Yahoo Science News feed latest items

Subscribe to Yahoo Science News feed latest items feed Yahoo Science News feed latest items
The latest news and headlines from Yahoo! News. Get breaking news stories and in-depth coverage with videos and photos.
Updated: 40 min 53 sec ago

Retreating Swiss glacier spurred May's new 2050 climate goal

13 hours 19 min ago

British Prime Minister Theresa May said her surprise at the rapid retreat of a glacier she knew from years of walking holidays in the Swiss Alps had strengthened her resolve to commit Britain to a new target of net zero carbon by 2050. With impacts from rising temperatures manifesting faster than most models had predicted, scientists see the shrinking of Alpine glaciers as another warning sign that Earth's climate is lurching towards dangerous tipping points. "My husband and I enjoy walking in the Swiss Alps on our holidays.


Categories: Science RSS Feeds

GE's Jet Engine Business Continues Its Dominant Run

13 hours 48 min ago

GE and its CFM joint venture reeled in tens of billions of dollars of orders in the first two days of the 2019 Paris Air Show.


Categories: Science RSS Feeds

Death toll rises in eastern India in encephalitis outbreak

14 hours 11 min ago

Indian authorities said Wednesday that 114 children have died in an encephalitis outbreak this month in eastern Bihar, one of the country's poorest states. The outbreak has been exacerbated by a heatwave, with temperatures in Patna, Bihar's capital, reaching a high of 45.8 Celsius (114.5 Fahrenheit). There have been more than 500 cases of encephalitis registered since the outbreak began June 1, according to a government health bulletin released Wednesday.


Categories: Science RSS Feeds

Kelly Craft, Trump choice for UN ambassador, to face questions on climate change, coal industry ties

14 hours 28 min ago

Senate Democrats are poised to grill Trump pick to be UN ambassador, over ties to the coal industry, her views on climate change and her work ethic.


Categories: Science RSS Feeds

Airbus CCO Says Company Has the Technology to Fly a Commercial Plane Without a Pilot

14 hours 41 min ago

"...technology-wise, we don’t see a hurdle."


Categories: Science RSS Feeds

Electric planes start small as industry wrestles with emissions

14 hours 45 min ago

An all-electric commuter plane and a small Airbus-backed hybrid are among aircraft programs being touted at the Paris Airshow, as the industry tries to convince a skeptical public it can deliver on a pledge to halve carbon emissions by 2050. Israeli startup Eviation has wheeled out Alice, a battery-powered nine-seater due for its maiden flight later this year, while Airbus and suppliers Safran and Daher are showing a scale model of their planned EcoPulse, a similarly sized short-hopper that packs a fuel tank as well as batteries. The electric debuts come as European finance ministers are expected later this week to discuss ending aviation fuel tax exemptions in order to curb greenhouse emissions.


