Hexbyte Glen Cove Engineers examine urban cooling strategies using reflective surfaces thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Engineers examine urban cooling strategies using reflective surfaces

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

If you’ve ever been in a city’s central core in the middle of summer, you know the heat can be brutal—and much hotter than in the surrounding region.

Temperatures in cities tend to be several degrees warmer than in its , a phenomenon called the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. Many cities have been observed to be 2-4ºC warmer than the countryside in virtually every inhabited continent. This phenomenon occurs because , especially pavements, absorbs a lot of heat as compared to natural vegetated surfaces. This heat pollution causes higher air conditioning and water costs, while also posing a public health hazard.

One mitigation strategy called gray infrastructure involves the modification of impermeable surfaces (walls, roofs, and pavements) to counter their conventional heating effect. Typical urban surfaces have a solar reflectance (albedo) of 0.20, which means they reflect just 20 percent of sunlight and absorb as much as 80 percent. By contrast, reflective concrete and coatings can be designed to reflect 30-50 percent or more. Cities like Los Angeles have already used reflective coatings on major streets to combat heat pollution, although the solution can be expensive to implement -wide.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering used a Computational Fluid Dynamics model to find ways to decrease cost and increase usage of cooler surfaces. The paper, published in the journal Nature Communications, examined the possibility of applying cooler surfaces to just half the surfaces in a city.

“This could be an effective solution if the surfaces selected were upstream of the dominant wind direction,” said lead author Sushobhan Sen, postdoctoral associate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “A ‘barrier’ of cool surfaces preemptively cools the warm air, which then cools the rest of the city at a fraction of the cost. On the other hand, if the surfaces are not strategically selected, their effectiveness can decline substantially.”

This research gives and civil engineers an additional way to build resilient and sustainable infrastructure using .

“It’s important for the health of the planet and its people that we find a way to mitigate the heat produced by urban infrastructure,” said coauthor Lev Khazanovich, the department’s Anthony Gill Chair Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “Strategically placed reflective surfaces could maximize the mitigation of heat pollution while using minimal resources.”

The paper, titled “Limited application of reflective surfaces can mitigate urban heat pollution,” was coauthored by Sen and Khazanovich.



More information:
Sushobhan Sen et al, Limited application of reflective surfaces can mitigate urban heat pollution, Nature Communications (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-23634-7

Citation:
Engineers examine urban cooling strategies using reflective surfaces (2021, June 22)
retrieved 22 June 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-06-urban-cooling-strategies-surfaces.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Proliferation of electric vehicles based on high-performance, low-cost sodium-ion battery thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Proliferation of electric vehicles based on high-performance, low-cost sodium-ion battery

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Graphical abstract. Credit: Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST)

Various automobile companies are preparing to shift from internal combustion (IC) engine vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs). However, due to higher cost, EVs are not as easily accessible to consumers; hence, several governments are subsidizing EVs to promote sales. For EV costs to compete with those of IC engine vehicles, their batteries, which account for about 30% of their cost, must be more economical than IC-based vehicles.

The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) has announced that Dr. Sang-Ok Kim’s team at the Center for Energy Storage Research had developed a novel, high-performance, economical anode material for use in sodium-ion secondary batteries, which are more cost-effective than . This novel material can store 1.5 times more electricity than the graphite anode used in commercial lithium-ion batteries and its performance does not degrade even after 200 cycles at very fast charging/discharging rates of 10 A/g.

Sodium is over 500 times more abundant in the Earth’s crust than lithium; hence, sodium-ion batteries have drawn considerable attention as the next-generation secondary battery because it is 40% cheaper than lithium-ion batteries. However, compared to lithium ions, sodium ions are larger and, thus, cannot be stored as stably in graphite and silicon, which are widely used as anodes in such batteries. Hence, the development of a novel, high-capacity anode material is necessitated.

The KIST research team used molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), a metal sulfide that has garnered interest as a candidate for large-capacity anode materials. MoS2 can store a large amount of electricity, but cannot be used because of its high electrical resistance and structural instability that occur during battery operation. However, Dr. Sang-Ok Kim’s team overcame this problem by creating a ceramic nano-coating layer using silicone oil, which is a low-cost, eco-friendly material. Through the simple process of mixing the MoS2 precursor with silicone oil and heat-treating the mixture, they could produce a stable heterostructure with low resistance and enhanced stability.

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Hexbyte Glen Cove New cause found for intensification of oyster disease thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove New cause found for intensification of oyster disease

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Panel A shows the original form of the Dermo parasite Perkinsus marinus, with black arrows indicating typical Dermo cells and the white arrow a dividing form, all infecting connective tissues deep inside an oyster. Panel B shows the new form of the parasite, much smaller, with the arrow indicating a mass of dozens of Dermo cells inside a single oyster blood cell, and primarily infecting the lining of the stomach and gut. Credit: R. Carnegie/VIMS.

A new paper in Scientific Reports led by researchers at William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science challenges increased salinity and seawater temperatures as the established explanation for a decades-long increase in the prevalence and deadliness of a major oyster disease in the coastal waters of the mid-Atlantic.

