This Week In IFLScience! – November 22-28

Chinese Flowering Plant Evolves To Stay Hidden From Humans

A new study reports that a plant used in traditional Chinese medicine has evolved to become less visible to humans, suggesting humans are driving the species' color change because camouflaged plants have a better chance of survival. In the new study, scientists have shown that the level of camouflage in the plants was tightly correlated with how heavily it was being harvested in that area.

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Fritillaria delavayi in a population with low harvest pressure. Yang Niu

 

 

Jupiter And Saturn Will Appear Closest In Sky For 800 Years This December

Stargazers are in for a treat this December as celestial gas giants Saturn and Jupiter are having a festive get-together, the closest they’ve been for 800 years. The planets will reach their once-every-20-years conjunction on December 21, which is not only the winter solstice, but their closest alignment since 1226.

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The conjunction of Mars, the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn in an early morning line photographed in Slovakia, March 2020. Majo Chudy/Shutterstock.com

 

 

Carbon Dioxide Levels Hit New Record High, Despite Covid-19 Lockdowns

The World Meteorological Organization (WHO) released their annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin on Monday, revealing that the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in Earth's atmosphere saw another growth spurt in 2019, breaking the global threshold of 410 parts per million (ppm), up from 407.9 parts ppm in 2018. The trend is undeniably being driven by human activity, namely the burning of fossil fuels, industrial activity, and deforestation. 

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APR 25, 2020: Times Square lays empty during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. stockelements/Shutterstock.com

 

 

Anti-Covid Nasal Spray Could Help Shield People From The Virus

A nasal spray that temporarily helps to shield people from Covid-19 is currently being developed by scientists. It works by coating the inside of the nose with special sticky compounds that help to stop the virus from entering the body. The idea is that people could squirt the spray up their nostrils if they’re about to enter a high-risk environment where social distancing is not possible, such as a hospital or on an airplane, to help add a second layer of protection against the virus.

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Optimistically, most of the ingredients are already widely used in medicines and food products. Josep Suria/Shutterstock.com

 

 

Mysterious Metal Monolith Discovered In Remote Utah Desert

The Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS) has found a curious metal monolith that looks like it belongs in a science fiction film planted in a remote part of the state's desert. So far no one has an explanation for why, how, or even how long it has been there. It's probably an obscure art installation, but everyone is very aware of the resemblance to the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and wondering if 2020 still has some cards to play.

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Crew of the Utah DPS didn't know what to make of an object they found in the middle of the desert with no sign of what it is or why it is there. UtahDPS

 

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