective treatment. Parasitic worms, or helminthes, are thought to afflict one third of the…

2015 has seen the largest movement of people in Europe since the Second World War. More than 500,000 refugees from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, and many others, have entered the European Union from the start of this year alone. Making the dangerous passage into Europe across the Mediterranean in horrendously-cramped skiffs, the refugees, mostly from Syria, dream of reaching Germany. Angela Markel, Chancellor of Germany, decided earlier in the year to scrap the vetting of all asylum applications submitted by Syrians, making it the ultimate destination for all Syrian refugees. They are welcomed by rapturous clapping, cheering,…

Drones are an emerging technology within marine mammal research and are helping researchers to ID and assess the fitness of individuals in the field at a low cost. Quiet and highflying, the drones avoid scaring, or ‘flushing’ the seals away, allowing for quick and easy detailed analysis. A few days ago I met up with Dr Line Cordes and Dr Jan Hiddink from the School of Ocean Sciences at Bangor University to talk more about the subject. The harbor seal population in the UK has declined by up to 85% in recent years and no one seems to know why:…

Drones are an emerging technology within marine mammal research and are helping researchers to ID and assess fitness of individuals in the field at a low cost. Quiet and high flying, the drones avoid scaring, or ‘flushing’ the seals away, allowing for quick and easy detailed analysis. The UK’s Harbour Seal population has declined by 85% but no one seems to know why. The answers to this question, suggests Dr. Line Cordes, lies with drone technology. Listen to a discussion with Dr. Line Cordes and Dr. Jan Hiddink from the School of Ocean Sciences on the subject below:

Reports out of New York say that a robot has passed the classic King’s Wise Men puzzle, which serves as a test of self-awareness. The original puzzle goes: ‘The King called the three wisest men in the country to his court to decide who would become his new adviser. He placed a hat on each of their heads, such that each wise man could see all of the other hats, but none of them could see their own. Each hat was either white or blue. The king gave his word to the wise men that at least one of them…

The decline of many species of bees is particularly relevant in current conservation circles.  The factors surrounding the decline include: the loss of habitat, spread of diseases and finally the presence of pesticides in the environment. The great risk which pesticides were presumed to cause spurred a motion to impose an EU wide two-year ban on three pesticides which contained neonicotinoid. The chemical, neonicotinoid, is similar in structure to nicotine and as a toxin released by plants, is damaging to insects. A recent study by Newcastle University has further explained the effects of pesticides and chemicals on bees, focusing greatly…

New research published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, this week claims that global climate models underestimate the amount of CO2 being absorbed by plants, leading to models consistently overestimating the growth rate of carbon in the atmosphere. This rate of carbon growth in the atmosphere is important when trying to access the future impacts of climate change and important when setting emissions targets and various other policy. The research looked at a process called mesophyll diffusion, the process by which CO2 spreads inside leaves, and found that the gas is absorbed faster than previously thought.…

A recently discovered comet has given scientists a unique chance to study an object from the farthest reaches of our Solar System. The comet, named ‘siding spring’, was discovered on the 3rd January 2013 and is believed to have originated from the region of the solar system known as the Oort cloud. The Oort cloud is a spherical cloud of predominantly icy objects which surrounds the solar system, this spherical region of space on the outer edge of the solar system is responsible for the introduction of Comets into the inner solar system. On the 19th October, Siding Spring made…

It’s got all the makings of a Hollywood thriller – a 200 tonne Boeing 777 on a routine flight disappears into thin air, two passengers are travelling on false passports, and the latest news (at time of writing – maybe it’ll all have changed by the time you read this!) is that it was deliberately turned around by persons as yet unknown. The story of Malaysian Airlines flight 370 doubtless has lots of secrets yet to be revealed. But what about “normal” flights? What’s the technology behind knowing where the thousands of commercial flights every day actually are? And how…

Ever wanted to get to know your lecturers a bit better? What do they do when they’re not teaching? Science met up with SBS and SENRGY’s Dr Matt Hayward and talked lions, hunting, and how to get a job working with wildlife… EP: What’s your job here in Bangor? MH: I’m a lecturer in Conservation, which means I deliver modules on conservation-related subjects, and my research involves looking at conservation issues. For me that tends to mean large-predator related topics and looking at threatened species, but I also look at broader issues such as the role of fences in ecosystems…