Dr. Ryan Carnegie, the paper’s lead author, says “We present an entirely new lens through which we can view our last 35 years of history in the Chesapeake Bay region. We now know the great intensification of Dermo disease in the 1980s wasn’t simply due to drought. It was more fundamentally due to the emergence of a new and highly virulent form of Perkinsus marinus, the parasite that causes Dermo.”

In an unusual twist, the team’s evidence suggests that transformation of this native parasite was in response to evolutionary pressures brought by the impacts of another, non-native oyster parasite known as MSX, first seen in Bay waters in 1959. Dermo’s mid-80s rise in virulence, along with decades of overharvesting, habitat destruction, and the earlier devastation of MSX, brought the Bay’s traditional oyster fishery to a historic low.

Carnegie says his team’s findings can help better manage the Bay’s modern oyster industry, which is now on the upswing due to disease-resistant aquaculture strains, reef restoration, and limits on the wild harvest. “The lesson,” he says, “is that pathogens like P. marinus are highly dynamic, and our disease surveillance must be attentive to any changes that may occur. This includes the emergence of more virulent strains, or variants that may have different forms or life histories than we expect. Management should be continually tuned to any changes in disease dynamics.”

The team’s findings also give scientists and fishery managers a better understanding of the “rock-bottom” era for Bay oysters between the late 1980s and early 2000s. “The oysters reached this level of devastation not because they were unable to deal with Dermo after decades, if not centuries or millennia, of exposure,” says Carnegie. “They hit rock bottom because they were challenged with a brand-new form of the parasite, and needed time to adapt. And now they are adapting, which is key to the oyster’s recent recovery in the region.”

Along with Carnegie, the paper’s other authors are the late Susan Ford of Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory at Rutgers University; Peter Kingsley-Smith of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; and Rita Crockett, Lydia Bienlien, Lúcia Safi, Laura Whitefleet-Smith, and Eugene Burreson of VIMS. Funding for the study comes from the VIMS Foundation A. Marshall Acuff, Sr., Memorial Endowment for Oyster Disease Research.

The sharp transition from the original form of Dermo (light blue) to contemporary (dark blue) in Chesapeake Bay (A), South Carolina (B), and New Jersey (C). Weighted prevalence in the Virginia panel is a conventional measure of Dermo disease in oyster populations, and shows that the change in Dermo’s form in Virginia coincided with the increase in Dermo prevalence within Bay oysters. Credit: © R. Carnegie/VIMS.

Evidence for a more virulent Dermo parasite

Dermo disease results when the eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica is infected by the protozoan parasite Perkinsus marinus. Infected oysters grow more slowly, exhibit poorer body condition, and reproduce less successfully than their healthy counterparts. Severe infections lead to oyster death and release of into the surrounding water, potentially infecting other nearby oysters as they filter water for food. The disease does not affect people who eat the shellfish.

Native to the Gulf Coast, Dermo was first recorded in the Chesapeake Bay in 1949, though it had likely been there far longer. Prior to the 1980s, it typically occurred as a chronic disease that killed about 30% of oysters annually, mostly older animals that had been exposed to the parasite for several years. But, says Carnegie, “around 1986, Dermo suddenly became an acute and profoundly destructive disease capable of killing more than 70% of host oysters within months of infection.” The increased virulence of the Perkinsus parasite persists today.

Because the parasite’s infectiousness is known to increase with higher salinity, scientists initially attributed the mid-1980s spike in Dermo’s virulence to a multi-year drought that had struck the mid-Atlantic around that time, raising coastal salinities as freshwater input from rivers decreased. Increasing seawater temperatures also promote increased Dermo disease, and ocean warming has been blamed for the northward increase in Dermo’s range since the 1980s. As time passed, however, Carnegie and other researchers began to realize that salinity and temperature alone did not fully explain the lasting increase in Dermo infections and associated oyster mortality along the East Coast.

“We began to ask why more protracted and intense droughts in earlier years, before the 1980s, hadn’t produced a similar intensification of disease,” says Carnegie, “and why subsequent wet periods didn’t return the parasite to the low levels of infection characteristic of earlier years.”

Motivated by these questions, Carnegie and colleagues compared samples from modern Bay oysters with samples taken in 1960 and stored at VIMS, using paper-thin tissue slices glued onto slides for viewing under a microscope. Finding striking and unexpected differences, they then took a comprehensive look at more than 8,000 tissue samples collected from oysters in Chesapeake Bay, South Carolina, and New Jersey between 1960 and 2018.

“Our analysis,” says Carnegie, “clearly showed that a new parasite variant emerged between 1983 and 1990, concurrent with the historical mid-80s outbreaks of Dermo.” Changes included a shift in the infection site—from deeper connective tissues to the lining of the digestive tract—changes in reproductive strategy, and a sharp decrease in cell size. In Chesapeake Bay, they found the most pronounced change between oysters sampled in 1985 and 1986, when the modern variant increased in frequency from 22% to 99% of observations.

Dr. Ryan Carnegie (L) of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and postdoctoral research associate Lúcia Safi collect oysters from the waters of the Chesapeake Bay as part of their long-term study of Dermo disease. Credit: © P. Richardson/VIMS.