Categories: Science RSS Feeds

Walmart’s Kickstarting a $1 Trillion Driverless Delivery Market

15 hours 11 min ago

(Bloomberg) -- Walmart Inc. came to dominate retailing through its mastery of logistics—the complicated choreography of getting goods from farm or factory to the consumer. But even the world’s biggest store doesn’t make money selling its wares online in the U.S., largely due to runaway shipping costs. So Walmart is turning to robots.On a drizzly morning earlier this month, Walmart’s U.S. chief Greg Foran led reporters to a curbside package pickup kiosk outside its supercenter in Rogers, Arkansas. Idling there were three Ford delivery vans outfitted with self-driving technology developed by a Gatik, a Silicon Valley startup charged with a trial run aimed at cutting Walmart’s middle-mile shipping costs in half. Going driverless in pursuit of profit is a “no-brainer,” Foran said.As the buzz about human-carting robo-taxis starts to short-circuit, an unheralded segment of the driverless future is taking shape and showing promise: goods-moving robo-vans. Rather than serving up hot pizza pies or deploying headless robots to carry groceries to the doorstep, robo-vans travel on fixed routes from warehouse to warehouse or to a smaller pickup point, transporting packages to get them closer, but not all the way, to consumers.This may be the least glamorous part of the driverless delivery business, but the market for these monotonous “middle miles” could reach $1 trillion and may provide the fastest path to prosperity, analysts say.“This area has the least number of obstacles and the most certain return on invested capital in the near term,” said Mike Ramsey, an analyst with consultant Gartner Inc. “If you’re looking to start a business where you can actually generate revenue, this has fewer barriers than the taxi market.”Driving the demand is the boom in online shopping that has helped cause a severe shortage of truck drivers that tops 60,000 unfilled long-haul positions, according the American Trucking Associations. That has sent costs soaring for a job that is among the most dangerous due to the risk of wrecks and long periods spent on the road.Related: `Smokey and the Bandit' Charm Fades as Trucking Hiring Lags“This middle mile is the most expensive part of the whole supply chain; it’s a huge pain point,” said Gautam Narang, CEO of Gatik, which is attempting to automate Walmart’s “hub and spoke” warehouse system. “This fills a big gap in the market.”From a technological standpoint, business-to-business, or B2B, delivery is the straightforward counterpoint to the complexities of autonomous ride-hailing and driverless delivery directly to consumers, known as B2C or last-mile. Robo-vans like those being put to the test at Walmart follow fixed routes over and over, reducing the chance of mishaps and increasing their time in service generating revenue. Many of these routes are already established using human drivers today, so there’s little need to map new paths and create infrastructure to load and receive the goods.Related: Robot Rides Are Going to Deliver Pizza and Parcels Before PeopleFord Motor Co., testing many forms of driverless delivery, calls these repeatable routes “milk runs,” a throwback term to the days of household dairy delivery.“Anything on driverless delivery that is a milk run is a good application for autonomy,” said Sherif Marakby, chief executive officer of Ford’s autonomous vehicles unit. “B2C is a complex implementation for autonomy that will come with time, but B2B just makes it easier because you get volume and you can be more predictable.”The case for robots ferrying packages before people is becoming more compelling as robo-taxis struggle to gain traction. Consumers have grown wary of giving up the wheel, especially after a pedestrian was killed last year by an autonomous Uber Technologies Inc. test car. Waymo, Alphabet Inc.’s driverless unit, initiated limited automated ride-hailing in suburban Phoenix late last year with human “safety drivers” on board. General Motors Co. no longer says it will debut a similar service this year. Instead, CEO Mary Barra now says the rollout will be “gated by safety.”QuicktakeWhen the Driverless Cars Arrive, Will You Climb In?: QuickTakeDriverless delivery also has another big advantage over robo-taxis: no demanding human passengers. “People have more emotions than boxes,” Ford’s Marakby said.Meanwhile, driverless delivery is already hitting the road. Swedish startup Einride recently began low-speed robo-deliveries on public roads in its home country. It has signed up several Fortune 500 clients, like tire-maker Michelin, plus logistics service provider DB Schenker and German grocer Lidl.Looking like a Star Wars Imperial troop transport on wheels, Einride’s T-Pod trucks are 60% cheaper to build because they lack a passenger compartment. If they get into a jam, they can be remote controlled by humans from a command center. One human monitors the remote controls for 10 trucks. The T-Pods operate in self-driving mode 95% of the time, according to CEO and founder Robert Falck.Stuffed with payload and no human driver, a T-Pod can operate around the clock and cut shipping costs in half. That’s why Falck says his company is already profitable, though he declines to give specifics.“There are solid economics behind this and that’s also what the customer realizes,” Falck said. “If you break down the numbers, it’s the best business case out there.”TuSimple, a San Diego startup valued at $1.1 billion, leads a pack of tech outfits seeking to automate long-haul trucking. The company has a fleet of 50 robot Peterbilt and Navistar trucks that have been transporting commercial loads in Arizona for a year. And while it isn’t profitable yet, it expects to book revenue of more than $1 million a month in the second half of the year.“If you break down the numbers, it’s the best business case out there.”In the final two weeks of May, its self-driving big rigs—equipped with cameras that can see more than a half-mile down the road—completed 10 test runs for the U.S. Postal Service of an arduous 1,000-mile stretch from Phoenix to Dallas. Over Memorial Day weekend, the trucks faced howling crosswinds and “mud rain,” a blinding combination of dust, wind and rain. And yet the robo-rigs consistently beat human-driven trucks to the mail depot by as much as two hours.   “We were approaching the edge of our operational design domain,” said Chuck Price, TuSimple’s chief product officer. “But we were able to demonstrate that we can do it much faster, with high consistency and high reliability. So bottom line, it’s more efficient.”By next year, TuSimple says it will pull the safety driver and engineer it currently has babysitting its rigs and go fully driverless—something no robo-taxi has committed to yet. By 2023 or 2024, the company plans to have “commercially ready” robo-rigs rolling out of a factory of a major truck maker.That kind of confidence is hard to come by these days among the purveyors of robo-taxis, still struggling to figure out how to navigate the pedestrians, cyclists and unpredictable traffic of chaotic urban environments. Increasingly, the call of the open road and the mundane middle miles between warehouses is proving to be the clearest path to the autonomous future. That’s why big players like Waymo and Tesla Inc.—still working on driverless people haulers—are also developing robo-rigs.“There’s absolutely a market for this sort of thing,” said Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst with Navigant Research. “People don’t really care much about what goes on behind the scenes to get them the products they want. But the value of all the goods being moved is far more than ride-hailing applications.”To contact the authors of this story: Keith Naughton in Southfield at knaughton3@bloomberg.netMatthew Boyle in New York at mboyle20@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Anne Riley Moffat at ariley17@bloomberg.net, Chester DawsonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Categories: Science RSS Feeds

Atrial fibrillation linked to an increased risk of dementia: study

15 hours 17 min ago

New research has found that atrial fibrillation (AF), an irregular and often abnormally fast heartbeat, appears to be linked to an increased risk of dementia, even in people who have not suffered a stroke. Led by researchers at Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea, the new large-scale study looked at 262,611 people aged 60 or over, who were free of AF and dementia in 2004. The findings, which were published in the European Heart Journal Wednesday, showed that the participants who developed atrial fibrillation during the follow-up had a 50 percent increased risk of also developing dementia, compared to those who did not develop AF.


Categories: Science RSS Feeds

Eurofighter, NATO launch studies on long-term evolution of fighter

15 hours 26 min ago

The countries and companies behind Europe's Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet have agreed to spend 53.7 million euros ($60.2 million) to study the long-term evolution of the advanced fighter jet and its engine, they said on Wednesday. The study contracts will span 19 months for the aircraft, and nine months for the engine, identifying potential technology enhancements for the jet's mission systems, engine, human machine interface and electronic warfare equipment. The work is aimed at keeping the Eurofighter Typhoon fleet operationally effective for combat for decades to come, even as Europe begins work on two rival next-generation aircraft that are slated to enter service in 2040, officials said.


Categories: Science RSS Feeds

Could a Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax Be the First Step to Fight Climate Change?

