‘Queensland will become hotter and super-cyclones will batter the coast as far south as Brisbane by 2070, the nation’s top scientists have warned.
In a top-level ministerial briefing note seen by The Courier-Mail, the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre, the co-ordinating body for the nation’s 15 peak scientific bodies, offers stark predictions about climate change. [..]
The latest climate change projections predict that by 2030: Average annual temperature will increase by between 0.6C and 1.2C, and that after 2030, the rate of increase will be highly dependent on emission levels.
Also, cyclones will be stronger, more frequent and last longer, and the region of cyclone activity will shift southwards, affecting areas 300km further south by 2070.
Local sea levels will be 13 to 20cm above 1990 levels, and 49 to 89cm above 1990 levels by 2070.’
‘The planet Earth has dismissed claims it is in danger from global warming, stressing the worst that could happen is the extinction of the human race.
The Earth spoke out after a series of books, television programmes and environmental campaigns urged people to do everything in their power to ‘Save the Planet’.
Earth, 4,000,000,000, said last night: “I’ll be absolutely fine, seriously. I might get a bit warmer and a bit wetter, but to be honest, that actually sounds quite nice.
“Try living through an ice age. Pardon my French, but it’s absolutely fucking freezing.”
The planet, based 93 million miles from the Sun, said it was ‘sick and tired’ of being drawn into arguments about human behaviour.’
‘I’m sitting in a fast-food restaurant outside Boston that, because of a nondisclosure agreement I had to sign, I am not allowed to name. I’m waiting to visit Apollo Diamond, a company about as secretive as a Soviet-era spy agency. Its address isn’t published. The public relations staff wouldn’t give me directions. Instead, an Apollo representative picks me up at this exurban strip mall and drives me in her black luxury car whose make I am not allowed to name along roads that I am not allowed to describe as twisty, not that they necessarily were.
“This is a virtual diamond mine,” says Apollo CEO Bryant Linares when I arrive at the company’s secret location, where diamonds are made. “If we were in Africa, we’d have barbed wire, security guards and watch towers. We can’t do that in Massachusetts.” Apollo’s directors worry about theft, corporate spies and their own safety. When Linares was at a diamond conference a few years ago, he says, a man he declines to describe slipped behind him as he was walking out of a hotel meeting room and said someone from a natural diamond company just might put a bullet in his head. “It was a scary moment,” Linares recalls.’
‘For more than 400 years, astronomers have studied the sun from afar. Now NASA has decided to go there.
“We are going to visit a living, breathing star for the first time,” says program scientist Lika Guhathakurta of NASA Headquarters. “This is an unexplored region of the solar system and the possibilities for discovery are off the charts.”
The name of the mission is Solar Probe+ (pronounced “Solar Probe plus”). It’s a heat-resistant spacecraft designed to plunge deep into the sun’s atmosphere where it can sample solar wind and magnetism first hand. Launch could happen as early as 2015. By the time the mission ends 7 years later, planners believe Solar Probe+ will solve two great mysteries of astrophysics and make many new discoveries along the way.
[..] “To solve these mysteries, Solar Probe+ will actually enter the corona,” says Guhathakurta. “That’s where the action is.”‘
‘Under the gleam of blinding lamps, engulfed by banks of angrily frothing flasks, Makoto Watanabe is plotting a slimy, lurid-green revolution. He has spent his life in search of a species of algae that efficiently “sweats” crude oil, and has finally found it.
Now, exploiting the previously unrecognised power of pondlife, Professor Watanabe dreams of transforming Japan from a voracious energy importer into an oil-exporting nation to rival any member of Opec. [..]
Professor Watanabe’s vision arises from the extraordinary properties of the Botryococcus braunii algae: give the microscopic green strands enough light – and plenty of carbon dioxide – and they excrete oil. The tiny globules of oil that form on the surface of the algae can be easily harvested and then refined using the same “cracking” technologies with which the oil industry now converts crude into everything from jet fuel to plastics.’
