Peru passes legislation to let roads slice through remote Amazon area

January 23, 2018 by  
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Part of Peru’s Amazon rainforest could be under threat with a recently passed law. The move would allow roads to be constructed in Purus, a region The Guardian describes as the country’s most remote and pristine. It is also home to isolated indigenous groups. The law declares constructing roads in border areas as a “national priority and interest”. The area includes four national parks , and could impact five reserves for indigenous people The Guardian described as living in voluntary isolation. Related: Scientists warn Amazon jungle faces “death spiral” Lizardo Cauper, head of Aidesep , a Peruvian indigenous rights organization, told The Guardian, “These projects don’t benefit indigenous people. This is an area with isolated people who are extremely vulnerable. Roads bring outsiders who traffic our land, log our timber, as well as drug traffickers and illegal miners .” According to The Guardian, the law contravenes multiple international commitments Peru has made, including ones on climate change and trade. The publication also reported that Environmental Investigation Agency Peru director Julia Urrunaga said the new law contradicts a court ruling declaring the protection of the forest in Peru’s national interest. The roads could could open up paths for deforestation – Urrunaga said 95 percent of this occurs less than six kilometers, or around 3.7 miles, away from a road. The law was announced in the country’s official gazette mere hours after Pope Francis’ visit ended; during his trip he said Amazon’s indigenous peoples have “never been so threatened in their territories as they are now,” per The Guardian , and called for an end to exploitation of timber, gold, and gas in the region. In a Friday talk in Puerto Maldonado, the pope spoke out against “pressure being exerted by big business interests,” destroying this natural habitat important for the entire Earth. Laura Furones of Global Witness told The Guardian, “This law makes a mockery of Peru’s climate change commitments and the recent visit by the pope.” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Scientists puzzle over subterranean heat melting Greenland’s glaciers

January 23, 2018 by  
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Researchers have acquired evidence that heat emanating from deep below the Earth’s surface is contributing to the meltdown of Greenland’s glaciers. Though they have long suspected that a subterranean heat source was a factor in the melting glaciers, scientists were previously unable to determine the precise mechanism by which this occurred. Data gathered from Greenland’s Young Sound fjord region, a geologically active area featuring many hot springs in which temperatures can reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit, indicates that radiant heat loss is melting glaciers from the bottom up. This discovery will allow researchers to more accurately assess the stability of Greenland’s ice sheet and better predict sea level rise . The heat rising from below Greenland’s surface has loosened the lowest levels of glaciers, easing their slide into the sea. “There is no doubt that the heat from the Earth’s interior affects the movement of the ice, and we expect that a similar heat seepage takes place below a major part of the ice cap in the northeastern corner of Greenland,” wrote Søren Rysgaard, lead author of the study published in Scientific Reports . The heat source is known as a geothermal heat flux, an ancient phenomenon found throughout the planet. In Greenland, the heat percolates from below the surface up through fjords, warming deep sea temperatures that then transfer this heat to the surrounding glaciers . Related: 512-year-old Greenland shark may be the oldest living vertebrate on Earth Because geothermal heat fluxes are difficult to assess, “our results are very unique because we determined the relatively small heat flux from a decade-long warming of an almost stagnant water mass,” co-author Jørgen Bendtsen told Newsweek . Earth’s heat circulating up through the fjords of Greenland is one of several factors contributing to the melting glaciers. Rising air and sea temperature, precipitation , and the unique qualities of the ice sheet also affect the speed of glacier melting. Via Newsweek Images via Wieter Boone ,  Mikael Sejr , and  Søren Rysgaard

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This floating hotel and spa in Sweden will fill you with wanderlust

January 23, 2018 by  
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The team behind the famous Treehotel in Sweden just unveiled plans for a new floating hotel and spa on the Lule River in that will fill you with wanderlust. The Arctic Bath Hotel and Spa might be the perfect place to enjoy the Northern Lights and work on your well-being while being surrounded by stunning landscapes. As a company that specializes in luxury adventure holidays, Off the Map Travel aims to provide people with exotic travel options and allow them to reach authentic destinations. The newest addition to their handpicked offering is this floating hotel and spa that freezes into the ice in the winter and floats on top of the Lule River in the summer. Related: Floating sauna with charred timber cladding boasts minimal site impact The Arctic Bath Hotel and Spa is a circular building that will house a spa treatment room, four saunas , an outside cold bath, a hot bath, outside and inside showers, and two dressing rooms for visitors. The six hotel rooms included also float or remain frozen into the ice, depending on the time of year. The project is being built using locally available materials and will be open for overnight stays as soon as early 2018. + Off the Map Travel Via AFAR

