Shots of Science – Chimps obey Safe Cross Code

The Blob

Duzzy the Sea Lion at the Marine Mammal Center in California
Duzzy the sea Lion rescued by the Marine Mammal Center in California

It sounds like a bad sci-fi movie but in the Pacific ocean there is a patch scientists called ‘The Blob’ that is threatening marine life. ‘The Blob’ is a rough circle that is growing and now 100 metres deep and 2000 kms wide according to research published in Geophysical Research Letters. The water within the blob zone is 1-4 degrees warmer than normal and, while this may not seem like much, most ocean inhabitants have evolved to live in very specific temperature conditions. As a result marine life has become seriously endangered. One very noticeable occurrence caused by the blob effect is the presence of starving sea lions on the Californian coast because their regular nourishment sources have dropped in number. Some other species are adapting and migrating and fishermen have spotted warm water species in unusual regions of Alaska. The warmed ocean is speculated to also have effects on inland climate and the Pacific Northwest endured unusual thunder and lighting storms last summer which resulted in forest fires. Earth day takes place this week on Wednesday 22nd and the effect of climate change on the sea is a major area of concern. Check out HeadStuff Science on Wednesday for our Earth Day coverage.

The Safe Cross Code

Scientists studying chimpanzees in the wild have captured a young chimp on camera looking both ways before crossing a road. The scientists surveying chimp behaviour while negotiating man-made roads report that 92% looked one or both ways before crossing and road crossing, 57% hurried across to safety and the crossings are generally organised by the alpha male. The young chimp in Uganda’s Kibale National Park shown in this video from the New Scientist magazine was very cautious indeed. 

To Boldy Go…

NASA is set to announce further research into finding other Earth-like planets. The search for planets in the ‘Goldilocks’ zone (planets in solar systems that are not too hot and not too cold) has been carried out by astronomers for several years but now NASA will enlist climatologists to simulate models of what types of worlds humans could potentially live in. As always NASA’s work is inspiring and visionary. Looking for worlds we could live in before we have the means to travel there seems extraordinary but achieving the impossible is built into the very fabric of NASA since Kennedy decided to put a man on the Moon. Far-sighted visionary thinking is something that perhaps we all could do more of. In doing so we think of the next generation but also of our legacy. Can we do better? Can we achieve the impossible?

What impossible thing would you like to see humanity achieve? Join the conversation with our science editor @NeasaMcG and @ThisHeadStuff this week #impossible.