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Science Illustrated Issue 61

Science Illustrated delivers natural science, break through discoveries and an understanding of the world for the entire family. Packed with stunning photography and in-depth editorial it’s a visually spectacular gateway to the world looking into the beginning of life to distant objects in the universe.

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8 Issues


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too complicated to criticise?

One of the things we’re all about here at Science Illustrated is the support of “pure science”. This is research that gets done for the sake of it, for the sheer purpose of figuring out how the universe works - we don’t think there should always have to be a commercial angle, a possibility of making megabucks, to make a line of research worth pursuing.And yet, it remains the most basic of criticisms. There are indeed children starving, so why are we pouring billions into growing silkworms in space?Almost every aspect of science cops this at one point or another except, as far as I can tell, one. One major field seems to get nothing but positive press.Cosmology.Specifically, the really hardcore, out there (literally and figuratively) cutting-edge cosmology. We write…

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huge telescope mirror spins in oven for months

In a mould at the University of Arizona, almost 20 t of glass is spinning, as it is heated to a temperature of 1,165 °C. The glass will become one of the seven mirrors of the world’s biggest optical telescope, the Giant Magellan Telescope, in Chile, which is to zoom in on planets in remote solar systems. The melting of the glass takes four hours, and subsequently, three months of cooling begins, as the mould is still spinning. Finally, the 8 m mirror is polished at a degree of accuracy of one thousandth of a human hair. ■…

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pen guides surgeon to cancer cells

In cancer surgery, it is often hard for the surgeon to distinguish between cancer tissue and healthy tissue, but with a new pen, the doctor only needs to point at tissue during surgery to learn if it is cancerous. The pen emits a water drop, which dissolves the molecules liberated by cancer cells. The drop is immediately analysed by a mass spectrometer, that gives the answer in a matter of seconds. The pen has diagnosed tissue samples of lung cancer, breast cancer, etc., at an accuracy of 96 per cent. It will be used in surgery this year. ■…

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volcanoes paved the way for the dinosaurs

THE LATEST FINDINGS AND DISCOVERIESPALAEONTOLOGYA meteor strike ended the dinosaurs, but they also began in a dramatic way, according to a new study by Italian and English scientists. The Dolomites mountain range in Northern Italy could provide evidence for when the biodiversity of the ancient giants seriously gained speed.The studies show that the dinosaurs’ dominance exploded 232 million years ago in the Triassic geological period 251-200 million years ago, when the climate was warm and dry with brief periods of moist climate.During the era up to the breakthrough of the dinosaurs, the world was subjected to a series of severe climate change scenarios with four consecutive, highly moist periods, as evidenced by the sediment layers that scientists studied in the Dolomites. The layers mostly consist of lime sand, whereas the…

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patients attract mosquitoes

(SHUTTER STOCK)The malaria parasite has a complex life cycle, during which it lives in both mosquitoes and humans. According to studies, it changes the body smell of its victims. The smell attracts mosquitoes, which prefer malaria patients in their search for blood. In this way, the parasite improves the chances of spreading its genes by infecting other mosquitoes and humans.AND TALKING OF MALARIA …1 IN 25 HAVE NATURAL WEAPONS IN THEIR BLOODSome people produce special antibodies that end the malaria parasite’s life cycle. Scientists from the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands have found antibodies in 4 % of 648 malaria patients. The scientists hope that the antibodies can be used in a new vaccine that is to prevent the spread of malaria.(UNICEF)NEW DRUG TO END THE PARASITE’S LIFE CYCLEWhile…

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sea nomad genes are made for life under water

EVOLUTIONThe Sama-Bajau people, who live in South East Asia, spend their lives in or on the water. They live on houseboats, and their working days are spent under water. A Sama-Bajau almost only feeds on fish and shellfish, which he captures by diving to depths of 70 m and keeping his breath for up to five minutes.Scientists from the University of Copenhagen have revealed that over the past 1,000 years, the people’s life style has made their bodies adapt to life under water. The scientists studied the Sama-Bajau people’s genes to see if they included changes that improve the diving reflex: a survival mechanism that sets to work, when we keep our breath under water. The reflex involves a lower cardiac rhythm, as blood vessels in arms and legs contract,…