Hexbyte Glen Cove A deep dive into organic carbon distribution in hadal trenches thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove A deep dive into organic carbon distribution in hadal trenches

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Hadal trenches are one of the ocean’s most extreme and least studied regions. Hadal zones, which begin at depths of around 6,000 meters, were once thought to be “biological deserts,” but over time they have been shown to be teeming with life. However, the distribution and source of organic carbon in hadal sediments are still not well understood.

In a new study, Xu et al. analyze organic carbon characteristics in from two deep-ocean regions: the Kermadec Trench, which reaches depths of 10,177 meters and is located north of New Zealand where the Pacific plate is subducting beneath the Indo-Australian plate; and the Atacama Trench, which reaches depths of about 8,000 meters and was created where the Nazca plate is subducting beneath the South American plate. The team collected a dozen sediment cores on research cruises carried out by New Zealand’s R/V Tangaroa in 2017 and Germany’s R/V Sonne in 2018. The cores were collected from both within the hadal zones of the trenches and along the nonhadal, abyssal plains of the region.

In each , the researchers analyzed trends for several geochemical parameters, including total organic carbon content, the ratio of total organic carbon to total nitrogen content, and the stable carbon isotopic composition of total organic carbon. They looked at lipid biomarkers to determine how much of the organic carbon in the trenches came from eroded land and how much came from marine sources. In addition, the authors looked at radiocarbon isotopes to determine how long the organic carbon had been in the trenches.

The team found that samples from the Kermadec Trench and the Atacama Trench were 18% and 24% richer, respectively, in terrigenous (or land-based) than nonhadal sites. The significant amounts of terrigenous carbon in both trenches suggest that hadal zones could be important carbon sinks for land-derived .



More information:
Yunping Xu et al, Distribution, Source, and Burial of Sedimentary Organic Carbon in Kermadec and Atacama Trenches, Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences (2021). DOI: 10.1029/2020JG006189

This story is republished courtesy of Eos, hosted by the American Geophysical Union. Read the original story here.

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A deep dive into organic carbon distribution in hadal trenches (2021, May 31)
retrieved 31 May 2021
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Turning tree bark and compost into aircraft wings and plastic bags thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Turning tree bark and compost into aircraft wings and plastic bags

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Biopolymers derived from trees and crops are already used to make car interiors. Credit: Monsterkoi / Pixabay

Trees, crops and even organic waste can be transformed into a bewildering array of plastics to use in products ranging from single-use bags to heavy-duty airplane wings.

These so-called biopolymers could play a vital role in weaning us off petroleum plastics—which will help cut greenhouse gas emissions, and ensure plastics come from a renewable resource.

And in some cases they could help to reduce pollution. One of the major sources of plastic pollution is packaging, which accounted for nearly 40% of the plastic used in the EU in 2019, according to Plastics Europe, a trade association.

Researchers have developed ways to make biodegradable food waste bags and food packaging from municipal food and garden waste.

“You are transforming organic waste to make a waste bag, which is biodegradable. So you are closing the cycle—you don’t use other materials to make the (plastic) bag,” said Thomas Dietrich, an engineer in biotechnology at Spain’s TECNALIA, a research and technological development center.

Dietrich is project manager of a project called VOLATILE, which has developed a technology that can be integrated into existing municipal anaerobic digestion and composting plants. It uses microorganisms to break down into volatile fatty acids, which are the building blocks of the PHB and PHBV plastics used to make plastic bags and food packaging.

The main by-product is a residue which can be used to make compost. Hydrogen gas is another by-product, and it can be used to make electricity.

Biodegradable

Using biowaste to produce could help solve a major challenge caused by the majority of biodegradable plastics currently being used.

“Normally the big (industries) selling (biodegradable plastics) on the market use food-grade agricultural materials,” said Dietrich.

Because of the volumes needed, it will not be possible to use agricultural produce to replace petroleum-based packaging without competing with food crops or biofuels for agricultural land, said Dietrich.

“So we have to try to keep organic carbon in the economy without falling back on agriculture,” he said.

Plastic bags and packaging made with VOLATILE’s technology would end up in household biowaste and in theory could be used once more to produce volatile fatty acids—although this has not yet been tested by the VOLATILE team.

One of the main challenges to this type of system is the lack of composting plants in most regions of the world, including Europe.

Across the EU, up to 50% of municipal solid waste is organic, and only about 40% of biowaste is recycled into high-quality compost and digestate, says the European Compost Network. The majority goes to landfill or for incineration.

However, this is likely to improve. The European Environment Agency says recycling more municipal bio-waste is ‘crucial’ for meeting EU targets to recycle and reuse at least 60% of all waste by weight by 2030.

