Scientia Issue #109

Jan 17, 2017 | Issues

FROM THE COSMOS TO LIFE ON EARTH

It is my absolute pleasure to introduce this fascinating new edition of Scientia, where we explore the latest in earth, environmental and ecological research, with a pinch of cosmology thrown in for good measure.

To open the issue, we start big – with the universe. Here, we have had the pleasure of speaking with Dr Kiwamu Izumi, a scientist working at The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). Dr Izumi tells us all about LIGO’s ground-breaking gravitational waves discovery – reported earlier this year. Also headed for a breakthrough are the NewDark scientists at the Laboratory for Theoretical and High Energy Physics in Paris, who are busy hunting for dark matter – that elusive substance that comprises 84% of the matter in the universe. From here, we start to bring things closer to home, first by investigating the solar wind, and the spectacular auroral displays it generates upon clashing with our Earth’s magnetosphere.

Next, we reveal the latest in earth and environmental science research. With global temperatures on the rise, and species becoming extinct at a rate of more than 1000 times the ‘background extinction rate’, dedicating our research efforts to our environment is now more important than ever before. Here, we highlight cutting edge climate science research, along with several innovative new ways to battle pollution and save our declining fish populations. From here, we explore our oceans – where we feature four remarkable research projects, ranging from creating 3D images of deep-sea hydrothermal vents to exploring how marine microbes are adapting to our changing seas.

In our next section of the edition, we explore the diversity of life on Earth, by showcasing no less than 10 fascinating projects investigating the ecology and evolution of microbes and animals. Not wanting to ignore the plant kingdom, our final section is dedicated to our leafy cousins. Here we highlight the latest in crop science, and also introduce Dr Sonny Ramaswamy, the director of the US National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), in an exclusive interview about NIFA’s activities in working towards a future of sustainable agriculture.

EXCLUSIVES:

• The National Institute of Food and Agriculture
• The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory

HIGHLIGHTS:

• Investigating Plasma Storms and Substorms in our Near-Earth Backyard
• Predicting Climate Change Impacts: Regional Climate Modelling is a Critical Tool
• Marine Microbes Shed Light on our Changing Oceans
• Math Plus Biology: Building a Knowledge Base to Engineer Plant Traits

 

CONTRIBUTORS FROM:

CONTACT

Published in the UK, by Science Diffusion ltd
ISSN 2059-8971 (print)
ISSN 2059-898X (online)

E: info@sciencediffusion.com
W: www.sciencediffusion.com
W: www.scientia.global

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Meet The Team…

DIRECTOR

Nick Bagnall
nick@sciencediffusion.com

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Dr Nelly Berg
nelly@sciencediffusion.com

PUBLICATION MANAGERS
Brett Langenberg brett@sciencediffusion.com
Nick Powers npowers@sciencediffusion.com

DESIGN MANAGER

Mimi Jones

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Conn Hastings, PhD
Alice Jensen, MSc
Joseph Pastorek, MD, JD
Alma Ionescu, BSc
Chris Harrison, PhD
Anna Fagre, DVM, MSc
Liv Detrick, MSc
Shayla Regmi, MA
Mary Ziegler, PhD

 

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Scientia Issue #109 Contents

 


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MASSIVE LEAPS FOR COSMOLOGY AND PLANETARY SCIENCE
There has never been a more exciting time for space research.

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THE LASER INTERFEROMETER GRAVITATIONAL-WAVE OBSERVATORY (LIGO)
The gravitational waves discovery: an interview with Dr Kiwamu Izumi, scientist at LIGO

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DARK IS THE NEW BLACK
The NewDark group

Hunting for elusive dark matter

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INVESTIGATING PLASMA STORMS AND SUBSTORMS IN OUR NEAR-EARTH BACKYARD
Dr Tony Lui

Understanding the mechanisms of space plasma interactions with Earth’s magnetosphere

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USING RADIOISOTOPES IN VOLCANIC CRYSTALS TO MEASURE THE AGE OF THE EARTH
Professor Urs Schaltegger

Analysing isotopes of uranium and lead in zircon to date geological events

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SAVING OUR DYING PLANET, WITH SCIENCE!

