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The four countries bordering Lake Chad on Friday launched a fund aimed at collecting $100 million to help counter climate change and a devastating jihadist insurgency. West Africa's largest lake -- whose shoreline is shared by Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria -- has shrunk by 90 percent since the 1960s, a fall blamed on global warming and poor water management. The area is a stronghold for Nigerian-based Boko Haram militants, whose decade-old revolt has left thousands of dead and displaced more than two million.
Harvard researchers have conducted experiments during which they administered daily doses of resveratrol to rats. This compound, found in red wine and dark chocolate, could help maintain muscle mass of astronauts about to embark on a long journey through space -- to reach Mars, for instance. In April, NASA pledged to bring astronauts to Mars by 2033, a one-way trip that could take, in the best-case scenario, between seven and nine months.
(Bloomberg) -- Lyft Inc. wants its riders in America’s largest city to know that they might not need to take a Lyft. They can just ride the subway.Over the next few months, Lyft said users of its app will be able to access real-time public transportation information in New York City. The move marks another twist in the ride-hailing industry’s fraught relationship with New York, which is both home to the world’s most heavily used public transportation network and the site of a history of legal tussles between the companies and city officials.The app update shows users the locations of nearby subway and bus stations, as well as docks for Citi Bike, the New York bike-share program operated by Lyft. The features are part of a bid to keep users engaged on the platform, rather than navigating away to a different app for subway or bike information. It’s a calculated bet that more info won’t tempt too many people to take the train instead of calling a Lyft.Lyft has begun rolling out the update and will continue to do so gradually. All New York users will receive the new features by the end of September, the company said. “Lyft’s mission is to provide the world’s best transportation, and that definitely includes public transit,” said Lilly Shoup, the senior director of transportation policy. In cities like New York, public transit can be faster and more convenient than driving, she said.While Lyft will provide riders with up-to-date subway arrival times, the company doesn’t have a formal partnership with the city of New York. Riders will still need to swipe their MetroCard to access the subway.The new offerings may serve to endear Lyft to New York’s lawmakers, who have recently passed new rules targeting the ride-hailing industry. City officials have been vocal critics of the company and its competitors, saying they have driven down driver wages and worsened traffic. Lyft sued New York this year in a bid to prevent the implantation of a new driver minimum wage law, but a judge dismissed the suit in May.The addition of subways and buses is a step for Lyft toward its ultimate goal of being an all-encompassing transportation service. Both the company and its larger rival, Uber Technologies Inc., have told investors they want users to remain on their apps no matter the mode of transit. As they geared up for their initial public offerings this year, both companies touted their respective integrations with other subway systems and public transit services.Uber said recently that it had sold more than 1,200 bus and train tickets in Denver as part of a partnership with public transit there. Lyft already has public transportation data in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, the company said.The two companies have also moved aggressively into bike-sharing. Lyft’s acquisition last year of Motivate, the operator Citi Bike, gave it a massive fleet of bicycles in New York, with plans to expand to 40,000 in 2023. Meanwhile, Uber has a fleet of 400 electric Jump bikes in the Bronx and Staten Island.Lyft said integrating more services into its app is a natural step, particularly because many journeys involve more than one mode of transit. “One of our busiest Citi Bike stations is the one outside Grand Central,” Shoup said. “We can really expand the effectiveness and the reach of transit.”Uber is still by far the largest player in the business of getting people around in cars in New York. But both companies have hit roadblocks as the city has cracked down on ride-hailing. Uber and Lyft have each sued city agencies over different rules and started to experiment with creative tactics to address new restrictions. An Uber lawsuit attempting to derail a cap on drivers is ongoing; Lyft lost its suit contesting driver pay rules, though it could appeal.Lyft has begun preventing drivers in New York from accepting rides if they’re in low-demand parts of the city. That’s in response to a rule expected to go into effect next year that would require companies to pay drivers based on how many trips the average driver receives per hour. The rule is expected to advantage Uber, which has more riders and drivers.Meanwhile, Uber is laying out a plan in response to rules that would charge ride-hailing drivers extra if they’re hanging around in the core of Manhattan without a passenger. Uber has made inquiries about purchasing a parking lot to hold about 250 cars just outside the heart of Manhattan. Cars would sit