Cost of cloud brightening for cooler planet revealed Reply

 
Marine Cloud Brightening is a reversible geoengineering method proposed to mitigate rising global temperatures. It relies on propelling a fine mist of salt particles high into the atmosphere to increase the albedo of clouds – the amount of sunlight they reflect back into space. This would then reduce temperatures on the surface, as less sunlight reaches the Earth.

Clouds form when water droplets gather on dust or other particles in the air. Increasing the amount of salt particles in the atmosphere allows more of these water droplets to form, making the clouds denser and therefore more reflective.

A new paper, published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, has looked at four different ways of getting the particles into the sky, to compare how effective they may be. The researchers found that a technique called the ‘Rayleigh Jet’ proved to be best.

Named after Lord Rayleigh, who provided the theory, the technique relies on spraying a fine jet of water that breaks down into small droplets into the sky. The liquid droplets evaporate quickly, leaving behind just the salt particles.

These particles, say the paper’s authors, could be generated from specially built ships that could travel the world’s oceans spraying salt particles into the air where they then hang in the atmosphere for several days until they return to Earth as rain.

Previous studies have optimised the size of the salt particles needed to produce the best increase in cloud reflectance but haven’t taken into account how much energy the technique would need and how much it would cost to operate. More…

‘Radiogenetics’ seeks to remotely control cells and genes Reply

It’s the most basic of ways to find out what something does, whether it’s an unmarked circuit breaker or an unidentified gene — flip its switch and see what happens. New remote-control technology may offer biologists a powerful way to do this with cells and genes.

A team at Rockefeller University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is developing a system that would make it possible to remotely control biological targets in living animals — rapidly, without wires, implants or drugs.

Today (December 15) in the journal Nature Medicine, the team describes successfully using electromagnetic waves to turn on insulin production to lower blood sugar in diabetic mice. Their system couples a natural iron storage particle, ferritin, to a heat activated ion channel called TRPV1 such that when the metal particle is exposed to a radio wave or magnetic field it opens the channel, leading to the activation of an insulin producing gene. Together, the two proteins act as a nano-machine that can be used to trigger gene expression in cells.

“The method allows one to wirelessly control the expression of genes in a living animal and could potentially be used for conditions like hemophilia to control the production of a missing protein. Two key attributes are that the system is genetically encoded and can activate cells remotely and quickly,” says Jeffrey Friedman, Marilyn M. Simpson Professor head of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics at Rockefeller. “We are now exploring whether the method can also be used to control neural activity as a means for noninvasively modulating the activity of neural circuits.” Friedman and his Rensselaer colleague Jonathan S. Dordick were co-senior researchers on the project.

Other techniques exist for remotely controlling the activity of cells or the expression of genes in living animals. But these have limitations. Systems that use light as an on/off signal require permanent implants or are only effective close to the skin, and those that rely on drugs can be slow to switch on and off.

The new system, dubbed radiogenetics, uses a signal, in this case low-frequency radio waves or a magnetic field, to heat or move ferritin particles. They, in turn, prompt the opening of TRPV1, which is situated in the membrane surrounding the cell. Calcium ions then travel through the channel, switching on a synthetic piece of DNA the scientists developed to turn on the production of a downstream gene, which in this study was the insulin gene. More…

Egyptian Burial Site with 1 Million Mummies Stuns Scientists Reply

Thursday, 18 December 2014

An ancient cemetery in Egypt contains 1 million bodies, according to a team of archeologists who discovered the burial ground. What the site represents remains a mystery, as the scientists are still puzzled about where exactly all the people came from.

“We are fairly certain we have over a million burials within this cemetery. It’s large, and it’s dense,” said Project Director Kerry Muhlestein, an associate professor in the Department of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University (BYU). Muhlestein presented his findings at the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities Scholars Colloquium, held in Toronto in November, Live Science reported.

Archaeologists from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, have been exploring a mysterious cemetery in Egypt for about 30 years. They excavated about 1,700 mummies within the project in Egypt so far. But there is still much work to do.

