Tech News

Here’s the full analysis of newly uncovered genetic data on COVID’s origins

Science - Posted On:2023-03-21 18:00:00 Source: arstechnica

A group of independent, international researchers has released its full analysis of newly uncovered metagenomic data collected by the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January and February of 2020. The data closely links SARS-CoV-2 to the genetic tracks of wild animals, particularly raccoon dogs, sold at the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market in Wuhan, China, the early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, the group's analysis says.

The full analysis provides additional, compelling evidence that the pandemic coronavirus made its leap to humans through a natural spillover, with a wild animal at the market acting as an intermediate host between the virus' natural reservoir in horseshoe bats and humans. It was authored by 19 scientists, led by Michael Worobey, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona; Kristian Andersen, a virologist at the Scripps Research Institute in California; and Florence Débarre, a theoretician who specializes in evolutionary biology at France's national research agency, CNRS.

Prior to the release of the full analysis late Monday, information on the findings was only made public through media reports and statements from the World Health Organization, which was briefed on the analysis last week. But, the raw metagenomic data behind the analysis is still not publicly available. It was briefly posted on a public genetic database called the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID) as recently as earlier this month, and the international researchers were able to download it during that window of availability. But, administrators for the database quickly removed the data after its discovery, saying the removal was at the request of the submitter, a researcher at China CDC.

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Russia's Space Program Is In Big Trouble

science - Posted On:2023-03-21 17:30:00 Source: slashdot

schwit1 writes: Crippled by war and sanctions, Russia now faces evidence that its already-struggling space program is falling apart. In the past three months alone, Roscosmos has scrambled to resolve two alarming incidents. First, one of its formerly dependable Soyuz spacecraft sprang a coolant leak. Then the same thing happened on one of its Progress cargo ships. The civil space program's Soviet predecessor launched the first person into orbit, but with the International Space Station (ISS) nearing the end of its life, Russia's space agency is staring into the abyss. "What we're seeing is the continuing demise of the Russian civil space program," says Bruce McClintock, a former defense attache at the US embassy in Moscow and current head of the Space Enterprise Initiative of the Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research organization. Around 10 years ago, Russian leaders chose to prioritize the country's military space program -- which focuses on satellite and anti-satellite technologies -- over its civilian one, McClintock says, and it shows. Russia's space fleet is largely designed to be expendable. The history of its series of Soyuz rockets and crew capsules (they both have the same name) dates back to the Soviet era, though they've gone through upgrades since. Its Progress cargo vessels also launch atop Soyuz rockets. The cargo ships, crewed ships, and rockets are all single-use spacecraft. Anatoly Zak, creator and publisher of the independent publication RussianSpaceWeb, estimates that Roscosmos launches about two Soyuz vehicles per year, takes about 1.5 to 2 years to build each one, and doesn't keep a substantial standing fleet. While Roscosmos officials did not respond to interview requests, the agency has been public about its recent technical issues.Plus this, which failed to make headlines here: "For crewed launches, Russia has long depended on its Baikonur spaceport in neighboring Kazakhstan. But the nation has charged costly annual fees, and in March Kazakhstan seized Russian spaceport assets, reportedly due to Roscosmos' debt." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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New VLT data reveals more about aftermath of DART vs. asteroid collision

Science - Posted On:2023-03-21 17:00:01 Source: arstechnica

Last September, the Double Asteroid Redirect Test, or DART, smashed a spacecraft into a small binary asteroid called Dimorphos, successfully altering its orbit around a larger companion. We're now learning more about the aftermath of that collision, thanks to two new papers reporting on data collected by the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope. The first, published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, examined the debris from the collision to learn more about the asteroid's composition. The second, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, reported on how the impact changed the asteroid's surface.

As we've reported previously, Dimorphos is less than 200 meters across and cannot be resolved from Earth. Instead, the binary asteroid looks like a single object from here, with most of the light reflecting off the far larger Didymos. What we can see, however, is that the Didymos system sporadically darkens. Most of the time, the two asteroids are arranged so that Earth receives light reflected off both. But Dimorphos' orbit sporadically takes it behind Didymos from Earth's perspective, meaning that we only receive light reflected off one of the two bodies—this causes the darkening. By measuring the darkening's time periods, we can work out how long it takes Dimorphos to orbit and thus how far apart the two asteroids are.

