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The world’s governments reached a global agreement at the Climate Conference in Paris to cap global warming at 2 degrees Celsius (4 degrees Fahrenheit), but the effort may be up against a big hurdle: mathematics.

As per analysis by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, even if countries adhere to the Paris climate agreement hammered out last fall, capping global warming at 2 degrees Celsius (4 degrees Fahrenheit) would likely require net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2085 and actually negative carbon emissions over the long term. More than 100 participants to the Paris Agreement committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 or 2030.

Even if all the countries follow through on their commitments, steeper cuts would be necessary after 2030 and by the end of the century, total emissions would need to become negative, meaning more greenhouse gases would be removed from the air than are emitted into the atmosphere to stay below 2 degrees Celsius..

It means we need to remove 15 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases yearly to stay on track. Presently, Greenhouse gas emissions are about 50 gigatons..

“The emissions targets in the Paris Agreement are an important first step, and it’s known that additional action will be required to meet the goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees,” said NCAR scientist Benjamin Sanderson, lead author of the study. “This paper provides details of what the next steps would need to look like in order to actually hit that target.”

ParisGraph

This graph represents eight possible pathways that society could take to have a two-in-three chance of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius. The blue line represents our current emissions trajectory. The red line represents the path that society will be on if countries adhere to the Paris Agreement. The gray lines represent other possibilities, all of which require more stringent emissions cuts in the near term but fewer negative emissions later.

Responsibility for the Future

Even before the Paris agreement was finished, it was clear that the pledged emissions cuts by 2030 would not be sufficient on their own to meet the target of limiting warming to 2 degrees.

“We created a wide range of possible global emissions pathways that would allow us to have a decent shot at limiting warming to two degrees,” Sanderson said. “We found that very small increases in the rate at which we cut greenhouse gases now could lead to very large decreases in the amount of negative emissions we need later.”

Negative emissions in the future will require the massive deployment of technologies that are still hypothetical to draw down greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. To make this world a better place, we would require near-term cuts that are much more aggressive than those proposed in the Paris agreement.

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With billions of people on the planet, we generate a lot of trash. And sadly, much of the waste ends up in waters, presenting a huge problem for marine life and one or the other way, it affects us also. A non-profit organization in Netherlands Ocean Cleanup Foundation is working on a solution for cleaning up the oceans.

Mission of hunting for ocean waste

The Ocean Cleanup Foundation has unveiled a huge, 328-foot-long floating barrier that will collect the miscellaneous pieces of plastic bottles, bags, fishing nets, and other trash that floats in the seas. And ideally, the barrier would replace the boats that are currently tasked with the mission of hunting for ocean waste. It has just launched this floating barrier in North Sea and If it can survive the rough conditions of those waters, the plan is to deploy a 62 mile-long (!) barrier in the Pacific Ocean and reduce the size of the notorious Great Pacific Garbage Patch — the hope is to halve the size of the trash field in 10 years.

The Ocean Cleanup’s cleaning technology makes use of long floating barriers which act as an artificial coastline, passively catching and concentrating ocean debris. The system is powered by the ocean’s natural currents. Testing the barriers is important because of their crucial role in the cleanup concept. Although some trash may be caught during the North Sea prototype test, collecting plastic is not its objective.

No danger to marine life

Over the course of the next year, researchers will test the effectiveness of the boom, including how it withstands ocean currents, waves, and the elements, and ensure that it doesn’t disrupt marine life. As for the cleaning process itself, the barrier comes with a two-meter deep screen that creates a sort of curtain, collecting trash as water passes through it. Should the results prove satisfactory, the next step would be to send the full version to the waters between Hawaii and the west coast of the United States.

Other installations are planned in the years following, before a 100 km (62 mi) floating system is rolled out at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch between Hawaii and California. The system could make it possible to cut the time required to clean up the world’s oceans from millennia to mere years.

Whether or not it’s an ideal solution is up for debate. The 6.6-foot-deep design shouldn’t interfere with wildlife (unlike existing nets) and is intended to last through vicious storms. However, there is a possibility that such a heavy barrier can affect the distribution of marine life in the region.