According to the archaeologists many of the mummies date back to the times when Egypt was a Roman province, from the 1st century BC onward.

Scientists say a nearby village seems too small to produce all these large burial sites. A small pyramid is situated near the cemetery. But it was built more than 4,500 years ago, about 2 millennia before these million mummies were buried.

People buried at the cemetery, which is now called Fag el-Gamous (Way of the Water Buffalo), did not belong to royalty, concluded the researchers. There were no coffins. And the internal organs of the deceased were rarely removed. More…

Court case claims child welfare agencies regularly subvert the constitution, by seizing children when there is no danger to the child, and in fact no need to seize the child at all Reply

Mom Fights Riverside Co.’s Seizure of Baby
By REBEKAH KEARN

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) - Riverside County took a newborn baby from her mother without a reason or a warrant – and it makes a habit of it, the mother and baby claim in a federal class action.

Lead plaintiff A.A., the baby, sued Riverside County, Juvenile Dependency Investigator Karla Torres, Torres’ supervisor Felicia M. Butler, and all similarly situated county social workers and investigators, in the Dec. 12 lawsuit.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Shawn McMillan told Courthouse News that his firm, which specializes in civil rights cases against child protection agencies, “uncovered an alarming trend” about a year ago during discovery for other cases.

“County child welfare agencies regularly subvert the constitutional rights of parents and children by seizing children from their parents when there is no danger to the child, and in fact no need to seize the child at all,” McMillan said.

“The class action is designed to address a procedural problem. They [Riverside County social workers] as a matter of course don’t get warrants before seizing kids. Deficient policies, deficient training and deficient supervision all lead to civil rights violations on a regular basis,” McMillan said.

“This lawsuit is designed to address the problem.”

The 27-page lawsuit claims that A.A. is one of thousands of children wrongfully taken from her mother by county social workers. More…

BPA lined containers raise blood pressure fast Reply

BPA lined containers raise blood pressure fast
*
– Urinary BPA concentration increased by up to 1,600 percent after consuming canned beverages compared to after consuming the glass-bottled beverages.
– “A 5 mm Hg increase in systolic blood pressure by drinking two canned beverages may cause clinically significant problems, particularly in patients with heart disease or hypertension,”
* Exposure to Bisphenol A From Drinking Canned Beverage Increases Blood Pressure Randomized Crossover Trial HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.04261 More…

Islamic State Publishes Handbook for Female Slave Ownership Reply

The Research and Fatwa Department of the Islamic State has released guidelines on interaction with non-Muslim female slaves, equating them to disposable property, allowing them to be beaten but however putting some restrictions on their use.

MOSCOW, December 14 (Sputnik) – The Research and Fatwa Department of the Islamic State has released what it calls a Pamphlet on Female Slaves.

The manual, written in the form of a Q&A, has been translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, a Washington-based non-profit press monitoring organization, and posted on its website.

Amongst other revelations, the Pamphlet equates female captives to disposable property and allowing them to be put up for sale.

“It is permissible to buy, sell, or give as a gift female captives and slaves, for they are merely property, which can be disposed of [as long as that doesn’t cause [the Muslim ummah] any harm or damage,” it says. More…

Study supports the theory that men are idiots 1

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:

11-Dec-2014

BMJ-British Medical Journal
Sex differences in risk seeking behaviour, emergency hospital admissions, and mortality are well documented. Males are more likely to be admitted to an emergency department after accidential injuries, more likely to be admitted with a sporting injury, and more likely to be involved in a fatal road traffic collision.

However, little is known about sex differences in idiotic risk taking behaviour. So researchers in north east England decided to test “male idiot theory” (MIT) that many of the differences in risk seeking behaviour may be explained by the observation that men are idiots and idiots do stupid things.

They reviewed data on idiotic behaviours demonstrated by winners of the Darwin Award over a 20 year period (1995 to 2014), noting the sex of the winner. To qualify, nominees must improve the gene pool by eliminating themselves from the human race using astonishingly stupid methods.