Composition

Whether plastics are biodegradable or not is due to their chemical composition—not their origins. So petroleum-based plastics can be biodegradable, and plant-based ones can be non-biodegradable.

However, a shift to biopolymers would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced to make the plastics—even if the end product is not biodegradable.

Whether plastics are biodegradable or not is due to their chemical composition – not their origins. So petroleum-based plastics can be biodegradable, and plant-based ones can be non-biodegradable. Credit: Sven Brandsma / Unsplash

“We need to achieve this (shift) in 10, or maximum 15, years because the climate stakes are so high,” said Vincent Placet, a research engineer at the FEMTO-ST Institute in France.

“The quantity of CO2 emitted to produce wood and plants is very low,” said Placet, adding that they also absorb atmospheric CO2 during growth. He coordinates a project called SSUCHY, which is developing load-bearing bio-based composites for use in automotive and aerospace industries.

Biopolymers derived from trees and crops are already used to make car interiors.

Other biopolymers are being developed to be load-bearing. These include thermoset plastics which are designed to last up to 30 years under harsh conditions—in airplane wings and bodies for example.

Some of the most widely used thermoset plastics are epoxies, which are used in composite materials. Composite materials comprise up to 50% of the latest airplanes by weight.

“We have produced a fully bio-based epoxy. Now the main issue is scaling it up,” said Placet.

To scale up, an entire supply chain needs to be created, starting with finding suppliers of the plant materials, he says.

One option is to use waste from forestry—tree bark, branches and roots. “It’s available in very large quantities and not used in any other application. In northern Europe, the feedstock is very large and we know it can answer the needs for this type of epoxy polymer,” said Placet.

Another challenge is how to make the processing greener and more cost competitive than their petrochemical equivalents. Petrochemical epoxies are cheaper to produce and use less power and solvents. However, some of those efficiencies are because they are done on an industrial scale instead of in a laboratory, Placet says.

“It’s doable from a technical point of view,” but more investment is needed to scale up and build the necessary value chains, he added.

1%

Globally, bio-based plastics comprise about 1% of the 368 million tons of plastic produced annually, says European Bioplastics.

Sourcing the remaining 99% from plants ‘is not an option,” says Sander Defruyt, head of the New Plastics Economy, an initiative of the UK-based Ellen MacArthur Foundation to redesign the future of plastics.

“Where is all that biomaterial going to come from, in a way that is regenerative and not depleting our ecosystems? The demands on our ecosystems will just go through the roof, and we’re already crossing planetary boundaries today,” he added.

Even biodegradable plastics will have limited impact on reducing plastic pollution because most of the world’s regions do not have the necessary industrial composting facilities, Defruyt says.

Addressing —and solving our reliance on petroleum-based plastics—requires eliminating all unnecessary plastics, and reusing the plastics that are needed, to keep them out of the environment.

After that, ‘the very little virgin plastic that we still need … will need to be shifted from fossil-based sources to regeneratively sourced bio-based plastics to stop that systems-dependence on finite fossil resources,” said Defruyt.



More information:
Biowaste derived volatile fatty acid platform for biopolymers, bioactive compounds and chemical building blocks cordis.europa.eu/project/id/720777

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Turning tree bark and compost into aircraft wings and plastic bags (2021, May 31)
retrieved 31 May 2021
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Hexbyte Glen Cove New take on machine learning helps us 'scale up' phase transitions thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove New take on machine learning helps us ‘scale up’ phase transitions

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A correlation configuration (top left) is reduced using a newly developed block-cluster transformation (top right). Both the original and reduced configurations have an improved estimator technique applied to give configuration pairs of different size (bottom row). Using these training pairs, a CNN can learn to convert small patterns to large ones, achieving a successful inverse RG transformation. Credit: Tokyo Metropolitan University

Researchers from Tokyo Metropolitan University have enhanced “super-resolution” machine learning techniques to study phase transitions. They identified key features of how large arrays of interacting particles behave at different temperatures by simulating tiny arrays before using a convolutional neural network to generate a good estimate of what a larger array would look like using correlation configurations. The massive saving in computational cost may realize unique ways of understanding how materials behave.

We are surrounded by different states or phases of matter, i.e. gases, liquids, and solids. The study of , how one phase transforms into another, lies at the heart of our understanding of matter in the universe, and remains a hot topic for physicists. In particular, the idea of universality, in which wildly different materials behave in similar ways thanks to a few shared features, is a powerful one. That’s why physicists study model systems, often simple grids of particles on an array that interact via simple rules. These models distill the essence of the common physics shared by materials and, amazingly, still exhibit many of the properties of real materials, like phase transitions. Due to their elegant simplicity, these rules can be encoded into simulations that tell us what materials look like under different conditions.

