Month: June, 2017

The Recovery Of Our Ozone Layer Could Be Delayed For 30 Years!

The restoration of the globe’s protective shield of ozone will be delayed by decades if fast-rising emissions of a chemical used in paint stripper are not curbed, new research has revealed.

Atmospheric levels of the chemical have doubled in the last decade and its use is not restricted by the Montreal protocol that successfully outlawed the CFCs mainly responsible for the ozone hole.

The ozone-destroying chemical is called dichloromethane and is also used as an industrial solvent, an aerosol spray propellant and a blowing agent for polyurethane foams.




Little is known about where it is leaking from or why emissions have risen so rapidly. The loss of ozone was discovered in the 1980s and is greatest over Antarctica.

But Ryan Hossaini, at Lancaster University in the UK and who led the new work, said: “It is important to remember that ozone depletion is a global phenomenon, and that while the peak depletion occurred over a decade ago, it is a persistent environmental problem and the track to recovery is expected to be a long and bumpy one.”

“Ozone shields us from harmful levels of UV radiation that would otherwise be detrimental to human, animal and plant health,” he said.

chemicals

The chemical was not included in the 1987 Montreal protocol because it breaks down relatively quickly in the atmosphere, usually within six months, and had not therefore been expected to build up. In contrast, CFCs persist for decades or even centuries.

But the short lifespan of dichloromethane does mean that action to cut its emissions would have rapid benefits. “If policies were put in place to limit its production, then this gas could be flushed out of the atmosphere relatively quickly,” said Hossaini.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

 

What’s Really Killing King Coal?

Coal’s prices will soon be so noncompetitive that coal-fired power will drop 51 percent by 2040, according to the latest electricity sector forecast.

Coal is dying. Even in China and India and total global greenhouse gas emissions from electrical generation will peak in 2026, according to a bullish report released Thursday by respected independent energy consultants.

“This year’s report suggests that the greening of the world’s electricity system is unstoppable,” said Seb Henbest, lead author of the New Energy Outlook forecast.

The report is published annually by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), an independent energy research firm, and is based on eight months of analysis and extensive market modeling.




Around the world, solar has become a formidable opponent to coal, BNEF said. That’s because the price of solar, which already costs roughly one-fourth of what it did in 2009.

Coal power generation in China has been growing but will reach a peak in 2026, the report says. Already, many planned coal plants are being cancelled.

solar panel

Wind costs are also dropping fast. Offshore wind costs are falling faster than onshore and are expected to skid 71 percent by 2040.

Land-based wind energy, which has already dropped by 30 percent in the last eight years, will continue to fall by 47 percent by 2040, the report says.

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Want To Know What Happens When The Lightning Doesn’t Hit The Ground? Watch This!

lightning

Lightning is far more than just a sky-borne phenomenon: Remarkably, it can also form at ground level and shoot upwards.

This upside-down lightning is the subject of a paper published in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, in which the strange behavior of these inverted bolts is revealed.




Despite the fact that there are roughly 40-50 lightning strikes somewhere around the world every second, they are surprisingly poorly understood.

Watch the video to know how this upside down lightning works!


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Pass it on: Popular Science

This New Synthetic Tongue Can Be The Best Whisky Taster

Folks at Germany’s Heidelberg University and the Netherlands’ University of Groningen developed a “synthetic tongue” that uses 22 different fluorescent dyes to accurately distinguish between different whiskies.

When the tongue comes into contact with a whisky, it’s able to determine its “flavor profile” based on the subtle changes in brightness exhibited by the dyes.

In a test, the tongue was able to recognize the brand, origin, blending state, age, and taste of 33 whiskies. No word on whether it exhibited slurred speech.




whisky

But why develop a whisky-tasting synthetic tongue, since it’s never going to appreciate whisky in the way that we can?

“Fake whiskies are always annoying customers,” Professor Dr. Andreas Herrmann of the University of Groningen continued. “But there is no convenient and accurate method in the market to detect counterfeiting rapidly and without expensive equipment. We are thus thinking about tailoring our artificial tongue to address this problem.”

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Chimpanzees Aren’t Super Strong But Their Muscles Are More Powerful Than A Human’s

Since the 1920’s, some researchers and studies have suggested that chimps are ‘super strong’ compared to humans. These past studies implied that chimps’ muscle fibers, the cells that make up muscles are superior to humans’.

But a new study has found that contrary to this belief, a chimp muscles’ power output is just about 1.35 times higher than human muscle of similar size.

A difference the researchers call ‘modest‘ compared with historical, popular accounts of chimp ‘super strength’ being many times stronger than humans.




chimp

If the long-standing, assumption about chimpanzee’s exceptional strength was true, it ‘would indicate a significant and previously unappreciated evolutionary shift in the force and/or power-producing capabilities of skeletal muscle’ in either chimps or humans, whose lines diverged about 7 or 8 million years ago.

The authors of the study concluded that, contrary to some long-standing hypotheses, evolution has not altered the basic force, velocity or power-producing capabilities of skeletal muscle cells to induce the marked differences between chimpanzees and humans in walking, running, climbing and throwing capabilities.

