Hexbyte Glen Cove Death threats, law suits: COVID experts targeted

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A poll shows scientists who speak in the media about Covid-19 are often subject to harassment as a result.

Marc Van Ranst, a virologist famous in Belgium for providing expertise about the COVID-19 pandemic, was at home for his first afternoon off in months in May, unaware that his life was under threat and that he would soon be forced to go into hiding.

Jurgen Conings, a soldier aligned with right-wing extremist movements who had stated his intent to harm Van Ranst was sitting in a car nearby armed with four rocket launchers.

It wasn’t until the following day Van Ranst learned he was in danger.

“They called me at noon and half an hour later they came with heavily armoured cars,” Van Ranst told AFP.

“They took my son from school and my wife from the hospital and me… to a safe house. We were in several safe houses over the course of about a month.”

Van Ranst has given hundreds of interviews on COVID-19 since the began and says he has a file of over 150 threats related to his pandemic expertise.

“Some are minor—they compare you to Hitler or Mengele,” he said. “And then some are .”

He is one of dozens of scientists harassed over the pandemic, according to a survey by scientific journal Nature.

Of 321 experts who responded to the journal, 81 percent reported some experience of “trolling or after speaking about COVID-19 in the media”.

Fifteen percent reported receiving death threats and over half had their credibility attacked.

Chart showing the negative experiences of many scientists who have spoken publicly about Covid-19.

‘They find different ways’

In its article on the survey, Nature said it reached out to scientists in the US, the UK, Brazil, Canada, Taiwan, New Zealand and Germany who had given interviews about the pandemic.

The prestigious journal acknowledges that harassment of scientists speaking on hot-button issues such as gun violence, vaccines and climate change is not new.

But they say even experts who were already prominent noted a rise in abuse related to the pandemic. The survey’s respondents described threats by email, online comments, and more.

French virologist Karine Lacombe rose to prominence during the pandemic for her expertise lent during regular television and radio appearances and in articles.

She told AFP that attacks on her—largely driven by French right-wing media supportive of controversial doctor Didier Raoult—began in earnest once she spoke out publicly against Raoult’s advice to use hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID.

She describes being insulted in the street, getting anonymous letters threatening rape, and having her inbox flooded with disparaging personal messages.

“It was totally new to me and extremely violent,” she told AFP.

She left Twitter and even spent several days with friends, imagining people might be waiting for her in front of her home.

The abuse ‘was totally new to me and extremely violent,’ said Lacombe.

“I had a kind of breakdown,” she said.

Both Lacombe and Van Ranst report being targeted by right-wing extremists in their countries, which are often aligned against pandemic measures and vaccines.

Van Ranst describes being repeatedly summoned to Belgian court by anti-vaxers.

“They find different ways of harassing us,” Van Ranst said.

He says he makes a point of defending himself at the mandatory court appearances and that he has never lost—but fighting the suits has taken over 400 hours of his time.

“They’re not keeping me from my job but I have literally no free time,” he said, “This is the third one and they said they would keep doing it.”

‘They want to silence us’

Nature describes a “chilling effect”, with experts who experienced the most harassment also reporting the biggest influence on their willingness to speak to the media.

While Lacombe says she has heard similar feedback from colleagues, that it is not the case for her.

Court battles with his critics have taken up 400 hours of his time, says Van Ranst.

For with support from psychologists and groups fighting bullying and disinformation online, she says she was able to return to Twitter after a month and a half.

“It has reinforced my convictions,” she said.

“They want to silence us, we who have the knowledge and expertise. I’m trying not to give in.”

Van Ranst feels the same.

“I’m not more careful,” he said, “I’m equally outspoken against anti-vaccination messages or fake news or whatever.

“Otherwise they win.”

More information:
Bianca Nogrady, ‘I hope you die’: how the COVID pandemic unleashed attacks on scientists, Nature (2021). DOI: 10.1038/d41586-021-02741-x

COVID scientists in the public eye need protection from threats, Nature (2021). DOI: 10.1038/d41586-021-02757-3

© 2021 AFP

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Focal point for climate change is at the top of our world, and agenda

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Danish Meteorological Institute, Denmark – Iceberg, Baffin Bay 2021. Credit: © Steffen M. Olsen

Improved climate modeling can predict fish stocks in the North Atlantic, as well as warming effects across the Northern hemisphere, for instance in Europe and North America.