However, like all simulations, the trouble starts when we want to look at lots of particles at the same time. The computation time required becomes particularly prohibitive near phase transitions, where dynamics slows down, and the correlation length, a measure of how the state of one atom relates to the state of another some distance away, grows larger and larger. This is a real dilemma if we want to apply these findings to the real world: real materials generally always contain many more orders of magnitude of atoms and molecules than simulated matter.

That’s why a team led by Professors Yutaka Okabe and Hiroyuki Mori of Tokyo Metropolitan University, in collaboration with researchers in Shibaura Institute of Technology and Bioinformatics Institute of Singapore, have been studying how to reliably extrapolate smaller simulations to larger ones using a concept known as an inverse renormalization group (RG). The renormalization group is a fundamental concept in the understanding of phase transitions and led Wilson to be awarded the 1982 Nobel Prize in Physics. Recently, the field met a powerful ally in convolutional neural networks (CNN), the same machine learning tool helping computer vision identify objects and decipher handwriting. The idea would be to give an algorithm the state of a small array of particles and get it to estimate what a larger array would look like. There is a strong analogy to the idea of super-resolution images, where blocky, pixelated images are used to generate smoother images at a higher resolution.

Trends found from simulations of larger systems are faithfully reproduced by the trained CNNs for both Ising (left) and three-state Potts (right) models. (inset) Correct temperature rescaling is achieved using data at some arbitrary system size. Credit: Tokyo Metropolitan University

The team has been looking at how this is applied to spin models of matter, where particles interact with other nearby particles via the direction of their spins. Previous attempts have particularly struggled to apply this to systems at temperatures above a phase transition, where configurations tend to look more random. Now, instead of using spin configurations i.e. simple snapshots of which direction the particle spins are pointing, they considered correlation configurations, where each particle is characterized by how similar its own spin is to that of other particles, specifically those which are very far away. It turns out correlation configurations contain more subtle queues about how particles are arranged, particularly at higher temperatures.

Like all machine learning techniques, the key is to be able to generate a reliable training set. The team developed a new algorithm called the block-cluster transformation for correlation configurations to reduce these down to smaller patterns. Applying an improved estimator technique to both the original and reduced patterns, they had pairs of configurations of different size based on the same information. All that’s left is to train the CNN to convert the small patterns to larger ones.

The group considered two systems, the 2D Ising model and the three-state Potts model, both key benchmarks for studies of condensed matter. For both, they found that their CNN could use a simulation of a very small array of points to reproduce how a measure of the correlation g(T) changed across a phase transition point in much larger systems. Comparing with direct simulations of larger systems, the same trends were reproduced for both systems, combined with a simple temperature rescaling based on data at an arbitrary system size.

A successful implementation of inverse RG transformations promises to give scientists a glimpse of previously inaccessible system sizes, and help physicists understand the larger scale features of materials. The team now hopes to apply their method to other models which can map more complex features such as a continuous range of spins, as well as the study of quantum systems.



More information:
Kenta Shiina et al, Inverse renormalization group based on image super-resolution using deep convolutional networks, Scientific Reports (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-88605-w

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New take on machine learning helps us ‘scale up’ phase transitions (2021, May 31)
retrieved 31 May 2021
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Hexbyte Glen Cove California already in throes of drought as summer looms thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove California already in throes of drought as summer looms

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Water levels in the Lake Oroville reservoir, the second largest in California, are already far lower than in past years—a worrying sign of extreme drought.

Summer has not even begun and Lake Oroville, the second-largest reservoir in California that provides drinking water to more than 25 million people, is at less than half of its average capacity at this time of year.

It is a worrying indication of the worsening drought conditions in the northern part of the Golden State.

“When we go into a year like this with the reservoir low and with really dry conditions throughout the state, that is concerning,” John Yarbrough, the assistant deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources, told AFP.

“The reservoir is much lower than we would like to see it, much lower than typical at this time of year. It’s about 47 percent of average,” he said, pointing to the cracked earth forming the wall.

Since May 10, California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency linked to drought in more than 40 counties. Conditions in Butte County, where Lake Oroville is located, are already seen as “extreme,” the highest level.

And the situation—exacerbated by the effects of climate change across the western United States—is not expected to improve before the rains return in five or six months.

Yarbrough said that in 2019, which he called a “good year,” the water level reached the trees on the edge of the dam—meaning it was about 50 meters (165 feet) higher than usual.

Residents of the area told AFP they had never seen like this before.

Many of them recalled how in 2017, they had to evacuate because torrential rains had prompted authorities to fear that the dam would break under the pressure. Not even five years later, the situation has shifted dramatically.

Boat owners in Lake Oroville have been forced to remove their vessels from the water or risk seeing them run aground and suffer damage.