‘Iraqi lawmakers say the United States is demanding 58 bases as part of a proposed “status of forces” agreement that will allow U.S. troops to remain in the country indefinitely.
Leading members of the two ruling Shiite parties said in a series of interviews the Iraqi government rejected this proposal along with another U.S. demand that would have effectively handed over to the United States the power to determine if a hostile act from another country is aggression against Iraq. Lawmakers said they fear this power would drag Iraq into a war between the United States and Iran.
“The points that were put forth by the Americans were more abominable than the occupation,” said Jalal al Din al Saghir, a leading lawmaker from the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. “We were occupied by order of the Security Council,” he said, referring to the 2004 Resolution mandating a U.S. military occupation in Iraq at the head of an international coalition. “But now we are being asked to sign for our own occupation. That is why we have absolutely refused all that we have seen so far.”‘
‘Climate models predicted it wouldn’t happen until the end of the century.
So Seattle researchers were stunned to discover that vast swaths of acidified sea water are already showing up along the Pacific Coast as carbon dioxide from power plants, cars and factories mixes into the ocean.
In surveys from Vancouver Island to the tip of Baja California, the scientists found the first evidence that large amounts of corrosive water are reaching the continental shelf — the shallow sea margin where most marine creatures live. In some places, including Northern California, the acidified water was as little as four miles from shore.
“What we found … was truly astonishing,” said oceanographer Richard Feely, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle. “This means ocean acidification may be seriously impacting marine life on the continental shelf right now.”‘
‘Welcome to LHCountdown.com, this site is primarily a countdown site to the activation of the Large Hadron Collider but is also a hub collecting all articles relating to and about the LHC.’
.. It’s a bit late in the game to find a counter now. There’s only 14 hours to go.
Still, that’s 14 hours of waiting for the LHC to destroy us all with a blackhole. So I can pretend it’s a doomsday clock.
‘Researchers at HP Labs have built the first working prototypes of an important new electronic component that may lead to instant-on PCs as well as analog computers that process information the way the human brain does.
The new component is called a memristor, or memory resistor. Up until today, the circuit element had only been described in a series of mathematical equations written by Leon Chua, who in 1971 was an engineering student studying non-linear circuits. Chua knew the circuit element should exist — he even accurately outlined its properties and how it would work. Unfortunately, neither he nor the rest of the engineering community could come up with a physical manifestation that matched his mathematical expression.
Thirty-seven years later, a group of scientists from HP Labs has finally built real working memristors, thus adding a fourth basic circuit element to electrical circuit theory, one that will join the three better-known ones: the capacitor, resistor and the inductor.’
‘First, the bad news: the inner solar system is unstable. Given enough time, Jupiter’s gravity could yank Mercury out of its present orbit.
Two new computer simulations of long-term planetary motion — one by Jacques Laskar (Paris Observatory), the other by Konstantin Batygin and Gregory Laughlin (University of California, Santa Cruz) — have both reached the same disturbing conclusion.
Says Laughlin, “The solar system isn’t as stable as we’d thought.” Both teams have found that Jupiter’s gravity can increase Mercury’s orbital eccentricity over time. Mercury’s path around the Sun is already nearly as elliptical as Pluto’s. But Jupiter can make Mercury’s orbit so out of round that it overlaps the path of Venus. A close encounter between them could send the innermost planet careening off wildly.
“Once Mercury crosses Venus’s orbit,” Laughlin says, “Mercury is in serious trouble.”
So is Earth.’
‘In what marks an important step towards helping lunar colonists grow their own food, a Ukrainian team, working with the European Space Agency, ESA, has shown that marigolds can grow in crushed rock very like the lunar surface, with no need for plant food.
The research was presented at the European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna, by Dr Bernard Foing of ESA, director of the International Lunar Exploration Working Group, and father of the SMART-1 moon probe, who believes it is an important milestone because it does away with the need to bring bringing nutrients and soil from Earth.
He has worked with Natasha Kozyrovska and Iryna Zaetz from the Ukranian Academy of Sciences in Kiev, who planted marigolds in crushed anorthosite, a type of rock found on Earth which is very similar to lunar soil, called regolith.
