Underwater robots just discovered the world’s biggest dead zone

May 1, 2018 by  
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Underwater robots exploring off the coast of Oman made a devastating discovery this week: the largest dead zone in the world, covering at least the size of Scotland and possibly more. While scientists already knew that there was a dead zone in the Gulf of Oman, they had no idea just how bad it was–until now. Scientists from the  University of East Anglia and Oman’s Sultan Qaboos University launched undersea robots to explore the dead zone, and they published their findings in Geophysical Research Letters . “Our research shows that the situation is actually worse than feared – and that the area of dead zone is vast and growing,” said Dr Bastien Queste, who led the research. “The ocean is suffocating.” Related: Report: meat industry responsible for largest-ever ‘dead zone’ in Gulf of Mexico A dead zone is a place where oxygen is depleted because of climate change and/or chemical run-off from land. Sea life requires oxygen to live, and so, in these areas, nothing can survive. “It’s a real environmental problem, with dire consequences for humans, too, who rely on the oceans for food and employment,” said Queste. Robots ventured 1,000 meters underwater in the Gulf of Oman and spent eight months gathering data. The robots learned that the dead zone exists between a depth of 200 and 800 meters, occupies a zone larger than Scotland, and is continuing to grow. Unless we address the problem, it could have huge consequences for life both in and out of the sea. + Geophysical Research Letters Via IFLScience Images via Google Maps  and Deposit Photos

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Underwater robots just discovered the world’s biggest dead zone

Otherworldly tree sculpture mimics plant growth with glowing veins

May 1, 2018 by  
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Architecture and design practice Orproject has created a striking sculpture in Düsseldorf, Germany that combines biomimicry with innovative technologies. Created to simulate plant growth, Photopsis takes the form of a tree built from 100 CNC -cut and CNC-bent stainless steel panels. And, at night, the fiber-optic cables that branch out across the sculpture light up like glowing veins. Winner of an A’Design Award , Photopsis was created mainly through computational algorithms and digital simulations of plant growth. “This venation algorithm simulates the need of plants to reach the sun light or of veins in leaves to supply every cell with nutrients,” wrote the architects. “In doing so, the growth of the branches or the veins slowly expands to cover a large area.” Related: Orproject Unveils Giant Bubbles Filled With Fresh Air for Polluted Beijing The lighting system projector is hidden in the sculpture’s concrete foundation. The base of the sculpture is also the starting point for a bundle of 200 fiber-optic cables, which gradually branch out to connect to all the nodes on the stainless steel surface, mimicking veins of crawling ivy on a tree. Though the glowing veins are almost imperceptible during daytime, they give Photopsis an otherworldly glow at night. + Orproject Photography: Kateryna Iakovlieva, Orproject

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Otherworldly tree sculpture mimics plant growth with glowing veins

For the first time ever, all villages in India have electricity

April 30, 2018 by  
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India has just reached a major energy milestone: for the first time ever, every single one of its inhabited villages has electricity. There are nearly 600,000 villages in the country, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised that they would all be connected to power within 1,000 days of August 2015. Last Saturday, Leisang village was connected to India’s power grid, completing that promise. I salute the efforts of all those who worked tirelessly on the ground, including the team of officials, the technical staff and all others, to make this dream of a #PowerfulIndia a reality. Their efforts today will help generations of Indians in the coming years. pic.twitter.com/t8WjZgpNuT — Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 29, 2018 While Leisang was connected to the main power grid, some villages have relied on off-grid supply networks, usually powered by solar . Pakol, a village in the same same state, was the last village to be powered by an off-grid system. The power initiative, which Modi tags as #PowerfulIndia, also seeks to strengthen metering and power distribution within the country. Leisang village in Manipur, like the thousands of other villages across India has been powered and empowered! This news will make every Indian proud and delighted. https://t.co/UCPEEITbIM #PowerfulIndia — Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 29, 2018 Related: The Indian city of Diu is 100% powered by the sun A village is considered to have power if 10 percent of its buildings have access to electricity . That means India has a long way to go before everyone has working power, but the successful initiative is a milestone nonetheless.” Village electrification means that the infrastructure to supply power has now reached certain parts of the village. The next step should be to focus on providing connection to all households and ensuring adequate power supply to these homes,” former power secretary P Uma Shankar said. It is up to individual homes to seek electrification if they choose. Via Times of India Image via Deposit Photos

