Skip to main content
Log In | Register

TR Memescape

Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Topics - osmanthus

This is cool: Night parrot sighting in Western Australia shocks birdwatching world

The night parrot was thought to be extinct until a few years ago, when a few were found living in western Queensland. Now a bunch of birdwatchers just found some living 2,000 kilometres away in northern West Australia. Which, pretty obviously, means the little buggers have a large habitat range at the moment, even though nobody has a clue what the actual population numbers are.

"There were quite a few of them, there was at least five or six of these things calling around us, so we didn't know what they were, but we saw the habitat was beautiful and thought that they could be night parrots."

    "The next day we walked out into that area and one just burst out from under our feet from the spinifex."

In that moment, one of the members of the group, Bruce Greatwich, managed to take a photo of the south end of the northbound bird. It was definitely a night parrot.

The men's discovery is the first confirmed sighting of a night parrot in Western Australia for nearly a century. There have been other rumours of sightings throughout the 2000s, but no evidence accompanied them.


While it is unlikely that the bird consistently appears across the whole arid interior, this find gives scientists and birdwatchers hope that pockets of population live in areas relatively undisturbed by development, other human-caused habitat degradation or feral animals.

"Having a photograph now, being absolutely certain [about the birds' presence], hopefully our regulators will be able to use that," says Dr Burbidge.

"So if anyone's sceptical about they can say: 'We have definite evidence that they're in Western Australia and we really do need to survey adequately for them where there are development proposals.'"

:parrot:  :parrot:  :parrot:  :parrot:  < Not night parrots.
This is shaping up to be a real walloper. First one of the season for Queensland, which is unusually late this year.

Cyclone Debbie forces coastal evacuations in north Queensland

Short version is it's ramping up as it gets into warmer water nearer the coast. Currently Cat 2. Expected to reach Cat 3 overnight, and upper end of Cat 4 by the time it hits the coast on Tuesday. It's big too. Townsville to Mackay is 390 km (about 240 miles).
Ok, so this "oh hai we're gonna stay under 2 degrees" thang that everyone oh-so-sincerely signed up to. How we gonna do it?

There's a new open access paper out over at Science: A roadmap for rapid decarbonization. This one very sensibly allows a small contingency for risks of biosphere carbon feedbacks.

Vox has an article about it: Scientists made a detailed "roadmap" for meeting the Paris climate goals. It's eye-opening.

And there was a report yesterday at Carbon Brief: Seven things that need to happen to keep global temperature rise below 2C.

That one doesn't allow the same contingency, but both studies appear to be based on a 66% chance of staying below 2 degrees.

So here's my first question: if everyone has agreed that 2 degrees is the hard not-to-exceed figure, why are these studies choosing a 33% probability of failure?

That's like playing Russian roulette with a six shot chamber and two bullets. It's not awesome odds.

I'm not good at statistical analysis (I found that part of maths boring and have forgotten most of it) so feel free to help me out here, but offhand it seems that if we're determined to stay under 2 degrees then it'd be more appropriate to shoot for a 90% chance of getting there.

Or am I missing something? Is 66% reasonable?

Of course we're also supposed to be shooting for the "aspirational goal" of 1.5 degrees, although fuck knows at what probability. But, again offhand, I'd think at worst they'd have to assume a 50% chance of 1.75 degrees for the aspirational goal to make any sense at all.
Putting  it here because it doesn't really warrant a place in politics or current events, and it's defo alternative reality shit.

Breitbart's James Delingpole says reef bleaching is 'fake news', hits peak denial

It takes a very special person to label the photographed, documented, filmed and studied phenomenon of mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef "fake news".

You need lashings of chutzpah, blinkers the size of Donald Trump's hairspray bill and more hubris than you can shake a branch of dead coral at.

It also helps if you can hide inside the bubble of the hyper-partisan Breitbart media outlet, whose former boss is the US president's chief strategist.

So our special person is Britain's James Delingpole who, when he's not denying the impacts of coral bleaching, is denying the science of human-caused climate change, which he says is "the biggest scam in the history of the world".

Delingpole was offended this week by an editorial in the Washington Post that read: "Humans are killing the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world's greatest natural wonders, and there's nothing Australians on their own can do about it. We are all responsible."

