ON THIS DAY in 1986, workers ran a safety test at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in northern Ukraine. But the test went awry, starting a fire in a reactor and leading to one of the largest nuclear disasters in history. Smoke from the fire and a second explosion launched radioactive elements into the atmosphere, scattering them over the surrounding fields and towns. Now, 35 years later, scientists are still uncovering the extent of the damage and starting to answer questions about the long-term legacy of radiation exposure on power plant workers, the people in the nearby community, and even their family members born years later.
In two papers published Thursday in Science, an international team of researchers took on two very different but important questions. The first paper tracked the effects of radiation on the children of people who were exposed and found that there were no transgenerational mutations that were passed down from those parents. The second focused on thyroid cancer caused by radiation exposure and examined how radiation acts on DNA to cause the growth of cancerous tumors.
AT MIDNIGHT, A week before last Christmas, hackers struck an electric transmission station north of the city of Kiev, blacking out a portion of the Ukrainian capital equivalent to a fifth of its total power capacity. The outage lasted about an hour—hardly a catastrophe. But now, cybersecurity researchers have found disturbing evidence that the blackout may have only been a dry run. The hackers appear to have been testing the most evolved specimen of grid-sabotaging malware ever observed in the wild.
Ukraine has joined a number of postal services that are testing drones. But these tests are doing more than hooking up a parcel to a quadcopter, flying it, and then discussing the implications. The Ukrainian postal service, UkrPoshta, is working with the Israeli drone company Flytrex to bring regular drone deliveries to the country.
The chief advantage of drone deliveries is that they are cheap. Each drone delivery costs just $0.15, even though it runs point-to-point, heading out from the depot to the delivery destination and back again for each package. Three drones are expected to be able to ferry the same amount of cargo as one van—without the expense of a driver. “It never needs to take a lunch break,” says Flytrap CEO Yariv Bash.