Tag Archives: science

Is It Too Late To Stop Climate Change?

factories polluting
Source: Pexels.com

Have you noticed the latest weather reports? Las Vegas, a city known more for its neon lights in the desert than white snowflakes, saw five days of the wintery stuff in February, a once-in-a-decade-event. Luckily, visitors to the city were able to continue to stroll the strip, ducking into casinos to warm up and enjoy a game of roulette or their favorite slots. Meanwhile, the UK and other parts of Europe had record-breaking temperatures at the end of February – 21.2C in London on February 26! This could be considered a nice change from the usual cloudy and rainy weather, but, it’s one more indication that the climate is changing. And this is worrisome.

Can It Be Stopped?

The Earth has already seen major climate changes due to human activity, but even more has been set in motion and we don’t yet know the effects. There is a time lag between what we humans do and when it affects us. Even if we stopped greenhouse gas emissions now in 2019, global warming would continue for decades or even centuries. The carbon dioxide will linger in the atmosphere and the planet will need time to readjust. And if we do nothing to reduce emissions? Studies show that the global temperature will rise by an average of 6C. We are well on the way to passing tipping points, or potentially irreversible changes, such as an ice-free Arctic post-summer melt season.

This does not mean steps cannot be taken to avoid the worst effects. A two-level response is needed. First, greenhouse gas emissions MUST be reduced – known as “mitigation.” Second is the “adaptation” phase when humans learn to live with the new changes made. The key is that this response and these changes must be on a global level and not just individually.

What Solutions Are There For Climate Change?

wind turbines in field
Source: Pexels.com

Entire infrastructures must be overhauled, particularly the energy and waste sectors. A worldwide global warming treaty would go a long way in achieving this, but is it plausible? Non-profit and governmental organizations are working to build up knowledge about and solutions to this alarming issue.

A move to renewable energy sources, such as wind, water, and solar power, and away from fossil fuels, is key. When it comes to fuel for cars and airplanes, biofuel has been proved to reduce particle emissions. Electrical cars are an even better option, but only if the electricity used to recharge them is clean as well.

While a global response is necessary, it is also important that changes be made on smaller, local scales. Cities should not wait for their country to adopt a climate policy but start working on ways to solve their own problems now. Examples are building flood defenses, creating plans for heatwaves, and emphasizing green spaces, or at least water-permeable pavements, over too much asphalt and concrete.

What Can I Do?

hybrid car
Source: CarProUSA

Although an international government-level change is primordial for the mitigation and adaptation response, individuals can make a difference. When people around you see and hear about the changes you’re making, they are more likely to adjust their own habits.

Change your daily commute

Try to move away from individual gasoline or diesel-burning cars and choose public transportation, riding a bike, walking, or carpooling. The less you drive, the less you will emit and the more money you will save. Getting rid of your car can reduce your CO2 emissions by 2.5 tons!

Invest in renewable energy

Take advantage of grants and local aid to invest in solar and wind power when you can. The price of these renewable sources of energy is going down, with for example a 73% drop in the cost of utility-scale solar panels since 2010. In some countries, solar energy is now the cheapest source!

Reduce your energy usage

Even with renewable sources, the less energy you use, the better for the world and your wallet. Simple changes such as unplugging electronics when you aren’t using them, washing clothes in cool or warm water rather than hot, and winterizing your home all help.

Change your diet

mass beef farming
Source: Science

Eat less animal protein, particularly beef. Cows produce a lot of methane and are fed with grains that could be eaten by humans and take a lot of water to grow.

Shop local and less

Try to reduce the amount of goods you consume as much as possible to reduce waste. And the goods you do purchase ideally should come from nearby so you can reduce their carbon footprint from the producer to you.

Attend a conference to learn more

There are several conferences on climate change and global warming held around the world. A few of the big ones in 2019 include:

  1. 6th World Congress on Climate Change and Global Warming in Vancouver, Canada, April 24-25, 2019
  2. 8th World Climate Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, May 10-11, 2019
  3. 6th World Conference on Climate Change in Berlin, Germany, September 9-11, 2019
  4. 9th International Conference on Environment and Climate Change in Johannesburg, South Africa, November 18-19, 2019
  5. Check out https://www.conferenceseries.com/ for more options closer to home.

New Black Hole Theory Will Suck and Blow Your Mind

Wormhole
Source: Pikabay

Science has a funny way of coming around and messing with our heads every once in a while. This is one of those whiles, because I’ve just read that stuff that gets sucked into black holes doesn’t stay there forever.

It felt a bit like that time we had all that ruckus about Pluto. Pluto was a planet, and then scientists upset a whole lot of people by saying it wasn’t. There was such an outcry, the scientists then said it was a sort-of planet, and blamed the error on a dodgy calculator or something.