Delingpole wrote: "Like the thriving polar bear, like the recovering ice caps, like the doing-just-fine Pacific islands, the Great Barrier Reef has become a totem for the liberal-left not because it's in any kind of danger but because it's big and famous and photogenic and lots and lots of people would be really sad if it disappeared. But it's not going to disappear. That's just a #fakenews lie designed to promote the climate alarmist agenda."


"Is the Great Barrier Reef dying due to climate change caused by man's selfishness and greed?" asks Delingpole, before giving a long list of people and groups who he thinks will answer yes, including "the Guardian" and "any marine biologist".

"Have they been out there personally - as I have - to check. No of course not," says Delingpole.
Turns out he was there once, briefly, in 2012. Obviously the latest bleaching was in 2016 and (now) 2017. And is very well documented.

Today: Denis Voronenkov: former Russian MP who fled to Ukraine shot dead in Kiev

The former Russian MP Denis Voronenkov has been shot and killed in Kiev.

Police said an unidentified gunman had shot Voronenkov dead at the entrance of an upmarket hotel in the Ukrainian capital.

Voronenkov, 45, a former member of the Communist faction in the lower house of the Russian parliament, had moved to Ukraine last autumn and had been granted Ukrainian citizenship.

He left Russia with his wife, the singer Maria Maksakova, who was also an MP. He said he had to leave the country because the Russian security agencies were persecuting him, and he renounced his Russian citizenship.

Voronenkov gave a number of interviews after his defection that were sharply critical of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and Kremlin policy in Ukraine. However, the decision to grant him citizenship after he had taken part in the parliamentary vote to annex Crimea was strongly criticised in Ukraine.

Voronenkov was on his way to meet Ilya Ponomarev, also a former Russian MP who fled the country, when he was shot, according to Ponomarev.

The Premier Palace hotel is in the very centre of Kiev, and is popular with local businessmen and visiting dignitaries.

Ponomarev wrote on Facebook: "I have no words. The security guard was able to injure the attacker. The potential theory is obvious. Voronenko was not a crook, but an investigator who was fatally dangerous to Russian authorities."

Ukraine's president, Petro Poroshenko, summoned the head of the security services to brief him on the killing. Ukraine's prosecutor general, Yuri Lutsenko, wrote on Facebook that the killing was "the usual kind of Kremlin retribution".

And yesterday: Lawyer for family of Russian whistleblower falls from fourth floor

A Russian lawyer who represents the family of Sergei Magnitsky is in intensive care after falling from the fourth floor of his apartment building near Moscow, according to unconfirmed reports.

The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta suggested Nikolai Gorokhov had fallen after a winch snapped as he tried to lift a bath to a fourth-floor apartment, though details of the incident remained murky.


Hermitage Capital sent a press release stating Gorokhov had been "thrown from the fourth floor of his apartment building" on Tuesday, but did not give any further details. Browder did not respond to an emailed request for further comment.
Although Gorokhov is still alive, so it may actually be a (very convenient) accident.
New Scientist: First dinosaurs may have been omnivores in the north hemisphere

Hips really can lie. In 1888, H. G. Seeley split the dinosaur family tree into two branches based on pelvic bones, but a new analysis suggests a complete rejig of early dinosaur types and challenges assumptions about where the first dinosaurs lived and what they ate.

"Maybe we shouldn't just blindly accept this 130-year-old idea," says Matthew Baron at the University of Cambridge. "Seeley's idea, while it was brilliant for his time, it's arguably archaic. It's based on very few specimens."

Seeley divided dinosaurs into "bird-hipped" animals, like the herbivorous Stegosaurus and Triceratops, and "reptile-hipped" ones, including carnivores like Tyrannosaurus rex and long-necked herbivores like Apatosaurus.

Instead of focusing on the pelvic bone, Baron and his team analysed 457 characteristics of 74 species
and found that 21 other anatomical features divide the dinosaurs differently.  Some of the common features shared between dinosaurs that were previously thought unrelated include straight thigh bones instead of the S-shaped ones found in some later dinosaurs, shoulder bones three times the length of the forelimb, and the first metatarsal - a long foot bone - not reaching the ankle joint.

