Welcome to your weekly dose of science! Your correspondent is covering a lot of ground in this installment, and pushing seven hundred words on science-related topics could be construed as flirting with overkill. So, jump in!


1. Got Drought? Drink Sewage. Seriously. As disgusting as it sounds on the surface, recycled sewage water – known as “effluent” – may soon provide a viable supplement to drought-stricken water supplies in states like California and elsewhere. Using advanced, multi-step treatment processes involving such obscure, wonderful methods as microfiltration and reverse osmosis, fragrant sewage is stripped of 99.9999 percent of its impurities, transformed into clean liquid with “the brilliance of a well-cut diamond.”

The end product is a steady flow of water far purer than any coming out of existing municipal filtration systems. Treated sewage water, routed directly from the plant to the tap, could provide millions of people with the cleanest, safest drinking water they’ve ever encountered. The question remains…will they drink it?


2. The Milky Way Has Giant Bubbles. Deal With It. Take a voyage with your correspondent to a lonely spot deep in interstellar space, nestled among the empty darkness between the stars. From here, you can see your entire home galaxy spread out before you in all its glory. Now, don a special pair of glasses your correspondent brilliantly invented in his secret lab, allowing you to “see” gamma rays and their effect on the surrounding order of creation. What incomprehensible sight greets your wondering eyes?

Massive structures towering tens of thousands of light-years above the center of the galaxy, glowing brightly in gamma rays. These are the Fermi Bubbles.

A recent report in Scientific American, penned by the discoverers of the Fermi Bubbles, proffered a theory on their stellar origins. The astonishingly intense magnetic fields created by a supermassive black hole enthroned at the center of our galaxy may emit gigantic jets of radiation outward into deep space, inflating the bubbles. These jets pass through a large gas cloud known as the “Magellanic stream,” separating electrons from their accompanying atoms. When the electrons and atoms find each other again, the resulting “recombination radiation” causes the bubbles to glow in gamma rays, making them visible to observant astronomers on earth.

Whatever the reason, it is now highly probable that our galaxy, viewed from an obscene distance in the right conditions, looks something like this:


3. Chimps Follow Fashion Trends. Apparently, our close cousins are just as style-conscious as we. A group of researchers publishing in the journal of Animal Cognition observed over 700 hours of video footage documenting the actions of chimps. When a female chimp named Julie stuck a blade of grass in her ear, she unwittingly created a new fashion trend for her fellows. Other chimps followed her example, and the hot new style became a regular thing for one of the four social groups of chimpanzees living in the sanctuary. Lead researched Edwin Van Leeuwen noted that

“This reflects chimpanzees’ proclivity to actively investigate and learn from group members’ behaviors in order to obtain biologically relevant information.”

Another interpretation? Maybe fashion is a whole lot more arbitrary than we think. This is a comforting thought to your correspondent, who will now quote this study loudly while walking through the mall in his pajama pants.


4. Caribbean Reefs Could Disappear Within Twenty Years. The widespread decline of grazing fish spurred by the twin threats of pollution and overfishing could call curtains on the Caribbean’s gorgeous reefs, warns a significant new report in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Analyzing 35,000 surveys taken since 1970 from a hundred different Caribbean locations, experts found that coral formations have declined by an astonishing 50 percent.

The horrendous news is tempered somewhat by the possible solutions. Protecting reefs from life-threatening trends and devoting effort to restoring key fish populations could herald a resurgence from the reefs, returning them to their former glory and making them hardier to the travails of existence in a changing ocean.


5. Enjoy Thirty-Two Rounds Of Awesome. Since your correspondent is apparently making a habit of populating this final section of his weekly science report with an amusing GIF rather than stringent scientific reporting, he is just going to pitch the fork to Buzzfeed this week, who has assembled an astounding collection of joyously strange science GIFs for your edification and enjoyment.

Without further ado:



Any science stories catch your eye this week? Should we start an MUI PR Blog campaign to save the coral reefs? Start the discussion in the comments below or connect with me on Twitter @aa_murph