Hexbyte Glen Cove Millions sweltering in US west as Canada takes emergency steps thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Millions sweltering in US west as Canada takes emergency steps

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Sweltering conditions hit much of the Pacific seaboard and as far inland as the western edge of the Rocky Mountains over the weekend.

Millions of people across the western United States and Canada were hit Sunday by a new round of scorching hot temperatures, with some roads closed, train traffic limited and new evacuations ordered.

In Canada, with wildfires continuing to spread—including 50 more blazes erupting in the past two days—the government announced new emergency measures aimed at preventing further fires.

Sweltering conditions hit much of the Pacific seaboard and as far inland as the western edge of the Rocky Mountains over the weekend.

“A dangerous heat wave will affect much of the western US, with record-breaking temperatures likely,” the National Weather service said on its website Sunday, while Canadian meteorologists predicted highs approaching 90 Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) in parts of western Canada—well above seasonal norms.

Las Vegas on Saturday matched its all-time record of 117 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Weather Service (NWS)—a recorded in the desert entertainment city once in 1942 and three other times since 2005.

Sunday was expected to be only a few degrees cooler there, while Death Valley, California—often the nation’s hottest spot—was headed for a high of 126 degrees Fahrenheit.

Forecasters issued an excessive heat warning for several other urban centers including the southern city of Phoenix and San Jose, the center of the Silicon Valley tech industry south of San Francisco.

Death Valley, California—often the nation’s hottest spot—was headed for a high of 126 degrees Fahrenheit.

The weekend’s hot weather follows an earlier heat wave that struck the western United States and Canada at the end of June.

The scorching conditions saw the all-time record daily temperature broken three days in a row in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

Warming temperatures

Canadian transport minister Omar Alghabra on Sunday announced new emergency measures aimed at preventing further wildfires in the tinder-dry region, including steps to slow or limit train traffic.

Trains are a common cause of wildfires, often when their spark-arresting devices are poorly maintained.

Several roads and highways in the area have been closed as the government rated the wildfire risk in much of the province as “extreme.” A dozen towns or locales remained under evacuation orders.

The Canadian government has sent investigators to the town of Lytton, 150 miles (250 kilometers) northeast of Vancouver, to see whether a passing cargo train might have caused a late June fire that destroyed 90 percent of the town.

The overall death toll in British Columbia was not yet known but is thought to run into the hundreds.

As of Sunday morning, the number of wildfires across British Columbia was continuing to rise, hitting 298, authorities said.

In the US state of Oregon, the Bootleg Fire more than tripled in size between Friday and Sunday, gaining more than 100,000 acres, according to the US Forest Service.

Last month was the hottest June on record in North America, according to data released by the European Union’s climate monitoring service.

Human activity has driven up, stoking increasingly fierce storms, extreme heatwaves, droughts and wildfires.

The World Meteorological Organization and Britain’s Met Office said in May there was a 40 percent chance of the annual average global temperature temporarily surpassing 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures within the next five years.

The past six years, including 2020, have been the six warmest on record.



© 2021 AFP

Citation:
Millions sweltering in US west as Canada takes emergency steps (2021, July 12)
retrieved 13 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-millions-sweltering-west-canada-emergency.html

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part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

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Hexbyte Glen Cove The 'hijab effect': Feminist backlash to Muslim immigrants in Germany thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove The ‘hijab effect’: Feminist backlash to Muslim immigrants in Germany

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Why do some Europeans discriminate against Muslim immigrants, and how can these instances of prejudice be reduced? Political scientist Nicholas Sambanis has spent the last few years looking into this question by conducting innovative studies at train stations across Germany involving willing participants, unknowing bystanders and, most recently, bags of lemons.

His newest study, co-authored with Donghyun Danny Choi at the University of Pittsburgh and Mathias Poertner at Texas A&M University, was published July 8 in the American Journal of Political Science and finds evidence of significant discrimination against Muslim women during everyday interactions with native Germans. That evidence comes from experimental interventions set up on train platforms across dozens of German cities and reveals that discrimination by German women is due to their beliefs that Muslims are regressive with respect to women’s rights. In effect, their experiment finds a feminist opposition to Muslims, and shows that discrimination is eliminated when Muslim women signaled that they shared progressive gender attitudes, says Sambanis, who directs the Penn Identity and Conflict Lab (PIC Lab), which he founded when he came to Penn in 2016.

