Indian Scientists Unearth First Evidence of Ape Presence South of Himalaya

by Vrushal Pendharkar

The Wire | November 23, 2018

For the first time, Indian palaeontologists have unearthed hominoid ape fossils from localities in Gujarat.

The researchers consider the finding to be important because it is the first proof of the presence of apes outside the Himalayas. “Such localities are globally rare and every new locality brings a lot of excitement,” says Ansuya Bhandari, a palaeontologist at the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences, Lucknow, who found the fossil and led the study.

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Here’s How the ‘Brightest’ Object in the Universe Formed

by Andrew Blain

The Wire | November 21, 2018

Active galaxies are some of the most luminous and impressive objects in the sky. They tend to be massive, distant and emit extraordinary amounts of energy as material falls into the supermassive black hole that lurks at their centre. Astronomers have recently discovered that some of them are also hidden from plain view by huge amounts of gas and smoke-like dust. But it is unclear how these rare objects form and feed.

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Farewell to Kepler, the First Great Planet-Hunter

by Prakash Chandra

The Wire | November 19, 2018

NASA has called time on its iconic Kepler Space Telescope. It was the most prolific planet-hunter ever engineered by humans, and it out of fuel after nearly a decade of amazing discoveries. The timing of NASA’s bidding Kepler goodbye – November 15, 2018 – coincides with the 388th death anniversary of Johannes Kepler, the German mathematician discovered the laws of planetary motion. It was after him that the doughty little spacecraft was named.

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Earth Has Many Natural Satellites – but How Many Can Be Called ‘Moons’?

by Vasudevan Mukunth

The Wire | October 09, 2018

National Geographic article published on November 6 carried a surprising headline:

Earth has two extra, hidden ‘moons’

The lede followed through:

Earth’s moon may not be alone. After more than half a century of speculation and controversy, Hungarian astronomers and physicists say they have finally confirmed the existence of two Earth-orbiting “moons” entirely made of dust.

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Science: Found and Lost: An Indian Fossil Hunter’s Chase for Dinosaur Relics

by Anupama Chandrasekaran

The WireOctober 21, 2018

Found and Lost: An Indian Fossil Hunter’s Chase for Dinosaur Relics

The fossil of the cidaris looked like a self-embroidered Christmas ornament. It was the relic of a slate-pencil sea urchin, or cidaris, a punk-styled marine critter. Alive, it looks like a golf ball with spikes, or a comic-book version of an exploding firecracker.

Vishal Verma, a 48-year-old fossil-hunter and conservationist, was rummaging through an overcrowded closet, sifting through a wobbly pile of electrical-fan cartons. They were now stuffed with fossils of ancient life, some wrapped in plastic, others in old newspapers.

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9,000+ scientists defend Endangered Species Act in letter to Trump administration

by Olivia Rosane

People’s World | September 25, 2018

9,000+ scientists defend Endangered Species Act in letter to Trump administration

A young Florida Panther, one of the many endangered species in the U.S. according to the Center for Biological Diversity. | Florida Fish and Wildlife

Thousands of scientists have signed two letters opposing changes to the Endangered Species Act proposed by the Trump administration that critics say would weaken protections in favor of developers, Reuters reported Monday.

The proposed changes were announced by the Interior and Commerce Departments in July, and include axing the “blanket rule’ granting threatened species the same protections as endangered species and removing language telling officials not to consider economic impacts when listing a species.Read More »

Microbes are Striking Back

by Amit Sengupta

People’s DemocracyJuly 29, 2018

THE development of new knowledge is a fascinating exercise. Since humans evolved, they have been driven by curiosity to learn more and more about nature. Over time the knowledge accumulated came to be systematised and this is what we call science. The hunger for knowledge deepened and expanded our collective understanding of nature. This knowledge is utilised to create tools and other artifacts that humans use to improve conditions of living. Science has always been a collective activity, though under capitalism today there are attempts by corporations to claim ownerships over knowledge through the exercise of intellectual property rights – in the form of patents, copyrights, etc.Read More »