This tiny house on a sled is the perfect way to see the Northern Lights

April 5, 2018 by  
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For years, transparent bubble-type lodging has been all the rage for enjoying the Northern Lights , but now there is a better way to observe this natural phenomenon. One inventive tour operator, Off the Map Travel , is offering guests a roaming hotel sled that makes it easier to see the Northern Lights in arctic Finland, all without stepping out in the cold. As part of the Aurora Wilderness Camp , Off the Map Travel offers three mobile hotel rooms that are built on sleds for the sole purpose of watching the Northern Lights. Although they are a sight to be seen, the famed lights are notoriously hard to locate. Being mobile is the key to success in finding the colorful light show. Related: This glass cabin in Iceland lets you watch the Northern Lights from your bed At eight feet wide, 15 feet long and 6.5 feet high, the sled hotels are compact and fit only two people. On the interior of the tiny cabins  is a bed, a dining table and little else. The space comes with a heater to keep you warm and cozy. Snow shoes and individual sleds are also available upon request for outdoor enjoyment. The hotels are only available for rent until mid-April, and guests will have to make their way to Kilpisjärvi, a small village in northern Finland , to appreciate the unique experience. But, according to Off the Map Travel’s founder Jonny Cooper, it’ll be totally worth it. Cooper told Daily Mail , “The wilderness surrounding Kilpisjärvi is known for its remote and uninterrupted Arctic tundra. Away from any man-made light pollution, it is here that the wilderness camp is placed for the winter, giving guests the best possible opportunity to experience the Northern Lights and simply enjoy the silence of the Arctic plains.” + Off the Map Travel Via Apartment Therapy Photography via Kilpissafarit

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This tiny house on a sled is the perfect way to see the Northern Lights

Alien life may not exist due to a lack of this chemical element

April 5, 2018 by  
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Holding out hope for alien life somewhere out there? According to a recent study from Cardiff University , you may have to wait a long, long time – if phosphorus isn’t present, it could be difficult for that life to exist. Phosphorus is one of the six elements Earth’s organisms depend on, and researchers Jane Greaves and Phil Cigan found it in short supply near the Crab Nebula supernova remnant, around 6,500 light years away. In light of these new findings, we may be alone in the universe after all. Greaves said phosphorus “is crucial to the compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which cells use to store and transfer energy.” Astronomers have begun paying attention to phosphorus’ cosmic origins, and have discovered it’s created in supernovae. Related: Atacama ‘alien’ skeleton’s identity revealed by genetic testing Cigan and Greaves observed infrared light from phosphorus in the Crab Nebula using the William Herschel Telescope. They compared two “stellar explosions based on how they each ejected phosphorus into the atmosphere,” thanks to other scientists’ research on phosphorus in Cassiopeia A. Preliminary results hint “material blown out into space could vary dramatically in chemical composition.” Greaves said, “The route to carrying phosphorus into new-born planets looks rather precarious…If phosphorus is sourced from supernovae, and then travels across space in meteoritic rocks, it’s possible that a young planet could find itself lacking in reactive phosphorus because of where it was born. That is, it started off near the wrong kind of supernova. In that case, life might really struggle to get started out of phosphorous-poor chemistry , on another world otherwise similar to our own.” At the European Week of Astronomy and Space, Cigan and Greaves presented the preliminary results. They hope to continue to work and discover whether other supernova remnants lack phosphorus too, to discover if the element is rarer than scientists once thought. + Cardiff University Via The Telegraph Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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Alien life may not exist due to a lack of this chemical element

Scientists just found thousands of black holes at the center of our galaxy

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For the first time ever, scientists have identified thousands of black holes lurking at the center of our galaxy. Scientists have long suspected that black holes might exist in the middle of the Milky Way, but until now, they haven’t been able to find any evidence. Now, thanks to new research, scientists believe that there are over 10,000 of them swirling together out there. According to a study published in the journal Nature this week, the center of the Milky Way holds 10,000 small black holes that have been previously undetected. Some of these smaller black holes interact with the supermassive black hole known as Sagittarius A* at the core of the galaxy, and give us a peek into how our galaxy formed. Related: Scientists glimpse most distant supermassive black hole in the known universe Using the Chandra X-ray Observatory space telescope, scientists began hunting around for the signature low-level radiation that mark binaries of stars and black holes locked together in space. “When black holes mate with a low mass star, the marriage emits X-ray bursts that are weaker, but consistent and detectable. If we could find black holes that are coupled with low mass stars and we know what fraction of black holes will mate with low mass stars, we could scientifically infer the population of isolated black holes out there,” lead author Chuck Hailey said. By using this method, they located dozens of binaries near Saggitarius A* and, from there, determined that there were thousands more out there. Not only can this information help us understand how the Milky Way originated, but it could help us understand other galaxies as well. Via Mashable Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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World’s first autonomous shipping company launched in Norway