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For the first time ever, all villages in India have electricity

For the first time ever, all villages in India have electricity

April 30, 2018 by  
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India has just reached a major energy milestone: for the first time ever, every single one of its inhabited villages has electricity. There are nearly 600,000 villages in the country, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised that they would all be connected to power within 1,000 days of August 2015. Last Saturday, Leisang village was connected to India’s power grid, completing that promise. I salute the efforts of all those who worked tirelessly on the ground, including the team of officials, the technical staff and all others, to make this dream of a #PowerfulIndia a reality. Their efforts today will help generations of Indians in the coming years. pic.twitter.com/t8WjZgpNuT — Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 29, 2018 While Leisang was connected to the main power grid, some villages have relied on off-grid supply networks, usually powered by solar . Pakol, a village in the same same state, was the last village to be powered by an off-grid system. The power initiative, which Modi tags as #PowerfulIndia, also seeks to strengthen metering and power distribution within the country. Leisang village in Manipur, like the thousands of other villages across India has been powered and empowered! This news will make every Indian proud and delighted. https://t.co/UCPEEITbIM #PowerfulIndia — Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 29, 2018 Related: The Indian city of Diu is 100% powered by the sun A village is considered to have power if 10 percent of its buildings have access to electricity . That means India has a long way to go before everyone has working power, but the successful initiative is a milestone nonetheless.” Village electrification means that the infrastructure to supply power has now reached certain parts of the village. The next step should be to focus on providing connection to all households and ensuring adequate power supply to these homes,” former power secretary P Uma Shankar said. It is up to individual homes to seek electrification if they choose. Via Times of India Image via Deposit Photos

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For the first time ever, all villages in India have electricity

Scientists pledge to sequence the DNA of all 1.5 million known species on Earth

April 25, 2018 by  
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You may have heard of the Human Genome Project, but an international group of researchers has recently announced plans to go one step further. The Earth BioGenome Project is a massive effort to sequence the DNA of every single one of the 1.5 million species on Earth – and it will officially be the largest genome sequencing project ever undertaken. Ultimately, scientists hope that it will help us understand and protect the plants, animals, and fungi that call our planet home. Researchers announced their ambitious plans this week at the World Economic Forum , writing that “increasing our understanding of Earth’s biodiversity and responsibly stewarding its resources are among the most crucial scientific and social challenges of the new millennium. These challenges require fundamental new knowledge of the organization, evolution, functions, and interactions among millions of the planet’s organisms.” Related: Atacama ‘alien’ skeleton’s identity revealed by genetic testing So far, we’ve sequenced just 0.2 percent (about 2,500) of the eukaryotic species on Earth, so we have a long way to go to before reaching the 1.5 million known species – and that doesn’t even take into account the estimated 10 to 15 million undiscovered ones. The entire project is estimated to take about 10 years and $4.7 billion to complete. While that may sound like a ton of money, sequencing a genome is just a fraction of the cost that it used to be. In fact, today sequencing a new species costs just $30,000, compared to the $2.7 billion it cost to sequence the first human genome. Once completed, the data will be made available as part of the public domain. Via Gizmodo Image via Nikola Jovanovic and Deposit Photos

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Scientists pledge to sequence the DNA of all 1.5 million known species on Earth