Many studies in psychology have shown bias and discrimination are rooted in a sense that ethnic, racial, or religious differences create distance between citizens, he says. “Faced with waves of immigration from culturally different populations, many Europeans are increasingly supporting policies of coercive assimilation that eliminate those sources of difference by suppressing ethnic or religious marker, for example, by banning the hijab in public places or forcing immigrants to attend language classes,” Sambanis says. “Our research shows that bias and discrimination can be reduced via far less coercive measures—as long as immigration does not threaten core values that define the social identities of native populations.”

“The Hijab Effect: Feminist Backlash to Muslim Immigrants” is the fourth study in a multiyear project on the topic of how to reduce prejudice against immigrants conducted by Sambanis and the team. The study’s co-authors, Choi and Poertner, started working on this project as postdoctoral fellows at the PIC Lab.

The new paper builds on the first leg of the project which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2019 and which explored whether discrimination against immigrants is reduced when immigrants show that they share civic norms that are valued by native citizens. That study found evidence that shared norms reduce but do not eliminate discrimination. The new study explores the impact of norms and ideas that are important to particular subgroups of the native population, and finds stronger effects when such norms are shared by immigrants.

The findings have implications for how to think about reducing conflict between native and immigrant communities in an era of increased cross-border migration, Sambanis says.

He and his co-authors conducted the large-scale field experiment in 25 cities across Germany involving more than 3,700 unknowing bystanders.

“Germany was a good case study because it has received the largest number of asylum applications in Europe since 2015, a result of the refugee crisis created by wars in Syria and other countries in the Middle East and Central Asia,” Sambanis says. “Germany has had a long history of immigration from Muslim countries since the early post-war period, and anti-immigrant sentiments have been high as a result of cultural differences. These differences are manipulated politically and become more salient.”

The intervention went like this: A woman involved in the study approached a bench at a train station where bystanders waited and drew their attention by asking them if they knew if she could buy tickets on the train.

She then received a phone call and audibly conversed with the caller in German regarding her sister, who was considering whether to take a job or stay at home and take care of her husband and her kids. The scripted conversation revealed the woman’s position on whether her sister has the right to work or a duty to stay at home to care for the family.

At the end of the phone call, a bag she was holding seemingly tears, making her drop a bunch of lemons, which scatter on the platform and she appeared to need help gathering them.

In the final step, team members who were not a part of the intervention observed and recorded whether each bystander who was within earshot of the helped the women collect the lemons.

They experimentally varied the identity of the woman, who was sometimes a native German or an immigrant from the Middle East; and the immigrant sometimes wore a hijab to signal her Muslim identity and sometimes not.

They found that men were not very receptive to different messages regarding the woman’s attitude toward gender equality, but German women were. Among German women, anti-Muslim discrimination was eliminated when the immigrant woman signaled that she held progressive views vis-à-vis women’s rights. Men continued to discriminate in both the regressive and progressive conditions of the experiment.

It was a surprise that the experimental treatment did not seem to make a big difference in the behavior of men towards Muslim women.

“Women were very receptive to this message that we had about Muslims sharing progressive beliefs about women’s rights, but men were indifferent to it,” says Sambanis. “We expected that there would be a difference, and that the effect of the treatment would be larger among women, but we did not expect that it would be basically zero for men.”

The experiment makes gender identity more salient and establishes a common identity between native German women—most of whom share progressive views on gender—and the in the progressive condition. This is the basis of the reduction of discrimination, Sambanis says, and it does not require coercive measures like forcing Muslims to take off the hijab. “You can overcome discrimination in other ways, but it is important to signal that that the two groups share a common set of norms and ideas that define appropriate civic behaviors.”

The results are surprising from the perspective of the prior literature, which assumed that it is very hard for people to overcome barriers created by race, religion, and ethnicity. At the same time, this experiment speaks to the limits of multiculturalism, says Sambanis. “Our work shows that differences in ethnic, racial, or linguistic traits can be overcome, but citizens will resist abandoning longstanding norms and ideas that define their identities in favo

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Biosynthesis pathway of a new DNA nucleobase elucidated thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Biosynthesis pathway of a new DNA nucleobase elucidated

Hexbyte Glen Cove

A : T, G : C and Z : T bonds. Credit: Pasteur Institute

DNA is composed of nucleobases represented by the letters A, T, G and C. They form the basis of the genetic code and are present in all living beings. But in a bacteriophage, another base, represented by the letter Z, exists. This exception, the only one observed to date, has long remained a mystery. Scientists from the Institut Pasteur and the CNRS, in collaboration with the CEA, have now elucidated the biosynthesis pathway of this base. This work has been published in the April 30th, 2021 issue of Science.

DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is a molecule that serves as the medium for storing genetic information in all living organisms. It is a characterized by alternating purine nucleobases (adenine and guanine) and pyrimidine nucleobases (cytidine and deoxycytidine). The bases of each DNA strand are located at the center of the helix and are bonded together, thereby linking the two DNA strands: adenine forms two with thymine (A-T), and guanine forms three hydrogen bonds with cytosine (G-C). This applies to all living beings, with one exception.

Cyanophage S-2L, an exception to conventional genetics

Cyanophage S-2L is a bacteriophage, in other words a virus that infects bacteria. In this phage, adenine is completely replaced by another base, 2-aminoadenine (represented by the letter Z). The latter forms three hydrogen bonds with thymine (Z-T), instead of the usual two bonds between adenine and thymine. This higher number of bonds increases the stability of the DNA at high temperatures and changes its conformation, meaning that the DNA is less well recognized by proteins and small molecules

2-aminoadenine biosynthesis pathway elucidated

Since it was discovered in 1977, cyanophage S-2L has been the only known exception, and the biosynthesis pathway of 2-aminoadenine has remained unknown. Scientists from the Institut Pasteur and the CNRS, in collaboration with the CEA, recently elucidated this biosynthesis pathway and demonstrated its enzymatic origins. They achieved this by identifying a homolog of the known enzyme succinoadenylate synthase (PurA) in the genome of cyanophage S-2L. A phylogenetic analysis of this enzyme family revealed a link between the homolog, known as PurZ, and the PurA enzyme in archaea. This indicates that the homolog is an ancient enzyme that probably conferred an evolutionary advantage. The research was carried out using the Institut Pasteur’s Crystallography Platform.

The new Z-T base pair and the discovery of the biosynthesis pathway show that new bases can be enzymatically incorporated into genetic material. This increases the number of coding bases in DNA, paving the way for the development of synthetic genetic biopolymers.



More information:
Dona Sleiman et al, A third purine biosynthetic pathway encoded by aminoadenine-based viral DNA genomes, Science (2021). DOI: 10.1126/science.abe6494

Citation:
Biosynthesis pathway of a new DNA nucleobase elucidated (2021, July 9)
retrieved 11 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-biosynthesis-pathway-dna-nucleobase-elucidated.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove New June record for deforestation of Brazilian Amazon thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove New June record for deforestation of Brazilian Amazon

Hexbyte Glen Cove

This file photo taken on August 16, 2020, shows a burnt area of Amazon rainforest reserve in Para, Brazil.

Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon reached a record in June for the fourth consecutive month, according to official data released Friday.

A total of 1,062 square kilometers of forest was destroyed—an area almost the size of the city of Rio de Janeiro.

This was up from 1,043 km2 in the same month last year, said the INPE research institute, which uses to measure .

In total, 3,609 km2 of Amazon was lost in the first quarter of 2021, up 17 percent from the same period last year.

The figure was the highest for a month of June since the INPE started gathering data in 2015.

Since coming to power in 2019, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has promoted the commercialization of the Amazon and described NGOs trying to protect the jungle as a “cancer.”

However, he recently pledged to eliminate Brazil’s illegal deforestation by 2030, some 10 years ahead of target, though environmentalists say he is insincere.

Last month, vice president Hamilton Mourao announced a against Amazonian deforestation.

Two weeks ago, Brazilian Environment Minister Ricardo Salles resigned after the Supreme Court ordered an investigation into allegations he was involved in a timber trafficking scheme.

He was replaced by Joaquim Alvaro Pereira Leite, allied to one of the country’s largest agricultural lobby groups.

The Brazilian Amazon also marked its worst June for since 2007 this year, with some 2,308 fires detected—an increase of 2.3 percent from the same month last year.



© 2021 AFP

Citation:
New June record for deforestation of Brazilian Amazon (2021, July 9)
retrieved 11 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-june-deforestation-brazilian-amazon.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Elevated warming, ozone have detrimental effects on plant roots, promote soil carbon loss thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Elevated warming, ozone have detrimental effects on plant roots, promote soil carbon loss

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Two factors that play a key role in climate change—increased climate warming and elevated ozone levels—appear to have detrimental effects on soybean plant roots, their relationship with symbiotic microorganisms in the soil and the ways the plants sequester carbon.

