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The World’s Population is Now 8 billion

by Jonah Smith, age 13

If you looked up on Google how many people were on Earth, the answer would be 7.8 billion people. But according to the United Nations, on November 15th, 2022 our population finally hit 8 billion. The population is still rising, but the rate of growth has slowed. The rate the U.N. based their last predictions on was the rate of growth from 2017. At that time, the U.N. predicted that the world’s population could reach 11.2 billion people by the year 2100. With this new data, the population is now expected to peak during the 2080s at 10.4 billion people. Once it peaks, the numbers will plateau until 2100.

This new information also highlights the challenges linked with population growth, said Maria-Francesca Spatolisano of the U.N. during a news conference on July 11th, 2022. These challenges include meeting people's social and economic needs (food, water, shelter, etc.), as well as how people use Earth’s resources and alter the environment.

The population will grow differently across various areas. For example, high-income countries, which have low birth rates, will grow due to more people moving there, a U.N. report predicts. In low-income countries, populations will rise as there are more births than deaths. This report also states that in 61 countries, populations are expected to drop by one percent or more between now and 2050. The net effect is that overall, populations are still expected to rise. [Read More]

Scientists Study Sleep-Deprived Mosquitoes to Prevent the Spread of Deadly Diseases

by Emily Rodriguez Lima, age 13

Humans and mosquitoes are more alike than you may want to believe; new research suggests mosquitoes prefer sleep over food when sleep-deprived.

As we all know, mosquitoes can be deadly, carrying diseases like Zika, Dengue, and Malaria. These diseases can cause death upon adults and even young children. Since most mosquitoes are active at night, people place nets over their beds for protection. Researchers are interested in mosquito sleep cycles, as awareness of sleep cycles can help predict diseases.

The presence of food can rouse a relaxing mosquito. It can be difficult sometimes to tell when they are asleep because they look similar to when they are simply relaxed. To better understand it, scientists track their behavior. Mosquitoes that have a long rests are more likely to land on people than mosquitoes that barely get any sleep. Oluwasuen Ajayi was part of a research team on mosquitos from the University of Ohio-Cincinnati. [Read More]

100 Foot Jump Breaks World Record

by Moore Vang, age 13

What can jump as high as the eyes of the Statue of Liberty? Well, the jumping robot can! The robot was designed by Elliot Hawkes, a mechanical engineer from University of California, Santa Barbara. With the ability to jump three times higher than any other jumping robot, it can also out-jump any living animal.

Hawkes has been working on the robot for seven years. “It started out as a stick with weights and rubber bands,” he said. Nobody would’ve called it a robot at the start of its creation because it didn’t have anything electronic or any motors on it, he recalls. This got him and his colleagues determined to find out, “Just how high can it go?” After many years of work, the robot reached heights as high as 100 feet. Hawkes and his team recorded this on the website Nature on April 23, 2022.

Various researchers studied how different types of animals jump. Hawkes didn’t want to copy any of the animals so instead, his team learned the types of features of certain animal jumpers and how to find ways around it. Muscles in the body of many animals including humans provide energy for jumping. These muscles pull on stretchy hamstrings that react just like a spring, launching the body high into the air. A muscle can only tense up and release once per jump. Weight is also a factor due to large muscles making the animal or human heavier. Typically, the heavier the animal, the harder it is to move against the force of gravity. [Read More]

The International Space Station Is Retiring, What Does this Mean for Space Exploration?

by Theodore Morrison, age 14

The International Space Station is considered a constant symbol of humanity's achievements in the fields of space science and diplomacy. Many will be shocked to learn that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has plans to retire and crash the station straight into the ocean in 2031.

According to The International Space Station Report, NASA is aiming to crash the ISS into the Pacific Ocean at a location called Point Nemo, the farthest point at sea from any landmass. To put the distance in perspective, it is 2,000 miles North of Antarctica and 3,000 miles East of New Zealand. The ISS will, probably, rest forever at a point known as the spacecraft graveyard.

