Last week online

In which teens sext, a space rocket explodes, and plants are poached

The latest cover story in The Atlantic on teen sexting would send any parent into a paranoid state of paralysis. What do you do when your daughter sends nude images of herself to her crush? And what to do when your son receives unsolicited nudes from a girl in his class and shares it with his friends? Some are strident in their take-down of teen sexting, saying it should be labeled as child pornography, but others are less dogmatic, recognising that teens will always experiment with sex. This month sexting scandals came to SA in a big way, affecting high schools in both Pretoria and Johannesburg.

Image source: BBC.com

"It came from outer space" goes the famous phrase, but this week "it never made it to outer space" might have been more appropriate. On its way to the International Space Station (ISS) Antares, an unmanned supply rocket, exploded unexpectedly seconds after it left the launch pad. The cause of the malfunction is still unknown, but updates on the wreckage can be found here. Although the rocket never made it to the ISS, you can still enjoy the view from the top by following astronaut Reid Wiseman on twitter as he tweets spectacular images of Earth from low orbit.

Recently we learnt that rhino horn is not the only natural commodity worth smuggling across borders when 24 critically endangered cycads were stolen from Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. The theft of endangered plants, it appears, is an international problem. In January Kew Gardens in London experienced a similar theft of the Nymphaea Thermarum, a critically endangered Rwandan water lily that was painstakingly brought back from the brink of extinction. The Guardian published a fascinating piece this week on the theft of the water lily, and how we are only beginning to understand the market for endangered plants. Last month John Maytham spoke to Dr Adam West of the Department of Biological Sciences at UCT on a new forensic method developed by UCT to identify stolen cycads.


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