Also, this problem is an outcome of a larger problem. The bigger challenge is to make people understand not to throw garbage in the seas.

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NASA has confirmed for the first time that liquid water, flowing on the surface of Mars, is not just thing of the past, it’s also present on the planet’s surface today.

“This is tremendously exciting,” James L. Green, Director, NASA’s planetary science division

“We haven’t been able to answer the question, ‘Does life exist beyond Earth?’ But following the water is a critical element of that. We now have, I think, great opportunities in the right locations on Mars to thoroughly investigate that.” – James L. Green

NASA is also thinking about sending a spacecraft in the 2020 to one of these regions to directly look for life.

The water we are talking about is in form of hydrated salts, but as per Alferd S. McEwen,  a professor of planetary geology at the University of Arizona “There pretty much has to have been liquid water recently present to produce the hydrated salt.”

By “recently,” Dr. McEwen said he meant “days, something of that order.”

We knew that the large amounts of water is present in form of frozen solid in the polar ice caps. Also there have been hints of liquid water, but none have proved convincing.

In 2011, the photographs from the orbiter  shows dark streaks descending along slopes of mountains. The streaks lengthened during summer, faded in winters, then reappeared the next year.

Scientists suspected that water played a critical role in this behaviour,  similar to the way concrete darkens when wet and returns to its original color when dry. But that was just a guess.

But now, the signs of the salt disappeared when the streaks faded is very definitive that there is some sort of liquid water.

So how does the water remains liquid on Mars?

The salts lower the freezing temperature, and the water remains liquid. The average temperature of Mars is about -70 degrees Fahrenheit, but in summers the temperature at Equator can reach an almost 70 degrees.

The scientists are still not sure about where the liquid water might be coming from on Mars. The current readings of the planet’s atmosphere point to very low humidity near the surface, but there’s also a chance that it might be coming from underground aquifers on the planet, which seep out when things warm up.

What about presence of Life?

Christopher P. McKay, an astrobiologist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., does not think the recurring slope lineae are a promising place to look. For the water to be liquid, it must be so salty that nothing could live there, he said. “The short answer for habitability is it means nothing,” he said.

He pointed to Don Juan Pond in Antarctica, which remains liquid year round in subzero temperatures because of high concentrations of calcium chloride salt. “You fly over it, and it looks like a beautiful swimming pool,” Dr. McKay said. “But the water has got nothing.”

We’ve known for a while now that Mars currently holds large reserves of frozen water at its poles, and that it had large oceans billions of years ago. But this discovery will have a huge impact on Martian missions in near future.

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Elon Musk is considered as a real-life Tony Stark from Marvel’s Iron Man comics for his role in cutting-edge companies including Space X, a space exploration company that holds the first private contracts from NASA for resupply of the International Space Station, and the electric car company Tesla.

During an interview at the AeroAstro Centennial Symposium, talking about computer science, AI, space exploration and the colonisation of Mars. Elon Musk has spoken out against artificial intelligence (AI), declaring it the most serious threat to the survival of the human race.

“With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon”

Musk said “I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful,” . “I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish.”

“With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like – yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Doesn’t work out,” said Musk.

Musk is one of the high-profile investors, alongside Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and the actor Ashton Kutcher, in Vicarious, a company aiming to build a computer that can think like a person, with a neural network capable of replicating the part of the brain that controls vision, body movement and language.

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We’re at least a one step closer to creating the “Star Trek”-style Teleportation. The concept of Quantum teleportation, the act of reconstructing quantum data somewhere else, is impressive just by itself. A team of  scientists at the US’ National Institute of Standards and Technology have managed to one-up that feat. They’ve shattered the distance record for quantum teleportation.

Sounds like a real time Sci-Fi

The team successfully  managed to transfer the information from one photon to another across 63 miles of optical fiber. That may not sound like much, but it’s a remarkable achievement as 99 percent of photons would never make the complete trip. It was only possible thanks to newer detectors that could pick up the faint signal of the lone light particle.

Real time teleportation, as seen in sci-fi movies, is still a long way to go, but the achievement does open the door to many possibilities in quantum computing. You could use unbreakable quantum encryption at inter-city distances, for instance. Imagine a future with more instantaneous communication with astronauts in space or rovers on Mars alongside unprecedented network speed and security thanks to quantum encryption.

