Hexbyte Glen Cove Warmer winters threaten Canada's seasonal ice roads thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Warmer winters threaten Canada’s seasonal ice roads

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Gilbert Cardin, owner of the ice road connecting the towns of Pointe-Fortune and Saint-Andre-d’Argenteuil, uses his chainsaw to check the depth of the ice in Pointe-Fortune, Quebec on February 17, 2021

Canadian Gilbert Cardin worries about the future of the ice road he maintains every winter on a frozen river west of Montreal.

“At some point, it is certain that we will no longer be able to open if these continue,” he tells AFP.

Since February 14, the 900-meter-long path, cleared of snow and marked with fir trees, has allowed motorists to travel between two villages on opposite sides of the Ottawa River without having to drive 40 kilometres (25 miles) roundtrip to the nearest bridge.

Such ice roads—or “winter crossings” as they’re called by Quebec locals—were once commonplace in these parts.

In the 1800s one even carried the weight of locomotives on a temporary rail line across the Saint Lawrence River between the island of Montreal and South Shore communities on the mainland—although one steam engine sank into the river.

In southern parts of Canada, seasonal ice roads are now increasingly scarce due to wide swings in —from deep freeze to balmy—that make it harder to maintain them.

Only a few dozen of these vestiges of winters of yesteryear remain today in all of Canada and just a handful in Quebec.

Cardin’s ice between Pointe-Fortune and Saint Andrew d’Argenteuil is the only one of three in the Montreal area to open this year.

“This winter we opened a month late,” he laments, pointing to global warming and a very mild start to this year as the cause.

An “Open” sign is seen as a car drives onto the ice road connecting the towns of Pointe-Fortune and Saint-Andre-d’Argenteuil, in Pointe-Fortune, Quebec on February 17, 2021

14 inches thick

Under a bright blue sky, the 54-year-old big rig truck driver plunges a chainsaw into the ice in the middle of the frozen river. A stream of ice shavings burst out as he cuts out a block of ice and measures its thickness against markings on the blade: 14 inches (35 cm).

It is thick enough to allow cars to drive across the frozen river, but not trucks. In past winters the ice has usually been as much as one meter (three feet) thick.

“At this time of year, we should be seeing 26 inches (65 cm) of ice,” he says.

He doesn’t expect to make a profit this year, given his late start and forecasts of an early spring, which will likely force him to close the ice road in a few weeks.

In the meantime, he must continually plow it over, as snow cover would keep the ice from thickening (acting as insulation from the cold) at a rate of about an inch per day in , Cardin explains.

“Having an ice bridge open for two months would be an excellent operating season, one month would be very good,” comments Claude Desjardins, owner of another ice road further downstream on the river.

He was unable to open his two-kilometre (1.25-mile) ice road between Hudson and Oka this year, he says, due to “really unsafe” ice conditions. The situation was the same in 2017 and 2018.

In southern parts of Canada, seasonal ice roads are now increasingly scarce due to wide swings in winter temperatures—from deep freeze to balmy—that make it harder to maintain them

Pandemic restrictions curb travel

“Each year, it’s different and you never know what to expect,” comments Cardin. His crossing, which he’s been operating for 25 years, also remained closed in 2018.

The last decade has seen more frequent warm spells, reducing the average length his ice road is open to an average of five weeks, down from a record 12 weeks in 1997.

He hopes a recent Arctic cold snap will stretch into early March so he can stay open a bit longer, but acknowledges it’s a long shot with the current ice thickness at the bare minimum.

“If the ice is not thicker than that, as soon as the warm weather comes, it’s all over,” he said.

Compounding his weather woes, he said there have been fewer drivers on Canadian roads this year due to public health restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“Customers haven’t been there because of Covid-19. There’s no one on the highways, everyone who can has been teleworking,” he explains.

“Who’s using the bridge? Construction workers and housekeepers going from place to place, that’s it,” he said.

These days, barely 30 motorists per day use it, down from 100 normally.

“When I found out it was open today… I said to myself, this is where I’m going,” says regular ice road user Eric Deschamps.

He paid Can$7 (US$5.55) to use Cardin’s ice road, avoiding adding 50 kilometres (31 miles) to his trip. “It costs less than gasoline, especially with a pickup,” he concludes.



© 2021 AFP

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Warmer winters threaten Canada’s seasonal ice roads (2021, February 21)
retrieved 22 February 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-02-warmer-winters-threaten-canada-seasonal.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove America has sent five rovers to Mars—when will humans follow? thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove America has sent five rovers to Mars—when will humans follow?

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Radiation will also be challenging on the planet, because of its ultra thin atmosphere and lack of a protective magnetosphere, so shelters will need to be well shielded, or even underground

With its impeccable landing on Thursday, NASA’s Perseverance became the fifth rover to reach Mars—so when can we finally expect the long-held goal of a crewed expedition to materialize?

NASA’s current Artemis program is billed as a “Moon to Mars” mission, and acting administrator Steve Jurczyk has reiterated his aspiration of “the mid-to-end of the 2030s” for American boots on the Red Planet.

But while the trip is technologically almost within grasp, experts say it’s probably still decades out because of funding uncertainties.