15 hours 41 min ago

When it comes to combating climate change, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is currently the fashionable solution of the liberal Left. Since its botched rollout in February, anyone with common sense has conceded that the plan’s utopian promises of guaranteed jobs, government-funded health care, and an expanded social safety net give it little chance of producing real legislation. American taxpayers should be relieved; the conservative think tank American Action Forum estimates that it would cost as much as $93 trillion, or roughly 450 percent of the United States’ current GDP, to implement.Such is the unimaginative and irresponsible approach to public policy that has become a mainstay of modern Democratic politics: Any problem, no matter how complex, can be solved if we throw enough money at it.Fortunately, Republicans in Congress have finally woken up to the problems of climate change and are proposing their own solutions. Senator John Cornyn has announced that he’s working to draft bills that would promote research on clean-energy technologies. Likewise, Senator Lamar Alexander has outlined a “New Manhattan Project” to develop cleaner energy through nuclear power, cheaper solar technology, electric vehicles, better batteries, and carbon capture. These are exciting developments for environmentally conscious conservatives, who have long advocated for the GOP to awaken to the dangers of climate change.Additional Republican proposals are in the works, and unlike their spendthrift counterparts on the liberal Left, they take the more responsible and realistic approach of harnessing the power of free markets to influence behavior. Conservatives’ faith in free markets rests on the belief that millions of individuals acting in their own economic self-interest are more efficient (and powerful) at allocating resources to accomplish an objective than bureaucrats in government. And the most targeted and effective free-market policy to incentivize reduced carbon emissions, the primary cause of climate change, is a carbon tax.A carbon tax would drive investment in new technologies and spur innovation both by providing a financial incentive to reduce emissions and by giving markets a steady price signal. A set price per ton for carbon emissions — along with gradual, scheduled increases in the tax rate over time — would establish the market certainty needed to influence long-term decision-making. Investors and businesses could more reliably forecast the payback period and return on investment for clean technologies, projects, and processes. Companies that save on carbon taxes through innovation would soon be able to undercut more carbon-intensive competitors on cost. An intense race to reduce emissions would sweep every corner of the U.S. economy.Carbon taxes also hold the most promise for fostering global cooperation on the issue. If the U.S. simply invests in clean-energy technology to reduce or eliminate reliance on fossil fuels, two things will happen: We will emit less carbon, and the rest of the world will emit more. If we stopped buying fossil fuels, the price of those fuels would fall. China, India, and other developing countries would exploit this cheap-energy bonanza, offsetting our emissions reductions. This “leakage problem” has proven one of the greatest obstacles to forging global climate cooperation.A properly crafted carbon tax would mitigate leakage through “border adjustments” in the form of import tariffs. Carbon-based import tariffs are an essential component of any carbon-tax plan for two reasons. First, tariffs ensure that a carbon tax would not unfairly penalize domestic U.S. industries. Second, the tariffs would be designed to exempt countries with a similar domestic carbon-tax regime. Foreign governments, eager to keep their exports competitive and not minding the extra tax revenue, would be incentivized to enact their own carbon taxes. If America led, the world would follow.Despite the compelling case for a carbon tax, most Republicans still balk at the idea. How could a tax, of all things, promote innovation? But the simple truth is taxes do foster innovation: They encourage tax dodging. The more taxes get enacted, the more intricate and creative the schemes to dodge them become — and the simplest way to dodge a carbon tax is to emit less carbon. In this manner, a carbon tax would spark an explosion of emissions-reducing R&D throughout all sectors and industries.The fight against climate change is a marathon, not a sprint. The policies we craft today must fuel innovation and research for many decades to come. Public investment in clean-energy and carbon-capture technologies is laudable, but it’s not enough on its own to reduce global emissions, because of the “leakage” problem. Carbon taxes have, to be sure, been met with intense political resistance in many places where they’ve been proposed, including the U.S. But they are the most pragmatic solution and — importantly for conservatives — could be designed to be revenue-neutral and thus not result in an expansion of government. If Republicans hope to craft meaningful climate legislation in everyone’s long-term interests, a carbon tax is a necessary first step.


Categories: Science RSS Feeds

New study to examine feeding habits of Cape Cod great whites

16 hours 2 min ago

Researchers on Cape Cod are launching a new study focused on the hunting and feeding habits of the region's great white sharks following last year's two attacks on humans, including the state's first fatal one in more than 80 years. The hope is that the work, which starts in the coming days, contributes critical information to the ongoing debate over how to keep Cape beachgoers safe, said state marine biologist Greg Skomal, who has been studying the region's great whites for years and is leading the new effort. Cape Cod officials have been wrestling with how to respond to public concern in the aftermath of last year's attacks.