Fragile and exposed to climate change, the Arctic is warming three times faster than the rest of the planet. As the frozen ground melts, carbon dioxide and methane trapped within it are released into the atmosphere, further contributing to global warming.

Michael Mann, the EU’s Special Envoy for the Arctic, describes the current environmental situation in the Arctic as extremely serious. He warns: “It’s just getting worse and worse.”

The consequences are being felt elsewhere. Extreme events in Europe, such as the unusually heavy snowfall in Greece and Spain last winter, is thought to be linked to warming in the northernmost regions. “The Arctic is the main suspect for larger changes in conditions in the northern hemisphere,” said Dr. Steffen Olsen, a climate researcher at the Danish Meteorological Institute in Copenhagen.

Since the Arctic is the focal point for , being able to better forecast Arctic warming could help mitigate its impact, both in the Arctic and elsewhere.

The EU is preparing to adapt to the rapid changes that the Arctic is experiencing. One of the goals of the EU missions, namely Adaptation to Climate Change, is to provide new strategies and solutions and empower communities to lead the societal transformation. The EU mission Restore Our Ocean and Waters by 2030 will deploy innovative solutions at basin-scale (sea basin and river basin) through mission lighthouses which will each lead on one of the mission objectives. A lighthouse initiative covering the Atlantic and Arctic sea basin is part of the mission objective to protect and restore marine ecosystems and biodiversity.

The new EU Arctic policy is also on the horizon to address new challenges and opportunities.

Why aren’t climate models better at predicting Arctic warming?

Danish Meteorological Institute, Denmark – Arctic monitoring setup on sea ice NW Greenland 2021. Credit: © Steffen M. Olsen

Existing typically describe the physics of large-scale processes in the atmosphere and the ocean, such as atmospheric jet streams or how ice is retreating. However, many small-scale phenomena are not well represented. This is particularly true of predictions for the Arctic, which lack accuracy. “Apart from uncertainties in representing different aspects of the atmosphere, we also see that the pathways of ocean currents from the North Atlantic to the Arctic are poorly represented in our model systems,” Dr. Olsen said.

Together with his colleagues in the Horizon 2020 funded Blue-Action project, Dr. Olsen aims to improve how the climate in the northern hemisphere, including the Arctic, is modeled and predicted. They focused on variability from one year to the next and between decades. Predictions at these mid-range timescales are often lacking, despite their potential to reveal significant details about climatic changes. “That may mean that you have a number of years where conditions don’t follow the more linear track of (predicted) scenarios,” explained Dr. Olsen. “A warming tendency can be reversed for some years, for example.”

Members of the Blue-Action team first conducted several complex experiments where they were able to identify strengths and deficiencies in current climate models. Then, they were able to make improvements, for example by incorporating additional data such as the effect of cracks in Arctic sea ice on . They also figured out how to predict the key components contributing to atmospheric variability over the North Atlantic Ocean. These factors are known to have a major effect on winter conditions in Europe.

From forecasting fish stocks to heat wave early warning

These enhanced climate models were used to develop new prediction systems. The team developed a system that can forecast certain fish stocks in the North Atlantic Ocean over a 10-year period, for example, changes such as surface water temperature fluctuations play a role in when fish will migrate and reproduce. “It’s the first time you will see predictions of years in advance, based on climate model predictions,” said Dr. Olsen.

They also created an early warning system for European regions to help reduce the impact of heat waves on human health, which have caused more fatalities on the continent than any other extreme weather event in recent decades. By combining their new climate models with heat mortality data from 16 countries, the system allows for preventative measures to be taken if high temperatures are expected. “That has been one very promising line of service development,” said Dr. Olsen.

Making the best use of good observations

Better use of existing monitoring systems could also help improve climate models. Dr. Thomas Jung, head of the Climate Dynamics section at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, Germany and his colleagues, were also aiming to improve climate predictions in the Arctic as part of the APPLICATE project, partly by investigating the role of observations. “You need observations in the right place and once you have good observations, you need to make best use of them,” said Dr. Jung.

Arctic monitoring on sea-ice with Inuit hunters NW Greenland 2021. Credit: © Peter Avike, Qillaq Danielsen

The team performed experiments where they removed certain types of observations from climate models of the Arctic to see how this would affect forecasts. They found that microwave observations from satellites, which can indicate temperature and moisture levels, had the most significant impact on medium-term forecasts.

