Hexbyte Glen Cove Corals may look healthy, but coastal urbanization is destroying their delicate biorhythm

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Coral reef ecosystem in the Red Sea Gulf of Eilat. Credit: Shachaf Ben Ezra

Coral reefs in the Gulf of Eilat (also known as the Gulf of Aqaba) have been proven particularly resistant to global warming, rising water temperatures and bleaching events that are crippling their counterparts elsewhere around the world. But the findings of a long-term study by an international team of marine and data scientists, just published in the journal Global Change Biology, confirm a different threat to this coral refuge in southern Israel: massive urban development near the Gulf coastline is taking a devastating toll on the local marine environment.

For an entire year researchers examined how and if urbanization is disrupting natural biorhythms in corals and whether urbanization could be an overlooked contributing factor to global coral decline. Natural biorhythms are responsible for coral metabolism, coral growth and reproduction cycles.

Dr. Yaeli Rosenberg with Prof. Oren Levy, Director of the Marine Lab at Bar-Ilan University’s Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, led the team, which included Dr. Shahar Alon (Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Engineering); Prof. Aldo Shemesh’s lab (Weizmann Institute of Science), the Bioinformatic Services Unit (University of Haifa), Prof. Chris Voolstra’s lab (University of Konstanz, Germany), and Prof. David Miller’s lab (ARC Centre of Excellence for James Cook University in Queensland, Australia).

Two sites in the Gulf of Eilat, at the northern tip of the Red Sea, were sampled—one in close vicinity to the city of Eilat, and one further away. Like any city Eilat emits various forms of chemical, light, hormonal, and noise pollution that can be harmful to marine environments.

Throughout the year the team sampled the reefs during different phases of the moon and different times of day, covering daily, monthly, and seasonal biological cycles. Many techniques, such as RNA expression, physiological studies, stable Isotope measurements, and microbiome analysis were used to understand how urbanization alters biorhythm.

Despite the corals’ relatively healthy appearance, the researchers discovered that natural biorhythms and environmental sensory systems were extensively disturbed in corals living in proximity to urban Eilat. Diel and lunar cycles related to coral metabolism, predation, microbial functional diversity, and circadian clock functions were disturbed by the urban conditions. Altered seasonality patterns were also observed in the microbiomes of the urban coral population, signifying the impact of urbanization on the holobiont (the entire organism), rather than the coral host alone.

“On the surface the corals seem healthy, but when looking deeper than the , we saw the strong effect of urbanization very conclusively,” says Rosenberg. “The disruption of the daily and monthly cycles resulted in lower physiological performances and reproduction cycles that disappeared in the urban corals,” adds Levy. By contrast, corals in the non-urban site looked healthy and their biorhythms showed normal cycling over the sampling periods.   

Levy asserts that scientists must be involved in assessing the potential impact of urbanization on marine areas before decisions on municipal development are made.

Levy, whose research also focuses on biological rhythms in marine animals, is currently preparing a review of the impact of light pollution globally on marine environments. With evidence that is a contributing factor to global coral decline, he plans to study the combination of sensory pollutants (chemical, light pollution, hormonal, and noise) on to determine what thresholds of pollution they can withstand.

More information:
Yaeli Rosenberg et al, Urbanization comprehensively impairs biological rhythms in coral holobionts, Global Change Biology (2022). DOI: 10.1111/gcb.16144

Corals may look healthy, but coastal urbanization is destroying their delicate biorhythm (2022, March 18)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Scientists may have solved Stephen Hawking’s black hole paradox

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Researchers may have solved Professor Stephen Hawking’s famous black hole paradox—a mystery that has puzzled scientists for almost half a century.

According to two new studies, something called “quantum hair” is the answer to the problem.

In the first paper, published in the journal Physical Review Letters, researchers demonstrated that are more complex than originally thought and have gravitational fields that hold information about how they were formed.

The researchers showed that matter collapsing into a black hole leaves a mark in its —an imprint referred to as a “quantum hair.”

In a follow-up paper, published in a separate journal, Physics Letters B, Professor Xavier Calmet from the University of Sussex’s School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences and Professor Stephen Hsu from Michigan State University said quantum hairs resolve Hawking’s Black Hole Information Paradox.

In 1976, Hawking suggested that, as black holes evaporate, they destroy information about what had formed them.

That idea goes against a fundamental law of which states any process in physics can be mathematically reversed.

