The Blue Files | Episode 10

[As Featured In Episode 10]

Back From The Brink Of Extinction?

Researchers say they are inching closer to saving the Northern White Rhino from extinction.

It is believed that there are only two of the rhino species left alive on the planet, largely due to poaching. The female Rhinos are Najin and her daughter, Fatu, who both live in a conservation park in Kenya. The last male Northern White, Sudan, died in March of 2018. 

Using eggs taken from the females and inseminated with frozen sperm from dead males, researchers have successfully created a third embryo that will eventually be transferred into a surrogate mother — a Southern White Rhino.

The ultimate goal is to create a herd of at least five of the animals that could be returned to their natural habitat in Africa. The process could take decades.

Trifecta of Trouble

A trifecta of interacting elements is causing the collapse of global biodiversity and ecosystems across the tropics, says a new study. The threat is a combination of climate change, extreme weather and human activity, say researchers. The study published in late January, maps over 100 locations where tropical forests and coral reefs are overcome by climate extremes such as hurricanes, floods, heatwaves, droughts and fires.

Experts involved in the study claim the only way to prevent further damage is to cut carbon dioxide emissions. They stress the urgent need for all nations to act to conserve tropical forests and coral reefs for future generations.

Lead researcher, Dr. Filipe França says, “Many local threats to tropical forests and coral reefs, such as deforestation, overfishing, and pollution, reduce the diversity and functioning of these ecosystems, which in turn, can make them less able to withstand or recover from extreme weather.”

In some regions, such as the Caribbean Islands, extreme weather events have decimated wildlife, reducing numbers by more than half. Scientists from eight universities and research institutions, in three different countries, carried out the study.

Tire Tech

A team of chemists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, may have discovered a solution to a global problem.  

Billions of vehicle tires are manufactured worldwide. The round rubber typically ends up in massive landfills or storage facilities, because there are few cost effective methods of recycling. 

Showing some promise, a team from the Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology at McMaster have found a way to dissolve the rubber. The group uses a unique process that breaks down the sulfur-to-sulfur bond. Michael Brook, author of the study, compared the rubber’s structure to a fishnet or fabric. The chemical catalyst that the team uses is like a type of “molecular scissor” that cuts through the threads in one direction, so that the net becomes a series of ropes, which can then be processed and efficiently recycled. 

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