Before DART, Dimorphos' orbit took 11 hours and 55 minutes; post-impact, it's down to 11 hours and 23 minutes. For those averse to math, that's 32 minutes shorter (about 4 percent). NASA estimates that the orbit is now "tens of meters" closer to Didymos. This orbital shift was confirmed by radar imaging. Earlier this month, Nature published five papers that collectively reconstructed the impact and its aftermath to explain how DART's collision had an outsize effect. Those results indicated that impactors like DART could be a viable means of protecting the planet from small asteroids.

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New method gets better performance out of atomically thin transistors

Science - Posted On:2023-03-21 12:30:00 Source: arstechnica

Atomically thin materials like graphene are single molecules in which all the chemical bonds are oriented so that the resulting molecule forms a sheet. These often have distinctive electronic properties that can potentially enable the production of electronics with incredibly small features only a couple of atoms thick. And there have been a number of examples of functional hardware being built from these two-dimensional materials.

But almost all the examples so far have used bespoke construction, sometimes involving researchers manipulating individual flakes of material by hand. So we're not at the point where we can mass-manufacture complicated electronics out of these materials. But a paper released today describes a method of doing wafer-scale production of transistors based on two-dimensional materials. And the resulting transistors perform more consistently than those made with more traditional manufacturing approaches.

Most of the efforts made toward easing the production of electronics based on atomically thin materials have involved integrating these materials into traditional semiconductor manufacturing techniques. That makes sense because these techniques allow us to perform incredibly fine-scale manipulations of materials at high volumes. Typically, this has meant that much of the metal wiring needed for the electronics is put in place by traditional manufacturing. The 2D material is then layered on top of the metal, and additional processing is done to form functional transistors.

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Kazakhstan’s seizure of Russian space assets threatens the Soyuz-5 rocket

Science - Posted On:2023-03-21 10:30:01 Source: arstechnica

The Soviet Union created the Baikonur Cosmodrome in 1955 to serve as a test site for intercontinental ballistic missiles. A few years later it became the world's first spaceport with the launch of the historic Sputnik 1 and Vostok 1 missions. The sprawling cosmodrome was a mainstay of the Soviet space program.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia began to lease the spaceport from the government of Kazakhstan and currently has an agreement to use the facilities through the year 2050. Russia pays an annual lease fee of about $100 million. Neither country is particularly happy with the relationship; the Kazakh government feels like it is under-compensated, and the Russian government would like it to be in its own country, which is why it has moved in recent years to build a new launch site for most of its rockets in the Far East of Russia, at Vostochny.

Despite some of this uneasiness, however, the two governments have been working together on future space projects. For example, the main Russian space corporation, Roscosmos, has been developing a new medium-lift rocket that it anticipates launching from Baikonur. This is the Soyuz-5 vehicle, a three-stage rocket powered by RD-171 engines that will burn kerosene fuel. Russia is counting on this vehicle to replace its aging Proton-M rocket and be more cost-competitive with commercial rockets such as SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster.

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Propellantless System For Satellites Will Get Tested In Space

science - Posted On:2023-03-21 03:15:01 Source: slashdot

Longtime Slashdot reader drwho writes: A new type of propulsion system which uses no propellant, but rather only electricity, will be tested in a satellite to be launched from June 10's Falcon 9 launch. The IVO Quantum Drive utilizes an alternative theory of inertia known as "Quantum Inertia' by its originator Prof. Mike McCullough of U. Plymouth, which seeks to reconcile General Relativity (GR) with Quantum Field Theory (QFT). If successful, this would herald in a new era not only in satellite technology but in space travel as a whole. See this article for more details. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Deadly drug-resistant yeast gained ground, more drug resistance amid COVID

Science - Posted On:2023-03-20 18:30:00 Source: arstechnica

A deadly, drug-resistant fungus emerging in the US gained ground faster and picked up yet more drug resistance amid the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday.

The yeast Candida auris has been considered an "urgent threat"—the CDC's highest level of concern—since it was first reported in the US in 2016. The yeast lurks in health care settings and preys upon vulnerable patients, causing invasive infections with a fatality rate of between 30 to 60 percent.

