Here are some brief reports about science and technology from around the world, including one from Panama about the toll lightning takes on tropical trees.
I’m Scientific American assistant news editor Sarah Lewin Frasier. And here’s a short piece from the December 2020 issue of the magazine, in the section called Advances: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Science, Technology and Medicine.
The article is titled “Quick Hits,” and it’s a rundown of some noncoronavirus stories from around the globe.
Western Joshua trees will get a year of temporary endangered species status in California while the state considers permanently listing the distinctive succulents as the first-ever plant species protected because of climate change–related threat.
A tropical forest ground survey revealed that one lightning strike often damages more than 20 trees, a quarter of which can die within a year. Researchers combined this finding with satellite data to estimate that lightning kills 200 million tropical trees worldwide every year—a significant cause of their demise.
Climate researchers discovered records of an automatic weather station that measured −93.3 degrees Fahrenheit one day in December 1991—a temperature colder than the average on Mars and the coldest ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere.
Scientists have examined a shark found south of Sardinia that somehow survived to three years old without skin or teeth. They concluded it was a genetic mutation and plan to check nearby sediment for potential pollutant causes.
Newly discovered and pristinely preserved fossils suggest two sleeping dinosaurs were buried alive in an underground burrow 125 million years ago. The burrow may have collapsed under volcanic debris.
A new study shows how Australian grasslands’ strange barren patches—called fairy circles—are landscaped by the grasses themselves. Baking heat creates a hard clay crust over a patch of ground; water runs off of it, forming a more welcoming zone at its edges that grasses bolster as they grow and cool the soil.
That was “Quick Hits.” I’m Sarah Lewin Frasier.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]