DAILY DOSE: UK Government conducts post-mortem on its pandemic lockdown decisions; With one eye on space travel, scientists grow plants in the dark.

The counsel for the inquiry investigating the UK government’s response to the pandemic has stated that very little consideration was given to the possibility of a lockdown before the Covid-19 outbreak. In his opening statement, Hugo Keith KC mentioned that there was minimal discussion on whether a lockdown might be necessary in the event of a rampant virus and how it could be effectively implemented. The lack of foresight extended to understanding the complexity and potential damage associated with a national lockdown. Additionally, the counsel raised questions about complacency, suggesting that recent experiences, such as the UK’s success in handling Sars and Mers, may have influenced a lack of preparedness. The counsel also proposed the establishment of a central leadership position accountable to parliament to oversee emergency planning and response. (The Guardian)

Thousands of villagers near the Mayon volcano in the Philippines have fled their homes due to fears of eruptions. The volcano has been showing signs of restiveness, with lava flowing down its crater and sporadic ash blasts. Almost 15,000 people have been evacuated from farming communities within a 6-kilometer radius of the volcano’s crater. The governor of Albay province extended the danger zone and urged residents to be prepared for evacuation. The Mayon volcano is one of the most active in the Philippines, and its last violent eruption occurred in 2018. The current eruption adds to the challenges faced by the country, which has been dealing with the impacts of the pandemic. (Associated Press)

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Efforts to restore marine ecosystems have shown success in the recovery of underwater seaweed forests in the Mediterranean Sea. Over a span of 10 years, restoration actions led to the regrowth of macroalgae, which provide food and shelter for other species, to a level comparable to undisturbed forests. The study, published in Frontiers in Marine Science, used a trait-based approach to assess the functional recovery of the seaweed forests. The restored locality exhibited greater species diversity, structural complexity, and longer-lived species, indicating signs of long-term recovery and increased potential for supporting biodiversity. This research highlights the importance of ecosystem restoration in combating the degradation of marine ecosystems and fostering resilience. (FrontiersIn)

Scientists aboard the JOIDES Resolution have drilled the deepest hole ever to extract rocks from Earth’s mantle, thousands of feet beneath the North Atlantic Ocean floor. The mantle, composed mainly of silicates, contributes to crust evolution and plate tectonics. By studying these mantle rocks, researchers hope to gain insights into the mantle’s composition, structure, and internal processes, including the role of magma in volcanism. The cores may also shed light on the origins of life, as reactions between mantle rocks and water could have created organic molecules. Additionally, the samples can aid in the study of earthquakes and the mantle’s heat production. The successful extraction marks a significant step toward understanding Earth’s deep interior. (Smithsonian)

NASA’s plan to send astronauts to Mars raises the critical issue of food supply for their three-year mission. Packing prepackaged meals would be insufficient, as micronutrients degrade over time. Chemical engineer Robert Jinkerson proposes an on-board garden in the dark, fueled by artificial nutrients. By reactivating metabolic pathways in genetically modified plants, electricity from solar panels could convert crew-exhaled carbon dioxide and water into energy-rich hydrocarbons for plant growth. Jinkerson’s team has shown promising results with modified plants thriving on a light-free regimen. The vision includes using acetate and sugars as potential food sources, with the hope of revolutionizing agriculture on Earth and enabling sustained food production in space. However, challenges remain, including the need to trigger certain processes with minimal light and the cost-effectiveness of implementing these methods. (Science)

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

WORDS: The Biology Guy. (@thebiologyguy)


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