parked and then drive into the city’s core only after a passenger requests them. Crain’s New York Business first reported on the possible parking lot.Uber said it’s worried that drivers would otherwise crowd streets around the perimeter of the proposed regulated zone. “If the city passes the proposed ‘cruising cap,’ we want to be prepared to help mitigate the inevitable congestion that will be caused by app drivers waiting to access the central business district,” Alix Anfang, an Uber spokeswoman, wrote in an email. One time-honored congestion solution, of course, is taking a train.To contact the author of this story: Eric Newcomer in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Anne VanderMey at email@example.com, Mark MilianFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- The European Union said it may deem certain 5G suppliers a security risk, noting that Chinese law requires domestic companies to collaborate with intelligence agencies."It is indeed possible that we reach the conclusion that in some cases, some products, services and suppliers are deemed unsafe," EU Security Commissioner Julian King told reporters on Friday.U.S. President Donald Trump has advocated for a global ban on China’s Huawei Technologies Co. on security grounds, alarming European telecom operators who rely on the company’s equipment to run networks. Excluding Huawei and ZTE Corp. from the next generation of mobile networks would burden European phone companies with 55 billion euros ($62 billion) in extra costs, and delay 5G roll out, the wireless industry’s main lobby group GSMA said last month."There’s a lot of debate about Huawei," King said. "It’s not because we’re obsessing about China. We’re trying to develop a risk assessment across this market,” and major suppliers will feature in feature in the discussion.While European governments are free to block a 5G supplier over security concerns, King said he hoped they’d rely on a risk assessment he’s putting together by Oct. 1, based on information from all EU members.The EU is relatively powerless to force its member states to abide by its recommendations, but King said the report should help them "reach a view on whether particular products, services or suppliers are sufficiently safe" as states make decisions on high-speed 5G spectrum auctions and network deployment, he told a Brussels press conference.King said the EU would not target Huawei "from the outset," but added that the Chinese national intelligence law "puts certain quite broad requirements on organizations or citizens to support or cooperate or collaborate with national intelligence work."While outright bans on Huawei appear unlikely in Europe, the region it relies on most for growth outside China, countries such as Germany, France and Britain have signaled more limited restrictions and tighter oversight of their networks. Huawei’s European smartphone sales slumped last month, according to market research firm Kantar, after a U.S. component supply ban on the Chinese manufacturer threatened its access to crucial handset software."It is possible if you decide a particular service or supplier is presenting a risk that you find difficult to mitigate, that you can take a decision that reflects that, you take a decision to exclude the supplier from your market," King said.To contact the reporter on this story: Aoife White in Brussels at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at email@example.com, Giles Turner, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Earth's scorching core is not a loner -- it has been caught mingling with other, underworldly layers. That's according to a new study that found the innermost part of the planet leaks some of its contents into mantle plumes, some of which eventually reach Earth's surface.This discovery helps settle a debate that's been raging for decades: whether the core and mantle exchange any material, the researchers said."Our findings suggest some core material does transfer into the base of these mantle plumes, and the core has been leaking this material for the past 2.5 billion years," the researchers wrote in The Conversation, a website where scientists write about their research for the public. [Photos: The World's Weirdest Geological Formations]The finding was made possible by the metal tungsten (W), element 74 on the periodic table. If tungsten were to make a dating profile, it would note that it's a siderophile, or "iron lover." So, it's no surprise that a lot of tungsten hangs out in Earth's core, which is made primarily of iron and nickel.On its profile, tungsten would also list that it has a few isotopes (an element with a different number of neutrons in its nucleus), including W-182 (with 108 neutrons) and W-184 (with 110 neutrons). While devising their study, the researchers realized that these isotopes could help them solve the core-leaking question.Another element, hafnium (Hf), is a lithophile, meaning it loves rocks and can be found in Earth's silicate-rich mantle. With a half-life of 8.9 million years, hafnium's radioactive isotope Hf-182 decays into W-182. This means that the mantle should have more W-182 than the core does, the scientists reasoned."Therefore, chemical exchange between the core and the source of mantle plumes could be detectable in the 182W/184W ratio of ocean island basalts," which come from plumes in the mantle, the researchers wrote in the study.But this difference in tungsten would be incredibly small: The