Science Picker https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/ We pick the science of life Thu, 16 Jul 2020 08:41:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 https://www.sciencepicker.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/uploads/sites/15/cropped-New-Project-32x32.png Science Picker https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/ 32 32 What are Fast Radio Burst Signals and are aliens trying to communicate with us? https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/what-are-fast-radio-burst-signals-and-are-aliens-trying-to-communicate-with-us/ Sat, 26 Sep 2020 05:31:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1341 One of the great questions in science and the wider universe is are we alone? Is there other life out there? Some say that there is no life because the probability of us existing is already so small that the chance of life on another planet to our degree of intelligence is almost impossible. Others […]

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One of the great questions in science and the wider universe is are we alone? Is there other life out there? Some say that there is no life because the probability of us existing is already so small that the chance of life on another planet to our degree of intelligence is almost impossible. Others argue that the universe is so vast it would be sheer arrogance to assume that we are the only living intelligent life on it. Yet if there is life out there how come we haven’t heard from them or seen any existence that they exist? A new discovery may help to answer that question. Recently some strange radio signals were discovered that have got scientists very excited.

Humans have a number of attributes that allow us to communicate. We have mouths to talk, ears to hear and eyes to see. This facilities communication between our species very well and is the key reason we have developed and evolved so well. However, if there is life on another planet who knows what strange methods they use to communicate. They could be able to send brainwaves, they could use vibrations, they could use light patterns. We have no idea. That means that we could be witnessing communications from other planetary species all the time and we have no idea. Perhaps every time we look at a strange cloud formation we are actually looking at a giant banner asking us to say hello. Unlikely but a little bit possible.

These are the thoughts that I have late at night driving my car. When I am flicking between stations and finding radio static my mind starts to wonder. Occasionally I flick to a station and it does not sound like a clear signal here on Earth but it is not static either. It sounds like something coming from far away. 

While I may just be going crazy scientists now say that they pick up strange signals from outer space all the time and they can’t explain what they are. These signals are known as Fast Radio Bursts or FRBs. They usually last less than 1/1000th of a second and their patterns are hard to track. 

Scientists are getting better and better at pinpointing these signals though and have started to find more. They believe that the majority of these signals are electromagnetic radiation caused by black holes, neutron stars, or supernovas. I don’t know about you but I am getting a little tired of scientists assuming everything is caused by a black hole. 

Last year a signal that repeats was found. It was coming from a galaxy 500 million light-years away and astronomers have no idea what could be causing it. Scientists say that they need to find many more of these signals before they can start to understand what causes them and why we are picking them up. No one has mentioned the possibility that it is alien life trying to communicate with us but we must all be thinking it. The source of the signal was 500- million light-years away but the signal itself was found only 7 light-years away. Perhaps this other alien species have figured out how to send the signal 493 million light-years and are just about to discover us. Again unlikely but incredibly exciting.

The discovery currently raises more questions than answers but scientists say that these FRBs will allow them to learn more about the universe and what it contains. Space contains so much that we don’t know and don’t understand. It appears that we may start to get more answers very soon.

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Everything you need to know about the North Star https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-north-star/ Sat, 19 Sep 2020 07:38:48 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1294 The night sky has played an important role in travel, building, and mythology since humans first entered the world. Sailors have used the night sky to travel great distances under the watchful guide of the stars. The Egyptians and many other civilizations have used the constellations to guide the construction of the pyramids. The Greeks […]

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The night sky has played an important role in travel, building, and mythology since humans first entered the world. Sailors have used the night sky to travel great distances under the watchful guide of the stars. The Egyptians and many other civilizations have used the constellations to guide the construction of the pyramids. The Greeks found all of their Gods hidden in the stars through the different constellations we know today. The most important star for many years has been the North Star.

The North Star has proved incredibly useful as if you are ever lost you can use the North star to find your way home. Once you know the North Star you know North, from there everything else, is easy to work out. There is plenty of evidence that people have been using the stars as their guide for centuries from stories in the bible to records in the sailor’s logs. 