Evaporating snow

Lake Oroville, built in the 1960s at the confluence of three rivers, is the key component of California’s State Water Project, a massive network of reservoirs, aqueducts and pipelines bringing water from the northern part of the state to the south, which has a higher population and a far .

“This lake right here provides drinking water for 27 million Californians,” Yarbrough said, adding that it also irrigates “up to 750,000 acres” (303,000 hectares) of farmland.

On average, Northern California gets two-thirds of the state’s total precipitation, but this year has been particularly bad.

On April 1, which traditionally marks the end of snowfall in the state, snow reserves in the Sierra Nevada mountains—source for about a third of the water used in California—stood at only about 60 percent of the average.

“One unique thing this year is, as that snow melted, the runoff ended up soaking into dry soils and evaporating,” meaning very little runoff ended up in Lake Oroville, Yarbrough explained.

The waters contained by Oroville Dam, the tallest in the United States at 770 feet (235 meters), will not dry up that quickly, but at the end of the so-called dry season the lake is expected to be at its lowest level recorded since September 1977.

Fears of forest fires

After two years with very little precipitation, and with no assurances that upcoming seasons will be any better, restrictions are the next step.

The charred trees that dot the landscape around Lake Oroville are a stark reminder of the increased risk of wildfires as a result of the drought.

The California Department of Water Resources, which runs the State Water Project, has warned that it risks being unable to provide more than five percent of requested supplies this year.

The owners of dozens of boats moored on Lake Oroville were forced this week to put the vessels in dry dock, or risk seeing them run aground and be damaged.

Another serious consequence of the drought: the increased risk of wildfires, which is particularly worrying for authorities in a region that has been repeatedly devastated in recent years by massive forest blazes.

The charred trees that dot the landscape around Lake Oroville are a stark reminder: Last year, more than 6,500 square miles (17,000 square kilometers) went up in flames in California alone, and 33 people were killed, including 15 at Berry Creek, not far from Oroville.

This year, fires have already consumed five times more vegetation than at the same point in time in 2020.

“I think we’re in a long-term trend of drought conditions. And it’s been going on for about six years,” said Butte County fire chief John Messina.

“We’ve had a few wet years in between those years, but overall, we’re much drier than what we’re used to,” he said.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand if you don’t have precipitation, your fuels don’t stay moist—and the drier the fuels are, the more potential there is to have a catastrophic wildfire, or at least an extremely busy summer in California.”



© 2021 AFP

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California already in throes of drought as summer looms (2021, May 30)
retrieved 30 May 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-05-california-throes-drought-summer-looms.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Nearly 400,000 flee DR Congo city over fears volcano could erupt again thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Nearly 400,000 flee DR Congo city over fears volcano could erupt again

Hexbyte Glen Cove

In the shadow of Nyiragongo: A child in the northern outskirts of Goma runs on a bed of solidified lava.

The eastern DR Congo city of Goma was eerily deserted after nearly 400,000 of its inhabitants fled following warnings that nearby Mount Nyiragongo volcano may erupt again.

The authorities geared up for a major humanitarian effort, centred on Sake, around 25 kilometres (15 miles) west of the city, where tens of thousands of people are gathered.

Located on the shore of Lake Kivu in the shadow of Africa’s most , the city has lived in fear since Nyiragongo roared back into life last weekend.

The strato-volcano spewed rivers of lava that claimed nearly three dozen lives and destroyed the homes of some 20,000 people before the eruption stopped.

Scientists have since recorded hundreds of aftershocks.

They warn of a potentially catastrophic scenario—a “limnic eruption” that could smother the area with suffocating carbon dioxide.

A report on an emergency meeting early Friday said 80,000 households—around 400,000 inhabitants—had emptied on Thursday following a “preventative” evacuation order.

Most people have headed for Sake or the Rwandan border in the northeast, while others have fled by boat across Lake Kivu.

Late Friday, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said those fleeing needed “urgent, global support”.

Most people have headed for Sake, around 25 kilometres (15 miles) west of Goma, and for the Rwandan border, in the northeast.

Aid efforts are being organised to provide drinking water, food and other supplies, and workers are helping to reunite children who became separated from their families.

Nearly 10,000 people are taking refuge in Bukavu on the southern bank of Lake Kivu, according to governor Theo Ngwabidje, many of them in host families.

Quieter night

Several days of aftershocks, some of them equivalent to small earthquakes, yielded to a quieter night Thursday, and tremors eased both in numbers and intensity, an AFP journalist said.

But late Friday afternoon black smoke could be seen rising from the crater on the horizon, causing worry.