The results, published in the July 9 edition of Science Advances, show few changes to the plant shoots aboveground but some distressing results underground, including an increased inability to hold carbon that instead gets released into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas.

North Carolina State University researchers examined the interplay of and increased ozone levels with certain important underground organisms— (AMF) – that promote chemical interactions that hold carbon in the ground by preventing the decomposition of soil organic matter, thereby halting the escape of carbon from the decomposing material.

“The ability to sequester carbon is very important to soil productivity—in addition to the detrimental effects of increasing greenhouse gases when this carbon escapes,” said Shuijin Hu, professor of plant pathology at NC State and corresponding author of the paper.

Present in the roots of about 80% of that grow on land, AMF have a win-win relationship with plants. AMF take carbon from plants and provide nitrogen and other useful soil nutrients that plants need in order to grow and develop.

In the study, researchers set up plots of soybeans with increased air temperatures of about 3 degrees Celsius, plots with higher levels of ozone, plots with higher levels of both warming and ozone, and control plots with no modifications. The resulting experiments showed that warming and increased make soybean roots thinner as they save resources to get the nutrients they need.

Soybean cultivars are often sensitive to ozone, Hu said. Ozone levels have been somewhat stable or even declining in some parts of the United States over the past decade but have risen dramatically in areas of rapid industrialization, like India and China, for example.

“Ozone and warming have been shown to be very stressful to a lot of crops—not just soybeans—and a lot of grasses and ,” Hu said. “Ozone and warming make the plants weak. Plants try to maximize nutrient uptake, so their roots become thinner and longer as they need to exploit the sufficient volume of soil for resources. This weakness results in a reduction of AMF and faster root and fungal hyphal turnovers, which stimulates decomposition and makes carbon sequestration more difficult. These cascading events may have profound effects underground, although the plant shoots appear normal in some cases.”

Hu said he was surprised that the plant shoots weren’t greatly affected by the stresses of warming and ozone; the biomass of plant leaves in both control and experimental plots was about the same.

Perhaps even more surprisingly, Hu said that more warming and ozone changed the type of AMF that colonize soybean plants.

The study showed that levels of an AMF species called Glomus decreased with more warming and , while a species called Paraglomus increased.

“Glomus protects organic carbon from microbial decomposition while Paraglomus is more efficient at absorbing nutrients,” Hu said. “We didn’t expect these communities to shift in this way.”

Hu plans to continue to study the systems surrounding sequestration in soil as well as other emissions from soil, like nitrous oxide, or N2O.



More information:
Y. Qiu el al., “Warming and elevated ozone induce tradeoffs between fine roots and mycorrhizal fungi and stimulate organic carbon decomposition,” Science Advances (2021). advances.sciencemag.org/lookup … .1126/sciadv.abe9256

Citation:
Elevated warming, ozone have detrimental effects on plant roots, promote soil carbon loss (2021, July 9)
retrieved 10 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-elevated-ozone-detrimental-effects-roots.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Scientists solve 40-year mystery over Jupiter's X-ray aurora thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Scientists solve 40-year mystery over Jupiter’s X-ray aurora

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Overlaid images of Jupiter’s pole from NASA’s satellite Juno and NASA’s Chandra X-ray telescope. Left shows a projection of Jupiter’s Northern X-ray aurora (purple) overlaid on a visible Junocam image of the North Pole. Right shows the Southern counterpart. Credit: NASA Chandra/Juno Wolk/Dunn

A research team co-led by UCL has solved a decades-old mystery as to how Jupiter produces a spectacular burst of X-rays every few minutes.

The X-rays are part of Jupiter’s aurora—bursts of visible and invisible light that occur when charged particles interact with the planet’s atmosphere. A similar phenomenon occurs on Earth, creating the northern lights, but Jupiter’s is much more powerful, releasing hundreds of gigawatts of energy, enough to briefly power all of human civilization.

In a new study, published in Science Advances, researchers combined close-up observations of Jupiter’s environment by NASA’s satellite Juno, which is currently orbiting the planet, with simultaneous X-ray measurements from the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton observatory (which is in Earth’s own orbit).

The research team, led by UCL and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, discovered that X-ray flares were triggered by periodic vibrations of Jupiter’s . These vibrations create waves of plasma (ionized gas) that send heavy ion particles “surfing” along magnetic field lines until they smash into the planet’s atmosphere, releasing energy in the form of X-rays.