They did not grow well until the team added different types of bacteria, which made them thrive; the bacteria appeared to leach elements from the rock that the plants needed, such as potassium.’
‘A 13-year-old German schoolboy corrected NASA’s estimates on the chances of an asteroid colliding with Earth, a German newspaper reported Tuesday, after spotting the boffins had miscalculated.
Nico Marquardt used telescopic findings from the Institute of Astrophysics in Potsdam (AIP) to calculate that there was a 1 in 450 chance that the Apophis asteroid will collide with Earth, the Potsdamer Neuerster Nachrichten reported.
NASA had previously estimated the chances at only 1 in 45,000 but told its sister organisation, the European Space Agency (ESA), that the young whizzkid had got it right. [..]
Both NASA and Marquardt agree that if the asteroid does collide with earth, it will create a ball of iron and iridium 320 metres (1049 feet) wide and weighing 200 billion tonnes, which will crash into the Atlantic Ocean.
The shockwaves from that would create huge tsunami waves, destroying both coastlines and inland areas, whilst creating a thick cloud of dust that would darken the skies indefinitely.’
Followup to The Asteroid Threat is Out There.
‘America’s mortgage crisis has spiralled into “the largest financial shock since the Great Depression” and there is now a one-in-four chance of a full-blown global recession over the next 12 months, the International Monetary Fund warned today.
The US is already sliding into what the IMF predicts will be a “mild recession” but there is mounting pessimism about the ability of the rest of the world to escape unscathed, the IMF said in its twice-yearly World Economic Outlook. Britain is particularly vulnerable, it warned, as it slashed its growth targets for both the US and the UK.
The report made it clear that there will be no early resolution to the global financial crisis.
“The financial shock that erupted in August 2007, as the US sub-prime mortgage market was derailed by the reversal of the housing boom, has spread quickly and unpredictably to inflict extensive damage on markets and institutions at the heart of the financial system,” it said.’
‘The task of cutting greenhouse gas emissions enough to avert a dangerous rise in global temperatures may be far more difficult than previous research suggested, say scientists who have just published studies indicating that it would require the world to cease carbon emissions altogether within a matter of decades.
Their findings, published in separate journals over the past few weeks, suggest that both industrialized and developing nations must wean themselves off fossil fuels by as early as mid-century in order to prevent warming that could change precipitation patterns and dry up sources of water worldwide.
Using advanced computer models to factor in deep-sea warming and other aspects of the carbon cycle that naturally creates and removes carbon dioxide (CO2), the scientists, from countries including the United States, Canada and Germany, are delivering a simple message: The world must bring carbon emissions down to near zero to keep temperatures from rising further.’
‘An international research team has provided the first scientific evidence that deadly emerging diseases have risen steeply across the world, and has mapped the outbreaks’ main sources. They say new diseases originating from wild animals in poor nations are the greatest threat to humans. Expansion of humans into shrinking pockets of biodiversity and resulting contacts with wildlife are the reason, they say. Meanwhile, richer nations are nursing other outbreaks, including multidrug-resistant pathogen strains, through overuse of antibiotics, centralized food processing and other technologies. The study appears in the Feb. 21 issue of the leading scientific journal Nature.
Emerging diseases–defined as newly identified pathogens, or old ones moving to new regions–have caused devastating outbreaks already. The HIV/AIDS pandemic, thought to have started from human contact with chimps, has led to over 65 million infections; recent outbreaks of SARS originating in Chinese bats have cost up to $100 billion. Outbreaks like the exotic African Ebola virus have been small, but deadly.’
‘Swarms of robots that use electromagnetic forces to cling together and assume different shapes are being developed by US researchers.
The grand goal is to create swarms of microscopic robots capable of morphing into virtually any form by clinging together.
Seth Goldstein, who leads the research project at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, in the US, admits this is still a distant prospect.
However, his team is using simulations to develop control strategies for futuristic shape-shifting, or “claytronic”, robots, which they are testing on small groups of more primitive, pocket-sized machines.’
