I, Science News – 4 March 2019

First up, all has gone smoothly for the first privately launched rocket out of the US. SpaceX’s unmanned Crew Dragon capsule has successfully launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, and has now docked semi-autonomously with the international space station. This milestone test flight will be used to check crucial systems and operations, paving the way for humans to be aboard the first manned SpaceX mission, which is scheduled for July.

 

Next, the Trump administration is making plans to set up a working group of federal scientists to re-evaluate the evidence for climate change. The new committee, working under the US National Security Council so as to avoid public scrutiny, usually required of government advisory committees, has concerned many in the environmental sector as it will be hearing evidence from well-known sceptics of manmade global warming. Specifically, it will be championed by William Happer, a physicist who has disputed the damaging impact that carbon emissions are having on the Earth’s atmosphere.

 

And finally, a study of the television-watching habits of the over-50s has been published this week, which suggests that the more TV you watch, the more likely your memory is the suffer. Researchers at UCL followed 3662 UK adults and found that when watching TV for more than 3 and a half hours a day there was a dose-dependent decline in verbal memory over the course of 6 years. The study was published in Nature’s Scientific Reports journal, and is the first of its kind to follow such a large cohort of older individuals in the UK. It could form the basis for new guidelines for the over-50s who are keen to take measures to avoid cognitive decline.

 

Before I hand back to the rest of the team, you’ll be glad to know that the Hayabusa 2 mission to Ryugu from the last weekly round up was a success.

 

 

This week’s news was presented by Harry Lampert and written by Madeleine Openshaw, who are studying for a MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College London.

Banner image: Child watching TV, Pixabay

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