This retirement isn’t without merit, though, as NASA confirms that they intend to use the ISS as an “analog for a Mars transit mission,” according to a NASA report. The ISS was a point for which science could advance, which has included 3D printing an item on the orbiting station, producing the fifth state of matter, growing organic food in space, and sequencing DNA. [Read More]

There’s a Chance the Black Hole at the Center of Our Galaxy Is Actually a Wormhole

by Allison Torres, age 14

Writers that love science fiction like the idea of wormholes. Go in a wormhole, and it might transfer you to another place in time.

Physicists have taken the time to study and talk about what it might actually look like inside a black hole. There could be a wormhole in the middle of our galaxy. One way scientists are able to confirm that wormholes exist would be to go through a black hole and see if there is a hidden bridge. Although, this would be a rare occurrence, since the Milky Way is more of a door than a dead end. They could also probably figure out if there is any presence of existing life on the other side.

Researchers have found that orbits of stars, such as S2, have been orbiting a giant black hole for years. Scientists say that if this star or other stars feel existence on the other side of a black hole then the star would perform a peculiar dance. [Read More]

Webb Space Telescope Sends New Images to Scientists on Planet Earth

by Ashley Mercado, age 13

NASA has finally revealed the first set of beautiful images taken from a new space telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope. The first picture from the Space Telescope was a plethora of distant galaxies that go deeper than scientists have ever seen. NASA says the new Webb Telescope will eventually replace the Hubble Telescope. Some of Webb’s images show areas of the universe Hubble has already studied, and some show areas Hubble could not reach.

Webb used infrared light which allowed scientists to obtain a clearer images and show places they have not yet studied. NASA administrator Bill Nelson said, “Every image is a new discovery and each will give humanity a view of the universe that we’ve never seen before.” In the new images, astronomers are looking for two nebulae: the Southern Ring Nebula and the Carina Nebula. They are also looking for five galaxies, known as Stephan’s Quintet, as well as the recently discovered gas planet called WASP-96b.

The strong telescope launched last December from French Guiana in South America and reached its final destination one million miles away in January. The telescope contains many requirements that must be met it in order to take pictures. For example, the telescope uses mirrors to focus its view on spots in space, so these mirrors have to be precisely aligned to function. [Read More]

The Closest Black Hole to Earth is just 1,500 light-years Away

by Emily Rodriguez Lima, age 13

There are plenty of black holes in outer space. Astronomers have found what they believe is currently the closest black hole to Earth.

Gaia BH1 is about 1,560 light-years from Earth and has a mass 10 times bigger than that of the sun. It is the first black hole discovered to be close to Earth, the second closest is around twice the distance at 3,200 light-years away.

Like many black holes, Gaia BH1 eats gas from massive stars that are clustered together. As the black hole eats the gas, it forms a disk around the black hole that can only be seen through x-rays. A star that is orbiting a black hole at a safe distance will not get eaten, but since the gravitational pull of a black hole is massive it can get pushed and pulled around space. [Read More]

Greenland’s Frozen Hinterlands are Melting Faster than Expected

by Theodore B. Morrison, age 15

Climate change has been impacting the planet for ages since humans started producing greenhouse gases. One impact climate change has had is the melting of the glaciers, which scientists have been trying to track for some time. One group has been following a particular ice stream to help keep track of the effects of climate change.

This group used GPS to track ice stream movements. The furthest point inland observed by this group transitioned from approximately 344 meters a year to 351 meters a year in three years. The quick movement of ice streams is projected to raise the global sea level by 14 to 16 millimeters by 2100. That is the same quantity of increase in global sea level rise by Greenland’s entire ice sheet in the last 50 years.

