Sunday's science stories

Texas officials launch inquiry into winter storm energy bills spike

A neighborhood in Waco, Texas, amid power outages over the state on Feb. 17. Photo by Matthew Busch /AFP via Getty Images

Officials in Texas announced Saturday investigations into the causes of the state's widespread power outages and an energy bills spike following the state's winter storms.

Why it matters: Millions of Texans lost power and water during last week's storms. In the aftermath, wholesale power prices rose from roughly $50 per megawatt hour to $9,000, WFAA reports — noting some Texans faced bills of up to $17,000 so far this month.

In photos: Monsoon floods hit Indonesian capital, force 1,300 to evacuate

An Indonesian man helps a woman navigate a heavy current in a flooded neighborhood of Jakarta, Indonesia. Photo: Ed Wray/Getty Images

Severe monsoon flooding across several areas of Indonesia's capital forced more than 1,300 people to evacuate on Saturday, Reuters reported.

The big picture: The country's meteorology agency warned that conditions are expected to worsen as the heaviest rain of the season could fall in and around Jakarta over the next week, per Reuters.

Feb 20, 2021 - Science

Scientists clone first U.S. endangered species

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday that scientists cloned the first U.S. endangered species, a black-footed ferret duplicated from an animal that died more than 30 years ago.

Why it matters: Cloning could be a technique to help recover black-footed ferrets and other endangered or extinct species.

Feb 20, 2021 - Science

Biden declares major disaster in Texas after winter storms

Long-haul trucks waiting in traffic caused by historic cold weather in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 15. Photo: Montinique Monroe/Getty Images

President Biden declared a major disaster in Texas after severe winter storms struck the state, causing millions of residents to lose power and water.

Why it matters: The declaration clears the way for more federal funds to be spent on relief efforts across the state.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Feb 20, 2021 - Technology

Anthony Levandowski's Church of AI has shut down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A church dedicated to the appreciation of AI and founded by self-driving car engineer Anthony Levandowski has shut down, according to reporting by TechCrunch.

Why it matters: The Way of the Future church may have looked like a prime example of the weirdness of Silicon Valley, but it may eventually serve as an early indicator of how AI could fundamentally alter the human worldview.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Feb 20, 2021 - Science

When the Earth's magnetic poles flipped out

The aurora borealis — which results from disturbances in the Earth's magnosphere caused by solar winds — seen above Murmansk, Russia, last month. Photo: Lev Fedoseyev\TASS via Getty Images

The Earth's magnetic poles temporarily reversed themselves 42,000 years ago, triggering environmental catastrophe, according to a new study.

Why it matters: The research sheds new light on a period of chaotic climatic change and human upheaval — and provides a warning that the same thing could happen to us.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Feb 20, 2021 - Science

Making quantum computing useful

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New research shows how quantum computing can be used effectively on real-world problems.

The big picture: Quantum is undoubtedly the next frontier in computing, but theory still outpaces practice.