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Mystery deepens over mass die-off of antelopes

Mystery deepens over mass die-off of antelopes

Science
A mass die-off of wild antelopes in Kazakhstan was triggered by environmental factors, scientists believe.More than 200,000 saiga antelopes collapsed and died suddenly in 2015, wiping out most of the global population.The deaths were found to be caused by a bacterial infection.However, new data shows other factors were involved too, including unusually high humidity and temperatures.Researchers think changing environmental conditions could be a trigger for the bacterial onslaught, although this needs further research.They say there is a high chance of the same thing happening again, given climate change predictions for the region.Study leader Prof Richard Kock of the Royal Veterinary College London was part of the original emergency response team.He said the event went way beyond what woul...
Most new cars must be electric by 2030, ministers told

Most new cars must be electric by 2030, ministers told

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your deviceThree-fifths of new cars must be electric by 2030 to meet greenhouse gas targets, ministers have been warned.Homes also need to be built to a higher standard, the Committee on Climate Change - the official watchdog - says.The government says the UK is cutting emissions faster than any other G7 nation - and the committee agrees there has been a big shift under Theresa May.However, it says the UK will fall short of its ambitions unless ministers do more to turn pledges into reality.The warning comes less than a week after the prime minister launched a 25-year plan to protect the environment, including eradicating all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.The committee agrees the government's recently-published Clean Growth Plan is a big improvement, and ...
Hubble image showcases cluster with mass of three million billion suns

Hubble image showcases cluster with mass of three million billion suns

Science
Jan. 16 (UPI) -- A new image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope shows what the mass of three million billion suns looks like. The image, shared Tuesday by NASA, features ACT-CLJ0102-4915, a massive cluster known as El Gordo -- Spanish for "The Fat One."El Gordo is the biggest, brightest and hottest galaxy cluster found in the distant universe. It's located 7 billion light-years from Earth.As revealed by a trio of telescopes in 2012, including NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, El Gordo is actually the product of two galaxy clusters, which are in the millions-of-years-long process of colliding.The formation and evolution of galaxy clusters is thought be heavily influenced by dark matter. The study of galaxy clusters can help astrophysicists better understand dark matter and dark energy."...
Black Death 'spread by humans not rats'

Black Death 'spread by humans not rats'

Science
Rats were not to blame for the spread of plague during the Black Death, according to a study. The rodents and their fleas were thought to have spread a series of outbreaks in 14th-19th Century Europe.But a team from the universities of Oslo and Ferrara now says the first, the Black Death, can be "largely ascribed to human fleas and body lice".The study, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, uses records of its pattern and scale. The Black Death claimed an estimated 25 million lives, more than a third of Europe's population, between 1347 and 1351."We have good mortality data from outbreaks in nine cities in Europe," Prof Nils Stenseth, from the University of Oslo, told BBC News. "So we could construct models of the disease dynamics [there]."He and his colleagues then simula...
UK satellite to make movies from space

UK satellite to make movies from space

Science
A British satellite has gone into orbit on an Indian rocket to acquire full-colour, high-definition video of the surface of the Earth. The demonstrator is expected to pave the way for a series of at least 15 such spacecraft, which will be operated by the Guildford-based company Earth-i. The small, low-cost UK mission was one of 31 payloads riding on the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. It lifted off from the Satish Dhawan spaceport in Andhra Pradesh.Controllers made first contact with the UK satellite as planned within a few hours.The spacecraft is a pre-production model. If it performs well over the coming months, its manufacturer, SSTL, also in Guildford, will proceed with Earth-i's first batch of five operational spacecraft. The contract for these platforms was signed in November....