Mars is hard

Wernher von Braun, the architect of the Apollo program, started work on a Mars mission right after the Moon landing in 1969, but the plan, like many after it, never got off the drawing board.

What makes it so hard? For a start, the sheer distance.

Astronauts bound for Mars will have to travel about 140 million miles (225 million kilometers), depending on where the two planets are relative to each other.

That means a trip that’s many months long, where astronauts will face two major health risks: radiation and microgravity.

The former raises the lifetime chances of developing cancer while the latter decreases bone density and muscle mass.

If things go wrong, any problems will have to be solved on the planet itself.

‘It’s the details’

That said, scientists have learned plenty of lessons from astronauts’ missions to the Moon and to space stations.

“We have demonstrated on Earth orbiting spacecraft the ability for astronauts to survive for a year and a half,” said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer for the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Astronauts bound for Mars will have to travel about 140 million miles (225 million kilometers), depending on where the two planets are relative to each other

The general ideas of how to execute a Mars mission are in place, but “it’s the details” that are lacking, he added.

One way to reduce the on the journey is getting there faster, said Laura Forczyk, the founder of space consulting firm Astralytical and a planetary scientist.

This could involve using nuclear thermal propulsion which produces far more thrust than the energy produced by traditional chemical rockets.

Another could be building a spacecraft with water containers strapped to it that absorb space radiation, said McDowell.

Once there, we’ll need to find ways to breathe in the 95-percent carbon dioxide atmosphere. Perseverance has an instrument on board to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, as a technical demonstration.

Other solutions involve breaking down the ice at the planet’s poles into oxygen and hydrogen, which will also fuel rockets.

Radiation will also be challenging on the planet, because of its ultra thin atmosphere and lack of a protective magnetosphere, so shelters will need to be well shielded, or even underground.

Risk tolerance

The feasibility also comes down to how much risk we are willing to tolerate, said G. Scott Hubbard, NASA’s first Mars program director who’s now at Stanford.

During the Shuttle era, said Hubbard, “the demand was that the astronauts face no more than three percent increased risk in death.”

“They have now raised that—deep space missions are somewhere between 10 and 30 percent, depending on the mission, so NASA’s taking a more aggressive or open posture,” he added.

That could involve raising the permissible level of total radiation astronauts can be exposed to over their lifetimes, which NASA is also considering, said Forczyk.

Musk has been developing the next-generation Starship rocket for the purpose—though two prototypes blew up in spectacular fashion on their recent test runs

Political will

The experts agreed the biggest hurdle is getting buy-in from the US president and Congress.

“If humanity as a species, specifically the American taxpayer, decides to put large amounts of money into it, we could be there by the 2030s,” said McDowell.

He doesn’t think that’s on the cards, but said he would be surprised if it happened later than the 2040s, a conclusion shared by Forczyk.

President Joe Biden hasn’t yet outlined his Mars vision, though his spokeswoman Jen Pskai said this month the Artemis program had the administration’s “support.”

Still, the agency is facing budget constraints and is not expected to meet its goal of returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, which would also push back Mars.

SpaceX wildcard

Could NASA be beaten to it by SpaceX, the company founded by billionaire Elon Musk, who is targeting a first human mission in 2026?

Musk has been developing the next-generation Starship rocket for the purpose—though two prototypes blew up in spectacular fashion on their recent test runs.

These might look bad, but the risks SpaceX is able to take, and NASA as a government agency can’t, gives it valuable data, argued Hubbard.

That could eventually give SpaceX an edge over NASA’s chosen rocket, the troubled Space Launch System (SLS) which is beset by delays and cost overrun.

But not even one of the richest people in the world can foot the entire bill for Mars themselves.

Hubbard sees a public-private partnership as more likely, with SpaceX providing the transport and NASA solving the many other problems.



© 2021 AFP

Citation:
America has sent five rovers to Mars—when will humans follow? (2021, February 20)
retrieved 21 February 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-02-america-rovers-marswhen-humans.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove A speed limit also applies in the quantum world thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove A speed limit also applies in the quantum world

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First author Manolo Rivera Lam (left) and principal investigator Dr. Andrea Alberti (right) at the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Bonn. Credit: © Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn

Even in the world of the smallest particles with their own special rules, things cannot proceed infinitely fast. Physicists at the University of Bonn have now shown what the speed limit is for complex quantum operations. The study also involved scientists from MIT, the universities of Hamburg, Cologne and Padua, and the Jülich Research Center. The results are important for the realization of quantum computers, among other things. They are published in the prestigious journal Physical Review X, and covered by the Physics Magazine of the American Physical Society.

Suppose you observe a waiter (the lockdown is already history) who on New Year’s Eve has to serve an entire tray of champagne glasses just a few minutes before midnight. He rushes from guest to guest at top speed. Thanks to his technique, perfected over many years of work, he nevertheless manages not to spill even a single drop of the precious liquid.

A little trick helps him to do this: While the waiter accelerates his steps, he tilts the tray a bit so that the champagne does not spill out of the glasses. Halfway to the table, he tilts it in the opposite direction and slows down. Only when he has come to a complete stop does he hold it upright again.

