Posts

bee

Climate Change Causing Bumblebee Nests To Overheat To Fatal Levels, According To New Study 

As global temperatures rise as a result of climate change, bumblebee nests are overheating and killing off large groups of bees, causing major concern over the future of one of Earth’s most essential pollinators. 

The recent research comes from a paper that was published in Frontiers in Bee Science, which stated that global heating is causing “many species of Bombus, or bumblebee,” to decline. The research emphasized that bumblebee colonies are known for their thermoregulation, which is when worker bees gather and use their wings to fan the hive in hot conditions to cool them off. 

As the climate crisis continues to intensify globally, the earth is experiencing more intense heat waves which is causing bumblebees to struggle to keep their homes habitable. 

Embed from Getty Images

The paper stated that most bumblebee broods cannot survive temperatures above 36 degrees Celsius. For the research, the team reviewed 180 years of literature to make their conclusions. They found that for all bumblebee species, the ideal temperature for incubating nests was between 28 and 32 degrees Celsius. 

The lead author of the study, Peter Kevan, recently spoke to the Guardian about the reports findings and the risks bumblebee populations are now facing. 

“If [bumblebees] can’t keep temperatures below what is probably a lethal limit of about 35C, when the brood may die, that could explain why we are losing so many bumblebees around the world, especially in North America and Europe.”

Kevan also told the publication that the bumblebee’s nest is “often-overlooked” for its role as a “superorganism.”

“Researchers have been looking at foraging behavior and fanning to keep the brood cool, but there are very few studies that look at the whole nest,” he said. 

One of the biggest arguments that the study tried to make was that nests should be seen as a whole entity. While some of the bees may be able to handle the increase in temperature, if the nest itself becomes too hot to raise healthy offspring, the entire colony will decline. 

Embed from Getty Images

“We have known for a long time that bumblebees are cool-climate specialists. Most insects are more abundant in the tropics, but bumblebees are weird in that they are at their most abundant in places like the Alps and Britain,” said Dave Goulson, a professor of biology at the University of Sussex, who was not involved in the research.  

“There are even some that live in the Arctic, the Bombus polaris. That means an obvious problem with climate change – they are vulnerable to warming… if the air outside is too hot, that’s not going to help,” he stated

Goulson stated that there is current evidence that shows bumblebees are already moving away from warmer climates: “There have been publications showing mountain bumblebees are moving higher as a way to combat warming, but obviously there is a limit to that.”

“It is kind of heartbreaking to think that many may disappear.”

Bumblebees are an essential part of our world’s ecosystem. They pollinate wild flowers and crops which in turn feeds other animals and the cycle continues. 

“For other pollinators, the outlook under a hotter climate is less clear. Some bee species can cope with warmer temperatures, and some species that now live farther south may move north as temperatures rise, making a new home in the UK. With other pollinators, such as flies, wasps, butterflies, birds and bats, it’s hard to generalize,” Goulson said. 

moon

NASA’s Chief Expresses Concern Over China Seizing Real Estate On The Moon 

NASA administrator Bill Nelson recently spoke to Yahoo Finance regarding the modern day space race, and how China is set to beat the United States in their bids to get back on the moon. 

One of the reasons Nelson is so worried is because China is already preparing a series of missions to go to the moon. This week, China is planning to launch a robotic spacecraft to the side of the moon facing away from Earth. 

Embed from Getty Images

The spacecraft, named Chang’e-6, will launch in what will be the first of three missions that are set to take place over the next four years. These missions could lead to China setting up a manned base on the moon’s south pole, where it is also suspected to have water. 

Nelson said that these plans show China’s lead in the modern space race. 

“I think it’s not beyond the pale that China would suddenly say, ‘We are here. You stay out.’ That would be very unfortunate — to take what has gone on on planet Earth for years, grabbing territory, and saying it’s mine and people fighting over it.”

The US has also pushed back on its Artemis program, which has the goal of bringing astronauts back into lunar orbit for the first time in 50 years. 