In 2019, before the pandemic began, 17 states and Washington, DC, reported a total of 476 clinical cases. But in 2020, eight additional states reported cases for the first time, with the national clinical case count jumping 59 percent to 756. In 2021, 28 states were affected, with the clinical case count nearly doubling to 1,471. Asymptomatic cases detected through patient screening also jumped amid the pandemic, tripling from 1,310 cases in 2020 to 4,041 cases in 2021. The data appeared Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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New IPCC climate report contains everything you need to know

Science - Posted On:2023-03-20 11:45:00 Source: arstechnica

The reports produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are massive undertakings, requiring years of effort and hundreds of scientists who volunteer as authors. The 6th assessment report cycle saw its first documents released in 2018, and five more followed through 2022. Today puts a coda on that cycle, as the condensed Synthesis Report is now out.

The first three reports were focused on narrow topics: the 1.5°C warming milestone, land use and climate change, and the world’s oceans and ice. The next three followed the traditional structure of previous assessment reports: the physical science of climate change, the impacts of climate change, and solutions.

Each of these reports is meant to represent the state of scientific knowledge on a topic so decision makers and other interested readers don’t have to take on the many thousands of published studies that form their foundation. The role of the Synthesis Report is to further distill the most important information into the simplest reference that the scientists can bear to put their stamp of approval on. The 18 key conclusions in this report provide an impressively comprehensive yet succinct description of our situation—the ultimate TL;DR of Earth’s climate.

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The SpaceX steamroller has shifted into a higher gear this year

Science - Posted On:2023-03-20 10:00:01 Source: arstechnica

Is it possible that SpaceX has succeeded in making orbital launches boring? Increasingly, the answer to this question appears to be yes.

On Friday the California-based company launched two Falcon 9 rockets within the span of just a little more than four hours. At 12:26 pm local time, a Falcon 9 rocket carried 52 of SpaceX's own Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit from a launch pad at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. A mere 4 hours and 12 minutes later, another Falcon 9 rocket delivered two large communications satellites into geostationary transfer orbit for the Luxembourg-based satellite company SES from Kennedy Space Center.

This broke SpaceX's own record for the shortest time duration between two launches. However, the overall record for the lowest time between two launches of the same rocket still belongs to the Russian-built Soyuz vehicle. In June 2013, Roscosmos launched a Soyuz booster from Kazakhstan, and Arianespace launched a Soyuz from French Guiana within two hours. Those launches were conducted by two separate space agencies, on separate continents, however.

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Mysterious Streaks of Light Seen in the Sky Friday in California

science - Posted On:2023-03-19 18:00:05 Source: slashdot

"Mysterious streaks of light were seen in the sky in the Sacramento area Friday night," reports the Associated Press. The lights lasted about 40 seconds, remembered one witness who filmed the lights while enjoying a local brewery. The brewery then asked on Instagram if anyone could solve the mystery, the report continues: Jonathan McDowell says he can. McDowell is an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. McDowell said Saturday in an interview with The Associated Press that he's 99.9% confident the streaks of light were from burning space debris. McDowell said that a Japanese communications package that relayed information from the International Space Station to a communications satellite and then back to Earth became obsolete in 2017 when the satellite was retired. The equipment, weighing 310 kilograms (683 pounds), was jettisoned from the space station in 2020 because it was taking up valuable space and would burn up completely upon reentry, McDowell added.... He estimated the debris was about 40 miles high, going thousands of miles per hour. The U.S. Space Force confirmed the re-entry path over California for the Inter-Orbit Communication System, and the timing is consistent with what people saw in the sky, he added. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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How College Students Built a Satellite With AA Batteries and a $20 Microprocessor

science - Posted On:2023-03-19 15:45:00 Source: slashdot

With all the space junk cluttering our orbits, Popular Science writes, "Lowering costs while also shortening satellite lifespans is important if space exploration and utilization is to remain safe and viable. "As luck would have it, a group of students and researchers at Brown University just made promising headway for both issues." Last year, the team successfully launched their breadloaf-sized cube satellite (or cubesat) aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for the comparatively low production cost of $10,000, with a dramatically shortened lifespan estimated at just five years. What's more, much of the microsat was constructed using accessible, off-the-shelf components, such as a popular $20 microprocessor powered by 48 AA batteries. In total, SBUDNIC — a play on Sputnik as well as an acronym of the students' names — is likely the first of its kind to be made almost entirely from materials not specifically designed for space travel. Additionally, the group attached a 3D-printed drag sail made from Kapton film that unfurled once the cubesat reached orbit roughly 520 kilometers above Earth. Since tracking began in late May 2022, the students' satellite has already lowered down to 470 kilometers — well below its fellow rocketmates aboard the Falcon 9, which remain around 500 kilometers high. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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A Trillionth-of-a-Second Shutter Speed Camera Catches Chaos in Action

