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6 July 2013 | NewScientist | 5 SUPERSTOCK VULCAN has disappeared! Mr Spock’s home world will not give its name to a moon of Pluto, despite the best efforts of Star Trek actor William Shatner. The names of Pluto’s fourth and fifth moons will keep the Graeco- Roman mythological theme but be called Kerberos, after a three- headed hellhound, and Styx, a river in the underworld. The moons, originally known as P4 and P5, were discovered in 2011 and 2012 by astronomers at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. In February, the team asked the public to vote on a list of 12 names taken from Greek and Roman mythology related to Hades and the underworld, in line with Pluto’s other moons Charon, Nix and Hydra. Proposals for names were also allowed, and Shatner’s backing pushed Vulcan to a clear lead ahead of Cerberus and Styx. The International Astronomical Union has the final say, though. The term Vulcan is already used to refer to hypothetical bodies within the orbit of Mercury, while Cerberus is the name of an asteroid discovered in 1971, hence the decision to go with the Greek version, Kerberos. Pluto moons named THERE’S now only one cetacean species in the Yangtze river, and it is in serious danger of extinction. Just six years after the Yangtze river dolphin was declared extinct – the first cetacean to disappear thanks to human activity – the Yangtze finless porpoise has been labelled as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Sam Turvey of the Zoological Society of London and the IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group, and colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, used records of dead and stranded porpoises to model the Yangtze’s porpoise population. They conclude that it crashed by 52 per cent between 1991 and 2006 and predict that the porpoise will go extinct in a matter of decades. A survey at the end of 2012 shows an even more startling decline. “In 2008 we estimated a population of 1100 to 1200 in the main river, whereas the end-2012 survey had a population estimate of only around 500 animals,” says Turvey. There may be a few hundred more in interconnected lake systems. The Yangtze services the needs of hundreds of millions of people, and Turvey blames collisions with river traffic, pollution and accidental fishing by-catch for the decline. “This is a wake-up call to the world to try to get it right for Yangtze cetaceans a second time round,” he says, and suggests a breeding programme in the oxbow lakes adjacent to the river. XU DIANBO Three-parent baby The UK looks set to produce the first “three-parent” baby, after the government agreed to draft legislation allowing mitochondrial transfer – an IVF technique that uses a small amount of genetic material from a second female donor. The treatment will allow women with mitochondrial faults to have children that could otherwise inherit debilitating disorders. Gamma-ray universe The highest energy cosmic map is part mayhem, part mystery. For three years, NASA’s Fermi space telescope scanned the sky for gamma rays with energies between 10 and 300 gigaelectronvolts. The result is 514 individual sources of gamma rays, mostly violent blazar galaxies and spinning stars called pulsars. But there is a strange haze that might be a sign of dark matter. Fracking England Is the fracking boom headed for England? According to the British Geological Survey, the north of the country has between 23 and 65 trillion cubic metres of shale gas, which can only be extracted by fracking. It remains unclear whether extracting the gas will be economical. A life on plastic The plastic we throw into the oceans is home to thousands of species of microbes. Microscopic fragments of plastic in the Atlantic Ocean have been colonised by microbes not found in open water, a community dubbed the “plastisphere”. Some may help break down the plastic (Environmental Science & Technology, doi.org/m4q). Never-ending journey NASA’s Voyager 1 is further from Earth than any other craft but has still not left the solar system, despite indications it had entered a different environment. Instead, it is in a new phase of the heliopause – the edge of the magnetic bubble around the sun. Situation criticalNot fit for porpoise Russia’s crash woes “Mr Spock’s home world will not give its name to a moon, despite the best efforts of William Shatner” “This is a wake-up call to the world to try and get it right for Yangtze cetaceans the second time around” ROCKET science can go wrong – especially, it seems, in Russia. The fiery crash of the Proton-M rocket shortly after launch on 2 July is the latest in a string of Russian space mishaps in recent years. Suspected engine failure caused the rocket to veer off course, then flip upside down and break apart before smashing into the ground near the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It was carrying three GLONASS satellites, intended to form part of Russia’s alternative to GPS navigation. In 2010, another Proton-M rocket crashed with three GLONASS satellites on board, and in November 2011, the Phobos-Grunt probe, bound for a Martian moon, got stuck in Earth orbit before burning up on re-entry. Earlier this year, a joint Russia-Ukraine Zenith-3SL rocket crashed shortly after an ocean- based launch. 60 SECONDS Liver and let liveFor daily news stories, visit newscientist.com/news

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6 July 2013 | NewScientist | 5

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VULCAN has disappeared! Mr Spock’s home world will not give its name to a moon of Pluto, despite the best efforts of Star Trek actor William Shatner.