"It sounds like trivial little features, very picayune things, but when you get that big a pile of bits of information just accumulating, you really do come up with a picture, a rearrangement," says Kevin Padian, a palaeontologist at the University of California, Berkeley.

Nature article: Dinosaur family tree poised for colossal shake-up

The longstanding division of dinosaurs into 'bird-hipped' species including Stegosaurus and their 'lizard-hipped' counterparts such as Brachiosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex may no longer be valid, a study published on 22 March in Nature contends1. Among the other proposed changes to the dinosaur family tree, the long-necked herbivorous and often gargantuan sauropods such as Brachiosaurus are no longer as closely related to bipedal, meat-eating theropods such as T. rex as they were under previous schemes.

"This is a textbook changer -- if it continues to pan out," says Thomas Holtz, a vertebrate palaeontologist at the University of Maryland in College Park. "It's only one analysis, but it's a thorough one."

The new study assesses kinship among 74 dinosaur species that span the family tree, on the basis of similarities or differences in more than 450 anatomical features, says Matthew Baron, a vertebrate palaeontologist at the University of Cambridge, UK, who led the study.

Paper (not open access): A new hypothesis of dinosaur relationships and early dinosaur evolution

Quote from: Abstract
For 130 years, dinosaurs have been divided into two distinct clades--Ornithischia and Saurischia. Here we present a hypothesis for the phylogenetic relationships of the major dinosaurian groups that challenges the current consensus concerning early dinosaur evolution and highlights problematic aspects of current cladistic definitions. Our study has found a sister-group relationship between Ornithischia and Theropoda (united in the new clade Ornithoscelida), with Sauropodomorpha and Herrerasauridae (as the redefined Saurischia) forming its monophyletic outgroup. This new tree topology requires redefinition and rediagnosis of Dinosauria and the subsidiary dinosaurian clades. In addition, it forces re-evaluations of early dinosaur cladogenesis and character evolution, suggests that hypercarnivory was acquired independently in herrerasaurids and theropods, and offers an explanation for many of the anatomical features previously regarded as notable convergences between theropods and early ornithischians.
Pop-sci: Natural Gas Power Plants Emit up to 120 Times More Methane Than Previously Estimated

Researchers at Purdue University and the Environmental Defense Fund have concluded in a recent study that natural gas power plants release 21-120 times more methane than earlier estimates.

Published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, the study also found that for oil refineries, emission rates were 11-90 times more than initial estimates. Natural gas, long touted as a cleaner and more climate-friendly alternative to burning coal, is obtained in the U.S. mostly via the controversial horizontal drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing ("fracking").

The scientists measured air emissions at three natural gas-fired power plants and three refineries in Utah, Indiana, and Illinois using Purdue's flying chemistry lab, the Airborne Laboratory for Atmospheric Research (ALAR). They compared their results to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.


"[Methane is] a better fuel all around as long as you don't spill it," Paul Shepson, an atmospheric chemistry professor at Purdue, said in a press release. "But it doesn't take much methane leakage to ruin your whole day if you care about climate change."

The researchers were careful to differentiate between emissions related to natural gas combustion versus leakage, with the latter found to be the primary source of methane emissions in this small, preliminary study. Previous estimates of methane emissions were reported to the EPA from the facilities themselves and were restricted to what came out of the smokestack, which means they excluded leaks from equipment such as steam turbines and compressors.

The study was done as part of EDF's ongoing series of studies measuring methane emissions and leakage throughout the U.S. natural gas supply chain. EDF said in its press release that the Purdue scientists plan to follow up with research at additional oil refineries and power plants. Purdue stated in a press release that support for the research also came from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Paper: Assessing the Methane Emissions from Natural Gas-Fired Power Plants and Oil Refineries (open access).
Arts and Entertainment / Things that make ya go boom

After collecting dust in high-security vaults for more than 65 years, hundreds of reels of film showing Cold War nuclear bomb tests have been declassified by the United States.

From 1945 to 1962, the United States detonated more than 210 nuclear bombs, with multiple cameras capturing each explosion at around 2,400 frames per second.

For decades, about 10,000 of these films have been locked away, sitting idle, scattered across the US in high-security vaults. Until now.