science - Posted On:2023-03-19 13:45:00 Source: slashdot

Long-time Slashdot reader turp182 shares two stories about the new state-of-the-art in very-high-speed imaging. "The techniques don't image captured photons, but instead 'touch' the target to perform imaging/read structures using either lasers or neutrons." First, Science Daily reports that physicists from the University of Gothenburg (with colleagues from the U.S. and Germany) have developed an ultrafast laser camera that can create videos at 12.5 billion images per second, "which is at least a thousand times faster than today's best laser equipment." [R]esearchers use a laser camera that photographs the material in [an ultrathin, one-atom-thick] two-dimensional layer.... By observing the sample from the side, it is possible to see what reactions and emissions occur over time and space. Researchers have used single-shot laser sheet compressed ultrafast photography to study the combustion of various hydrocarbons.... This has enabled researchers to illustrate combustion with a time resolution that has never been achieved before. "The more pictures taken, the more precisely we can follow the course of events...." says Yogeshwar Nath Mishra, who was one of the researchers at the University of Gothenburg and who is now presenting the results in a scientific article in the journal Light: Science & Applications.... The new laser camera takes a unique picture with a single laser pulse. Meanwhile, ScienceAlert reports on a camera with a trillionth-of-a-second shutter speed — that is, 250 million times faster than digital cameras — that's actually able to photograph atomic activity, including "dynamic disorder." Simply put, dynamic disorder is when clusters of atoms move and dance around in a material in specific ways over a certain period — triggered by a vibration or a temperature change, for example. It's not a phenomenon that we fully understand yet, but it's crucial to the properties and reactions of materials. The new super-speedy shutter speed system gives us much more insight into what's happening.... The researchers are referring to their invention as variable shutter atomic pair distribution function, or vsPDF for short.... To achieve its astonishingly quick snap, vsPDF uses neutrons to measure the position of atoms, rather than conventional photography techniques. The way that neutrons hit and pass through a material can be tracked to measure the surrounding atoms, with changes in energy levels the equivalent of shutter speed adjustments. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Pressurised Natural Caves Could Offer a Home From Home On the Moon

science - Posted On:2023-03-19 12:45:00 Source: slashdot

Long-time Slashdot reader SpzToid quotes an intriguing new article from the Economist: Imagine a habitable colony on Mars or the Moon and the kinds of structures that come to mind are probably gleaming domes or shiny metallic tubes snaking over the surface. But with no Earth-like atmosphere or magnetic field to repel solar radiation and micrometeorites, space colonists would probably need to pile metres-thick rocks and geological rubble onto the roofs of such off-world settlements. More like a hobbit hole than Moonbase Alpha. There could be another solution, however, that would offer future colonists safer and far more expansive living space than any cramped base built on the surface. Writing in Acta Astronautica, Raymond Martin, an engineer at Blue Origin, a rocket company, and Haym Benaroya, an aerospace engineer at Rutgers University, explore the benefits of setting up a Moon base inside giant geological tunnels that lie just below the lunar surface. First discovered during the Apollo programme, these lunar lava tubes are a legacy of when Earth's nearest celestial neighbour was geologically hyperactive, with streams of boiling basaltic magma bursting from the interior to flow across the Moon's surface as lava. Found on Earth (see picture), and identified on Mars, lava tubes form when the sluggish top layer of a lava stream slows and cools, forming a thick and rocky lid that is left behind when the rest of the lava underneath eventually drains away. Lava tubes on Earth are usually up to 15 metres wide and can run for several kilometres. But the reduced gravity on the Moon makes them hundreds of times bigger, creating colossal cave systems that are up to a kilometre across and hundreds of kilometres long. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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North Sea cod are getting smaller—can we reverse that?

Science - Posted On:2023-03-19 09:30:00 Source: arstechnica

Generation over generation, catch after catch, fishing changes fish evolution. This phenomenon, called fisheries-induced evolution, is well documented, though it impacts the myriad species of fish differently. For the North Sea cod, it has meant that early bloomers thrive, while fish that are slower to mature get taken out of the gene pool. This has meant that the fish population is evolving toward smaller sizes. A recent paper models what it would take to reverse this effect through conservation, and what it would mean economically to do so.