‘In a hypothetical future scenario, the U.S. and China are poised to clash — likely over Taiwan.
The democratic Republic of China, commonly called Taiwan — which America backs and the communist People’s Republic of China considers part of its territory — frequently irritates Chinese leaders with calls for greater independence from the mainland. But while the American military mulls its options, Chinese missiles hit runways, fuel lines, barracks and supply depots at U.S. Air Force bases in Japan and South Korea. Long-range warheads destroy American satellites, crippling Air Force surveillance and communication networks. A nuclear fireball erupts high above the Pacific Ocean, ionizing the atmosphere and scrambling radars and radio feeds.
This is China’s anti-U.S. sucker punch strategy.’
‘David Levy is an expert on artificial intelligence and president of the International Computer Games Association. He’s one of those people who seem qualified to prognosticate on our technological future. His forecast: In a few short years nearly everyone will be having sex with robots.
I have no trouble believing that men will have sex with robots. If I had a robot I’d make it clean the bathroom and dust.
But Levy, 62, author of the recently released Love and Sex With Robots, says women will want some too. [..]‘
‘National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell is drawing up plans for cyberspace spying that would make the current debate on warrantless wiretaps look like a “walk in the park,” according to an interview published in the New Yorker’s print edition today. [..]
McConnell is developing a Cyber-Security Policy, still in the draft stage, which will closely police Internet activity.
“Ed Giorgio, who is working with McConnell on the plan, said that would mean giving the government the autority to examine the content of any e-mail, file transfer or Web search,” author Lawrence Wright pens.
“Google has records that could help in a cyber-investigation, he said,” Wright adds. “Giorgio warned me, ‘We have a saying in this business: ‘Privacy and security are a zero-sum game.’”‘
‘Scientists at the University of Minnesota have taken a big step toward making replacement organs with the recipients’ cells. In experiments performed on rats and pigs, the researchers stripped donor hearts of their cells to create scaffolds on which the recipients’ cells were grown. The hope is that a similar approach might someday prove useful to human patients with end-stage heart disease. In theory, these novel hearts could prove to be better than traditional donor hearts because they are less likely to cause an immune response.
“It’s an audacious, gutsy, exciting piece of work,” says Buddy Ratner, a professor of bioengineering and chemical engineering at the University of Washington, who was not involved in the research. Still, substantial hurdles remain before the approach might be applicable to human patients.’
‘Are we running out of helium? Lee Sobotka, professor of chemistry and physics at Washington University in St. Louis, says it is being depleted so rapidly in the world’s largest reserve, outside of Amarillo, Tex., that supplies are expected to be gone there within the next eight years.
The helium we have on earth is not readily renewable, it has been built up over billions of years from the decay of natural uranium and thorium. The decay of these elements proceeds at a super-snail’s pace.
It will impact more than balloons and kids’ voices, Sobotka says. “Helium’s use in science is extremely broad but its most important use is as a coolant. Helium is non-renewable and irreplaceable. Its properties are unique and unlike hydrocarbon fuels (natural gas or oil), there are no biosynthetic ways to make an alternative to helium. All should make better efforts to recycle it.”‘
‘Dwan Ev ceremoniously soldered the final connection with gold. The eyes of a dozen television cameras watched him and the subether bore throughout the universe a dozen pictures of what he was doing.
He straightened and nodded to Dwar Reyn, then moved to a position beside the switch that would complete the contact when he threw it. The switch that would connect, all at once, all of the monster computing machines of all the populated planets in the universe — ninety-six billion planets — into the supercircuit that would connect them all into one supercalculator, one cybernetics machine that would combine all the knowledge of all the galaxies.
Dwar Reyn spoke briefly to the watching and listening trillions. Then after a moment’s silence he said, “Now, Dwar Ev.”
Dwar Ev threw the switch. There was a mighty hum, the surge of power from ninety-six billion planets. Lights flashed and quieted along the miles-long panel.