A team from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has worked for the last five years on finding, declassifying and preserving the films' content before it was lost forever.


To date, the team has located around 6,500 of the estimated 10,000 films created during atmospheric testing.

Around 4,200 films have been scanned, 400 to 500 have been reanalysed and around 750 have been declassified.

Even more exciting, the public can now watch some of these declassified films on the LLNL's YouTube playlist.

Publicity photos from the launch of Saudi Arabia's new Girls' Council have gone viral for all the wrong reasons -- namely, the lack of actual women in attendance.

Saudi Arabia is not known for its strong record on women's rights so the formation of a council, intended to provide women with more opportunities and a voice, was taken to be encouraging.

But photos have now emerged of the council's first meeting, and there are no women in sight -- the photos show 13 men.
KSA leads the way.
The fossil fuel industry's invisible colonization of academia

Fossil fuel interests - oil, gas, and coal companies, fossil-fueled utilities, and fossil fuel investors - have colonized nearly every nook and cranny of energy and climate policy research in American universities, and much of energy science too. And they have done so quietly, without the general public's knowledge.

For comparison, imagine if public health research were funded predominantly by the tobacco industry. It doesn't take a neurosurgeon to understand the folly of making policy or science research financially dependent on the very industry it may regulate or negatively affect. Harvard's school of public health no longer takes funding from the tobacco industry for that very reason. Yet such conflicts of interest are not only rife in energy and climate research, they are the norm.

This norm is no accident: it is the product of a public relations strategy to neutralize science and target those whom ExxonMobil dubbed "Informed Influentials," and it comes straight out of Big Tobacco's playbook. The myriad benefits of this strategy to the fossil fuel industry (and its effects on academic research) range from benign to insidious to unconscionable, but the big picture is simple: academia has a problem.

As scientists and policy experts rush to find solutions to the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced, our institutions are embroiled in a nationwide conflict of interest with the industry that has the most to lose. Our message to universities is: stop ignoring it.

We are not saying that universities must cut all ties with all fossil fuel companies. Energy research is so awash with fossil fuel funding that such a proposal would imply major changes. What we are saying is that denial - "I don't see a conflict," MIT's Chairman told the Boston Globe - is no longer acceptable.

Two parallel approaches can help. First, mandatory standards should be established in climate policy and energy research for disclosing financial and professional ties with fossil fuel interests, akin to those required in medical research. And second, conflicts of interest should be reduced by prioritizing less conflicted funding and personnel.

One way or another, the colonization of academia by the fossil fuel industry must be confronted. Because when our nation's "independent" research to stop climate change is in fact dependent on an industry whose interests oppose that goal, neither the public nor the future is well served.
Luminous frog is the first known naturally fluorescent amphibian

Julián Faivovich at the Bernardino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum in Buenos Aires, Argentina, made the discovery unexpectedly while studying a pigment in the frog. "For some things we were planning on doing, we had to illuminate the frog tissues with UV light. Then we realised the whole frog was fluorescing," he says.

He and his colleagues traced the fluorescence to a compound found in the lymph and skin glands. They found that this trait enhances the brightness of the frog by 19 per cent on a night with a full moon and 30 per cent during twilight.

The fluorescent compounds absorb light at a wavelength at which frog photoreceptors have low sensitivity, and emit it in a wavelength at which they have high sensitivity. That means it's likely the frogs themselves can see the fluorescence.


With around 5000 known species of frogs, it's unlikely that the polka-dot tree frog is the only fluorescent one.

"There's very few frogs that have a feature that's not found in any other frogs," says Blackburn. "So it probably is a trait that's more widespread, but then the question becomes what are the ecological circumstances that would drive fluorescence? Is it only common in tree frogs? Or is it ever found in other ecological circumstances?"
Boaty McBoatface lives! :cheer:  :parrot:  :happydance:  :clap:

Boaty McBoatface to go on first Antarctic mission

A small yellow robot submarine, called Boaty McBoatface after a competition to name a new polar research ship backfired, is being sent on its first Antarctic mission.

Boaty, which has arguably one of the most famous names in recent maritime history, is a new type of autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), which will be able travel under ice, reach depths of 6,000 metres, and transmit the data it collects to researchers via a radio link.

