Dec. 17, 2020, 1:22 p.m.View more articles
This month on Newsdesk: Great white sharks get tracked by drones, tyre microplastics get recycled and a huge seed bank stores billions of seeds.
The beaches of southern California are very popular with swimmers and surfers, but beachgoers have to share the waters with some sharp toothed locals – great white sharks!
Although the sharks are rarely a threat to humans, they can still be dangerous, so it’s best if they can be avoided. Therefore, a group of researchers have come up with a solution that will help people stay out of the sharks’ way – a shark-spotting drone!
The drone hovers 120 feet above the beach and detects the outline of a shark in the water. Monitoring the drone’s video feed, the pilot is then able to alert beachgoers to the presence of sharks.
This gives swimmers plenty of time to leave the water, allowing people and sharks to safely share the sunny California coastline!
Tiny pieces of plastic pollution called microplastics can be found all over the world – and more than half of them come from car tyres!
The tiny particles of man-made plastic rubber are produced whenever a car speeds up, or brakes. Now, a team of students from the Dyson School of Engineering at Imperial College London have invented a device that will catch the particles before they can increase levels of pollution.
Using static electricity, thin copper sheets attract the plastic particle, in the same way that a balloon is able to attract hair. The device is designed to fit behind each wheel of a car. When the car drives around, the microplastics are caught!
Not only does the device help to decrease levels of microplastic pollution, it also enables the tiny pieces of plastic to be recycled and turned into new products – like brand new tyres!
There are over 390,000 species of plants around the world, but more than a third are at risk of extinction. However, for the past twenty years, scientists in the UK have been working to protect thousands of plant species.
They have built a giant seed bank – a hi-tech storage facility that now holds more than 2.4 billion seeds! The seed bank aims to conserve the seeds, creating a backup supply of plant species. If any rare and endangered plants disappear in the wild, they won’t be lost to science forever.
The seeds are stored in a network of sub-zero vaults, and the freezing temperatures ensure the seeds don’t rot and can survive for a long time.
As well as storing seeds for the future, scientists at the seed bank also carry out lots of experiments – investigating whether seeds could help humans develop new crops, produce new medicines, or restore habitats damaged by climate change.
Learn more about great white sharks and how they’ve evolved to become one of the world’s best predators by watching the Twig Film Super predators.
For more great topical science content, visit Twig Science Reporter where you'll also find videos, transcripts and lesson support to accompany this article.