This week’s EcoReporter segment covers a range of topics, including LIGO upgrades, parasitic fungi, a new analysis of Curiosity rover data, and the fascinating world of bacteriophages.
In the realm of physics, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) has made significant upgrades that allow physicists to exploit a quantum effect called “squeezing.” This effect enables them to measure gravitational space-time waves across a broader range of frequencies, leading to an expected increase in the observation of space-time-undulating mergers of black holes and neutron stars.
Shifting gears to the world of fungi, the popular video game and HBO series “The Last of Us” depicts a world where a parasitic fungus turns living organisms into mushroom zombies. While this fictional scenario may capture our imagination, there is a real-life discovery by mycologists at the University of Copenhagen. They have found that bonnet mushrooms have evolved the ability to invade the roots of living plants. Interestingly, there is evidence that these fungi may be developing into mutualists, symbiotic organisms that provide benefits to the trees they invade.
Moving on to Mars, we often think of it as a harsh and inhospitable planet. However, new analysis of data from the Curiosity rover suggests that Mars may have once been a planet of rivers. By simulating erosion over thousands of years, researchers have determined that common geological formations on Mars are likely remnants of riverbeds. This finding opens up the possibility of a more optimistic view of ancient life on Mars.
Lastly, we explore the world of bacteriophages, viruses that attack and kill bacteria. Led by Monash University, a research collaborative has been studying these phages and their potential applications. Bacteriophages offer a promising avenue for combatting bacterial infections, and further research in this field could lead to exciting developments in medicine and environmental protection.
Overall, this week’s EcoReporter segment covers a diverse range of topics, highlighting the fascinating discoveries and potential implications in the fields of physics, mycology, planetary science, and microbiology.