Atoms are in some ways similar to champagne. They can be described as waves of matter, which behave not like a billiard ball but more like a liquid. Anyone who wants to transport from one place to another as quickly as possible must therefore be as skillful as the waiter on New Year’s Eve. “And even then, there is a speed limit that this transport cannot exceed,” explains Dr. Andrea Alberti, who led this study at the Institute of Applied Physics of the University of Bonn.

Cesium atom as a champagne substitute

In their study, the researchers experimentally investigated exactly where this limit lies. They used a as a champagne substitute and two laser beams perfectly superimposed but directed against each other as a tray. This superposition, called interference by physicists, creates a standing wave of light: a sequence of mountains and valleys that initially do not move. “We loaded the atom into one of these valleys, and then set the standing wave in motion—this displaced the position of the valley itself,” says Alberti. “Our goal was to get the atom to the target location in the shortest possible time without it spilling out of the valley, so to speak.”

The fact that there is a speed limit in the microcosm was already theoretically demonstrated by two Soviet physicists, Leonid Mandelstam and Igor Tamm more than 60 years ago. They showed that the maximum speed of a quantum process depends on the energy uncertainty, i.e., how “free” the manipulated particle is with respect to its possible energy states: the more energetic freedom it has, the faster it is. In the case of the transport of an atom, for example, the deeper the valley into which the cesium atom is trapped, the more spread the energies of the quantum states in the valley are, and ultimately the faster the atom can be transported. Something similar can be seen in the example of the waiter: If he only fills the glasses half full (to the chagrin of the guests), he runs less risk that the champagne spills over as he accelerates and decelerates. However, the energetic freedom of a particle cannot be increased arbitrarily. “We can’t make our valley infinitely deep—it would cost us too much energy,” stresses Alberti.

Beam me up, Scotty!

The speed limit of Mandelstam and Tamm is a fundamental limit. However, one can only reach it under certain circumstances, namely in systems with only two quantum states. “In our case, for example, this happens when the point of origin and destination are very close to each other,” the physicist explains. “Then the matter waves of the atom at both locations overlap, and the atom could be transported directly to its destination in one go, that is, without any stops in between—almost like the teleportation in the Starship Enterprise of Star Trek.”

However, the situation is different when the distance grows to several dozens of matter wave widths as in the Bonn experiment. For these distances, direct teleportation is impossible. Instead, the particle must go through several intermediate states to reach its final destination: The two-level system becomes a multi-level system. The study shows that a lower speed limit applies to such processes than that predicted by the two Soviet physicists: It is determined not only by the energy uncertainty, but also by the number of intermediate states. In this way, the work improves the theoretical understanding of complex quantum processes and their constraints.

The physicists’ findings are important not least for quantum computing. The computations that are possible with quantum computers are mostly based on the manipulation of multi-level systems. Quantum states are very fragile, though. They last only a short lapse of time, which physicists call coherence time. It is therefore important to pack as many computational operations as possible into this time. “Our study reveals the maximum number of operations we can perform in the coherence time,” Alberti explains. “This makes it possible to make optimal use of it.”



More information:
Manolo R. Lam et al, Demonstration of Quantum Brachistochrones between Distant States of an Atom, Physical Review X (2021). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevX.11.011035

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Time-lapse reveals the hidden dance of roots thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Time-lapse reveals the hidden dance of roots

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Duke researchers have been studying something that happens too slowly for our eyes to see. A team in biologist Philip Benfey’s lab wanted to see how plant roots burrow into the soil. So they set up a camera on rice seeds sprouting in clear gel, taking a new picture every 15 minutes for several days after germination.

When they played their footage back at 15 frames per second, compressing 100 hours of growth into less than a minute, they saw that rice roots use a trick to gain their first foothold in the soil: their growing tips make corkscrew-like motions, waggling and winding in a helical path.

By using their time-lapse footage, along with a root-like robot to test ideas, the researchers gained new insights into how and why plant root tips twirl as they grow.

The first clue came from something else the team noticed: some roots can’t do the corkscrew dance. The culprit, they found, is a mutation in a gene called HK1 that makes them grow straight down, instead of circling and meandering like other roots do.

The team also noted that the mutant roots grew twice as deep as normal ones. Which raised a question: “What does the more typical spiraling tip growth do for the plant?” said Isaiah Taylor, a postdoctoral associate in Benfey’s lab at Duke.

New time-lapse videos capture something that’s too slow for our eyes to see: the growing tips of rice roots make corkscrew-like motions, waggling and winding in a helical path as they burrow into the soil. By using time-lapse footage, along with a root-like robot to test ideas, researchers have gained new insights into how and why plant root tips twirl as they grow. Credit: Footage courtesy of Benfey/Goldman labs. Produced by Veronique Koch.

Winding movements in were “a phenomenon that fascinated Charles Darwin,” even 150 years ago, Benfey said. In the case of shoots, there’s an obvious utility: twining and circling makes it easier to get a grip as they climb towards the sunlight. But how and why it happens in roots was more of a mystery.

Sprouting seeds have a challenge, the researchers say. If they’re to survive, the first tiny root that emerges has to anchor the plant and probe downwards to suck up the water and nutrients the plant needs to grow.

