Tag: 2018

London Reaches Legal Air Pollution Limit Just One Month Into The New Year

London has now reached its annual air pollution limit less than a month into the new year.

European Union rules – and UK law – state that monitoring stations are allowed to exceed hourly limits of 200 micro-grams of NO2 [nitrogen dioxide] per cubic meter of air just 18 times in a year.

Today, Brixton Road in Lambeth recorded its 18th breach marking the official limit for the entire year.

This is actually a significant improvement on previous years. Last year London broke the limit for the year in just five days while the capital as a whole has consistently broken its own limits on air quality for the last five years.




To try and tackle the air pollution crisis that’s currently facing the capital, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has introduced a number of tough new measures including the T-charge which charges the most polluting types of car that wish to drive through the city.

Other actions include introducing new greener buses on routes that are classed as particularly dangerous air pollution hotspots including Putney.

This has reportedly led to a 90% drop in the harmful emissions since their introduction. Throughout 2016 Putney high street broke the EU limit a shocking 1,600 times.

World Health Organisation figures from 2016 reveal that a staggering 92% of the world’s population are living in areas that exceed its own guidelines on air quality.

Environmental law firm ClientEarth took the UK government to the High Court last week for the third time over illegal air pollution in the country.

“But it’s still only a month into 2018 and London has breached limits for the whole year, which shows there’s much more to do. Londoners are still breathing filthy air on a daily basis.”

“Ministers have to get a grip and show they’re serious about protecting our health by committing to real action to tackle our toxic air.”

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Drastic ‘Double Decker’ Space Probe That Could Reveal The Secrets Of Mercury

It is one of the most mysterious planets in the universe – and one we know very little about.

Now European space bosses hope to send two probes stacked on the same craft to the rocky planet in 2018.

BepiColombo will be the European Space Agency’s (ESA) first mission to the closest rock to the Sun.

BepiColombo aims to “follow up on many of the intriguing results of NASA’s Messenger mission, probing deeper into Mercury’s mysteries than ever before,” the ESA said.




BepiColombo will study the peculiarities of Mercury’s internal structure and magnetic field generation, and how it interacts with the Sun and solar wind.

The joint project with the Japanese agency JAXA, which has cost more than 1.3 billion euros ($1.48 billion), involves some 33 companies from 12 EU nations, as well as firms from the US and Japan.

The craft has an unusual design, comprising a ‘stacked aircraft’ carrying two orbiters—one European, the other Japanese—which will separate on arrival to go into different, but complementary orbits around Mercury.

It has been delayed several times, but the mission chiefs are now confident that it is on track to launch in October next year.

Mercury is the ‘most peculiar of all rocky planets,’ Alvaro Gimenez, ESA’s director of science told reporters at the agency’s center in the Dutch coastal town of Noordwijk.

Its surface is wracked by extreme temperatures, ranging from +450 to -180 degrees Celsius (+842 to -292 degrees Fahrenheit).

It also has a magnetic field, the only rocky planet besides Earth to have one.

But Mercury is so weak that the field does not provide a shield against solar radiation.

It orbits just 58 million kilometers (36 million miles) from the Sun, and its surface is blasted by radiation levels that would destroy earthly lifeforms.

Its proximity to the Sun also makes Mercury hard to study from Earth because the brightness impedes the view.

The Sun’s huge gravity also makes it difficult to put a craft into steady orbit around the planet.

So far only two NASA missions have visited Mercury—Mariner 10 in the 1970s and Messenger, which orbited the planet from 2011 until it ran out of fuel in April 2015.

BepiColombo will study the peculiarities of Mercury’s internal structure and magnetic field generation, and how it interacts with the Sun and solar wind.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

How To Actually Keep New Year’s Resolutions, According To A Behavioral Scientist

If you plan on becoming a better person in 2015 by exercising more, eating less, or learning a new language, you’re going to need a whole lot more than just good intentions to get you there.

Here’s a little psychological experiment that just might help you stick to your goals.

So, in 2018 we’re all going to go to the gym more regularly, eat better, earn more, and read twice as many books, right?

Wrong – for the majority of us anyway. If you want a good indication for what you’ll be doing in 2018, your best bet is to look at what you did in 2017.

Studies have shown that good intentions alone will only prompt a change in behavior 20 to 30 percent of the time.




In the vast majority of cases, something a little more concrete is going to have to come into play if you want to make a meaningful change to your habits.

So, surprise, surprise, it takes a whole lot more effort to stick to your new year’s resolutions than just writing them down in a fancy list.