Co-lead author Dr. William Dunn (UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory) said: “We have seen Jupiter producing X-ray aurora for four decades, but we didn’t know how this happened. We only knew they were produced when ions crashed into the planet’s atmosphere.

“Now we know these ions are transported by plasma waves—an explanation that has not been proposed before, even though a similar process produces Earth’s own aurora. It could, therefore, be a universal phenomenon, present across many in space.”







For the first time, astronomers have seen the way Jupiter’s magnetic field is compressed, which heats the particles and directs them along the magnetic field lines down into the atmosphere of Jupiter, sparking the X-ray aurora. The connection was made by combining in-situ data from NASA’s Juno mission with X-ray observations from ESA’s XMM-Newton. Credit: ESA/NASA/Yao/Dunn

X-ray auroras occur at Jupiter’s north and south poles, often with clockwork regularity—during this observation Jupiter was producing bursts of X-rays every 27 minutes.

The charged ion particles that hit the atmosphere originate from volcanic gas pouring into space from giant volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon, Io.

This gas becomes ionized (its atoms are stripped free of electrons) due to collisions in Jupiter’s immediate environment, forming a donut of plasma that encircles the planet.

Co-lead author Dr. Zhonghua Yao (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing) said: “Now we have identified this fundamental process, there is a wealth of possibilities for where it could be studied next. Similar processes likely occur around Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and probably exoplanets as well, with different kinds of charged particles ‘surfing’ the waves.”

Co-author Professor Graziella Branduardi-Raymont (UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory) said: “X-rays are typically produced by extremely powerful and violent phenomena such as black holes and neutron stars, so it seems strange that mere planets produce them too.

“We can never visit , as they are beyond space travel, but Jupiter is on our doorstep. With the arrival of the satellite Juno into Jupiter’s orbit, astronomers now have a fantastic opportunity to study an environment that produces X-rays up close.”

Jupiter’s mysterious X-ray auroras have been explained, ending a 40-year quest for an answer. For the first time, astronomers have seen the way Jupiter’s magnetic field is compressed, which heats the particles and directs them along the magnetic field lines down into the atmosphere of Jupiter, sparking the X-ray aurora. The connection was made by combining in-situ data from NASA’s Juno mission with X-ray observations from ESA’s XMM-Newton. Credit: ESA/NASA/Yao/Dunn

For the new study, researchers analyzed observations of Jupiter and its surrounding environment carried out continuously over a 26-hour period by the Juno and XMM-Newton satellites.

They found a clear correlation between waves in the plasma detected by Juno and X-ray auroral flares at Jupiter’s north pole recorded by X-MM Newton. They then used computer modeling to confirm that the waves would drive the heavy particles towards Jupiter’s atmosphere.

Why the magnetic field lines vibrate periodically is unclear, but the vibration may result from interactions with the solar wind or from high-speed plasma flows within Jupiter’s magnetosphere.

Jupiter’s magnetic field is extremely strong—about 20,000 times as strong as Earth’s—and therefore its magnetosphere, the area controlled by this magnetic field, is extremely large. If it was visible in the night sky, it would cover a region several times the size of our moon.



More information:
Z. Yao el al., “Revealing the source of Jupiter’s x-ray auroral flares,” Science Advances (2021). advances.sciencemag.org/lookup … .1126/sciadv.abf0851

Citation:
Scientists solve 40-year mystery over Jupiter’s X-ray aurora (2021, July 9)
retrieved 10 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-scientists-year-mystery-jupiter-x-ray.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 Remote control for plants thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Remote control for plants

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Plants have microscopically small pores on the surface of their leaves called stomata. These help plants regulate the influx of carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. They also prevent the loss of too much water and withering away during drought.

The stomatal pores are surrounded by two guard cells. If the internal pressure of these cells drops, they slacken and close the pore. If the pressure rises, the cells move apart and the pore widens.

The stomatal movements are thus regulated by the guard cells. Signaling pathways in these cells are so complex that it is difficult for humans to intervene with them directly. However, researchers of the Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg in Bavaria, Germany, nevertheless found a way to control the movements of stomata remotely—using .

Light-sensitive protein from algae used

The researchers succeeded in doing this by introducing a light-sensitive switch into the guard cells of tobacco . This technology was adopted from optogenetics. It has been successfully exploited in animal cells, but the application in plant cells it is still in its infancy.

