Is the Great Barrier Reef part of your bucket list? Then, you would have come across several stories circulating online that claim that the Great Barrier Reef is dead. Worry not, the Great Barrier Reef is not yet dead but it perilously close to danger.
For those who are unfamiliar, the Great Barrier Reef is a 1400 mile long living coral shelf along the coasts of Australia. Famous writer Rowan Jacobsen has written an obituary for this great natural wonder and this is what has triggered all the hoopla about the reef being dead. Rowan Jacobsen in this obituary mentions that the reef is one of the most spectacular natural features on the entire planet. Before you start drafting your own obituaries for this great natural wonder, scientists who are a part of the study of coral reefs caution you to take a deep breath and slow down.
The news surrounding the real status of the coral reefs are not good however the situation is not as dire as the obituary claims. Kim Cobb a senior professor at Georgia’s Tech School for Earth and Atmospheric Sciences states that there is still hope for the reef and asks people to put an end to the misconception floating in the online world. The article doesn’t consider the science behind coral resilience.
We give you an extract from his interview with the LA times.
Is the reef really dead?
No, the reefs are now undergoing what is called as a bleaching. However, from past studies, it has been found that the corals have the capability to come back to life.
So is there nothing to worry about bleaching of corals?
Corals are animals and it exists in a symbiotic relationship with algae. The algae supply food for the corals, while the corals provide a home for the algae. So now during bleaching what we are seeing is actually corals without algae. So bleached corals aren’t dead and there is still hope.
These are all warning bells for us to take better care of our environment.
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Scientists have for the first time ever observed the phenomenon called as gravitation waves. These are ripples or disturbances caused in the fabric of space time, which reach our planet as a result of a cataclysmic event in some distant part of our universe. This rare phenomenon has further confirmed the General Theory of Relativity, put forth by Albert Einstein in 1915. This has further opened a new avenue of exploration into our cosmos.
The unique feature of these gravitational waves is that they carry information on their origins and the very nature of gravitational forces of the place where they originated from. Physicists claim that the current gravitational waves that were observed, originated during the final second of the union of two black holes. This led to the formation of one huge fast spinning black hole. The theory that two black holes can collide has been in existence for a long time. But this is the first time that scientists are able to observe this rare phenomenon.
The gravitational waves were observed on 14th September 2015, at 9.51 UTC by the twin Laser Interferometers located at Hanford, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana. Based on the signals that were observed, scientists at LIGO predict that the black holes that generated these gravitational waves would have mass more that 29 and 36 times of the sun, respectively. The event must have occurred around 1.3 billions of years ago. The gravitational waves had mass nearly thrice that of the sun. They also claim that the source of this rare event must have been situated in the Southern Hemisphere.
The presence of gravitational waves was first studies by Joseph Taylor Jr. and his team in the 1970s and 1980s. Scientists are hoping that this first observation of gravitational waves will increase the funding and construction of a global network of detectors that can then pool in their resources to observe further such rare events.