Categories: Science RSS Feeds

Huawei Sanctions Evidence Deemed Too Risky for China to See

16 hours 12 min ago

(Bloomberg) -- Some evidence used to charge Huawei Technologies Co. with bank fraud and violating U.S. sanctions on Iran was deemed so sensitive that the Chinese telecom giant’s lawyers must now take unusual steps to review the information -- and even then, the company may never see it.While specific evidence wasn’t disclosed, prosecutors convinced a federal judge that releasing too much would pose a risk to national security and other governmental concerns. The U.S. already had banned the company’s technology and accused Huawei of aiding Beijing in espionage. Last week, the court imposed restrictions on when and how information in the criminal case gets shared, and who can see it.“What underlies all of this is the allegation that there are deep and close connections between Huawei and the Chinese government,” said Ryan Fayhee, a former Justice Department national security lawyer. “That’s why this presents differently than a traditional fraud case.”The Huawei prosecution has forced government lawyers to balance evidence rules and a defendant’s right to a fair trial, while safeguarding intelligence gathering. A similar dilemma has threatened to undermine a case brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller against 16 individuals and companies in Russia over election meddling, because the government is refusing to disclose some sensitive evidence.For now, the Huawei case is proceeding with disclosures to the company’s American defense lawyers under restrictions set June 10 by U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly in Brooklyn, New York. On Wednesday, Donnelly and lawyers in the case will discuss a briefing schedule on a separate issue -- whether one Huawei lawyer, James M. Cole, should be disqualified because he had access to classified data when he worked as a Deputy Attorney General of the U.S. from 2011 to 2015. Cole, now a partner at Sidley Austin LLP, has said he has no conflict.Criminal ProbeAs the criminal case against Huawei moves forward, the prosecution of its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, remains on hold. She is fighting extradition from Vancouver, Canada, after being arrested at the request of the U.S. last year. She is accused of defrauding banks by lying about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, in violation of U.S. sanctions.Her billionaire father, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, has rejected the U.S. accusations against the company and his daughter. On Monday, Ren said the U.S. sanctions against Huawei -- one of the world’s largest makers of smartphones and networking equipment -- could reduce revenue by about $30 billion over the next two years, wiping out any growth prospects by withholding critical American technology.The indictment against Huawei and Meng also mentions Ren, a former engineer with the People’s Liberation Army. Prosecutors say the founder of Huawei lied to FBI agents in 2007 when he “falsely stated” it had no business dealings in Iran. He hasn’t been criminally charged. The same day the U.S. charged Meng, Huawei and its U.S. subsidiaries with violating sanctions, prosecutors disclosed a separate case in Seattle accusing the company with stealing trade secrets from American rival T-Mobile.Under the restrictions imposed by Donnelly, some evidence labeled “sensitive” by the government can’t be distributed beyond Huawei’s legal team, can only be accessed by certain witnesses in the presence of American lawyers, and must remain in the U.S. If there are disputes over evidence handling, a separate group of government lawyers not involved in the prosecution can be consulted or the judge can get involved.David Bitkower, a lawyer for Huawei, declined to comment on the case, as did John Marzulli, a spokesman for Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue.The rules are even tighter for classified information, and evidence gathered under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act will require a separate process to determine what the defense will be able to view, prosecutors said in a court filing Monday.Donnelly’s order includes unusual restrictions, even for sanctions cases, legal experts said.Some of the evidence can only be reviewed by defense lawyers who are U.S. citizens, because the information could identify potential witnesses or contains “national security” material, court filings show. Those documents must be stored on a computer that isn’t connected to the Internet and can’t be taken or transmitted outside the country or shared with Huawei.Safe-Passage GuaranteesIf Huawei lawyers want to share sensitive material with anyone outside the U.S., they must notify the government. There are also provisions for allowing foreign nationals to view the evidence in the U.S., including with safe-passage guarantees against arrest. There also are options for reviewing information outside the country, but only in the presence of U.S. defense lawyers.Without such provisions, Huawei could accuse the U.S. of hampering its ability to defend itself, said Henry Mazurek, a partner at law firm Meister Seelig and Fein LLP in New York.Huawei’s close ties to the Chinese government have impacted the willingness of the U.S. to share evidence with the company, but prosecutors are obligated to turn over evidence, said Fayhee, the former federal prosecutor.“The government has the view, as also substantiated by its recent blacklisting, that Huawei is an arm of the Chinese government,” Fayhee said. “The founder of the company served nearly a decade as an engineer with the People’s Liberation Army, and continued connections have been regularly alleged. But that’s what the government signed up for when it decided to bring this case.”The case is U.S. v. Huawei Technologies Co., 18-cr-457, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).To contact the reporter on this story: Patricia Hurtado in Federal Court in Manhattan at pathurtado@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net, Steve Stroth, Peter BlumbergFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Categories: Science RSS Feeds

Apple Wants Suppliers to Mull Major Shift From China: Nikkei

16 hours 16 min ago

(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a coming daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Apple Inc. has asked its largest suppliers to consider the costs of shifting 15% to 30% of its output from China to Southeast Asia in a dramatic shake-up of its production chain, the Nikkei reported.The U.S. tech giant asked “major suppliers” to evaluate the feasibility of such a migration, the newspaper cited multiple sources as saying. Those included iPhone assemblers Foxconn Technology Group, Pegatron Corp. and Wistron Corp., MacBook maker Quanta Computer Inc., iPad maker Compal Electronics Inc. and AirPod makers Inventec Corp., Luxshare-ICT and GoerTek Inc., Nikkei cited them as saying.China is a crucial cog in Apple’s business, the origin of most of its iPhones and iPads as well as its largest international market. But President Donald Trump has threatened Beijing with new tariffs on about $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, an act that would escalate tensions while levying a punitive tax on Apple’s most profitable product. Company spokeswoman Wei Gu didn’t respond to a request for comment.Two major Apple suppliers pushed back against the Nikkei report. The U.S. company has not asked for cost estimates for shifting production out of the world’s No. 2 economy, although suppliers are running the numbers on their own given the trade dispute, said one person familiar with the matter, asking not to be identified discussing internal deliberations. Another supplier said it too had not gotten such a request from Apple and that the Cupertino, California-based company had resisted a proposed production shift to Southeast Asia.Apple does have a backup plan if the U.S.-China trade war gets out of hand: Primary manufacturing partner Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. has said it has enough capacity to make all U.S.-bound iPhones outside of China if necessary, Bloomberg News reported last week.The Taiwanese contract manufacturer now makes most of the smartphones in the Chinese mainland and is the country’s largest private employer. Hon Hai, known also as Foxconn, has said Apple has not given instructions to move production but it is capable of moving lines elsewhere according to customers’ needs.Apple hasn’t set a deadline for the suppliers to finalize their business proposals, but is working together with them to consider alternative locations, the Nikkei said. Any move would be a long-term process, it cited its sources as saying.Beyond Apple’s partners, the army of Taiwanese companies that make most of the world’s electronics are reconsidering a reliance on the world’s second-largest economy as Washington-Beijing tensions simmer and massive tariffs threaten to wipe out their margins. That in turn is threatening a well-oiled, decades-old supply chain.Taiwan’s largest corporations form a crucial link in the global tech industry, assembling devices from sprawling Chinese production bases that the likes of HP Inc. and Dell then slap their labels on. That may start to change if tariffs escalate, an outcome now in the balance as Washington and Beijing spar over a trade deal.Apple is an outsized figure in that negotiation. The high-end iPhone, which accounted for more than 60% of the company’s 2018 revenue, drives millions of jobs across China as well as a plethora of different industries from retail to electronics. The country is also a major consumer market in its own right, yielding nearly 20% of last year’s revenue -- weakness there pushed Apple to cut its sales forecast in January.“Twenty-five percent of our production capacity is outside of China and we can help Apple respond to its needs in the U.S. market,” Hon Hai board nominee and semiconductor division chief Young Liu told an investor briefing in Taipei last week. “We have enough capacity to meet Apple’s demand.”(Updates with a source’s comments from the second parapraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Debby Wu in Taipei at dwu278@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net, Edwin ChanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Categories: Science RSS Feeds

