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Botanic gardens 'best hope' for saving endangered plants

Botanic gardens 'best hope' for saving endangered plants

Science
The world's botanic gardens contain about a third of all known plants and help protect 40% of endangered species, a study has found. Scientists say that with one in five of the world's plants on the brink of extinction, botanic collections hold the key to saving rare plant life.In the first detailed study of plants grown in botanical gardens, they recorded more than 100,000 species.Efforts are needed to target some of our rarest plants, they say."This is the first time that we have carried out a global assessment to look at the wide range of plants grown, managed and conserved in botanic gardens," said Dr Paul Smith, Secretary General of the charity Botanic Gardens Conservation International."So, for the first time we know what we have and, perhaps more importantly, what is missing from bo...
Star that birthed Tycho's supernova wasn't hot and bright

Star that birthed Tycho's supernova wasn't hot and bright

Science
Sept. 26 (UPI) -- An international team of scientists from the United States, Australia and Germany have offered new insights into the origins of Tycho's supernova.Until now, many astronomers assumed Tycho's supernova was formed by the explosion of a white dwarf that had been slowly stealing material from its companion star. But the latest analysis, published this week in the journal Nature Astronomy, suggests otherwise.First observed 445 years ago by the astronomer Tycho Brahe, Tycho's supernova is the most famous example of a Type Ia supernovae, the violent nuclear disruption of a white dwarf.In addition to serving as standard candles for cosmologists, Type Ia supernovae also play an important role in the formation and evolution of galaxies. The exploded shell of gas and dust serves as s...
Are plastic nanoparticles causing brain damage in fish?

Are plastic nanoparticles causing brain damage in fish?

Science
Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Fish may be suffering brain damage as a result of plastic pollution. New research shows plastic nanoparticles can end up inside the brains of fish."Our study is the first to show that nanosized plastic particles can accumulate in fish brains," Tommy Cedervall, a chemistry researcher at Lund University in Sweden, said in a news release.Cedervall and his colleagues tracked the path of tiny plastic particles through marine food chains. The nanoparticles can be consumed by plankton, and the plastic-stuffed plankton can be eaten by fish. If the plastic particles are small enough, they can sidestep the blood-brain barrier and accumulate inside a fish's brain.In tests, researchers found fish with plastic particles inside their brain tend to eat slower and spend less time explori...
Panda's habitat 'shrinking and becoming more fragmented'

Panda's habitat 'shrinking and becoming more fragmented'

Science
Despite signs that numbers of giant pandas are rising, suitable habitat has shrunk, according to satellite data.The forests where the panda lives are in worse shape than in 1988, when it was first listed as endangered, scientists say.Last year, the giant panda was downgraded from endangered to vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Habitat loss is the most serious threat to the animal, which is seen as an icon of global extinction efforts."What's new in this study is our ability to assess the status of the giant panda by using satellite imagery and then use that information to come up with recommendations of how better to manage this iconic threatened species," said Prof Stuart Pimm, of Duke University, North Carolina, US, who is a researcher on the study.The news last year that the giant panda ...
Scottish Power says UK will need to boost capacity

Scottish Power says UK will need to boost capacity

Science
Britain will need to boost its generation of electricity by about a quarter, Scottish Power has estimated.The energy firm said electric cars and a shift to electric heating could send demand for power soaring.Its chief executive also said there would have to be a major investment in the wiring necessary to handle rapid charging of car batteries.Keith Anderson was speaking as the firm reached the milestone of 2,000 megawatts of wind power capacity. That equates to about an eighth of the British total.The figure includes Whitelee wind farm, on Eaglesham Moor, south of Glasgow, which has more than 200 turbines. Believed to be Europe's biggest wind farm, it is capable of generating enough power for all of Glasgow's homes.In the past 18 months, the Spanish-owned company has been installing near...