Abstracts: Scott Pruitt, SpaceX, Zealandia, and More


• Scott Pruitt was confirmed as head of the EPA on Friday, much to the dismay of environmental advocacy groups. (Washington Post)

Over 90 percent of Zealandia’s landmass is underwater, but researchers say that doesn’t preclude it from being considered a continent. Visual: iStock.com

• Seagrass meadows keep the ocean hospitable for marine life by providing shelter, generating oxygen, and feeding fish. But it turns out these plants aren’t just good for room and board — they also provide sanitation services. (Smithsonian)

• The House of Representatives approved a resolution Thursday that would allow states withhold federal funds from healthcare providers that offer abortions. (Associated Press)

• We have liftoff! SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center Sunday, using the launchpad that once sent Apollo missions to the moon. (CBS)

• Earth’s seven continents make up an elite class of landmass. Some geologists argue that the mostly underwater “Zealandia” deserves the same status. (BBC)

• A new study shows that babies with a particular type of fungus in their guts are more likely to develop asthma. (Science News)

• Scientists trying to bring back the woolly mammoth expect to genetically engineer a mammoth-elephant hybrid embryo within two years. “Jurassic Park” jokes abound, but some scientists are more concerned with having a Frankenstein situation on their hands: Would the so-called “mammophant” be accepted by elephants? (The Guardian)

• Hundreds of scientists, activists, and community members gathered in Boston’s Copley Square on Sunday to protest against the Trump administration’s attacks on science.

• And finally, a rediscovered essay written by Winston Churchill in 1939 reveals the politician’s long-lost thoughts on the possibility of extraterrestrial life. (Christian Science Monitor)