New discovery suggests humans are 100,000 years older than previously thought

June 8, 2017 by  
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The surprising discovery of fossilized remains of five early humans in Jebel Irhoud, Morocco has led archeologists to believe that Homo sapiens originated 100,000 years earlier than previously thought. What’s more, the remains — which are estimated to be 300,000 years old — are resettling all former notions of how and where modern humans evolved. Dissatisfied by previous archeological findings in Morocco in the 1960’s, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the National Institute for Archeology and Heritage in Morocco renewed the dig site. The excavation resulted in the discovery of partial skeletal remains of five people — three adults, one adolescent, and one child. Stone tools, animal bones and signs of fire use were also found. The researchers then used thermoluminescence to date the objects, which is how they learned that the objects are between 300,000 and 350,000 years old. Until this discovery, the oldest known samples of H. sapiens were discovered in Ethiopia and dated back 150,000 to 200,000 years. Because there was a lack of evidence showing Neanderthals and “archaic” Homo Sapiens (humans that pre-date H. sapiens) diverged from a common ancestor, scientists figured H. sapiens emerged rather suddenly. The remains that were found, however, now point to the possibility of an early version of H. sapiens who originated in northwest Africa approximately 300,000 years ago. This challenges the “rapid emergence” theory, which is why this discovery is so spectacular. Related: Archaeologists uncover 3,400-year-old Egyptian necropolis Archeologists now assume that after diverging from a common ancestor, a group of archaic H. sapiens spread across Africa , gradually acquiring traits that would come to characterize modern-day humans. These conclusions appear in two separate studies which were published today in the science journal Nature . Scientists describe the fossils and artifacts found at the site in the first paper and analyze and date the stone tools in the second paper . As Gizmodo reports , many groups of humans existed around the same time but it was Homo sapiens who eventually prevailed and spread out across northern Africa between 60,000 to 70,000 years ago. They then continued to migrate into Asia, Australia and North and South America . Though there is still much to discover about where humans originate, a big piece of the puzzle has been solved which will undoubtedly help archeologists learn more in the future. + Nature Via Gizmodo Images via Max Planck Gesellschaft

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New discovery suggests humans are 100,000 years older than previously thought

New graphene sieve can remove even small salts from seawater

April 4, 2017 by  
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Graphene is the world’s strongest material, but that’s not all it can do. The wonder material can also be used as a filter that removes salts from seawater so it’s safe to drink. While scientists have eyed graphene-oxide membranes for better filtration – and even showed graphene could filter out large salts – now 13 University of Manchester scientists developed graphene membranes that can sieve common, smaller salts out of water. It takes small sieves to remove common salts from substances like seawater, and in the past when placed in water graphene-oxide membranes swelled, and weren’t able to catch those smaller salts. The University of Manchester scientists found a way to control the pore size of the graphene to sieve those common small salts out of water. Professor Rahul Nair, one of the scientists part of the research, said the realization of “membranes with uniform pore size down to atomic scale” is a significant step. Related: Affordable new biofoam could revolutionize how developing countries clean water The discovery could open doors to efficient, less expensive desalination technology – which the university points out is crucial as climate change depletes water supply in modern cities. In just around eight years, 14 percent of the world’s population could face water scarcity, according to United Nations estimates, and not all countries can afford large, expensive desalination plants to provide relief to their citizens. The university says the graphene technology pursued by the scientists could revolutionize water filtration around the world, offering an affordable option for developing countries . The researchers think their discovery could be scaled up for wider use. Nair said in a statement, “This is the first clear-cut experiment in this regime. We also demonstrate that there are realistic possibilities to scale up the described approach and mass produce graphene-based membranes with required sieve sizes.” The journal Nature Nanotechnology published the research online yesterday. Via The University of Manchester Images via The University of Manchester and Pixabay

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Is tidal power finally coming of age?