The tracking of this specific stream was motivated by the hope of discovering more about the effects of climate change. These sea level rises could change the world's coastlines and many scientists and climate activists hope to attempt to reverse or stop these effects of climate change on a warming planet Earth. [Read More]

2.5-Yard Elephant Tusk Fossil Discovered in Israel

Researchers in Israel recently found a 2.5-yard-long fossil that belonged to a long-extinct straight-tusked elephant. It is believed to be the largest fossil ever found at a prehistoric site in the country.

This amazing fossil was discovered near a piece of land called a kibbutz on the central plain running parallel to the Israel’s Mediterranean coast. The discovery was made by researchers from Israel Antiquites Authority (IAA) in a joint excavation from Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University. Avi Levy, lead researcher of the find, called this fossil, “The largest complete fossil tusk ever found at a prehistoric site in Israel or the Near East.” This site is at least 500,000 years old based on the stone tools recovered from the area, the antiquites authorities said.

“Very puzzling, very enigmatic,” said Omry Barzilai, an IAA archaeologist also in the discovery, because it was not known whether ancient people hunted the behemoth on the spot or they brought the animal’s tusk to this spot. [Read More]

Local Observatory Renamed For STEM Pioneer Jocelyn Bell Burnell

by Mariah Justice, age 17

“Astronomy compels the soul to look upward, and leads us from this world to another,” said Greek philosopher Plato. With the renaming event on September 7 for the Bell Burnell Observatory— previously the Oscar Mayer Observatory—Madison has a new facility for cultivating the exploration of astronomy.

The history of the Bell Burnell Observatory dates back to 1880, when the director of the Washburn Observatory, located on University of Wisconsin-Madison's (UW) campus, felt there was too much student traffic for the University to only have one observatory. This notion spurred him to personally fund the construction of the student observatory, which was then called the Student Observatory. However, as Madison grew, light pollution obstructed both the Student and Washburn observatories, rendering the facilities obsolete.

In 1959, the UW offered to gift the Student Observatory to the Madison Astronomical Society (MAS) on the condition that MAS was able to finance a move to a different site. A year later, the observatory was officially relocated to its current location on the Promega Campus, and renamed the Oscar Mayer Observatory after the astronomer who funded its move. The observatory was in use for over two decades until light pollution resulting from Madison’s growth once again caused it to be inactive. [Read More]

The Mammal that Helped Take Over the Globe

by Ayelen Flores Ruiz, age 12

Researchers have discovered a prehistoric mammal with a two to five years life cycle that they call the Manbearpig. The mammal’s short lifespan is likely due to their months-long pregnancy, a trait scientists believe helped mammals dominate the world after the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The name Manbearpig came from the features it contained: a face like a bear; a body similar to a pig; and five fingered hands. These mammals are also known by their scientific name, Pantolamba bathmodon, and were plant eaters. The Manbearpig lived about 62 million years ago. The Manbearpig was one of the largest mammals of its time and seemed to appear after the dinosaur extinction, which allowed mammals to grow to larger sizes than ever before. It was a member of the placental group of mammals, animals who do their prenatal development in the womb of their mother.

Researchers were able to discover how fast they would grow throughout their life from the enamel of their teeth, which looked different during different life stages. These mammals' lives were short and they died at a younger age than typical animals, between two and five years of life. The Manbearpig had a really short life cycle because it stayed in the womb for about seven months, a pregnancy much longer than is observed in modern marsupials, but similar to extreme modern placentals like giraffes and wildebeests. The most extreme modern placentals are usually walking within hours of birth, and usually only give birth to one baby per litter. This species nursed for one or two months after they were born. In a year, they would reach adulthood. The longest a Manbearpig was found to have lived was 11 years. [Read More]

Would You Want to Live on Neptune?

by Dilma Attidekou, age 8

Neptune, the smallest out of all outer planets, is known for its blue color. Methane is the reason for its color. Neptune has less then four percent of methane within its atmosphere.

Neptune is very far from Earth, approximately 2.5 billion miles away. Pluto is usually farther from the sun than Neptune, but once every 248 years, Pluto crosses in front of Neptune. The planet has enormous storms, but they don’t last as long as Jupiter's great Red Spot.

