This Week In Science!


Philip Brayne

Creative Services Assistant

clockSep 10 2021, 12:40 UTC

“You Bloody Fool” Shouts First Confirmed Talking Duck 

A duck named Ripper has done something never before recorded among any waterfowl: imitate sounds. Ripper was an Australian musk duck, a species where males perform displays to attract females and warn off rivals. Instead of singing the song of his people, however, Ripper took to other sounds. These included the hinge of his cage closing while another sounds like “You bloody foo...”. His keeper may have called him a “bloody fool” often enough it sank in. 

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Watch A Plane Make Aviation History In Nail-Biting World-First Tunnel Flight 

Dario Costa, stunt pilot from Italy, flew in an aircraft through two of the Çatalca Tunnels near the Turkish capital of Istanbul on Saturday, September 4, 2021. He averaged a blistering speed of 245 kilometers (152 miles) per hour, breaking multiple records. This is the first time an airplane has ever flown through a tunnel, plus the first airplane flight through two tunnels and the longest flight under a solid obstacle. 

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World’s Largest Carbon Capture Plant Switched On In Iceland 

A machine capable of removing 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the air each year has just been switched on in Iceland. Constructed by Swiss company Climeworks, Orca uses fans to draw air into eight large metal boxes. Highly selective filters inside these collector units then capture carbon dioxide on their surfaces. This carbon dioxide is then dissolved in water and buried deep inside the basalt rock formations that lie underground. 

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Film Of The Last Captive Tasmanian Tiger Colorized For The First Time 

Originally in black and white, a film of Benjamin – the last confirmed thylacine who died on September 7, 1936 – has been colorized and released. This coincides with the 85th anniversary of the event, as well as National Threatened Species Day, which Australia holds in commemoration of Benjamin on September 7 each year. Samuel François-Steininger colorized footage of Benjamin taken in 1933, drawing on sketches, paintings and written descriptions. 

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Cuba Becomes First Country To Mass Vaccinate Toddlers Against COVID-19 

Vaccination of children 12 and older began in Cuba on Sunday, according to government-controlled media outlets, and will be extended to those aged 2-11 next week. However,  reports say that in the province of Cienfuegos younger vaccinations have already begun. This makes Cuba the first country to vaccinate children aged two and up against COVID-19 outside a scientific trial. The vaccine being used is one of the island nation's own making, rather than one of those widely used elsewhere. 

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FEATURE ARTICLE: Physicists’ Kickstarter Campaign Aims To Test Whether We Are Living In A Simulation

If we were in a hyper-realistic simulation, à la The Matrix, would it be possible to find out? A team of physicists believes so, and are even funding an experiment with a Kickstarter campaign to find out. Whether it's possible even test this, how, and what are the consequences of finding out are all big questions waiting to be explored. If we are, do we want to know?