March 3, 2024

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

COVID-19 roundup; record temperatures in Antarctica; and the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life.

This week in your weekly I, Science News RoundUp we continue coverage of COVID-19; the Antarctic reaches record temperatures; and a new project searching for alien life.

Update on COVID-19

Here’s your update on what’s been going on with COVID-19, aka the Wuhan novel coronavirus:

  • A GP practice in Brighton has been temporarily closed after a staff member tests positive;
  • A sharp spike in infections and deaths by COVID-19 was recorded in Hubei province, but the WHO say that despite this there is major shift in the virus’ pattern of mortality or severity;
  • A Chinese tourist in France became the first COVID-19 fatality in Europe;
  • A cruise ship that was feared to have the coronavirus aboard was rejected by 5 countries before being allowed to port in Cambodia;
  • A separate cruise ship in Japan confirms hundreds of cases aboard, and around 40 US citizens from the ship were confirmed to be infected shortly before being evacuated, and so will instead go to hospital in Japan.

Temperatures in Antarctica reach record levels

Seymour Island off the coast of the Antarctic peninsula registered a temperature of 20.75oC – the first time on record a temperature above 20oC has been recorded there.

It breaks the previous record by a full degree, which was previous 19.8oC on Signy Island in 1982.

This follows the highest temperature reading on continental Antarctica of 18.3oC just a few weeks ago on 6 February.

Researchers describe the finding as ‘incredible and abnormal’, but stress that whilst Antarctic has been warming at a fast rate, that this temperature was just one reading and not part of a long-term data set and so in itself cannot be used to predict a trend.

Sweeping the sky for extraterrestrial life

A new project is set to sweep the entire sky in search of intelligent extraterrestrial life for the first time, using 28 giant radio telescopes.

It’s a collaboration between the privately-funded SETI Institute and the Very Large Array (VLA) observatory in New Mexico, which is already performing an all-sky survey. The real-time data from this will then be duplicated and fed through a supercomputer that will analyse it with the express purpose of finding signatures of distant technology.

This is the first project in a wave of initiatives planned by SETI, including a proposed observatory called Panoseti that will be designed to continuously watch a large portion of the sky.

This week’s news was written by Harry Jenkins, who is studying for an MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College London.