This week in science

According to new findings, Africa is splitting into two continents.

When it comes to the world of science, discoveries and breakthroughs are made every day. To help you keep up with them, The Battalion compiles a few of the most compelling scientific stories from this past week.

Geology: Geologist have evidence Africa is splitting into two continents

Due to a large crack appearing in Kenya, seismic activity appeared in the Nairobi-Narok Highway showing signs that Africa could be splitting into two separate continents. Due to the Earth’s lithosphere being broken up by tectonic plates, the plates are always moving and move relative to each other's at different speeds. Two of these plates, the Somali and the Nubian plates, split Africa unevenly and due to the chance of plates moving and forming rifts, the movements can create new plate boundaries and land separation.

When tectonic plates become subject to horizontal force, they can stretch and become thinner and rupture into rift valleys. This leads to the initial stage of a continental break-up and through volcanism and seismic activity, a ocean basin can form. In the Afar region, the lithosphere is thinned to almost a complete break up and over the length of millions of years, the entire rift will seperate. While these events are quite far away, scientists see the African continent becoming smaller due to the ocean flooding in.

Physics: Hundreds of black holes may be at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy

According to a new study, hundreds of black holes may lie at the center of the Milky Way and could change how scientists view how galaxies evolve over time. While many galaxies have one supermassive black hole at the core, scientists suspected that this region might also include many small ones orbiting a small space.

Scientists at Columbia University used instruments to detect high-energy radiation emitted by the hot material near stars around the black holes. When the scientists looked at the region in space, around 12 light-years away, they found 12 sources that can include small-mass black holes. Just from these 12 sources though, they can include 300 to 500 solo black holes orbiting the massive black hole in the center.

Health: Asthma linked to higher rates of bone fractures, especially for boys

A new study finds that asthma is linked to bone fractures, especially in boys. One in seven children have asthma and data from the study shows that asthma was associated with fractures in children still developing bone structure.

Over 900 fractures were observed among participants and the study found association in boys but not girls. The study looked at asthma symptoms classified by the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood questionnaire and categorised specific cases as recent wheeze, recent wheezy episodes, doctor visit for wheeze symptoms and doctor visits for asthma check-ups. Boys, but not girls with a recent wheeze, or who had recent wheezy episodes, were mostly to fracture. The scientists say that this is the largest study in children and due to the connection, want to look for more strategies to promote bone health among children with asthma.

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