Top Science Stories This Week

Posted: Sep 10 2016, 8:36pm CDT | by , Updated: Sep 11 2016, 11:33am CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Top Science Stories This Week
Missing Philae lander spotted on comet 67/P/ Credit:ESA/Rosetta

Pandas No Longer Endangered, Eastern Gorilla One Step Away from Extinction

There is good news and bad news. Some animal species have been taken off endangered species list while some have been upgraded  to endangered species. 

According to latest IUCN Red List, world’s largest gorilla is close to extinction. The population of Eastern gorilla has reduced to 70 percent in the past 20 years. It means we are not only on the verge of losing world’s largest primate but also one of our closest evolutionary relative.

Giant pandas, on the other hand, have been removed from the list of endangered species and listed as vulnerable after a 17 percent increase in population from 1,596 individuals in 2004 to 1,864 in 2014.

Overall, the IUCN Red List now includes more than 8,000 animal and plant species of which a staggering 24,000 are critically endangered.

Missing Philae Comet Lander Finally Spotted on Comet 67/P

Missing Philae lander has been finally found after two year of search. Latest images taken by Rosetta spacecraft show that the comet lander is stuck in a dark crack on comet 67/P while one of its three legs has been thrust dramatically into the air. 

This is the first time when Philae has been spotted since making a hard landing on November 2014. In July this year, European Space Agency cut the communication with Philae after receiving no signal from comet lander for almost one year as it was thought that the comet was lost forever. 

Since the location of the lander has been tracked, researchers are now looking forward to capture even closer images of the site and will use them to understand more about the comet’s composition. 

Genetic Analysis Reveals There is More than One Species of Giraffe

There are actually four species of giraffe, not just one. Up until now, scientists had only recognized a single species of giraffe but genetic analysis showed that there are more than one species of giraffe and all are genetically so different from each other that the difference could be considered as great as seen between polar and brown bears.

Scientists have named those species northern giraffe, southern giraffe, reticulated giraffe, and Masai giraffe and they are found across the continent of Africa. The finding is important and indicates how little we know about one of the largest animals living on our planet. 

Nevertheless, it will not only improve our understanding of long-necked herbivore, but also help in conservation efforts as giraffe population has declined dramatically from 150,000 individuals to fewer than 100,000 over the last three decades. 

New Imaging Technology could Read Books Without Opening Them

MIT researchers have found a novel technique to read closed books. Based on terahertz radiation and infrared light, the new imaging system emits short bursts of radiation which penetrates the surface much like X-ray or ultrasound waves. The device can identify letters printed on top of papers up to 9 sheets thick and could be used for scanning bulk of papers or to scan ancient books that are too fragile to open.

Terahertz rays can distinguish between ink and blank paper which is not possible by X-ray and yields better depth resolution than ultrasound.

Protein in Hair is Better than DNA at Human Identification

A new research suggests that unique protein markers in hair may hold the secrets for human identification like DNA, which is commonly used technique in forensic. But DNA can decay over time and difficult to retrieve once lost. New research suggests proteins found in human hair are unique to each individual and are more stable than DNA. Researchers are trying to identify a core set of protein markers that would be sufficient to distinguish an individual among the entire world's population using a single hair.

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The Author

Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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