Debris was thrown out across the Solar System and North America was showered by a fan of glassy molten rock droplets. This geological event marked the end of the Cretaceous period and the start of the Palaeogene. Most people accept that this massive event caused the last great extinction, the end of the dinosaurs and a period of intense cold. Many fossil finds back this theory up. But very little fossil evidence showing the impact of the actual event has been found.
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Until now. Hundreds of miles from Chicxulub in a fossil site called Tanis, in North Dakota, part of the vast Hell Creek formation, is a fossil find that depicts the turmoil 10's of minutes after the asteroid hit. Marine and freshwater fish are found tangled together with these glassy droplets crammed in their gills, Charred trees are mixed up with hundreds of mangled animal bones, amber perfectly preserving drops of what was molten Earth. The gravitational wave detectors LIGO and VIRGO have been recently upgraded and made more sensitive to the miniscule signals that denote ripples in gravity - gravitational waves.
Professor Sheila Rowan of the University of Glasgow explains to Gareth Mitchell that she hopes that with this third run of the detectors, they will be finding not just one or two signals that provide evidence of massive events in our universe, but hundreds, maybe even thousands. In the quest to understand how corals are affected by rising sea temperatures we need to understand the symbiotic relationship they have with dinoflagellates, the single-celled algae that live in, and use photosynthesis to make food for the coral.
When coral gets too hot and undergoes 'bleaching', this is the algae leaving the coral. Yixian Zheng at the Carnegie Institution of Washington takes Roland Pease on a tour of her coral tanks and explains that she's hunting for a model coral organism to study this process at the genetic and molecular level.
A crime has been committed in the studio. Gareth's tea has been drunk and his biscuits have been nibbled. Luckily evidence was left at the scene of the crime - a shoeprint with distinctive wear patterns. She's asking the public to help build up a database of footwear prints. The project is the largest ever study into the variation in footwear marks made by the same shoes across different surfaces and activities so that the variation observed can be used to explore links between the shoe and the mark it makes.
In order to do this, she's asking thousands of individuals to take part in a large-scale citizen science project by taking pictures of their footwear and the marks they make. This will help the Dundee team build a substantial database for use in their research to aid the scientific validation of footwear marks as evidence for use in the criminal justice system. Producer and biscuit thief - Fiona Roberts. UK pollinating insect numbers, Tracking whales using barnacles, Sleep signals. One of the longest running insect pollinator surveys in the world, shows that a few generalist pollinators are on the increase, whereas specialist insects are declining.
Using data collected by volunteers across Great Britain to map the spatial loss of pollinator insect species, the study by the CEH Centre for Ecology and Hydrology measured wild bee and hoverfly species across the country. The results showed that on average, each 1km2 survey patch lost an average of 11 species from Want to know where a whale has been? Just ask the barnacles on its head! When barnacles grow they add to their carbonate shells using compounds from their surroundings. As the whales migrate, the barnacles take up compounds from the different oceanic locations.
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A bit like filling in a travel diary, or collecting passport stamps. If you can decipher the chemical code laid down in the barnacle shells, you can work out where the whale has been on its oceanic migrations. This is what researcher Larry Taylor, at University of California Berkeley, has been doing and he says that the information can even be found in fossilised whales and barnacles. The patterns signals in our brain make when we are falling asleep are quite hard to study.
But thanks to a few people who manage to fall asleep in an FMRi scanner, we now know there are multiple stages of sleep. Professor Morton Kringlebach, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Oxford likens the pattern of brain activity, as it enters the various sleep stages, to the choreography of a dance.
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His friend, Dr. Milton Mermikides at the University of Surrey, goes one further. As a composer and academic expert in jazz, he thought the pattern of brain activity was like chord changes in jazz music. So he put the sleepy brain to music. Marnie listens to the soporific tones and asks if people with disordered sleep, such as insomnia or restless leg syndrome would make different music?
Where next World Wide Web? Space rocks and worms. It's changed a lot since then and not all for the better. Dominant technology companies monopolise our data and many, including Berners-Lee are worried about the growth of state sponsored hacking, misinformation and scamming. One solution is to re-decentralise the web, giving us more control of our information and what is done with it, but at what cost? Founder and director of Redecentralize. Ultima and Thule, make up a bi-lobe comet out in the far reaches of the Solar System in the Kuiper Belt.
Ultima-Thule was visited by the New Horizons mission in January. More data is being analysed and giving scientists insight into how these two planetary building blocks collided and merged and also on how it got its strange flattened shape. Another rock seems to be a rubble pile. The asteroid Ryugu is currently hosting the Japanese Space Agency's Hayabusa 2 spacecraft and landers. Jonathan explains to Gareth what stage the missions' audacious sample collect and return is now at.