tungsten-182 composition in the mantle and core were expected to differ by only about 200 parts per million (ppm). "Fewer than five laboratories in the world can do this type of analysis," the researchers wrote in The Conversation.Earth's inner layers ShutterstockFurthermore, it's not easy to study the core, because it begins at a depth of about 1,800 miles (2,900 kilometers) underground. To put that into perspective, the deepest hole humans have ever dug is the Kola Superdeep Borehole in Russia, which has a depth of about 7.6 miles (12.3 km).So, the researchers studied the next best thing: rocks that oozed to Earth's surface from the deep mantle at the Pilbara Craton in Western Australia, and the Réunion Island and Kerguelen Archipelago hotspots in the Indian Ocean. Leak detectedThe amount of tungsten in these rocks revealed a leak from the core. Over Earth's lifetime, there was a big change in the W-182-to-W-184 ratio in Earth's mantle, the researchers found. Oddly, Earth's oldest rocks have a higher W-182-to-W-184 ratio than most modern-day rocks do, they discovered."The change in the 182W/184W ratio of the mantle indicates that tungsten from the core has been leaking into the mantle for a long time," the researchers wrote in The Conversation. [Photos: Geologists Home-Brew Lava]Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. The planet's oldest mantle rocks, however, didn't have any significant changes in tungsten isotopes. This suggests that from 4.3 billion to 2.7 billion years ago, there was little or no exchange of material from the core to the upper mantle, the researchers said.But in the past 2.5 billion years, the tungsten isotope composition in the mantle has changed substantially. Why did this happen? If mantle plumes are rising from the core-mantle boundary, then perhaps, like a see-saw, material from Earth's surface is going down into the deep mantle, the researchers said. This surface material has oxygen in it, an element that can affect tungsten, the researchers said."Subduction, the term used for rocks from Earth's surface descending into the mantle, takes oxygen-rich material from the surface into the deep mantle as an integral component of plate tectonics," the researchers wrote in The Conversation. "Experiments show that [an] increase in oxygen concentration at the core-mantle boundary could cause tungsten to separate out of the core and into the mantle."Or, maybe as the inner core solidified after Earth formed, the oxygen concentration in the outer core increased, the researchers said. "In this case, our new results could tell us something about the evolution of the core, including the origin of Earth's magnetic field," they wrote in The Conversation.The study was published online June 20 in the journal Geochemical Perspectives Letters. * Spectacular Geology: Amazing Photos of the American Southwest * In Photos: The UK's Geologic Wonders * 50 Amazing Volcano FactsOriginally published on Live Science.
Momentum is growing across Europe toward a mid-century target for climate neutrality that UN scientists say the world must embrace to avert catastrophe. Ursula von der Leyen put the mid-century target atop her programme to the European Parliament before it confirmed her on Tuesday as the new European Commission president. "I want Europe to become the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050," von der Leyen told the assembly, eliciting strong applause.
The current celebrations of Project Apollo’s achievements highlight how slowly nations learn from experience. The United States is again committing itself to go to the Moon, and from there to Mars, sending humans rather than robots. We are again promised that such an undertaking will lift the human spirit and provide us with major scientific discoveries, and even a haven to retreat to, in case life on Earth becomes unbearable. In 1964, I wrote a book in which I pointed out that the funds, and especially the research and development resources, dedicated to a lunar visit would be better spent on Earth; that if we had to reach into deep space, it would be much less risky and less costly to send robots than humans; that most benefits in space are to be found in near—and not deep—space; and that the various claims made about Project Apollo would be found to be hollow. (I called the 1964 book The Moon-Doggle.)If we assess Project Apollo realistically, and learn from it for future space missions, then what do we see?Lunar exploration led to no major scientific discoveries. As Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg put it in 2007, “[T]he whole manned spaceflight program, which is so enormously expensive, has produced nothing of scientific value.” One analyst went so far as to suggest that the most significant finding gained from the Apollo missions was the discovery that the Moon’s crust is thicker on one side than on the other.We found no gold, silver, or any other materials worth carrying back to Earth.The Moon did not serve as a high ground for a military base.
Excavations in Israel's Galilee have uncovered remains of an ancient church said to mark the home of the apostles Peter and Andrew, the dig's archaeological director said Friday. Mordechai Aviam of Kinneret Academic College, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, said this season's dig at nearby El-Araj confirmed it as the site of Bethsaida, a fishing village where Peter and his brother Andrew were born according to the Gospel of John.
