The Science Hub: telescope controversy, amazon rainforest fires, northern white rhinos


Credit: Rachel Chang / The Foothill Dragon Press

Thomas Weldele, Naomi Schmitt, and Matthew Godfrey

The Science Hub returns after a summer hiatus for more science news, including a section by guest writer, Matthew Godfrey.

Telescope Controversy

From submerged base to summit, Mauna Kea stands taller than even Everest; isolated in the Pacific, sheltered from light pollution, and trademark Hawaiian skies giving a clear view, the dormant volcano and sacred Hawaiian spot is the prime venue for the new construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). With only two locations in the world suitable for an observatory this size, Mauna Kea is the optimal choice with Cerro Armazones of Chile as the sole alternative. 

Such extreme locational specificity has created a difficult situation for both the Scientific and Hawaiian communities, with the importance of scientific discovery coming into conflict with cultural sensitivity. 

This new telescope is said to have a view 12x clearer than that of the Hubble Telescope, but many Hawaiians hope to prevent the 14th addition to a slew of both functional and unused observatories currently on the mountain. Protesters from all over have come to help protect the history of the Islands and save another in a long line of ancestral sites from being lost.

As of now, the prospect of compromise is high, and it is soon expected that scientists can respectfully observe the same cosmos that Hawaii’s early Polynesian ancestors used to navigate.

 -Naomi Schmitt

Amazon Rainforest Fires

An unusually large amount of fires are burning in the Amazon rainforest. Since January of this year, more than 36 thousand fires have been spotted, translating to roughly to a soccer field and a half being burned in a minute every day. Additionally, the vast majority of these fires have been set by humans as a way to clear parts of the Amazon for farmland. 

The increase in fires has been attributed to Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, who when running for president, promised to weaken protections for the Amazon. However, after growing international outrage, Bolsonaro has switched his stance and sent the military to combat the fires. 

Additionally, in the aftermath of the G-7 summit, 20 million dollars was offered to help combat the fires. However, the offer was rejected by Brazil. 

-Thomas Weldele

Northern White Rhinos

The fight to save the endangered northern white rhino has long been an uphill battle. Poachers and the increasing price of keratin have stalemated the progress of researchers and conservationists. However, a victorious blow was struck after researchers successfully harvested 10 eggs from the final two female northern white rhinos, Fatu and Najin. Seven of which have successfully matured and have been artificially inseminated from two deceased northern white rhino bulls using Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). 

With the critically endangered species on the verge of extinction, scientists are hoping to establish two surrogate mothers in order to prolong their inevitable extinction.

-Matthew Godfrey

What do you think?