Hazard Mapping the Guatemalan Volcano
Hazard Mapping the Guatemalan Volcano. Also electric fog nets, bacteria fishing for DNA and difficulties in researching the therapeutic effects of cannabis
Volcanologist Eliza Calder explains why the eruption of Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala on 3rd June was so devastating. It left at least 110 people dead and over 200 people missing. It’s thought that the local populations were so acclimatised to the rumblings and explosions of the ‘persistently active’ volcano, that they were slow to take action when it violently erupted.
Electric Fog Nets
Nets strung up to capture water droplets in the form of fog and mist are an old technology for getting fresh water in dry parts of the world. But they are ‘passive’ they rely on the water droplets in the air randomly coming into contact with the net. But new work by MIT engineer Kripa Varanasi has shown that if you apply an electrostatic force to the net, it ‘actively’ attracts the charged water droplets to it. Thereby increasing the amount of water collected.
Fishing for DNA
Bacteria have the remarkable ability to take up DNA from their surroundings and incorporate it into their genomes. This ability allows the organisms to introduce variation and traits into their genetic code – traits such as antibiotic resistance or virulence. The trouble is, microbiologists knew little about how they performed this important procedure known as ‘natural transformation’. But now a group of scientists in the US have filmed (under very high magnification) the moment a bacterium reaches out with a special filament appendage (called a pilus) to snatch a piece of free floating DNA from its surroundings. And it looks a lot like going fishing!
Regulating Research on Cannabis
Using cannabis and other illegal drugs in science – do regulations of illegal drugs hinder legitimate medical research?
Picture: Fuego Volcano aftermath, Credit: European Photopress Agency
Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Fiona Roberts