In the 1960s, physicist John Archibald Wheeler, discussing black holes’ lack of observable features beyond their total mass, spin, and charge, coined the phrase “black holes have no hair”—known as the no-hair theorem.

However, the newly discovered “quantum hair” provides a way for information to be preserved as a black hole collapses and, as such, resolves one of ‘s most famous quandaries, experts say.

Prof Calmet said: “Black holes have long been considered the perfect laboratory to study how to merge Einstein’s theory of general relativity with quantum mechanics.

“It was generally assumed within the that resolving this paradox would require a huge paradigm shift in physics, forcing the potential reformulation of either quantum mechanics or general relativity.

“What we found—and I think is particularly exciting—is that this isn’t necessary.”

Explaining the discovery of the “quantum hair,” Roberto Casadio, professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Bologna, said: “A crucial aspect is that black holes are formed by the collapse of compact objects and then, according to the , there is no absolute separation between the interior and the exterior of the black hole.

“In the , the horizon acts as a perfect one-way membrane which does not let anything out and the exterior is therefore the same for all black holes of a given mass. This is the classical no-hair theorem,” Casadio added.

“However, in the quantum theory, the state of the matter that collapses and forms the black hole continues to affect the state of the exterior, albeit in a way that is compatible with present experimental bounds. This is what is known as ‘quantum hair.'”

More information:
Xavier Calmet et al, Quantum hair and black hole information, Physics Letters B (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.physletb.2022.136995

Xavier Calmet et al, Quantum Hair from Gravity, Physical Review Letters (2022). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.128.111301

2022 dpa GmbH.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Tampa may be on the move, but the bats under a busy Riverwalk bridge are not

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Even in a city coming into its own, things don’t always go as planned. Take the bats, for instance.

In 2017, became concerned about a bridge along the increasingly popular Riverwalk—one of several car-traffic bridges that people pass under while strolling, running, or partying on Tampa’s 2.6-mile waterside path along the Hillsborough River.

Under the Fortune Taylor Bridge between Water Works Park and the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, the bridge’s concrete underpinnings over the water are home to thousands of bats, according to an estimate by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission—likely Mexican or Brazilian free-tailed bats. When it’s dark out, bats can sometimes be seen over the water.

Bat life is further evidenced by brown streaks of bat guano down the concrete supports, made glossy from the wings of the insects they eat. Pedestrians passing through probably notice a strong and distinctive odor that comes from bat urine.

The city wondered: Would the swooping presence of bats scare pedestrians?

“They don’t want people to be intimidated with bats flying. There was never really a , but if somebody freaks out or has a phobia of it, we just try to make everybody happy,” said Robin Nigh, the city’s manager of arts and cultural affairs. “We don’t want to startle or make anyone in the public feel uncomfortable, even though (the bats) are not interested in people.”

That’s where Steve Barlow, wildlife biologist and pilot with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, came in. Barlow, who designed the renowned bat houses at the University of Florida in Gainesville, built one big enough for 4,000 bats for Tampa. The installed it just across the river from the bridge, perched up high in a grassy area at the north edge of Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park. Artist Lynn Manos Page decorated the exterior for free, in shades of blue with dark bats on it, making it not only potential bat real estate but public art, too.

It was installed in 2018. After four years, the bats appears to be uninterested. Upon recent inspection, Nigh could find little evidence of occupancy.

“The bats like the bridge,” said Nigh. “Even though (the bat house) is waterfront property too, they like the bridge.”

A fact about bats: They save American farmers billions of dollars annually in by eating insects, and benefit the lumber industry in forest ecosystems, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Their diet includes those irksome mosquitoes.

“They’re a great benefit,” said Barlow. “Most of us don’t enjoy insects flying around our heads. They eat huge quantities every night.”

Also, bats rarely bite except in self-defense if handled. Do not handle bats.

Barlow wonders if trees around the bat house, which can interfere with flight and the sunlight that warms them, might be troublesome. Bats are warm-blooded, roost communally and “sort of snuggle, if you will,” to keep warm, he said.

He suspects some bats may be popping into the bat house to take breaks or that “bachelor” bats may use the place to separate from female bats who form nursery colonies with their pups.

Bats get a bad rap, Barlow said, including the “nonsense” about them flying into people’s hair.

“The reason they fly erratically is they’re trying to catch a flying insect,” he said. “The bat’s not going to hit you. He doesn’t want anything to do with you.”

