Maybe the first life on Earth was part of an ‘RNA world.’
Artur Plawgo/Science Photo Library via Getty Images
Fossil evidence of how the earliest life on Earth came to be is hard to come by. But scientists have come up with a few theories based on the microbes, viruses and prions existing today.
Ancient rocks from Western Australia may not contain the world’s oldest fossils – but they do preserve organic compounds that may have formed the raw materials for the first living cells.
Growing food in space will rely on innovative agricultural technologies.
Agricultural technologies to grow food on Mars can help address climate change, sustainability and food scarcity challenges.
The decreasing ice cover in northern lakes will severely impact the lake ecology as well as winter recreation activities in the northern region.
Lakes in the northern hemisphere are rapidly losing their ice cover due to rising greenhouse gas emissions. The only way to preserve lake ice is to limit GHG emissions and slow down climate change.
Wildfire smoke contains a mixture of toxic pollutants that can be harmful to both the lungs and the brain.
Bloomberg Creative/ Bloomberg Creative Photos via Getty Images
Pollution from more frequent floods and wildfires – exacerbated by the warming climate – is threatening human health and poses particular risks to the brain.
Buoys and underwater probes can measure water quality, like this one outside of Cleveland, Ohio.
(Ed Verhamme, LimnoTech)
A networked array of sensors could warn drinking water utilities in real time of harmful algal blooms and prevent public health crises.
A block of sand particles held together by living cells.
The University of Colorado Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science
Researchers are turning microbes into microscopic construction crews by altering their DNA to make them produce building materials. The work could lead to more sustainable buildings.
Rapid population growth and increased consumption are now seen as the main drivers of environmental changes.
Discussions about climate change often skirt around the issue of population growth, but it is the main driver of rising carbon dioxide levels and many other environmental changes on a planetary scale.
Food packaging is one of the top uses for plastic in consumer goods.
Bio-based plastics made from natural sources break down more easily than conventional plastic, without producing toxic byproducts. But for this to happen they have to be composted, not buried in landfills.
Cyanobacteria filled the ancient oceans and used chlorophyll to harvest the sun’s energy.
Did you recently hear news that Earth’s oldest pigments were hot pink? That’s not quite right. When they were in living bacteria a billion years ago, they were performing photosynthesis – and green.
Following NASA’s latest discovery of organic matter on the red planet, new findings in a salt lake in California could point to where to look for alien life.
Cyanobacterial blooms and algae are common in water bodies around the world. However, Australia is yet to monitor the growth of neurotoxins in our algae.
A toxic chemical produced by algae and linked to motor neuron disease has been detected in NSW rivers. Its presence - long suspected but now confirmed - could be linked to a disease hotspot in the Riverina.
Olympic authorities were quick to deny that the green pool posed a risk to divers’ health, but that actually depends on why the water changed colour.
The possible culprits are: a sudden algae bloom; a change in pool alkalinity; or a chemical reaction in the water. How do these cause a change in the colour of the water?
Pretty, but also pretty nasty.
Willem van Aken/CSIRO/Wikimedia Commons
With El Niño ramping up, Australia is in for a long, hot, dry summer - perfect conditions for blue-green algae. And that innocuous-looking pond scum can pack a toxic punch if you’re not careful.
The Swedish Byfjord: it may look healthy, but has a deep and stifling secret.
Low oxygen levels in the oceans can dramatically change the community of organisms that live there – but new techniques to re-introduce oxygen have given a breath of life to a Swedish fjord.
Chemicals are all around us. They are crucial in all manner of industries, from agriculture to food to cosmetics. Most people give little thought to how these chemicals are made – and certainly very few…