Sci/Tech briefs

Robotic fish detect pollution in water

British scientists have developed robotic carp-shaped fish that can detect pollutants in water.
The robots exhibit movement similar to fish and are equipped with chemical sensors that allow them to detect pollutants from leaks in ships and underwater pipes.
The robots then transmit signals back to land through a Wi-Fi system. In addition, the fish do not need a remote control for navigation and are able to move underwater independently. Each fish is about the size of a seal and costs $29,000.

The fish will first be tested in the sea near northern Spain. If the trials of the first five fish are successful, the team hopes to use the fish in rivers, lakes, and seas all over the world.

Source: Reuters

Astronomers detect saltwater on Mars

Scientists from the University of Michigan have discovered droplets of salt water present on the leg of the Mars Phoenix Lander.
The results were based on pictures of the Phoenix lander, in which droplets appeared to coalesce on the leg of the rover.

Previously, scientists believed that water was present on Mars in the form of ice or vapor, but these findings suggest that liquid water is present on the planet.
The scientists believe that constant temperature changes in certain regions of Mars and the presence of salt in the water prevents it from freezing. This increases the chances of having life on Mars, as liquid water is an essential component for life to exist.

Source: ScienceDaily

Study proves bird species endangered

A recent study called “The U.S. State of the Birds,” shows that one third of the 800 bird species in the U.S. are endangered.
The study concludes that causes for the declining population of birds include such problems as pollution and habitat destruction.
The report claims that over the last 40 years, the population of grassland birds has reduced by 40 percent and that of arid land birds has reduced by 30 percent.
The report showed that the situation is especially dire in Hawaii, which once contained more that one third of all the American bird species.

Now, most of the Hawaiian bird species are endangered. Scientists believe that extensive climate change will make the situation worse, and that this problem needs to be worked on.

Source: The New York Times

Scientists discover new bacteria

Scientists from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) have discovered three new species of bacteria in the upper layers of the Earth’s stratosphere that are resistant to ultraviolet radiation.
The bacteria were discovered in samples collected by a balloon sent by ISRO in the stratosphere.

The samples retrieved by the ISRO contained 12 bacterial colonies and six fungal colonies.
Out of these colonies, three were of bacteria that had not been previously discovered. Scientists believe that this could be an indication of the presence of extraterrestrial life.