The star is useful because it is a cepheid. This means that the brightness and size of the star are relatively unchanging. That consistency makes it easier to find. Many people say that it is the brightest star in the sky but this sadly isn’t true. If you try and find the North star based on the brightness you will likely become very confused very quickly. There are many stars almost as bright as the North star and many that are actually brighter. In fact, the North star is only the 50th brightest object in our sky. Meaning if you are looking for the brightest item, you are likely not looking North.

The North star is very easy to find. The Big Dipper is the key. The Big Dipper is one of the easiest constellations to find in the sky. It goes by many names. You may know it as the plough, or the saucepan, the great wagon, or even saptarishi. Whatever you call it, you can spot the Big Dipper because it looks like a saucepan with a long handle. Depending on where you are situated in the world you will see the Little Dipper close by. It may be beside, below, or on top of the Big Dipper depending on your orientation. Again it is easy to spot because it looks like a smaller saucepan. The North Star is the first star on the handle of the Little Dipper and is found directly in line with the tip of the front of the saucepan of the Big Dipper. Easy.

Once you have found the North star we are confident you can find your way home. Scientists used to also believe that they could rely on the North star to map a lot of space but it may be more difficult than they realized. Based on how bright a star shines and how big it is you can usually work out its distance. However, the North Star has surprised many by showing different results. In one measurement it appeared to be 3.45 times brighter than the sun, on a second measure it was 7.5 times brighter. 

Scientists now think that the North Star is simply too bright for some devices to measure its brightness. This suggests that we may be registering the limit on our brightness measures and possibly don’t know how bright the star actually is. 

If you are planning on living a while longer you should be warned that the North Star won’t always point North. It is expected to move away in about 3,000 years. The North Star is actually called Polaris and it only got the job of North Star 3,000 years ago. Before that, it was a star called Thuban, once that moved off North, Polaris was chosen. While Thuban helped the Egyptians, and Polaris helps us, there is a star named Gamma Cephei that will help the people of the future.

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The strange phenomenon that causes 72 lightning strikes every minute https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/the-strange-phenomenon-that-causes-72-lightning-strikes-every-minute/ Sat, 12 Sep 2020 07:10:14 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1292 The world is now very familiar with volcanic eruptions. These incredible events are what formed the topography of much of the world today. While they are often the basis for some incredible science fiction movies, reality can be stranger than fiction. One thing that no science fiction movie has ever shown is the incredible volcanic […]

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The world is now very familiar with volcanic eruptions. These incredible events are what formed the topography of much of the world today. While they are often the basis for some incredible science fiction movies, reality can be stranger than fiction. One thing that no science fiction movie has ever shown is the incredible volcanic freeze that can take place when a volcano erupts. Read closely, Ridley Scott.

Volcanos are an incredible part of our world. While to some of us they are only seen on TV, to others they are part of life. In Auckland, New Zealand the city sits atop 53 volcanoes. While these volcanoes have not erupted for some time the volcanic field they are on is still young and active. Meaning that we could see a volcanic eruption in Auckland at some point in our lifetime, a city that is home to 1.5 million people.

While that may sound like a lot, Indonesia has it beat. Indonesia is estimated to have the most volcanoes of any country in the world with the most recent records indicating at least 141 volcanoes. 76 of these volcanoes have erupted 1,171 times and are a constant concern for the people who reside there.

In 2018, the Anak Krakatoa volcano erupted. It was such a massive eruption that it resulted in a tsunami that killed more than 400 people along the coastline of two popular islands. The volcano wreaked havoc for many days after. As the magma that erupted from the volcano came in contact with the water from the ocean it caused a gigantic cloud to manifest. The cloud was full of ash and steam and was estimated to be around 17km high. 

When researchers studied the massive cloud they were surprised to find ice. As the large amounts of water were being thrust into the high altitudes of the atmosphere they were in contact with incredibly cold temperatures. The temperatures were close to -80 degrees Celsius and turned the water to ice. The strange conditions caused a storm to occur. Researchers estimated that the volcanic storm resulted in over 70 flashes of lightning every minute! 

This incredible phenomenon caused 10 million tons of ice to form. Even John Cusack would struggle to outrun that. Scientists explained that the unique circumstances of water vapor being driven into the air by the volcanic eruption caused an icy cloud to form. This created atmospheric instability that led to the incredibly high number of lightning strikes. The storm lasted about one week and in that time it was estimated that there were 100,000 lightning strikes in the area. 

