YOUR WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE
AI breakthrough could spark medical revolution.
Artificial intelligence has been used to predict the structures of almost every protein made by the human body. The development could help boost the discovery of new drugs to treat disease. Proteins are essential building blocks of living organisms; every cell we have is packed with them. Understanding the shapes of proteins is critical for advancing medicine, but until now, only a fraction of these have been worked out. Researchers used a program called AlphaFold to predict the structures of 350,000 proteins belonging to humans and other organisms.
Using plastic waste to help solve sand shortages.
Does the world have a shortage of sand? At first, that might sound like a peculiar question. After all, sand covers vast expanses of beaches and deserts across the world.
Yet the raw material is used in giant quantities in construction and manufacturing. In the building sector alone, 40-50bn tonnes of the stuff is used around the world annually.
This is led by the production of concrete, which is typically made up of about 25% sand.
The problem when it comes to supply is that most desert or beach sand is unsuitable – desert sand is too smooth, and beach sand has too much salt in it.
Great Barrier Reef in trouble.
A report from Unesco, the UN’s scientific and cultural body, had said that not enough was being done to protect the reef from climate change or to meet water quality targets. But Unesco’s World Heritage Committee has decided to give Australia more time. Australia says it has committed more than A$3bn (£1.bn; $2.2bn) to improving the reef’s health. The reef one of the world’s natural wonders. But recent mass bleachings of coral and other problems have accelerated its deterioration.
Russia sends delayed module to space station.
TA Russian rocket has departed the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, to deliver a new science module to the International space station (ISS).
The 13m-long, 20-tonne Nauka laboratory will go on the rear of the orbiting platform, connected to the other major Russian segments, Zvezda and Zarya. The new module carries with it a large robotic arm (ERA) supplied by the European Space Agency (Esa). Nauka is much delayed. It was originally supposed to launch in 2007.
UK seeks to extend ivory ban to hippos and other animals.
Hippos, walruses and whales could receive greater legal protection under UK government proposals to tackle ivory poaching. Ministers want to extend the Ivory Act, they say elephants are not the only animals at risk. Conservationists have welcomed the move as sending a “clear signal to the rest of the world”.
Boris Johnson has previously announced that funding to tackle the illegal wildlife trade will be increased.
Zuckerberg wants Facebook to become an online ‘metaverse’.
Mark Zuckerberg has laid out his vision to transform Facebook from a social media network into a “metaverse company” in the next five years. A metaverse is an online world where people can game, work and communicate in a virtual environment, often using VR headphones. The Facebook CEO described it as “an embodied internet where instead of just viewing content – you are in it”. He told The Verge people shouldn’t live through “small, glowing rectangles”.