Archive for the ‘climatology’ category

May 11, 2016

Can plants grow on the moon? NASA plans test in 2015

Posted by in categories: biological, climatology, habitats, space travel

We knew this was going to happen. Just still neat to read about it.

( —NASA is planning to launch a milestone experiment involving growing plants on the moon. The target date is 2015, when the agency will deposit plants on the moon’s surface. The initiative is being driven by the Lunar Plant Growth Habitat team. They intend to use coffee-can sized containers designed to protect the plants against harsh elements of the climate, and will also provide cameras, sensors, and electronics in order to relay information about how the plants fare back to earth. NASA’s plan is “to develop a very simple sealed growth chamber that can support germination over a five to-ten day period in a spacecraft on the Moon.”

What will NASA try to grow? The containers will attempt to grow turnip, basil and Arabidopsis The latter is used often in plant research; Simon Gilroy, University of Wisconsin-Madison botany professor, has referred to the Arabidopsis as “the lab rat of plant biology.” Will the life forms survive the lunar surface? NASA’s plan is to find some answers when this “self-contained habitat,” which will have a mass of about 1 kg and would be a payload on a commercial lunar lander, is on the , How it gets there is another interesting side of the story, because NASA is taking advantage of a parallel event to save costs significantly.

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May 9, 2016

DOE opens funding opportunity for biofuels, bioproducts, biopower

Posted by in categories: climatology, economics, food, security, sustainability

Recognizing the importance of biofuels to energy and climate security, the U.S. Department of Energy has announced up to $90 million in project funding focused on designing, constructing and operating integrated biorefinery facilities. The production of biofuels from sustainable, non-food, domestic biomass resources is an important strategy to meet the Administration’s goals to reduce carbon emissions and our dependence on imported oil.

Project Development for Pilot and Demonstration Scale Manufacturing of Biofuels, Bioproducts, and Biopower is a funding opportunity meant to assist in the construction of bioenergy infrastructure to integrate cutting-edge pretreatment, process, and convergence technologies. Biorefineries are modeled after petroleum refineries, but use domestic biomass sources instead of crude oil, or other fossil fuels to produce biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower. They convert biomass feedstocks—the plant and algal materials used to derive fuels like ethanol, butanol, biodiesel and other hydrocarbon fuels—to another form of fuel or energy product. This funding will support efforts to improve and demonstrate processes that break down complex biomass feedstocks and convert them to gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, as well as plastics and chemicals.

“The domestic bio-industry could play an important part in the growing clean energy economy and in reducing American dependence on imported oil,” said Lynn Orr, DOE’s under secretary for science and energy. “This funding opportunity will support companies that are working to advance current technologies and help them overcome existing challenges in bioenergy so the industry can meet its full potential.”

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May 9, 2016

Imagine Discovering That Your Teaching Assistant Really Is a Robot

Posted by in categories: climatology, computing, robotics/AI

I wonder if this would qualify as a turing test.

Lalith Polepeddi, a (human) teaching assistant and researcher on the Jill Watson project at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Lalith Polepeddi.

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May 4, 2016

End of slow PCs? IBM creates super-fast quantum computer which brings AI closer

Posted by in categories: climatology, computing, quantum physics, robotics/AI

I have already been trying to access; guess we will see.

ENGINEERS have created lightning-quick quantum computers which will be freely available to everyone to use online.

May 4, 2016

If Something Is Going To Destroy Humanity, It’s Going To Be One Of These Catastrophes

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, climatology, existential risks, sustainability

Pandemics, asteroids, nuclear war, and sudden, destructive climate change are all unlikely—but not so unlikely that we shouldn’t be planning for them.

Apr 28, 2016

The Oceans Are Running Low on Oxygen

Posted by in categories: climatology, sustainability

File this under definitely not good: global warming is depleting the oceans of oxygen. You know, that little molecule that we, along with all other complex life forms, require in order to breathe and therefore live.

The reason is simple. According to basic thermodynamics, cold water can hold more dissolved gases than warm water. As our ever-warming atmosphere heats the surface of the ocean, the oxygen content starts to fall. Also, as water warms, it expands and gets lighter. This makes it less likely to sink, which in turn reduces the transport of oxygen from the atmosphere into the deep ocean.

