Yes, we are causing Earth’s latest mass extinction event through habitat destruction, climate change, and so on and so forth, but every now and then, we find out that life, uh, finds a way to avoid us. This summer, it was announced that a remarkable 381 new species had been discovered in the Amazon Rainforest over the last two years alone, which roughly equates to one new species every two days.
These included new river dolphins, monkeys, birds, reptiles, plants, and more. It’s another reminder that this planet isn’t just ours – we may be the planetary kingmakers, but we have a responsibility to live conscientiously alongside a plethora of life, including these newly found critters.
Gene therapy may be a relatively nascent field of research, but already it’s managing to save lives. Two babies suffering from acute lymphocytic leukemia – one that’s notoriously aggressive and difficult to treat – were given a second chance at life when white blood cells, taken from healthy donors, were tweaked and given to these young patients in a novel form of treatment.
Although they initially reacted a little negatively to these “alien” white blood cells, ultimately they were found to have no signs of the leukemia they were once afflicted by. A year on from treatment, they’re doing well.
Peering inside the famous Egyptian pyramids is not exactly easy; they’re complex structures and parts are fragile or otherwise thoroughly blocked off. An intrepid team of international researchers decided to change the rules of the game by using particles given off by cosmic ray interactions with our atmosphere – muons – to indirectly see what may lie within.
Their work, on the bleeding edges of science, recently uncovered a huge void within Khufu’s Pyramid, also known as the Great Pyramid of Giza. At present, it’s unclear as to what it is, but it’s safe to say that this discovery – which combined physics and archaeology to stunning effect – has set a considerable fire in our collective imaginations.