The program was delayed to test equipment and troubleshoot a handful of technical difficulties that they experienced during its first mission, according to Quartz. Now, NASA is expecting to launch the Artemis program and land astronauts near the south pole of the Moon by September 2026. The specific launch will be a part of the Artemis III mission.

Embed from Getty Images

Nelson once told reporters that he has concerns that China will claim the water sources on the moon, “as they have done with the Spratly Islands.” The Spratly Islands are an archipelago in the South China Sea that has seen a lot of political disputes between several of its surrounding nations, according to reports

“When you combine [China’s] history of their politics on Planet Earth, we just need to be careful that a celestial body such as the moon, such as Mars, is open for all, and it doesn’t become a territorial grabbing. That’s what we want to avoid,” Nelson told Yahoo Finance

China is currently planning to have a crewed moon landing by 2030, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA), who announced the goal last year. 

Nelson stated that the US would “preserve those potential reserves for the international community.” The water could potentially be used for rocket fuel. 

NASA and the Department of State introduced the Artemis Accords in 2020, which guarantees cooperation and collaboration between nations regarding the information and resources utilized for future lunar missions. 39 countries have signed the accords, however, China is not one of them.

space

Japan Is Combatting The Space Debris Problem 

A satellite being operated by Japanese company Astroscale has successfully located a 15-year-old piece of space junk and has been able to capture an image of it. 

The piece of space junk itself has been identified as a discarded rocket segment that is measured to be about 36 feet by 15 feet with an estimated mass of three tons. This marks the first time a space agency has been able to get so close to such a large piece of space debris. 

Astroscale is also working on developing a business model that would offer to remove space debris from Earth’s orbit. However, the current mission is to test out the satellite’s sensors to get a better idea of what kind of software they will need to safely carry out these operations. 

Embed from Getty Images

The firm has stated that they’re hoping to start actively pulling space debris out of our orbit within the next couple of years. Space junk and sustainable use of space has been an ongoing discussion for some years now. 

Since the beginning of the space age in 1957, millions of pieces of space junk have accumulated in the atmosphere. The debris itself ranges from flecks of paint to fully abandoned rockets, like the one Astroscale was able to take a picture of. 

Space debris in general poses a major risk to other active and functioning satellites that we use to communicate and monitor the planet. The one discovered from Astroscale is a major hazard due to its large size. 

“The one in the new image came from Japan’s H-IIA launch vehicle, which lofted a CO2-measuring spacecraft called Gosat, in 2009. The upper-section of the rocket ejected Gosat at an altitude of roughly 600km. 

Embed from Getty Images

But whereas more modern rockets make sure all their parts come back down to Earth soon after a flight, this H-IIA stage stayed up there. And it’s far from being alone,” according to Jonathan Amos for the BBC

According to the European Space Agency, 2,220 rocket bodies exist in orbit today. Astroscale is calling its current mission Adras-J, or Active Debris Removal by Astroscale-Japan. 

The current plan is to spend the next few weeks taking more images and gathering information on the rocket segment, specifically the condition of the structure, its spin rate, and its spin axis. Adras-J will try to fully fly around the rocket body

“The activity will involve firing thrusters at the body in a direction opposite to its spin motion. The pressure of the thrusters’ plume ought to decelerate the rotation rate,” wrote Amos. 

“A number of companies around the world are developing technologies similar to Astroscale. Experts say that to prevent a cascade of collisions in orbit, it’s imperative space-faring nations start removing several large pieces of junk every year.”

kids

Children Who Are Considered Obese Are Twice As Likely To Develop Multiple Sclerosis, According To New Study

Children who are considered obese could face more than double the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) as adults, according to a new study from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. 

MS can impact the brain and spinal cord. It causes a range of potential symptoms such as problems with arm or leg movement, sensation, balance, or vision. MS can also lead to serious disability throughout one’s life. 