General Constant Ndima, the military governor of North Kivu province, ordered the evacuation of districts that potentially applies to nearly 400,000 out of Goma’s 600,000 residents, according to an estimate by the UN humanitarian agency OCHA.

The wider Goma area has a population of around two million.

The authorities arranged transport towards Sake, but the roads became choked with cars, trucks, buses and people seeking safety on foot.

Satellite photo of the zone around the Nyiragongo volcano, showing lava flows towards the city of Goma.

Many spent the night in the open or slept in schools or churches.

Evacuee Eugene Kubugoo said the water was giving children diarrhoea, adding: “We don’t have anything to eat or any place to sleep.”

Tens of thousands had fled Goma last Saturday night but many returned when the eruption ended the following day.

‘Limnic’ risk

Friday’s report, issued after experts carried out a risk assessment at the volcano’s summit, said “seismicity and ground deformation continues to indicate the presence of magma under the Goma area, with an extension under Lake Kivu.”

People should remain vigilant and listen to news bulletins, as the situation “may change quickly”, it warned.

Volcanologists say the worst-case scenario is of an eruption under the lake.

This could release hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) that are currently dissolved in the water’s depths.

Volcanologists say the worst-case scenario is of an eruption under the lake.

The gas would rise to the surface of the lake, forming an invisible cloud that would linger at ground level and displace oxygen, asphyxiating life.

In 1986, one of these so-called limnic eruptions killed more than 1,700 people and thousands of cattle at Lake Nyos in western Cameroon.

Empty city

On Friday, almost all of the shops and banks in central Goma were closed, and just a handful of people and some motorcycle taxis were on the usually bustling streets.

In the poorer districts in the north of the city, a handful of stores were open and there were more people, including children who gambolled near a water truck.

“I will stay in the city. I know that I’m in imminent danger but I don’t have a choice,” said Aline Uramahoro, who has a beer store.

“I will leave when the volcano starts spitting.”

Nearly 3,500 metres (11,500 feet) high, Nyiragongo straddles the East African Rift tectonic divide.

Hungry: Displaced people queue for food in Sake, 25 kms from Goma.

Its last major eruption, in 2002, claimed around 100 lives and the deadliest eruption on record killed more than 600 people in 1977.

Herman Paluku, who gave his age as 94, said he had seen them all—and insisted he wouldn’t budge this time.

“There is a small hill near here which means that the lava does not reach us. And that’s what protects us a bit,” he said in Swahili, his hands sweeping the air.

“I can never leave here, in this situation. I can’t.”



© 2021 AFP

Citation:
Nearly 400,000 flee DR Congo city over fears volcano could erupt again (2021, May 29)
retrieved 30 May 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-05-dr-congo-city-volcano-erupt.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Retro milk float brings Londoners zero-plastic groceries thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Retro milk float brings Londoners zero-plastic groceries

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Ella Shone serves a customer from her electric milk float converted into a zero waste shop which brings “packaging-free” shopping to people’s doors.

Ella Shone’s small electric truck used to deliver milk but now she drives it around London, selling groceries and household goods that are free of plastic packaging.

The 32-year-old bought her “top-up truck” last year after the first coronavirus lockdown got her thinking about innovative ways to reduce waste.

She has found plenty of demand for her service, with customers scooping up dry groceries such as lentils or filling bottles from large dispensers of vinegar or washing detergent.

On a rainy day in May, the 32-year-old plied a route to eight stops in the up-and-coming district of Hackney in northeast London.

“It’s very straightforward: it’s a bit like a go-cart ride,” she said of driving the truck, which has a top speed of 30 miles (48 kilometres) per hour.

But she admitted the steering can get “a bit bumpy”.

At one stop, three customers bought dried mango, pasta, raisins and shampoo.

The mobile shop was created to bring “packaging-free” shopping to people’s doors, tapping into a growing demand for deliveries during the stay-at-home restrictions.

“I felt that there was a need to make it easier, to make it more accessible, more visible,” she said.

Nevertheless, she wasn’t immediately sure her idea was viable.

The electric vehicles were once commonly used by milkmen and women to deliver pint bottles of fresh milk on household doorsteps.

“When I started this, I thought I’d gone a bit mad on furlough leave”, she admitted.

During lockdown, Shone was on government-subsidised leave from her job in sales at a company producing sustainable condiments.

She decided to buy the truck with the money she saved during lockdown, wanting to offer a “community shopping experience”.

The truck deliveries launched in August last year and customers can book a stop online.

The electric vehicles—known commonly as milk floats—were once commonly used by milkmen and women to deliver pint bottles of fresh milk on household doorsteps.

Customers returned them for reuse and Shone says her truck prompts a “nostalgic” reaction.

But she is responding to very current concerns over , which disintegrates over time, creating ubiquitous microplastic pollution.