How to Convert Earth’s Plastic Pandemic Into Fuel

16 hours 35 min ago

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Photo GettyThe world is drowning in plastic waste. Ninety-one percent of the billions of tons of plastic produced is never recycled. Instead, most of it ends up in landfills, on beaches, or in the ocean.So a team of researchers at Washington State University have devised a way to take old plastic and break it down into fuel.Bioengineers working in biofuel development at WSU have spent the last 10 years using grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to develop ways to turn agricultural waste—like byproducts from farming and logging industries—into fuel. When farmers harvest corn and process it into kernels, for example, the leftover leaves and stems are valuable waste products that can be leveraged by innovative practices and turned into something new.Hanwu Lei, a biological systems engineer who heads up the project, told The Daily Beast that one of the best things to do with that waste is make fuel.“There’s a huge amount of biomass available,” he said. “We are trying to add value to this agriculture. So we develop it into a carbon catalyst that is also used to convert it into fuels.”86% of Teens Have These Toxic Chemicals in Their BodiesWhen his team saw the extent of the plastic pollution problem around the world, using their methods of converting different ingredients into fuel seemed like a natural next step.“We all use plastic. But the world has a plastic problem,” he said. “We were asking, ‘Is that possible to convert that to the good stuff that could be used? We know our catalyst is working for the biomass, maybe it will also work for the plastic, too?’”A catalyst is a material high in carbon that is porous and has a large surface area. When it's used to make fuel, it assists in breaking down the chemical bonds inside substances. Lei’s team makes their catalyst out of agricultural biomass by applying chemicals to it and heating it. In their historical research they would then combine this catalyst inside a reactor with more untreated biomass and turn it into fuel.They have discovered that breaking down plastic into fuel is just as simple a process. They took waste plastic—water bottles, milk bottles, and plastic bags—and put it side-by-side with their biomass carbon catalyst inside their reactor. Then they replaced the oxygen inside with nitrogen and applied heat. The heat decomposed the plastic; as it moved through the catalyst, its chemical bonds broke, converting it into fuel.Without the catalyst the process would result in wax.It’s a very simple procedure, Lei said—so simple, in fact, that farmers could do it on their farms to make diesel fuel for their farm equipment.But the reactor is also capable of working on the commercial level. “The carbon catalyst is easy to get from agricultural biomass and also the process itself is easy to scale up—these two points make this easy to adapt to any level,” Lei said.Lei said he’s fielding phone calls from companies and municipalities interested in learning more about the technology. Though it’s true that the world will eventually have to move away from carbon-based fuels, Lei believes this will be a good intermediary step between traditional oil and an electric future.“You share the market, you don’t increase the emission rate,” he sad. “The total consumption is there already—it’s a fixed amount—but you solve the environmental problem of plastic.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


Categories: Science RSS Feeds

Emissions need to be halved to avoid 3C warming: scientists

17 hours 9 min ago

Emissions need to be halved by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius but temperatures are on track to reach double that by the end of the century even if countries' current plans are fully implemented, research by scientists shows. A group of European researchers, Climate Action Tracker, tracks countries' progress towards the globally agreed aim of limiting warming to well below 2C and a more ambitious target of 1.5C. Public concerns about climate change are growing and have led to protests around the world.