The Karolinska Institute will be presenting the findings of their study at the European Congress on Obesity in May in Venice. 

Embed from Getty Images

Previous research has speculated that there is a link between high body mass index (BMI) in adolescence and a larger risk of MS in adulthood, however, most of the studies that suggested this were using self-reported data, so it was difficult to arrive at an accurate conclusion. 

With this particular study, the researchers wanted to evaluate the risk of developing MS by utilizing a large population of obese children to compare with the general population.

According to reports from the Guardian, researchers analyzed data from the Swedish Childhood Obesity Treatment Register, which utilizes a database known as Boris. This institute is one of the world’s largest registries for treatment of childhood obesity.

The study looked at data from more than 21,600 children with obesity aged two to 19 who joined the registry between 1995 and 2020. The children, on average, started their treatment for obesity when they were around 11-years-old. They also compared that data to more than 100,000 children without obesity to get the greatest comparison possible. 

Embed from Getty Images

The children monitored in the study were tracked for about six years, and during the follow-up period, 28 of those with obesity were diagnosed with MS (0.13% of the group) and 58 in the group without obesity (0.06% of the group). 

Within both groups, the average age of the MS diagnosis was 23-years-old. 

“Despite the limited follow-up time, our findings highlight that obesity in childhood increases the susceptibility of early-onset MS more than twofold,” the authors stated. 

“One of the effects of obesity in childhood is that it causes a low-grade but chronic inflammation, and most probably this inflammation increases the risk to develop several diseases such as MS,” study authors, Emilia Hagman, an associate professor, and Prof Claude Marcus, said.

“It is also believed that chronic low-grade inflammation increases the risk for other such diseases as asthma, arthritis, type 1 diabetes, and some forms of cancers. However, we know that weight loss reduces the inflammation and most likely the risk to develop such diseases.”

Scientists In The UK Working On A Bra That Can Detect And Monitor Breast Cancer 

Scientists in the UK are currently developing a device that would fit inside of a bra to monitor whether or not a breast cancer tumor is growing. 

The researchers behind the device are hoping that the device will ideally provide a new non-invasive method of detecting tumor growth so patients can get the information in their own home. 

Embed from Getty Images

The device itself is being developed by Nottingham Trent University’s medical technologies innovation facility. According to the Guardian, the device will use an electrical current to “scan and detect tiny changes in fluids inside and outside cells in the breast.”

Tumor tissues are more dense than healthy tissue, and they contain less water. This is why the device will be able to measure changes in the growth of the tumor in real time, and can detect tumors as little as 2 millimeters. 

The researchers are also stating that the device could be inserted into a patient’s bra that they already own. Additionally, they’re developing a new bra that would have the device already incorporated into it. The device will be able to record and send data to the individual wearing it and their medical team via smartphone. 

Researchers are hoping to get the device in a clinical trial within the next few years. 

“The technology would measure changes in breast tissue and help improve a patient’s chance of survival. Breast cancer can grow so quickly; it could be 1mm in six months or 2mm in six weeks. This would be an additional measure to see how fast the tumor grows.” said Dr Yang Wei, an expert in electronic engineering at NTU. 

“We are opening the door to the investigation of an alternative breast cancer detection that could be done in the comfort of a patient’s home, conserving essential hospital resources whilst still providing a viable solution to detect early signs of cancer.”

Embed from Getty Images

Cancer Research UK released data that showed there are more than 55,000 new cases of breast cancer in the UK alone every year, and more than 11,000 deaths. Of all those new cases, about 23% are completely preventable. 

The research team is hoping that the device will improve the vitals work of monitoring tumors. MRI scans in breast cancer patients can sometimes occur months apart from each other, which could lead to significant growth in the tumor itself. The device will ideally simplify this process and give the patient the opportunity to monitor their cancer themselves. 

Dr Simon Vincent, the director of research, said this “research on improved detection and treatment of breast cancer is urgently needed.”