The team led by JMU biophysicist and guard cell expert Professor Rainer Hedrich describes their approach in the journal Science Advances. JMU researchers Shouguang Huang (first author), Kai Konrad and Rob Roelfsema were significantly involved.

The group used a from the alga Guillardia theta as a light switch, namely the anion channel ACR1 from the group of channelrhodopsins. In response to light pulses, the switch ensures that chloride flows out of the guard cells and potassium follows. The guard cells lose internal pressure, slacken and the pore closes within 15 minutes. “The light pulse is like a for the movement of the stomata,” says Hedrich.

Anion channel hypothesis confirmed

“By exposing ACR1 to light, we have bridged the cell’s own signaling chain, thus proving the hypothesis that the opening of anion channels is essential and sufficient for stomatal closure,” Hedrich says. The exposure to light had almost completely prevented the transpiration of the plants.

With this knowledge, it is now possible to cultivate plants with an increased number of anion channels in the guard . Plants equipped in this way should close their stomata more quickly in response to approaching heat waves and thus be better able to cope with periods of drought.

“Plant anion channels are activated during stress; this process is dependent on calcium. In a follow up optogenetics project, we want to use calcium-conducting channelrhodopsins to specifically allow calcium to flow into the cell through exposure to and to understand the mechanism of anion channel activation in detail,” Hedrich says.

Basic scientific research can also benefit from the results from Würzburg: “Our new optogenetic tool has for research,” says the JMU professor. “With it, we can gain new insights into how plants regulate their water consumption and how carbon dioxide fixation and stomatal movements are coupled.”



More information:
Optogenetic control of the guard cell membrane potential and stomatal movement by the light-gated anion channel GtACR1, Science Advances (2021). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abg4619

Citation:
Remote control for plants (2021, July 9)
retrieved 10 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-remote.html

This doc

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Scientists learn how otters stay hotter thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Scientists learn how otters stay hotter

Hexbyte Glen Cove

A sea otter sits on a chunk of ice that fell from a glacier in the Prince William Sound near Whittier, Alaska.

Sea otters are a hardy lot.

The smallest of all marine mammals with the thickest fur of the animal kingdom, they can hold their breath for up to eight minutes while they dive for prey like clams and crabs, which they’re known to crack open using rocks.

An enduring mystery, however, was just how the mustelids manage to stay warm in the chilly waters of their Pacific habitat, bereft of the blubber that insulates seals, whales and walruses.

The answer, according to a new paper published in the journal Science on Thursday, is their bodies have a unique energy conversion system whereby their “leaks” heat throughout their bodies.

That’s unlike other mammals, which have to put their muscles to work through exercise, or involuntary shivering, to achieve the same result.

Lead author Traver Wright of Texas A&M University told AFP that while ‘ dense, water-resistant fur offsets some , it isn’t enough by itself to cope with the frigid waters off Alaska, where most of them reside.

Scientists already knew the sea otters burn a lot of energy—approximately three times greater than predicted for mammals of their size, and to keep up with the demand, they may consume up to 25 percent of their in a day.

Canadian sea otters swim on June 5, 2012 in the zoo of Amneville, eastern France.

It was unclear, though, which tissues were making use of this energy and how it was going towards producing heat.

To find out, Wright and colleagues took muscle samples from sea otters that were already dead, or, more happily, had been rehabilitated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and were being prepared for release.

They then used a device to measure oxygen consumption.

‘Making heat by being inefficient’

The main function of muscles is generally to be able to move the body, but in the otters, much of the produced by breaking down sugars and fats was lost as heat instead of being used in the cells to do work such as powering muscle contraction.

“One of the interesting things that we found is that they’re really good at making heat by being inefficient,” said Wright.

What the team observed would be considered wasteful in land mammals like humans, “but if you’re an animal that’s trying to warm up, then that ‘wasted’ energy and is a good thing.”

Sea otters, the smallest of all marine mammals with the thickest fur of the animal kingdom, they can hold their breath for up to eight minutes while they dive for prey like clams and crabs, which they’re known to crack open using rocks.

In other words, ideal for helping maintain a body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in freezing conditions.

The team found that this “thermogenesic” effect was present in sea otters from the time they were babies to adults, and there was no difference in captive and wild-raised animals.

Sea otters and marine mammals more broadly might have evolved such traits when their terrestrial ancestors began taking to the oceans 50 million years ago, but that hypothesis will require more research to confirm.

Learning how sea otters’ metabolic system functions differently from ours could one day also help humans solve obesity issues, added Wright.