Neptune takes 165 Earth years to orbit around the sun. Due to the planet's orbit being almost a perfect circle, its seasons are all of even length. Neptune’s climate and seasons are different from Earth’s seasons. [Read More]

Native Asian Moth Spotted in Washington State

by Justin Medina Ruiz, age 13

On July 7, 2022, a giant moth with a ten-inch wingspread was discovered in a garage of a home in the state of Washington. Thankfully, the moth species does not pose a public health threat. The Atlas moth originates from the tropical forests of Asia and has not been seen before in the U.S.

It is not clear how this moth found a way to get to Washington. However, scientists found on eBay, an e-commerce company, an account selling Atlas moth cocoons for $60 each. This account was later taken down because the Atlas moth is a quarantine pest, meaning it is illegal to obtain, sell, or harbor, no matter if they are adults, eggs, larvae, or pupae.

In spite of that, the individual sighting does not mean that there is a population of the Atlas in the U.S. The state’s agriculture department asks the public to take photographs and collect Atlas moths if they find one. This would help determine whether there is a population or not. If there were an infestation, it would be harmful to the region’s fruit-growing industry because like other moths and caterpillars, they enjoy feasting on the leaves of cherry and apple trees. [Read More]

Scientist Watch as Jupiter Comes Close to Planet Earth

by Allison Torres, age 14

Earlier this year, people were able to get a glimpse of Jupiter's rings and moons with only a telescope or binoculars. Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system and in September it passed closer to Earth than it has in 59 years.

Jupiter is at opposition, meaning Earth is halfway between the planet and the sun, with about 367 million miles between Earth and Jupiter. At its farthest point, Earth and Jupiter are about 600 million miles apart. Patrick Hartigan, a professor of physics and astronomy at Rice University in Houston, said the planet would rise around sunset and look pearly white to the naked eye.

Three to four of Jupiter’s moons could also potentially be seen, one named Europa. Trina L. Ray is a science manager for the Europa Clipper mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Since I am working on a spacecraft that we are going to send to the Jupiter system to explore Europa, I'm always excited to see Jupiter and even Europa with my own eyes,” she said. Many scientists were excited to see Europa, as they believe there could be life on Jupiter's moon, according to “The Guardian.” [Read More]

How Submarines Sparked Arctic Exploration

by Daniel Li, age 14

Built in 1952, the USS Nautilus was the first submarine ever powered by a nuclear reactor and, coincidentally, also the first to ever reach the North Pole by traveling under ice. William Anderson, the commander of the Nautilus, wrote in his logbook, “Embarked following personage at North Pole: Santa Claus, affiliation: Christmas.” Spending multiple days underwater had not seemed to affect the commander’s sense of humor.

The Nautilus was 319 feet long and brought 116 crew members to the North Pole. While these numbers are impressive, the defining characteristic of the ship was its nuclear reactor, which eliminated the need for conventional practices such as surfacing or using snorkels to provide air for engines and batteries. All power was provided inside the submarine.

This trip to the North Pole, codenamed “Operation Sunshine,” provided much scientific knowledge that would eventually lead to our current submarines. The Nautilus proved that nuclear-powered submarines were viable, making it possible for modern submarines to spend months at a time underwater. This first voyage was not only beneficial for scientific research, but also for military purposes. Although the United States was the first to develop nuclear-powered submarines, world powers such as Russia and China have developed many of their own. Since 1969, the U.K. has consistently had at least one submarine carrying nuclear weapons at sea. [Read More]

First Plant Successfully Sprouts in Lunar Soil

by Daniel Li, age 15

The first seeds to ever sprout in lunar soil poked their heads above moon dirt at the University of Florida in May. Decades of research and experimentation led to this breakthrough which marks the first time terrestrial plants have grown in extra-terrestial soil. It also offers hope that astronauts will one day be able to grow food on the moon.

