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Climate change: Is nuclear power the answer?

Climate change: Is nuclear power the answer?

Science
Nuclear is good for the environment. Nuclear is bad for the environment. Both statements are true.Why is it good? Nuclear power is planned to be a key part of the UK's energy mix.The key benefit is that it helps keep the lights on while producing hardly any of the CO2 emissions that are heating the climate.CO2 emissions come from traditional ways of creating electricity such as burning gas and coal. And the government is expected to have halted emissions almost completely by 2050, to help curb damage to the climate.Why is it bad for the environment?Because major nuclear accidents are few and far between, but when they happen they create panic. Take the Fukushima explosions in 2011, which released radioactive material into the surrounding air in Japan. Or ...
Asteroid impact rates increased 290 million years ago

Asteroid impact rates increased 290 million years ago

Science
Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Most people think of early Earth as a harsh, violent place. It's true that young Earth was hot and barren, but new research suggests that between 650 million years and 290 million years ago, asteroid impact rates were lower than usual. By studying the history of impacts on the lunar surface, scientists determined both Earth and its lunar satellite experienced a three-fold increase in asteroid impacts around the time dinosaurs first showed up on Earth's surface. Until now, scientists were perplexed by the dearth of impact craters older than 290 million years old. Many planetary scientists assumed the evidence of older craters had been eroded beyond recognition. But the latest research, published this week in the journal Science, suggests geologists have failed to find olde...
World's coffee under threat, say experts

World's coffee under threat, say experts

Science
The first full assessment of risks to the world's coffee plants shows that 60% of 124 known species are on the edge of extinction. More than 100 types of coffee tree grow naturally in forests, including two used for the coffee we drink.Scientists say the figure is "worrying", as wild coffee is critical for sustaining the global coffee crop.About one in five of the world's plants is threatened with extinction, and the 60% figure is an "extremely high" one. "If it wasn't for wild species we wouldn't have as much coffee to drink in the world today," said Dr Aaron Davis of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew."Because if you look at the history of coffee cultivation, we have used wild species to make the coffee crop sustainable." ...
Saturn's spectacular rings are 'very young'

Saturn's spectacular rings are 'very young'

Science
We're looking at Saturn at a very special time in the history of the Solar System, according to scientists. They've confirmed the planet's iconic rings are very young - no more than 100 million years old, when dinosaurs still walked the Earth.The insight comes from the final measurements acquired by the American Cassini probe.The satellite sent back its last data just before diving to destruction in the giant world's atmosphere in 2017. "Previous estimates of the age of Saturn's rings required a lot of modelling and were far more uncertain. But we now have direct measurements that allow us to constrain the age very well," Luciano Iess from Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, told BBC News. The professor's team has published an account of its work with Cassini in Science magazine. Cassini: ...
Jellyfish map could help conservationists protect marine ecosystems

Jellyfish map could help conservationists protect marine ecosystems

Science
Jan. 16 (UPI) -- By analyzing the chemical composition of jellyfish caught across a sizable swath of the Atlantic, scientists can map important differences among an array of marine habitats. The analysis technique could offer important insights to ecologists and conservationists -- a new tool for protecting the health of important fisheries. According to a new study published this week in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution, chemical signals measured in jellyfish reflect the chemistry, biology and physical processes unique to the region where they were caught. "The chemical differences detected in the jellyfish are also present in other animals throughout the food chain, like seabirds, seals and fishes," Katie St. John Glew, researcher at the University of Southampton, said in a ...