“In general, fishing is one of the main drivers of change in marine ecosystems,” Hanna Schenk, a postdoctoral researcher at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig and one of the paper’s authors, told Ars.

Fishing increases mortality rates among fish—particularly large fish, which are caught in higher numbers because they are more likely to stay within fishers’ nets. In turn, this puts selective pressure on a species: fish that mature quicker (but remain smaller) gain an advantage. These smaller, early bloomers then pass on their genes more often, which impacts the whole population over time.

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Small Near-Earth Asteroid Surfaces Have Few Precious Metals, Study Finds

science - Posted On:2023-03-18 16:45:00 Source: slashdot

RockDoctor (Slashdot reader #15,477) writes: A recent paper on ArXiv reports new spectroscopic analyses of the surfaces of 42 asteroids. The main result for space enthusiasts is that there is not one "M" class asteroid (metal-rich) surface in the collection. The imagery that (many) people grow up with from Hollywood and TV "science" "documentaries" is that the Solar system is full of asteroids which are made of metal ready for mining to produce solid ingots of precious metals. That's Hollywood, not reality. This result is about what you'd expect from the proportion of metallic asteroids — otherwise estimated at about 0.5% of the population. The asteroid mining fraternity dream of taking apart an M-type asteroid like Psyche, which is fair enough as a dream. Even as a dream for "asteroid mining" metal market speculators. But they are relatively rare asteroids. A realistic "ISRU" (In-Situ Resource Utilisation) plan is going to have to expect to digest around 200 silicate mineral (and clay ("phyllosilicate"), and ice) asteroids for every metallic one they digest. Here's the home page for the project. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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New Data Found Linking Covid-19's Origins to Wuhan Market. WHO Demands China Release It

science - Posted On:2023-03-18 10:45:01 Source: slashdot

"The World Health Organization on Friday called on China to release new data linking the Covid pandemic's origins to animal samples at Wuhan Market after the country recently took down the research," reports CNBC. The existence of the new data was revealed by the Atlantic earlier this week, in an article reporting that the newly-discovered samples showed the virus was present in creatures for sale there near the very beginning of the pandemic: A new analysis of genetic sequences collected from the market shows that raccoon dogs being illegally sold at the venue could have been carrying and possibly shedding the virus at the end of 2019. It's some of the strongest support yet, experts told me, that the pandemic began when SARS-CoV-2 hopped from animals into humans, rather than in an accident among scientists experimenting with viruses.... The genetic sequences were pulled out of swabs taken in and near market stalls around the pandemic's start. They represent the first bits of raw data that researchers outside of China's academic institutions and their direct collaborators have had access to. A few weeks ago, the data appeared on an open-access genomic database called GISAID, after being quietly posted by researchers affiliated with the country's Center for Disease Control and Prevention. By almost pure happenstance, scientists in Europe, North America, and Australia spotted the sequences, downloaded them, and began an analysis. The samples were already known to be positive for the coronavirus, and had been scrutinized before by the same group of Chinese researchers who uploaded the data to GISAID. But that prior analysis, released as a preprint publication in February 2022, asserted that "no animal host of SARS-CoV-2 can be deduced...." The new analysis, led by Kristian Andersen, Edward Holmes, and Michael Worobey — three prominent researchers who have been looking into the virus's roots — shows that that may not be the case. Within about half a day of downloading the data from GISAID, the trio and their collaborators discovered that several market samples that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 were also coming back chock-full of animal genetic material — much of which was a match for the common raccoon dog. Because of how the samples were gathered, and because viruses can't persist by themselves in the environment, the scientists think that their findings could indicate the presence of a coronavirus-infected raccoon dog in the spots where the swabs were taken.... The new analysis builds on extensive previous research that points to the market as the source of the earliest major outbreak of SARS-CoV-2: Many of the earliest known COVID-19 cases of the pandemic were clustered roughly in the market's vicinity. And the virus's genetic material was found in many samples swabbed from carts and animal-processing equipment at the venue, as well as parts of nearby infrastructure, such as storehouses, sewage wells, and water drains. Raccoon dogs, creatures commonly bred for sale in China, are also already known to be one of many mammal species that can easily catch and spread the coronavirus. All of this left one main hole in the puzzle to fill: clear-cut evidence that raccoon dogs and the virus were in the exact same spot at the market, close enough that the creatures might have been infected and, possibly, infectious. That's what the new analysis provides. Think of it as finding the DNA of an investigation's main suspect at the scene of the crime. The article also notes that the genetic sequences "also vanished from the database shortly after the international team of researchers notified the Chinese researchers of their preliminary findings, without explanation." And it adds that all along China has "vehemently" fought the theory that Covid-19 originated from live animals being sold at Wuhan market. Although "in June 2021, a team of researchers published a study documenting tens of thousands of mammals for sale in wet markets in Wuhan between 2017 and late 2019, including at Huanan." "The animals were kept in largely illegal, cramped, and unhygienic settings — conditions conducive to viral transmission — and among them were more than 1,000 raccoon dogs." And there's even photos of raccoon dogs for sale at the market in December of 2019. More coverage of the newly-discovered data is now appearing in numerous news outlets, including the New York Times, NBC News, ABC News, the Guardian, PBS, and Science. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Global Fresh Water Demand Will Outstrip Supply By 40% by 2030, Say Experts