Kenya will on Friday inaugurate Africa's biggest wind power plant, a mammoth project in a gusty stretch of remote wilderness that now provides nearly a fifth of its energy needs. The $680-million (600 million euro) project, a sprawling 365-turbine wind farm on the eastern shores of Lake Turkana, will deliver 310 megawatts of renewable power to the national grid of East Africa’s most dynamic economy.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel conceded Friday that her government was driven to act faster on climate change by young activists like teenaged Greta Thunberg, who was speaking at rally in Berlin the same day. Thunberg, meanwhile, addressing student activists who have regularly skipped school to protest, made another passionate appeal to their elders to urgently act on climate change. "We need to make sure that people save the world and save humankind," she said about global warming which is melting ice caps and glaciers, raising ocean levels and exacerbating extreme weather events.
Fifty years ago Buzz Aldrin took the giant leap onto the lunar surface. While making that ginger hop, he wore an Omega Speedmaster, a wristwatch with a chronograph. The Swiss luxury watchmaker Omega continues to reap the profits today. Judged by all the promotional gear at watch shops celebrating the 50-year anniversary of the moon landing, it seems the romance of wearing a NASA-approved piece of gear on the wrist still has great appeal to men with a few thousand dollars to spare. The romance comes from the combination of 19th-century timekeeping technology, 20th-century industrial design, and a futuristic dream of technical wonders to come.But in a way, there’s something almost melancholy about a 50-year-old wristwatch design still commanding so much attention. My childhood was filled with television reruns of space-age dreaming about the future. The Jetsons had flying cars. They had a robot maid, Rosie, who was a sign that menial jobs would disappear in the future. Everyone could live like an aristocrat, without anyone having to live like a servant. On Star Trek, the problem of scarcity had been solved by “replicators” that made food for you instantly. And the power of imagination had been put into rooms that could generate holograms of any environment. Occasionally these were used for entertainment and escapism, but mostly they were handy for training the daring crew for their intergalactic and civilizing missions.In these visions, technology had been mastered by humans as part of our God-given dominion over Earth and the creation connected to it. We solved Newtonian and Malthusian problems through its use, generating superhuman forces of speed and power in one hand, and super-abundant resources for human flourishing on a galactic scale.There is always a slightly dark side to futurism, and our space-age dreams had them. The loneliness of space, our disconnection from home, or the unknown and greater dangers of the final frontier loomed somewhere in that vision. But the fundamental direction was toward progress, and greater vistas on which humanity could do good.Anyone raised with these visions and dreams now wakes up every morning in 2019 and sees that the most powerful technology company, Google, is basically a combination spy agency and ad agency. Sure, in its spare time, it tries to build a self-driving car and works out how to program it to crash into the correct bystander in a pinch. But mostly, its selling you workout programs, diet supplements, and amateur-made guides to your existing hobbies.Previously we dreamed of mastering the physical problems of the universe and spreading the rule and dominion of mankind. Now technology has taken a Freudian turn. It is used by corporations to master us. We’ve gone from Rosie the maid to Samantha, the operating system in the 2013 movie Her. Instead of being the servant, our tech is used as a distraction and illusion of connection with other humans. We think we are getting into bed with a glowing, sexy-voiced mate. But it’s just a mask for Big Brother, and we worry that his presence on our nightstands might be giving us brain cancer.VIEW GALLERY: Apollo 11Peter Thiel, the investor in Facebook and other tech companies, has made this same complaint. Instead of flying cars, we got 140 characters. He wants to make more progress in atoms, rather than in bits. But I think the tragedy is almost worse than he describes. Instead of expanding the rule of mankind, and our dreams across the final frontier, we have turned technology against ourselves, making Google and Facebook deeper and more knowledgeable intimates than our own spouses, parents, and children. We’ve expanded the invasiveness of 20th-century advertising and brought the crass, ugly glowing billboard into our own hands.It’s time to turn back, and find where we abandoned Rosie and our replicators.