While this will likely serve as inspiration for Michael Bay’s next film, it could also help in the field of aviation. The evidence found shows how dangerous it is to come in contact with the volcanic clouds after an eruption. While it may have appeared obvious that they should be avoided many would have thought they just contained standard vapor and cloud particles. This research shows that the clouds from a volcanic eruption are incredible beasts that should be avoided for long periods of time. 

The odds of being struck by lightning in your lifetime are 1 in 3,000. Something tells me that if you live near a volcano those odds are much higher. The incredible tragedy that took place in December 2018 marks as a warning for all future eruptions that may take place. While Ridley Scott may not be aware of the research, it has been shared with leading aviation researchers to ensure that the learnings are included in all future pilot training.

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The incredible picture that may change our plans for Mars https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/the-incredible-picture-that-may-change-our-plans-for-mars/ Sat, 05 Sep 2020 06:43:28 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1290 Space is a strange and wonderful thing. While we have come to learn so much about space in the last 60 years there is still so much we don’t know. Mars is the flavor of the last number of decades as we continue to see the orange planet as full of potential. It is the […]

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Space is a strange and wonderful thing. While we have come to learn so much about space in the last 60 years there is still so much we don’t know. Mars is the flavor of the last number of decades as we continue to see the orange planet as full of potential. It is the only planet that we have sent a rover to and one that we are increasingly interested in. A new photograph is getting more scientists excited about the potential of Mars.

The photo at first glance doesn’t look like much. A simple crater with an opening in the top and a shadow inside. The picture was taken by the HiRISE camera on the robotic Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. While orbiting the planet it has taken some incredible photos that are both stunning and surprising as they continue to show more about Mars than we ever knew before. 

Yet this one photo has sparked more excitement than any other. This is because if there is a chance of life on Mars this may be the best place to look. The surface of Mars is not an easy place for life to grow. It is a tough environment where living things would not survive for long and so it is no surprise that we have found no life on the planet yet. For years scientists have said that if we have a chance at finding life it will be under the ground or in a protected space.

The photo appears to have captured what may be a perfect place for life to grow. The photo shows a standard crater but the small shadow inside shows that some form of cavern exists inside. This cavern may have provided shelter from the harsh environments outside. This shelter may have been the catalyst required to create some form of life on Mars. The cavern is estimated to be 115 feet wide and 66 deep, although it could go deeper under the surface.

This pit is exactly what scientists would have hoped to have found from the Mars Orbiter. While some may have been hoping to catch a Martian man riding a strange beast across the mountain plains, that was never really possible. This is the most exciting development we could have hoped for. Until now people have said that Mars is simply too harsh of a planet to sustain life, but now we have clear evidence of a place on Mars that is less harsh than the rest. 

Whether this crater has existed long enough to allow the strange miracle of life to take place or whether the inside of this crater is sufficient enough to provide life at all remains to be seen. However, it is now clear that if we have another instrument like the Mars Rover we know exactly where to send it. The robot could be sent to this crater to take a sample of the soil, to take pictures, to analyze the biodiversity in the area, if there is any, and to report back its findings.

Scientists are already estimated that there may be enough chemical elements underground to produce life. While they are only expecting to find some sponge-like lifeforms it is a start. We could be on the brink of discovering life somewhere other than Earth. This incredible discovery would surely be the start of the new age of science.

If finding life on Mars isn’t exciting enough the cavern presents numerous other opportunities as well. Even if life is not found there will likely be plenty more information to gather from inside the cavern that not only provides more information on the past of Mars but may hold the keys to understanding the composition of the planet in greater detail.

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A final chance to save our oceans https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/a-final-chance-to-save-our-oceans/ Sat, 29 Aug 2020 08:20:21 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1288 Today we are at a crossroads. This has been said many times before and many times we have taken the wrong path. We have done untold damage to our land, to our environment, and to our entire planet. While people are great at saying they want to do things for the environment when it comes […]

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Today we are at a crossroads. This has been said many times before and many times we have taken the wrong path. We have done untold damage to our land, to our environment, and to our entire planet. While people are great at saying they want to do things for the environment when it comes to taking positive action, we are more than a little slow. We will only get so many chances to preserve the world we live in and it appears that we have now reached the final crossroads for our oceans. We can either choose to make the right steps and plans now or we can see our oceans continue to decline.