The project also aimed to develop more detailed and accurate medium-range climate models for the Arctic that could be put to practical use. To ensure they would be widely adopted they partnered with modeling experts from weather prediction centers in Europe. Since there are a few Arctic countries on the continent, such as Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, more advanced weather predictions would benefit local policymakers, businesses and people so that they can be better prepared for upcoming changes.

Arctic climate’s link with lower latitudes

To figure out how climate change in the Arctic impacts regions further south, the scientists conducted experiments with multiple climate models. They focused on understanding the physical mechanisms through which warming in the Arctic would affect climate and weather in lower latitudes.

The team’s results suggest that the link between change in the Arctic and extreme weather events in Europe and North America might be overestimated. “There is a link; there’s no doubt about this,” noted Dr. Jung. “But it’s probably not as large as suggested by observations.”

There is another link between Arctic warming and what happens in lower latitudes, too. Climatic changes in polar regions aren’t primarily caused by its inhabitants, obviously, but rather by emissions produced by the rest of the world. “The problem has to be dealt with more globally,” said Mann.

An ambitious climate action plan for the Arctic

In an attempt to do just this, the European Union (EU) Arctic policy aims to tackle effects in the region as well as promote sustainable development and international cooperation. Tackling permafrost thaw in the Arctic is one of the issues that will be addressed when the policy is updated this month. Satellites that are part of the EU’s Copernicus program, for example, can help track changes, since they are able to measure the thickness of frozen ground. “I think Copernicus will play a major role,” said Mann.

The new policy will also target black carbon, or soot. It attracts sunlight and heat when deposited on snow and ice in the Arctic, contributing to warming. However, it is currently hard to follow changes in these emissions: There are few monitoring sites and large areas where no observations are made. “Establishing monitoring stations has to be the starting point,” noted Mann. “Hopefully, the EU can give that a helping hand.”

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Hexbyte Glen Cove A highly simplified way to predict quantum light-matter interactions

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Describing quantized light-matter interaction can be a cumbersome task that demands many building blocks to add up correctly, a bit like building the Berlin Gate from individual stones (right). Schaefer et al. found a new way to reshape the equations describing the matter so that they account for much of the quantum light, a bit like carving the Berlin Gate from an individual stone rather than building it block by block. Credit: Joerg Harms / MPSD

When light interacts with matter, for example, when a laser beam hits a two-dimensional material like graphene, it can substantially change the behavior of the material. Depending on the form of interaction between light and matter, some chemical reactions appear differently, substances turn magnetic or ferroelectric or begin to conduct electricity without any losses. In particularly thrilling cases, an actual light source may not even be necessary because the mere possibility for light to exist, i.e., its quantum equivalent, the photons, can change the behavior of matter. Theoretical scientists try to describe and predict these fascinating phenomena because they could be crucial in the development of new quantum technologies.

However, calculating quantum light- interactions not only eats up enormous amounts of time and computing power—it also becomes very cumbersome. Describing the between a realistic material with photons easily consumes thousands of Euros. Now scientists from the Theory Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg have found a way to simplify some of these calculations. Their work, now published in PNAS, provides a significant step towards integrating the quantum nature of light into modern-day devices.

“Imagine you are given a set of construction bricks to build a model of the famous Berlin Gate,” says Christian Schäfer, lead author of the study. “Intuitively, we start placing the stones on top of each other to resemble the shape of the gate, but with each stone, the construction becomes more unstable and expensive. Similarly, because we sometimes have to consider many hundreds of photons, our calculations can become overwhelmingly complex and the cost of our theoretical predictions spirals very quickly. In fact, this cost is so prohibitive that predicting the full interplay between many photons and realistic molecules is de facto impossible to compute, even on the fastest and biggest existing super-computers.”

Now, the MPSD team, based at the Centre for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg, has found a simple but brilliant way to circumvent this problem. By reshaping the equation so that the material part itself accounts for the quantum mechanical uncertainty of the light, far fewer additional photons are needed to describe the combined system of quantum light and matter.

“In effect, we built the Berlin Gate by carving it from the first stone to arrive at approximately the same result,” explains Schäfer. “This allows us to describe the quantum interaction between light and matter with very little additional cost compared to just considering the material.”