Activism targeting governments and corporations can help, she said, but added: “I think there’s a lot that needs to be done at consumer level.”

Ella Shone says her truck prompts a “nostalgic” reaction.

Pandemic ‘awakening’

The UK is the world’s second biggest producer of waste per person behind the United States, according to Greenpeace.

A study published in January by Greenpeace and the Environmental Investigation Agency found that the 10 largest supermarket chains in the UK reduced their use of plastic by just 1.6 percent in 2019, despite promises of change.

Shone is nevertheless optimistic about people’s motivation to cut down on wasteful packaging.

“During the pandemic, there has been a bit of a step back towards single-use (plastic) just because people are fearful of reusing something that might entail passing on COVID-19,” she said.

“But against that tide, I think there has been a bit of an awakening in terms of our responsibility towards the environment.”

In April, she raised £15,000 ($21,000) through a crowd-funding campaign, which allowed her to add more shelves to her float. She has also left her previous job.

Ultimately, Shone would like to see a ban on plastic packaging.

“There are so many areas where plastic is completely unnecessary and the government is not putting regulations on what corporations are allowed to do,” she said.

“And the recycling infrastructure is quite terrible as well.”



© 2021 AFP

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Retro milk float brings Londoners zero-plastic groceries (2021, May 29)
retrieved 30 May 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-05-retro-londoners-zero-plastic-groceries.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Curiosity rover captures shining clouds on Mars thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Curiosity rover captures shining clouds on Mars

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Curiosity Spots Iridescent (Mother of Pearl) Clouds. Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Cloudy days are rare in the thin, dry atmosphere of Mars. Clouds are typically found at the planet’s equator in the coldest time of year, when Mars is the farthest from the Sun in its oval-shaped orbit. But one full Martian year ago—two Earth years—scientists noticed clouds forming over NASA’s Curiosity rover earlier than expected.

This year, they were ready to start documenting these “early” from the moment they first appeared in late January. What resulted are images of wispy puffs filled with that scattered light from the setting Sun, some of them shimmering with color. More than just spectacular displays, such images help scientists understand how clouds form on Mars and why these recent ones are different.

In fact, Curiosity’s team has already made one new discovery: The early-arrival clouds are actually at higher altitudes than is typical. Most Martian clouds hover no more than about 37 miles (60 kilometers) in the sky and are composed of water ice. But the clouds Curiosity has imaged are at a , where it’s very cold, indicating that they are likely made of frozen carbon dioxide, or dry ice. Scientists look for subtle clues to establish a cloud’s altitude, and it will take more analysis to say for sure which of Curiosity’s recent images show water-ice clouds and which show dry-ice ones.

Curiosity Shows Drifting Clouds Over Mount Sharp. Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The fine, rippling structures of these clouds are easier to see with images from Curiosity’s black-and-white navigation cameras. But it’s the color images from the rover’s Mast Camera, or Mastcam, that really shine—literally. Viewed just after sunset, their ice crystals catch the fading light, causing them to appear to glow against the darkening sky. These twilight clouds, also known as “noctilucent” (Latin for “night shining”) clouds, grow brighter as they fill with crystals, then darken after the Sun’s position in the sky drops below their altitude. This is just one useful clue scientists use to determine how high they are.







Curiosity Navigation Cameras Spot Twilight Clouds on Sol 3072. Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech

Even more stunning are iridescent, or “mother of pearl” clouds. “If you see a cloud with a shimmery pastel set of colors in it, that’s because the cloud particles are all nearly identical in size,” said Mark Lemmon, an atmospheric scientist with the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “That’s usually happening just after the clouds have formed and have all grown at the same rate.”

These clouds are among the more colorful things on the Red Planet, he added. If you were skygazing next to Curiosity, you could see the colors with the , although they’d be faint.

“I always marvel at the colors that show up: reds and greens and blues and purples,” Lemmon said. “It’s really cool to see something shining with lots of color on Mars.”



Citation:
Curiosity rover captures shining clouds on Mars (2021, May 28)
retrieved 29 May 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-05-curiosity-rover-captures-clouds-mars.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Russian rocket launches UK telecom satellites after delay thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Russian rocket launches UK telecom satellites after delay

Hexbyte Glen Cove

A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying 36 UK telecommunication and internet satellites blasted off from the Vostochny cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East on Friday, the space agency said.

During the , which was carried out by Arianespace, the world’s leading satellite launch company, the Soyuz rocket took off at 1738 GMT.

“The launch went according to plan,” Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Roscosmos , said on messaging app Telegram.

The launch was originally scheduled for Thursday but was postponed for technical reasons.

OneWeb, a London-headquartered company, is working to complete the construction of a constellation of low earth orbit satellites providing enhanced broadband and other services to countries around the world.