Meanwhile, he said, bats already are in the foliage of palms and the Spanish moss hanging from trees around town, and most people don’t even notice.

“They’re all around you,” said Barlow.

At one point, Nigh sat watching on the Riverwalk to see if bats were interacting with humans. They bats came out one by one.

“There wasn’t anyone who was panic-stricken or horrified or scared,” she said. “Most people who saw them thought they were really cool.”

Nigh has become a bat person. “Absolutely,” she said. “I love those guys.”

And the bats may still decide to relocate.

“I’ve had bat houses take eight to 10 years to get used,” Barlow said. “And I’ve literally gone to install a bat house that was sitting on the ground and bats were using it.”

Or they could stay under the bridge.

“If they have a place that works, it’s the right temperature, they’re not suffering predation, nobody’s up there harassing them, they will stay there,” said Barlow. “That’s what the are thinking—if I could get in their heads.”

©2022 Tampa Bay Times.
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Hexbyte Glen Cove New technique harnesses cutting-edge AI capabilities to model and map the natural environment

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Powerful quake rattles Japan, tsunami advisory issued

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Japan sits on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, an arc of intense seismic activity.

A powerful 7.3-magnitude quake jolted eastern Japan on Wednesday night, rattling the capital Tokyo and prompting a tsunami advisory for parts of the northeast coast near the site of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

At least one person died in the , local news agency Kyodo reported, as authorities said emergency departments in affected areas received numerous calls to respond to emergencies and injuries.

A tsunami advisory warned of waves of up to one metre for the Fukushima and Miyagi regions, but reports indicated only small tsunami waves had hit the coast in the subsequent hours.

The undersea quake, which caused temporary power cuts to more than two million households, hit at 11:36 pm (1436 GMT) off Fukushima’s coast at a depth of 60 kilometres (37 miles), the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.

It came just days after Japan marked the 11th anniversary of a massive quake that triggered a deadly tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe.

JMA said waves of 30 centimetres had been measured in the city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi, calling on residents to stay away from the coast.

Authorities said they were working to assess damage from the quake, as officials warned of potentially powerful aftershocks.

“Calls have been inundating police and ambulances in Fukushima and Miyagi,” government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters. “We’re doing our best to assess the extent of the damage.”

A tsunami advisory warned of waves up to one metre for the Fukushima and Miyagi regions but reports indicated only small tsunami waves had hit the coast in the subsequent hours.

“Major aftershocks often happen a couple of days after the first quake, so please stay away from any collapsed buildings… and other high-risk places.”

Japan’s nuclear authority said no abnormalities were detected at the Fukushima plant that went into meltdown in 2011 when the tsunami hit.

Pumps for cooling pools storing spent fuel at separate plants in Fukushima and Onagawa, in Miyagi, temporarily stopped operating at some reactors but were being quickly restored, the country’s nuclear watchdog said.

TV footage showed some structural damage in the northeast, including the collapse of a stone wall of Aoba castle in Sendai city.

A Shinkansen bullet train derailed north of Fukushima city, train company JR East said, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

An official in the emergency department of the local government of Ishinomaki told AFP he had been woken by “extremely violent shaking”.

Evacuation orders were issued by some northeastern towns.

“I heard the ground rumbling. Rather than feeling scared, I immediately remembered the Great East Japan Earthquake,” he said, referring to the 2011 disaster.

Multiple smaller jolts hit the region in the hours immediately after the quake.

‘Take action to protect yourself’

Some two million households were left without power in the eastern Kanto region, including 700,000 in Tokyo, electricity provider TEPCO said.

But the power company had resolved blackouts in its service area by around 4:00 am (1900 GMT), Kyodo reported.

In the northeast, 156,000 households lost power, regional energy company Tohoku Electric Power said.

Evacuation orders were issued in some northeastern towns, NHK reported, with Rifu town in Miyagi opening shelters in its official buildings.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters the government was gathering information on the situation.

“Please pay attention to information on the earthquake, stay away from the coast and take action to protect yourself,” he said.

Japan sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.

The country is regularly hit by quakes, and has strict construction regulations intended to ensure buildings can withstand strong tremors, but it remains haunted by the memory of the 2011 catastrophe.

A minute’s silence was held last Friday, the anniversary of the disaster, to remember the some 18,500 people left dead or missing, most in the tsunami.

Around the stricken Fukushima plant, extensive decontamination has been carried out, and this year five former residents of Futaba, the region’s last uninhabited town, returned to live there on a trial basis.

