Follow-up of popular science stories of 2008

December 31st, 2008 - 3:02 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 31 (ANI): Nature magazine has followed up on some popular scientific news stories of 2008, to find out what happened next.

The selected stories are:

Seed store puts on weight: The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a bunker designed to keep samples of the worlds seeds safe at 18 degree Celsius, opened in February 2008 in northern Norway. Since then, it has received a further 4 tonnes of seeds, bringing its collection up to 15 tonnes. That makes a grand total of 320,554 seed samples from 2938 different plant species, deposited by 220 different countries.

Science in Georgia: Following the GeorgianRussian conflict in August, science in Georgia has recovered well, and surprisingly quickly. Seventy-two field projects had been stopped after Russian troops occupied large parts of the former Soviet republic. The situation has thankfully normalized, and of mid-December, all but nine of the temporarily suspended individual research projects had been resumed.

The Pentagons destroyed satellite: In February 2008, the United States shot down one of its own spy satellites that had malfunctioned at launch. The strike came just over a year after a similar Chinese test created a cloud of dangerous space debris and a storm of international protest. The destroyed US satellite didnt create a lasting cloud of junk because it was in a low, decaying orbit. In fact, all 173 pieces of debris large enough to be catalogued have since re-entered the atmosphere.

The political fallout continues: The European Union (EU) has tabled a draft code of conduct for outer-space activities, which would ban anti-satellite weapons. But, this ban could be increasingly difficult to pass if testing continues, according to David Wright, an analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, a watchdog group based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Where did all of Beijings bad air go: Not one day of the Olympic and Paralympic competitions surpassed 100 on Beijings Air Pollution Index (API), the level considered by the Chinese government to pose a health risk. However, the legacy of Olympic policies is helping. Beijing is still keeping 20 percent of its cars off the road each day, down from 50 percent during the games, a policy that will continue indefinitely. The permanent removal of some factories is also having long-term effects on air quality.

The amazing dancing cockatoo: In June 2008, it was reported that a cockatoo named Snowball genuinely dances in time to music. The cockatoos many fans, entranced by his YouTube performances, now send him music to expand his horizons. As Snowball expands his range of dance moves, he may even make an aerobics DVD. (ANI)

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