“While this new technology could offer a new way to monitor the growth of breast cancer tumors and we look forward to seeing the final results, the device has not yet been tested on people and there’s a lot more we need to understand before we can consider whether or not it could be used in medical settings,” he said.

“Anyone affected by breast cancer can speak to Breast Cancer Now’s expert nurses by calling our free helpline on 0808 800 6000 for information and support.”

whale

Gray Whale Sighted Near New England 200 Years After Species Were Thought To Be Extinct In The Atlantic Ocean 

A gray whale has been confirmed by scientists to be seen near New England, two centuries after it was thought that the whale was extinct in the Atlantic Ocean. While this is an exciting discovery for science, experts are saying that it also illustrated the impact of climate change on sea life and their migration patterns. 

The gray whale was initially seen by members of the New England Aquarium in Boston while they were flying 30 miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts. They sighted the whale, which can weigh up to 60,000 pounds, on March 1st, according to the Guardian

Embed from Getty Images

The gray whale typically lives in the northern Pacific Ocean, and seemingly vanished from the Atlantic ocean around the 18th century. Within the last 15 years, there have been about five potential observations of the whole in the Atlantic and Mediterranean waters. 

The aquarium stated that the whale found this month was likely the same what that was spotted late last year in Florida. 

The aquarium researchers who recently found the whale near Massachusetts were skeptical after their initial observations, however, after circling the area for about 45 minutes, they were able to take more detailed pictures and confirm it was a gray whale. 

Orla O’Brien, an associate research scientist with the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium, said that at first she “didn’t want to say out loud what it was, because it seemed crazy,” but was luckily proven to be right with ehr initial observations. 

While scientists are excited to see the gray whale in the Atlantic, they stated its presence likely has to do with the warming of the planet brought on by climate change. 

Embed from Getty Images

The North-west Passage connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Arctic Ocean in Canada. In recent years, during the summer the passage has lacked a presence of ice, which prevents animals like the gray whale from passing through. 

Now, scientists are predicting that gray whales are able to travel through the passage during the summer months, when they otherwise would typically be blocked from ice. 

According to O’Brien, the gray whale’s recent sighting near New England is “a reminder of how quickly marine species respond to climate change, given the chance.”

When commercial whaling was more common, gray whales were almost hunted to extinction. Luckily today, the gray whale population has recovered immensely, so much so that they’re considered to be a species of “least concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.” 

The organization also stated that the western population of gray whales that lives off Asia is still considered to be endangered. 

When compared to other, more commonly sighted, whales off the coast of New England, such as humpback whales, gray whales can be identified by their lack of dorsal fin and marks of spots or smears of color. Gray whales also make more gurgling, grunting, croaking noises, while humpback whales are known for their more haunting high pitched songs. 

saturn

Astronomers Uncover Secret Ocean On One Of Saturn’s Smallest Moons 

Astronomers have uncovered increasing evidence that one of Saturn’s smallest moons, named Mimas, has a global ocean beneath its icy surface. This is a significant revelation in the overall search for water on other planets, as water is an essential building block for all life, further fueling the potential for discovering habitable worlds in deep space. 

Scientists used to think Mimas was just a big ice chunk before NASA went on their Cassini mission orbiting Saturn, and its 146 moons, from 2004 to 2017. 

Mimas was first discovered in 1789 by English astronomer William Herschel, and was first photographed in 1980 using the Voyager probes. Mimas is covered in craters, with the largest one being 80 miles across. 

Through the Cassini mission, astronomers found that the moon takes around 22 hours to orbit Saturn, and is about 115,000 miles from Saturn. Data also showed that Mimas’ rotation and orbital motion is triggered by the moon’s interior. 