The names of Pluto’s fourth and fifth moons will keep the Graeco-Roman mythological theme but be called Kerberos, after a three-headed hellhound, and Styx, a river in the underworld.

The moons, originally known as P4 and P5, were discovered in 2011 and 2012 by astronomers at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. In February, the team asked the public to vote on a list of 12 names taken from Greek and Roman mythology related to Hades and the underworld, in line with Pluto’s other moons Charon, Nix and Hydra.

Proposals for names were also allowed, and Shatner’s backing pushed Vulcan to a clear lead ahead of Cerberus and Styx. The International Astronomical Union has the final say, though. The term Vulcan is already used to refer to hypothetical bodies within the orbit of Mercury, while Cerberus is the name of an asteroid discovered in 1971, hence the decision to go with the Greek version, Kerberos.

Pluto moons named

THERE’S now only one cetacean species in the Yangtze river, and it is in serious danger of extinction.

Just six years after the Yangtze river dolphin was declared extinct – the first cetacean to disappear thanks to human activity – the Yangtze finless porpoise has been labelled as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Sam Turvey of the Zoological Society of London and the IUCN

Cetacean Specialist Group, and colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, used records of dead and stranded porpoises to model the Yangtze’s porpoise population. They conclude that it crashed by 52 per cent between 1991 and 2006 and predict that the porpoise will go extinct in a matter of decades. A survey at the end of 2012 shows an even more startling decline. “In 2008 we estimated a population of 1100 to 1200 in the main river, whereas the end-2012 survey had a population estimate of only around 500 animals,” says Turvey. There may be a few hundred more in interconnected lake systems.

The Yangtze services the needs of hundreds of millions of people, and Turvey blames collisions with river traffic, pollution and accidental fishing by-catch for the decline. “This is a wake-up call to the world to try to get it right for Yangtze cetaceans a second time round,” he says, and suggests a breeding programme in the oxbow lakes adjacent to the river.

“Quote to go in here over four lines range left like this Quote to go in her like this xxxxx”

Xu

Dia

nbo Three-parent baby

The UK looks set to produce the first “three-parent” baby, after the government agreed to draft legislation allowing mitochondrial transfer – an IVF technique that uses a small amount of genetic material from a second female donor. The treatment will allow women with mitochondrial faults to have children that could otherwise inherit debilitating disorders.

Gamma-ray universeThe highest energy cosmic map is part mayhem, part mystery. For three years, NASA’s Fermi space telescope scanned the sky for gamma rays with energies between 10 and 300 gigaelectronvolts. The result is 514 individual sources of gamma rays, mostly violent blazar galaxies and spinning stars called pulsars. But there is a strange haze that might be a sign of dark matter.

Fracking EnglandIs the fracking boom headed for England? According to the British Geological Survey, the north of the country has between 23 and 65 trillion cubic metres of shale gas, which can only be extracted by fracking. It remains unclear whether extracting the gas will be economical.

A life on plasticThe plastic we throw into the oceans is home to thousands of species of microbes. Microscopic fragments of plastic in the Atlantic Ocean have been colonised by microbes not found in open water, a community dubbed the “plastisphere”. Some may help break down the plastic (Environmental Science & Technology, doi.org/m4q).

Never-ending journeyNASA’s Voyager 1 is further from Earth than any other craft but has still not left the solar system, despite indications it had entered a different environment. Instead, it is in a new phase of the heliopause – the edge of the magnetic bubble around the sun.

–Situation critical–

Not fit for porpoise

Russia’s crash woes

“Mr Spock’s home world will not give its name to a moon, despite the best efforts of William Shatner”

“ This is a wake-up call to the world to try and get it right for Yangtze cetaceans the second time around”

ROCKET science can go wrong – especially, it seems, in Russia. The fiery crash of the Proton-M rocket shortly after launch on 2 July is the latest in a string of Russian space mishaps in recent years.

Suspected engine failure caused the rocket to veer off course, then flip upside down and break apart before smashing into the ground near the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It was carrying three GLONASS satellites, intended to form part of Russia’s alternative to GPS navigation.

In 2010, another Proton-M rocket crashed with three GLONASS satellites on board, and in November 2011, the Phobos-Grunt probe, bound for a Martian moon, got stuck in Earth orbit before burning up on re-entry. Earlier this year, a joint Russia-Ukraine Zenith-3SL rocket crashed shortly after an ocean-based launch.

60 SecoNdS

–Liver and let live–

For daily news stories, visit newscientist.com/news

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