SHORT SCIENCE

Andes ice yields traces of silver mine operated by slaves

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 February, 2015, 8:09am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 February, 2015, 10:26am

Evidence of slave mines found in Andes ice

After vanquishing the Inca empire, Spanish conquistadors forced natives to toil in silver mines in dire conditions that claimed many lives. Scientists have described evidence of this bitter chapter of South American history preserved deep in an ice cap in the Peruvian Andes in the form of residue from clouds of metallic dust spewed from the mines starting in the 16th century. The mountain-top mines of Potosi in Bolivia were the world's richest silver source. The pollutants spawned by the Spanish colonial-era silver operations from the 16th century through the 18th century consisted mostly of lead but also arsenic and others. Researchers called it the earliest evidence of large-scale, human-produced air pollution in South America. The pollutants were reminders of "the sad conditions and fate of tens of thousands locals exploited in the silver mining operations." Ohio State University scientist Paolo Gabrielli said. Reuters

 

Embryonic system is new star attraction

Astronomers have snatched the first glimpse of a quadruple star system in the early stages of formation. The observations, reported in the journal Nature, help to explain how systems with more than one star - a phenomenon that is surprisingly common in our galaxy - are born. The system was found in a fragmented cloud of gas in a "stellar nursery" located in the constellation of Perseus about 800 light years from earth. AFP

 

Africa needs to rethink global warming: study

Investments in African schools, health care and other infrastructure are at risk from the long-term impacts of global warming because governments and businesses are not considering climate information in their plans, researchers have warned. "African decision-makers are overwhelmed by a large number of immediate, short-term development needs, and this can eclipse longer-term concerns," said Lindsey Jones, one of the authors, with the London-based Overseas Development Institute. Reuters