EPA to consider burning wood a ‘carbon neutral’ energy source

April 25, 2018 by  
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Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new policy which will classify the burning of wood as a ‘carbon neutral’ fuel source. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt unveiled this policy shift to an audience of timber industry leaders in Georgia, who have a vested interest in whether they can market wood-based fuel products as ‘green energy.’ Pruitt supported his decision by claiming that forest regrowth will lead to greater absorption of carbon dioxide and somehow counteract the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions resulting from deforestation and burning wood. Scientists, none of whom were consulted in this policy change, disagree. “Today’s announcement grants America’s foresters much-needed certainty and clarity with respect to the carbon neutrality of forest biomass,” Pruitt said in a  press release . A study published by British think-tank Chatham House concluded that when all emissions and carbon absorption is accounted for, harvesting energy from burning wood produces carbon pollution equivalent to that of coal . Further, using this method of energy to create steam may be 50 percent more carbon intensive than coal. Scientist William Moomaw, who focuses on forests and their role in climate change, told Mashable that the policy was announced with “zero consultation” of agency scientists or the EPA’s Science Advisory Board. “It’s a bad idea because anything that has carbon in it produces carbon dioxide when you burn it,” Moomaw said. “This is horrific.” Related: Iceland is replanting its forests 1,000 years after vikings razed them The EPA’s decision to inaccurately classify burning wood as carbon neutral may have global consequences. “Between this and the Europeans [who constitute the largest market for bioenergy], it means no chance of staying within the 2-degree limit,” Moomaw explained. Even if the forests do grow back to their original state, the damage will already be done. “The carbon dioxide in the air will have warmed the planet. … When the tree regrows, the glacier doesn’t regrow,” Moomaw said. “The climate change effects are irreversible. Carbon neutrality is not climate neutrality.” Via Mashable Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Scientists just learned what makes Yellowstone’s supervolcano tick

April 18, 2018 by  
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We all know about the supervolcano boiling underneath Yellowstone – but, until now, we didn’t know what was fueling the cauldron. This week, scientists revealed that they were able to model the behavior of two magma chambers underground by using supercomputer technology. At one point, these two magma lakes almost meet, forming a slab of pressure-trapping rock. That rock could be the powder keg that fuels the volcano. University of Oregon geologist Ilya Bindeman and his team ran simulations based on research from the University of Utah , which had determined that two gigantic magma chambers lay underneath Yellowstone. Bindeman’s simulations showed how those magma chambers formed over the course of 7 million years. ? Using these models, researchers determined that a cooler magma shelf is crushed between the two magma bodies about six miles below the surface. This so-called “gabbro rock” is found in other supervolcanoes around the world. Someday, scientists will be able to use this information to help shed a little light on how and when the Yellowstone volcano might blow, as well as what feeds it. Related: NASA considers puncturing Yellowstone supervolcano to save life on Earth “This is the nursery, a geological and petrological match with eruptive products. We think that this structure is what causes the rhyolite-basalt volcanism throughout the Yellowstone hotspot, including supervolcanic eruptions,” said Bindeman. The study was published this week in Geophysical Research Letters . + Geophysical Research Letters Via Science Alert Images via Deposit Photos and GRL

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Scientists just learned what makes Yellowstone’s supervolcano tick

Scientists discover a huge new human organ hiding in plain sight

March 28, 2018 by  
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Just when you thought we knew all there was to know about the human body, researchers revealed that they discovered an entirely new human organ.  Called the interstitium, it consists of a series of fluid-filled, shock-absorbing compartments that shield body tissues. The interstitium was previously thought to be dense layers of connective tissue, but it turns out that it is actually one of the largest organs in the human body  –  and understanding it better may offer clues to understanding how cancer spreads. Dr. David Carr-Locke and Dr. Petros Benias identified it as an organ while scanning a patient’s bile duct for signs of cancer. The doctors collaborated with New York University pathologist Dr. Neil Theise to further explore the structure and function of the newly identified organ. In a study published in the  journal  Scientific Reports , researchers note that previous research had failed to note the presence of the interstitium because traditional methods for the observation of body tissues involved the draining of fluid. “This fixation artifact of collapse has made a fluid-filled tissue type throughout the body appear solid in biopsy slides for decades, and our results correct for this to expand the anatomy of most tissues,” Dr. Theise told the Independent . Related: Changing the price of certain foods could save thousands of lives each year Researchers noted that the interstitium drains its fluids into the lymphatic system, which affects and regulates the body’s immune response. This means that cancer cells could potentially be released by the interstitium as it transports fluid throughout the body. If properly understood, this new organ could prove to be key in preventing the spread of cancer . “This finding has potential to drive dramatic advances in medicine , including the possibility that the direct sampling of interstitial fluid may become a powerful diagnostic tool,” said Dr. Theise. Via the Independent Images via  and  Jill Gregory/Mount Sinai Health System  and Deposit Photos

