As a nation we tend to lose sight of the things we should be talking about, especially with so many viral Maltese moments hitting the web. So in case you missed it, here are six scientific breakthroughs that might have a huge effect on our tiny island.
1. A new male contraceptive gel was just proven to be 100% successful in monkey trials
Could this be the solution to the ongoing MAP debate?
Photo by the Parsemus Foundation
Vasalgel™ is a new proposed alternative to the more complex reversible vasectomy. It’s been previously trialed on rabbits, but a new study published in the journal BioMed has just claimed that further testing on rhesus monkeys has come up with a perfect success rate of 100%. While many more male contraceptive alternatives are currently being considered (like an implant-switch or an injection designed to lower sperm count), this is by far the one the most promising one, especially seeing as it offers vasectomy-levels of efficiency and is very easily reversible using a simple ultrasound procedure.
2. Solar Power is now predicted to phase out fossil fuels by 2050
Time to make the most of that Maltese sunshine!
According to a new report by the Carbon Tracker Initiative and Imperial College London, oil and coal is building up to a peak that will see solar power take the upper hand as soon as 2020. With researchers predicting that one-in-five cars on the road will have electric engines by 2030, the spread of solar power is now predicted to completely phase out coal within the next coupe of decades. Of course, this is not only thanks to rapidly-changing trends in energy usage, but also a direct effect of fossil fuels slowly dying out.
Back home, Malta could become a solar power hub thanks to the constant sunshine, potentially catapulting us an energy superpower.
3. Water has been found on one of the first exoplanets ever discovered
Anyone bored of Għadira?
Artist Impression by M. Kornmesser/Nick Risinger
An exoplanet is a planet that orbits a star other than our own Sun, and with billions of them out there, the search has been on for decades to find the closest thing to Earth. Back in 1995, the first exoplanet (Pegasi b) was discovered 51 light years away, and now, a team from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics have detected water in its atmosphere. While it’s unlikely the water is liquid, the study has inspired further similar research, with the hopes of one day finding a second Earth.
4. Earth’s poles might be reversing sooner than expected
With North and South trading places, Malta’s social dynamics may completely flip
Photo by Gary Glazmaier, NASA
Every couple of hundred thousand years, Earth’s magnetic field flips; North points South, and vice versa. And when that happens, the field itself becomes very weak. With the planet’s southern hemisphere currently going through the most rapid declines in recent history, reports are showing that the process is getting even faster.
Effects of a pole-reversal include disastrous interference to global communication signal and even added dangerous to satellites orbiting Earth, but in Malta, North and South trading places would be equal-parts hazardous and hilarious.
5. All of Iceland’s major volcanoes seem to be set to erupt at any minute
Time to rush that seventh trip to London!
Photo by Loftmyndir.
After the 2010 volcanic eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull (we still can’t pronounce that correctly), online publication Iceland Monitor is making sure the world is kept up to date on the Northern island’s seismic activity. As reported by geophysicist Páll Einarsson, Iceland’s four major volcanoes are all showing signs of relentlessness, with a potential multi-eruption being mentioned.
Considering the endless list of flight cancellations the last Icelandic volcanic ash cloud caused and how much bigger this eruption would be, perhaps it’s time you rushed your travel plans!
6. Human-Animal Hybrids are now a thing that exist
Giving a whole new meaning to “kemm inti annimal”
Photo by the Salk Institute
A team of scientists from the Salk Institute in the United States kicked 2017 off by causing a viral stir with their announcement that they had successfully created hybrid human-pig foetuses. While the creations (aptly dubbed chimeras after the Greek mythological creature) were not allowed to develop further, it has still created a lot of controversy online.
Proven to be incredibly useful for understanding how animals grow and develop (not to mention the eventual growing of life-saving organs that can be transplanted into humans), this can help the Maltese form a connection with the animal kingdom the likes of which we haven’t seen before. Think of all the Gozitan goatmen!