To take an example, when the interaction between light and matter becomes so strong that both systems become truly interlacing, each possible configuration of the light-field can demand the consideration of hundreds of photons. The new approach can capture most features of this extreme limit without the need to consider any at all. Adding just a few photons is then enough to provide the full picture.

The method yields considerable savings in computing time and provides a framework for scientists to predict the interplay between quantum light and matter for realistic systems in situations that were prohibitive to simulate. “Our approach can serve as a solid foundation for future developments, providing a path to integrate quantum light more strongly into chemistry, material design and quantum technology,” Schäfer says. “Within the general formalism many novel effects might still await discovery,” adds MPSD Theory director Angel Rubio. “The engineering of materials and molecular complexes through is becoming a reality. We are embarking on a long and exciting journey to explore its full potential implications in novel quantum technologies and the team’s work provides an important step along this path.”

More information:
Christian Schäfer et al, Making ab initio QED functional(s): Nonperturbative and photon-free effective frameworks for strong light–matter coupling, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2021). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2110464118

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Freezing fruit flies for future function

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Marine researchers focus on the tiniest victims of Orange County oil spill

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Until now, the story of the worst Southern California oil spill in decades has been told by gut-wrenching images oil-soaked birds, dying fish and fouled wetlands. However, these images reveal just part of the story, researchers say.

Although much of the public’s attention has focused on what may happen to future generations of whales, porpoises, seals, sea turtles and migratory birds, the emphasis of many researchers now has shifted toward the minuscule and mysterious ecosystem that scientists call the microbiome.

It is a vast menagerie of small and microscopic organisms that comprise the foundation of the food web in coastal marine ecosystems. It starts with zooplankton adrift in turgid currents and bacterial colonies in mudflats, rock crevices and canopies of kelp and meadows of eel grass undulating in the tidal surges. Then come single-celled animals that feed on the colonies, and the larger predators that in turn feed on them.

Now, in laboratories from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to the University of California, Irvine, the big question is this: What were the impacts on viruses, bacteria, fungi, algae spores, zooplankton, fish eggs and fish larvae less than a quarter inch in length?

The labs’ findings are shedding new light on the potential long-term environmental damage from the spill and the ramifications of the nation’s fossil fuel addiction.

“When it comes to the lingering effects of oil slicks on marine organisms, size matters,” said John Incardona, a research toxicologist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle. “Smaller organisms are going to get a bigger dose. Mature animals with gills and livers are generally less vulnerable to the toxic effects of oil.”

The scientific effort to understand how spilled oil affects Southern California’s coastal environment has suddenly become a hot topic of study at UC Irvine, where microbiologist Joleah Lamb and her students are collecting samples of seawater and kelp at nearby Newport Bay so that they can analyze and catalog the types, sizes and compositions of contaminants they contain.

“Every ecosystem on Earth—from the human gut to oceans and wetlands—has been colonized by a microbiome that is important to its well-being and health,” Lamb said. “And that is where oil spills in the ocean have their biggest and potentially longest lasting impacts—the microbial worlds that produce half the oxygen we breathe and decompose organic matter.”

Ron Tjeerdema, a biologist at UC Davis and expert on biochemical mechanisms of toxicity in marine and freshwater systems, was only half joking when he said, “The scientific research community refers to these disasters as ‘oil spills of opportunity.’ That’s because getting a handle on the overall health of an ecosystem starts at the micro level.”

“Oil is literally a thousand or more ranging from unusually large asphalt components to small and highly toxic carbon molecules,” he said. “Microorganisms from viruses to bacteria have the capability to break down these compounds for their own protection, and even as a food source.”

“So, studying the microbial world is really important,” he added, “because it is an integral part of the natural recycling of elements and hydrocarbons that come out of oil.”

For fish, oil spills are linked to cardiac troubles and deformities in embryonic sacs. In studying the effects of the 2010 BP oil spill on bluefin tuna spawning in the Gulf of Mexico, a research team discovered that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, block “signaling pathways” that allow potassium and calcium ions to flow in and out of cardiac cell membranes and sustain normal heart rates.

Even very low concentrations of crude oil can disrupt these signaling pathways, slowing the pace of heartbeats. Their study also suggests that PAH cardiotoxicity was potentially a common injury among a range of species in the vicinity of oil spilled into ocean ecosystems.