Worthy candidates include a man stealing a ride home by hitching a shopping trolley to the back of a train, only to be dragged two miles to his death before the train was able to stop; and the terrorist who posted a letter bomb with insufficient postage stamps and who, on its return, unthinkingly opened his own letter.

Of the 413 Darwin Award nominations, 332 were independently verified and confirmed by the Darwin Awards Committee. Of these, 14 were shared by male and female nominees – usually overly adventurous couples in compromising positions – leaving 318 valid cases for statistical testing. More…

Can organic crops compete with industrial agriculture? Reply

“no significant differences in organic and conventional yields for leguminous crops, such as beans, peas and lentils.”

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:

9-Dec-2014

Study finds smaller than expected gap in yields between organic and conventional farming
Berkeley — A systematic overview of more than 100 studies comparing organic and conventional farming finds that the crop yields of organic agriculture are higher than previously thought. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, also found that certain practices could further shrink the productivity gap between organic crops and conventional farming.

The study, to be published online Wednesday, Dec. 10, in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, tackles the lingering perception that organic farming, while offering an environmentally sustainable alternative to chemically intensive agriculture, cannot produce enough food to satisfy the world’s appetite.

“In terms of comparing productivity among the two techniques, this paper sets the record straight on the comparison between organic and conventional agriculture,” said the study’s senior author, Claire Kremen, professor of environmental science, policy and management and co-director of the Berkeley Food Institute. “With global food needs predicted to greatly increase in the next 50 years, it’s critical to look more closely at organic farming because, aside from the environmental impacts of industrial agriculture, the ability of synthetic fertilizers to increase crop yields has been declining.” More…

Ancient engravings rewrite human history Reply

4 December 2014

An international team of scientists has discovered the earliest known engravings from human ancestors on a 400,000 year-old fossilised shell from Java.

The discovery is the earliest known example of ancient humans deliberately creating pattern.

“It rewrites human history,” said Dr Stephen Munro from the School of Archaeology and Anthropology.

“This is the first time we have found evidence for Homo erectus behaving this way,” he said.

The newly discovered engravings resemble the previously oldest-known engravings, which are associated with either Neanderthals or modern humans from around 100,000 years ago.

The early date and the location of the discovery in Java discount the possibility that the engravings could have been the work of Neanderthals or modern humans.

“It puts these large bivalve shells and the tools used to engrave them, into the hands of Homo erectus, and will change the way we think about this early human species,” Dr Munro said.

It is unclear whether the pattern was intended as art or served some practical purpose.

The zig-zag pattern engravings were only recently discovered on fossilised mussel shells, which had been collected 100 years ago.

Dr Munro visited the Netherlands to study the collection, gathered by the discoverer of Homo erectus, Eugene Dubois, in Java in the late 19th Century.

However, he did not notice the markings on the fossils until he examined photographs he had taken, once back at ANU.

“It was a eureka moment. I could see immediately that they were man-made engravings. There was no other explanation,” Dr Munro said.

Following the discovery, an international team worked to establish the exact date of the shell, using two different methods to arrive at the final result of between 430,000 and 540,000 years old.

The team found that Homo erectus opened the shells by drilling a hole through the shell with a shark’s tooth, exactly at the point where the muscle is attached. Damaging muscles this way causes the valves of the shell to open, so that the contents can be eaten.

“It’s evidence that Homo erectus exploited these aquatic food resources, and fits with other evidence that they probably foraged in and around water,” Dr Munro said.

The discovery is published in Nature.

Greece’s stock market just suffered its worst collapse ever

Greek stocks fell more than at any point during Europe’s debt crisis today after Prime Minister Antonis Samaras gambled his political future on bringing forward a parliamentary vote on a new head of state.

Greek stocks are now down 13% – the biggest single-day drop since (drum roll please) the crash of 1987… led by total carnage in Greek banks (down 15-25% on the day). Greek bond yields exploded, 3YR +183bps to a new post-bailout high at 8.32% (and inverted to 10Y).
Unless Samaras can persuade 25 opposition lawmakers to support his presidential choice, Samaras will be forced to call a parliamentary election that anti-austerity party Syriza would be favorite to win. More…