Neurotoxin Might Have Caused the Death of Elephants in Botswana

Botswana has the world’s biggest population of elephants, so when 70% of them collapsed and died at the same time, the world was shocked. While there were several possible explanations such as anthrax or poisoning, nothing could be proved. The recent discovery by researchers has put an end to endless speculations behind the unfortunate event.

“We have a number of hypotheses we are working on. Elephants are the only animals drinking below the surface of the water and sucking the silt, which is where toxins reside,” said Mmadi Reuben, a veterinary officer in the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.

The elephants were found dead near the water canals lined with a large number of cyanobacteria. It’s a type of blue-green algae that is single-celled. They are known for their ability to stick together in large clumps of green color on wet surfaces and areas. Evidently, these clumps of green algae are incredibly deadly and toxic to both humans and animals. Cyanobacteria on aquatic surfaces mostly attack the nervous system, liver, and skin that is exposed to it.

According to research, green algae makes food through photosynthesis, which means that they are on the peak during the summer season. Due to the changing weather conditions and global warming, the heat waves are increasing, ultimately impacting the growth of green algae.

The researchers involved in the investigation found samples of green algae in water which led them to conclude that it may have caused the death of elephants. They further said that the growth of green algae in watering holes could be attributed to the drought last year. The adverse weather condition was followed by heavy rain.

“When the water holes dried at the end of June, the disease also ended, the important thing is that investigations continue into why this happened so that going forward, we can stop this from happening again in time,” Mmadi said.

As mentioned before, Botswana has a huge number of animals which many locals believe is too many, with people complaining that these animals eat the crops and their presence in a village is generally not safe. However, the animals in Botswana are what makes it unique as a key tourist attraction that garners earnings of $2 Billion per year.

Despite the water samples, the researchers are refraining people from drawing conclusions until the investigation has been completed.

“Just because cyanobacteria were found in the water, does not prove that the elephants died from exposure to those toxins. Without good samples from dead elephants, all hypotheses are just that: hypotheses.”  McCann said.

However, it’s safe to say that investigations are going in the correct directions. Cyanobacteria is renowned for causing the death of animals in the past. The green algae has previously killed fish, birds, and various other animals according to a report by Global Change Biology.

Space Life Underground

Just a few years ago we used to wonder what was inside the core of the Earth that kept spinning and rotating around the axis. What was it that the Earth was made from? Through expeditions, research, and more it was found that it was lava. Similarly now, scientists have said that they can find out what is beneath the surface of the moon and even Mars. However, it will be very technically challenging.

Scientists from Harvard have claimed that they have found a way to see whether or not there is life living underground on Mars. They believe that drilling down to the center would be worth the effort if they were to find proof of life.

The teams of scientists at the Astrophysics department believe that only finding water on the surface of the plant is not enough, there needs to be more thorough research done. This drilling expedition will help with that, and the human race may finally be able to find evidence of life on another planet.

They believe that the climate on the surface of Mars and the moon could indicate life or pre-existing life that can only be found through drilling and digging deep within. Even though these searches will be challenging and will require a lot more progress in technological, they still cannot be ruled out as impossible.

Scientists claim that for a liquid to exist on a surface or within a planet, there is a certain atmosphere that is required and that a finite pressure is maintained. If this were to not happen, there would be no existence of liquid on that surface. This is why they believe that there could be sub-surface lakes in Mars as the upper layer can exert the right amount of pressure leading to the existence of liquid.

Life could be thriving beneath the surface even though the exterior of the planet does not seem provide livable conditions. By digging where higher temperatures could be found and drilling through geological material, they may be able to figure out the existence of life.

The team is so enthusiastic that they believe that within the decade there could be some work done on this and the process can at least begin. They believe robots and other AI will be digging deep in space to find the concept of life on another planet.

Mushroom Clothing

Most of us like the idea of going environmentally friendly. However, clothing is never one of our focal points. We keep focus on food, shelter, and even water, but never on what we wear. Going green is not an easy job especially when it comes to your clothing and still being able to dress the way you want. This is because there are not many options available on the market and those are can be overpriced.

There is now a new collaboration between Adidas and Lululemon and they have begun to acquire suitable and environmentally friendly fabric that will not only look chic and modern, but also help save the world at the same time. A start-up called Bolt fabrics has begun to create a special kind of fiber which is made up of mycelium, which is a threadlike root of a mushroom which creates a sort of faux leather or vegan leather material.

Some of the most well-known and most followed brands all over the world have decided to partner with Bolt for their fabric. The two names included in this list are Adidas and Lululemon. They have invested a lot of money in the company just to create hundreds of millions of square yards of the sustainable fabric. The first few products that are made from this material are due to go on sale sometime next year.

To create the fabric, the creators grow mushrooms over a bed of sawdust for approximately 10 days. The results of that are that the mushroom root can be dyed, colored, and shaped just like real leather. The process is also much faster than obtaining real leather and is much easier too.

They believe that this fabric has the same supple and warmth that a natural leather does. Through this natural feeling, the company aims to get more and more famous brands involved. This is because using leather was always questioned. People always believed that using leather was cruel to animals and many even protested against it. However, the look that leather could achieve was incomparable, until now.

With brands like Adidas trying to be as environmentally friendly, for example, creating sneakers from seaweed, this fabric created from mushrooms will help boost their message as well as help them attain sales due to the appearance of the fabric.

If big brands like Lululemon and Adidas come forth and sign with the company, chances are that many other brands that are smaller in size or larger in nature will also be interested. This is because all these brands like to compete with one another and being environmentally friendly has now become a trend most brands want to follow as it sells.