This is good news. It means that we still have a chance to save our oceans. For many years we have seen headlines talking about the disastrous pollution taking place, the islands of garbage floating through our oceans, the deadly plastics that are killing ocean life. For many years all hope appeared to be lost. A new study has shown that hope remains.

The study was published in the widely supported journal Nature. It suggests that if we put in more positive action now we can return the oceans to their ideal condition by the year 2050. This is incredible. The damage that we are doing to our oceans can be turned around. 

The study looked at existing practices taking place around the world at present. It involved a huge collaboration among international scientists to find what works and what doesn’t. It discovered that the ocean is resilient and so is the life that dwells there. If we can just provide the opportunities required the ocean will recover to its former health.

Large scale changes are required and it will not come cheap. The study estimates that it could cost around $20 billion to return the oceans to their former glory. Even that will likely only cater to 50% of oceans but it is a great start. While $20 billion is a lot of money let’s not forget that annual worldwide spending on the military is $1.6 trillion. If we just cut back a little bit on this pointless spending we could save our oceans.

The study put forward a potential plan for international countries to take on. It laid out a number of key plans under a variety of categories. There were many small changes that could be easily achieved such as planting mangroves to help promote ocean life and biodiversity but larger changes like battling climate change and the large fishing industry.

The study proves that there is hope in our oceans. It points to numerous examples of success such as the humpback whales who were on the brink of extinction but are now numbering nearly 50,000. 

The key message that comes from the study is one of hope but also one of urgency. It is a positive message saying that we can save our oceans but it is a message that must be adhered to soon or the opportunity will pass us by. The oceans are key to sustaining our economic and environmental climate. If we want the Earth to survive for many future generations then we have to act now and change our behavior. While it is easy to read this article and cross our fingers and hope that this happens, more is required. If you talk to your local government representative today and show that this is something you care about, something might be done. If everyone does this, something will be done. Start the conversation on how to save the oceans with your loved one’s today.

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Unwrapping the potential power of catchy songs https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/unwrapping-the-potential-power-of-catchy-songs/ Sat, 22 Aug 2020 05:54:48 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1283 The only thing worse than getting a song stuck in your head is getting a terrible song stuck in your head. How these songs get stuck in there or why is a bit of a mystery. However, a new study has explored the music of the ages to discover which song is the most recognizable […]

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The only thing worse than getting a song stuck in your head is getting a terrible song stuck in your head. How these songs get stuck in there or why is a bit of a mystery. However, a new study has explored the music of the ages to discover which song is the most recognizable of them all. 

The study took over a year to complete and was conducted by the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. They surveyed 12,000 people on a wide variety of songs to discover what song was the easiest to recognize. They used a sample of 1,000 songs based on the top 40 selling songs in each decade all the way back to the 1940s.

From there they simply played a number of games with the survey respondents to determine the answer. The first game asked survey respondents to hum along with a song and to continue humming in time when the music stopped. The test measured how in time they were with the song once it stopped playing. The second test asked listeners to hear two parts of a song and decide which is catchier. The third game simply asked listeners to recognize a song as fast as they could. The fourth and final game asked them to recognize as many songs as they could in a row.

The most recognizable song was found to be the Spice Girls, Wannabe. This was followed by Lou Bega’s Mambo Number 5. While it took an average of five seconds to recognize a song it took only 2.29 seconds to recognize the Spice Girls hit. 

The researchers found it interesting that the release date of the song was not of particular relevance. It shows that some songs really are timeless classics and no matter in what era they were released, they will always stay with you. Despite someone not having heard a particular song for 10 years they could still recognize it in a few seconds. 

The next step of the study is to dive into this phenomenon in more detail. The lead researcher says that the team wants to understand what exactly makes a song catchy. Dr. Ashley Burgoyne designed the study and believes that strong melodic hooks play the key role but this is just a hypothesis. There could be a special key that people associate with better or a particular timing that resonates well. 

