A jury in San Francisco has ruled that, agricultural chemical giant, Monsanto, should pay a groundskeeper over $280 million in compensation after the individual developed a form of cancer after using the weed-killer – Roundup. It’s a complex case that involves allegations of undermining efforts to evaluate a potential link between the active ingredient glyphosate. Accusations of punitive fines and unproven links between the herbicide and the disease. We explore how science goes about proving cause and effect in cases like this?
Bubbles in the Arctic
Physicist, Helen Czerski, is part of a group of scientists on board a Swedish icebreaker and scientific research vessel in the high Arctic called the Oden. The team hopes to spend a month anchored to Arctic sea ice near the North Pole. They will be looking at how microbiological life in the ocean and ice is connected to cloud formation in the region. Helen’s speciality is in the bubbles between the sea and the atmosphere. She is looking to see if microscopic specks of microbial life from the ocean are released into the atmosphere form bubbles where they can then go on to seed clouds in the sky.
Clues to the Mystery of the Oldest Earth Rock
The oldest surviving rock on Earth is ‘Acasta gneiss’ at 4.03 billion years old. The lump of stripy granite-like rock was found in Northern Canada. This type of rock is thought to be the seed of our continents. The trouble is, for this rock to be created from the ubiquitous basalt you needed water and high temperatures, but not the high-pressures found deep under the crust. So how was it made? New work suggests bombardment from huge meteorites provided the perfect conditions.
Apoptosis or Cell Death
We know a bit about how a cell dies. But not so much about the mechanism. New research, on usefully large, Xenopus frog egg cells shows that the way death is communicated throughout the cell is much more targeted than mere diffusion of the deadly message of apoptosis. Giving possible clues to how cells communicate other messages as well.