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Volcanologist Eliza Calder explains why the eruption of Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala on 3rd June was so devastating. It left at least 110 people dead and over 200 people missing. It’s thought that the local populations were so acclimatised to the rumblings and explosions of the ‘persistently active’ volcano, that they were slow to take action when it violently erupted. Electric Fog Nets Nets strung up to capture water droplets in the form of fog and mist are an old technology for getting fresh water in dry parts of the world. But they are ‘passive’ they rely on the water droplets in the air randomly coming into contact with the net. But new work by MIT engineer Kripa Varanasi has shown that if you apply an electrostatic force to the net, it ‘actively’ attracts the charged water droplets to it. Thereby increasing the amount of water collected.Fishing for DNA Bacteria have the remarkable ability to take up DNA from their surroundings and incorporate it into their genomes. This ability allows the, mostly asexual, organisms to introduce variation and traits into their genetic code – traits such as antibiotic resistance or virulence. The trouble is, microbiologists knew little about how they performed this important procedure. But now a group of scientists in the US have filmed (under very high magnification), the moment a bacteria reaches out with a special filament appendage (called pili) to snatch a piece of free floating DNA from its surroundings and it looks a lot like going fishing!Regulating Research on CannabisUsing cannabis and other illegal drugs in science – do regulations of illegal drugs hinder legitimate medical research?Picture: Fuego Volcano aftermath, Credit: European Photopress AgencyPresenter: Roland PeaseProducer: Fiona Roberts
Antarctic ice melt and sea level rise – The rate of sea level rise from melting ice sheets and ice shelves in Antarctica has trebled in the past 5 years, due to global warming. Satellite data is showing that ice loss from Antarctica has increased global sea levels by 7.6mm since 1992 and could reach 15 cm the end of the century.Earthquake Prediction Global earthquake models pass stress test. Combining GPS and seismic data gives us the best earthquake forecasts yet.Undersea fibre optic data cables that carry the world’s telecommunications data can also be used to detect seismic signals from earthquakes. This is particularly useful for picking up signals from remote undersea tectonically active regions which are not very well covered by land-based seismic recorders.Picture: Summer clouds swirl in around the Staccato Peaks of Alexander Island, Antarctic Peninsula. High snowfall and strong weather gradients in this mountainous area make assessment of glacier mass balance particularly challenging. Credit: Hamish Pritchard, BASPresenter: Roland PeaseProducer: Fiona Roberts
This week an auction of a 70% complete dinosaur skeleton took place in Paris. The Therapod species, dating from the late Jurassic (155m years ago) is scientifically very interesting. It’s an unknown predator which, argues the Society of Vertebrate Palaeontologists, is why it should not be owned by the highest bidder, but made available to palaeontologists for more scientific study.Category 6 Hurricanes The 1st of June marks the start of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season. Leading climate scientists debate whether we will see fewer or more tropical cyclones in the Atlantic as a consequence of anthropogenic climate change. There is a mounting consensus, however, that we will see more intense hurricanes. So do we need to add a more severe Category 6 to the Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity scale.Listening to Ice Melt If you listen carefully to ice sheets in the Arctic, you can hear the glaciers calving and even the bubbles bursting as the ice melts. Scientists are attempting to calibrate these sounds with the extent of ice-melt in order to remotely monitor the state of the polar ice.Bacterial Lending LibraryMore than 3000 medically relevant bacteria, including some of those responsible for the deadliest diseases (plague, dysentery and cholera) have had their genomes decoded. This brings the 100 year old national collection bang up to date. The collection is an invaluable resource for researchers wanting to understand how bacterial antibiotic resistance evolved over time and to help make detection of disease outbreaks now more accurate.Picture: A dinosaur skeleton, sold to a private buyer at an auction in Paris for €1.6m (£1.4m; $2m), Credit: AFP/Getty ImagesPresenter: Roland PeaseProducer: Fiona Roberts