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PREDICTING CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS: REGIONAL CLIMATE MODELLING IS A CRITICAL TOOL
Professor René Laprise

Improving our understanding of climate change through the use of Regional Climate Modelling

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ANTHROPOGENIC CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE SAHEL MEGA-DROUGHTS
Professor Yongkang Xue

Using multi-model efforts to investigate the Sahel region’s 30-year long drought

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ONE, TWO, THREE, BREATHE
BreezoMeter

An innovative new technology to address the problems caused by air pollution

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ERADICATING WATER POLLUTION ACROSS THE GLOBE – WITH TREES
Professor Theodore A. Endreny

Planting trees to make our waterways safe for swimming, fishing and drinking

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SHRINKING FISH STOCKS: THE EFFECT OF ENVIRONMENTAL SEX HORMONES ON IMMUNITY 
 Professor Helmut Segner 

Exploring why freshwater fish stocks are dwindling, by studying how oestrogens affect fish immunity

 

 

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GROWING BETTER SALMON: BALANCING ECONOMICS WITH ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT 
Dr Daniel Heath, Dr Oliver Love, Dr Bryan Neff, Dr Dennis Higgs, Dr Christina Semeniuk, Dr Trevor Pitcher and Dr Brian Dixon 

Making Chinook salmon aquaculture more sustainable and environmentally friendly

 

 

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EXPLORING OUR OCEANS 

 

 

 

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INVESTIGATING WHAT GOES ON AT THE BOTTOM OF THE DEEP BLUE SEA 
Dr James T. Potemra

Monitoring the bottom of the ocean with the ALOHA Cabled Observatory

 

 

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THE LAST UNEXPLORED PLACES ON EARTH 
Dr Karen Bemis, Dr Darrell Jackson and Dr Guangyu Xu

Exploring hydrothermal vents using the Cabled Observatory Vent Imaging Sonar (COVIS)

 

 

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UNCOVERING THE MYSTERIES OF MARINE MERCURY 
Professor Robert Mason 

Studying how mercury levels in the oceans are changing due to climate change

 

 

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MARINE MICROBES SHED LIGHT ON OUR CHANGING OCEANS 
Professor Gordon Taylor

Investigating the decline of dissolved oxygen in the ocean due to climate change, and how this affects microbial life

 

 

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THE EVOLUTION OF LIFE ON EARTH 

 

 

 

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DECIPHERING UNKNOWN AND UNRECOGNISED PHOSPHORUS-MICROBIAL TRANSFORMATIONS  
Dr Diliana D. Simeonova 

Studying how bacteria use phosphorus to gain energy, survive and proliferate in extreme environments

 

 

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UNSEEN WORLDS: MICROSCOPIC LAKE PLANKTON FUEL FOOD CHAINS AND BEFRIEND ALGAE   
Dr Bettina Sonntag 

Exploring the lives of ciliates – unicellular organisms that live in freshwater lakes

 

 

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CONTAGIOUS CANCER CELLS IN SHELLFISH    
Professor Stephen Goff 

Investigating how shellfish can develop cancer

 

 

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HOW ANIMALS FABRICATE BIOMINERALS 
Professor Daniel John Jackson 

Studying how animals evolved to fabricate hard parts, by investigating molluscs

 

 

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BEYOND GENETICS 
Dr Craig Albertson  

Investigating the genetic and environmental factors behind the evolution of the skeleton

 

 

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COLD AS ICE: ANTIFREEZE PROTEINS IN POLAR FISHES 
Professor Arthur DeVries  

Studying antifreeze proteins that have evolved in polar fishes, enabling them to survive in polar environments

 

 

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EXPLORING EVOLUTION BY STUDYING BEETLES LIVING ON THE EDGE
Professor Nathan E. Rank and Professor Elizabeth P. Dahlhoff 

Exploring evolutionary responses to climate change by studying the Sierra willow leaf beetle

 

 

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SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR IN BIRDS: WHAT MAKES THEM TICK? 
Professor Elizabeth Adkins-Regan 

Investigating physiological mechanisms underlying social and reproductive behaviour in birds

 

 

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FORGING A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH NATURE THROUGH THE MARRIAGE OF SCIENCE AND ETHICS
Professor John Vucetich 

Studying wolves and moose in Isle Royale and Yellowstone National Parks

 

 

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BREAKING FREE THE STONES OF THE PAST 
Professor William Hunt and Professor Ralph Hartley 

Investigating the mysterious cairns in the coastal mountains of Alaska

 

 

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FEEDING THE GLOBAL POPULATION 

 

 

 

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NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE (NIFA) 
An exclusive interview with Dr Sonny Ramaswamy, the director of NIFA

 

 

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IMPROVING CROPS BY GENETIC ENGINEERING AND TARGETED GENOME EDITING 
Professor Joyce Van Eck  

Improving the ability of tomato and potato crops to resist disease using CRISPR/Cas9

 

 

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THE SEEDS WE SOW AND THE GRAIN WE REAP 
Dr Corina Vlot-Schuster   

Studying the natural plant defence system known as Systemic Acquired Resistance, or SAR

 

 

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MATH PLUS BIOLOGY: BUILDING A KNOWLEDGE BASE TO ENGINEER PLANT TRAITS 
Professor Daniel Szymanski 

Investigating the mechanisms underlying leaf shape, towards designing better crops