Antarctic Glaciers Are Growing Unstable Above and Below Water

from Wired For several years, scientists have been worried about the retreat and eventual collapse of Thwaites Glacier, a Florida-sized plug that holds back the West Antarctic ice sheet from the Southern Ocean. If Thwaites goes kaput, the resulting catastrophe could raise global sea levels by more than two feet on its own, or by eight feet in combination with melting from nearby glaciers, according to NASA estimates. That fear has driven a big push by international teams of researchers to understand what’s going on at Thwaites and nearby Pine Island Glacier. A group of researchers from the United States […]

Continue reading

Is Anybody Listening?

from Forbes How much longer will we continue to ignore the impact of our continued refusal to do anything to mitigate the planet’s long-standing climate emergency? California and Oregon are in flames, forcing half a million people to abandon their homes, and exceeding in a matter of weeks the area burned last year: yet we still refuse to accept that this is a direct result of the increase in global temperature caused by human activity that has turned our forests into tinder. The orange skies lending an apocalyptic, science-fiction air to San Francisco illustrate the terrible magnitude of the catastrophe […]

Continue reading

Revolutionary Quantum Breakthrough Paves Way For Safer Online Communication

from PHYS.ORG The world is one step closer to having a totally secure internet and an answer to the growing threat of cyber-attacks, thanks to a team of international scientists who have created a unique prototype which could transform how we communicate online. The invention led by the University of Bristol, revealed today in the journal Science Advances, has the potential to serve millions of users, is understood to be the largest-ever quantum network of its kind, and could be used to secure people’s online communication, particularly in these internet-led times accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. By deploying a new […]

Continue reading

R0, the Messy Metric That May Soon Shape Our Lives, Explained

from NYTs World leaders and public health experts are poised to spend the coming months or years obsessed with a variable known as R0. Pronounced “R-naught,” it represents the number of new infections estimated to stem from a single case. In other words, if R0 is 2.5, then one person with the disease is expected to infect, on average, 2.5 others. An R0 below 1 suggests that the number of cases is shrinking, possibly allowing societies to open back up. An R0 above 1 indicates that the number of cases is growing, perhaps necessitating renewed lockdowns or other measures. But […]

Continue reading

Daylight Saving Time Has A Dark Side. Here’s What You Need To Know

from Fast Company A train hurtled around a corner at 82 mph, eventually coming off the rails and killing four passengers. Decades earlier, faulty decision-making resulted in the deaths of the seven-person crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Years before these events, a stuck valve regulating the supply of coolant to a nuclear reactor nearly resulted in the meltdown of a nuclear plant in Pennsylvania. In each of these cases, poor or inadequate sleep was one of the factors that contributed to the failure. Even if you are not an engineer working in one of those contexts, the odds are […]

Continue reading

The End Of Handshakes?

from Seth’s Blog In the future, of course, there are no handshakes. Star Trek, Star Wars, even Spaceballs… no one shakes hands. And handshakes haven’t been the standard default for as long as we think–they were codified by the Quakers five hundred years ago, because they were thought to be more egalitarian than tipping a hat or bowing. Today, of course, a handshake is often seen as a threat more than a disarming form of intimacy and equality. More here.

Continue reading

Katherine Johnson Dies at 101; Mathematician Broke Barriers at NASA

from NYTs They asked Katherine Johnson for the moon, and she gave it to them. Wielding little more than a pencil, a slide rule and one of the finest mathematical minds in the country, Mrs. Johnson, who died at 101 on Monday at a retirement home in Newport News, Va., calculated the precise trajectories that would let Apollo 11 land on the moon in 1969 and, after Neil Armstrong’s history-making moonwalk, let it return to Earth. A single error, she well knew, could have dire consequences for craft and crew. Her impeccable calculations had already helped plot the successful flight […]

Continue reading

Are Humans Fit for Space? A ‘Herculean’ Study Says Maybe Not

from Wired Here’s how you test your intracranial pressure in space. First, you collect baseline samples of your blood, saliva, and urine, and take ultrasound images of the vessels in your heart, neck, head, and eyes, lining up the scanning device on black dots tattooed on your body before you left Earth. Then, you clamber into the Chibis, Russian for “lapwing,” a pair of hard, corrugated-rubber pants whose waist can be sealed. The pants suck: A vacuum imitates how gravity on Earth pulls blood, mucus, the water in cells, and cerebral and lymphatic fluids from our skulls to the bottom […]

Continue reading

Can Humans Help Trees Outrun Climate Change?

from NYTs Foresters began noticing the patches of dying pines and denuded oaks, and grew concerned. Warmer winters and drier summers had sent invasive insects and diseases marching northward, killing the trees. If the dieback continued, some woodlands could become shrub land. Most trees can migrate only as fast as their seeds disperse — and if current warming trends hold, the climate this century will change 10 times faster than many tree species can move, according to one estimate. Rhode Island is already seeing more heat and drought, shifting precipitation and the intensification of plagues such as the red pine […]

Continue reading

The Day the Dinosaurs Died

from The New Yorker If, on a certain evening about sixty-­six million years ago, you had stood somewhere in North America and looked up at the sky, you would have soon made out what appeared to be a star. If you watched for an hour or two, the star would have seemed to grow in brightness, although it barely moved. That’s because it was not a star but an asteroid, and it was headed directly for Earth at about forty-five thousand miles an hour. Sixty hours later, the asteroid hit. The air in front was compressed and violently heated, and […]