“The picture that emerges,” says Carnegie, “is the rise of a virulent new form of the Dermo parasite Perkinsus along the mid-Atlantic coast in the mid-80s, which dispersed from there and supplanted a form that previously had been widely distributed in Atlantic estuaries. While changes in pathogen virulence have been documented in other systems, the scope of changes we’ve seen, and their rapid spread across a wide area, is unusual.”

“Our work underscores the importance of long-term environmental monitoring,” he adds. “Without that, and the maintenance of associated natural history collections, this new perspective wouldn’t have been possible.”

Evolutionary pressures

The type of changes observed in the Dermo parasite suggest they represent a novel but predictable response to the devastating impacts of MSX, the disease caused by the non-native parasite Haplosporidium nelsoni, which was first reported in Bay waters in 1959. MSX killed more than 90% of Virginia’s farmed oysters by 1961, and slashed the harvest of planted oysters from 3,347,170 bushels in 1959 to 361,792 bushels by 1983, an estimated loss of 1.8 billion animals. This decrease was likely compounded by simultaneous losses from wild populations.

A parasite that quickly kills its host effectively destroys its own home. Over evolutionary time scales, natural selection thus often leads to an equilibrium between a native parasite and its host, marked by the type of minor, long-term Perkinsus infections and low rates of Dermo mortality historically observed in Chesapeake Bay oysters.

But when a new parasite arrives on the scene, that evolutionary balance may shift. Carnegie and his team speculate that the devastating arrival of the non-native, MSX parasite in Bay waters drastically disrupted the long-established equilibrium between Dermo and Crassostrea, directly leading to the new, more virulent form of the disease.

“A huge reduction in oyster abundance—like that caused by the arrival of MSX—would severely impact a parasite such as P. marinus that depends entirely on a single host,” says Carnegie. As evidence, he notes that Perkinsus declined sharply in abundance beginning in 1959; recent theoretical modeling underscores the possibility that an increase in parasite virulence could be a consequence of such reduction in host resources.

“The changes we saw in the Dermo parasite are likely adaptive with regard to the reduced oyster abundance and longevity it faced after rapid establishment of Haplosporidium nelsoni and MSX in 1959,” says Carnegie. “Our findings, we hypothesize, illustrate a novel ecosystem response to a marine parasite invasion: an increase in virulence in a native parasite.” An intriguing possibility is that the changes the researchers observed may represent a shortening of the Perkinsus life cycle, as it adapted to oysters with shorter life spans due to mortality from MSX.



More information:
Ryan B. Carnegie et al, A rapid phenotype change in the pathogen Perkinsus marinus was associated with a historically significant marine disease emergence in the eastern oyster, Scientific Reports (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-92379-6

Citation:
New cause found for intensification of oyster disease (2021, June 18)
retrieved 21 June 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-06-intensification-oyster-disease.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

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Hexbyte Glen Cove The 27.5-million-year cycle of geological activity thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove The 27.5-million-year cycle of geological activity

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: New York University

Geologic activity on Earth appears to follow a 27.5-million-year cycle, giving the planet a ‘pulse,’ according to a new study published in the journal Geoscience Frontiers.

“Many geologists believe that geological events are random over time. But our study provides statistical evidence for a common , suggesting that these geologic events are correlated and not random,” said Michael Rampino, a geologist and professor in New York University’s Department of Biology, as well as the study’s lead author.

Over the past five decades, researchers have proposed cycles of major geological events—including and mass extinctions on land and sea—ranging from roughly 26 to 36 million years. But early work on these correlations in the was hampered by limitations in the age-dating of geologic events, which prevented scientists from conducting quantitative investigations.

However, there have been significant improvements in radio-isotopic dating techniques and changes in the geologic timescale, leading to new data on the timing of past events. Using the latest age-dating data available, Rampino and his colleagues compiled updated records of major geological events over the last 260 million years and conducted new analyses.

The team analyzed the ages of 89 well-dated major geological events of the last 260 million years. These events include marine and land extinctions, major volcanic outpourings of lava called flood-basalt eruptions, events when oceans were depleted of oxygen, sea-level fluctuations, and changes or reorganization in the Earth’s tectonic plates.

They found that these global geologic events are generally clustered at 10 different timepoints over the 260 million years, grouped in peaks or pulses of roughly 27.5 million years apart. The most recent cluster of was approximately 7 million years ago, suggesting that the next of major geological activity is more than 20 million years in the future.

The researchers posit that these pulses may be a function of cycles of activity in the Earth’s interior—geophysical processes related to the dynamics of plate tectonics and climate. However, similar cycles in the Earth’s orbit in space might also be pacing these events.

“Whatever the origins of these cyclical episodes, our findings support the case for a largely periodic, coordinated, and intermittently catastrophic geologic record, which is a departure from the views held by many geologists,” explained Rampino.