(Bloomberg) -- Russia’s wheat harvest so far shows yields have dipped below last year’s level, raising questions about current crop estimates.Yields fell 3% from a year earlier as the top wheat shipper processed wheat from 8.2 million hectares, Agriculture Ministry data show. The acreage is about 30% of total plantings, according to SovEcon.The decline, which comes after hot and dry weather in June and May, contrasts with estimates that show Russia’s crop increasing from a year earlier. SovEcon said on Thursday it’s reconsidering its outlook.“Generally, yields have been worse than last year both in the south and the Volga Valley,” said Andrey Sizov Jr., managing director at SovEcon. “And last year wasn’t brilliant.”The situation may be better than last year in some central parts, Sizov said. The southern region of Krasnodar, which is one of Russia’s top wheat growers, collected a record crop, Interfax reported Thursday. Farmers have also planted more wheat for this year’s crop than a year earlier, the Agriculture Ministry reported last week without giving comparative numbers.Still, there’s already been a slew of estimate cuts in recent weeks, including by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Russian analysts, which cited a lack of rains and high temperatures as plants matured. Even after a cut, the USDA, which put out one of the most pessimistic forecasts, sees the crop rising from the year before.A lower crop in Russia could further erode the outlook for a record global production and inventories of the grain. While cutting Russia’s wheat output estimate earlier this month, the USDA also reduced forecasts for some other big exporters, including the European Union, Ukraine and Australia.Some Russian farm companies still think a bigger crop is possible. Trio Group, which farms wheat in the central Russian region of Lipetsk, is about to start harvesting wheat, and the plants look good, said Vyacheslav Borodin, head of the company’s grains unit.“We expect yields at least at the level of last year and even higher,” he said.To contact the reporter on this story: Anatoly Medetsky in Moscow at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lynn Thomasson at email@example.com, Liezel HillFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong put a flag on the moon. Here's what you can and can't see in the iconic photo
Chinese scientists hail 'incredible' stealth breakthrough that may blind military radar systems
Chinese scientists have achieved a series of breakthroughs in stealth materials technology that they claim can make fighter jets and other weaponry lighter, cheaper to build and less vulnerable to radar detection.Professor Luo Xiangang and colleagues at the Institute of Optics and Electronics, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Chengdu, Sichuan province, said they had created the world's first mathematical model to precisely describe the behaviour of electromagnetic waves when they strike a piece of metal engraved with microscopic patterns, according to a statement posted on the academy's website on Monday.With their new model and breakthroughs in materials fabrication, they developed a membrane, known as a meta surface, which can absorb radar waves in the widest spectrum yet reported.At present, stealth aircraft mainly rely on special geometry " their body shape " to deflect radar signals, but those designs can affect aerodynamic performance. They also use radar absorbing paint, which has a high density but only works against a limited frequency spectrum.In one test, the new technology cut the strength of a reflected radar signal " measured in decibels " by between 10 and nearly 30dB in a frequency range from 0.3 to 40 gigahertz.A stealth technologist from Fudan University in Shanghai, who was not involved in the work, said a fighter jet or warship using the new technology could feasibly fool all military radar systems in operation today."This detection range is incredible," the researcher said. "I have never heard of anyone even coming close to this performance. At present, absorbing technology with an effective range of between 4 and 18 GHz is considered very, very good."The lower the signal frequency, the longer a radar's detection range. But detailed information about a moving target can only be obtained with higher frequency radio waves. Militaries typically use a combination of radars working at different frequencies to establish lines of defence.The Medium Extended Air Defence System, Nato's early warning radar, operates at a frequency range of 0.3 to 1 GHz. The American Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system, the missile defence radar that caught Beijing's attention when it was deployed in South Korea in 2017, operates at frequencies around 10 GHz.Some airports use extremely short-range, high-frequency radars running at 20 GHz or above to monitor vehicle and plane movements on the ground, but even they might not be able to see a jet with the new stealth technology until it is overhead."Materials with meta surface technology are already found on military hardware in China, although what they are and where they are used remains largely classified," the Fudan researcher said.Professor Luo Xiangang. Photo: Baidu alt=Professor Luo Xiangang. Photo: BaiduLuo and his colleagues could not be reached for comment. But according to the academy's statement and a paper the team published in the journal Advanced Science earlier this year, the stealth breakthroughs were based upon a discovery they made several years ago.They found that the propagation pattern of radio waves " how they travelled " in extremely narrow metallic spaces was similar to a catenary curve, a shape similar to that assumed by chains suspended by two fixed points under their own weight.Inspired by catenary electromagnetics, the team developed a mathematical model and designed meta surfaces suitable for nearly all kinds of wave manipulation.These included energy-absorbing materials for stealth vehicles and antennas that can be used on satellites or military aircraft.Zhu Shining, a professor of physics specialising in meta materials at Nanjing University, said the catenary model was a "novel idea"."The Institute of Optics and Electronics in Chengdu has conducted long-term research in this area which paved a solid foundation for their discoveries. They have done a good job," Zhu said."Scientists are exploring new features of metal materials, some of them are already in real-life applications."This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2019 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
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