When I was a kid, anything sucked into a black hole was never seen again. As I got older, my classmates and I learned that black holes are where time and space warp, causing gravity so powerful, even light is sucked into it. Einstein’s theory of general relativity says the mass of many stars is crushed into a zero-size volume at the centre of the holes. Now, I’m being told I, along with almost everyone else, will have to rethink what I learned about them.



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Cosmic Recycling Plants?

Papers published in the Physical Review Letters and the Physical Review D journals challenge the accepted theory about the inner lives and workings of black holes. The research is based on a new theory of gravity, which, the authors argue, is necessary when dealing with very small sizes.

Louisiana State University’s Parampreet Singh, and Pennsylvania State University’s Abhay Ashtekar and Javier Olmedo, took the loop quantum gravity theory and applied it to a black hole-scenario. According to their findings, still theoretical, of course, Einstein was wrong – there is no singularity at the centre.

Instead, a strong space-time curve means it continues somewhere into the future, where it becomes a white hole, where all the stuff that got sucked in, light included, gets shot out. It can be tempting to think of it as a Star Trek-style worm-hole, but that’s not the case. Instead, one theory says the curve makes matter bounce, and the powerful gravitation field in black holes slows down time, which is why the process takes so long. Basically, if their maths is right, black holes across the universe are one day going to start vomiting up everything they ever swallowed.   

Recycle
Source: Pikabay

Possibly Explaining the Unexplained?

The new theory may even explain some unexplained phenomena. Scientists have observed high amounts of radio energy over short periods of time, known as radio bursts. They have also observed high-energy cosmic rays that collide with the atmosphere of the earth.

Neither of those phenomena are fully understood, but, if the research papers are correct, both could be evidence of a black hole turning into a white one. Is it possible that the matter that will be shot out of white holes could be the seeds of new solar systems? Could those scientists be seeing the universe recycling itself?

A Closer Look?

One reason so many scientists are unconvinced there is a singularity at the centre of black holes is because of the theoretic infinite density of objects that have mass, but no size. The theory sounds good, until you realise there are no such infinities in nature.

What nature does have, however, are various circumstances. Newton’s law of gravity applies only to objects that are far from our planet. The closer an object gets to earth, the more it weighs. However, bring it too close, or take it to the centre of the earth, and things change. The only way to understand those changes in behaviour is to use equations more complex than Newton’s. They need to accommodate factors such as the planet’s actual mass distribution. 

The smaller objects get, the more differently gravity behaves, which is why quantum gravity theory was developed. If this is expanded into loop quantum gravity, space-time needs to be understood as evolving, latticed spin networks, which are mathematical ways of describing how things relate to one another. First Pluto, and now black holes. My religious aunt talks about prophecies of a new heaven and a new earth. I’m starting to wonder if she isn’t on to something.


Why Changes to the Kilogram Are a Weighty Issue

Changing the kilogram
Source: Pixabay

From the 20th of May 2019, the way the kilogram is measured and standardised is going to change. The difference is so tiny that it won’t change the way you do anything. But it’s a huge deal because it will affect every scientific and technological industry and enterprise. So, why all the fuss and effort?

In the Beginning: Establishing Standards

Hundreds of years ago, we had no uniform way to measure anything. Think about what that must have been like. If you ventured into another village, it would almost be like trying to speak another language. As humans moved around trying to connect with each other and share knowledge, this was clearly not going to do.

The obvious solution was to standardise measurements. In the late 1700s, the metric system was established to do just that. The International System of Units had 7 basic measurements, with the idea being to make them “for all times, for all people” according to Stephan Schlamminger, head of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the United States.

The 7 measurements are the meter, the second, the mole, the ampere, the Kelvin, the candela and, of course, the kilogram. They made our functional, physical world possible. Without them, trains wouldn’t run on time and we literally wouldn’t even know it if they were.

Up until now, the reference for the kilogram has been Big K, or Le Grande K, a piece of iridium and platinum that is kept in a temperature-controlled vault in the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, located in Sèvres, France.

Big K Isn’t Constant Enough

The thing about physical reference points is that they change and degrade, depending on where they are in the world, and what elements they are exposed to. Apparently, this is always true, even when something is in a vault, with temperature control, and nestled under 3 glass bell jars.

Over time, all the measurements in the International System of Units have been replaced with constants that have been determined by physicists. A lot of us are only learning about this now, but the kilogram is actually the last to go.

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Replacing the actual weight with a constant figure that is the same everywhere makes sense anyway, but it has become imperative. Big K has only been removed and measured a few times, but its mass has lessened by 50 micrograms.

That’s the size of a grain of salt, which is tiny in our day-to-day lives but could have a massive impact in industry and research settings. Besides this, if the constant reference point is not, well, constant, we’re not really going to know what we’re doing.