Categories: Science RSS Feeds

He Says He Invented Bitcoin and Is Suing Those Who Doubt Him

17 hours 11 min ago

(Bloomberg) -- At a convention on digital currency, rarely does an audience Q&A session include a question as incendiary as, “Why is this fraud allowed to speak at this conference?” But that’s how a discussion about Bitcoin ended up last year in Seoul.The supposed fraud is Craig Wright, an Australian-born technologist who gained notoriety three years ago when he declared himself the inventor of Bitcoin. The provocateur is Vitalik Buterin, a baby-faced Russian-Canadian programmer who helped create another popular digital currency called Ether. No one disputes Buterin’s role in Ether; many reject Wright’s claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious genius behind Bitcoin.Wright is a comic-book supervillain for some in the world of cryptocurrency. Buterin’s rant was applauded by a handful of people at the conference, including one of the panelists and a man on the sidelines wearing a vest and metallic fiber shirt. It had the feel of an impromptu live performance of a Twitter flame war. The whole thing lasted 90 seconds. Footage recorded from the crowd provided an amusing YouTube video and sparked a fresh round of tweets mocking Wright.That appeared to be that, until a year later when Buterin received a letter from Wright’s attorney. The legal notice, dated April 12, said Wright intends to sue Buterin in the U.K. for defamation. Less than a week later, Wright filed suit with similar claims against a podcaster named Peter McCormack, seeking 100,000 pounds ($129,000) in damages. And on May 2, Wright’s lawyers served Roger Ver, an early Bitcoin investor, at a cryptocurrency meet-up in London.Ver says by email he intends to defend himself in court. Buterin and McCormack didn’t respond to requests for comment, but all three have recently posted messages online calling Wright a fraud. In a blog post, Buterin painted the legal dispute as being about censorship, free speech and truth.Wright has spent much of the last year with lawyers. He’s currently defending against claims in a U.S. court that he defrauded the estate of Dave Kleiman, a former business partner who died in 2013. Wright is accused of stealing Bitcoins he and Kleiman mined together about a decade ago. A federal judge ordered Wright to submit documentation of his early Bitcoin holdings, which were sealed on Monday, and he attended mediation Tuesday in Florida.At some point, Wright determined the courts could be a useful venue for achieving his own goals. Wright, who says he holds a master’s degree in law from Northumbria University in the U.K., hopes a series of lawsuits can establish himself as the father of Bitcoin. “This will give me the chance to prove my credentials in front of a judge, rather than being judged by Twitter,” Wright told Bloomberg in an email.If he really is Satoshi Nakamoto, Wright will have no trouble funding a protracted legal war on his critics. The true creator of Bitcoin is estimated to hold about $9 billion of the coins. In most cases, the expensive prospect of getting sued tends to make rational people keep critical views to themselves. “There’s some really broad recognition that the threat of defamation lawsuits really substantially chills speech,” says David Greene, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties advocacy group.For whatever reason, that didn’t occur here. Online discussion of Wright reached a peak shortly after his lawsuit against McCormack, and the content was overwhelmingly scathing. During the week following his suit, 65 percent of posts expressed a negative sentiment, compared with about half before, according to Brand24, which monitors conversations on social media. Crowdfunding efforts have popped up to assemble legal defense funds for some of Wright’s defendants. Data from Google suggests the litigation drew the most attention to Wright since his contentious claims in 2016, when he offered what he called definitive proof of his role in creating Bitcoin.Although digital currencies have a market value of more than $280 billion today, the circus surrounding Wright shows that the industry still operates as a free-for-all. Experts aren’t entirely sure who conceived of the world’s most valuable form of digital money, but there’s enough of it to go around that the threat of costly lawsuits doesn’t seem to deter anyone from speaking their mind.John McAfee is a prime example. The software pioneer turned digital coin advocate says he knows the real Satoshi Nakamoto, and it is not Wright. “I am going to tell the truth no matter what the consequences are,” McAfee says. “I’ve been sued over 200 times in my life. I am not afraid of getting sued.” In response, Wright called him “McScammer” and suggested they resolve their dispute in court. The cryptocurrency business is full of colorful characters. Wright joined the starring cast in late 2015, when Wired magazine and Gizmodo reported that he and Kleiman may have invented Bitcoin. A few days later, Wired said Wright may instead be “a brilliant hoaxer.” Police raided Wright’s home in Australia as part of a tax investigation; he moved to Britain.In May 2016, the BBC, the Economist and—most important in the eyes of Bitcoin zealots—several prominent leaders of the cryptocurrency movement said Wright furnished what appeared to be evidence of his claim to the throne. They said he gave a private demonstration of a special digital signature used by Satoshi Nakamoto. “The proof is conclusive, and I have no doubt that Craig Steven Wright is the person behind the Bitcoin technology,” Jon Matonis, founding director of the Bitcoin Foundation, wrote in a blog post at the time.This did not quiet the doubters, either. “It would be like if I was trying to prove that I was George Washington and to do that, provided a photocopy of the Constitution and said, look, I have George Washington’s signature,” Peter Todd, a key Bitcoin developer, told Vice’s Motherboard.Bitcoin holdings attributed to Satoshi Nakamoto haven’t moved in years, according to online ledgers. Critics have urged Wright to verify his identity by transferring some coins, a proposal he has refused.As Wright spars with some cryptocurrency faithful, he’s hoping to get the community’s help with identifying his next legal target. He said he intends to sue an anonymous Twitter user known as Hodlonaut, whose profile picture is represented by a cartoon cat wearing a space helmet. Wright posted a $5,000 reward for information to locate the person behind the account and referred bounty hunters to photos the user had posted showing arm tattoos. Hodlonaut wrote in a tweet Monday that he had issued legal proceedings against Wright in Norway.McCormack, the podcaster Wright sued in April, is piling on as he awaits his day in court. McCormack wrote a satirical response to Wright’s lawyers, saying, “I find it difficult to understand how I can affect the reputation of your client; this mistakenly states that he has any reputation left.”In addition to widespread derision, Wright’s crusade has inflicted damage on his business interests. He’s now pushing a coin called Bitcoin SV, which he says is Bitcoin the way Satoshi Nakamoto truly intended. Wright’s lawsuits drew a harsh rebuke from Zhao Changpeng, the head of one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Binance. Zhao said he was “against fraud,” and then Binance delisted Bitcoin SV. The coin’s market value plummeted 50% over two days, though it recovered during the broader cryptocurrency rally in May.Wright and his few vocal allies are undeterred. On May 21, Wright said he was granted a U.S. copyright for early Bitcoin code and for the original whitepaper authored by Satoshi Nakamoto. Three days later, someone named Wei Liu filed a competing copyright claim. A spokesman for the agency says it “does not investigate the truth of any statements made.”Calvin Ayre, a dot-com-era gambling tycoon and the most persistent supporter of Wright, said he’d release evidence proving Wright’s claim by the end of May. He didn’t. “But now that we have somebody challenging the copyright, we can take that to a legal conclusion, which is what we are now trying to do,” Ed Pownall, a spokesman for Ayre, wrote in an email.Wright sees the insults as something more sinister than routine internet trolling. He says his detractors are criminals, who profit from human trafficking, and that their true motive is to sabotage his attempts to eliminate illegal uses of Bitcoin. “I designed Bitcoin to stop all of this,” Wright says. “That is why they hate me.”To contact the author of this story: Olga Kharif in Portland at okharif@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Milian at mmilian@bloomberg.net, Emily BiusoFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Categories: Science RSS Feeds

Rescuers find missing bear cub in southwest France

17 hours 49 min ago

A malnourished bear cub who was rescued in southern France but later escaped from the home where he was being cared for, has been found and moved to a safe location, the national hunting and wildlife agency said on Wednesday. "Douillous the bear cub is safe," the ONCFS said.


