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Trump's divided desert: Wildlife at the border wall

Trump's divided desert: Wildlife at the border wall

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your devicePresident Trump's promise to build a "great wall" along the US-Mexico border remains one of the central and most controversial promises of his presidency. But scientists from the University of Arizona are starting to unravel the effect that such a wall could have on a desert ecosystem it will cut through. The team is studying wildlife in the Sonoran Desert, which stretches across the border from Arizona into Mexico and is already divided by a barrier at the border. BBC science reporter Victoria Gill joined the team in a search for some of the desert's most endangered animals. Its proximity to the border gives Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument a dangerous reputation. But as you bump along dirt roads of this set-aside swathe of the Sonoran Desert...
Liquified gas electrolytes power new lower-temperature battery

Liquified gas electrolytes power new lower-temperature battery

Science
June 16 (UPI) -- Scientists at the University of California, San Diego have developed new electrolytes capable of powering batteries at temperatures as low as negative 80 degrees Celsius.The technology could help make lithium ion batteries safer and more efficient, as well as boost the range of electric vehicles during cold winter months. The new batteries could also power vehicles and instruments operating in extreme cold, like space rovers, satellites and high-alitiude weather baloons.The electrolytes are composed of liquefied gas solvents. Many gases require extreme pressure to liquify. Gases that liquify at moderate pressures are less apt to freeze.To create their battery's electrolyte, researchers liquified fluoromethane gas. For the capacitor electrolyte, scientists liquified difluor...
Satellite image showcases centuries of desertification in India

Satellite image showcases centuries of desertification in India

Science
June 16 (UPI) -- A new image from the European Space Agency's Copernicus Sentinel-2A satellite showcases the extreme aridity of India's Thar Desert.Geologic and archaeological analysis suggests the region, which encompasses more than 123,000 square miles in India and Pakistan, was once green and lush. Centuries of farms have depleted water resources and taxed the soil, slowly drying out the land.Today, the region is dotted by dunes. The false-color image features the city of Bikaner. Sand dunes and irrigation-supported farms surround the city.Life is tough for farmers in the region. Desertification spreads as dry desert sands are blown by winds onto more fertile nearby acreage, degrading the soil.Though irrigation has been used to further develop agricultural lands, India's government has ...
Genome pioneer John Sulston enters elite club

Genome pioneer John Sulston enters elite club

Science
British genome pioneer Sir John Sulston has been elevated to the Companion of Honour in the Queen’s birthday list.Only 65 people, including the sovereign herself, can hold the distinction at any one time.Sir John won a Nobel Prize in 2002 for his breakthrough contribution to the understanding of how genes control cell division and cell death in an organism.One of the researchers with whom he shared that prize, Sydney Brenner, joined the elite group back in 1986.To become a Companion of Honour, an individual has to have made a major contribution to the arts, science, medicine, or government over a long period of time. Existing members include David Hockney and Sir David Attenborough. Those joining with Sir John include JK Rowling and Sir Paul McCartney.Another newcomer is Lord Stern, one of
Salamander found to reproduce using the sperm of at least three males

Salamander found to reproduce using the sperm of at least three males

Science
June 12 (UPI) -- Why pass along the genes of a single mate when you can impart one's offspring with DNA from three fathers? Such is the unique reproductive strategy used by hybrid all-female populations of ambystomatid salamanders.When biologists from the University of Iowa sequenced the genome of all-female, or unisexual, salamanders, they found equal portions of DNA from three different species, Ambystoma laterale, Ambystoma texanum and Ambystoma tigrinum."We're hypothesizing the successful individuals have balanced gene expression," Maurine Neiman, a professor of biology at Iowa, said in a news release. "This balance might have been a prerequisite for the emergence and continued success of this particular hybrid lineage."Researchers believe all-female salamanders employ a reproductive t...