Scientific news in small doses

A few milligrams of all this week’s science news

Champagne Eric Pierre

sunset on mars

What would a sunset on Mars, Venus or Uranus look like? Jeronimo Villanueva, a NASA scientist, conducted a late simulation of three other planets in our solar system, as well as Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. We can also see the sunset at Trappist-1it’s a, a planet from a neighboring system.

Watch the video on YouTube


Q: How many tons of carbon were released from dry swamps?

David Boyle photo, press files

A peat bog in Pointe-Taillon National Park, Saguenay

a. Over the past 1,150 years, 72 billion tons of carbon have been released into the atmosphere as a result of the depletion of peatlands, primarily for agriculture, in the Northern Hemisphere. This is the average scenario developed by a team from the Environmental and Climate Sciences Laboratory at the University of Paris-Saclay. The researchers based their model on data from 12 countries, which comprise 90% of the northern hemisphere’s peatlands. Of the 72 billion tons, 40 tons have been released since 1750, the year that marked the beginning of the industrial era. The researchers say they want to improve their model to get more accurate results. However, this points to the importance of these environments for storing carbon in the age of climate emergency.

Cow enzymes to melt plastic?

Photo by Agustin Markarian, Reuters

Cow stomachs melt various types of plastic.

Researchers from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna found that enzymes in cows’ stomachs dissolve different types of plastic. The scientists first collected fluids from the rumen, one of the cows’ four stomachs, and then tested their efficacy on a different polyester. This has proven effective with three of the most commonly used plastics, including polyethylene terephthalate, more commonly known by the acronym PET. It takes between one and three days for these plastics to decompose at 40°C, however, further studies will be necessary to determine if this solution can be applied on a large scale. The work of the Austrian scientists was published in the journal Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.

the number


Photo by Giordano Ciampini, La Brena de Canada

An increase in the number of trees can lead to an increase in precipitation.

Planting more trees may increase summer rains on the European continent. At least that’s the conclusion of a study published in the journal natural earth sciences By scientists from the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Germany. According to the researchers, if forest cover increased by 20% evenly across Europe, precipitation could increase by 7.6%. The study analyzed the consequences of planting trees on land used for cultivation. If the consequences can be positive in southern Europe, these additional rains will, however, affect the regions of the Atlantic Ocean already prone to rains. The study shows that solutions are not always very straightforward in terms of adaptation to climate change.

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Teaching the blind to determine echolocation

Photo by NINON PEDNAULT, Press Files

With 10 weeks of echolocation training, blind people can greatly improve their multitasking skills.

It was already known that humans are able to use echolocation, like bats, to move. However, with 10 weeks of training, blind people can significantly improve their ability to multitask. Researchers at Durham University, UK, conducted a study on sighted and blind people who participated in a 10-week training program in which they learned how to navigate through space using echolocation. They were followed for three months. All blind people reported greater mobility and 83% claimed to have attained independence and quality of life. However, this technique is not used much by stigmatized people because of the frequent clicking of the language needed to enhance echolocation.

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