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Aug 16, 2018

A way to get green revolution crops to be productive without needing so much nitrogen

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, food, genetics

A team of researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences in China and the University of Oxford in the U.K. has found a way to grow green revolution crops using less nitrogen with no reduction in yield. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group describes their research efforts and the results they found when planting newly developed plant varieties. Fanmiao Wang and Makoto Matsuoka with Nagoya University offer a News & Views piece on the work done by the team in the same journal issue.

The green revolution was characterized by big increases in crop production in developing countries—it came about due to the increased use of pesticides, fertilizers and changes in crop varieties used. One of the changes to the crops came about as and wheat plants were bred to grow less tall to prevent damage from wind and rain. While this resulted in improved yields, it also resulted in the use of more nitrogen-based fertilizers, which are environmentally harmful. In this new effort, the researchers wondered if it might be possible to re-engineer green-revolution crop varieties in such a way as to restrict height and therefore retain high productivity, while also using nitrogen more efficiently.

Prior research had shown that proteins in the DELLA family reduced plant growth. Crop breeding in the 1960s led to varieties of rice and wheat with genetic mutations that allowed the proteins to build up in the plants, thus stunting their growth. Unfortunately, DELLA proteins have also been found to be the cause of inefficient nitrogen use in the same —as a result, farmers used more of it to increase yields. To overcome this problem, the researchers crossbred varieties of rice to learn more, and found that the transcription factor OsGRF4 was associated with nitrogen uptake. Using that information, they engineered some varieties of rice to express OsGRF4 at higher levels, which, when tested, showed higher uptake of nitrogen. The team then planted the varieties they had engineered and found that they required less nitrogen to produce the same yields—and they were just as stunted. They therefore claim that it is possible to grow that require less .

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Aug 16, 2018

Americans Own Less Stuff, and That’s Reason to Be Nervous

Posted by in category: futurism

What happens when a nation built on the concept of individual property ownership starts to give that up?

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Aug 16, 2018

NASA 60th: What’s Out There

Posted by in categories: innovation, space

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Aug 16, 2018

In race for better batteries, Japan hopes to extend its lead

Posted by in categories: computing, sustainability, transportation

TOKYO — Imagine electric cars that can travel 700km to 800km on a single charge, twice as far as they do today. Imagine batteries that are smaller, safer and pack more punch than the lithium-ion cells that power our gadgets now.

Such is the promise of solid-state batteries. Capable of holding more electricity and recharging more quickly than their lithium-ion counterparts, they could do to lithium-ion power cells what transistors did to vacuum tubes: render them obsolete.

As their name implies, solid-state batteries use solid rather than liquid materials as an electrolyte. That is the stuff through which ions pass as they move between the poles of a battery as it is charged and discharged. Because they do not leak or give off flammable vapor, as lithium-ion batteries are prone to, solid-state batteries are safer. They are also more energy-dense and thus more compact.

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Aug 16, 2018

US targets a megawatt laser by 2023 and then deployment in drones and satellites for hypersonic and ICBM defense

Posted by in categories: drones, government, military, satellites

The US Congress wants the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to rapidly develop and demonstrate a boost-phase ICBM (and hypersonic weapon) intercept capability as soon as practicable.

Space-based laser weapons technology is one of the options.

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Aug 15, 2018

Why US elections remain ‘dangerously vulnerable’ to cyber-attacks

Posted by in category: cybercrime/malcode

Officials have dragged their feet on updating machines and securing data – and a climate of fear could undermine voter confidence.

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Aug 15, 2018

Google tracks users who turn off location

Posted by in category: futurism

A study from Associated Press suggests that users are still tracked even if they turn off location history.

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Aug 15, 2018

I almost died from a leading American killer: Choking on food

Posted by in categories: business, education, food, transhumanism

I have a very important and scary story to share I wrote. Give it a read. It’s published the Napa Valley Register (the main paper of a community where my wine business is newly located). The article is about one of the most common and unexpected ways people around the world die. I almost did.


I recently completed a European speaking tour discussing transhumanism, a social movement whose primary goal is to live as long as possible through science.

Ironically, I’ll probably remember the month-long tour most for a specific 60 seconds—when I almost choked to death on thick, leathery bread in a German restaurant. This may be surprising, but the fourth-leading cause of unintentional death in America is asphyxiation from choking on food, according to the National Safety Council.

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Aug 15, 2018

The U.S. Needs a Cyber Force More Than a Space Force

Posted by in category: futurism

Agree?


Trump shouldn’t be ridiculed for looking to the heavens, but a more urgent threat looms.

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Aug 15, 2018

Google One launches with cheaper cloud storage plans

Posted by in category: computing

For some reason, Google is rebranding Google Drive storage plans under the name Google One. Along with the rebranding, Google is also improving its pricing in ways that give customers more options and more storage at lower prices. It marks the service’s first price cut in four years.

Google One plans start at the same place as Google Drive plans — $1.99 per month for 100GB of additional storage — but the situation improves after that. Google is introducing a new $2.99-per-month tier, which includes 200GB of storage, and it’s upgrading the $9.99-per-month tier to include 2TB of storage instead of 1TB.

We signed up for a 2TB storage option to try out Google One. The process is simple, you just head into Google Drive and click on Storage, then Upgrade Storage, to bring up all the possible upgrades.

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