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Scientists discover a huge new human organ hiding in plain sight

26,000 tons of radioactive waste sits at the bottom of Lake Powell

March 6, 2018 by  
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Located on the Arizona – Utah border, Lake Powell serves the drinking water needs of 40 million people in the Southwest while welcoming over 3 million recreational visitors every year. However, what lies beneath may give pause to those who depend on the lake. OZY reports that silt on the lake bed covers 26,000 tons of radioactive waste. A remnant from the mid-century uranium boom in the American West, the radioactive stockpile is not thought to be particularly dangerous. Still, even trace amounts can increase the risk of anemia, fractured teeth, cataracts and cancer, dangers which become potentially more active if Lake Powell suffers an extended drought. At the moment, Lake Powell seems safe. “The uranium mill tailings produce a sandy waste that contains heavy metals and radium, which is radioactive , but these tailings have been down there since around the 1950s, with several feet of sediment placed over top of them and the water used as a moderator, or a shield,” Phil Goble, uranium mill and radioactive materials section manager for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, told OZY . However, the radioactive waste is not entirely benign, particularly if conditions change. “The tailings could potentially become a problem if Lake Powell gets to a very, very low water level or if the lake is drained, and the tailings are exposed,” Goble said. “In this case, if someone were to dig down and expose those tailings, or the wind blows them, or people use the spot for recreational use of off-road vehicles, then there could be a health hazard.” Related: Scientists puzzle over mysterious disappearance of mercury from Utah’s Great Salt Lake Lake Powell is a manmade lake carved from the surrounding red rock canyon and has not been completely full since the late 1990s. In the early years of the 2000s, it suffered a serious drought in which water levels dropped nearly 100 feet, or one-fifth of the lake’s full depth. Given the increased threat of climate change-related drought, it is not so difficult to imagine a situation in which Lake Powell’s water level drops enough to expose the radioactive waste to the surface environment. In the meantime, scientists are monitoring the lake while locals are encouraged to keep drinking from and playing in the beautiful body of water . Via OZY Images via Deposit Photos and Deposit Photos

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26,000 tons of radioactive waste sits at the bottom of Lake Powell

Over 100 cities around the globe run mostly on renewable energy

February 27, 2018 by  
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A new report shows that over 100 cities around the world are running on predominantly clean energy . That figure is up from just 40 in 2015, and it shows that more and more cities – from Seattle, Washington to Inje, South Korea – are ditching fossil fuels and turning to renewables than ever before. According to a report from CDP , more than 100 cities across the globe get 70% or more of their energy from wind, solar, hydro and biomass. Some cities are even getting 100% of their energy from renewable sources, like Burlington, Vermont, which became the first US city to move completely to renewables. 58 other cities in the US have joined the growing #WeAreStillIn movement and pledged to transition completely to renewables. Related: Burlington, Vermont Now Runs on 100% Renewable Energy At the same time, electricity demand is decreasing. Thanks to a shift in heavy industry moving outside of the US, more efficient lights and appliances , and more on-site power, people in the US are using less electricity. As a result, for the first time in a century, electricity demand is stagnant – and utilities are beginning to panic. Via Vox and Earther Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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Over 100 cities around the globe run mostly on renewable energy

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