Ep. 95 Dying Mangroves and Reading Ancient Scrolls | Twig Science Reporter

Ep. 95 Dying Mangroves and Reading Ancient Scrolls | Twig Science Reporter


On this week’s news update– Unrolling ancient scrolls– Monitoring mangrove forests– And floating away
with a high-tech balloon. First up– 1,940 years ago,
in AD 79, a volcano called
Mount Vesuvius erupted, destroying the Roman towns
of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The eruption also damaged
a set of scrolls– long sheets of paper-like material
that stored written information before books were invented! The scrolls could reveal fascinating
evidence about life in the Roman Empire, but they’re so fragile
they can’t be unrolled. Back in 2009, scientists
scanned the rolls using x-rays. Now, a new computer program
will process those scans to identify patches of ink
and piece them together to recreate the writing. This approach could
digitally unroll 900 scrolls, helping us learn more
about the Roman way of life. Next up– Mangrove forests are found
along tropical coastlines. They help to hold the coast together,
protecting it from erosion, and they provide a habitat
for lots of plants and animals. Now, researchers have found
that a huge area of mangrove forest around the Gulf of Carpentaria,
in Australia, has been killed. They monitored the forest from
a helicopter and from the ground and discovered that
much of it was gray, when it should be bright green. The researchers say that
extreme heat and drought in 2015 killed many of
the mangrove trees and storms in 2018 and 2019
caused further damage. Together with local rangers,
the researchers will continue to monitor the trees
and try to protect those that remain. And finally– Satellites can help us
to make phone calls, take pictures of other planets,
and track the weather. But launching them is expensive
and uses a lot of resources. Now, a company called World View has
developed what it says is a cheaper, more environmentally friendly option–
enormous balloons! The Stratollite is filled with helium,
which is lighter than air, causing it to rise up. Like a satellite,
it can carry equipment such as telescopes,
sensors, or cameras. Unlike a satellite,
it doesn’t go into space. Instead, it uses the wind to travel
high above the Earth, in part of the atmosphere
called the stratosphere. The team behind the Stratollite think
it could help to track severe weather and monitor natural disasters. They’re also developing
another balloon, which could one day take
people into the stratosphere! That’s all for this week–
we’ll see you next time!

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