There’s More To Science Than COVID


Photo Credits: John Fowler

With the craze of the COVID-19 pandemic, world discoveries can be hard to find underneath the breaking news during these times.

Emilya Barwick

The month of January has been a time of vaccines and scientific discovery. COVID vaccines are now being distributed across the U.S., and the prime focus of most Americans has been the health of themselves and their families. However, scientific discoveries haven’t stopped with COVID.  Here are some non-COVID discoveries that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has reported this month.

The Tiger Rattlesnake Genome

The tiger rattlesnake is a highly venomous pit viper species. (Photo Credits: Ltshears)

The tiger rattlesnake is the most venomous and toxic of the rattlesnake species. These snakes are located primarily in southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico. Research led by a biologist at the University of South Florida has explained the genetics behind this snake’s bite. 

A genotype is one’s heritable genetic identity. An individual’s unique genome is revealed by personal genome sequencing. This can also show a particular gene that is carried by an individual, like a mutation that is linked to diabetes. The key mechanisms that are used to produce the toxic venom in a tiger rattlesnake helps scientists explain a scope of genetic questions.

The venom gene has shown that not only can simple genotypes produce complex traits, but also complex genotypes can produce simple traits. This gene and its advances are allowing scientists to answer questions that have been up in the air since Darwin asked them more than 150 years ago. 

Harnessing Energy From Black Holes

According to NASA, a black hole is an astronomical object with a gravitational pull so strong that it is impossible to escape it. Black holes are somewhat of a mystery to science as there is no way that scientists can really get a closer look without risking the astronomical gravitational pull. Albert Einstein’s theory was that rotating black holes have copious amounts of energy that can be tapped. 

Black holes are one of the biggest unknown factors in space discovery. Their gravitational pull and energy sources are unknown factors for scientists. (Photo Credits: NASA)

According to the U.S. National Science Foundation, physicists Luca Comisso of Columbia University and Felipe Asenjo of the Unversidad Adolfo Ibáñez in Chile have found a way to take energy from black holes by breaking and rejoining magnetic field lines near the event of the horizon, the point at which nothing can escape the gravitational pull of the black hole. 

With this discovery, scientists now have a better way to estimate the spin and movement of black holes, as well as sources of a black hole’s energy.

Deep-sea Volcanoes

Deep-sea volcanoes are underwater vents or more related as fissures in the Earth’s surface, and magma eruptions are possible. Volcanoes at mid-ocean ridges account for an estimated 75% of the magma output on Earth. Most deep-sea volcanoes are thousands of feet below the sea and very difficult to find.

One particular volcano found northeast of New Zealand was shown to testify the complexity of microbial life on the seafloor. This research can help provide insight on microbial diversity.

Scientists were also surprised to see that two different microbial communities could be in such close proximity on the caldera wall—a large basin with steep walls at the summit of a volcano. 

Scientists are making new discoveries about the unknown in our world. From rattlesnakes to under-water volcanoes, we are learning more about our Earth every passing day.