Which got them thinking: perhaps in root tips this spiral growth is a search strategy—a way to find the best path forward, Taylor said.

In experiments performed in physics professor Daniel Goldman’s lab at Georgia Tech, observations of normal and mutant rice roots growing over a perforated plastic plate revealed that normal spiraling roots were three times more likely to find a hole and grow through to the other side.

Collaborators at Georgia Tech and the University of California, Santa Barbara built a soft pliable robot that unfurls from its tip like a root and set it loose in an obstacle course consisting of unevenly spaced pegs.

To create the robot, the team took two inflatable plastic tubes and nested them inside each other. Changing the air pressure pushed the soft inner tube from the inside out, making the robot elongate from the tip. Contracting opposing pairs of artificial “muscles” made the robot’s tip bend side to side as it grew.

Even without sophisticated sensors or controls, the robotic root was still able to make its way past obstacles and find a path through the pegs. But when the side-to-side bending stopped, the robot quickly got stuck against a peg.

Finally, the team grew normal and mutant rice seeds in a dirt mix used for baseball fields, to test them out on obstacles a root would actually encounter in soil. Sure enough, while the mutants had trouble getting a toehold, the normal roots with spiral-growing tips were able to bore through.

A root tip’s corkscrew growth is coordinated by the , a growth substance the researchers think may move around the tip of a growing root in a wave-like pattern. Auxin buildup on one side of the root causes those cells to elongate less than those on the other side, and the root tip bends in that direction.

Plants that carry the HK1 mutation can’t dance because of a defect in how auxin is carried from cell to cell, the researchers found. Block this hormone and roots lose their ability to twirl.

The work helps scientists understand how roots grow in hard, compacted soil.



More information:
Isaiah Taylor et al, Mechanism and function of root circumnutation, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2021). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2018940118

Citation:
Time-lapse reveals the hidden dance of roots (2021, February 19)
retrieved 21 February 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-02-time-lapse-reveals-hidden-roots.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Sounding rocket CLASP2 elucidates solar magnetic field thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Sounding rocket CLASP2 elucidates solar magnetic field

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Measuring the magnetic field strength at four different heights (horizontal planes) by using data from the CLASP2 and Hinode space telescopes allowed astronomers to map the spreading of magnetic field lines (shown in green) in the chromosphere. Credit: NAOJ

Cooperative operations between a solar observation satellite and a sounding-rocket telescope have measured the magnetic field strength in the photosphere and chromosphere above an active solar plage region. This is the first time that the magnetic field in the chromosphere has been charted all the way up its top. This finding brings us closer to understanding how energy is transferred between layers of the Sun.

Despite being the brightest object in the sky, the Sun still holds many mysteries for astronomers. It is generally believed that magnetic fields play an important role in heating the , but the details of the process are still unclear. To solve this mystery it is important to understand the magnetic field in the chromosphere, which is sandwiched between the corona and the photosphere, the visible surface of the Sun.

An international team led by Ryohko Ishikawa, an assistant professor at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, and Javier Trujillo Bueno, a professor at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, analyzed data collected by the CLASP2 sounding rocket experiment over six-and-a-half-minutes on April 11, 2019. They determined the longitudinal component of the magnetic field above an active region plage and its surroundings by analyzing the signature that the magnetic field imprinted on ultraviolet light from the chromosphere.

The unique high precision data from CLASP2 allowed the team to determine the magnetic field strengths in the lower, mid, and upper regions of the chromosphere. Simultaneously acquired data from the Japanese solar observation satellite Hinode provided information about the magnetic field in the plage itself in the photosphere. The team found that the plage is highly structured in the but expands, rapidly merging and spreading horizontally, in the . This new picture brings us closer to understanding how magnetic fields transfer energy to the corona from the lower layers of the Sun.

The animation shows the CLASP2 launch, CLASP2/SJ movie, CLASP2 and Hinode data used in the study, the main result, and recovery of the CLASP2 instrument. Credit: NAOJ, NASA, IAC, IAS

The study is published in Science Advances.

  • CLASP2 launch. Credit: US Army Photo, White Sands Missile Range
  • CLASP2 and Hinode data used in the study. The background is the image taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite. Credit: NAOJ, NASA, IAC, IAS
  • Longitudinal component of the magnetic field (in gauss) at each point along the spatial direction indicated by the green line in the left panels of figure 1. The strongest and weakest magnetic fields are found in the photosphere (green curve), where there are strongly magnetized regions (up to 1250 gauss) separated by others that are weakly magnetized (10 gauss). This substantial variation in the magnetic field intensity when moving horizontally in the photosphere decreases at heights corresponding to the lower chromosphere (blue symbols) and is even smaller in the intermediate (black symbols) and outer (red symbols) layers of the chromosphere. These results confirm and prove that, in such active regions of the solar atmosphere, the lines of force of the magnetic field expand and fill the whole chromosphere before reaching the base of the corona. Credit: NAOJ, IAC, NASA/MSFC, IAS.


