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What is the latest theory about the end of the Universe?

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A “galactic lens” has revealed that the Universe will probably expand forever.

Astronomers used the way that light from distant stars was distorted by a huge galactic cluster known as Abell 1689 to work out the amount of dark energy in the cosmos.

Dark energy is a mysterious force that speeds up the expansion of the Universe.

Understanding the distribution of this force revealed that the likely fate of the Universe was to keep on expanding.

It will eventually become a cold, dead wasteland, researchers say.

More detail here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11030889

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What is happening to all the plastic we throw away?

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The amount of floating plastic trapped in a north Atlantic current system hasn’t got any bigger in 22 years, despite more and more plastic being thrown away.

Since 1986 students taking samples of plankton in the Atlantic and Caribbean Oceans have also noted when their nets caught plastic debris. Kara Lavender and colleagues at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, analysed the data, and found that of 6136 samples recorded, more than 60 per cent included pieces of plastic, typically just millimetres across. The areas of highest plastic concentration are within the north Atlantic subtropical gyre, where currents gather the debris.
Lavender and her team were surprised to find that the amount of floating plastic had not increased in the gyre. Although it has been illegal since the 1970s for ships to throw plastic overboard, Lavender thinks that the overall rate of plastic rubbish reaching the ocean will have increased, given the fivefold increase in global production of plastic since 1976.

Further details here: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19340

What effect will the increasing global temperature have on plant life?

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Rising temperatures reducing ability of plants to absorb carbon, study warns – http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/aug/19/rising-temperatures-plants-carbon

Sperm Whale Faeces can reduce effect of CO2 on climate change

Sperm whale faeces may help oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the air, scientists say.

Australian researchers calculate that Southern Ocean sperm whales release about 50 tonnes of iron every year.

This stimulates the growth of tiny marine plants – phytoplankton – which absorb CO2 during photosynthesis.

The process results in the absorption of about 400,000 tonnes of carbon – more than twice as much as the whales release by breathing, the study says.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/science_and_environment/10323987.stm

Synthetic Cell has been made in USA

“Researchers in the US have developed the first synthetic living cell. Their work, which many scientists have called a landmark study, is a key step towards the design and creation of new living things.” (from BBC News)

The scientists made the DNA in the cells from chemicals in the lab and inserted this synthetic DNA into a bacteria. The bacteria then became the first man-made living organism.

Ethical worries: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8696046.stm

Q&A: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/science_and_environment/10134341.stm

News Story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/science_and_environment/10132762.stm

Did Tomorrow’s World get their predictions right?

Check out the BBC archives and see predictions from Tomorrow’s World dating back to 1965. How much did they get right? What did they see 2010 as being like? Did people really have hair like that in the 70s and 80s?

Investigate these and many other questions with this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/tomorrowsworld/

Earth Hour 8.30pm 27/03/10

“On Saturday 27 March 2010 at 8.30pm, we want a billion people around the world to switch off their lights for one hour – WWF’s Earth Hour. Show you care about climate change.”

http://earthhour.wwf.org.uk/