On Wednesday, Lamb and her team donned lab coats, pulled on rubber gloves and adjusted their safety goggles in preparation for experiments aimed at better understanding how climate change, heat waves, geography, ocean currents and now oil pollution are affecting Southern California’s already imperiled , which camouflage complex ecosystems of fish, crabs, snails, urchins, bivalves, and anemones that blossom like colorful flowers.

One of the experiments is designed to test how oil affects the early life stages of kelp growing in carefully monitored aquariums. Another involves examining surface scrapings from adult kelp samples and identifying the chemical composition and DNA signatures of their microbial communities, which could signal potential imbalances in the marine environment’s ecological processes.

In the aftermath of , several features make kelp and kelp spores the size of a pinhead perfect for scientific study. They include kelp’s ability to absorb chemical elements and inorganic ions in seawater and concentrate them in its tissues.

Beyond that, creatures that feed on kelp include fish, which are eaten by sea lions. Another concern: Thick clumps of crude oil landing on kelp fronds and stems of eel grass could weigh them down, preventing them from absorbing enough sunlight to complete their life cycles.

It remains to be seen whether the spill will somehow undermine UC Irvine’s long-awaited launch of a grant-funded kelp restoration effort.

“There are a lot of unknowns out there,” Lamb said.

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Crucial benefits of vital moorland restoration works revealed

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The innovative Mires on the Moors project has made significant breakthroughs in the quest to identify where peatlands, found on the Moors across the United Kingdom’s South West, have been damaged by drainage, peat cutting and burning.

The long-term collaboration, underpinned by a series of high-profile research studies, has not only established what condition these peatlands are in, but also how they can be restored to function more naturally.

The significant findings include demonstrating peatland restoration can bring substantial and meaningful changes, almost immediately, to increasing water storage.

This, in turn, can bring positive changes to water quality and greenhouse gas losses to the atmosphere—resulting in more carbon being locked up in peatlands.

Crucially, the project has also shown that peatland restoration need not impact negatively on upland farming across the region—a significant outcome not just for the farmers directly, but also for water companies and society as a whole.

The Mires on the Moors project is delivered in partnership with a range of organizations, including the University of Exeter, South West Water, the Environment Agency, Natural England, Historic England, Dartmoor National Park and Exmoor National Park.

The findings of the collaborative project can be found in a special report.

Professor Richard Brazier, Director, Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste (CREWW), said, “The Mires on the Moors report is the culmination of a decade of research into the impacts of moorland restoration on the hugely important landscapes of Dartmoor and Exmoor.

“As the report and the peer reviewed papers which underpin it demonstrate, restoring healthy functioning peatlands is critical in the fight against climate change, as healthy peatlands lock up carbon by forming more peat. They also release cleaner water, reducing treatment costs and less water in times of heavy rainfall, which reduces flood risk downstream.

“The research has been made possible not only by funding from SWW, but also via support from a wide range of organizations, who have come together to demonstrate the positive environmental progress that can be made from genuine partnership working.

“It has been a real highlight of the work to engage with so many people who understand the value of our natural resources and the importance of not just preventing further degradation, but actually enhancing our landscapes for future generations.”

Peatlands are a type of wetland that store more organic carbon than any other type of land ecosystem in the world. Due to waterlogged conditions, dead plant materials do not fully decay and carbon accumulates in peatlands over thousands of years.

Therefore, natural peatlands help to cool the climate by capturing (CO2) from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and trapping carbon in soils. However, artificial drainage of peatlands for agriculture aerates the soil and enhances the decay of organic matter, rapidly releasing carbon into the atmosphere.

This degraded state of UK peatlands has been recognized as a critical problem in the UK’s bid to meet its targets of carbon storage and Greenhouse Gas Removal.

The South West peatlands of Dartmoor, Exmoor and Bodmin Moor are potentially huge carbon stores, with equal potential to store water at times of heavy rainfall and release cleaner water during times of drought.

The Mires on the Moors project, therefore, was launched to help understand the way in which these peatlands are structured, how they function and how they might respond to restoration practices.

Highlighting the success of the project, more than 27 km² of peatland have been restored following methods specifically developed for Exmoor and Dartmoor. Restoration of deeper peatlands increased the permanent deep-water storage in the soil and increased average water tables, while also significantly altered rainfall runoff regimes in restored catchments.

In deeper peatlands, raised water tables significantly reduced respiration of the peat store and initially increased methane emissions—both processes indicative of a return to more natural functioning in the longer term.