The company is competing against billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in the race to provide fast internet via satellites for the world’s .

The UK company plans for its global commercial internet service to be operational by next year, supported by some 650 satellites.

Earlier launches of 36 satellites each took place in April and March.

“The satellites arrive pre-assembled from Florida in containers. Our team takes them over in Russia and accompanies them from their arrival at the airport until the launch,” Arianespace launch campaign manager, Jean-Claude Garreau, told AFP.

The satellites are then launched in clusters of 36 and they separate into groups of four when in orbit, he added.

Arianespace, which has worked with Russia for close to two decades, is contracted to make 16 Soyuz launches between December 2020 and the end of 2022.

The Vostochny launch site is one of Russia’s most important space projects, designed to reduce reliance on the Baikonur cosmodrome Moscow currently rents from Kazakhstan.

The project has been consistently behind schedule, with its construction marred for years by multiple controversies including corruption.



© 2021 AFP

Citation:
Russian rocket launches UK telecom satellites after delay (2021, May 28)
retrieved 29 May 202

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Go vegan to save planet? UK show looks at eco cost of meat thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Go vegan to save planet? UK show looks at eco cost of meat

Hexbyte Glen Cove

A new exhibition in Britain throws the spotlight on the environmental impact of eating meat.

Science and art collide in a new British exhibition which opened on Friday and hopes to raise awareness about the environmental impact of eating meat, while promising a guilt-free look at the “difficult problem”.

“Globally we eat too much , and we need to reduce it,” said Kelly Richards, exhibition officer at Oxford University’s Natural History Museum.

“It’s a very nuanced, very difficult kind of problem to unpick,” she told AFP.

Rather than imposing dogma, she hopes the “Meat The Future” exhibition will “give people the information that allows them to make up their own mind about the kind of future that they want”.

The show uses interactive installations, a virtual supermarket, fake shelves and works from artists including Damien Hirst to highlight the environmental costs of meat consumption, which has tripled worldwide in 50 years.

Visitors are met at the entrance by piles of fake burgers on a gingham tablecloth, each pile representing the average daily amount of meat eaten in different countries.

Britons eat on average 223 grams of meat per day, a figure that is “a lot more than the “, and is “much above the recommended amounts”, said John Lynch, a physicist specialising in the of agriculture.

Highlighting the urgency of cutting emissions in order to meet global targets for limiting warming, he said: “We probably need to do as much as possible on agriculture.”

The sector’s emissions, he estimated, would be halved if everyone became “flexitarian”—where people still eat meat, but only rarely.

Environmental score

Which type of meat is most polluting and in what way? What are the health risks and benefits of eating meat?

These are the questions that 10 University of Oxford researchers have tried to answer in a mathematical but playful attempt to nudge visitors towards a more responsible diet.

The show examines how supermarkets and restaurants “can influence our choices… and we talk about the kind of tools that we can use to fight back a little bit,” said Richards, in front of fake refrigerated shelves filled with ready meals.

Visitors can also take a virtual shopping trip, with 10,000 products on offer that all come with a score evaluating their ecological impact.

The “environmental score” takes into account water pollution, impact on biodiversity and the CO2 emissions produced in its manufacture.

“If you go into a supermarket, you often don’t see that information,” Lynch said.

“So one of the parts of the research project is looking at different labelling schemes, so you might have a environmental score or a ranking… for your food product.”

The museum incorporates the ideas in its cafe where red and processed meats are off the menu, which boasts around 50 percent vegan dishes.

Insects for dinner

The exhibition also examines the advantages and disadvantages of meat substitutes.

Under the microscope are vegetable alternatives, such as soy steaks, tempeh and tofu, as well as grilled worm aperitifs and cricket flour.

While insects are not generally to European tastes, “I think we will see more insect consumption as it becomes more available and people have more awareness of it,” predicted Lynch, praising their environmental credentials and nutrition.

Vegetable alternatives are often criticised for their own environmental cost, but “even though some of them do require more processing, for most of the alternatives out there, they’re still much more efficient than actually eating the meat,” Lynch added.

An even more radical solution is to eat meat created in a laboratory from animal cells.

The emerging technology, which researchers have been working on for 10 years, was road-tested for the first time in a Singapore restaurant in January.

It would be expected to drastically reduce CO2 emissions, but “we still need data to confirm it”, said Lynch, who pointed to the energy consumption of the labs.

But convincing the public to switch to test-tube meat could be a tough task.

“Some people are probably just not going to be interested,” said Lynch.

Instead, he suggested that “if some people go vegan and some people just reduce their meat… , we’re still going to hopefully keep to the kind of sustainable limits of the planet.”