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bioglow

When it comes to living things that glow, a plant is probably your best choice to have in your home than a jellyfish, or even a glow-in-the-dark cat or pig. Bioglow is preparing to offer its bioengineered houseplants to the public which will glow in the dark.

Bioglow has been leading the movement ever since molecular biologist Alexander Krichevsky created what the company calls the first light-producing plants and published his findings in 2010. But there are still a lot of limitations with these initial batches of glowing plants. They are best viewed in a dark room after giving your eyes time to adjust. The plants also have a short lifespan of only two to three months.

Each Starlight Avatar, as the company calls it, is shipped in a see-through box and grows in a nutrient gel. The plant can be transferred to a pot once it’s outgrown its container, but about half of them don’t survive the transplant. They also need to be kept away from direct sunlight.

According to Bioglow

“Starlight Avatar™ is an indoor plant and is unlikely to survive in an open garden due to strong susceptibility to a variety of abiotic conditions, particularly light and water shock.”

Your first crack at buying a Starlight Avatar of your own will be through an upcoming online auction where you can sign up to participate and bid for one of 20 plants, though the official date of the auction hasn’t yet been announced. Also the plants are only available to ship to the US.

They could conceivably become renewable light sources in the future. It’s within the realm of possibility, but, in the meantime, you’ll have to settle for spending a few months with a glowing plant.

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V FORMATION

Ever wondered why birds  fly in a V-formation?, something that’s frequently seen when giant flocks migrate across the skies. The obvious answer is that it saves energy. A new study conducted by Nature suggests birds keep an eye on the leader, as well as their place in a formation, matching their flaps to ride waves of thin, spiraling air sent off by the lead bird and those who follow. The practice saves the birds behind the leader considerable effort as they flap on the updrafts, something that comes in handy over migrations that can stretch thousands of miles.

BIRDS WITH ACCELEROMETERS AND GPS

Finding out the specific energy savings and conditions for flying in formation was no easy task. Researchers for Nature spent nearly a month tracking a group of Northern bald ibises from Austria to Italy, with 14 of those birds sporting GPS loggers and accelerometers to track wing flap activity.

“The result is that when in formation, each bird was able to synchronize the flapping of its wings so that it could exploit the updraught created by the swirling vortex of air from the flapping wingtip of the bird in front. When the flock got it right, each following bird delayed its wingbeat by just enough to spread a wave of synchrony through each arm of the V.”

The research could lead to a deeper understanding of whether there are differences in patterning among bird species, as well as how to carry over the techniques to human creations like airplanes and drones.

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artificial heart

An artificial heart from Carmat has found its way to first human patient in France. The procedure was performed on December 18, 2013 by the Georges Pompidou European Hospital team in Paris (France). “The implantation went smoothly, with the prosthesis automatically providing blood flow at physiologic conditions. The patient is currently being monitored in the intensive care unit. He is awake and talks with his family.” – Carmat

While synthetic hearts aren’t new, what sets the new Carmat “bioprosthetic” model apart is the way it uses existing biological tissue. Two chambers in the heart are divided by a membrane. In one chamber hydraulic fluid is held in place. A pump with in the heart pushes the fluid in and out of the chambers, which causes the blood to flow on the other side.

According to Piet Jansen, chief medical officer of Carmat:

The idea was to develop an artificial heart in which the moving parts that are in contact with blood are made of tissue that is [better suited] for the biological environment.

Carmat first won approval from four different cardiac centers in Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Poland, and Belgium. The company’s home country of France eventually came on board in September and Health Minister Marisol Touraine is wasting no time in touting Carmat’s success. “This news brings great pride to France,” she told BFM TV. “It shows we are pioneers in healthcare, that we can invent, that we can carry an innovation that will also bring great hope to plenty of people.”

“We are delighted with this first implant, although it is premature to draw conclusions given that a single implant has been performed and that we are in the early postoperative phase,”  Carmat’s CEO Marcelo Conviti said in a statement.