More information:
R. Ishikawa el al., “Mapping solar magnetic fields from the photosphere to the base of the corona,” Science Advances (2021). advances.sciencemag.org/lookup … .1126/sciadv.abe8406

Citation:
Sounding rocket CLASP2 elucidates solar magnetic field (2021, February 19)
retrieved 20 February 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-02-rocket-clasp2-elucidates-solar-magnetic.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Study reveals energy sources supporting coral reef predators thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Study reveals energy sources supporting coral reef predators

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Plankton-feeding fishes often dominate the fish assemblage on oceanic coral reefs. Credit: Dr Christina Skinner

Since Charles Darwin’s day, the abundance of life on coral reefs has been puzzling, given that most oceanic surface waters in the tropics are low in nutrients and unproductive.

But now research, led by Newcastle University and published in in the journal Science Advances, has confirmed that the food web of a coral in the Maldives relies heavily on what comes in from the .

The team found that these offshore resources contribute to more than 70% of reef predator diets, the rest being derived from reef associated sources.

Led by Dr. Christina Skinner, now based at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the researchers included collaborators from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (USA), Banyan Tree Marine Lab (Maldives) and the University of Bristol (UK).

The team used advanced stable isotope techniques to show that four species of grouper near the top of the food web all rely on offshore resources; this didn’t change between species and was the case on the outside of an atoll and also inside the lagoon, suggesting that the oceanic subsidy is system-wide.

The scientists believe that this offshore energy may be entering the food web through lower-level plankton feeding fish that the groupers are then feeding on. This is likely to be supported by inputs of nutrient-rich deep water, which are little understood.

Plankton-feeding fishes often dominate the fish assemblage on oceanic coral reefs. Credit: Dr Christina Skinner

The findings help explain how maintain in apparently nutrient-poor tropical settings, but also emphasise their susceptibility to future fluctuations of ocean productivity which have been predicted in many climate-change models.

Dr. Skinner said: “The study provides key insights into the nutrition of coral reef ecosystems, especially their dependence on offshore production. Detailed knowledge of food web dynamics is crucial to understand the impacts of anthropogenic and climate-induced change in .

“The results force us to reconsider how we view coral reefs, and they highlight the extent of the connectivity with the surrounding ocean. If these groupers are mostly reliant on offshore energy to support their feeding, then maybe they won’t be so impacted by the loss of live coral, as many fishery studies have predicted; they may be more resilient.

“On the other hand though, some studies have predicted that ocean production will decline in the future from climate change. If that is the case, and these groupers are reliant on that open ocean energy, they will be impacted by those changes.”

Plankton-feeding fishes often dominate the fish assemblage on oceanic coral reefs. Credit: Dr Christina Skinner

Study co-author, Professor Nick Polunin, from Newcastle University’s School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, added: “Coral reefs are really suffering across the tropics from climate-related disturbances, particularly oceanic warming.

“In spite of its tiny area, this ecosystem is a massive contributor to marine biodiversity and this study highlights how little we know about the food web sources sustaining that exceptional wealth of species it sustains.”



More information:
“Offshore pelagic subsidies dominate carbon inputs to coral reef predators,” Science Advances (2021). advances.sciencemag.org/lookup … .1126/sciadv.abf3792

Citation:
Study reveals energy sources supporting coral reef predators (2021, February 19)
retrieved 20 February 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-02-reveals-energy-sources-coral-reef.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Conservation paradox: The pros and cons of recreational hunting thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Conservation paradox: The pros and cons of recreational hunting

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Zebra in the wild Credit: Associate Professor Enrico Di Minin, University Of Helsinki

Recreational hunting—especially hunting of charismatic species for their trophies—raises ethical and moral concerns. Yet recreational hunting is frequently suggested as a way to conserve nature and support local people’s livelihoods.

In a new article published in the journal One Earth, scientists from the University of Helsinki in Finland and Flinders University in Australia have reviewed more than 1,000 studies on recreational —the first such attempt to summarize the scientific literature examining the biodiversity and social effects of recreational hunting globally.

Co-lead author University of Helsinki Associate Professor Enrico Di Minin says while it might seem counterintuitive, there is evidence to suggest some recreational hunting can deliver environmental and social benefits.

University of Helsinki colleague and co-lead author Dr. Hayley Clements says more analysis is needed to understand how and why recreational hunting can work for good, and those areas where it can be detrimental.

Flinders University Professor Corey Bradshaw says it’s a paradox that goes to the heart of the pros and cons of recreational hunting.

“We determined the geographic spread and diversity of species hunted around the globe, and investigated and summarized the main topics surrounding recreational hunting to consider both the positive and negative implications of recreational hunting for and the livelihoods and well-being of people” says Professor Bradshaw, who leads Flinders’ Global Ecology Lab.

“On the one hand, recreational hunting can reduce the number of individual animals in a population, whereas on the other, diverting land from agricultural or other types of development to priority hunting areas can in fact benefit entire ecosystems”, he says.

Hunting research has focused mainly on the behavior and population dynamics of large mammals in North America, Europe and Africa.

Lions in the wild. Credit: Associate Professor Enrico Di Minin, University Of Helsinki

Dr. Clements says evidence is still lacking, however, to answer the pressing questions of why hunting contributes to sustainable conservation of biodiversity in some places and not others.