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SpaceX Has Launched And Landed Two Falcon 9 Rockets In One Weekend

Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX successfully launched two payloads into orbit over the weekend, and then landed the first-stage booster from each rocket onto one of the company’s drone ships.

Last Friday, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the first telecommunications satellite for the country of Bulgaria from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The first stage booster for that rocket which had already been launched, landed, and refurbished once before was successfully maneuvered down for a safe landing on a barge called “Of Course I Still Love You”.




Last Sunday, SpaceX launched another Falcon 9 carrying 10 satellites for Iridium Communications from Vandenberg Air Force Base, located northwest of Los Angeles.

The first stage booster from that rocket was landed on the ship “Just Read the Instructions,” which was floating in the Pacific.

These events marked the fastest turnaround for SpaceX launches from two different sites, according to Spaceflight Now. SpaceX’s continued success with landing and re-using boosters could save the company and its customers millions of dollars.

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This Smart Doll That Runs On A AI Chip Can Read Your Child’s Emotion

BOFFINS have created a creepy doll fitted with an AI chip that scans kids’ faces to read their emotions and become their best pal. The lifelike doll can recognize eight emotions including surprise and happiness, and adjusts how it behaves accordingly.

It runs on an AI chip and carries out emotion recognition through facial-recognition technology, via a camera hidden in the doll’s mouth, rather than the internet.




AI Doll

Project leader Oscar Deniz at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Ciudad Real, Spain, said: “In the near future, we will see a myriad of eyes everywhere that will not just be watching us, but trying to help us.”

The doll has been designed to address privacy concerns raised after it emerged similar smart dolls were transmitting information online.

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Google’s Neural Network Is A Multi-Tasking Pro Can Tackle Eight Tasks At One Time

Neural networks have been trained to complete a number of different tasks including generating pickup lines, adding animation to video games, and guiding robots to grab objects.

But for the most part, these systems are limited to doing one task really well. Trying to train a neural network to do an additional task usually makes it much worse at its first.

However, Google just created a system that tackled eight tasks at one time and managed to do all of them pretty well.

The company’s multi-tasking machine learning system called MultiModal was able to learn how to detect objects in images, provide captions, recognize speech, translate between four pairs of languages as well as parse grammar and syntax. And it did all of that simultaneously.





The system was modeled after the human brain. Different components of a situation like visual and sound input are processed in different areas of the brain, but all of that information comes together so a person can comprehend it in its entirety and respond in whatever way is necessary.

Similarly, MultiModal has small sub-networks for audio, images and text that are connected to a central network.

multitasking

The network’s performance wasn’t perfect and isn’t yet on par with those of networks that manage just one of these tasks alone. But there were some interesting outcomes.

The separate tasks didn’t hinder the performance of each other and in some cases they actually improved it.

In a blog post the company said, “It is not only possible to achieve good performance while training jointly on multiple tasks, but on tasks with limited quantities of data, the performance actually improves. To our surprise, this happens even if the tasks come from different domains that would appear to have little in common, e.g., an image recognition task can improve performance on a language task.”

MultiModal is still being developed and Google has open-sourced it as part of its Tensor2Tensor library.

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This New Skin Patch Can Power A Radio For 2 Days Using Your Own Sweat

Researchers have created a new skin patch that has powered a radio for two days using only human sweat. The Biofuel Skin Patch uses the sweat to provide its power – meaning it could be used to charge up devices like phones in the near future.




“If you were out for a run, you would be able to power a mobile device,” said Joseph Wang from the University of California, San Diego.

His research team at the university have been working on the technology. The biofuel patch is a few centimeters wide and sticks directly on the skin.

skin patch

It works by using enzymes that act like the metals inside regular batteries, which are then powered up by feeding off the lactic acid found in sweat.

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An Artificial Iris Could Let Cameras React To Light Like Our Eyes do

While the pupil may be the opening in the eye that lets light through to the retina, the iris is the tissue that opens and closes to determine the size of the pupil.

Although mechanical irises are already a standard feature in cameras, scientists from Finland and Poland have recently created an autonomous artificial iris that’s much more similar to those found in the eye. It may even eventually be able to replace damaged or defective ones.

he contact lens-like device was created by researchers from Finland’s Tampere University of Technology, along with Poland’s University of Warsaw and Wrocław Medical University.




It’s made from a polymer (a liquid crystal elastomer) that expands when exposed to light, then shrinks back when the light is lessened. This causes an opening in the middle to get smaller or larger, depending on the light levels.

In this way, it works very much like a natural iris. Unlike automatic irises in cameras, it requires no power source or external light detection system.

iris

 

With an “eye” towards one being able to use it as an optical implant, the scientists are now adapting it to work in an aqueous environment. They’re also working at increasing its sensitivity, so that its opening and closing are triggered by smaller changes in the amount of incoming light.

The research is being led by Tampere’s Prof. Arri Priimägi, and was recently described in a paper published in the journal Advanced Materials.

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