Continue reading

How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Science

from Quanta No human, or team of humans, could possibly keep up with the avalanche of information produced by many of today’s physics and astronomy experiments. Some of them record terabytes of data every day — and the torrent is only increasing. The Square Kilometer Array, a radio telescope slated to switch on in the mid-2020s, will generate about as much data traffic each year as the entire internet. The deluge has many scientists turning to artificial intelligence for help. With minimal human input, AI systems such as artificial neural networks — computer-simulated networks of neurons that mimic the function […]

Continue reading

Where Did The Moon Come From? A New Theory

from TED The Earth and Moon are like identical twins, made up of the exact same materials — which is really strange, since no other celestial bodies we know of share this kind of chemical relationship. What’s responsible for this special connection? Looking for an answer, planetary scientist and MacArthur “Genius” Sarah T. Stewart discovered a new kind of astronomical object — a synestia — and a new way to solve the mystery of the Moon’s origin. More here.

Continue reading

Apple And Stanford Medicine Announce Full Results From Apple Watch Heart Study

from 9to5 Mac Apple and Stanford Medicine today announced the results of the Apple Heart Study. The study enrolled over 400,000 participants, making it the “largest study ever of its kind,” according to Apple. The findings were presented in New Orleans this morning. The goal of the study, Apple says, was to evaluate Apple Watch’s irregular rhythm notification. If an irregular rhythm was detected, participants received a telehealth consultation with a doctor and an electrocardiogram patch for additional supervision. As for the results, Stanford Medicine researchers say the Apple Heart Study showed 0.5 percent of the 419,093 participants received an irregular […]

Continue reading

Can Clouds Buy Us More Time To Solve Climate Change

from TED Climate change is real, case closed. But there’s still a lot we don’t understand about it, and the more we know the better chance we have to slow it down. One still-unknown factor: How might clouds play a part? There’s a small hope that they could buy us some time to fix things … or they could make global warming worse. Climate scientist Kate Marvel takes us through the science of clouds and what it might take for Earth to break its own fever. ? More here.

Continue reading

Most White Americans’ DNA Can Be Identified Through Genealogy Databases

from NYTs The genetic genealogy industry is booming. In recent years, more than 15 million people have offered up their DNA — a cheek swab, some saliva in a test-tube — to services such as 23andMe and Ancestry.com in pursuit of answers about their heritage. In exchange for a genetic fingerprint, individuals may find a birth parent, long-lost cousins, perhaps even a link to Oprah or Alexander the Great. But as these registries of genetic identity grow, it’s becoming harder for individuals to retain any anonymity. Already, 60 percent of Americans of Northern European descent — the primary group using […]

Continue reading

Climate Scientists: Humans Have Only 12 Years to Limit Devastating Climate Changes

from kottke In a 700-page report detailing the latest research on climate change, a UN panel of scientists strongly warns that unless we make “massive and unprecedented changes to global energy infrastructure to limit global warming to moderate levels” to limit the world’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, there will be widespread coastal flooding, food shortages, wildfires, and other issues related to climate change. If you are 60 or under, these changes will occur in your lifetime. From the NY Times: More here.

Continue reading

Google’s New Tool to Fight Climate Change

from The Atlantic In the next decade or so, more than 6,000 cities, states, and provinces around the world will try to do something that has eluded humanity for 25 years: reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases, which warm the atmosphere and cause climate change. The city-level leaders overseeing this task won’t have the same tools available to their national peers. Most of them won’t have an Environmental Protection Agency (or its equivalent), a meteorological bureau, a team of military engineers, or NASA. So where will they start? Never mind how to reduce their city’s greenhouse-gas emissions; how will they […]

Continue reading

A Printable, Flexible, Organic Solar Cell

from TED Unlike the solar cells you’re used to seeing, organic photovoltaics are made of compounds that are dissolved in ink and can be printed and molded using simple techniques. The result is a low-weight, flexible, semi-transparent film that turns the energy of the sun into electricity. Hannah Bürckstümmer shows us how they’re made — and how they could change the way we power the world. ? More here.

Continue reading

Breaking The Stem Ceiling For Girls

from Brookings Although countries have dramatically closed gender gaps in education and labor force participation, gender differences within education and employment persist. Women earn less income and work in lower paying occupations and sectors than men do. Women are less likely to become entrepreneurs, and, when they do, they typically run smaller, less-profitable firms. These gender gaps in entrepreneurship, incomes, and productivity persist at all levels of development, despite a multitude of policies aimed at eliminating them. And as countries move forward with closing glaring gender differences, other gaps become visible.  Women’s participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, commonly […]

Continue reading

Peer Into the Post-Apocalyptic Future of Antimicrobial Resistance

from Wired About 4 million years ago, a cave was forming in the Delaware Basin of what is now Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. From that time on, Lechuguilla Cave remained untouched by humans or animals until its discovery in 1986—an isolated, pristine primeval ecosystem. When the bacteria found on the walls of Lechuguilla were analyzed, many of the microbes were determined not only to have resistance to natural antibiotics like penicillin, but also to synthetic antibiotics that did not exist on earth until the second half of the twentieth century. As infectious disease specialist Brad Spellberg put it […]

Continue reading