More information:
Michael R. Rampino et al, A pulse of the Earth: A 27.5-Myr underlying cycle in coordinated geological events over the last 260 Myr, Geoscience Frontiers (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.gsf.2021.101245

Citation:
The 27.5-million-year cycle of geological activity (2021, June 18)
retrieved 21 June 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-06-million-year-geological.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fa

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Storm expected to be another blow to Gulf Coast businesses thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Storm expected to be another blow to Gulf Coast businesses

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This GOES-16 GeoColor satellite image taken Friday, June 18, 2021, at 11 a.m. EDT, and provided by NOAA, shows a tropical weather system in the Gulf of Mexico. Officials ordered a floodgate and locks system closed in southeast Louisiana and readied sandbags in Mississippi and Alabama as a broad, disorganized tropical weather system began spinning bands of rain and brisk wind across the northern Gulf of Mexico coast Friday. Credit: NOAA via AP

A weekend that was supposed to be filled with celebrations of Juneteenth and Father’s Day has turned dreary in coastal Louisiana and Mississippi, where an unpredictable tropical weather system has brought wind, heavy rain and fears of flooding to a region where some have sandbags still left over from last year’s record-breaking hurricane season.

With virus restrictions loosened and summer near, across the Gulf Coast—everyone from restaurateurs to swamp boat operators—had been anticipating an influx of tourist cash after a year of lost revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic and relentless storms. But those hopes have been dimmed by the storm.

“My biggest concern is that it drives away a busy weekend, and may just end up being a lot of rain,” said Austin Sumrall, the owner and chef at the White Pillars Restaurant and Lounge in Biloxi, Mississippi. He had 170 reservations on his books for Sunday, but was concerned some patrons would cancel. “We saw, especially last year, the rug can get jerked out from under you pretty quickly,” he said.

The storm churning northward in the Gulf of Mexico was expected to move inland early Saturday. It’s likely to dump anywhere from 5 inches (13 centimeters) to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain along parts of the Gulf Coast—even 15 inches (38 centimeters) in isolated areas, according to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center.

A worker moves water tricycles off the beach in Biloxi, Miss., as a tropical system approaches on Friday, June 18, 2021. Forecasters predict a tropical system will bring heavy rain, storm surge and coastal flooding to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The poorly organized disturbance was located Friday morning about 255 miles south of Morgan City, Louisiana. Credit: Margaret Baker/The Sun Herald via AP

A tropical storm warning extended from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Okaloosa-Walton County line in the Florida Panhandle. Coastal surge flooding was possible and flash flood watches extended along the coast from southeast Louisiana into the Florida Panhandle and well inland into Mississippi, Alabama and into parts of central and northern Georgia.

Louisiana swamp tour boat captain Darrin Coulon spent Friday securing boats to docks, having already canceled popular weekend tours.

“I’m sure the area’s going to have some flooding,” Coulon lamented.

Dealing with is nothing new for Coulon, who said he jokingly tells people he’s from the “cone of uncertainty,” referring to a term that forecasters use.

In Louisiana, the threat came a month after spring storms and flooding that were blamed for five deaths, and as parts of the state continued a slow recovery from a brutal 2020 . That included Tropical Storm Cristobal that opened the season last June, hurricanes Laura and Delta that devastated southwest Louisiana, and Hurricane Zeta that downed trees and knocked out power for days in New Orleans in October.

Residents in low-lying areas of Hancock County move their vehicles, lawn mowers, ATVs and boats to higher ground in Waveland, Miss., as a tropical system approaches Friday, June 18, 2021. Forecasters predict a tropical system will bring heavy rain, storm surge and coastal flooding to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The poorly organized disturbance was located Friday morning about 255 miles south of Morgan City, Louisiana. Credit: Justin Mitchell/The Sun Herald via AP

The latest storm, moving north toward Louisiana, carried tropical storm-force sustained winds of 45 mph (72 kph) but forecasters said it couldn’t be classified as a tropical storm because it lacked a single, well-defined center.

“I hope it just gets in and gets out,” said Greg Paddie, manager of Tacky Jack’s, a restaurant at Alabama’s Orange Beach.

Paddie said the restaurant still has sandbags left over from its preparations for last year’s Hurricane Sally. That September storm, blamed for two deaths, threw ships onto dry land and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people in Alabama and in the Florida Panhandle.

Disappointment was evident in the voice of Seneca Hampton, an organizer of the Juneteenth Freedom Festival in Gautier, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He spent weeks arranging food trucks, vendors, a bounce house, face painting and free hamburgers and hot dogs for the event. It was highly anticipated because last year’s was canceled due to the pandemic and because of Juneteenth’s new designation as a federal holiday.

  • Clouds from Tropical Storm Claudette form on Highway 90 Beaches in Pass Christian, Miss., Friday, June 18, 2021. City of Pass Christian has declared state of emergency for potential severe weather. Credit: Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP
  • A man takes a photo of waves crashing into what once was a dock for a ferry that transported people from Bay St. Louis to Pass Christian, Miss., as a tropical system moves toward the Mississippi Coast on Friday, June 18, 2021. Forecasters predict a tropical system will bring heavy rain, storm surge and coastal flooding to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The poorly organized disturbance was located Friday morning about 255 miles south of Morgan City, Louisiana. Credit: Justin Mitchell/The Sun Herald via AP
  • National Hurricane Center director Ken Graham, left, speaks during a news conference along with Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.,Tuesday, June 1, 2021, at the center in Miami. Tuesday marks the start of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season which runs to Nov. 30. Credit: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
  • Senator Rick Scott, R-Fla., right, speaks during a news conference after having toured the National Hurricane Center with director Ken Graham, left, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, at the center in Miami. Tuesday marks the start of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season which runs to Nov. 30. Credit: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
  • Senator Rick Scott, R-Fla., speaks during a news conference after having toured the National Hurricane Center, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, in Miami. Tuesday marks the start of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season which runs to Nov. 30. Credit: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

“It’s something that means a lot to people, and there were people that were bummed out, like ‘I already had in my mind I was coming out there to celebrate,'” said Hampton.