“Two-thirds of the hunting research is focussed on mammals. Red deer, white-tailed deer, wild boar, moose and lion are the most well-studied. Of these species, only the lion is of conservation concern, with many recommendations on how hunting can be made sustainable through quotas or seasonal limits”, says Dr. Clements.

“Far less research has tried to examine the broader impacts of hunting on ecosystem integrity and function, and how it affects the livelihoods of local people, or to document local people’s perceptions about hunting”, she continues.

For example, approximately 1,394,000 km2 of land is dedicated for trophy hunting in sub-Saharan Africa, yet there is little research on how effective these areas are in conserving ecosystems, and how local communities benefit from hunting.

Associate Professor Di Minin, who leads the Helsinki Lab of Interdisciplinary Conservation Science contends future research should focus on the contribution of recreational hunting towards meeting both biodiversity and social objectives.

“We have outlined a research agenda to assess the role of recreational hunting in diverse social-ecological systems, and to consider local people’s values and needs.

The need for such evidence is urgent given declining numbers of recreational hunters in some regions and increasing opposition to trophy hunting in others”, says Associate Professor Di Minin.

“We should also expand research beyond charismatic and common species to assess the impact of recreational hunting on threatened and less charismatic species”, he concludes



More information:
Enrico Di Minin et al. Consequences of recreational hunting for biodiversity conservation and livelihoods. One Earth. DOI:doi.org/10.1016/j.oneear.2021.01.014

Citation:
Conservation paradox: The pros and cons of recreational hunting (2021, February 19)
retrieved 20 February 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-02-paradox-pros-cons-recreational.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Deadly winter storm pushes into eastern US thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Deadly winter storm pushes into eastern US

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A man shovels snow in New York on February 18, 2021

A deadly winter weather system that brought record-busting cold to the southern and central United States, knocking out power for millions in oil-rich Texas, was blanketing the East Coast in snow Thursday, disrupting coronavirus vaccinations.

The historic frigid blast has over the past week seen Arctic cold envelope a US heartland unfamiliar with such extremes, leaving dozens of dead in its wake and several million Texans told to boil water before consuming it.

The National Weather Service (NWS) said a “major” winter storm would impact an area stretching from Virginia up to the Northeast, bringing icy buildups and “treacherous” travel conditions.

Snow fell steadily across New York City throughout the morning, forcing the cancelation of about 200 flights and delaying the opening of two COVID-19 vaccination sites after the storm disrupted dosage delivery.

By 1:00 pm (1800 GMT), meteorologists had recorded more than three inches (seven centimeters) of snow in Central Park.

The Big Apple has already been blanketed by the white stuff twice this winter during two separate storms.

“The occasional snowstorm is always good but as we’re getting closer to March it gets a little tiring. I’m ready for it to start being warm again,” said 18-year-old student Kara Dickson.

A resident in Waco, Texas clears snow as the oil-rich state struggles to cope with a historic cold snap

A weather warning was in effect in New Jersey, where Governor Phil Murphy announced the temporary closure of several vaccination sites.

“This may result in many appointments needing to be rescheduled,” he said.

Across Texas, which has been hardest hit by the cold snap, utility companies were gradually restoring power though more than 400,000 homes and businesses remained without electricity, according to PowerOutage.us.

‘Failed state’

Texas power companies had to implement rolling blackouts to avoid grids being overloaded as residents cranked up the heat. The surge in demand came just as generating capacity drooped thanks to power stations and wind turbines freezing.

David Hernandez, 38, spent the night at a Houston church with other people who had fled their homes.

“My car got stranded and I was trying to sleep in the car but it was just too cold,” Hernandez said.

Men are seen outside of the Lincoln Memorial under a blanket of light snow in Washington, DC on February 18, 2021

“Liquids in my car were actually turning to ice so it was like sleeping in an ice box. I had to come here,” he said.

Texas authorities opened about 300 emergency “warming centers” across the state.

Compounding the misery, thousands of Houston residents were also suffering a loss of water pressure.

Nearly seven million Texans were being advised to boil their water before drinking it or using it for cooking, said Toby Baker, who heads the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, adding that nearly 264,000 people were impacted by non-operational water systems.

Texas’s woes have sparked outrage in the Lone Star State, the only one of the US’s 48 continental states to have its own independent power grid.

Beto O’Rourke, a former Democratic presidential candidate from Texas, said it was at risk of becoming “a failed state.”

Anger soared Thursday after it was revealed Texas Senator Ted Cruz had flown to the Mexican holiday resort of Cancun during the crisis.

A woman poses in New York’s Times Square during a winter storm on February 18, 2021

As political rivals called for his resignation, Cruz justified the flight by saying his one-night stay was to drop his children off before he flew home.

Even though the Arctic air mass was beginning to loosen its grip in Texas and elsewhere in the south, the NWS said frigid temperatures would continue.

President Joe Biden ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts in Oklahoma after officials there declared an emergency.

Biden was forced to postpone until Friday a visit to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing site in Kalamazoo, Michigan while federal government offices in Washington were closed Thursday.

More than 30 storm-related deaths have been reported by US media since the cold weather arrived last week, many in traffic accidents.

