Science News in Brief: Not quite as seamless as Spectre

In other news, porpoise numbers are thriving, DTU loses its world record, and the birch pollen season is finally over

One day Danish architects will be so good at blending their designs seamlessly into the landscape that every design will look like Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s lair in ‘You Only Live Twice’. AART’s plans for a new national rowing stadium complete with a tiered and timber-clad boathouse at Bagsværd Lake in Greater Copenhagen aren’t that inconspicuous, but their stylish surroundings wouldn’t look out of place in the next James Bond film. The architects wanted to create a sense of community through the interplay of the key spaces of the stadium, such as the foyer, terrace and boathouse. Additionally, cedar cladding will integrate the centre with its surroundings. AART’s other projects include the extension of the Viking Age Museum in Oslo.


Dreaded pollen season finally over
The birch pollen season – a period of time between early April and late May that reduces hitherto non-hay fever sufferers to spluttering, sneezing wretches – is finally over! A last hurrah saw a stuttering pollen count jump from 4 to 30 particles per cubic metre in Copenhagen on Saturday as temperatures soared above 25 degrees, but then fall back to just 4 on Sunday and zero on Monday, the same level as in Viborg, Jutland. Birch’s welcome departure – over a fourth of the population are allergic to the pollen, which is unsurprising given that it can peak at over 2,000 particles per cubic metre – leaves grass as the only active pollen in Denmark … for now.

Their porpoise is to have a whale of a time
Cetaceans are thriving in Danish waters. According to a recent count by Aarhus University using ships and aircraft, there are 107,000 porpoises, 1,900 dolphins and 600 minke whales. While the numbers haven’t really increased, DR reports that the steady rate is an indication of Denmark’s favourable marine conditions compared to the rest of the Baltic where rivers are increasingly polluting the waters. Nevertheless, porpoises continue to get killed, often ending up as bycatches (caught unintentionally) or drowning as a result of the increase in shipping traffic.

Wily French takes the victory laurels
There were no coyotes involved, but the French showed enough wily verve to see off Denmark’s roadrunners on Sunday. The DTU Roadrunners finished runners-up in the Shell Eco Marathon at the Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park in East London on Sunday – an annual event that challenges teams to travel the furthest possible distance on just a litre of fuel. In 2015, the Roadrunners set a new world record in taking first place (see video), but that mark was easily surpassed by the 2017 winners, the Toulouse outfit TIM, who managed 684.7 km – a long way clear of DTU’s 449 km and world record of 665 km.

Not bad for a litre (photo: DTU Roadrunners Facebook page)