The 2011 Resolution

In 2011, the General Conference on Weights and Measures passed a resolution to redefine the kelvin, the ampere, the mole and the kilogram. Now, at last, it is the kilogram’s turn. For the past 7 years an international team of scientists, including Schlamminger and many other noted thinkers, has been working on this new definition. The fundamental factor that it will now be based on is known as Planck’s Constant.

What is Planck’s Constant?

This constant was discovered by a physicist called Max Planck and, essentially, put the Quantum into Quantum Physics. Planck determined that the photons of all atoms vibrate at a certain frequency, or whole-number multiples of that frequency. He named that frequency h, and this is what has become known as Planck’s Constant.

Applying this to the current Big K problem, the Kibble Balance is used. This is like a measuring scale, but instead of knowing how much one side weighs and then comparing it with another until they balance, the multiple of Planck’s Constant can be determined. The amount of atoms that is present in a 1-kilogram silicon sphere has also been determined, and through calculations can be converted to Planck’s Constant.

By triangulating these two methods, the project’s researchers have been able to refine kilogram measurement to within a certainty of 1 part in 100,000,000. This is about the quarter of the weight of an eyelash. On 16 November 2018, the General Conference on Weights and Measures met in Versailles, and representatives from more than 60 countries voted that this was good enough.

The smooth co-operation and adoption of this new system is heartening, and shows that people can co-operate to make daily life work better for us all. Perhaps some of our current politicians should take a leaf out of the scientific community’s book!

What Does Your Blood Type Reveal?

What your blood type reveals
Source: Smithsonian Magazine

Did you know that in the 1930’s the Japanese military studied blood types? Why, you’re wondering? Because they believed that specific blood types were linked to specific personality traits. They believed that, via a process of merging desirable personality traits, they could create ideal soldiers. It isn’t clear if these studies and practices were actually put into action, and blood type created soldiers sent onto the battlefields, but the study has remained a topic of much interest in many Asian countries.

Though, there is no strong scientific link between blood types and personality, there is a great deal of research that can be read through. It should probably be taken with a pinch of salt, but the results are, never the less very interesting. Take a look at what blood types are said to reveal in terms of personality traits and see how they stack up for you!

Type A – The Farmers

In the Japanese studies, type A blood is said to belong to those who would make perfect farmers. This is because the blood type is associated with those who are calm, loyal, peace loving and organised. So, not great for creating those ideal soldiers we already mentioned.

On the other hand, those with type A blood type are also said to be stubborn, obsessive, and pessimistic. What a curious combination of character traits. Apparently even those who are peace loving and calm can likewise have a glass half empty kind of outlook on life.

As an added little bonus, here are a few people who have type A blood. You might notice a few flaws in the blood study personality traits as Jet Li, George Bush, Adolf Hitler and Britney Spears are all A’s!

Type B – Hunters

Referred to as the hunters, type B blood owners are apparently strong, creative, expressive and cheerful. The studies reported that the individuals were extremely determined when focusing on a goal, perhaps even to beyond the point of reason if a goal is completely beyond reach. Though, the hunters are also not great at taking orders. So, once again, not prime soldier material.

On the negative side, being moody, erratic, and impatient are also hunter characteristics. So if your soldiers are going to have this blood type, it’s probably best to put them through temper management courses in advance. Famous personalities with type B blood include Leonardo DiCaprio, Paul McCartney and Jack Nicholson.

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Type AB – Humanists

Blood type AB is fairly rare, and its owners are, according to the studies, intelligent, rational, and highly analytical. Interestingly enough, however, the studies claimed that those with AB blood type might show a combination of characteristics seen in both A and B type blood. Which means, of course, that the humanists can be extremely unpredictable. Are any blood types good soldier material?

Negative humanist traits include, besides those inherited from A and B, being forgetful, critical and indecisive. Though serious analysis would probably have to be done just to try and pick up what pot pourri of traits were adopted. Famous faces with this blood type include Marilyn Monroe, Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

Type O – The Warrior

Apparently those with type O blood are honest to a fault, and even tend to dislike those who dare hide the truth from others. They are born leaders, possessing powerful personalities and would do well at the front of a battle. At least, according to the Japanese studies. So do we have our born soldiers?

Only if being vain, arrogant and unpredictable are also desirable traits in a solider. We all know, after all, how a born leader should also have the known characteristic of being vain and arrogant. A real treat for those he or she is leading into battle. Some famous faces with this type include Al Capone, Elvis Presley, Paul Newman and John Lennon.

So, it seems, no blood types are really perfect for the battlefield, which is perhaps why there was a drive to try and breed soldiers that had only the positive characteristics of each blood type. As this study was conducted in the 1930’s it could of course be said to be out of date, but as yet, not further studies have been conducted so we can only draw conclusions from what’s already been assessed.