11 Important Developments You May Have Missed Because of Coronavirus (SARS CoV-2)
With all the coverage of the evolving situation regarding Coronavirus (SARS CoV-2), you may well have missed some interesting other news. But fear not, we have gathered some of the most notable, heartwarming, and fun stories you may have not seen over the last few months.
Please enjoy and keep your chin up.
What news have we missed because of the Coronavirus (SARS CoV-2)?
With the understandable, wall to wall coverage of the progress of the Coronavirus (SARS CoV-2), you can be forgiven for missing some of the other important news around the world. Here we have collated some of the most important stories from the last few months.
Trust us when we say this list is far from exhaustive and is in no particular order.
1. The brain's cortex might have evolved much earlier than we thought
In a recent study published only a few days ago, researchers may have found evidence that the brain's cortex evolved much earlier than first thought. By studying the brains of lampreys, they believe the cortex actually first appeared between 300- and 500-million years ago.
This research's findings could prove instrumental in developing our understanding of how the vertebrate brain developed and evolved over time. The researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden published their study in the scientific journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.
2. Scientists have found enigmatic bone circles made from mammoth bones that could explain how early man survived the ice age
A series of strange bone circles made from mammoth bones have been found by a group of scientists. They could shed some light on how ancient communities might have survived the last great ice age.
The study, conducted by the University of Exeter, found that one of the 70 or so sites around Ukraine and the west Russian Plain dated to around 20,000 years ago. This makes it the oldest such circular structure built by man in the region.
It is believed that these structures were used as temporary shelters during summer months and would have been covered in sediment when in use. This was supported by evidence of chared woody plants and bone indicating that occupants had managed to develop strategies for foraging for edible plants and burning plants and bones for fuel, in the hostile environment.
If true, this area would have served as a sanctuary for early hunter-gatherers, at least for a time.
3. New research indicates that splitting water could provide affordable renewable energy
A team of researchers at Washington State University has developed a less expensive water electrolysis system that could open the door for renewable energy applications in the future. The system works under alkaline conditions and produces free hydrogen at rates comparable to other systems that require acidic conditions and precious metals.
This development could significantly reduce the cost of water splitting technology in general. When fully developed this could offer a way to store energy from solar and wind power in the form of hydrogen fuel.
4. New minor planets have been found beyond Neptune
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania might have discovered some new minor planets beyond Neptune. Using data from the Dark Energy Survey, the team managed to catalog more than 300 minor planets; 100 of which are completely new discoveries.
The updated catalog of trans-Neptunian objects, and the methods the team developed to find them, could help with future searches for undiscovered planets beyond our solar system.
5. A new study might offer to help us understand why matter actually exists
A team of researchers at the University of Sussex might help us solve the mystery of why matter exists in the universe. The team managed to measure the properties of a neutron (one of the fundamental particles of the universe, in exquisite detail.
"Their research is part of an investigation into why there is matter left over in the universe, that is, why all the antimatter created in the Big Bang didn't just cancel out the matter." - Science Daily.
6. AI has helped us develop a new antibiotic
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have harnessed the power of machine learning to develop a new, powerful, antibiotic. When tested in the laboratory, the new mega-drug killed many of the world's most powerful pathogenic bacteria.
This included some strains that have developed resistance to all of our most potent existing antibiotics. When tested, it proved very effective at clearing infections in two different mouse models.
7. Night time solar cells might be just around the corner
A team of researchers at the University of California might have found a way to generate power using solar cells in the dead of night. Their specially designed PV cells could be used to generate 50 watts of power per square meter when the sun doesn't shine.
While around 25% of the generating capacity of conventional PV panels, this could be a game-changer for renewable technology.
8. Areas immolated by wildfires in Australia are recovering well
Despite the horrific images of the devastation wrought by the Australian wildfires at the start of the year, life is recovering well. It has been estimated that almost half a billion animals and countless trees and plants were destroyed by the fires.
But signs of life are returning to the affected areas. Green grasses and rose-colored leaves have begun to sprout from the ash-covered Earth and scorched trees. Of course, this should come as no surprise as the ecosystem in these areas is well adapted to wildfires.
In fact, some species depend on wildfires to flourish.
9. This new drug could be as beneficial for you as exercise
For those among you who hate the idea of visiting the gym, this new discovery by researchers at the University of Michigan could be the best thing since sliced bread. The team found that a chemical called Sestrin appeared to mimic the benefits of exercise in flies and mice.
What's more, Sestrin, is also a naturally occurring protein in the body of many animals -- including human beings. The hope is to find an application for their findings to help combat muscle wasting due to aging, incapacity, or living in low gravity.
10. Life is thriving again around Fukushima
Almost a decade after the catastrophic nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan, life is returning to normal. A study by the University of Georgia (UAG) has found that wildlife populations are once again abundant in the areas now devoid of human life.
Their camera study, published in the Journal of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, cataloged well over 260,000 photos of booming populations of wild boar, hare, macaques, pheasant, fox and raccoon dogs.
"Based on these analyses, our results show that level of human activity, elevation, and habitat type were the primary factors influencing the abundance of the species evaluated, rather than radiation levels," said UGA wildlife biologist James Beasley.
11. "Monster Hunter" is getting a film adaptation this year
And now for something a little less cerebral, or indeed important -- unless you are a lifelong fan of the series.
For lovers of the monster-slaying extravaganza that is Capcom's "Monster Hunter" series, this could be the best news you've heard since the release of "Monster Hunter: World".
A film loosely based on the game series is currently in production and is set for release sometime in the fall of 2020. Let's hope they do this amazing game franchise justice!