Categories: Science RSS Feeds

Trump's Biggest Move to End the ‘War on Coal’ Won't Rescue the Industry

18 hours 12 min ago

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump is scaling back sweeping Obama-era curbs on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants burning coal, his biggest step yet to fulfill his campaign promise to stop a “war” on the fossil fuel.Yet the Environmental Protection Agency’s rewrite of the Clean Power Plan -- which is being unveiled Wednesday -- will do little to halt a nationwide shift away from coal and toward cheaper electricity generated by the wind, the sun and natural gas.The U.S. is experiencing “a wave of coal retirements -- and we don’t think we’re near the end of it,” said Nicholas Steckler, head of U.S. power for BloombergNEF. “Coal is inferior to natural gas in many ways today -- it’s less flexible, it’s higher cost, even its fuel is generally more expensive, and, of course, it’s dirty. It has so many reasons stacked against it.”Where the new plan focuses on what can be achieved at individual coal plants, the Clean Power Plan it is replacing aimed to drive broader changes in the U.S. electric mix and threatened to spur a wave of coal plant closures. That measure -- one of former President Barack Obama’s signature initiatives to combat climate change -- compelled states to make systemwide changes in the name of cutting emissions, from bolstering energy efficiency and adding renewables to shutting coal-fired plants altogether.The EPA’s final “Affordable Clean Energy” rule is designed to pare carbon dioxide emissions by encouraging efficiency upgrades at individual power plants. Like an earlier proposal released last October, the final rule will empower states to develop performance standards for plants based on assumptions about the kind of efficiency gains -- known as heat-rate improvements -- that can be eked out by plugging duct leaks, installing advanced soot blowers and making other upgrades at the sites.Environmentalists have already vowed to battle the replacement rule in federal court, setting up potential legal wrangling that could last years.Industry advocates say the Trump administration is curbing federal government overreach and leveling the playing field.“It won’t necessarily be the saving grace for coal,” but “this regulation gives coal a fighting chance,” said Nick Loris, an economist with the Heritage Foundation. The EPA is following the rule of law and removing “government-imposed barriers that will lead to increased innovation, competition and efficiency that will ultimately drive down pollution.”The EPA’s new approach is rooted in Clean Power Plan foes’ arguments that the agency does not have legal authority to regulate emissions beyond the boundaries of existing plants. In some cases, efficiency gains spurred by the new rule could encourage utilities to run their coal power plants more often, undercutting potential environmental benefits.The flexibility for states in the final rule should help stave off premature coal plant closures, said Michelle Bloodworth, president of the American Council for Clean Coal Electricity. “These improvements to coal plant competitiveness will help to increase the longevity of the existing fleet,” she said.The Obama initiative also was seen by some as discouraging electricity made from natural gas. “Besides exceeding EPA’s legal authority, the Clean Power Plan was also written to reduce gas and nuclear generation,” said Christopher Guith, acting president of the Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute. “That’s counterproductive climate policy and bad energy policy.”Environmentalists attacked the Trump administration proposal, saying the EPA was shirking its responsibility to protect public health and the environment. The power plant measure comes as the agency separately moves to ease rules curbing greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles and oil wells.“Any rule that resembles the proposal would amount to a do-nothing program that fails to protect Americans from climate change and fails to fulfill EPA’s responsibilities under the Clean Air Act,” said Sean Donahue, a lawyer representing the Environmental Defense Fund.On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump promised to revive the coal industry and restore mining jobs -- a message that resonated with the working-class voters who helped elect him. In coal-rich West Virginia, a once reliably Democratic state, Trump won 68% of the vote.The Clean Power Plan rewrite is the Trump administration’s most tangible move to deliver on that promise, though the EPA has also proposed lifting a de facto requirement that any new coal power plants be built with expensive carbon-capture technology. The agency also has proposed that limits on mercury pollution from power plants are no longer “appropriate and necessary.”Yet state regulations are also encouraging utilities to adopt more renewable wind and solar power. At the same time, the lower cost and cleaner-burning profile of natural gas has encouraged a shift toward that fossil fuel.Power plant owners are unlikely to make dramatic shifts in their plans and portfolios based on the Trump administration policy change, especially given the prospects a new president could reverse course as soon as 2021 and amid competing pressure from state policies, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Kit Konolige.“The economics and the desire in many jurisdictions for clean power continue to be the strong drivers of what gets done on the ground,” Konolige said.While states and utilities with a significant amount of coal will have “more flexibility,” under the Trump administration approach, “everyone’s moving in the direction of eventually eliminating coal plants,” he said.Some 65 gigawatts of coal-fired electric generating capacity have gone offline since 2011 -- with another 41 gigawatts pending retirement and 105 gigawatts at risk of closure, according to BloombergNEF.The Clean Power Plan never actually went into effect, having been halted by the Supreme Court in February 2016. Even without it, the U.S. is on track to meet its original goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 32% from 2005 levels by 2030, BNEF’s Steckler said.To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer A. Dlouhy in Washington at jdlouhy1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net, John Harney, Max BerleyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Categories: Science RSS Feeds