Animal deaths

Houston police said a woman and a girl died from carbon monoxide poisoning after sitting in a car in a garage with the engine running to keep warm.

More than 500,000 Texas homes and businesses remained without electricity Thursday morning

And emergency medical authorities around Texas said dozens of others have been treated for suspected carbon monoxide poisoning, while 77 were treated for hypothermia in northern Texas on Tuesday.

A dozen animals—including one 58-year-old female chimpanzee—died during the freeze at rescue sanctuary Primarily Primates near San Antonio, the organization said on its website.

The winter storm has spawned at least four tornadoes, according to Atlanta-based weather.com, including one in North Carolina on Monday that killed at least three people and injured 10.

Across the southern border, Mexican officials said six people died after temperatures plunged.



© 2021 AFP

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Deadly winter storm blankets eastern US in snow (2021, February 18)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove The search for life beyond Earth thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove The search for life beyond Earth

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Perseverance is tasked with searching for telltale signs that microbial life may have lived on Mars billions of years ago

Mars may now be considered a barren, icy desert but did Earth’s nearest neighbour once harbour life?

It is a question that has preoccupied scientists for centuries and fired up sci-fi imaginings.

After seven months in space, NASA’s Perseverance rover is due to land on Mars on Thursday, in search of clues.

Why Mars?

Other planets or moons, could also harbour forms of life, so why pick Mars?

NASA says Mars is not just one of the more accessible places in the and a potential future destination for humans, but exploring the planet could also help to answer “origin and evolution of life questions”.

“Mars is unique across the entire solar system in that it is a terrestrial planet with an atmosphere and climate, its geology is known to be very diverse and complex (like Earth), and it appears that the climate of Mars has changed over its history (like Earth),” it adds on its Mars programme website.

Scientists believe that four billion years ago the two both had the potential to nurture life—but much of Mars’ intervening history is an enigma.

Mars exploration is not to find Martian life—scientists believe nothing would survive there now—but to search for possible traces of past lifeforms.

Perseverance is tasked with searching for telltale signs that microbial life may have lived on Mars billions of years ago.

Ingredients for life

For life you need .

A planet in what is known as the “” around a star is an area in which water has the potential to be liquid.

If it is too close to the star the water would evaporate, too far away it would freeze (some call this the “Goldilocks principle”).

But water alone is not enough.

Scientists also look for the essential chemical ingredients, including carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulphur.

Europa is one of Jupiter’s four moons

And to stir it all up, they also look for a source of energy, said Michel Viso, an astrobiologist at CNES, the French space agency.

This could come from the Sun, if the planet is close enough, or from chemical reactions.

Martian fascination

Scientific enquiry of the red planet began in earnest in the 17th Century.

In 1609 Italian Galileo Galilei observed Mars with a primitive telescope and in doing so became the first person to use the new technology for astronomical purposes.

Mars—compared to the “desolate, empty” moon—has long seemed promising for potential inhabitability by microorganisms, wrote astrophysicist Francis Rocard in his recent essay “Latest News from Mars”.

But the 20th century presented setbacks.

In the 1960s, as the race to put a man on the moon was accelerating, Dian Hitchcock and James Lovelock analysed the atmosphere on Mars looking for a chemical imbalance, gases reacting with each other, which would hint at life.

There was no reaction.

A decade later the Viking landers took atmospheric and soil samples that showed the planet was no longer inhabitable and interest in Mars crumbled.

But in 2000 scientists made a game-changing discovery: they found that water had once flowed over its surface.

This rekindled interest in Mars exploration and scientists pored over images of gullies, ravines, scouring the Martian surface for evidence of liquid water.

More than 10 years later, in 2011, they definitively found it.

Scientists now think Mars may once have been warm and wet and possibly have supported .

“As the Sun did not always have the same mass, the same energy, Mars could very well have been also in this habitable zone early in its existence,” said astrophysicist Athena Coustenis, of the Paris-PSL Observatory.

If life did exist on Mars, why did it disappear?

And perhaps more profoundly if life never existed, then why not?

A view of Saturn and Titan from Cassini in 2012

Further frontiers

There are always other areas to explore.

Jupiter’s moon Europa, spotted by Galileo four centuries ago, may have a saltwater ocean hidden beneath its icy surface that is thought to contain about twice as much water as Earth’s global ocean.

NASA says it “may be the most promising place in our solar system to find present-day environments suitable for some form of life beyond Earth”.

Its tidal energy might also cause chemical reactions between water and rock on the seafloor, creating energy.

Future missions include NASA’s upcoming Europa Clipper and the European probe JUICE.

Saturn’s frozen ocean moon Enceladus is also considered a promising contender.

The American Cassini probe, orbiting the planet from 2004 to 2017, discovered the existence of water vapour geysers on Enceladus.

In 2005, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft discovered geysers of icy water particles and gas gushing from the moon’s surface at approximately 800 miles (1,290 kilometers)per hour.

The eruptions generate fine ice dust around Enceladus, which supplies material to Saturn’s ring.

No mission is currently scheduled to Enceladus.

Another of Saturn’s moons Titan—the only moon in the solar system known to have a substantial atmosphere—is also of interest.

