Author: Monique Conrod

A North Atlantic Right Whale and its calf. Image: www.nmfs.nooaa.gov
Animals Environment News

Endangered Right Whale Population is Growing

North Atlantic Right Whales are one of the most endangered whale species in the world.

But now their numbers are growing again, thanks to a plan to keep large ships away from the whales’ nursery and feeding grounds.

For many years the whales were hunted for their oil. Hunting was banned in 1937, but by the 1990s there were only a few hundred North Atlantic Right Whales left.

The whales live in the Atlantic Ocean, off the eastern coast of Canada and the United States. They spend the winters in warm southern waters, where most calves are born, then migrate north in the spring.

Many Right Whales spend each summer and fall in the Bay of Fundy, a large inlet of the Atlantic Ocean between the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The water there has large amounts of plankton – tiny organisms that are an important part of the whales’ diet.

Nutella. Image: A. Kniesel
Health Kids News

Nutella Is Not A Health Food

The company that makes Nutella, a spread made from chocolate and hazelnuts, has agreed to give refunds to people who bought the product because they thought it was good for them.

Four women in the United States sued the company, Ferrero U.S.A., Inc., because they said it made misleading claims about the product. Television commercials for Nutella describe it as part of a balanced breakfast, along with toast, milk and fruit.

The women said they bought Nutella because they believed it was a healthy food to give their families. Then they found out that the spread contains large amounts of sugar and fat. Eating too much fat and sugar can contribute to obesity – being overweight — which is not good for your health.

A technical illustration of the space station. Image: NASA
News Science Technology

Students’ Experiments To Be Conducted In Space

Three students have won the chance to have science experiments they created carried out by astronauts in space.

The students won an international competition called the YouTube Space Lab Contest. Last October, students around the world aged 14 to 18 were invited to come up with ideas for experiments that could be performed on the International Space Station.

The space station is a satellite that orbits the Earth. It includes a research laboratory where astronauts from the United States, Russia, Japan, Europe and Canada conduct experiments. Because there is no gravity on the space station, they are able to do experiments they could not do on Earth.

For the contest, students had to make a video explaining their hypothesis – the idea they wanted to test – and the method for doing the experiment. Then they posted the videos on YouTube.

Winners were chosen by people voting on YouTube, and by a panel of judges that included scientists, teachers, astronauts and journalists.

Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan in front of the Lockheed Electra, 1937. Public domain image..
News Technology

New Information In Amelia Earhart Mystery

An old photograph may solve the mystery of what happened to Amelia Earhart, the famous pilot who disappeared on a round-the-world flight 75 years ago.

Earhart was the first woman to fly alone across North America and back, and the first woman to fly alone across the Atlantic Ocean without stopping.

In 1937, she and a navigator, Fred Noonan, set out to fly around the world. They had travelled more than two-thirds of the way when their plane disappeared over the Pacific Ocean. Ships and airplanes searched the area, but they were unable to find any trace of the plane or its crew.

What happened to them has remained a mystery. One theory is that the plane ran out of fuel and was forced to land on a tiny island called Nikumaroro, about halfway between Australia and Hawaii.

An organization called The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR; pronounced “tiger”) has been searching for Earhart’s plane. The group has an old photograph of Nikumaroro that was taken about three months after the plane disappeared.

Recently, they used new technology to make the picture clearer. Now they believe that a dark shape in the picture, sticking up out of the water, may be part of Earhart’s plane.

The gnome in Japan
News Science Technology

Nomadic Gnome Puts Gravity To The Test

A plastic garden gnome is travelling around the world to help demonstrate how the pull of gravity changes in different locations.

Gravity is the force that attracts a person or an object to the centre of the Earth. It keeps us on the ground, and it also determines how much we weigh.

Gravity may be slightly stronger or weaker depending on where you are, which means things weigh different amounts in different places on Earth.

The difference is so small – 0.5 per cent or less – that most people using ordinary scales wouldn’t even notice it.

For example, if you weigh 40 kilograms, the difference would be no more than 200 grams higher or lower, depending on where you were.

But even such a small difference would matter to scientists who need to be very accurate when measuring amounts of chemicals for an experiment or comparing weights of different objects.

Above is a cross-section of where Lake Vostok was found. The lake is believed to be the size of Lake Ontario. Image: US National Science Foundation
Environment News Science

Does Ancient Antarctic Lake Hold Secrets To Life In Outer Space?

A team of Russian scientists in Antarctica has found an ancient lake buried under more than three kilometres of ice.

The lake – Lake Vostok – has been sealed off from the rest of the world for at least 15 million years.

Scientists think the lake may contain tiny organisms, like bacteria, which are not found anywhere else on earth.

If the organisms exist in the lake, it would be because they have been able to adapt to living in the darkness, saltiness and extreme cold of the hidden lake. In that case, they would likely have developed special features that no other organisms on earth have.

A reconstruction of what Ötzi might have looked like. The reconstruction is by Kennis © South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, Photo Ochsenreiter
News Science Technology

DNA Reveals Clues About “Ötzi The Iceman”

Scientists studying a 5,000-year-old mummy have learned that the man had brown eyes and hair and that he couldn’t digest milk. They also think he may have relatives alive today.

The mummy is nicknamed “Ötzi the Iceman.” He was discovered in 1991 by two people hiking in the Alps in Italy.

By examining the body, scientists found that Ötzi (pronounced “`oetsi”) died from an arrow wound about 5,300 years ago. His body was preserved by ice and snow.

They discovered that he about 45 years old when he died, 1.6 metres tall and weighed 50 kilograms. He wore a goatskin coat, had shoes made from grass and deerskin, and he carried a bow, an arrow and some tools.

Recently scientists have learned even more about the Iceman, by studying his DNA. DNA is a collection of molecules that contains information about the characteristics of an individual plant or animal. This information is stored in the cells that make up each individual.

Photo: Frank Glaw
Animals Environment News

World’s Smallest Chameleon Discovered

Scientists have discovered a chameleon so small it could sit on your little finger.

The chameleon, which is about three centimetres long, lives on a small island called Nosy Hara, off the coast of Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean.

It is the smallest chameleon and possibly the smallest reptile ever discovered. It lives among rocks and leaves on the forest floor. At night it sleeps on plants, about five to 10 centimetres above the ground.

It is mostly grey and brown with an orange tail, and it doesn’t change colour like most chameleons do. The scientists say this is because it’s already the right colour to blend in with its surroundings.

Cycad at the royal palace grounds, Laung Prabang, Laos
Environment News Science

12-Million-Year-Old Plant May Soon Be Extinct

Cycads, a very rare type of plant, are in danger of becoming extinct because of poachers.

Poaching usually means to hunt animals illegally. In this case, trees are being taken from the wild.

They are then secretly sold for a lot of money – up to $100,000 each – to people who collect unusual plants.

The first cycads existed during the time of the dinosaurs, during the Jurassic period. The kinds of cycads that are alive today have been around for 12 million years.

They look like a cross between a fern and a palm tree, and they can take hundreds of years to grow to their full size.

Professional hockey players, like Sidney Crosby, are required to wear helmets every time they play hockey. Image: VancityAllie.
Health News Sports

Skiing, Snowboarding Cause Most Winter Sports Injuries In Canada

Last winter, more than 5,600 Canadians ended up in the hospital with an injury from hockey, skiing or another winter sport.

That information comes from a new report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

Most of the injuries were from skiing and snowboarding. More than 2,300 Canadians went to the hospital after they had an accident in either of those sports.

Hockey (1,114 injuries) and snowmobiling (1,126) were next on the list of injury-causing sports.