The Gautier event was postponed until next month. A Juneteenth event in Selma, Alabama, was postponed until August.

By Friday evening, storm clusters were dumping rain up to 4 inches (10 centimeters) an hour along parts of the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts, said Benjamin Schott, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in Slidell, Louisiana. Radar showed more heavy rain moving ashore over Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. The National Hurricane Center said the system was about 40 miles (65 kilometers) south-southeast of Morgan City, Louisiana, on Friday night, moving north at 10 mph (17 kph).

Mexico, while getting rain from the storm in the Gulf, also was threatened by a in the Pacific. Tropical Storm Dolores formed Friday with landfall expected on its west-central coast Saturday evening, possibly near hurricane strength, according to the National Hurricane Center.



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Storm expected to be another blow to Gulf Coast businesses (2021, June 19)
retrieved 19 June 2021
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Hexbyte Glen Cove NASA reports trouble with Hubble Space Telescope thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove NASA reports trouble with Hubble Space Telescope

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This photograph taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on August 25, 2020 shows Jupiter and its moon Europa, captured when the planet was 653 million kilometers (405 million miles) from Earth.

The Hubble Space Telescope, which has been peering into the universe for more than 30 years, has been down for the past few days, NASA said Friday.

The problem is a payload computer that stopped working last Sunday, the US space agency said.

It insisted the telescope itself and that accompany it are “in .”

“The payload computer’s purpose is to control and coordinate the science instruments and monitor them for health and safety purposes,” NASA said.

An attempt to restart it on Monday failed.

NASA said initial evidence pointed to a degrading computer memory module as the source of the computer problem.

An attempt to switch to a back-up memory module also failed.

The technology for the payload computer dates back to the 1980s, and it was replaced during in 2009.

Launched in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope revolutionized the world of astronomy and changed our vision of the universe as it sent back images of the solar system, the Milky Way and distant galaxies.

A new and more powerful one, called the James Webb Space Telescope, is scheduled to be deployed late this year. It is designed to peer deeper into the cosmos than ever before.



© 2021 AFP

Citation:
NASA reports trouble with Hubble Space Telescope (2021, June 19)
retrieved 19 June 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-06-nasa-hubble-space-telescope.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Mexico's bee guardians on mission to save species thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Mexico’s bee guardians on mission to save species

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Veterinarian Adriana Veliz works to remove bees from the garden of a house near the Mexican capital.

Adriana Veliz whispered affectionately as she removed a colony of bees from inside a statue in a Mexican backyard—part of her mission to help save them from extinction.

“Relax babies, relax. You’ll be fine,” the 32-year-old veterinarian said as the swarmed around her and clung to the white suit she wore to protect against their stings.

Veliz’s bee protection organization Abeja Negra SOS carries out more than 200 such rescues a year to protect the insects from dangers such as humans and pesticides.

The five-woman team offers its services for free to help safeguard the bees, which Veliz said play a vital role including in pollination that enables crops to reproduce.

“Basically they keep an ecosystem in balance,” she said.

Despite their importance, some people kill bees they find in their homes or offices because they are afraid of being attacked, Veliz said.

– Risky work—Lying on the grass, she stretched her arm as far as she could inside the 1.5-meter (five-foot) concrete statue where the bees made their hive in Naucalpan near Mexico City.

Her partner Luz Millan puffed smoke at the insects to neutralize the pheromones they use to communicate, and sprinkled water on them to make it harder to fly.

The organization carries out more than 200 bee rescues a year.

After removing the colony, home to the Apis mellifera species of honey bee, the team took it to an apiary on a mountain outside the urban sprawl of Mexico City.

Moving the insects is no easy task.

Recently, Veliz and her team had to demolish the wall of a house to get to the bees inside.

“It’s dangerous because the bees defend their hive. Their queen orders them with pheromones when to attack,” Veliz said.

Abeja Negra SOS, which was founded in 2018, is not only saving bees—it is also empowering women, her colleague Millan said.

“We don’t need a man to do these jobs. Women aren’t only here to do delicate things,” she said.

‘Vital indicator’

Mexico is home to nearly 2,000 bee species and, like in many countries, environmentalists are concerned for their future.

More than a third of Mexico’s Apis mellifera bee colonies were lost in 2020, according to Adriana Correa, a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

The team puffs smoke at the bees to neutralize the pheromones and sprinkles water on them to make it harder to fly.

The use of toxic agrochemicals and the impact of climate change on flowering cycles have taken their toll on the species, she said.

“If they die, humans are not far from suffering the same fate. They are a vital indicator for humanity,” Correa warned.