Dwar Ev stepped back and drew a deep breath. “The honor of asking the first question is yours, Dwar Reyn.” [..]‘
‘If you’ve ever blistered your bare feet on a hot road you know that asphalt absorbs the sun’s energy. A Dutch company is now siphoning heat from roads and parking lots to heat homes and offices.
As climate change rises on the international agenda, the system built by the civil engineering firm, Ooms Avenhorn Holding BV, doesn’t look as wacky as it might have 10 years ago when first conceived.
Solar energy collected from a 200-yard stretch of road and a small parking lot helps heat a 70-unit four-story apartment building in the northern village of Avenhorn. An industrial park of some 160,000 square feet in the nearby city of Hoorn is kept warm in winter with the help of heat stored during the summer from 36,000 square feet of pavement. The runways of a Dutch air force base in the south supply heat for its hangar.’
‘Scientists have identified an asteroid that has a faint chance of ploughing into the Earth, leaving a two-kilometre-wide crater and wiping out life for 6000 square kilometres.
The asteroid measures 130 metres across and is travelling at 70,000 km/h. It would cause huge devastation if it hit the planet.
Called 2007 VK184, the space rock is 90 million kilometres from Earth and could hit in 2048. It has earned a rare hazard rating of “one” on the Torino scale, the international barometer of space object impact risk.’
Children’s chemistry sets suck these days.
(24.1meg Flash video)
see it here »
‘The human race will one day split into two separate species, an attractive, intelligent ruling elite and an underclass of dim-witted, ugly goblin-like creatures, according to a top scientist.
100,000 years into the future, sexual selection will mean that two distinct breeds of human will have developed.
The alarming prediction comes from evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry from the London School of Economics, who says that the human race will have reached its physical peak by the year 3000.
These humans will be between 6ft and 7ft tall and they will live up to 120 years.
Men will have symmetrical facial features, deeper voices and bigger penises.’
‘The Storm worm first appeared at the beginning of the year, hiding in e-mail attachments with the subject line: “230 dead as storm batters Europe.” Those who opened the attachment became infected, their computers joining an ever-growing botnet.
Although it’s most commonly called a worm, Storm is really more: a worm, a Trojan horse and a bot all rolled into one. It’s also the most successful example we have of a new breed of worm, and I’ve seen estimates that between 1 million and 50 million computers have been infected worldwide. [..]
Worms like Storm are written by hackers looking for profit, and they’re different. These worms spread more subtly, without making noise. Symptoms don’t appear immediately, and an infected computer can sit dormant for a long time. If it were a disease, it would be more like syphilis, whose symptoms may be mild or disappear altogether, but which will eventually come back years later and eat your brain.’
‘American diplomats have been ordered to compile a dossier detailing Iran’s violations of international law that some fear could be used to justify military strikes against the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme.
Members of the US secretariat in the United Nations were asked earlier this month to begin “searching for things that Iran has done wrong”, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.
Some US diplomats believe the exercise — reminiscent of attempts by vice-president Dick Cheney and the former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld to build the case against Saddam Hussein before the Iraq war — will boost calls for military action by neo-conservatives inside and outside the administration.’
‘Spintronics, also known as magnetoelectronics, is an emerging technology that harnesses the spin of particles.
Conventional electronics ignores these rotations and instead exploits the movement or accumulation of electrons to do useful calculations or store data.
Freescale MRAM chip
Spintronics is already used in MRAM devices produced by Freescale
The movement of electrons through the tiny wires found in modern microchips is the reason why laptops become so hot.
But, by harnessing the twist and turns of particles – detected as a weak magnetic force – scientists hope to unlock almost infinite computing power and storage, without the heat.’
‘The building is protected by access codes, cameras and even tornado-proof walls. So what’s inside?
The answer is plant seeds. Billions of them. In fact, there are around 370,000 different species accounted for in the vault.
For each species, 3,000 seeds are placed in a sac.
“All the storage sacs are bar coded. Also, they’re labeled with the name of the type of plant material that’s in each of these sacs,” said Harvey Blackburn, who is the acting director of the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation.
The next question might be, why? The answer has to do with national security.’