Its mission will be to investigate water flow and turbulence in the dark depths of the Orkney Passage, a 3.5km deep region of the Southern Ocean. The data it collects will help scientists understand how the ocean is responding to global warming.

<Snippy McSnipface>

Boaty will travel with the DynOPO (Dynamics of the Orkney Passage Outflow) expedition on the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) research ship James Clark Ross, departing from Punta Arenas in Chile on 17 March.
The fukn god botherers are interfering with beer!


Coopers Brewery under fire for Bible Society video debating marriage equality

Coopers Brewery has come under fire for apparently involving itself in the marriage equality debate by collaborating with the Bible Society on a campaign "to reach even more Australians with God's word".

To commemorate the 200th birthday of the non-profit organisation - which has the slogan "Live light" - Coopers released 10,000 cases of a limited-edition Coopers Premium Light beer, emblazoned with different Bible verses.

The Bible Society said on its website that the Keeping it Light campaign was a bid to foster a respectful "national conversation", which it said had become "fraught with shallowness and contempt for those who have a differing opinion".

"From yelling matches on ABC's Q&A to screed on Twitter, we just don't seem to be able to talk any more ... To speak into this, Bible Society Australia has teamed up with Coopers Premium Light to ask Australians to try 'Keeping it Light' - a creative campaign to reach even more Australians with God's word."

It released a video in which the Liberal MPs Andrew Hastie and Tim Wilson debated the issue of same-sex marriage. In the light-hearted clip, billed as the first in a series, the two "disagree most agreeably" over gay Australians' right to wed while they drink a couple of Coopers Premium Light beers.
Computers and Technology / Anyone using Slimjet?

Looks to have some good features:

I took a look at it. The only thing I'm not keen on is that the UI is still basically just Chrome, with fuck all ability to customise it. 
MH17: Russia's lawyer goes off-script

An extraordinary thing happened in The Hague this week.

While addressing what he called "the appalling loss of life caused by the shooting down of flight MH17" a lawyer representing Russia in the International Court of Justice failed to issue the stock-standard Kremlin denial.

Before we deal with what he said, let's remind ourselves of what the Russians normally say about MH17.

In September last year, a Dutch-led joint investigation team (JIT) concluded a Buk missile brought across the border from Russia into a Ukrainian village controlled by pro-Russian separatists shot down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 killing 298 people, including 38 Australian citizens and residents.

Russia dismissed the findings. Their officials have consistently denied any weapons, soldiers or equipment were deployed across the border in Ukraine.


London lawyer Samuel Wordsworth QC, a visiting professor at Kings College, is defending Russia in the ICJ against the Ukrainian Government's claims Vladimir Putin's federation is financially supporting terrorism by backing separatist rebels.

The case is a complicated one. The Wordsworth defence is interesting not only for what it says, but for what it doesn't say.

"There is no evidence before the court," he told the judges, "plausible or otherwise, that Russia provided weaponry to any party with the intent or knowledge that such weaponry be used to shoot down civilian aircraft, as would of course be required under Article 2.1."

(Article 2.1 is a key section of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism).

Mr Wordsworth did not run the normal Kremlin defence. Instead he said there was no evidence of intent to provide weapons to shoot down a civilian aircraft.

It is not an unreasonable argument, but it is a long way from what Russia is normally willing to say.

So, what did Russia's top silk quote to back up his legal case? The Dutch-led JIT report that has been consistently dismissed by Russia as biased, politically motivated and full of fabricated evidence.


Samuel Wordsworth QC's logic may end up winning a critical case for Russia in the ICJ, but he may in the process expose some of the holes in the Kremlin's defence of who supplied the Buk missile that killed 298 innocent people.
Curiouser and curiouser. :popcorn:

Go look. Has pix.

What I want to know is how the buggers stay underwater for two hours when they only spend a few minutes on the surface.
Science / Fukn enantiornitheans: how do they work?
I'm curious about these particular dead birds. How the fuck did they end up with a major ball-and-socket joint being arse about?

