A Flatworm Named After Obama
A new species of blood fluke was found infecting the lungs of turtles in Malaysia. Scientists found clusters of tens to hundreds of fluke eggs in the turtle’s lung alveoli, the tiny sacks where blood receives oxygen and gets rid of carbon dioxide. They dubbed the parasitic flatworm Baracktrema obamai, in honor of the President of the United States (who is the fifth cousin twice removed of one of the discovering scientists).
Lost And Then Found
The European Space Agency’s Philae lander had been missing since its botched touchdown on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November 2014. But on September 5th, scientists looking at a photo taken by Philae’s mothership, the Rosetta orbiter, unexpectedly found the lander wedged in a crevasse. The discovery of the lander’s location means that researchers can finally decode some of the transmissions sent by Philae back to Ground Control in the time between when the Philae lander bounced out of view and before it stopped sending messages altogether.
Making Generators From Fish Scales
Physicists in India have created a battery-free generator out of fish scales. The clear, flexible generator can harvest the energy from small movements such as body motions, sound vibrations, and wind flow, then convert it into electrical power. The collagen in fish scales is a piezoelectric material, meaning that it generates an electric charge when put under mechanical stress. It offers a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional piezoelectric generators that rely on toxic elements such as lead and bismuth.
An Ecological Success Story
It’s been a good week for whales. NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) Fisheries took nine of 14 populations of humpback whales off the endangered species list. It’s a place that humpback whales have occupied since the Endangered Species Act was signed in 1973. The Marine Mammal Protection Act still applies to all humpback whale populations, and the whales will continue to be protected from hunting and other activities. New regulations will also limit the distance at which vessels can approach humpback whales in Alaska and Hawaii, where whales are frequently spotted. But federal agencies will no longer be required to consult with the NOAA every time they engage in an activity that might affect non-endangered humpback whale populations.
Gorgeous Topographic Arctic Maps
A new set of 3D topographic maps offer a gorgeous, high-resolution look at Alaska’s rugged terrain. The maps were created from satellite images at a resolution of two meters, making them the most precise maps yet of the Arctic. They are the first maps to be released by the ArcticDEMs project, which aims to “create the first-ever publicly available, high-resolution, satellite-based elevation map of Alaska.” The maps will be updated frequently to document how the landscape changes due to erosion, sea level changes, and other forces.
America’s First Offshore Wind Farm
Four completed wind turbines three-and-a-half miles off the coast of Block Island in Rhode Island are part of a pilot project to generate offshore wind energy in the United States. A Department of Energy assessment of the potential for offshore wind energy found that there were over 320,000 square miles of water off our coasts that could be used to generate 4,150 gigawatts of electricity if it was completely utilized. In 2012, the capacity of all energy plants in the entire United States was only 1,100 GW. Read more here.
A Case For A Vaccine Against Flesh-Eating Bacteria
Scientists found that different strains of a group of bacteria that are responsible for flesh-eating disease, toxic shock syndrome, and strep throat all share the same type of protein on their surface. These are called M proteins, and though there are more than 200 M proteins that we know of, they all have some features in common. This means that researchers can study the shared patterns and how they may stifle our immune response. And eventually, scientists may be able to develop a vaccine based on these common patterns.
A Green Retrofit For Your Classic Car
E-Drive Retro can turn that gas-guzzling vintage vehicle into a clean, green electric machine. The company has developed a plug-in electric drivetrain of its own design that can replace the internal combustion drivetrain of cars built from the 1950s through the 1970s. The company’s goal is to create a whole new category of cars: Electric Vehicle Classic Car Conversion.
Drones That’ll Deliver Your Takeout
Project Wing, a subdivision of Google’s parent company Alphabet, will use self-guiding drones to deliver Chipotle food at Virginia Tech this fall. The drones are capable of both flying and hovering on pre-planned routes, avoiding hazards as they go. If all goes according to plan, the drones will hover and slowly lower the food to the customer below. This will test the drone’s ability to keep the order intact and warm while delivering to the customer, pushing the limits for drone delivery because of food’s relatively fragile nature.