And even more discouraging – research has shown that the better we feel about our new year’s resolutions and our ability to stick with them, the less likely we actually will.

But, as Stephen J. Meyer writes at Forbes, it’s not hopeless:

“I’d be a hardened pessimist if not for one thing – there’s a magic bullet that can bridge the gap between goal intentions and goal accomplishment.”

“It’s what behavioural psychologists call “implementation intentions.” Ugly phrase, I know. But it could be the difference between achieving your goals in 2015 and failing miserably.”

So what exactly is this “implementation intentions” concept?

Back in 2002, researchers in the UK gathered together a group of volunteers who had set themselves the goal of taking up regular exercising. The volunteers were split into three groups.

The first group, called the “motivational intervention group”, was given educational materials showing that exercise does amazing things for your cardio-vascular health.

The second group was asked to plan and write down their “implementation intentions”.

For example, exactly where, when, what, they were going to do for exercise, and how frequently, and for how long, each session.

The control group was left to their own with no help from the researchers.

Amazingly, 91 percent of Group 2, who actually thought about and wrote down all the details of their plan, ended up exercising.

According to Meyer, just 29 percent of the control group and 39 percent of the group who learned extensively about the benefits of exercise ended up actually doing it.

So implementation intentions are essentially about fooling ourselves into doing something – you consciously formulate a plan, and then unconsciously execute it.

Gollwitzer mentioned a study in which students were asked to write a paper during the Christmas break.

Of the group that wrote down their implementation intentions – when and where they intended to write their paper – two-thirds of them actually did it.

Exactly zero students who didn’t write their implementation intentions got around to writing the paper.

Apparently similar results can be seen in people trying to lose weight.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

How SpaceX’s 2018 Moon Flight Will Work

Nearly 45 years after NASA astronauts last embarked on a lunar mission, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has announced his company’s plans to send two private citizens on a flight around the moon in 2018.

The weeklong trip will look a lot like NASA’s historic Apollo 8 mission, the first and only purely circumlunar, crewed mission in history.

Sut SpaceX’s mission will fly with two crewmembers instead of three, and will use a fresh new spacecraft and launch vehicle.




SpaceX’s new Falcon Heavy rocket will launch the crewed Dragon 2 spacecraft to the moon. The rocket and crew capsule have not flown on any missions yet.

But the Falcon Heavy is slated to blast off for its first test launch this summer, and the Dragon 2 will make its first test flight in November.

The Falcon Heavy is a variation of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, which was made to carry the uncrewed Dragon spacecraft to and from the International Space Station.

With two extra boosters strapped to its sides, the Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful rocket to blast off since NASA’s Saturn rockets, which were retired in the early 1970s.

Musk said the crewed Dragon spacecraft “would skim the surface of the moon” before heading “further out into deep space.” The spacecraft won’t literally touch the lunar surface, though.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Earth Will Be Rocked By A Year Of Devastating Earthquakes

earthquake roation

DEVASTATING earthquakes could be on the rise next year as the rotation of Earth slows down, scientists have warned.

The speed of Earth’s rotation fluctuates extremely mildly – extending or decreasing the length of a day by a millisecond – but this tiny deceleration could have devastating consequences.

Scientists have warned if the rotation slows it could lead to more major earthquakes.

Research from Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado in Boulder and Rebecca Bendick of the University of Montana in Missoula looked at earthquakes with a magnitude higher than seven since 1900.




The duo found five years since the turn of the 20th century where there were significantly more 7.0 earthquakes – all of which were years that earth’s rotation speed had slowed down slightly.

Prof Bilham told the observer: “In these periods, there were between 25 to 30 intense earthquakes a year.“The rest of the time the average figure was around 15 major earthquakes a year.”

And in 2018, the Earth’s rotation speed is set to slow down leading to a jump on the six magnitude seven or higher quakes we have had this year.

Prof Bilham said: “The correlation between Earth’s rotation and earthquake activity is strong and suggests there is going to be an increase in numbers of intense earthquakes next year.”

earthquake

The inference is clear. Next year we should see a significant increase in numbers of severe earthquakes.”

We have had it easy this year. So far we have only had about six severe earthquakes. We could easily have 20 a year starting in 2018.

Exactly why a decrease in rotation speed can lead to more major earthquakes is unclear, but experts believe it could be down to changes in the Earth’s core which ultimately has an effect on the surface.

The team also could not say exactly where the earthquakes will occur, but Bilham suggests that a slower rotation speed will lead to more tremors on and around the equator – such as South America, New Zealand and other places that sit on top of the Ring of Fire.

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Pass it on: Popular Science