Artery Evolution

Recently, it has been found that, due to evolution, children are now being born with larger heads, with more babies now being delivered through C-section. Similarly, it has been discovered that humans are now evolving a new artery.

When a child is in the womb there is an artery called the median artery which is continuously transporting blood from the heart to the hands of the child. However after birth, usually this artery is replaced by two other arteries and this one disappears.

Now, by comparing ourselves to humans in the 18th century, there are more people today that still retain their media artery. This could be a way of saying that evolution is still taking place within the human body.

The author of this discovery, Maciej Henneberg, a specialist in anatomy at the University of Adelaide, says that this is an indicator that biological evolution is still ongoing within humans. If we were to quantify this, the researchers found, through cadavers and other means, that in the 1800s only around 10 percent of the total population retained the artery. However, when they studied people from the late 20th century, they found that around 30 percent of the people retained the artery. Through these numbers, researchers have concluded that this is the fastest way the human race has ever evolved in the past 250 years.

They also believe that if the trend were to continue, which generally should considering the principles of evolution, then the median artery which is right now an exception will become a norm and those with no median artery will become an exception. Even though this is a fascinating concept, it could have painful consequences as those with a median artery are more likely to get carpal tunnel syndrome, which can be extremely painful.

The researchers think that change has been genetic due to maternal health issues or possibly due to the mutation of genes within humans. They think that by the year 2100 the median artery should become a norm rather than the exception that it is today.

Whether this would be a positive change or a negative change it cannot be said, however, this does show us proof of how fast human evolution has been taking place and how amazing the concept of evolution truly is.

Hacking Dreams

What if you could hack into another person’s dreams and find out what they like, or what if doctors could hack into a PTSD patient’s dreams to see how to find a way to fix it? Hacking into dreams seems like a very interesting concept, however, it also seems very far-fetched. Can it be a reality or is it just a faux rumor being spread around?

A group of researchers at MIT Dream Lab, which was launched in 2017, has developed a device that can help you hack into dreams. In reality, it is a device that needs to be worn and it interacts with your dreams in various ways. This includes giving you a sense of control over your dream.

The goal behind developing this device was to prove to the world that dreams are not just useless gibberish we experience while we sleep, rather that they hold some sort of meaning and importance. They also wanted to show that dreams can easily be changed, influenced, and modified according to will at ease.

On average we spend a third of our life asleep. The researchers at MIT believe that we could structure this time better and modify it to benefit us in the future. The device is called Dormio and it is created with so many sensors that they can detect the type of sleep that has been induced and the state of sleep a person is in. When the wearer of the device goes into a hypnagogic state of sleep, where he or she is between consciousness and sub-consciousness, the device begins to play an audio cue that has been pre-set, usually just a word.

Researchers believe hypnagogic imagery or hypnagogic hallucinations are very common in the state of consciousness where one is moving between sleep and wakefulness. Some have reported having vivid auditory and visual hallucinations.

The workings of this device were shown through an experimental study conducted by Dream Lab which consisted of 50 people who were given the audio cue of the tiger within their state of hypnagogic sleep. They all ended up having a tiger in their dream.

A similar device was created previously by a member of Dream Lab which relied on smell rather than relying on audio cues. It was targeted for that part of sleep where the body begins to heal and regenerate. In this test, they used smells to consolidate the idea.

Mass Extinction Caused by Exploding Star

Growing up, we have all heard at least once that hundreds of millions of years ago, the Earth bloomed with simple unicellular life, evolving gradually and slowly into ferocious dinosaurs and one day a big explosion happened and life on Earth vanished.

Much research has been carried out throughout history to get a hint of what life was like on Earth before humans. In fact, the research still goes on and every now and then, archeologists and scientists dig up something fascinating that satisfies our curiosity to understand about the past.

Research has helped scientists gain a perspective on exactly what might have happened all those millions of years ago. According to the University of Illinois, a supernova 65 light years away might have something to do with the mass extinction that happened nearly 339 million years ago; one of the worst in the planet’s lifetime. Nobody knows for sure how or what events led to the mass extinction, but of all the limited knowledge of the event that the researchers have, they gathered information by studying ancient plants. The spore of most of the plants in the study had been sunburnt by UV radiation caused by lower ozone in the Earth’s atmosphere. And since, the ozone levels in the Earth’s atmosphere are severely damaged by natural events it is extremely likely that the supernova may have been behind the extinction that happened all those years ago.

Another fact that strengthens the claim is that any supernova explosion within 25 light years of distance, otherwise referred to as the kill zone, can prove fatal to the Earth. So it is quite possible that a cosmic explosion some 65 light years away may have caused some trouble on Earth. Apart from the extinction on such a massive scale, it was the Earth’s ecosystem that took the most damage to the point that the effects lasted for well over one hundred thousand years.

Scientists researching the event also looked at other possible explanations such as a meteorite shower or other cosmic events. However, none of these explanations can be correct when comparing the amount of damage that had been dealt to the Earth’s ozone layer and the time it took to recover – more than a century. In the end, scientists came to a possible conclusion that it is highly likely that a supernova explosion may have caused a massive shower of cosmic radiations onto the Earth’s atmosphere, hence severely damaging the Ozone layer.

Whether the event happened the way the scientists concluded or not depends greatly on the presence of plutonium isotopes from the Devonian period. If they can be found, the presence of these isotopes on Earth will confirm the event of a supernova explosion since these can only come to Earth via an explosion.