For years the bees living in the statue caused no trouble, but a few weeks ago they began stinging the house’s residents.

“Suddenly they started attacking, especially my parents,” said Montserrat Moreno, a 54-year-old school teacher.

The rescued bees are taken to mountains outside the urban sprawl of Mexico City.

“We wanted them to be taken away alive and be treated as well as possible,” she added.

In the mountainside apiary, Veliz, who describes herself as a “guardian of the bees,” proudly showed off a dozen rescued hives, each of which can contain up to 80,000 specimens.

“You’ll be fine here,” she told the bees as she sprinkled sugar in their new home.



© 2021 AFP

Citation:
Mexico’s bee guardians on mission to save species (2021, June 19)
retrieved 19 June 2021
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Animals' ability to adapt their habitats key to survival amid climate change thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Animals’ ability to adapt their habitats key to survival amid climate change

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Michael Dillon (left), an associate professor in the University of Wyoming Department of Zoology and Physiology, and Arthur Woods (right), a professor of biological sciences at the University of Montana, were part of a research group that examined animals’ ability to respond to climate change likely depends on how well they modify their habitats, such as nests and burrows. Here, Dillon bends over to examine a plant and measure microclimates at the UW-National Park Service Research Station in Grand Teton National Park. Credit: Sylvain Pincebourde

Birds build nests to keep eggs and baby nestlings warm during cool weather, but also make adjustments in nest insulation in such a way the little ones can keep cool in very hot conditions. Mammals, such as rabbits or groundhogs, sleep or hibernate in underground burrows that provide stable, moderate temperatures and avoid above-ground conditions that often are far more extreme outside the burrow.

Michael Dillon, an associate professor in the University of Wyoming Department of Zoology and Physiology, was part of a research group that examined animals’ ability to respond to likely depends on how well they modify their habitats, such as nests and burrows.

So, how are these animals doing? Are they succeeding, struggling, or are their efforts a mixed bag in adapting their habitats to change?

“One of the key reasons that we wrote this paper is that we don’t know the answer to this very important question!,” Dillon says. “We hope the paper will encourage scientists to begin answering this question.”

Dillon is a co-author of a paper, titled “Extended Phenotypes: Buffers or Amplifiers of Climate Change?,” that was published June 16 in Trends in Ecology & Evolution. The journal publishes commissioned, peer-reviewed articles in all areas of ecology and evolutionary science.

The lead author of the paper is Arthur Woods, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Montana. Other contributors to the paper were from the University of Tours in Tours, France; and Stellenbosch University in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

The study investigated extended phenotypes, which are modifications that organisms—birds, insects and mammals—make to their habitats.

“An extended phenotype can range from simply a hole in the ground occupied by an animal to leaves rolled into cavities by insects, to nests of all shapes and sizes built by birds and mammals, to and bee colonies,” Dillon says.

Extended phenotypes are important because they filter climate into local sets of conditions immediately around the organism. This is what biologists call the microclimate.

Because extended phenotypes are constructed structures, they often are modified in response to local climate variation and, potentially, in response to climate change. This process is called plasticity of the extended phenotype.

“One example might be a bird nest that is well insulated to protect eggs or young birds from cold. As climates warm, if the bird does not adjust insulation in the nest, it may, in fact, cause the young to overheat,” Dillon explains.

In another prime example, termites build mounds that capture wind and solar energy to drive airflow through the colony, which stabilizes temperature, relative humidity and oxygen levels experienced by the colony.

However, the idea of microclimates is broader than constructed habitats. Microclimates typically differ substantially from nearby climates, which means that the climate in an area may provide little information about what animals experience in their microhabitats.

As an analogy, although a weather station might tell the public that the temperature in Laramie is 90 degrees Fahrenheit, simply by moving from the south to the north side of a building, one can experience microclimates that are strikingly different and often not captured by the weather data, Dillon says.

The same is true of animals of many different sizes. For example, a moose can move from an open sagebrush landscape to a shaded river corridor to cool off; a snake can move from its underground hole to a sunny rock to warm up; and a tiny insect shuttling between the top and bottom of a leaf can experience temperature differences of more than 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

“So, animals use microclimates, both by simply moving but also by building structures, such as nests, burrows, mounds and mines,” Dillon says.

Across the globe, rising levels of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere are causing temperatures to rise and precipitation patterns to shift. For biologists, a key problem is to understand current effects of climate change on species, and to predict future effects, including how species’ ranges may shift and what the relative risks of extinction are for different animal species’ groups.

The research team favors a renewed effort to understand how extended phenotypes mediate how organisms experience climate change.

“We need a much better understanding of the basic biophysical principles by which extended phenotypes alter local conditions,” says Sylvain Pincebourde, an ecologist in the Insect Biology Research Institute at the University of Tours and one of the paper’s co-authors.

Another key challenge is to understand how much plasticity there is in extended , and how much and how rapidly they can evolve.

“At this point, we pretty much have no idea,” Dillon says. “Can structures that buffer temperature variability keep up with the pace of climate change?”



