In a palace intrigue worthy of George R R Martin, a new study has shown that some bee workers are queenslayers who will rise up and kill their queen if she produces the wrong sort of male offspring. The throne can then be seized by one of her daughters, who will produce the right kind of male heirs – ensuring the survival of the bloodline.
There’s been a devastating trail of destruction and flooding along the east Atlantic coast in the last few weeks following Hurricane Harvey and now Hurricane Irma. The latter, currently moving across Florida, is the strongest sustained hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic outside the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.
Zealandia made global headlines earlier this year when scientists announced that it counts as a new continent. Now it is coming under closer scientific scrutiny. We are currently halfway through an expedition to drill into this vast underwater plateau of continental crust, and we can already reveal that Zealandia’s geography changed more dramatically and more recently than anyone had thought.
Seafood is an essential staple in the diets of people around the world. Global consumption of fish and shellfish has more than doubled over the last 50 years, and is expected to keep rising with global population growth. Many people assume that most seafood is something that we catch in the wild with lines, trawls and traps. In fact, aquaculture (aquatic farming) accounts for just over half of all the seafood consumed worldwide.
Antarctica is a vast icy wasteland covered by the world’s largest ice sheet. This ice sheet contains about 90% of fresh water on the planet. It acts as a massive heat sink and its meltwater drives the world’s oceanic circulation. Its existence is therefore a fundamental part of Earth’s climate.
Each of our senses gives us a unique view of our world. Our visual system detects parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, revealing movement, brightness and color, but also a smile or a tear. Our auditory system registers changes in pressure, but also allows us to hear the crash of ocean waves or the smoky contralto of Billie Holiday. To appreciate the flavor of food and drink, recognize the perfume of the first spring flowers or detect the danger of a gas leak, we rely upon our olfactory (smell) and gustatory (taste) systems.
The human foot is distinctive. Our five toes lack claws, we normally present the sole of our foot flat to the ground, and our first and second toes are longer than the smaller ones. In comparison to our fellow primates, our big toes are in line with the long axis of the foot – they don’t stick out to one side.
The use of biofuels helps reduce human greenhouse gas emissions. That’s one reason why some petroleum companies offer petrol containing up to 10% ethanol (a biofuel). But if we are to have any real chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change, it is not enough to reduce our emissions; we must put the process into reverse.
DNA sequencing technology is helping scientists unravel questions that humans have been asking about animals for centuries. By mapping out animal genomes, we now have a better idea of how the giraffe got its huge neck and why snakes are so long. Genome sequencing allows us to compare and contrast the DNA of different animals and work out how they evolved in their own unique ways
Plate tectonics has shaped the Earth’s surface for billions of years: Continents and oceanic crust have pushed and pulled on each other, continually rearranging the planet’s façade. As two massive plates collide, one can give way and slide under the other in a process called subduction. The subducted slab then slips down through the Earth’s viscous mantle, like a flat stone through a pool of honey.
Imagine a future in which buildings tower miles over the streets below, tourists take day trips to the edge of our atmosphere, and multiple space stations can be spotted drifting across the night sky. To make this sci-fi vision a reality, we will need to create new kinds of structures that are lightweight but still strong and tough.
Our cities have now been named as the saving places of a planet in crisis. And yet we cannot decide on the principles that make for a good city. Everybody has a view, but some views are more sustainable than others.
When you step outside your house, light from the sun means that the colour of everything changes. You probably haven’t even noticed it, because your brain helps you see colours the same way under most conditions.
The Tropics are defined as the area of Earth where the Sun is directly overhead at least once a year — the zone between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.However, tropical climates occur within a larger area about 30 degrees either side of the Equator. Earth’s dry subtropical zones lie adjacent to this broad region. It is here that we find the great warm deserts of the world.
Earth is estimated to be around 4.5 billion years old, with life first appearing around 3 billion years ago.To unravel this incredible history, scientists use a range of different techniques to determine when and where continents moved, how life evolved, how climate changed over time, when our oceans rose and fell, and how land was shaped. Tectonic plates – the huge, constantly moving slabs of rock that make up the outermost layer of the Earth, the crust – are central to all these studies.