Dr. David Smith, South West Water’s Natural Resources Team Manager, said, “When Ofwat, the water industry regulator, agreed to South West Water undertaking catchment management on land it did not own back in 2009, they also asked that we measure and understand the benefits to water customers. This report begins to do just that, in the headwaters of the catchments where South West Water has invested over 4 million pounds in over the last 10 years.

“The report sets out the impacts so far on water quality, flow and storage, greenhouse gases, biodiversity and farming. A really amazing achievement and one that validates our work to set up the monitoring program with the University of Exeter and Professor Brazier back in 2010.”

More information:
The report on project findings is available as a PDF at www.exeter.ac.uk/media/univers … oors_report_2020.pdf

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Researchers identify universal laws in the turbulent behavior of active fluids

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Credit: Piotr Siedlecki/public domain

Certain groupings of bacteria or cellular tissues form systems that are called active fluids. These can flow spontaneously without having to be forced from the outside, since their components are able to generate forces and move autonomously. When the activity is high enough, the spontaneous flows become chaotic, like those observed in the turbulence of ordinary fluids. University of Barcelona (UB) researchers have identified universal laws in this turbulent behavior of active fluids. The results of their work have been published in the journal Physical Review X.

Due to their visual resemblance to ordinary turbulence, chaotic flows in active fluids have been called active turbulence. The of this phenomenon is significant for the design of nanomotors and can explain complex flows observed in living systems, such as those that occur during a wound closure. According to the UB researchers, the results of their work “are relevant because they show that the flows of active , despite being chaotic and very complex, can be described by simple and generic mathematical laws.”

To do this, they experimented with active fluids composed of cytoskeletal proteins and enzymes that provide the necessary energy to generate forces and flow spontaneously. The researchers, members of the institutes of the UB, UBICS and IN2UB, created a thin layer of this active material surrounded by two passive fluids: Water and oil.

The video shows the chaotic flows in an active pneumatic thanks to the use of fluorescent tracers. Credit: B. Martinez-Prat et al. Phys.Rev. X, 2021

In particular, the researchers measured the active flows and experimentally corroborated the existence of two flow regimes that they had already predicted theoretically. In addition, the experiments revealed a new regime caused by the coupling of the active layer with the surrounding passive fluids. The study, therefore, highlights the essential role of the passive fluids surrounding the active system. To explain these results, the researchers have formulated a that—considering the effects of the passive fluids—predicts the power laws observed in the experiments.

More information:
Berta Martínez-Prat et al, Scaling Regimes of Active Turbulence with External Dissipation, Physical Review X (2021). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevX.11.031065

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Blue Origin delays William Shatner’s space flight

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William Shatner (pictured September 2017), who played Captain James T. Kirk in the cult classic TV series “Star Trek,” is set to become the first member of the iconic show’s cast to journey to the final frontier as a guest aboard a Blue Origin rocket.

Blue Origin announced Sunday it was delaying an upcoming flight set to carry actor William Shatner to space due to anticipated winds.

Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk in the cult classic TV series “Star Trek,” is due to become the first member of the iconic show’s cast to journey to the final frontier as a guest aboard a Blue Origin suborbital rocket.

His history-making flight was scheduled for October 12.

But “due to forecasted winds on Tuesday, October 12, Blue Origin’s mission operations team has made the decision to delay the launch of NS-18 and is now targeting Wednesday, October 13,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

The new flight is scheduled for 8:30 am (1330 GMT).

Shatner, 90, will be the oldest person ever to go to space.

His trip will take him and the NS-18 rocket crew just beyond the Karman line, 62 miles (100 kilometers) high, where they will experience four minutes of weightlessness and gaze out at the curvature of the planet.

Blue Origin’s decision to invite one of the most recognizable galaxy-faring characters from science fiction for its second crewed flight has helped maintain excitement around the nascent space tourism sector.

For fans, the 10-minute hop from a West Texas base back to Earth will be a fitting coda for a pop culture phenomenon that inspired generations of astronauts.

© 2021 AFP

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Nobel Physics Prize winner says Italy research underfunded

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Italian scholar and physicist Giorgio Parisi, the winner of the Nobel prize for physics, has decried a lack of funding for research in his home country.

Italian Giorgio Parisi, winner of the 2021 Nobel Physics Prize, slammed Friday the lack of funding for research in Italy, saying it invested one of the lowest amounts in Europe.