That's a pretty significant change, or seems like it anyway. Does anyone have an idea how and when this happened?
Massive Permafrost Thaw Documented in Canada, Portends Huge Carbon Release

Huge slabs of Arctic permafrost in northwest Canada are slumping and disintegrating, sending large amounts of carbon-rich mud and silt into streams and rivers. A new study that analyzed nearly a half-million square miles in northwest Canada found that this permafrost decay is affecting 52,000 square miles of that vast stretch of earth--an expanse the size of Alabama.

According to researchers with the Northwest Territories Geological Survey, the permafrost collapse is intensifying and causing landslides into rivers and lakes that can choke off life downstream, all the way to where the rivers discharge into the Arctic Ocean.

Similar large-scale landscape changes are evident across the Arctic including in Alaska, Siberia and Scandinavia, the researchers wrote in a paper published in the journal Geology in early February. The study didn't address the issue of greenhouse gas releases from thawing permafrost. But its findings could help quantify the immense global scale of the thawing, which will contribute to more accurate estimates of carbon emissions.

Permafrost is land that has been frozen stretching back to the last ice age, 10,000 years ago. As the Arctic warms at twice the global rate, the long-frozen soils thaw and decompose, releasing the trapped greenhouse gases into the air. Scientists estimate that the world's permafrost holds twice as much carbon as the atmosphere.

The new study was aimed at measuring the geographical scope of thawing permafrost in northwest Canada. Using satellite images and other data, the team studied the edge of the former Laurentide Ice Sheet, a vast expanse of ice that covered two-thirds of North America during the last ice age. The disintegration of the permafrost was visible in 40- to 60-mile wide swaths of terrain, showing that, "extensive landscapes remain poised for major climate-driven change."

"Things have really taken off. Climate warming is now making that happen. It's exactly what we should expect with climate change," said Steven V. Kokelj, lead scientist on the Canadian mapping project. "And the maps that we produced clearly indicated it's not just a random pattern. We're sort of connecting dots here for the scientific community."
The paper is open access, BTW.
Figured I'd throw this in here since it's about behavourial stuff. The Science board is currently focused on the science of popcorn, while the Politics board is currently the "ZOMFG Trump we're all gonna dieeeeee!!!" board. This board needs some love.

So outlined in the article is an interesting and, even better, apparently effective approach.

Conservatives are willing to combat climate change -- when it's not called "climate change"

But climate change itself is negatively affecting people's lifestyles, and Romsdahl feels that framing environmental policies as protect-your-lifestyle policies may be a way to leverage that impulse for good.

For example, Romsdahl noted that warmer winters could ruin "winter festivals in northern states" because the weather isn't cold enough to "do activities commonly associated with winter festivals, like ice sculptures." Instead of framing a policy to reduce greenhouse emissions in terms of "climate change," politicians could frame it in terms of saving the region's winter festival.

It's understandable if this suggestion rankles coastal liberals and other members of the reality-based community. Who cares about winter festivals in sparsely inhabited states when global warming is causing serious problems around the globe, like droughts and resource conflicts? Shouldn't we worry more about how to encourage people to accept scientific facts and understand their moral duty to reduce their damage to the environment?

Well, it would be nice if people were better than they are. But as Romsdahl observed, holding out for people to change their way of thinking on this issue isn't doing the cause of environmentalism any favors.

"Continuing to talk about the science and the moral imperative to take action isn't going to have any effect," Romsdahl said. "It hasn't had enough effect so far."


How much of a spin needs to be put on environmental policies will vary greatly from community to community. The city of Fargo, North Dakota, for instance, is relatively liberal by Great Plains standards; its website on environmental policy does use terms like "climate change" and "carbon footprint." But Fargo's program to capture methane gas from a landfill and convert it into electricity is still packaged more as a money- and energy-saving measure than a greenhouse gas reduction measure, making it easier for conservatives in the area to accept.

It's a shame that anything associated with liberal ideology is so demonized that rational discussions with conservatives become nearly impossible. We see this problem with the Affordable Care Act as well. When it's called "Obamacare," many conservatives will refuse to support it, even if they like the specific policies contained in the law.