science - Posted On:2023-03-17 16:15:00 Source: slashdot

The world is facing an imminent water crisis, with demand expected to outstrip the supply of fresh water by 40% by the end of this decade, experts have said on the eve of a crucial UN water summit. From a report: Governments must urgently stop subsidising the extraction and overuse of water through misdirected agricultural subsidies, and industries from mining to manufacturing must be made to overhaul their wasteful practices, according to a landmark report on the economics of water. Nations must start to manage water as a global common good, because most countries are highly dependent on their neighbours for water supplies, and overuse, pollution and the climate crisis threaten water supplies globally, the report's authors say. Johan Rockstrom, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and co-chair of the Global Commission on the Economics of Water, and a lead author of the report, told the Guardian the world's neglect of water resources was leading to disaster. "The scientific evidence is that we have a water crisis. We are misusing water, polluting water, and changing the whole global hydrological cycle, through what we are doing to the climate. It's a triple crisis." Rockstrom's fellow Global Commission on the Economics of Water co-chair Mariana Mazzucato, a professor at University College London and also a lead author of the report, added: "We need a much more proactive, and ambitious, common good approach. We have to put justice and equity at the centre of this, it's not just a technological or finance problem." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Nuclear Waste Borehole Demonstration Center started

Science - Posted On:2023-03-17 15:00:01 Source: arstechnica

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Genetic data links SARS-CoV-2 to raccoon dogs in China market, scientists say

Science - Posted On:2023-03-17 13:30:00 Source: arstechnica

Newly obtained genetic data from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) links the pandemic coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 to animals—specifically raccoon dogs—at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, where the earliest COVID-19 cases centered, a group of independent scientists told the World Health Organization this week.

The genetic data came from environmental swabs collected at the market by China CDC in January of 2020. The existence of these swabs was previously known, as was the fact that they were positive for SARS-CoV-2 genetic material. But in late January of this year, scientists at China CDC uploaded—and then later removed—additional genetic data from these swabs to a public genetic database called GISAID, the WHO said. That additional data, which had not been previously disclosed, indicates that the SARS-CoV-2-positive swabs also contained genetic material from humans and animals, particularly large amounts of genetic material that closely matches that of raccoon dogs.

Raccoon dogs—foxlike animals whose faces closely resemble those of raccoons—are known to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and were known to be sold at the market.

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We finally have proof of active volcanoes on Venus

Science - Posted On:2023-03-17 06:45:00 Source: arstechnica

Venus is almost the same size, mass and density as Earth. So it should be generating heat in its interior (by the decay of radioactive elements) at much the same rate as the Earth does. On Earth, one of the main ways in which this heat leaks out is via volcanic eruptions. During an average year, at least 50 volcanoes erupt.

But despite decades of looking, we’ve not seen clear signs of volcanic eruptions on Venus – until now. A new study by geophysicist Robert Herrick of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, which he reported this week at the Lunar & Planetary Science Conference in Houston and published in the journal Science, has at last caught one of the planet’s volcanoes in the act.

It’s not straightforward to study Venus’s surface because it has a dense atmosphere including an unbroken cloud layer at a height of 45-65 km that is opaque to most wavelengths of radiation, including visible light. The only way to get a detailed view of the ground from above the clouds is by radar directed downward from an orbiting spacecraft.

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