April 5, 2018 by  
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Two Norwegian shipping giants, Wilhelmsen and Kongsberg, have joined together to create what they’ve described as the world’s first autonomous shipping company. “As a world-leading maritime nation, Norway has taken a position at the forefront in developing autonomous ships,” Wilhelmsen CEO Thomas Wilhelmsen told the Maritime Journal . “Through the creation of the new company named Massterly, we take the next step on this journey by establishing infrastructure and services to design and operate vessels, as well as advanced logistics solutions associated with maritime autonomous operations.” The corporate collaboration, which brings a combined 360 years of experience to the shipping game, promises affordable prices through automated efficiency. “Massterly will reduce costs at all levels and be applicable to all companies that have a transport need,” said Wilhelmsen. Kongsberg is set to provide its technological expertise while Wilhelmsen will offer its logistics and ship management operations experience.  The autonomous ships will be monitored and modified at control centers, which will be established on land. Related: Waymo adds 20,000 Jaguar electric SUVs to its self-driving car service Norway has led the way in autonomous ship technology, particularly since the launch of the Yara Birkeland. The electric ship  began its first journey in May 2017 and will become fully autonomous by 2020. In the meantime, it will host an on-board crew, then be remotely operated. The ship cost about $25 million to build, and its first shipping mission cost almost three times as much as a traditional ship; however, it is projected to save up to 90% in annual operating costs of labor and fuel. The Yara Birkeland was created through a collaboration between agricultural firm Yara International and Kongsberg. The companies plan to roll out larger, more robust autonomous ships once regulations are in place. Globally, the job impacts of autonomous ships are expected to be far less extensive than those of autonomous trucks . Via Maritime Journal  and Fortune Images via Kongsberg

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World’s first autonomous shipping company launched in Norway

Scientists harvest the first ever Antarctic vegetables

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Fresh, local produce might have seemed like an impossibility in Antarctica — until now. The experimental greenhouse EDEN-ISS at Alfred Wegener Institute ‘s Neumayer-Station III recently harvested their first crops: 18 cucumbers, 70 radishes, and nearly eight pounds of lettuce. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) described this achievement as the “first harvested Antarctic salad.” The EDEN-ISS indoor farm serves two purposes: first, to provide fresh produce for the Neumayer-Station III’s wintering crew. Second, to act as a test run for growing food in harsh climates, not just on Earth, but for missions to the Moon and Mars in the future. Scientists planted the seeds in the middle of February, and the first harvest was a success. Related: Arctic town grows fresh produce in shipping container vertical garden There’s no soil necessary in this indoor garden , where scientists grow plants with a closed water cycle and optimized light. DLR engineer Paul Zabel, one of the few people on Earth who can now add ‘Antarctic gardener’ to their resume, said they had to overcome some unexpected issues like minor system failures and the “strongest storm for more than a year,” but he was able to solve the problems and harvested the first crops. EDEN-ISS is around 1,312 feet away from Neumayer-Station III, and DLR said Zabel spends around three to four hours a day in the greenhouse . He’s also able to communicate with a DLR Institute for Space Systems control center, located in Bremen, which can remotely monitor plant growth — and can monitor it entirely on stormy days when Zabel can’t make it to the farm. DRL said this “bridging is possible for up to three days.” Scientists wintering at the station had used up their vegetables from their last delivery near February’s end, so they welcomed fresh produce from EDEN-ISS. Station manager Bernhard Gropp said in DLR’s statement, “It was special to have the first fresh salad of the Antarctic…it tasted as if we had harvested it fresh in the garden.” + EDEN-ISS + German Aerospace Center Images via DLR and DLR German Aerospace Center on Flickr ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 )

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Scientists harvest the first ever Antarctic vegetables

Developing nations want to dim the sun using a giant chemical sunshade

April 5, 2018 by  
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Scientists around the world want to create a giant sunshade in the sky to help reverse  climate change . “Solar engineering” involves spraying tiny reflective particles into the atmosphere to cool the Earth by reflecting and filtering incoming sunlight. The idea is controversial because no one knows what consequences we may suffer from altering the atmosphere, but some developing nations are ramping up research efforts and they want developed nations to do the same.  Poorer countries stand to suffer the most from climate change, and they argue that geoengineering may be less dangerous for them than the impacts of global warming. In a high-profile experiment, researchers at Harvard University have been studying what they’ve called the “stratospheric controlled perturbation effect” thanks to the launch of an observation balloon over ten miles into the air in order to study the effect of controlled sprays of water molecules on cloud cover reflectivity. Scientists from Bangladesh, Brazil , China, Ethiopia, India, Jamaica, and Thailand have now joined the debate in a new study published in Nature , arguing that if there is to be geoengineering, developing countries must lead the way. “ Solar geoengineering is outlandish and unsettling,” the scientists wrote. “It invokes technologies that are redolent of science fiction – jets lacing the stratosphere with sunlight-blocking particles, and fleets of ships spraying seawater into low-lying clouds to make them whiter and brighter to reflect sunlight. Yet, if such approaches could be realized technically and politically, they could slow, stop or even reverse the rise in global temperatures within one or two years.” Related: Scientists have a plan to cool the Earth with a sprinkle of salt The scientists do not approach geoengineering lightly. “The technique is controversial, and rightly so,” they wrote. “It is too early to know what its effects would be: it could be very helpful or very harmful. Developing countries have most to gain or lose. In our view, they must maintain their climate leadership and play a central part in research and discussions around solar geoengineering .” Lead author Atiq Rahman emphasized that the scientists are not taking a stand that geoengineering will necessarily work, only that it should be researched in collaboration with those most affected by climate change. “Developing countries must be in a position to make up their own minds. Local scientists, in collaboration with others, need to conduct research that is sensitive to regional concerns and conditions,” the authors wrote. “Clearly [geoengineering] could be dangerous, but we need to know whether, for countries like Bangladesh , it would be more or less risky than passing the 1.5C warming goal,” Rahman said. “This matters greatly to people from developing countries and our voices need to be heard.” Via The Guardian Images via NASA/ISS and Depositphotos  ( 2 )

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Developing nations want to dim the sun using a giant chemical sunshade

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