ICYMI: Science and technology updates from April 21 to 27, 2019.

Pinoy scientists sail to Spratly Islands for research expedition

(Image: Frances Mangosing/


A team of Filipino scientists is set to go on a two-week mission to Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) to conduct biological and oceanographic research activities and surveys in some reefs and islands around the West Philippine Sea. The team [sailed on April 22] and is expected to be back in Manila on May 6.

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DOST inaugurates new hybrid train


The DOST PCIEERD and DOST MIRDC will hold an…

Posted by FlipScience on Monday, April 22, 2019

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) officially introduced its hybrid electric train (HET) to the public through an inaugural run at 10:10 AM from the Alabang PNR Station to Binan Station on April 24.

DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña has said that the agency intends to address volume and behavior-based traffic congestion, overloading, road pollution, dependence on expensive foreign technology, insufficient mass transportation systems, limited capability to maintain existing systems, lack of local industry for mass transport, and the P3.5 billion economic loss per day due to traffic. He also shared that DOST’s mass transport projects, such as the automated gateway transit, the hybrid electric train in PNR, and the hybrid electric road train in Isabela, are now available to the public.

DOST’s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) has also supported startups providing mass transport solutions, including the Futuristic Aviation and Maritime Enterprise, Inc. (FAME) and bike company Rurok Industries.

360,000 African children to receive world’s first malaria vaccine

From CNN:

Some 360,000 children a year in three African countries will receive the world’s first malaria vaccine as part of a large-scale pilot project, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

Malawi has started vaccinating children under 2 years of age, and Kenya and Ghana will begin using the vaccine in the coming weeks, with health ministries in these countries deciding where it will be used, WHO said.

The vaccine offers partial protection from the disease, with clinical trials finding that it prevented approximately 4 in 10 malaria cases, according to WHO.

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Biologist uses bacteria to create artificial mother-of-pearl

From Science Daily:

A biologist invented an inexpensive and environmentally friendly method for making artificial nacre using an innovative component: bacteria. The artificial nacre is made of biologically produced materials and has the toughness of natural nacre, while also being stiff and, surprisingly, bendable. The method used to create the novel material could lead to new applications in medicine, engineering — and even constructing buildings on the moon.

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International database of women scientists established


A database of women scientists that was created a year ago by a team led by a CU School of Medicine postdoctoral fellow has grown to list more than 7,500 women and is featured in an article published today in PLOS Biology. The “Request a Woman Scientist” database was created to address concerns that women’s scientific expertise is often excluded at professional gatherings. “The idea came from repeated experiences of seeing all men panels (‘manels’) and women’s scientific expertise often excluded in the public realm,” writes Elizabeth McCullagh, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics on the Anschutz Medical Campus, and her co-authors.

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Dead whale may have been entangled in rope for ‘months’

(Image: BBC News)

From BBC News:

A humpback whale was entangled in rope for “weeks, if not months” before it drowned off the coast of East Lothian, a post-mortem examination has found.

The young male, which was about nine metres long (30ft), was found at John Muir Country Park, near Tyningham.

Experts said the marine mammal had become very weak and had the most parasites they had ever seen.

The whale was towed out to sea and moved to another beach for the five-hour necropsy on Wednesday.

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Cremated cat gets crowd-funded space-bound sendoff

(Photo: Steve Munt/GoFundMe)


A cat lover and space fan is about to make history by launching the remains of a cat named Pikachu into orbit around the Earth. “Pikachu will have a final send-off like no cat has ever had before,” Steve Munt, Pikachu’s owner, wrote on a GoFundMe page dedicated to raising funds for Pikachu’s space memorial. Thanks to a company called Celestis — which also offers memorial spaceflights for humans — the orange tabby’s cremated remains will hitch a ride to space as a small secondary payload on a satellite launch sometime in the next 18 months, Munt told 

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Researchers discover “perplexing” prehistoric crab

Callichimaera perplexa
Artist’s interpretation of C. perplexa. (Image: Oksana Vernygora, University of Alberta)


An international team of researchers led by Yale paleontologist Javier Luque announced the discovery of hundreds of exceptionally well-preserved specimens from Colombia and the United States that date back to the mid-Cretaceous period of 90-95 million years ago[…] The most intriguing discovery, according to the researchers, is Callichimaera perplexa, the earliest example of a swimming arthropod with paddle-like legs since the extinction of sea scorpions more than 250 million years ago. The name derives from a chimera, a mythological creature that has body features from more than one animal. Callichimaera’s full name translates into “perplexing beautiful chimera.”

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