Also – did ancient supernovae cause human evolution, and an environmental call to action for Filipino students

Exploding stars led to humans walking on two legs, radical study suggests

(Ian Sample, The Guardian, 5/28/19)

A controversial paper published in The Journal of Geology suggested that a flurry of supernovae activity not far from Earth 7 million years ago triggered a series of events that led to human evolution. In the paper, the scientists argue that the Earth was bombarded with cosmic rays from the supernovae which caused the Earth’s atmosphere to ionize, which in turn led to more lighting and wildfires. In the aftermath of the fires there were newly empty grasslands and savannahs, where it is already believed that early hominids started walking upright to see over the grass. The paper’s hypothesis hinges on whether cosmic rays effect lighting activity, which has not been definitively proven.

New Filipino law requires every student to plant 10 trees if they want to graduate

(Trevor Nace, Forbes, 5/29/19)

In order to combat deforestation, the Philippines Senate is considering a bill that would require elementary, high school, and college graduates to plant 10 trees in order to complete their graduation requirements. The government would help fund nurseries for seedling production and provide technical help, and the bill includes specifications for where and what kind of trees should be planted. Proponents estimate that the bill would lead to 525 billion trees being planted in one generation.

New report shows dramatic improvement in melanoma survival rates

(Washington Post, Paige Winfield Cunningham, 5/30/19)

Fatalities from melanoma have fallen dramatically in the past decade, according to an annual cancer report released this morning by the National Cancer Institute. Annual death rates from melanoma declined 8.5 percent among men from 2014 to 2016 and 6.3 percent among women from 2013 to 2016. The improvements are even greater among African Americans, who develop melanoma less often but of more severe varieties. The revolution in immunotherapies and newer targeted therapies are being credited with the turnaround.

—Compiled by Senior Scientific Writer Mary Parker