While this research sounds like a lot of fun, there are real benefits to it too. Dr. Burgoyne hopes that the findings will allow further research into dementia and possible solutions. The relationship between music and memory is a strong one and it could hold the key to unwrapping dementia. There is research already in existence that shows if you can find a track that has serious significance to a person with dementia it can be very therapeutic. However, as the person has dementia it can be difficult to find out what songs are special to them. If there are common things that make a song catchy there may be universal songs to help patients with memory issues.

The study is only in its first stage but it is already showing positive results that may be able to help with serious illnesses in the future. While the Spice Girls – Wannabe has likely done a lot of damage in its time it may now be able to do some good. This song and others may hold the key to helping patients with dementia. As the Spice Girls once said, “ I wanna really, really, really wanna zigazig ah”. Wise, wise words.

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The new enzyme that is changing how we recycle https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/the-new-enzyme-that-is-changing-how-we-recycle/ Sat, 15 Aug 2020 17:27:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1285 Recycling is something that is talked about a lot but is not done enough by most. While homes and businesses are starting to improve in their approach to recycling the process itself is still lacking. While many materials can be recycled a high number still can’t. For those that can, there are often high financial […]

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Recycling is something that is talked about a lot but is not done enough by most. While homes and businesses are starting to improve in their approach to recycling the process itself is still lacking. While many materials can be recycled a high number still can’t. For those that can, there are often high financial and time costs associated with recycling that means many businesses still don’t pursue these options for all of their products. A new discovery may help to change that.

Plastics are obviously one of the worst offenders when it comes to needless production and its impact on the environment. To help curb the impact on the environment we need to start recycling more plastics and in a better way. 

A new discovery that has been highlighted in a recent publication may provide an important solution. The research team has discovered a new enzyme that can recycle polyethylene terephthalate (PET) more effectively. PET is used in the majority of plastic soda and water bottles and so is a large contributor to the amount of plastic waste that we have today. 

While PET has been possible to recycle for many years now, the process has been poor. To date, the process to recycle PET takes a long time and it can only be recycled in a low-quality way. This means that the recycled material produced can only be used for things like clothing and carpets. The new method is much faster and it can result in a higher quality recyclable meaning it can be used for new food-grade products.

This means that large companies can now take the idea of recycling their PET products seriously on a large scale. While it may sound like an incremental change it is closer to a giant leap. This discovery moves the production of bottles closer to a circular life. Once a bottle is used it can be destroyed recycled and recreate from the same plastic. The new process is incredibly quick too, meaning it is suitable for large scale productions. In the study, 200grams of PET were recycled and in less than 10 hours it was reduced by 90% to its original chemical building blocks.

The solution will be fantastic for cutting carbon emissions, energy use, and incentivizing recycling. The company that made the discovery is now in talks with Pepsi, Nestle, and L’Oreal to bring the process into mainstream production capabilities. It is believed that full rollout on a worldwide scale will be possible by 2025. 

While there is still a process of heating and breaking down the bottles to allow the enzyme to do their magic it is estimated that the cost of doing this is just 4% compared to making a bottle from scratch. This is fantastic news as it means that companies will be incentivized from an environmental and economic standpoint. While many companies want to see positive environmental changes take place most will only change something if it benefits the revenue bottom line.

While this is great news for PET there are other plastics that need an improved process. Polyethylene and polystyrene are the two other big culprits when it comes to plastics and damage to the environment. They are used to produce shampoo, plastic bags, insulation, and packaging. For companies to truly make industrial processes circular these plastics require process improvement as well.

The latest enzyme discovery is fantastic news for the environment and for businesses. It means that PETs can now be recycled in a truly circular fashion which can save money and help fight the issues that are challenging the environment. However, there is far more work required before plastic stops being a central issue in the world today.

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The moon mapping that provides a blueprint for future missions https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/the-moon-mapping-that-provides-a-blueprint-for-future-missions/ Sat, 08 Aug 2020 08:51:04 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1281 The moon is a mystery to many. Is it a piece of cheese? Is there a man trapped in there staring at us all? While those two things are clearly untrue new work has been finalized that can provide even more information on what the moon is made of and how its surface looks. The […]

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The moon is a mystery to many. Is it a piece of cheese? Is there a man trapped in there staring at us all? While those two things are clearly untrue new work has been finalized that can provide even more information on what the moon is made of and how its surface looks. The United States Geological Survey (USGS), Nasa, and the Lunar Planetary Institute have released a new mapping of the moon that shows every nook and cranny it has.

