Top Science Stories This Week

Posted: Jul 2 2016, 1:10pm CDT | by , Updated: Jul 2 2016, 5:53pm CDT, in | Latest Science News

Top Science Stories This Week
Ancient bird wings preserved in Amber. Credit: Royal Saskatchewan Museum

Huge Helium Deposit Discovered in Tanzania

A massive reserve of helium has been discovered in East Africa meaning - we are not running out of this rare and valuable gas in the coming decades.

Helium is the second most abundant gas of the universe behind hydrogen but is rarely found on Earth. The gas has been discovered in small amounts in the past usually accidently while oil and gas drilling but it’s the first time when an intentional dig out has produced the desired result.

Helium has wide implications ranging from MRI scanning to electronics to manufacturing of fiber optics and its shortage could be a worrying sign for experts in almost every field.

A Perfume Which Smells Like a Comet Has Been Created

Scientists have created a perfume which smells like a comet. The new perfume is based on the observations of Rosetta’s spacecraft and replicates the smell of comet 67P/Churyumov–GerasimenkoBut unfortunately it does not smell that great as one would expect. However, it provides a unique opportunity to those who want to know what space smells like.

When Rosetta arrived at comet 67P two years and its Philae lander sniffed the surface of the comet, it revealed that it smells something like rotten eggs, cat urine and bitter almonds and it’s the combination of natural gases like ammonia, hydrogen and cyanide that make it smell so bad.

Samples of the smell will be distributed at an event in London next week.

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Getting Closer to Jupiter

After travelling for more than 1.7 billion miles over five years, NASA’s Juno spacecraft is inching closer to the largest planet of our solar system Jupiter. The spacecraft is scheduled to enter Jupiter’s orbit on July 4.

Juno is the not the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter in recent times. Earlier, Galileo spent eight years there and beamed back resounding images of planet and its moons. This time around the focus will be on Jupiter itself and its atmosphere – the layer of gases around the planet.

Juno will be the only spacecraft to get that much close to the planet. However, it will not land on its surface, only orbit around it for several times before heading back to Earth in February 2018.

Dinosaur-Age Bird Wings Found Preserved in Amber

Ancient bird wings have been discovered many times before but mostly in the form of fossils flattened in the rock or sediments.

Researchers have recently uncovered dinosaur-age twin bird wings in Myanmar that are preserved in amber. The fossil wings are tiny, only two or three centimeters in length but are remarkably well-preserved The had not lost their original color and retained the exact arrangement of feathers.

The wings belong to a baby bird from a group of extinct avian which died out at same time as the dinosaurs around 66 million years ago.

The structure of the wings suggests that this particular specimen was strikingly similar to the modern-day birds. It looked like an incompletely developed hummingbird.

Antarctic Ozone Layer is Gradually Healing

Scientists have observed first signs of healing in the Antarctic ozone layer.

Ozone layer over Antarctica which protects Earth from the harmful cosmic radiations has experienced a significant deterioration over the past decade or so. But researchers say that ozone layer is finally on a healing path. It has been found that ozone hole has shrunk by more than 4 million square kilometers in September and this is for the first time since 2000 when ozone depletion was at its peak.

Scientists credit the healing to a policy which was aiming to cut the production of ozone destroying chemicals and now we are finally observing its effects.

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The Author

Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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