© 2021 AFP

Citation:
Go vegan to save planet? UK show looks at eco cost of meat (2021, May 28)

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Scientists unravel noise-assisted signal amplification in systems with memory thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Scientists unravel noise-assisted signal amplification in systems with memory

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Two mirrors with a drop of oil in between form a non-linear optical cavity, in which stochastic resonance was observed. By modulating the position on one of the mirrors, the laser light (approaching from the left) is turned into a signal (right). An optimum amount of noise amplifies this signal when the conditions of stochastic resonance have been met. Credit: Henk-Jan Boluijt (AMOLF)

Signals can be amplified by an optimum amount of noise, but stochastic resonance is a fragile phenomenon. Researchers at AMOLF were the first to investigate the role of memory for this phenomenon in an oil-filled optical microcavity. The effects of slow non-linearity (i.e. memory) on stochastic resonance were never considered before, but these experiments suggest that stochastic resonance becomes robust to variations in the signal frequency when systems have memory. This has implications in many fields of physics and energy technology. In particular, the scientists numerically show that introducing slow nonlinearity in a mechanical oscillator harvesting energy from noise can increase its efficiency tenfold. They have published their findings in Physical Review Letters on May 27th.

It is not easy to concentrate on a difficult task when two people are having a loud discussion right next to you. However, complete silence is often not the best alternative. Whether it is some soft music, remote traffic or the hum of people chatting in the distance, for many people, an optimum amount of noise enables them to concentrate better. “This is the human equivalent of stochastic ,” says AMOLF group leader Said Rodriguez. “In our scientific labs, stochastic resonance happens in nonlinear systems that are bistable. This means that, for a given input, the output can switch between two possible values. When the input is a periodic signal, the response of a non-linear system can be amplified by an optimum amount of noise using the stochastic resonance condition.”

Ice ages

In the 1980s, stochastic resonance was proposed as an explanation for the recurrence of ice ages. Since then, it has been observed in many natural and technological systems, but this widespread observation poses a puzzle to scientists, Rodriguez says. “Theory suggests that stochastic resonance can only occur at a very specific . However, many noise-embracing systems exist in environments where signal frequencies fluctuate. For example, it has been shown that certain fish prey on plankton by detecting a signal they emit, and that an optimum amount of noise enhances the fish’s ability to detect that signal through the phenomenon of stochastic resonance. But how can this effect survive fluctuations in the signal frequency occurring in such complex environments?”

Memory effects

Rodriguez and his Ph.D. student Kevin Peters, the first author of the paper, were the first to demonstrate that effects must be taken into account to solve this puzzle. “The theory of stochastic resonance assumes that respond instantaneously to an input signal. However, in reality, most systems respond to their environment with a certain delay and their response depends on all that happened before,” he says. Such memory effects are difficult to describe theoretically and to control experimentally, but the Interacting Photons group at AMOLF has now managed both.

Rodriguez says, “We have added a controlled amount of noise to a beam of laser light and have shined it on a tiny cavity filled with oil, which is a non-linear system. The light causes the temperature of the oil to rise, and its optical properties to change, but not immediately. It takes about 10 microseconds; thus, the system is non-instantaneous, as well. In our experiments, we have shown for the first time that stochastic resonance can occur over a broad range of signal frequencies when memory effects are present.”

Energy harvesting

Having thus shown that the widespread occurrence of may be due to yet unnoticed memory dynamics, the researchers hope that their results will inspire colleagues in several other fields of science to search for memory effects in in their own systems. To extend the impact of their findings, Rodriguez and his team have theoretically investigated the effects of non-instantaneous response on mechanical systems for energy harvesting. “Small piezo-electric devices that harvest energy from vibrations are useful when battery replacement is difficult, for example in pacemakers or other biomedical devices,” he explains. “We have found a tenfold increase in the amount of energy that could be harvested from environmental vibrations, if memory effects would have been incorporated.”

The obvious next step for the group is to expand their system with several connected oil-filled cavities and investigate collective behavior emerging from noise. Rodriguez does not fear stepping outside his scientific comfort zone. He says: “It would be great if we could team up with researchers that have expertise in mechanical oscillators. If we can implement our memory effects in those systems, the impact on will be enormous.”



More information:
K. J. H. Peters, Z. Geng, K. Malmir, J. M. Smith and S. R. K. Rodriguez, Extremely Broadband Stochastic Resonance of Light and Enhanced Energy Harvesting 3 Enabled by Memory Effects in the Nonlinear Response, Physical Review Letters, 126, 213901 (2021). dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.126.213901

Citation:
Scientists unravel noise-assisted signal amplification in systems with memory (2021, May 27)
retrieved 28 May 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-05-scientists-unravel-noise-assisted-amplification-memory.html

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