Carmat’s artificial heart weighs three times than that of human heart. It can beat for up to five years and is designed for patients suffering from end-stage heart failure. But it won’t come cheap: the device is expected to cost around 150,000 euros (over $195,000). Carmat has other patients lined up for early human trials. If the tests turn out successful, this new heart could offer some much needed hope to the roughly 5.7 million people in the United States suffering from heart failure at any given time.

So what do you think about this great medical achievement? You can also follow Feedoxy at Google+ , Facebook & Twitter and leave your comments.

 

 

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Nightmare Bacteria

A study, led by Rice University environmental engineer Pedro Alvarez, published in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters revealed antibiotic-resistant bacteria were not only escaping purification but also breeding and spreading in water treatment plants. Scientists from Rice, Nankai and Tianjin Universities participated in this joint research. They found significant levels of “superbugs” carrying New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM-1) in treated water disinfected by chlorination. The gene NDM-1 was first identified in India.

There’s no antibiotic that can kill them.

“It’s scary,” Alvarez said. “There’s no antibiotic that can kill them. We only realized they exist just a little while ago when a Swedish man got infected in India, in New Delhi. Now, people are beginning to realize that more and more tourists trying to go to the upper waters of the Ganges River are getting these infections that cannot be treated.”

“We often think about sewage treatment plants as a way to protect us, to get rid of all of these disease-causing constituents in waste water. But it turns out these microbes are growing. They’re eating sewage, so they proliferate. In one waste water treatment plant, we had four to five of these superbugs coming out for every one that came in.”

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been raising alarms for years and are very difficult to treat. These have been found on every continent except for Antarctica, the researchers wrote. NDM-1 is capable of making common bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella and K. pneumonias resistant to even the strongest available antibiotics. The only way to know one is infected is when symptoms associated with these bacteria fail to respond to antibiotics.

Alvarez and his team confirmed the microbes treated by waste water plants that still carried the resistant gene could transfer it via plasmids to otherwise benign bacteria.

A subsequent study by Alvarez and his colleagues published this month in Environmental Science and Technology defined a method to extract and analyze antibiotic-resistant genes from water and sediment and applied it to sites in the Haihe River basin in China, which drains an area of intensive antibiotic use. The study showed plasmids persist for weeks in river sediment, where they can invade indigenous bacteria.

“It turns out that they transfer these genetic determinants for antibiotic resistance to indigenous bacteria in the environment, so they are not only proliferating within the waste water treatment plant, they’re also propagating and dispersing antibiotic resistance,” Alvarez said.

This calls for us to take a look at these breeding grounds for antibiotic-resistant bacteria and how we might be able to create better barriers than chlorination,” he said. “I think we need to take a serious look at photo-disinfection processes, like ultraviolet disinfection. It has been shown to be more effective on resistant organisms. We also need a better understanding of how these microbes flow through the environment.”

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sheerwind

SheerWind, a company based in Minnesota, claims to have a new technology for wind power generation that can alleviate most of the world’s concerns. The technology called Invelox system can operate in a wider variety of conditions and is claimed to have an efficiency up to 600% than traditional wind turbines.

Traditional wind turbines you’re used to see rely on fairly swift winds to function. However the Invelox system can generate power from winds as gentle as 1-2 MPH.

invelox

How it Works | Image Credit : Sheerwind

 

HOW IT WORKS

“It does this by capturing passing breezes in large scoops at the top of its 40-50 foot tower. The wind is funneled down toward the ground through an increasingly narrow space. When the air is compressed, it speeds up and is used to power a small turbine generator.”

Invelox efficiency

Image Credit : Sheerwind

 

SheerWind is trying to prove that the system is 6 times more efficient than the traditional wind turbines, but it’s currently doing so with internal testing. The company tested its turbine both with and without the Invelox cowling. When it compared the values over time, that works out to energy production improvements anywhere from 81-660%. The average was 314%.

The company says it has been able to produce wind power at a cost of $750 per kilowatt, including installation. This brings it in-line with the final cost of energy from natural gas and hydropower. The energy industry is all about cost effectiveness and efficiency, so if the Invelox technology is legit, it’s going to be huge. Invelox takes up much less space than traditional windmills, and it poses little to no risk to birds or curious children.

 

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