Scientist's accidental discovery makes coral grow 40x faster
There might be hope for our oceans, thanks to one clumsy moment in a coral tank.
- David Vaughan at the Mote Laboratory is growing coral 40 times faster than in the wild.
- It typically takes coral 25 to 75 years to reach sexual maturity. With a new coral fragmentation method, it takes just 3.
- Scientists and conservationists plan to plant 100,000 pieces of coral around the Florida Reef Tract by 2019 and millions more around the world in the years to come.
The news has not been encouraging as of late if you are one to pay attention to either climate change or The Great Barrier Reef: coral reefs are an incubator of the ocean's ecosystem. They account for less than 1% of the ocean and yet manage to provide food and shelter to over one quarter of all marine species in the ocean, as well as support fish that ultimately feed over one billion people. This is why it was distressing to note — in addition to the world losing Ruth Gates, a scientist renowned for her advocacy for saving coral reefs — that two thirds of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia — the largest living structure in the world — had in effect been killed off as of last year (a process called 'bleaching') by the rise in temperature brought about by global warming and climate change.
The Good News Network describes his accidental breakthrough:
"He had been trying to remove a coral from the bottom of a tank when it broke into a dozen pieces. To his shock, all of the pieces regrew to the same size in just three short weeks, as opposed to the three years it had taken to grow the original coral."
It typically takes coral 25 to 75 years to reach sexual maturity. Instead, through a process of 'breaking up' the coral, Doctor Vaughan has seen the timeline shrink to three years and seen results that will lead him to share the information with conservationists all around the world, with the hopes of planting 100,000 pieces of coral around the Florida Reef Tract by 2019 and millions more around the world in the years to come. (You can read about one volunteer's experience assisting with growing and planting coral in Florida with Vaughan here.)
At worst, the method led by Vaughan is something that will buy conservationists more time. At best: this is the beginning of a solution. A former intern of Vaughn's commented on Reddit, adding a very useful note to indicate that Vaughan "has been essentially adjusting the coral frag[ments] to more acidic and warm water to better prepare them for our changing climate." This appears to be what makes the process Vaughan describes unique, as the process of fragmenting coral to encourage growth has been around since at least the 1960s. "This is now a new discovery that can give real hope for our coral reefs that has never been there before," Vaughan said to BBC One. "We tried [this process] with all the other species of corals in the Florida Keys and it works for them all."
The viral video from BBC One has resurfaced this important work — The Atlantic visited Vaughan to highlight his work in 2016 and The New York Times flagged his work in 2014. As Bill Causey — a coral expert — told The New York Times in 2014: "this [the work being done by Vaughan] is easily the most promising restoration project that I am aware of."
To create wiser adults, add empathy to the school curriculum.
- Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
- Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
- Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
An extinction events expert sounds a dire warning.
- The supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park could cause an "ultra-catastrophe," warns an extinction events writer.
- The full eruption of the volcano last happened 640,000 years ago.
- The blast could kill billions and make United States uninhabitable.
Just before I turned 60, I discovered that sharing my story by drawing could be an effective way to both alleviate my symptoms and combat that stigma.
I've lived much of my life with anxiety and depression, including the negative feelings – shame and self-doubt – that seduced me into believing the stigma around mental illness: that people knew I wasn't good enough; that they would avoid me because I was different or unstable; and that I had to find a way to make them like me.
A joint study by two England universities explores the link between sex and cognitive function with some surprising differences in male and female outcomes in old age.
- A joint study by the universities of Coventry and Oxford in England has linked sexual activity with higher cognitive abilities in older age.
- The results of this study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men. In women, however, there was a significant association between sexual activity in word recall alone - number sequencing was not impacted.
- The differences in testosterone (the male sex hormone) and oxytocin (a predominantly female hormone) may factor into why the male cognitive level changes much more during sexual activity in older age.
Mathematicians studied 100 billion tweets to help computer algorithms better understand our colloquial digital communication.