The Cassini mission found it has clouds, rain, rivers, lakes and seas, but of liquid hydrocarbons like methane and ethane.

NASA, whose Dragonfly mission will launch in 2026 and arrive in 2034, says Titan could be lifeless or harbour “life as we don’t yet know it”.



© 2021 AFP

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The search for life beyond Earth (2021, February 18)
retrieved 19 February 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-02-life-earth-1.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove D-Wave demonstrates performance advantage in quantum simulation of exotic magnetism

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

D-Wave Systems Inc. today published a milestone study in collaboration with scientists at Google, demonstrating a computational performance advantage, increasing with both simulation size and problem hardness, to over 3 million times that of corresponding classical methods. Notably, this work was achieved on a practical application with real-world implications, simulating the topological phenomena behind the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics. This performance advantage, exhibited in a complex quantum simulation of materials, is a meaningful step in the journey toward applications advantage in quantum computing.

The work by scientists at D-Wave and Google also demonstrates that can be harnessed to provide a computational advantage in D-Wave processors, at problem scale that requires thousands of qubits. Recent experiments performed on multiple D-Wave processors represent by far the largest quantum simulations carried out by existing quantum computers to date.

The paper, entitled “Scaling advantage over path-integral Monte Carlo in quantum simulation of geometrically frustrated magnets,” was published in the journal Nature Communications. D-Wave researchers programmed the D-Wave 2000Q system to model a two-dimensional frustrated quantum magnet using artificial spins. The behavior of the magnet was described by the Nobel-prize winning work of theoretical physicists Vadim Berezinskii, J. Michael Kosterlitz and David Thouless. They predicted a new state of matter in the 1970s characterized by nontrivial topological properties.

This new research is a continuation of previous breakthrough work published by D-Wave’s team in a 2018 Nature paper entitled “Observation of topological phenomena in a programmable lattice of 1,800 qubits.” In this latest paper, researchers from D-Wave, alongside contributors from Google, utilize D-Wave’s lower noise processor to achieve superior performance and glean insights into the dynamics of the processor never observed before.

Credit: D-Wave Systems

“This work is the clearest evidence yet that quantum effects provide a computational advantage in D-Wave processors,” said Dr. Andrew King, principal investigator for this work at D-Wave. “Tying the magnet up into a topological knot and watching it escape has given us the first detailed look at dynamics that are normally too fast to observe. What we see is a huge benefit in absolute terms, with the scaling advantage in temperature and size that we would hope for. This simulation is a real problem that scientists have already attacked using the algorithms we compared against, marking a significant milestone and an important foundation for future development. This wouldn’t have been possible today without D-Wave’s lower noise processor.”

“The search for quantum advantage in computations is becoming increasingly lively because there are special problems where genuine progress is being made. These problems may appear somewhat contrived even to physicists, but in this paper from a collaboration between D-Wave Systems, Google, and Simon Fraser University, it appears that there is an advantage for quantum annealing using a special purpose processor over classical simulations for the more ‘practical’ problem of finding the equilibrium state of a particular quantum magnet,” said Prof. Dr. Gabriel Aeppli, professor of physics at ETH Zürich and EPF Lausanne, and head of the Photon Science Division of the Paul Scherrer Institute. “This comes as a surprise given the belief of many that quantum annealing has no intrinsic advantage over path integral Monte Carlo programs implemented on classical processors.”

“Nascent quantum technologies mature into practical tools only when they leave classical counterparts in the dust in solving real-world problems,” said Hidetoshi Nishimori, Professor, Institute of Innovative Research, Tokyo Institute of Technology. “A key step in this direction has been achieved in this paper by providing clear evidence of a scaling advantage of the quantum annealer over an impregnable classical computing competitor in simulating dynamical properties of a complex material. I send sincere applause to the team.”

“Successfully demonstrating such complex phenomena is, on its own, further proof of the programmability and flexibility of D-Wave’s quantum computer,” said D-Wave CEO Alan Baratz. “But perhaps even more important is the fact that this was not demonstrated on a synthetic or ‘trick’ problem. This was achieved on a real problem in physics against an industry-standard tool for simulation—a demonstration of the practical value of the D-Wave processor. We must always be doing two things: furthering the science and increasing the performance of our systems and technologies to help customers develop applications with real-world business value. This kind of scientific breakthrough from our team is in line with that mission and speaks to the emerging value that it’s possible to derive from today.”

The scientific achievements presented in Nature Communications further underpin D-Wave’s ongoing work with world-class customers to develop over 250 early quantum computing applications, with a number piloting in production applications, in diverse industries such as manufacturing, logistics, pharmaceutical, life sciences, retail and financial services. In September 2020, D-Wave brought its next-generation Advantage quantum system to market via the Leap quantum cloud service. The system includes more than 5,000 qubits and 15-way qubit connectivity, as well as an expanded hybrid solver service capable of running business problems with up to one million variables. The combination of Advantage’s computing power and scale with the hybrid solver service gives businesses the ability to run performant, real-world quantum applications for the first time.



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Citation:
D-Wave demonstrates performance advantage in quantum simulation of exotic magnetism (2021, February 18)
retrieved 19 February 2021
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