“If you can figure out how to increase the leak and metabolic rate, you could theoretically have humans revving up the metabolism and burning off additional calories.”



More information:
T. Wright el al., “Skeletal muscle thermogenesis enables aquatic life in the smallest marine mammal,” Science (2021). science.sciencemag.org/lookup/ … 1126/science.abf4557

© 2021 AFP

Citation:
Scientists learn how otters stay hotter (2021, July 8)
retrieved 9 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-scientists-otters-hotter.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 Many nonprofits, companies report using commercial species in tree planting projects thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Many nonprofits, companies report using commercial species in tree planting projects

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: Clint McKoy on Unsplash

Nonprofits and companies planting trees in the tropics may often pick species for their commercial rather than ecological value, researchers found in a new analysis of organizations’ publicly available data. They also found many may not have tracked the trees’ survival.

Tree planting is a promising, but controversial, restoration strategy for fighting climate change. A new study in the journal Biological Conservation provides a detailed look at what restoration organizations across the tropics are actually doing on the ground.

“We found some organizations placed an emphasis on biological diversity and forest restoration in their mission statements. When we looked at the they reported planting, many organizations reported planting commercial species, with chocolate, mango and teak in the top five,” said the study’s first author Meredith Martin, assistant professor of forestry and environmental resources at NC State. Martin led the study with researchers from The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit that was also included in the analysis.

For the study, researchers analyzed publicly available data from websites and annual reports for 136 nonprofits and 38 for-profit companies, gathered using internet searches and referrals from Yale University’s Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative. Their analysis included projects focused on forest conservation, economic development, or humanitarian aims in 74 different countries, all located in the tropics or subtropics. Brazil, Kenya and Indonesia were the countries with the largest number of projects.

Of these organizations, 118 reported the numbers of they planted. In total, they reported planting a total of 1.4 billion trees since 1961. At their estimated average rate of planting in the tropics, it would take more than a thousand years to plant a trillion trees—a goal set by at least three global initiatives.

Organizations reported planting a total of 682 species—a fraction of the roughly 50,000 species of trees found in the tropics, Martin said. Without having access to data about numbers of trees planted by species, they estimated the percentage of organizations planting certain species. The most commonly reported species, ranked by number of projects reporting those species, were cacao, teak, moringa, mango and coffee.

Nearly half of the groups didn’t mention their planting method. The most common planting method was agroforestry, which is the integration of trees into animal or crop farming operations. Ten percent talked about planting using assisted regeneration, seven percent focused on enrichment planting, and two percent focused on natural regeneration.

“There’s been a lot of research looking at natural regeneration, which is protecting a forest and letting it regrow,” Martin said. “It can be cheaper, and more effective in terms of accumulating biomass and species diversity. There are also ways of assisting regeneration to encourage the species you want.”

Thirty-two individual organizations mentioned monitoring tree survival. Of those, eight mentioned measuring survival rates and seven mentioned maintenance of plantings. Three groups gave detailed information about monitoring, and two mentioned they worked with outside groups for monitoring or certification.

“If you’re not monitoring whether the trees you’re planting are surviving, or taking steps to ensure they’re surviving or growing, that could be a waste of money and effort,” Martin said.

Researchers say the findings are important as groups increasingly look to plant trees to mitigate climate change.

“Trees are natural and incredibly efficient carbon capture entities,” Martin said. “They’re also living organisms. They’re not just machines we can put down anywhere. Organizations need to be thoughtful about what species they are going to use and how they make sure they match the environment, as well as tracking to make sure they’re not wasting money on something that doesn’t work.”



More information:
Meredith P. Martin et al, People plant trees for utility more often than for biodiversity or carbon, Biological Conservation (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2021.109224

Citation:
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Meet the open-source software powering NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter

Hexbyte Glen Cove

This illustration shows the Lunar Flashlight spacecraft, a six-unit CubeSat designed to search for ice on the Moon’s surface using special lasers. F Prime is scheduled to run on both this project and Near-Earth Asteroid Scout CubeSat. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

When NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter hovered above the Red Planet April 19 on its maiden voyage, the moment was hailed as the first instance of powered, controlled flight on another planet. Figuring out how to fly on Mars, where the air is thin but gravity is about a third of that on Earth, took years of work. Along with the challenge of developing a craft that was up to the task, the mission needed software to make the unprecedented flights possible.