Embed from Getty Images

According to reports, in 2014 European researchers determined that the core of Mimas is either rigid, elongated, rocky, or has a subsurface ocean causing its rotation and motion. Observatoire de Paris astronomer Dr. Valéry Lainey and his colleagues analyzed the orbital motion data to get a clearer conclusion, and their findings were published Wednesday in the journal Nature

Through this study, the team was able to determine that the moon’s spin and orbital motion didn’t match up with the theory that Mimas had a rocky core, and instead, the evolution of its orbit suggests an internal ocean that shaped its motion, Lainey explained. 

“This discovery adds Mimas to an exclusive club of moons with internal oceans, including Enceladus and Europa, but with a unique difference: its ocean is remarkably young, estimated to be only 5 (million) to 15 million years old,” said study co author Dr. Nick Cooper.

The team was able to determine the origin and age of Mimas’ ocean by analyzing how the moon responded to Saturn’s gravitational forces. 

“Internal heating must come from the tides raised by Saturn on Mimas. These tidal effects have induced friction inside the satellite, providing heat,” Lainey said. 

The study stated that they suspect the ocean is around 12 to 19 miles below the moon’s ice exterior. Astronomically speaking the ocean is very young, which means there wouldn’t be any outward signs of activity on the surface.

This discovery is a huge moment for science in general, as it could shift the ways in which astronomers think about moons in our solar system. 

Embed from Getty Images

“If Mimas hides a global ocean, this means that liquid water could lie almost anywhere. We already have serious candidates for global oceans (on moons such as) Callisto, Dione and Triton,” Lainey said. 

“The existence of a recently formed liquid water ocean makes Mimas a prime candidate for study, for researchers investigating the origin of life,” Cooper said.

“It may be time to observe other seemingly quiet moons across the solar system that could be hiding conditions that can support life,” the study authors said.

“Lainey and colleagues’ findings will motivate a thorough examination of mid-sized icy moons throughout the Solar System,” wrote Drs. Matija Ćuk and Alyssa Rose Rhoden in an article that accompanied the study.

Rhoden has also written research about a “stealth” ocean on Mimas.

“Basically, the difference between our 2022 paper and this new paper is that we found an ocean could not be ruled out by Mimas’ geology, whereas they are actually detecting the signature of the ocean within Mimas’ orbit. It is the strongest evidence we have, so far, that Mimas really does have an ocean today,” Rhoden said.

“Mimas certainly demonstrates that moons with old surfaces can be hiding young oceans, which is pretty exciting. I do think we can speculate as to moons having developed oceans much more recently than we often assume,” Rhoden said.

hubble

Astronomers Detect Water Vapor On Small Exoplanet In “Landmark Discovery”

Astronomers have utilized the Hubble Space Telescope to make a “landmark discovery” of water molecules on a small exoplanet located 97 light-years away from Earth, according to reports from CNN

The planet is scientifically named GJ 9827d, and is about twice Earth’s diameter, and according to a new report published last week in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, is the smallest exoplanet that has been found to have water vapor in its atmosphere. 

While the presence of water on any planet could be a sign of life, the astronomers involved in this research said it was unlikely that this planet has life on it due to its hot temperature that likely turns the water in the atmosphere to steam. 

Embed from Getty Images

“Water on a planet this small is a landmark discovery. It pushes closer than ever to characterizing truly Earth-like worlds,”  said study coauthor Laura Kreidberg, managing director of the atmospheric physics of exoplanets department at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, in a statement.

The planet itself is reported to reach temperatures of 800 degrees Fahrenheit (427 degrees Celsius), hence the conclusion that it’s inhospitable. 

“This would be the first time that we can directly show through an atmospheric detection, that these planets with water-rich atmospheres can actually exist around other stars. This is an important step toward determining the prevalence and diversity of atmospheres on rocky planets,” said study coauthor Björn Benneke, professor at the University of Montreal’s Trottier Institute for Research on Exoplanets, in a statement

“Our observing program, led by principal investigator Ian Crossfield of (the University of Kansas) in Lawrence, Kansas, was designed specifically with the goal to not only detect the molecules in the planet’s atmosphere, but to actually look specifically for water vapor. Either result would be exciting, whether water vapor is dominant or just a tiny species in a hydrogen-dominant atmosphere,” said lead study author Pierre-Alexis Roy, a doctoral student at the University of Montreal’s Trottier Institute, in a statement

Embed from Getty Images

According to the study, astronomers have observed GJ 9827d during 11 transits within the past three years. 