Trump's Biggest Move to End the ‘War on Coal’ Won't Rescue the Industry

18 hours 12 min ago

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump is scaling back sweeping Obama-era curbs on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants burning coal, his biggest step yet to fulfill his campaign promise to stop a “war” on the fossil fuel.Yet the Environmental Protection Agency’s rewrite of the Clean Power Plan -- which is being unveiled Wednesday -- will do little to halt a nationwide shift away from coal and toward cheaper electricity generated by the wind, the sun and natural gas.The U.S. is experiencing “a wave of coal retirements -- and we don’t think we’re near the end of it,” said Nicholas Steckler, head of U.S. power for BloombergNEF. “Coal is inferior to natural gas in many ways today -- it’s less flexible, it’s higher cost, even its fuel is generally more expensive, and, of course, it’s dirty. It has so many reasons stacked against it.”Where the new plan focuses on what can be achieved at individual coal plants, the Clean Power Plan it is replacing aimed to drive broader changes in the U.S. electric mix and threatened to spur a wave of coal plant closures. That measure -- one of former President Barack Obama’s signature initiatives to combat climate change -- compelled states to make systemwide changes in the name of cutting emissions, from bolstering energy efficiency and adding renewables to shutting coal-fired plants altogether.The EPA’s final “Affordable Clean Energy” rule is designed to pare carbon dioxide emissions by encouraging efficiency upgrades at individual power plants. Like an earlier proposal released last October, the final rule will empower states to develop performance standards for plants based on assumptions about the kind of efficiency gains -- known as heat-rate improvements -- that can be eked out by plugging duct leaks, installing advanced soot blowers and making other upgrades at the sites.Environmentalists have already vowed to battle the replacement rule in federal court, setting up potential legal wrangling that could last years.Industry advocates say the Trump administration is curbing federal government overreach and leveling the playing field.“It won’t necessarily be the saving grace for coal,” but “this regulation gives coal a fighting chance,” said Nick Loris, an economist with the Heritage Foundation. The EPA is following the rule of law and removing “government-imposed barriers that will lead to increased innovation, competition and efficiency that will ultimately drive down pollution.”The EPA’s new approach is rooted in Clean Power Plan foes’ arguments that the agency does not have legal authority to regulate emissions beyond the boundaries of existing plants. In some cases, efficiency gains spurred by the new rule could encourage utilities to run their coal power plants more often, undercutting potential environmental benefits.The flexibility for states in the final rule should help stave off premature coal plant closures, said Michelle Bloodworth, president of the American Council for Clean Coal Electricity. “These improvements to coal plant competitiveness will help to increase the longevity of the existing fleet,” she said.The Obama initiative also was seen by some as discouraging electricity made from natural gas. “Besides exceeding EPA’s legal authority, the Clean Power Plan was also written to reduce gas and nuclear generation,” said Christopher Guith, acting president of the Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute. “That’s counterproductive climate policy and bad energy policy.”Environmentalists attacked the Trump administration proposal, saying the EPA was shirking its responsibility to protect public health and the environment. The power plant measure comes as the agency separately moves to ease rules curbing greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles and oil wells.“Any rule that resembles the proposal would amount to a do-nothing program that fails to protect Americans from climate change and fails to fulfill EPA’s responsibilities under the Clean Air Act,” said Sean Donahue, a lawyer representing the Environmental Defense Fund.On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump promised to revive the coal industry and restore mining jobs -- a message that resonated with the working-class voters who helped elect him. In coal-rich West Virginia, a once reliably Democratic state, Trump won 68% of the vote.The Clean Power Plan rewrite is the Trump administration’s most tangible move to deliver on that promise, though the EPA has also proposed lifting a de facto requirement that any new coal power plants be built with expensive carbon-capture technology. The agency also has proposed that limits on mercury pollution from power plants are no longer “appropriate and necessary.”Yet state regulations are also encouraging utilities to adopt more renewable wind and solar power. At the same time, the lower cost and cleaner-burning profile of natural gas has encouraged a shift toward that fossil fuel.Power plant owners are unlikely to make dramatic shifts in their plans and portfolios based on the Trump administration policy change, especially given the prospects a new president could reverse course as soon as 2021 and amid competing pressure from state policies, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Kit Konolige.“The economics and the desire in many jurisdictions for clean power continue to be the strong drivers of what gets done on the ground,” Konolige said.While states and utilities with a significant amount of coal will have “more flexibility,” under the Trump administration approach, “everyone’s moving in the direction of eventually eliminating coal plants,” he said.Some 65 gigawatts of coal-fired electric generating capacity have gone offline since 2011 -- with another 41 gigawatts pending retirement and 105 gigawatts at risk of closure, according to BloombergNEF.The Clean Power Plan never actually went into effect, having been halted by the Supreme Court in February 2016. Even without it, the U.S. is on track to meet its original goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 32% from 2005 levels by 2030, BNEF’s Steckler said.To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer A. Dlouhy in Washington at jdlouhy1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net, John Harney, Max BerleyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Categories: Science RSS Feeds

Indonesia pet orangutans released back into the wild

19 hours 26 min ago

Five-year-old primate Elaine, covered in fuzzy cinnamon-coloured hair, was one of two critically endangered Sumatran Orangutans released back into the wild Tuesday. Both female apes were rescued after being kept as pets by villagers in Aceh province on Sumatra island. Elaine and four-year-old Reipok Rere spent nearly two years learning to fend for themselves at a rehabilitation centre and "forest school" before being returned to the wild at Pinus Jantho Forest Reserve.


Categories: Science RSS Feeds

Pages