The NASA spacecraft analysing the asteroid has observed it shooting out plumes of dust that surround it in a dusty haze. It's a phenomenon never seen in an asteroid before.
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Back down on Earth and under the surface of the earth are the earthworms. As any savvy gardener will know, earthworms make a big difference to the health of soil and plants. To find out, farmers recently undertook to the first worm survey in the UK. Rules and ethics of genome editing, Gender, sex and sport, Hog roasts at Stonehenge.
When the news broke last December that Chinese biophysicist He Jiankui had successfully edited the genomes of twin girls using the technique known as CRISPR-Cas9, scientists and the public were rightly outraged that such a procedure had taken place. Jiankui is currently being investigated by Chinese authorities for breaking legal and ethical guidelines on human genome editing.
This week, in the journal Nature, several top scientists have called for a global moratorium on gene editing in the clinic.
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Which might be surprising, because we thought these rules were already in place. One arena where debates are getting quite heated is sport. In , the International Olympic Committee announced that male-to-female transgender athletes will be allowed to compete in the Tokyo Olympics in , without having gender reassignment surgery.
They do have to demonstrate reduced blood testosterone levels usually achieved through hormone therapy. The festival hog roast has been happening for more than four and a half thousand years. Hundreds of pig bones have been unearthed from henge sites including Durrington Walls near Stonehenge in Wiltshire — and these have helped put together a picture of life in Neolithic Britain, especially when people came together from all over the country, and brought pigs with them for big feasts.
Richard Madgewick at Cardiff University carried out isotopic analysis on the pig bones to work out just how far people travelled with their pigs to attend these social events.
A cure for HIV? Sleepy flies, Secrets of the Fukushima disaster, Science fact checking. An HIV-1 sufferer, who had developed aggressive cancer, and underwent a revolutionary stem cell transplant, has been declared HIV resistant. It's been 18 months since the 'London patient' underwent a stem cell transplant of donated HIV resistant cells. There are no animals that do not need sleep, yet we're still not sure why we need to sleep. Giorgio Gilestro at Imperial College has been trying to find out more about whether lack of sleep shortens lifespan, by bothering fruit flies and stopping them dropping off.
In a carefully designed experiment, he has devised a way of shaking the flies as soon as it looks like they are dropping off. He cannot rule out the benefit of micro-sleep, but it provides tantalising results which could point us in the direction of finally discovering whether we need those 8 precious hours a night. Eight years ago, on 11th March , three of the nuclear reactors overheated and exploded at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. This was following the tsunami that killed around 19, people. The essentials are known — the reactors overheated when the cooling circuits failed.
The overheated steam then broke down into hydrogen and oxygen, which then caught fire and blew the reactor vessels apart. So instead researchers are doing a forensic analysis of the radioactive debris scattered around the reactor sites — some of it at the Diamond X-ray facility just outside Oxford. Roland Pease was waiting in the experimental area as one grain of Fukushima dust was brought in from safe storage.
Concerned about a growing number of spurious scientific claims on products and campaigns against vaccinations and the shape of our planet, climate scientist Ben McNeil decided to do something about it. He has come up with a website where anyone can pose a question for scientists to answer. Falling carbon and rising methane; Unsung heroes at the Crick. Efforts to cut emissions of carbon dioxide CO2 and tackle climate change in many developed economies are beginning to pay off, according to research led by Corinne Le Quere at the Tyndall Centre at the University of East Anglia.
The study suggests that policies supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency are helping to reduce emissions in 18 developed economies. The research team analysed the various reasons behind changes in CO2 emissions in countries where they had declined significantly between and They show that the fall in CO2 emissions was mainly due to renewable energy replacing fossil fuels and to decreasing energy use.
Methane is many times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. However, it breaks down much more quickly than CO2 and is found at much lower levels in the atmosphere. During much of the 20th century levels of methane, mostly from fossil fuel sources like coal and gas, increased in the atmosphere but, by the beginning of the 21st century, they had stabilised. Then, surprisingly, levels starting rising in That increase began to accelerate after and fast growth has continued. Studies suggest these increases are more likely to be mainly biological in origin.
However, the exact cause remains unclear. Some researchers believe the spread of intense farming in Africa may be involved, in particular in tropical regions where conditions are becoming warmer and wetter because of climate change. Rising numbers of cattle — as well as wetter and warmer swamps — are producing more and more methane. Natural chemicals in the atmosphere, which help to break down methane, may be changing because of temperature rises, causing them to lose their ability to deal with the gas.
The Francis Crick Institute is a biomedical discovery institute researching the biology underlying human health.