Pseudo science and bias information

Fake news is everywhere. Science-related pseudo facts have taken over the gossip sites and social media. And we are only at the beginning of an uphill battle to set the record straight. In this contribution, Melissa Hoover, shares her investigation on how people’s response to fake news makes it easier for such inaccurate stories to propagate at a rate that is way more important than fact-based news. Continue reading here.

“With the right ingredients, life seems to form very quickly” Mark Harrison

The origin of life started much earlier than scientists thought. The 19th of October 2015,  a research supporting that our planet’s first form of life was originated at least 4.1 billion years ago was published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That means 300 million years earlier than previous research suggested, shortly after, almost instantaneously, the planet formed (4.54 billion years ago) and prior to the massive bombardment of the inner solar system that formed the moon’s large craters (3.9 billion years ago).

Scientists had long believed the Earth was dry and desolate during that time period. However, the new research, carried out in UCLA, showed that the planet was probably much more like it is today than previously thought. Simple life appears to have formed quickly and it would evolve to photosynthesize after many millions of years.

The scientists identified and revealed primary inclusions in a mineral, namely dark specks contained in zircons, that were analyzed with Raman spectroscopy. The zircons had a specific ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-13 that indicates the presence of photosynthetic life. The graphite is older than the zircon containing it, being the latter 4.1 billion-years old.

Video: Dark specks contained in zircons.

Read more here

From waste to precious metals

Just as a modern version of the fairy tale The Ugly Duckling, a group of FEFU (Far Eastern Federal University) scientists have developed a method to take care of combustible stone’s waste and turn it into precious metals. As explain in rbth science and technology, ash waste is no longer considered a problem that occupies vast areas and pollute the environment, but a cost-effective mine for processing the platinum group metals and other valuable components.

This work falls within the scope of EURELCO (European Enhance Landfill Mining), which promotes research on conditioning and integrated valorisation of a landfilled waste stream, using innovative transformation technologies.

“Fireproof” trees to prevent the spread of wildfires

The cypress trees shown in image resisted a fire that had devastated 20,000 hectares around Andilla (Spain) in July 2012. All around the 9,000-m2 area of cypresses, including pine, oak, holm oak, juniper and gorse trees; had been consumed by the flames, whereas, only 12 cyppresses burnt (1.26% out of more than 940 of mediterranean cyppresses in total).

After three years of research, a study about the use of cypresses as a screen against fire was published in the Journal of Environmental Management.*
The high resistance of the cypresses to ignition has raised the possibility of using this species in fighting forest fires. Especially noteworthy is the behaviour of the tops of the trees which, despite the fact that the trees are packed close together, the fire did not advance through the higher branches and on the top of that, the flames barely caused the drying out.

“La naturaleza tiene la respuesta a muchos de los problemas que enfrentamos” B. Moya.

* Della Rocca, G; Hernando, C; Madrigal, J; Danti, R; Moya, J; Guijarro, M; Pecchioli, A; Moya, B. 2015. Possible land management uses of common cypress to reduce wildfire initiation risk: a laboratory study.
JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, Vol: 159, 68-77 pp, DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2015.05.020
Published: AUG 15 2015