Around 12 percent of Fukushima was once declared unsafe, but no-go zones now cover just 2.4 percent of the prefecture, although populations in many towns remain far lower than before.

© 2022 AFP

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Novel theory of entropy may solve materials design issues

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Entropy is the measure of the disorder in a system that occurs over a period of time with no energy put into restoring the order. Zentropy integrates entropy at multiscale levels. Credit: Elizabeth Flores-Gomez Murray / Jennifer M. McCann, Penn State

A challenge in materials design is that in both natural and manmade materials, volume sometimes decreases, or increases, with increasing temperature. While there are mechanical explanations for this phenomenon for some specific materials, a general understanding of why this sometimes happens remains lacking.

However, a team of Penn State researchers has come up with a theory to explain and then predict it: Zentropy.

Zentropy is a play on , a concept central to the second law of that expresses the measure of the disorder of a system that occurs over a period of time when there is no energy applied to keep order in the system. Think of a playroom in a preschool; if no energy is put into keeping it tidy, it quickly becomes disordered with toys all over the floor, a state of high entropy. If energy is put in via cleaning up and organizing the room once the children leave, then the room returns to a state of order and low entropy.

Zentropy theory notes that the thermodynamic relationship of thermal expansion, when the volume increases due to higher temperature, is equal to the negative derivative of entropy with respect to pressure, i.e., the entropy of most material systems decreases with an increase in pressure. This enables Zentropy theory to be able to predict the change of volume as a function of temperature at a multiscale level, meaning the different scales within a system. Every state of matter has its own entropy, and different parts of a system have their own entropy.

“When we talk about the configuration entropy (different ways particles rearrange within a system) that entropy is only part of the entropy of the system,” said Zi-Kui Liu, Dorothy Pate Enright Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and primary investigator in the study. “So, you have to add the entropy of individual components of that system into the equation, and then you consider the different scales, the universe, the Earth, the people, the materials; these are different scales within different systems.”

The authors of the study, published in the Journal of Phase Equilibria and Diffusion, believe that Zentropy may be able to predict anomalies of other physical properties of phases beyond volume. This is because responses of a system to are driven by entropy.

Macroscopic functionalities of materials stem from assemblies of microscopic states (microstates) at all scales at and below the scale of the macroscopic state of investigation. These functionalities are challenging to predict because only one or a few microstates can be considered in a typical computational approach such as the predictive “from the beginning” calculations, which help determine the fundamental properties of materials.

“This challenge becomes acute in materials with multiple , which are processes that convert matter from one state to another, such as vaporization of a liquid,” Liu said. “This is often where the most transformative functionalities exist, such as superconductivity and giant electromechanical response.”

Zentropy theory “stacks” these different scales into an entropy theory that encompasses the different elements of an entire system, presenting a nested formula for the entropy of complex multiscale systems, according to Liu.

“You have these different scales and you can stack them up with Zentropy theory,” Liu said. “For example, atoms as a vibrational property, that’s low scale, then you have electronic interaction, that even lower scale. So now how do you stack them together to cover the entire system? So that is what the Zentropy equation is about, stacking them together. It creates a partition function that is the sum of all the entropy scales.”

This approach has been something Liu’s lab has worked on for more than 10 years and five different published studies.

“The idea actually became very simple after we studied it and understood it,” Liu said.

Zentropy has potential to change the way materials are designed, especially those that are part of systems that are exposed to higher temperatures. These temperatures, given thermal expansion, could cause issues if the materials expand.

“This has the potential to enable the fundamental understanding and design of materials with emergent properties, such as new superconductors and new ferroelectric materials that could potentially lead to new classes of electronics,” Liu said. “Also, other applications such as designing better structural materials that withstand higher temperatures are also possible.”

While there are benefits for society in general, researchers could apply Zentropy to multiple fields. This is because of how entropy is present in all systems. “The Zentropy theory has the potential to be applied to larger systems because entropy drives changes in all systems whether they are , planets, societies or forests,” Liu said.

Along with Liu, other authors of the study include Yi Wang, research professor in materials science and engineering, and Shun-Li Zhang, research professor in materials science and engineering.

More information:
Zi-Kui Liu et al, Zentropy Theory for Positive and Negative Thermal Expansion, Journal of Phase Equilibria and Diffusion (2022). DOI: 10.1007/s11669-022-00942-z

Novel theory of entropy may solve materials design issues (2022, March 1

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