“Research is underfunded and the situation has worsened over the past 10-15 years,” he told a press conference with the foreign press in Rome.

“I was pleased to see that Mario Draghi’s government is committed to increasing the research budget, we are at the bottom (of the list of funding amounts)” in the European Union, he said.

Research Minister Cristina Messa promised six billion euros in funding for 60 projects on Thursday, including five billion this year.

According to 2019 data from Eurostat, Italy spent 1.45 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on research, while the EU average is 2.19 percent. It lags far behind Germany, which spends 3.17 percent.

“Italy is not a welcoming country for researchers, whether Italian or foreign,” said Parisi, who on Tuesday won the prize along with two other scientists, Japanese-American scientist Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann of Germany.

“Research is like a , if you think you can water it every fortnight, things will go wrong,” he said.

© 2021 AFP

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Latest results from cosmic microwave background measurements

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The BICEP3 telescope located at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica. (The metal skirt around the telescope shields it from reflected light from the surrounding ice.) New results analyzing BICEP3 data together with earlier data and the datasets from space missions have improved previous constraints on the kinds of models of inflation that could describe the earliest moments of the universe. Credit: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

The universe was created about 13.8 billion years ago in a blaze of light: the big bang. Roughly 380,000 years later, after matter (mostly hydrogen) had cooled enough for neutral atoms to form, light was able to traverse space freely. That light, the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, comes to us from every direction in the sky uniformly … or so it first seemed. In the last decades astronomers have discovered that the radiation has faint ripples and bumps in it at a level of brightness of only a part in one hundred thousand—the seeds for future structures, like galaxies.

Astronomers have conjectured that these ripples also contain traces of an initial burst of expansion—the so-called inflation—which swelled the new universe by thirty-three orders of magnitude in a mere ten-to-the-power-minus-33 seconds. Clues about the inflation should be faintly present in the way the cosmic ripples are curled, an effect due to gravitational waves in cosmic infancy that is expected to be perhaps one hundred times or more fainter than the ripples themselves.

The curling effect produces patterns in the light known as “B-mode polarization,” and it is expected to be exceedingly faint. Other exotic processes are at work in the universe to make this daunting measurement even more challenging. The principal one is the faint glow of light from dust particles in our galaxy that have been aligned by magnetic fields. This light is also polarized and can be twisted by magnetic fields to produce B-mode polarization patterns. Radio waves from our galaxy can produce similar effects. About six years ago, CfA astronomers working at the South Pole reported the first evidence for such curling, “B-mode polarization,” at levels consistent with simple models of inflation, but subsequent measurements at different frequencies (or colors) of microwave light revealed the signal to be explainable by galactic dust.

In the years since those first measurements of B-mode polarization astronomers have continued their meticulous observations, adding powerful data from new telescopes at many different frequencies operating at the South Pole. CfA astronomers D. Barkats, H. Boenish, J. Connors, J. Cornelison, M. Dierickx, M. Eiben, D.C. Goldfinger, P. Grimes, S. Harrison, K.S. Karkare, J. M. Kovac, B. Racine, S. Richter, B.L. Schmitt, T. St. Germaine, C. Verges, C.L. Wong, L. Zeng and a large team of colleagues have just completed an analysis of all the data from the South Pole experiments BICEP2, Keck Array, and BICEP3 through 2018, and correlate the results with results from the CMB space missions Planck and WMAP. (Although data collection for those missions ended in 2013 and 2010, respectively, the data processing continues and the scientists used the 2018 release.) The new results improve the previous best constraints on curling by about a factor of two, and now provide powerful guidance on the kinds of models of inflation that could describe the earliest moments of the universe.

A broad class of simple models is now largely ruled out. The team reports that the most favored of the remaining class of models predict primordial gravitational waves at levels that should be detected (or ruled out) within the next decade with upgraded telescopes at the South Pole. The team is already in the process of upgrading the BICEP system and expects to gain another factor of about three improvements within five years, enough to set tight constraints to inflationary models.

The research was published in Physical Review Letters.

More information:
P. A. R. Ade et al, Improved Constraints on Primordial Gravitational Waves using Planck , WMAP, and BICEP/ Keck Observations through the 2018 Observing Season, Physical Review Letters (2021). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.127.151301

Latest results from cosmic microwave background measurements (2021, October 8)
retrieved 11 October 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-10-latest-results-cosmic-microwave-background.html

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