Unfortunately, we can't wait around for conservatives to get over themselves in order to deal with the problem of climate change. The effects are happening now and must be dealt with. If reframing the issue in terms that are easier for conservatives to swallow helps get important policy changes in motion, activists and leaders shouldn't hesitate to use a little spin.
 :dinorage:  :netrage:  :deadthread:
Science / A loaf of bread emits half a kilo of CO2
A loaf of bread emits half a kilo of CO2, mainly from fertiliser

Giving you your daily bread is costly for the climate. The equivalent of half a kilogram of carbon dioxide goes into the atmosphere for every loaf of bread produced in the UK, according to the best study on the subject yet.

That suggests making the bread eaten in the UK results in massive greenhouse emissions: equal to an astonishing half a per cent of all the UK's greenhouse emissions. The finding highlights the urgent need to tackle global emissions from farming, which produces a third of all greenhouse gases.

In the case of a loaf of bread, the main source of these emissions is the nitrogen fertiliser used to grow the wheat. Its production and use creates 40 per cent of the emissions.


Even switching to organic farming might not help. For instance, if farmers grow nitrogen-capturing legumes and spread them on fields as a "green fertiliser", nitrous oxide is still released, says Sylvester-Bradley.

Ploughing soils that are rich in organic matter also releases lots of carbon, he says. Other studies have found that growing organic wheat results in similar amounts of greenhouse gas emissions to conventional wheat farming, or even slightly more.

Organic farms also use far more land per loaf produced: land that could instead be set aside for wildlife or used for biomass energy.
Science / Diamond grew over 2 billion year period

A study of tiny mineral 'inclusions' within diamonds from Botswana has shown that diamond crystals can take billions of years to grow. One diamond was found to contain silicate material that formed 2.3 billion years ago in its interior and a 250 million-year-old garnet crystal towards its outer rim, the largest age range ever detected in a single specimen.

Analysis of the inclusions also suggests that the way that carbon is exchanged and deposited between the atmosphere, biosphere, oceans and geosphere may have changed significantly over the past 2.5 billion years.
Sixteen diamonds from two mines in north eastern Botswana were analysed in the study: seven specimens from the Orapa mine and nine from the Letlhakane mine. A team at VU Amsterdam measured the radioisotope, nitrogen and trace element contents of inclusions within the diamonds. Although the mines are located just 40 kilometres apart, the diamonds from the two sources had significant differences in the age range and chemical composition of inclusions.

The Orapa diamonds contained material dating from between around 400 million and more than 1.4 billion years ago. The Letlhakane diamond inclusions ranged from less than 700 million and up to 2-2.5 billion years old. In every case, the team were able to link the age and composition of material in the inclusions to distinct tectonic events occurring locally in the Earth's crust, such as a collision between plates, continental rifting or magmatism. This suggests that diamond formation is triggered by heat fluctuations and magma fluid movement associated with these events.
Science / We can haz Skynet?
This looks like fun. What could go wrong? :parrot:

AI learns to write its own code by stealing from other programs

OUT of the way, human, I've got this covered. A machine learning system has gained the ability to write its own code.

Created by researchers at Microsoft and the University of Cambridge, the system, called DeepCoder, solved basic challenges of the kind set by programming competitions. This kind of approach could make it much easier for people to build simple programs without knowing how to write code.

"All of a sudden people could be so much more productive," says Armando Solar-Lezama at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was not involved in the work. "They could build systems that it [would be] impossible to build before."

Ultimately, the approach could allow non-coders to simply describe an idea for a program and let the system build it, says Marc Brockschmidt, one of DeepCoder's creators at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK.
The original paper appears to be this one:

Pop-sci/Trumpocalypse version: Trump's EPA policies risk more Alzheimer's cases

Two new studies add to the growing body of evidence that air pollution is causing higher rates of Alzheimer's and dementia.

Particulate matter may be responsible for more than one in five dementia cases, as the smallest particles appear to travel directly from the nose to the brain, where they do considerable damage.

Tragically, the new president campaigned on rolling back Clean Air Act rules and boosting coal use, which, along with vehicle exhaust, is the principal source of particulates.

"If people in the current administration are trying to reduce the cost of treating diseases, including dementia," physician-epidemiologist Dr. Jiu-Chiuan Chen told the L.A. Times, "then they should know that relaxing the Clean Air Act regulations will do the opposite."

Indeed, many studies find serious health impacts even at particulate levels below current EPA standards, Chen told ThinkProgress.