Weekly Science Newsletter #1: Mercury, Climate Change, and Coronavirus

Christopher Owen

Possible Signs of Life Have Been Discovered on Mercury

Mercury is the smallest planet and the closest to the sun. The planet’s surface is strewn with rocky craters and sweltering temperatures that can be as high as 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Although these conditions are not ideal to sustain life, scientists recently unveiled a discovery of potential signs of life. A research team found water and ice at the poles of Mercury and another team found trace amounts of “life essential chemicals” on the planet, according to NPR’s Science Friday podcast. Now that these life-sustaining resources have been discovered, scientists are hypothesizing that Mercury is a habitable planet in the case that Earth becomes unsafe to live on. However, there is one more challenge: in order to adapt to the planet’s extreme environment, major technological advancements will need to be made in the field of aerospace engineering. 

 

New Studies Show That Air Pollution Has Made COVID-19 More Deadly

Medical experts have determined that people with heart and respiratory problems are at a greater risk of infection by COVID-19. Scientists have already associated these pre-existing conditions with the high levels of air pollution in our atmosphere, but recently have wondered something else: are individuals living in regions with poorer air quality more prone to severe cases of COVID-19? As COVID-19 continues to impact people all over the world, scientists are investigating whether being in an area with poor air quality is just as risky as having a respiratory or cardiovascular handicap. In countries such as England, China, Italy (north) and the United States, cities with the highest COVID-19 death rates also have the worst air quality. Researchers determined that PM2.5 air pollution particles, which are emitted through burning materials, can cause an increased risk of heart attacks, worsen asthma symptoms, lead to premature death in people with heart or lung disease, create airway irritation, and decrease lung function when inhaled over extended periods of time.

 

Our Climate is Getting Worse, But Can we Make it Better?

Climate change has been the focus of scientific research and advocacy for years. Teen activists have recently brought climate change to global attention and the issue is more important now than ever. In a Science Friday podcast, climate experts discussed how we must change our eco-habits and become more aware of how they harm the environment. The experts claimed that we still possess the ability to reverse the effects of climate change if we take action now: if not, the Earth will become warmer, more species will die out and ecosystems around the world will deteriorate. Environmental scientists are continuously researching actions to take in order to help mitigate the effects of global warming. Although most of us don’t have access to scientific-grade resources, we can still make a difference in our own lives. Transitioning away from fossil fuels, being mindful of pollution levels and allocating more resources towards restoring destroyed forests/ecosystems are just a few of the many actions we can take to prevent climate change and global warming from further damaging our planet.