The role of a cartographer used to be incredibly exciting. To venture into unknown waters and find new lands. To map the world and all the islands that populate it. To be a cartographer was to be an adventurer. Today this is not really the case as most cartographers are now IT experts and are mapping existing data into online maps for things like Google and Uber. The adventurous spirit is going unfulfilled. 

However, when we look out to space there is an entire universe that still needs to be mapped. While mapping adventurers won’t be sailing the seven seas anymore they will likely be exploring space to provide a map for future missions into the currently unknown. 

One of the most popular end destinations for space travel is the moon. Everyone knows the moon well, we see it every night and some of us could perhaps draw a rough sketch of what it looks like from Earth. Yet the work completed by the USGS, Nasa, and the Lunar Planetary Institute now provides a level of detail to the moon that we have never seen before. 

When we look at the moon we see one large grey circle. When you look at the mapping being released now it shows the moon as an array of colors with bright pinks, yellows, blues, and greens. The moon is not changing color, the map is an incredibly detailed index of every gradient change on the entire surface of the moon. It identifies every mountain, every crater, ever small ridge, and large cliff. More than that the colors are used to identify the age of the rocks and the elements that comprise them. 

The map has taken years to develop. Data was used from the very first moon mission in the 1960s right up to modern data from satellite imagery. Many are describing this map as the blueprint of the moon. 

To the average person, it is incredible to see the details of the moon that we have missed before. The other amazing opportunity is to see the other side of the moon. From Earth, we have only ever been able to see one side of the moon. Now another side is being presented

To the government, the map is far more valuable. The elemental breakdown that this map provides will be used as a tool for planning the next mission to the moon. It will help space explorers identify where is the safest place to land to be protected from other elements and what is the right surface to land on. Yet that is only the beginning. 

The mapping will also likely be used to determine how much money to invest in trips to the moon and what can be found there. While visiting the moon is an extraordinary achievement on its own, governments will only do it if there is an economic incentive. The detailed map likely has a potential economic value associated with each color. If all those colors are different elements than each one has a price. 

In the next few years, we will see many more missions to the moon and this mapping is the reason why. While there is no cheese on the moon there are plenty of rocks to wet the appetites of future explorers.

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Did the Romans recycle? https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/did-the-romans-recycle/ Sat, 01 Aug 2020 06:28:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1279 Recycling may seem like a modern invention. In many ways, it is a modern invention for a modern problem. Older societies didn’t realize the importance of recycling because the damage they were doing to the environment could not be seen at the time. Today the damage we are doing and the damage done in the […]

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Recycling may seem like a modern invention. In many ways, it is a modern invention for a modern problem. Older societies didn’t realize the importance of recycling because the damage they were doing to the environment could not be seen at the time. Today the damage we are doing and the damage done in the past is all too apparent as our climate faces challenge the likes of which we have never seen before. Yet new evidence is emerging that we were not the first civilization to recycle.

Archaeologists have now discovered evidence of recycling in Pompeii. Pompeii is a former Roman civilization, in 79 AD an eruption from nearby Mount Vesuvius covered the city in ash. The city was buried for years and has now become an important historical site because so much was preserved in the ruins. 

In the town, there is evidence of an amphitheater, the temple of Apollo, House of the Faun, and even the ruins of a brothel. All of this has been widely explored already. One of the latest finds though was clear evidence of recycling behavior. 

It was clear at the time that sanitation was not as important as it is today. Rubbish was not a huge concern for hygiene reasons as people were unaware of how bad it was for health, because of this it was often stored next to the water reserve. Tombs containing the dead were placed in the busiest parts of town so that people would remember them more often. When archaeologists discovered large mounds of soil and material they realized there was a reason for it. Previously they had thought that over time it had simply gathered in one place but upon closer examination it became clear, it was recyclables. 

The researchers were able to see that different rubbish had been sorted into different piles. In one particular pile, they found plaster and ceramics. It was also found that these same materials were used for building elsewhere in the city. Evidence had previously been found of buildings constructed with broken material and then plastered over. While that had been unexplained in the past the reason is now clear.

