A bacterium that feeds on toxic plastic has been discovered by scientists. The bug not only breaks the plastic down but uses it as food to power the process. The bacterium, which was found at a waste site where plastic had been dumped, is the first that is known to attack polyurethane. More than 8bn tonnes of plastic has been produced since the 1950s and most has ended up polluting the world’s land and oceans.
Experts have discovered a fossil of the world’s oldest known modern bird – a diminutive creature about half the size of a mallard duck. Dubbed the Wonderchicken, the remains were found in rocks dating to about 66.8m to 66.7m years ago, revealing that the bird was active shortly before the asteroid strike that wiped out the dinosaurs 66m years ago.
Scientists have detected evidence of a colossal explosion in space – five times bigger than anything observed before. The huge release of energy is thought to have emanated from a supermassive black hole some 390 million light years from Earth. The eruption is said to have left a giant dent in the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster. Researchers reported their findings in The Astrophysical Journal.
A visiting mini-moon is circling Earth, according to astronomers who discovered the cosmic squatter in our planet’s orbit. The tiny asteroid, dubbed 2020 CD3, was spotted by astronomers in Tucson, Arizona, on Feb. 15. “BIG NEWS,” Kacper Wierzchos, a researcher with the Catalina Sky Survey at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Lab, tweeted Tuesday. “Earth has a new temporarily captured object/Possible mini-moon called 2020 CD3.”
Astronomers have detected alien signals – that is, signals from a foreign galaxy – being emitted in an unusually regular 16-day cycle. Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are not in and of themselves unusual, but previous observations have shown them to be mostly emitted at random. The origin of FRBs hasn’t been established yet, although the dominant theories regarding them suggest the signals are produced by rapidly rotating bodies such as neutron stars or black holes.
The Solar Orbiter has blasted off from Florida on its way to unlock the mysteries of the Sun. Nearly 1,000 scientists and engineers from Europe joined their US colleagues to watch the United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket set off on its £1.3bn mission. The Solar Orbiter will take two years to reach the Sun before circling it 22 times, sending back high-resolution photos and measuring solar wind.
More than a thousand scientists have built the most detailed picture of cancer ever in a landmark study. They said the cancer was like a 100,000-piece jigsaw, and that until today, 99% of the pieces were missing. Their studies, published in the journal Nature, provide an almost complete picture of all cancers. They could allow treatment to be tailored to each patient’s unique tumor, or develop ways of finding cancer earlier.
SpaceX has blown up a rocket to test an astronaut escape system as part of the company’s final trial before it can fly manned missions. A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral on Sunday. To test the emergency abort system, the capsule boosted off from the Falcon 9 just over a minute later. The rest of the rocket then deliberately shut off its engines and descended into a fiery blast.
Measles causes long-term damage to the immune system, leaving children who have had it vulnerable to other infections long after the initial illness has passed, research has revealed. Two studies of unvaccinated children in an Orthodox Protestant community in the Netherlands found that measles wipes out the immune system’s memory of previous illnesses, returning it to a more baby-like state.
Today, NASA unveiled its designs for future spacesuits that astronauts will wear during trips to the lunar surface. The suits are still in development, but NASA claims they’ll be ready to keep astronauts alive in space by 2024 — the space agency’s deadline to return humans to the Moon. These new ensembles are upgraded so that astronauts wearing them can live and work on the Moon.