Three scientists from the University of Florida filled 12 pots of soil from the space expeditions Apollo 11, 12, and 17; 4 pots for each trip’s sample. They chose to use thale cress, a small flowering weed, due to its ability to grow in small amounts of dirt, which was important because NASA was frugal when providing the samples. Sixteen additional pots were filled with volcanic material from Earth, which is often used to mimic lunar soil. These pots were treated with the same nutrients and light levels to ensure unbiased results. Aside from these pots, there was also a control group of plants grown in soil samples from Earth.

The seeds did sprout, but compared to the control group, seedlings were not nearly as successful. The healthiest plants were smaller than they should have been, while the weakest were smaller still and had a sickly purple tint, a sign of plant stress. This is most likely due to the sharpness of the soil, caused by high amounts of metallic iron (compared to the oxidized iron in the Earth’s soil), and glass shards formed by lunar surface collisions. The soil also lacked many nutrients that plants require to grow such as phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium. [Read More]

New Fossil Discovery Sheds Light on a Mesozoic Era Species

by Chelsea Zheng, age 9

The Ichthyosaur is well known by the name “sea dragon.” In February 2021, a 32 foot long Ichthyosaur fossil from 180 million years ago was found in England—the largest and most complete skeleton of its kind.

The name “sea dragon” comes from scientists' observations of the Ichthyosaurs' appearance. They are suspected to have had big eyes and teeth, and looked similarly to dolphins. They grew to be around 82 feet long with a weight of one ton for their skull alone.

During the existence of this creature, huge marine animals prowled in the oceans while dinosaurs roamed on land. They appeared for the first time about 250 million years ago and disappeared around 90 million years ago. [Read More]

Will the Tasmanian Tiger Roam the Earth Once More?

by Sandy Flores-Ruíz, age 16

For the past years —scientists have thought about reviving extinct species. Scientists in Australia and the U.S. have recently started a multi-million dollar project to bring back the Tasmanian tiger from extinction.

The stripes on the back of the Thylacine gave its nickname of “Tasmanian Tiger,” despite the animal being a marsupial, a type of Australian mammal that raises its young in a pouch, like a kangaroo, instead of a tiger.

The Tasmanian tiger went extinct in 1936 when the last known tiger, Thylacine, died in the Hobart Zoo. Years before humans arrived in Australia, these tigers roamed free. However, once humans started to populate Australia, the population of these tigers decreased. The last known tigers to roam free on the island of Tasmania were then hunted to extinction. [Read More]

New Super Computer Ranked Most Powerful in World

by Julian Medina Ruiz, age 14

Recently, a new supercomputer named Frontier passed a major milestone. This computer can perform one quintillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000) calculations per second. Frontier’s storage system is able to hold 33 times more data than currently housed in the entire Library of Congress. This new computer was introduced on May 30, 2022 by the TOP500, a list that ranks the 500 most powerful computers in the world.

To create one Frontier, scientists and researchers combined74 HPE Cray EX supercomputers, which supports next-generation supercomputing performance and scale supercomputer cabinets. Included in this system are 9,400 AMD-powered nodes, each of them containing an optimized processor and four graphics processing units. This computer uses liquid to cool down—instead of fans which often generate too much noise as the computer does calculations. Frontier communicates its information with an HPE Slingshot, an Ethernet fabric connected to all of its cabinets and nodes, making Frontier the fastest computer in the world. It took around three years to build Frontier.