“Until now, we had not been able to directly detect the atmosphere of such a small planet. And we’re slowly getting into this regime now. At some point, as we study smaller planets, there must be a transition where there’s no more hydrogen on these small worlds, and they have atmospheres more like Venus (which is dominated by carbon dioxide),” Benneke said. 

“Observing water is a gateway to finding other things. This Hubble discovery opens the door to future study of these types of planets by the James Webb Space Telescope. JWST can see much more with additional infrared observations, including carbon-bearing molecules like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and methane. Once we get a total inventory of a planet’s elements, we can compare those to the star it orbits and understand how it was formed,” said study coauthor Thomas Greene, astrophysicist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. 

“We can hardly wait to see what those data reveal. Hopefully, we can now settle the question of water worlds once and for all,” Kreidberg stated.

Formally Unknown Relative Of The T. Rex Discovered In New Mexico

A formally unknown relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex has been discovered in New Mexico, according to a new study released in the Journal Scientific Reports.

scientist

Animal Testing Could Come To An End With 3D-Printed Chip That Shows Body’s Reaction To Drugs 

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have designed a new “body-on-chip” that perfectly mimics how medicine travels through the body, which could eliminate the need for animal testing when it comes to drug and medication development. 

Typically thousands of animals are used every year around the world during the early stages of developing medicines, however, many of these drugs don’t end up showing any clinical benefit. 

According to reports from The Guardian, the device is the first of its kind, and was made using a 3D printer. The chip itself has five compartments that replicate the human heart, liver, lungs, kidney, and brain. Each compartment is connected by little channels that are meant to replicate the human circulatory system. 

Embed from Getty Images

Liam Carr is the inventor of this device, and he explained that the plastic chip uses positron emission tomography (PET) scanning to produce 3D images showing what is going on inside the replicated “organs.”

“The PET imagery is what allows us to ensure the flow of new drugs being tested is even,” Carr explained

“This device is the first to be designed specifically for measuring drug distribution, with an even flow paired with organ compartments that are large enough to sample drug uptake for mathematical modeling. Essentially, allowing us to see where a new drug goes in the body and how long it stays there, without having to use a human or animal to test it.”

“The platform is completely flexible and can be a valuable tool to investigate various human diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and immune diseases. Because of this flexibility, the uses are bound only by the availability of these cell models, and the scientific questions we can think of,” Carr stated.

“For example, we could have a fatty liver disease model in the device and use this to see how having a diseased liver affects other organs such as the heart, brain, kidneys, etc, and could even combine multiple diseased cell models to see how diseases can interfere with each other.”

Embed from Getty Images

Dr. Adriana Tavares of Edinburgh’s Center for Cardiovascular Science is Carr’s supervisor, and she explained that by linking the five organs together in this device, scientists can effectively study how new drugs may impact a patient’s entire body. 

“This is a really important area of medical research, as we continuously learn about how diseases traditionally perceived to be restricted to an organ or system can have diverse effects across other distant organs or different interconnected systems.”

“Devices such as the body-on-chip platform are essential to unravel the mechanisms underlying systemic effects of local diseases as well as investigate off-target effects of drugs, which might be therapeutically useful or detrimental,” she added

“This device shows really strong potential to reduce the large number of animals that are used worldwide for testing drugs and other compounds, particularly in the early stages, where only 2% of compounds progress through the discovery pipeline.”

“This non-animal approach could significantly reduce cost of drug discovery, accelerate translation of drugs into the clinic, and improve our understanding of systemic effects of human diseases, by using models that are more representative to human biology than animal models,” she concluded.