The current global trend is the stuff of which a bestselling Science Fiction novel is made. But this is, indeed, science fact.
It is unprecedented in the entire history of the earth, in fact, totally unimaginable that a day would come when the entire planet would stand still and locked down – from Europe, to the Americas; from Africa to Asia; Australia, to Japan, Oceania and beyond. All over the place, commercial and social activities have been ground to a screeching halt, all of a sudden.
Flights are grounded. Fewer trains and buses are running. Rush hour is gone. The world – particularly in cities – is looking drastically different during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
According to seismologists, that drastic reduction in human hustle and bustle is causing the Earth to move substantially less. The planet is ‘standing still’.
Thomas Lecocq, a geologist and seismologist at the Royal Observatory in Belgium, noticed that the country’s capital Brussels is experiencing a 30 to 50 percent reduction in ambient seismic noise since the lockdowns began, as CNN reports.
That means data collected by seismologists is becoming more accurate, capable of detecting even the smallest tremors – despite the fact that many of the scientific instruments in use today are near city centers.
“You’ll get a signal with less noise on top, allowing you to squeeze a little more information out of those events,” Andy Frassetto, a seismologist at the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology in Washington DC told Nature.
Researchers in Los Angeles and in West London, UK noticed a similar trend.
But seismologists collecting data from remote stations far away from human civilisation might not see a change at all, according to Nature.
Regardless, a significant drop in seismic noise also shows that we’re at least doing one thing right during the current pandemic: staying in the safety of our own homes as we wait for the virus to run its course.
In the interim, as the global community tackles the COVID-19 headlong scientists, in a race against time, are working to determine where the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has come from.
All the answers are not known yet and this includes whether it came from an animal reservoir. However, a new analysis has definitively put to rest the conspiracies that claim the disease was man-made, cultured in some laboratory.
There are some possibilities of interest regarding the origin of this currently devastating virus, one scenario, suggesting that it may have been circulating harmlessly in humans for quite a while, before becoming the troubling pandemic that has now brought the world to a standstill.
“It is possible that a progenitor of SARS-CoV-2 jumped into humans, acquiring [new genomic features] through adaptation during undetected human-to-human transmission,” a team from the US, UK and Australia writes in their study.
Story adapted with files from, ‘Science Alert’.
Photos: ISS, courtesy, NASA; coronavirus COVID-19, courtesy,nature.com; illustration, courtesy, adeboyeadegbenro.org.