Frontier’s highly developed performance will be critical in finding answers to the world’s challenging problems. A director from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Thomas Zacharia, said, “It is the result of more than a decade of collaborations among the national laboratories, academia and private industry..." [read more]

From Water to Land Back to Water Again: the Evolution of the Qikitania — by Giovanni Tecuatl Lopez, age 17

There are many speculations regarding evolution and how it took place. Many think of evolution as a linear timeline; but this is not always the case and such can be seen in creatures like the Qikitania and Tiktaalik. [Read More]

Primera planta brota con éxito en suelo lunar — por Daniel Li, 15 años

Las primeras semillas que brotaron en suelo lunar asomaron sus cabezas por encima de la tierra lunar en la Universidad de Florida en mayo. Décadas de investigación y experimentación condujeron a este avance que marca la primera vez que las plantas terrestres crecen en suelo extraterrestre. También ofrece la esperanza de que algún día los astronautas puedan cultivar alimentos en la luna. [Read More]

We Bet You Don't Know About this Hyena! — by Dayanara Flores Gonzalez, age 14

You might think there is only one type of hyena, but no, there's more! There are two different types of hyenas: brown hyenas and Aardwolf hyenas. These hyenas look like dogs, but they are cat-like carnivores. A carnivore is an animal that only eats meat. Brown hyenas can easily digest skin and bones with their sharp teeth. They scavenge for lions that have previously been killed by other carnivores or hunt for their own prey. [Read More]

How Dinosaur Eggs Reveal Differences in Species — by Camila Cruz, age 15

Modern birds have many similarities to dinosaurs, from their feathers and feet to hollow bones and laying eggs. Recently, paleontologists found another feature dinosaurs shared that is their unique way of hatching, called tucking. [Read More]

Orcas Learn to Hunt in Family Groups — by Tierra Flowers, age 13

On March 21, 2019, researchers in Western Australia were studying orcas, a species also known as killer whales. Suddenly, the scientists witnessed a phenomenon that no one had previously seen. They observed orcas killing the world’s largest animal, a blue whale. [Read More]

Japanese Scientists Discover that Saturn's Rings Will Dissipate — by Avaiana House, age 14

Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second-largest in the Solar System. It is known for the colorful rings surrounding it, made up of rock and icy materials. These rings consists of colors such as pink, red, brown or gray. [Read More]

From the Big Bang to Humankind: How Life Emerged — by Julian Medina Ruiz, age 14

About 12 billion years ago, a big explosion, presently known as the “Big Bang,” created the universe. [Read More]

A Star is Born: The Life Cycle of Stars — by Valeria Moreno Lopez, age 16

Every single birth of a star in the sky begins in an immense cloud of gas, dust, and debris. These colorful clouds are called nebulae, cosmic wonders that swirl around space undisturbed for millions of years. [Read More]

Smaller than a T-Rex, the Gorgosaurus was Faster and Hunted in Packs — by Emily Rodriguez Lima, age 13

There was a dinosaur named Gorgosaurus that was discovered a few years ago. The Gorgosaurus is a relative of the T-Rex, but were smaller, with a stronger bite and faster speed. [Read More]

What Will Happen to Earth When the Sun Dies? — by Juan Esteban Palma Zuluaga, age 10

Our sun, like other stars, will die. Stars only shine as long as they have a source of energy, and eventually that gives out. [Read More]

Pluto Is Not a Planet – It’s a Dwarf Planet — by Hiba Al-Quraishi, age 14

Pluto is referred to as a “dwarf planet” due to its diminutive size. Pluto is only half the size of North America which is why it’s categorized as a dwarf planet. [Read More]

As Electric Car Sales Increase, Ford and GM Struggle to Catch Tesla — by Giovanni Tecuatl Lopez, age 17

Have you ever wondered if Tesla has competitors in the electric car market? Both Ford and General Motors (GM) have Tesla as target number one; these companies, already in the electric car market, plan to close the gap between them and Tesla. [Read More]

The Canola Flower: Beautiful and Delicious! — by Sol Saray, age 10

Canola is a flower that blooms in late winter to early spring representing Jeju Island in South Korea. It is a type of rapeseed and is part of the mustard family. There is even a festival named after the canola flower. [Read More]

How an Ancient Civilization Thrived and then Collapsed — by Emily Rodriguez, age 13

A mysterious ancient civilization on the island of Malta collapsed within two generations, despite surviving for more than a millennium. [Read More]