The thousand uses of lichens

Throughout history, humans have used lichens for a variety of purposes. The oldest evidence of lichen use dates back to the ancient Egyptians, who used some species to make bread flour and others for cosmetic and medicinal purposes. They also…


An indicator of environmental quality

The lichen-rich tundra has proved very useful for studying the spread of pollutants around the world: the wind carries pollutants everywhere, even distances of thousands of kilometres. Lichens are good bio-indicators, i.e. they are organisms that allow us to recognise…


Unusual vegetables

Distributed at all latitudes, lichens are able to conquer extreme biotopes, adapting to living in places where plants would find it difficult to survive: they overcome critical periods by rapidly going into dormant phases during which respiration and photosynthesis are…


Stephen Hawking, science’s brightest star

Stephen Hawking was a great man of science. His scientific interests ranged from cosmology to physics, from mathematics to artificial intelligence. In recent times he even took an interest in space exploration with the Breakthrough Starshot project to send miniature…


Watch out for aliens!

Italy has some new inhabitants, but that is no cause for celebration: the list of alien species is long. Two important “aliens” are the harlequin ladybird and the blue crab. Let's get to know them better… Originating from central and…


The rhinoceros, an endangered animal

Rhinoceroses appeared on Earth around 40 million years ago spreading across Asia, Africa, Europe and North America, and shared the planet with humans for millennia, as can be seen from cave paintings portraying them, found in the Chauvet Cave in…


Soil erosion

Just like water, air and other natural elements, the soil may be considered a resource; it is, however, a non-renewable resource (FAO, 2015; APPA, 2012) – or a potentially renewable one if it is considered from a geological point of…


New photocatalytic compounds

The term "photocatalysis" refers to a phenomenon by which a substance alters the speed of a chemical reaction. This substance, called "photocatalyst", is activated on simple exposure to light, whether natural or artificial. The most common example of a photocatalytic…


20 July 2016: 40 years ago the Viking 1 lander touched down on Mars

On 20 July of 40 years ago, the Viking 1 lander touched down on Mars and made history as the first NASA space mission to perform a successful landing on the fourth planet of the solar system (all international missions…

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