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Researchers decipher one of last unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls

January 23, 2018 by  
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Since the first Dead Sea Scrolls were found in a Qumran cave in 1947, most have been restored and published. But the University of Haifa said two researchers from their Department of Bible Studies deciphered one of the last remaining unpublished scrolls – and they uncovered some surprises. Eshbal Ratson and Jonathan Ben-Dov reassembled around 60 fragments – some smaller than 0.155 square inches – that an earlier researcher said had come from different scrolls in a period of over one year. The University of Haifa researchers found these pieces “actually constitute a single scroll,” according to the university, and discovered for the first time that the name given to “special days marking the transitions between the four seasons” by the Judean Desert sect is Tekufah. This word in today’s Hebrew means ‘period.’ Related: Believed tomb of Jesus Christ is far older than previously thought The researchers also obtained new insight into the 364-day calendar the sect used. They said in a statement, “The lunar calendar, which Judaism follows to this day, requires a large number of human decisions. People must look at the stars and moon and report on their observations, and someone must be empowered to decide on the new month and the application of leap years. By contrast, the 364-day calendar was perfect. Because this number can be divided into four and seven, special occasions always fall on the same day…The Qumran calendar is unchanging, and it appears to have embodied the beliefs of the members of this community regarding perfection and holiness.” Another finding was that a scribe corrected errors made by the person who wrote the scroll. The researchers said the author “made a number of mistakes” and another scribe added in “missing dates in the margins between the columns of text.” The Journal of Biblical Literature published the work, and the researchers now plan to decipher the last remaining scroll. + University of Haifa Via The Jerusalem Post and the BBC Images via Haifa University/The Jerusalem Post and Depositphotos

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Two men set new Tesla Model 3 record for $101

January 4, 2018 by  
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Two men reportedly set a new record driving across the United States in a Tesla Model 3. Alex Roy and Daniel Zorrilla traveled from Redondo Beach, California to New York City in 50 hours, 16 minutes, and 32 seconds, setting the new electric Cannonball run record. And they made the trip pretty inexpensively, paying just $100.95 for charging . A Tesla Model 3 can get you across America in a little over two days, it turns out. Roy and Zorrilla drove from the Portofino Inn to the Red Ball garage, racking up a total mileage of 2,860 miles, in just over 50 hours. The prior electric car cross-country record was 55 hours, in a Tesla Model S, set by Roy and two other men in 2016. Related: The Tesla Model 3 is now on the road! Here’s everything we know The duo didn’t exactly make the trip at the easiest time of year in the United States. They left on December 28 and encountered low temperatures throughout the drive – and running the heater would have impacted the electric car’s range and their trip time. Roy tweeted extreme cold negatively impacts the car, and shared pictures of charging the car with snow on the ground. The Drive, which shared news of the run on January 2, said a detailed article would follow shortly. The Verge pointed out the run acted as a quality test, since there have been concerns over early Model 3s, but the car still made it to New York in the cold. Tesla produced 2,425 Model 3s in the 2017 fourth quarter. They’re not quite where they want to be; The Mercury News reported the company wouldn’t reach the target Elon Musk set in November of 5,000 Model 3s a week by the end of March. They’ll now aim for 2,500 of the cars a week, and might hit that 5,000 target by the end of June. Via The Drive , The Mercury News , and The Verge Images via Tesla and Alex Roy on Twitter ( 1 , 2 )

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Elon Musk’s Boring Company asks LA to start digging a tunnel within city limits

