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Messages - vox_mundi

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Science / Re: Satellite News
« on: Today at 12:39:24 AM »
Google Earth Is Now a 3D Time Machine

Google puts 20 petabytes of historical satellite data into the Google Earth globe.

You can now watch glaciers melt away forever in 3D.

Columbia Glacier

Google has pushed out what it says is Google Earth's "biggest update since 2017" with a new 3D time-lapse feature. Entering the new "Timelapse" mode of Google Earth will let you fly around the virtual globe with a time slider, showing you satellite imagery from the past 37 years. Google Earth Timelapse has been around for years as part of Google Earth Engine (which is a totally separate interface from Google Earth; it's a weird Google branding thing), but it was previously only available in 2D. Now, Google has mapped all this data across the 3D Google Earth globe, where you can watch cities being built, forests being cut down, and glaciers receding.

Google Earth Timelapse isn't just a huge amount of data; properly mapping it across the globe means correcting the images for artifacts and problems. The company had to get clouds out of the way, correct images for perspective, and ensure seamless transitioning through zoom levels. Luckily, Google happens to have some really big computers to handle the load.

The company explains what it took to make Timelapse happen:

... Making a planet-sized timelapse video required a significant amount of what we call “pixel crunching” in Earth Engine, Google's cloud platform for geospatial analysis. To add animated Timelapse imagery to Google Earth, we gathered more than 24 million satellite images from 1984 to 2020, representing quadrillions of pixels. It took more than two million processing hours across thousands of machines in Google Cloud to compile 20 petabytes of satellite imagery into a single 4.4 terapixel-sized video mosaic—that’s the equivalent of 530,000 videos in 4K resolution!

To access the timeline, open up Google Earth on the web, click on the navigation ship's wheel icon, and press the big "Timelapse in Google Earth" button—or just go to . With Timelapse open, you'll get a big panel on the right side with a timeline from 1984 to today, and a few shortcuts to places Google says are particularly interesting. Google Earth Timelapse doesn't work well across the entire world just yet. Some places, like New York City, appear hopelessly blurry, even when you set the timer to 2020. Google's highlighted locations, like Dubai, look a lot better and play out like a game of SimCity.

Google is pitching Timelapse as a teaching tool for climate change. If you want this information in a more portable format than Google Earth, Google has created a big batch of Earth timelapse videos highlighting "urban expansion, mining impacts, river meandering, the growth of megacities, deforestation, and agricultural expansion." The videos are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0, so you're free to use them for whatever you want as long as you credit Google.

Nvidia's New Grace CPU Is Designed for AI-Powered Supercomputers

... Following tradition, NVIDIA made the GTC 2021 conference a stage for many significant ML, AI, networking, and data center announcements. One of NVIDIA CEO and founder Jensen Huang’s most exciting announcements was the development and 2023 deployment of a newly designed AI platform robust enough to accommodate the training of future AI models that almost rival the number of synapses in a human brain.

... “The real test for artificial intelligence is its ability to understand the language, what people are saying, what the words mean, and being able to reply humanly with insight. At this point, there's no limit to the size of the neural networks that can be used to solve it.”

... As an example, in 2018, Google published a transformer-based machine learning technique for natural language processing (NLP) pre-training. This early model was called BERT and had 340 million connections. BERT was open-source and developed for a wide range of search engine-related tasks such as answering questions and language inference.

Today, models like Open AI’s GPT-3 with up to 175 billion connections have dwarfed BERT. That many connections may sound like a lot but compared to the human brain with 150 trillion connections, it is relatively small.

Today’s largest AI models include billions of parameters and are doubling every two and a half months. Training them requires a new CPU that can be tightly coupled with a GPU to eliminate system bottlenecks. 

As AI model sizes continue to grow, by 2023 NVIDIA believes that models will have 100 trillion or more connections. Models of that size will exceed the technical capabilities of existing platforms.

Grace is a highly specialized processor targeting those workloads such as training next-generation NLP models that have over 1 trillion parameters.

... A vital feature of the Grace module is a breakthrough CPU designed and built by NVIDIA for giant scale AI and HPC applications. The CPU sits directly next to existing GPUs with a high-speed interconnect between the two processors. The interconnecting link has a bandwidth of 900 gigabytes/second, that is 14X greater than today. It will allow trillion connection models to be trained and perform inference on a real-time basis.

... NVIDIA already has a customer for Grace. The Swiss National Supercomputing Center (CSCS), Hewlett Packard Enterprise and NVIDIA, announced building the world's most powerful AI-capable supercomputer – ALPS.  It will deliver 20 exaflops of AI.

As a reference point, with NVIDIA Grace and the new generation of GPUs, Alps will have the capability to train GPT-3, one of the world’s largest natural language processing model, in only two days — 7x faster than NVIDIA’s 2.8-AI exaflops Selene supercomputer, currently recognized as the world’s leading supercomputer for AI by MLPerf.

