Breeding together corals that have naturally high heat tolerance and planting them on coral reefs could increase the reefs’ resilience to climate change and reduce the impact of bleaching events, according to Dr James Guest, a coral reef ecologist from Newcastle University, UK. He is studying this ‘assisted evolution’ approach to coral conservation and examining the risks associated with it.
Earthquakes are sudden and their shaking can be devastating. But about 20 years ago, a new type of earthquake was discovered. We cannot feel them, and geologists still know very little about them, such as how often they occur.
Europe changed dramatically during the Bronze Age, with huge population shifts generally ascribed to the rise of new metal technologies, trading and climate change. But scientists believe that there may have been another reason for this social upheaval – the plague, possibly transported by, or on the back of, newly domesticated horses.
Drugs that activate or block the body’s oxygen-sensing machinery to treat conditions such as anaemia in patients with chronic kidney disease and cancer are being made possible because we now understand the way that cells respond to oxygen deprivation, according to Sir Peter Ratcliffe, one of three winners of this year’s Nobel prize in physiology or medicine.
When Timothée Boitouzet studied architecture in Japan, where buildings need to survive earthquakes, he realised the next smart material might be one that humans have used for thousands of years – wood.
It may be that life is lurking out there on other planets. But stuck here on Earth, how can we ever know for sure? A good place to start is by looking for the compounds on other worlds that are known to be the key ingredients of life as we know it.
Twenty-four years ago, Swiss astronomers Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz discovered the first planet orbiting a sun-like star outside our solar system – a milestone recognised by this year’s Nobel prize in physics. Today we know of thousands more ‘exoplanets’, and researchers are now trying to understand when and how they form.
Consciousness – the awareness we have of our self and surroundings – is often referred to as ‘the hard problem’. It’s not easy to scientifically explain how a subjective experience, which is something intangible, can be created by the brain – a physical object. But understanding more about how consciousness works could help us find treatments when things go wrong.
Rocky planets larger than our own, so-called super-Earths, are surprisingly abundant in our Galaxy, and stand as the most likely planets to be habitable. Getting a better idea of their interior structures will help predict whether different planets are able to generate magnetic fields – thought to be conducive for life to survive.
Metagenomics can help us spot emerging diseases, says virologist Marion Koopmans.
What are they and why are they promising for coronavirus?
The more satellite launches we do, the bigger the risk of damage or debris, says Dimitra Stefoudi.