So they turned to F Prime, a reusable, multi-mission software framework designed for CubeSats, small spacecraft, and instruments. The program was initially developed in 2013 by a team led by Tim Canham at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California with the aim of creating a low-cost, portable, pliable software architecture option that would allow components written for one application to be reused easily in other applications and run on a range of processors.

In 2017, the team pushed for F Prime to be released as , meaning anyone could freely access the software’s , allowing external collaborators, universities, and the general public to use the framework on their own projects. It is one of hundreds of codes NASA makes available to the public for free, both as open-source or through its software catalog.

“F Prime has enabled a lot of goals we’ve had at JPL to design a truly reusable multi-mission flight architecture with the added bonus of the open-source collaboration and visibility afforded by the Mars Helicopter project,” Canham said. “It’s kind of an open-source victory, because we’re flying an open-source operating system and an open-source flight software framework, and flying commercial parts that you can buy off the shelf, if you wanted to do this yourself someday.” (The helicopter carries a combination of custom-made and off-the-shelf components—many from the world of cell phone technology—including its two cameras.)







This sequence of images – taken on May 22, 2021, by the navigation camera aboard NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter – depicts the last 29 seconds of the rotorcraft’s sixth flight. Frame rate is 3.3 frames per second until Ingenuity began its final descent to the surface, at which point it collected a frame every two seconds. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Before Ingenuity, F Prime (also written as F’) had already been put through its spacecraft paces, operating successfully aboard the ISS RapidScat scatterometer instrument on the International Space Station since 2014 and JPL’s ASTERIA CubeSat in 2017. Looking forward, F Prime is scheduled to run on projects including NASA’s Lunar Flashlight CubeSat, which will look for surface ice in the Moon’s craters; the agency’s Near-Earth Asteroid Scout CubeSat, which will map an asteroid; and potentially JPL’s Ocean Worlds Life Surveyor instrument, which would help search for water-based life in our solar system.

Aadil Rizvi, flight software lead for Lunar Flashlight and NEA Scout at JPL, says F Prime provides an out-of-the-box solution for several flight software services, such as commanding, telemetry, parameters, and sequencing for the spacecraft. There’s also a sort of “auto-coding” tool that makes F Prime highly portable for use across missions.

“This makes it quite easy to drop in a software component from something like Mars Helicopter into another mission’s flight software such as Lunar Flashlight or make the component available for open-source use by anyone else using F Prime,” Rizvi said. “And it’s pretty cool that a significant portion of software used on the Mars Helicopter is identical to software on another spacecraft going to the Moon, or an asteroid, or sitting on a student’s desk.”

Universities See the Benefits of F Prime

Since its open-source debut, F Prime has gradually begun gaining traction as a useful flight software option for university and student projects.

At Georgia Tech, a team has incorporated F Prime in its GT1 CubeSat, aimed to serve as an education exercise that will carry an interactive and automatic amateur radio payload.

“We chose F Prime after evaluating a handful of flight software frameworks, including the option of writing our own from scratch,” said Sterling Peet, Georgia Tech research faculty member and lead for GT1. “We don’t have the resources to build all this code from scratch, use, and test it to ensure the necessary levels of reliability in-house. But by using F Prime, we can leverage the legacy it has and also contribute our testing and related benefits back to the F Prime community and project.”

A Carnegie Mellon University student-led team chose F Prime to run its Iris Lunar Rover, a tiny robot designed to prove the feasibility of nano-rovers in planetary exploration. “It was a viable option with a direct link to the creators, so we decided to use it ourselves,” said Iris Deputy Program Manager Raewyn Duvall.

F Prime will control the rover while recording data and monitoring its health.

“The fact that it is open-source gave us a wide range of examples to base our own modules and let us use the forum to get quick answers without having to worry about potential support service charges just to get answers to questions we may have had,” Duvall said.

JPL Small Scale Flight Software Group Supervisor Jeff Levison sees university partnerships like the ones with Georgia Tech and Carnegie Mellon as a two-way street: JPL provides world-leading flight systems expertise to budding engineers, and then down the line, those future engineers could end up bringing their talents and a working understanding of F Prime to start a career at JPL.

“F Prime is not an easy architecture to pick up, so a student who manages to master it and create a solid working project clearly has amazing potential for an organization like JPL,” said Carnegie Mellon’s Duvall. “Many of our students working on Iris that learned F Prime have expressed interest in applying to JPL, which I believe proves F Prime’s worth as a recruitment tool.”



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Meet the open-source software powering NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter (2021, July 8)
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