November 22, 2017 by  
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Will The Boring Company get the green light from Los Angeles to start digging a traffic-killing tunnel ? Elon Musk’s venture recently filed an application with officials for approval to commence digging within city limits. A Boring Company spokesperson said the tunnel could stretch from Hawthorne – where Musk’s other company SpaceX is located – “along the 405 to Westwood, with a number of stops along the way.” According to Los Angeles’ Bureau of Engineering spokesperson Mary Nemick The Boring Company filed their application, although she and a spokesperson for the mayor said they wouldn’t immediately release the documents. The Los Angeles Times said lawmakers will now face questions about whether or not the city should back a privatized transportation system with new technology , and what type of environmental review there might be. Related: Elon Musk shows first glimpse of the Boring Company tunnel beneath LA Picture of The Boring Company LA tunnel taken yesterday pic.twitter.com/TfdVKyXFsJ — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2017 The tunnel could ultimately link the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) with the San Fernando Valley. A Boring Company spokesperson said this week the tunnel could transport passengers on electric platforms traveling at speeds as fast as 130 miles per hour. Pedestrians and bicyclists could board a capsule able to carry eight to 16 people. The tunnel’s diameter would be around 12 feet, and it would be funded “entirely with private money,” according to a spokesperson. In an April TED talk, Musk suggested the trip between LAX and Westwood would take a mere six minutes. Musk also seems ambitious about the time it could take to complete the tunnel: a year or so to stretch along “the whole 405 N-S corridor from LAX to the 101,” he said in a tweet . The Los Angeles Times noted digging is typically the quickest portion of a tunnel project; environmental reviews and permits can take years. Councilman Mike Bonin invited Boring Company representatives to talk with the City Council next year about the effort, and requested a report on potential policy and regulatory questions. He said in an interview, “So far, in the public imagination, this idea has been at the level of blog posts and cocktail party conversation. We need to flesh it out more.” Via The Los Angeles Times Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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The rustic exterior of this abandoned barn hides a surprising space to get away from it all

November 22, 2017 by  
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This neglected old barn in Norway will soon host visitors from all around the world, thanks to a recent makeover helmed by architecture studio OPA Form . The renovated structure now features a modern sleeping module that can fit a family of four and offers stunning views of the picturesque valley Myrkdalen on the west-coast of Norway. The architects infused the original wooden building with new life by adding a module that’s practically invisible from the outside. The exterior looks as quaint and rustic as when it was built, 50 years ago. A sculptural window stretches out of the old cladding, offering views of the surroundings. Related: Architects transform 150-year-old Slovenian hay barn into a stunning contemporary home Inside, authentic rough surfaces still exist, except for a new addition that attaches to main room that once served as a cattle stable. The addition, a module clad in bright aspen with a circular entrance, was built with the utmost precision and with great respect for the history of the place. Completely self-sufficient, the addition doesn’t disrupt the original structure and has a part that stretches up in-between the low beams. The renovation project is part of firm’s strategy called “the barns they are a-changing”, which relates to the efforts in repurposing derelict buildings scattered across the Norwegian west coast. + OPA FORM Via Archdaily Lead Photo by Virre Dahl

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The rustic exterior of this abandoned barn hides a surprising space to get away from it all

Help move hundreds of chimpanzees from labs to a safe haven in Georgia

September 29, 2016 by  
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Research on chimpanzees , the great ape thought to be most closely related to humans, is at last coming to an end. Last summer the US Fish and Wildlife Service declared captive chimpanzees endangered, which effectively made most chimpanzee research illegal. Now nine chimpanzees have moved from a Louisiana lab to a Georgia mountain sanctuary . Hundreds more are set to follow, and the sanctuary needs your help. Samira, Buttercup, Latricia, Charisse, Jennifer, Emma, Gracie, Gertrude, and Genesis were born at a lab. The New Iberia Research Center used these animals for medical testing for around ten years. Now they’ve been set free, and have been placed in a new home at Project Chimps . Related: NIH promises to retire remaining research chimps Tucked into the Georgia mountains, Project Chimps is a 236-acre sanctuary. Chimpanzees who live there will reside in groups, and be able to play with toys and puzzles. The chimpanzee sanctuary offers indoor cooled and heated spaces for the animals and ” acres of outdoor space ” so the chimps can explore and climb trees. There’s even a “water feature” meant to imitate streams chimpanzees would experience in Africa. Right now the sanctuary has room for 80 chimpanzees. But with over 200 more on the way, Project Chimps will be expanding to include room for 300 chimps. To accomplish this exciting feat, they could use the help of supporters. Caring for each chimp costs the sanctuary around $20,000 every year. If you want to help Project Chimps, you can donate money on their website. The sanctuary also has an Amazon Wish List if you’d like to know exactly what you’re giving to the chimpanzees and staff. You can also donate money specifically to help the sanctuary move the chimps the 16-hour drive from the lab to the sanctuary. For $200, you can send the sanctuary a picture or letter they’ll put in the transport trailer to give the chimpanzees ” something interesting to look at during their trip .” + Project Chimps Via The Christian Science Monitor Images via Project Chimps Facebook and Pixabay