All of this is well-established science. It’s also understood that the oxygen content of the ocean varies all the time due to changes in weather, seasons, latitude, and longer-term climate patterns like El Niño. But a study published this week in Global Biogeochemical Cycles is the first to show that the oxygen content of the world’s oceans is now falling thanks to climate change.

Apr 18, 2016

Business At The Speed Of Thought

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, business, climatology, cryptocurrencies, economics, finance

One of the most underrated, overlooked promises of digital money, is the esteemed ideal of sending money as easily as sending email. With the current third party infrastructure of today, this is possible, yet limitations exist on larger transactions. Further, all payments must first go through a series of checkpoints before being approved. Although peer-to-peer money is still in its infancy, direct payments which require no third party and are confirmed near instantaneously are a tantalizing prospect. The increase in the velocity of money which would accompany this type of infrastructure would be accelerate the velocity of money to a point where it is conceivable that business would be conducted at the speed of thought.

New Phase Of Growth

As bitcoin continues to leave its roots as a monetary experiment and enter a new phase of growth, it will facilitate a velocity of money which is frictionless, peer-to-peer, and near instantaneous. Such an increase in the velocity of money which digital cryptocurrencies promise, could be a catalyst for growth in the 21st century as we see developing nations leapfrog traditional banking infrastructure and move directly to a bitcoin-enabled financial paradigm. In this scenario, the bitcoin blockchain would serve as a sort of “cyber bank account” with cryptocurrency technology acting as the engine of growth in stagnant economies which have a record of tenuous currency stability.

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Apr 5, 2016

Federal legislation to jumpstart space solar power

Posted by in categories: climatology, economics, food, government, law, nuclear energy, security, solar power, space, sustainability

The United States is transitioning from a primary reliance on fossil fuels to greater use of sustainable natural and nuclear energy sources. There are two reasons for this transition. The first reason is that the abnormally high and increasing level of atmospheric carbon dioxide has created scientific uncertainty and concern as to the detrimental impact this may have on the environment and, consequentially, human civilization. Almost certainly, this abnormal level is due to anthropogenic causes linked to the tremendous expansion in the human population since the early 1700s, the growth of human civilization (e.g., agriculture and industrialization), and the increasing use of fossil fuels. Although fossil fuels have enabled worldwide progress in elevating the standard of living, most of the world’s nations have reached the conclusion that the world should transition entirely to sustainable energy by 2100 (see “The Paris climate agreement and space solar power”, The Space Review, February 29, 2016). It is, however, very important to manage this transition carefully to avoid economic hardship or energy deprivation.

While the United States has large remaining fossil fuel resources, only some are technically recoverable with current safe, legal, and profitable extraction methods. The remaining known and yet-to-be-discovered domestic technically recoverable fossil fuels are inadequate to sustain US fossil fuel energy needs to the end of this century, especially given likely continued immigration-driven US population growth (see “US fossil fuel energy insecurity and space solar power”, The Space Review, March 7, 2016). While the United States has an ethical environmental obligation to end its use of fossil fuels by the end of the century, the reality of having inadequate oil and natural gas resources makes the urgency of transitioning successfully to new sustainable energy sources a clear matter of national energy security. This warrants federal government leadership and strong American private sector engagement.

Unfortunately, due to its large and growing population and per capita energy needs, the United States lacks sufficient suitable land to utilize terrestrial renewable energy to replace fossil fuels. (see “US terrestrial non-fossil fuel energy vs. space solar power”, The Space Review, March 14, 2016). While the United States will utilize terrestrial domestic renewable energy to the extent it is politically acceptable, many factors will likely limit their scale-up. The expansion of nuclear fission energy is also not a satisfactory approach, given the large number of reactors needed. These factors lead to the conclusion that only space-based sustainable energy, such as space solar power, will enable the United States to practically transition away from fossil fuels.

Mar 31, 2016

Reports of Planet Earth’s Death Have Been Greatly … Underestimated

Posted by in categories: climatology, sustainability

Are you really surprised?

Mar 28, 2016

Study suggests Earth is heading toward a second catastrophic hot-house event

Posted by in categories: climatology, habitats, sustainability

If you dig deep enough into the Earth’s climate change archives, you hear about the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM. And then you get scared.

That was a time period, about 56 million years ago, when something mysterious happened — there are many ideas as to what — that suddenly caused concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to spike, far higher than they are right now.

The planet proceeded to warm rapidly, at least in geologic terms, and major die-offs of some marine organisms followed due to strong acidification of the oceans.

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