Monarch Butterflies Rebound Again, Beating Last Year’s Total and Proving Success is Not a Fluke:
Photo by Isis Howard – Xerces Society
The annual Western monarch count to measure the population of overwintering butterflies shared fantastic news for the second year in a row. Surveying a total of 272 overwintering sites across coastal California in November and December—along with a few sites inside California and Arizona—volunteers tallied 335,479 individual monarchs. Over 130,000 butterflies were reported in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties alone. The San Francisco Bay Area also witnessed a comeback from last year with more than 8,000 butterflies reported in surrounding counties. This season’s results are a welcome reprieve from the dismal total of less than 2,000 individuals counted in 2020 and larger than the 250,000 counted last year.
Researchers Develop Greener Alternative to Fossil Fuels by Producing Hydrogen from Water and Light:
From left to right: James Cahoon and Taylor Teitsworth. Credit: Steve Exum
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of Chemistry have engineered nanowires made of silicon that can turn sunlight into energy by breaking apart water molecules. James Cahoon, Ph.D., Hyde Family Foundation Professor of Chemistry in UNC-Chapel Hill's College of Arts and Sciences and his team designed new silicon nanowires to have multiple solar cells along their axis so that they could produce the power needed to split water. Silicon absorbs both visible and infrared light. It has historically been a top choice for solar cells since it is abundant and has low toxicity. With this new design the often costly and inefficient solar power process can be sped up and made cleaner. Not only this, but larger scale operations such as solar powered hydrogen plants can also integrate the design into their systems, allowing for the new technology to help in the production of natural gas.
Scientists Grew Living Human Skin Around a Robotic Finger:
Researchers at the University of Tokyo have built a robotic finger similar to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s terminator, which has grown human skin. To cover the finger in the skin, Takeuchi and colleagues submerged the robotic digit in a blend of collagen and human skin cells called dermal fibroblasts. The mixture settled into a base layer of skin, or dermis, covering the finger. The team then poured a liquid containing human keratinocyte cells onto the finger, which formed an outer skin layer, or epidermis. After two weeks, the skin covering the finger measured a few millimeters thick, comparable to the thickness of human skin. The artificially produced skin is strong and flexible enough to withstand robotic movements and has the possibility of being able to heal itself.