Family News & Events

Family News & Events
Coronavirus: Bat scientists find new evidence

The BBC reported that coronaviruses related to Sars-CoV-2 may be circulating in bats across many parts of Asia.

Scientists have discovered a virus that is a close match to the virus that causes Covid-19 in bats at a sanctuary in Thailand.

They predict that similar coronaviruses may be present in bats across many Asian regions.

The recent discovery extends the area in which similar viruses have been found to a distance of 4,800km. It also gives clues as to how Covid-19 might have emerged.

The researchers say that sampling was limited, but that they were confident that coronaviruses with a “high degree of genetic relatedness” to Sars-CoV-2 are widely present in bats across many Asian nations.

The area includes Japan, China and Thailand, the researchers said in a report published in Nature Communications.

Past studies suggested that Sars-CoV-2 emerged in an animal, the most likely candidate being a bat, before spreading to humans.


Bitcoin uses ‘more electricity than Argentina’

Analysis by Cambridge University hints that the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, uses more electricity annually than the entirety of Argentina.

Cambridge researches say it consumes around 121.36 terawatt-hours a year, and is unlikely to fall unless the value of the currency drops.

The currency’s value recently hit a record high of $48,000 (€39,570) after electric car company, Tesla, announced that it had bought about $1.5 billion Bitcoin and planned to accept it as a payment in the future.

“Mining” the currency uses a lot of power, and involves heavy computer calculations to verify transactions.

The rising price offers more incentive to Bitcoin “miners” to use more and more machines. As the price increases, so too does energy consumption, according to Michel Rauchs, researcher at The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance. He co-created the online tool that generates these estimates.

“It is really by design that Bitcoin consumes that much electricity,” Mr Rauchs told BBC’s Tech Tent podcast. “This is not something that will change in the future unless the Bitcoin price is going to significantly go down.”

‘Hanging’ glacier broke off to trigger India flood

A flash flood in India’s northern state of Uttarakhand killed at least 32 people and trapped workers in underground tunnels. It also ignited much speculation about what caused the deluge.

A team of scientists investigating the incident believe a piece of a Himalayan glacier fell into water and triggered the huge flood in Uttarakhand state.

Five scientists flew over the glacier in a helicopter, taking pictures, and looked at satellite photographs and collected data from the devastated area.

The origin of the incident, they say, was a glacier on a remote and inaccessible 5,600m peak called Raunthi.

The scientists believe that a part of this glacier was wrapped around and hanging on a slope, held up by a mass of rock. This part weakened over a period of time due to freezing and melting.

This chunk of ice and rock broke off February 7, and hurtled down a steep mountain slope, they say.