April 4, 2017 by  
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A British company wants to demonstrate that underwater turbines can be a viable source of hydroelectricity, by winning a share of $363 million worth of electricity generation contracts being offered up by the U.K. government. As Bloomberg reports, Atlantis Resources wants to build power turbines under the ocean in Scotland, and their success would not only mean a whole pile of cash, but also provide another option for producing clean energy . The company faces steep competition for the government funds from offshore wind power companies, but they’re hoping to convince officials that tidal power has finally come of age. If they manage to do so, tidal power could eventually provide the U.K. with one fifth of its energy needs. As Bloomberg notes, previous efforts at producing tidal power have been largely experimental and operated at costs around triple that of wind power . To be successful in their bid to government, Atlantis must find a way to bring the cost of energy down by 70 percent—to about $125 per megawatt hour. That’s close to the price of nuclear and offshore wind power. If they can pull it off, Atlantis is hoping to get a $125 million investment that would let them build a manufacturing plant in Scotland, which would in turn let the company get much-sought contracts from France, South Korea and Indonesia. It’s all leading up to the final goal of helping to turn Scotland into a “Saudi Arabia of green energy.” Related: World’s longest wind turbine blade expected to drive down offshore energy costs With that in mind, the company is already working on its “MyGen” project, which involves the installation of up to 269 turbines under the Pentland Firth, a stretch of water that links the Atlantic ocean to the North Sea. It’s an eight-mile-wide channel of water that flows regularly at about 10 feet per second. Four turbines are already generating 6 megawatts, and two more phases should see enough turbines to generate about 86 megawatts of power by this summer. Via Bloomberg Images via Atlantis Resources

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Is tidal power finally coming of age?

Scientists create a new kind of matter called time crystals

January 30, 2017 by  
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Proving that there is still so much for science to discover, two groups of scientists have created a new phase of matter called time crystals. Based on a blueprint from University of California, Berkeley assistant professor of physics Norman Yao, the scientists created crystals whose structure repeats in time rather than space. If time crystals sound like a far-fetched science fiction daydream, Yao explained they move somewhat like jiggling Jell-O, but through time. Regular crystals, like diamonds , are comprised of an atomic lattice, an arrangement of atoms, that repeats in space. Time crystals’ structure can continue through time, in perpetual movement. Yao said, “Wouldn’t it be super weird if you jiggled the Jell-O and found that somehow it responded at a different period? But that is the essence of the time crystal.” Related: Scientists blend photosynthesis and quantum physics to improve solar cells The creation of time crystals in itself is crazy, but Yao said that’s not the only thrilling aspect of this advance. In a statement, he said, “This is a new phase of matter, period, but it is also really cool because it is one of the first examples of non-equilibrium matter. For the last half-century, we have been exploring equilibrium matter, like metals and insulators. We are just now starting to explore a whole new landscape of non-equilibrium matter.” In contrast, other crystals like rubies or diamonds are in motionless equilibrium, but as non-equilibrium matter time crystals continually move. Groups at Harvard University and the University of Maryland followed Yao’s blueprint and were able to create time crystals, turning futuristic fantasy into reality. They used “two totally different setups,” according to the UC Berkeley statement, and have both submitted articles for publication, with Yao as co-author on both. Physical Review Letters published a paper online earlier this month in which Yao detailed the process to create time crystals. There may be few uses for time crystals – Yao couldn’t immediately think of any – but their discovery is important as scientists begin exploring non-equilibrium matter, other phases of which could be useful, for example, in quantum computers. Via Phys.org and Popular Mechanics Images via Pixabay and Chris Monroe

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Innovative solutions to solve plastic waste

October 3, 2016 by  
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In high school, two smart women discovered a new bacteria in a local river that specifically eats phthalates, a harmful plasticizer that never degrades. Since then, they have turned their discovery of plastic-eating bacteria into an innovative, award-winning business model. “We have not only shown that bacteria can be the solution to plastic pollution, but that also being open to uncertain outcomes and taking risks create opportunities for unexpected discoveries.”

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Innovative solutions to solve plastic waste

GreenBiz Studio: Tim Mohin, AMD

October 3, 2016 by  
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GreenBiz Studio: Ellen MacArthur, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

October 3, 2016 by  
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GreenBiz Studio: Ellen MacArthur, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

GreenBiz Studio: Keith Moreman, Philips Lighting

October 3, 2016 by  
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From rural Uganda to global impact: Changing the world one life at a time

October 3, 2016 by  
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Sometimes all it takes is someone to believe in your vision and solution. That was true for Ategeka, and now he’s created a platform to help entrepreneurs around the world.

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From rural Uganda to global impact: Changing the world one life at a time

GreenBiz Studio: Erica Hauver, Hitachi

October 3, 2016 by  
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