It is now clear that there were large recycling bins around the city where construction workers would dump broken construction materials. These would then be later sorted through and used for future construction. This may have been the first evidence of recycling ever found. While it may sound straightforward it is better than many societies do today. 

In landfills today 40% of the rubbish is from construction sites. If we could take a lesson from these ancient civilizations and find practical ways to reuse this material we would be doing a great deal for the environment. Clearly back then the people of Pompeii were not even worried about the environment, their reasons were purely economically driven. Today we have too many cheap materials available so there is little incentive to use old materials to drive down the cost of construction. As construction is one of the most lucrative areas of an economy it is an area worth examining by the government. If higher taxes were placed on new building materials, construction companies may be incentivized to look properly into reusing and recycling old materials. 

Often the key lessons we need to solve problems today are hidden in the details of the past. The people of Rome were known for building things that lasted. Many of the roads of Europe today have survived from the time of ancient Rome. If we want the remnants of our civilization to last as long as Rome, we can’t continue to use cheap materials that erode quickly.

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The temporary and beautiful invasion of wildlife https://www.sciencepicker.com/en/the-temporary-and-beautiful-invasion-of-wildlife/ Sat, 25 Jul 2020 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.sciencepicker.com/?p=1277 The number of positive stories emerging out of the coronavirus pandemic is a testament to the spirit of the people in lockdown. It is amazing to see how people are willing to sacrifice time know to save lives and preserve a better future tomorrow. While many countries are still in turmoil, others are starting to […]

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The number of positive stories emerging out of the coronavirus pandemic is a testament to the spirit of the people in lockdown. It is amazing to see how people are willing to sacrifice time know to save lives and preserve a better future tomorrow. While many countries are still in turmoil, others are starting to slowly emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. It may take some time before normality returns and that normality may look different to what it once was. One thing is for certain though, the streets that are currently quiet will become busy again and the pollution that filled the skies will return. Let’s hope that we at least learn to appreciate the environment a little more during this time and take some of that appreciation and understanding with us into the future.

One of the most amazing things to happen during the pandemic is seeing how animals have occupied many vacated sites. It is estimated that one-third of the world’s human population was under quarantine at the peak of the pandemic. That is over 2 billion people who usually would be outside and interacting, all under lockdown. 

In nature when any vacuum is created it is filled. The coronavirus pandemic is no different. As former busy streets lay empty, wildlife came to occupy it. This has happened on occasion before, for example, after the Chernobyl disaster, wild horses entered the area. The coronavirus pandemic may mark the first time in modern history that it is happening worldwide. 

In India, the population of over 1 billion people has been asked to stay indoors. The large bustling cities like Mumbai and New Delhi have populations of over 15 million people. Here smog once filled the air and people filled the streets, but now they are eerily quiet. While it would be a suitable opening to a zombie horror movie, instead something beautiful is happening. Pink flamingos have started to flock to the city in record numbers. At this time of year, flamingos are known to migrate to Mumbai and surrounding areas however they have never arrived in numbers like they are now. Pictures are continuously emerging of a sea of pink in the city with an estimated 135,000 flamingos now occupying the space.

In other countries, the vacuum of space is being filled by nature. In Thailand, monkeys are running riot through some cities. The macaques of Lopburi are used to taking handouts from tourists but with the tourists gone the little creatures are confused. They have started to ransack the streets in efforts to find food and videos have emerged of massive brawls taking place between different macaque factions as they become desperate for food. 

In Wales, things are a lot less manic but goats have invaded some small towns as the locals are staying inside. In Yosemite National Park bears are being spotted in the areas that tourists usually go. In Italy, dolphins have been found playing in the port of Cagliari. In Canada, orcas have been seen deep in Vancouver’s inlet. In Japan, deer have left their normal abode in Nara and have started to venture into towns.

It appears that nature is pushing back a little and reclaiming some land that is lost over time. Sadly when the coronavirus ends they will all be forced back outside of the metropolitan areas as normal service resumes. However, if some can remain, if some can be protected, and if we could live in harmony with them, it would be an amazing and beautiful thing. While there have been numerous moments of beauty during this coronavirus it would be incredible if some of these beautiful moments could last.

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