More information:
H. Arthur Woods et al, Extended phenotypes: buffers or amplifiers of climate change?, Trends in Ecology & Evolution (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2021.05.010

Citation:
Animals’ ability to adapt their habitats key to survival amid climate change (2021, June 18)
retrieved 18 June 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-06-animals-ability-habitats-key-survival.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Gulf coast eyes strong but disorganized tropical weather thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Gulf coast eyes strong but disorganized tropical weather

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Residents in low-lying areas of Hancock County move their vehicles, lawn mowers, ATVs and boats to higher ground in Waveland, Miss., as a tropical system approaches Friday, June 18, 2021. Forecasters predict a tropical system will bring heavy rain, storm surge and coastal flooding to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The poorly organized disturbance was located Friday morning about 255 miles south of Morgan City, Louisiana. Credit: Justin Mitchell/The Sun Herald via AP

A disorganized storm system carrying tropical storm-force winds churned through the Gulf of Mexico toward the Southern U.S. on Friday, lashing coastal communities with bands of rain, threatening Father’s Day tourism business and forcing the postponement of Juneteenth celebrations in Mississippi and Alabama.

Forecasters said the broad system was moving north over the Gulf of Mexico with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (72 kph), which is above the tropical storm threshold of 39 mph (63 kph). It hadn’t been designated a tropical storm as of Friday afternoon, however, because it lacked a single, well defined center, said Benjamin Schott, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in Slidell, Louisiana.

The looming weather imperiled Father’s Day weekend commerce in tourism areas already suffering economic losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. A swamp tour company in Crown Point, Louisiana, canceled afternoon tours Friday and was afraid it would have to do the same for Saturday.

Austin Sumrall, the owner and chef at the White Pillars Restaurant and Lounge in Biloxi, Mississippi, had 170 reservations on his books for Sunday, but was concerned that some patrons would cancel. “We saw, especially last year, the rug can get jerked out from under you pretty quickly,” he said.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida—extending from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Okaloosa-Walton County line in the Florida Panhandle. Coastal surge flooding was possible and flash flood watches extended along the coast from southeast Louisiana into the Florida panhandle and well inland into Mississippi, Alabama and western Georgia.

This GOES-16 GeoColor satellite image taken Friday, June 18, 2021, at 11 a.m. EDT, and provided by NOAA, shows a tropical weather system in the Gulf of Mexico. Officials ordered a floodgate and locks system closed in southeast Louisiana and readied sandbags in Mississippi and Alabama as a broad, disorganized tropical weather system began spinning bands of rain and brisk wind across the northern Gulf of Mexico coast Friday. Credit: NOAA via AP

“I hope it just gets in and gets out,” said Greg Paddie, manager of Tacky Jack’s, a restaurant at Alabama’s Orange Beach.

Mayor Jeff Collier of Dauphin Island, off Alabama’s coast, said officials there had already contacted debris removal contractors and made sandbags available to residents. “We’re pretty well prepared to the extent that we can be,” Collier said. “This is not our first rodeo.”

In nearby Mobile, Ryan Schumann, president of the Alabama Deep Fishing Rodeo on nearby Dauphin Island, could at least take solace in the fact that the event is scheduled for next month, not this weekend.

But disappointment was evident in the voice of Seneca Hampton, an organizer of the Juneteenth Freedom Festival in Gautier, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He spent weeks arranging food trucks, vendors, a bounce house, face painting and free hamburgers and hotdogs for the event, which was highly anticipated because last year’s was canceled due to the pandemic and because of Juneteenth’s new designation as a federal holiday.

A man takes a photo of waves crashing into what once was a dock for a ferry that transported people from Bay St. Louis to Pass Christian, Miss., as a tropical system moves toward the Mississippi Coast on Friday, June 18, 2021. Forecasters predict a tropical system will bring heavy rain, storm surge and coastal flooding to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The poorly organized disturbance was located Friday morning about 255 miles south of Morgan City, Louisiana. Credit: Justin Mitchell/The Sun Herald via AP

“It’s something that means a lot to people, and there were people that were bummed out, like ‘I already had in my mind I was coming out there to celebrate,'” said Hampton.

The Gautier event was postponed until next month. A Juneteenth event in Selma, Alabama, was postponed until August.

By midday Friday, brisk winds and bands of rain were hitting the coast from south of New Orleans to Pensacola, Florida. An afternoon advisory from the National Hurricane Center said the system was about 165 miles (266 kilometers) south of Morgan City, Louisiana and was moving north at 14 mph (22 kph).

In Louisiana’s vulnerable Plaquemines Parish, the local government warned mariners that locks and a floodgate in the Empire community, near where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf, would close at noon. Health officials ordered oyster harvesting areas closed along much of Louisiana’s coast due to possible storm-driven pollution.