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Elon Musk reveals his big plan for colonizing Mars

September 27, 2016 by  
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SpaceX founder, lead designer, and chief executive  Elon Musk has talked a lot about Mars over the past few years, and today marks a culmination of everything he’s hinted at so far. This afternoon, the man behind wild ideas like the Hyperloop and solar roofs made an epic (and long-awaited ) announcement  revealing more details about his ambitious plans for colonizing the Red Planet . Musk warned months in advance that his plan would be “mind-blowing,” and he lived up to that promise today. Nearly 100,000 viewers around the world tuned in to the live stream of the event, for a never-before-seen look at simulations based on actual CAD designs for a Mars spaceship. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1YxNYiyALg Musk made his announcement today at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico as promised. The announcement was broadcast simultaneously on SpaceX’s Facebook page and YouTube channel . His lecture, “Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species,” focused on “making Mars seem possible” by with the establishment of a “self-sustaining city” on Mars. Despite its inhospitable environment, Musk insists Mars is the best candidate for supporting life, as opposed to Venus’ high-pressure atmosphere and Mercury’s close proximity to the sun. He further suggests Mars is the place to be, because a day on Mars is very similar to one on Earth, stretching 24.5 hours. Its atmosphere, he believes, would support plant life (not unlike we saw Matt Damon grow in “The Martian” ) which makes human civilization seem just a little more possible. Related: SpaceX retro travel posters make Mars look like the ultimate vacation destination As has been the case since the earliest murmurings of a SpaceX “city” on Mars , Musk says the effort will require intense participation (and a whole lot of funding) from industry, government and the scientific community here on Earth. So, how much will it cost future humans to move to Mars? Musk illustrated the estimated cost of a trip to Mars by revisiting the first Moon landing in present-day dollars, which breaks down to around $10 billion per person. He suggests targeting a “ticket to Mars” price around $200,000 per person, an affordable price point he says will be a “bit tricky” to reach, given the need to reduce the cost of interplanetary human travel by 50,000 times. Even so, he says he expects the ticket price to eventually drop below $100,000 after an initial base is setup and spacecraft reusability further brings down the cost of transportation. Musk’s big plan for establishing a human presence on the Red Planet without spending all the money in the world hinges on the development of a ginormous reusable rocket and a huge spaceship capable of carrying human passengers and all the necessary cargo for starting life on a new planet. Given the mixed results of SpaceX’s innovative  Falcon 9 rocket booster  so far in its short tenure, many are skeptical about the idea of ramping up rocket technology fast enough to meet Musk’s timeline. During his announcement today, Musk reiterated the importance of “full reusability” when it comes to colonizing Mars, in addition to refilling in orbit, generating fuel on Mars to use for rocket propellant, and ensuring that the right propellant is used considering all factors involved. Musk tweeted  yesterday (September 26), “SpaceX propulsion just achieved first firing of the Raptor interplanetary transport engine,” with two fiery photos attached as evidence. SpaceX also uploaded a video of the test to its YouTube channel. The company says this is the first stage of technology capable of launching a trip to Mars, with cargo and people in tow. Today, Musk said the design for the Mars spaceship calls for 42 Raptor engines, which provides the immense power necessary for the trip, as well as some redundancy in the event that an engine or two happens to fail. The biggest question, still pressing in just about everyone’s mind, actually has less to do with how humans will reach Mars and more to do with when . SpaceX announced plans earlier this year to send an unmanned vessel dubbed Red Dragon to Mars as early as 2018, and Musk has previously said he thought it would be possible to land on Mars by 2025. When it came time to discuss the timeline for a SpaceX trip to Mars during today’s announcement, Musk waxed poetic over the 14-year history of the company, which he founded, before finally saying that he plans for SpaceX to make its first true grab at the Red Planet as early as 2023. Via Phys.org Images via SpaceX

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NASA scientist thinks lasers could cut the trip to Mars down to 30 minutes

February 24, 2016 by  
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So, everyone knows that Mars is really far away, right? Right now, it takes months to travel the vast distance, but one scientist thinks there is a way to cut that down to half an hour . This wild idea belongs to Philip Lubin, a researcher at the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Experimental Cosmology Group . His theory involves firing a laser at a tiny spacecraft to help it achieve much faster travel speeds. Read the rest of NASA scientist thinks lasers could cut the trip to Mars down to 30 minutes

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