  • A worker moves water tricycles off the beach in Biloxi, Miss., as a tropical system approaches on Friday, June 18, 2021. Forecasters predict a tropical system will bring heavy rain, storm surge and coastal flooding to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The poorly organized disturbance was located Friday morning about 255 miles south of Morgan City, Louisiana. Credit: Margaret Baker/The Sun Herald via AP
  • Clouds from Tropical Storm Claudette form on Highway 90 Beaches in Pass Christian, Miss., Friday, June 18, 2021. City of Pass Christian has declared state of emergency for potential severe weather. Credit: Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP
  • National Hurricane Center director Ken Graham, left, speaks during a news conference along with Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.,Tuesday, June 1, 2021, at the center in Miami. Tuesday marks the start of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season which runs to Nov. 30. Credit: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
  • Senator Rick Scott, R-Fla., right, speaks during a news conference after having toured the National Hurricane Center with director Ken Graham, left, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, at the center in Miami. Tuesday marks the start of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season which runs to Nov. 30. Credit: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
  • Senator Rick Scott, R-Fla., speaks during a news conference after having toured the National Hurricane Center, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, in Miami. Tuesday marks the start of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season which runs to Nov. 30. Credit: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a state of emergency late Thursday. The move is an administrative step that authorizes the use of state resources to aid in storm response efforts.

Forecasters said the system could produced up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) through the weekend along the central U.S. Gulf Coast.

In Orange Beach, Paddie said Tacky Jack’s still has sandbags left over from its preparations for last year’s Hurricane Sally. That September storm, blamed for two deaths, threw ships onto dry land, knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people in Alabama and in the Florida panhandle.

There have already been two named storms during the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. Meteorologists expect the season to be busy, but not as crazy as the record-breaking 2020 season.

Mexico, while getting rain from the storm in the Gulf, was also threatened by a storm in the Pacific. Tropical Storm Dolores formed Friday morning and was expected to make landfall on Mexico’s west-central coast Saturday evening, possibly near hurricane strength, according to the National Hurricane Center.



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Tropical weather buffets Gulf coast with brisk winds, rain (2021, June 18)
retrieved 18 June 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-06-tropical-heavy-gulf-coast.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Researchers find optimal way to pay off student loans thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Researchers find optimal way to pay off student loans

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Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

After graduating or leaving college, many students face a difficult choice: Try to pay off their student loans as fast as possible to save on interest, or enroll in an income-based repayment plan, which offers affordable payments based on their income and forgives any balance remaining after 20 or 25 years.

There are pros and cons to each option, and trying to discern the better path can be daunting. That’s why University of Colorado Boulder’s Yu-Jui Huang and Saeed Khalili, a former graduate in financial mathematics, along with Dublin City University’s Paolo Guasoni, decided to throw a little mathematical muscle at the problem.

The researchers developed a novel for determining the optimal student loan repayment strategy, based on an individual borrower’s specific circumstances. In April, they published a paper outlining their approach in the SIAM Journal on Financial Mathematics.

Instead of choosing one of these distinct options and sticking with it, some borrowers should consider combining the two to create their own hybrid repayment strategy, the researchers found.

“The rule of thumb is that if your balance is really small, just pay it as quickly as possible, and if your balance is large, then enroll in an income-based scheme right away,” said Huang, a CU Boulder assistant professor of applied mathematics who specializes in mathematical finance and applied probability.

“We find that, between these two extremes, there’s actually a third strategy, which is, you should pay as much as possible over the first several years. And after that, switch to an income-based repayment scheme.”

The model incorporates basic, fundamental mathematics, Huang said, but is likely the first of its kind for . Past studies were mostly empirical, estimating the actual effects of student loans on the economy and on individual borrowers. Very little research has been conducted through the lens of mathematics on the best strategy a student borrower should employ, he said.

The researchers saw an opportunity to contribute to the academic literature while at the same time helping borrowers make savvy repayment decisions. Student loans now total roughly $1.7 trillion and affect nearly 45 million borrowers in the United States, hampering their ability to buy homes, start businesses and attend graduate school.

“We made the model as simple as possible,” Huang said. “For many students, this can save them money.”

The model takes into account the fact that borrowers have to pay income tax on any loan amount that’s forgiven under an income-based repayment plan, as well as the compounding interest rates of various student loans. It helps borrowers determine when they should stop making regular payments and switch to an income-based repayment scheme, a point in time called the critical horizon.

“The critical horizon is the time at which the benefits of forgiveness match the costs of compounding,” the researchers write.

Already, the researchers are considering ways to improve their model. For one, they hope to incorporate more randomness into the model, which right now asks borrowers to take their best guess at their future income level, tax rate and living expenses. They also want to consider lifestyle changes that may affect borrowers’ motivation for paying off student loans, such as getting married, buying a house and having children.

“In practice, what people say is, ‘Yes, I’m going to be a dentist. Looking at past data, I know my starting salary should be this and, after a few years, my salary should grow to this particular stage and so on,'” Huang said. “The purpose of introducing the randomness here is because some dentists become really rich in five or 10 years, and some others are not so rich. Even if you look at the data, you can’t be quite sure which category you will eventually fall into.”

Though the researchers have no plans themselves to turn their formula into some sort of widely accessible calculator, they’re open to existing student loan repayment calculators adopting their model so that I can help as many borrowers as possible.

“Right now, students don’t really have any kind of concrete or rigorous guidelines—they may just have these general impressions but there’s no math to justify those,” Huang said. “We have created a simple , but one that’s undergone a very rigorous mathematical treatment.”



More information:
Paolo Guasoni et al, Short Communication: American Student Loans: Repayment and Valuation, SIAM Journal on Financial Mathematics (2021). DOI: 10.1137/21M1392267

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