Almost everyone interested in AI is curious to determine what can be done with 100 trillion parameter models.  AGI?


The NVIDIA roadmap indicates the development of Grace 2.0 in 2025. At this point, we can only speculate on new features other than there is a high likelihood there will be an increase of Grace-GPU pairs from four to a more significant number, perhaps as high as eight.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 10, 2021, 06:21:23 PM »

Consequences / Re: Hurricane Season 2021
« on: April 10, 2021, 02:32:47 PM »
Is this the "tropical cyclone" thread too?

Yes: Typhoons, Cyclones, and Hurricanes ...


A Spectacular Fujiwhara Effect Happens With Merging Tropical Cyclones Seroja and Odette, Both Head for a Rare and Damaging Impact to Australia This Weekend

We don’t see this very often, but the tropical region is facing two merging cyclones this week. A so-called Fujiwhara effect of tropical cyclone Seroja and Odette revealed a spectacular satellite view. Seroja will be a dominant feature of both and turns towards western Australia with an extremely dangerous landfall with severe winds and flooding on Sunday.

The Fujiwhara effect can make forecasting track and intensity even more challenging, as a number of weather scenarios can occur with the general track and also intensity. One system typically becoming more dominant and overtakes the weaker one.

On rare occasions, the two systems can combine into one larger and intense system (as is this case), or they destroy each other. Tropical Cyclone Seroja reaches a Category 3 intensity this weekend, while the tropical low is expected to be of much weaker intensity.

... Modeled wind swath suggests that the approach of tropical cyclone Seroja will include severe winds, potentially becoming violent prior to the landfall of the system on Sunday. Wind gusts will be dangerous along the coast, possibly with gusts 140-170 km/h at the landfall.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 08, 2021, 02:15:01 AM »
AstraZeneca Vaccine Linked to Rare Blood Clots, EU Regulators Conclude

European medical regulators on Wednesday concluded that there is a strong link between AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and life-threatening conditions involving the unusual combination of blood clots and low levels of blood platelets.

As such, the conditions should be listed as a “very rare side effects” of the vaccine, according to the European Medicines Agency, a regulatory agency of the European Union.

The conclusion was based on the EMA’s in-depth review of 86 blood-clotting events among around 25 million people vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe and the UK. Of the 86 blood-clotting events (0.00034%), 18 people died (0.00007%). Most—but not all—of the cases occurred in women under the age of 60.

The events reviewed by the EMA included 62 cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), a rare form of stroke in which a clot prevents blood from draining out of the brain. The remaining 24 cases involved splanchnic vein thrombosis, which involves blood clots in the veins that drain blood from the abdomen.

Beyond the 86 cases examined, the EMA estimated that there’s a reporting rate of one case of the side effect in 100,000 people vaccinated.

Regulators noted that this unusual combination resembles a condition called heparin-induced thrombocytopenia or HIT.

HIT develops because of an aberrant immune response. In a reaction to heparin that’s not completely understood, some patients’ immune systems produce antibodies that attack a common platelet protein called Platelet Factor 4, or PF4. This in turn triggers platelet activation and pro-clotting particles, leading to HIT.

Though the EMA solidified the connection between the clots and the AstraZeneca vaccine, it still recommends using the vaccine. Along with the EMA, the World Health Organization still strongly contends that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine’s effectiveness at preventing deadly COVID-19 infections strongly outweigh the risks of extremely rare blood-clotting conditions.

The new side effect listing in the EU will only make things more difficult for AstraZeneca. And it’s also likely to cast a shadow over the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which is authorized in the US and elsewhere and uses the same design as AstraZeneca’s vaccine. Both vaccines use an adenovirus vector.

A potential pitfall of adenovirus-based vaccines is that adenoviruses can also bind to platelets and cause problems. In fact, some pre-pandemic data has suggested that adenoviruses can activate platelets and lead to low platelet counts. But the connection between this and the mechanism causing the blood clotting in vaccinees needs far more data to be understood.

Of the approximately 4.5 million people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine worldwide, there have been three reported cases of blood-clotting events similar to those seen in people given the AstraZeneca vaccine, Arlett said. These numbers are “extremely small,” he emphasized. “This is, however, under close scrutiny... I think it would be fair to say there’s intensive monitoring of this issue across the vaccines.”


People Who Got the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Say They Have More Side Effects

The anecdotal reports are true: people who get the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine say they have more side effects than people who get the Pfizer / BioNTech shots, according to new data published this week in JAMA.

The study analyzed reports collected through a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention program called v-safe. It’s a text message-based program designed to track side effects in vaccine recipients. For the first week after each vaccine dose, people who enroll are prompted to fill out a daily survey about any symptoms, like fatigue or arm pain

Over 3,600,000 people who got their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before February 21st enrolled in v-safe and checked in at least once. Around 70 percent of those people said they had some kind of injection site reaction, like pain or swelling, and half had a more generalized reaction like fatigue or chills. For both, people who got a Moderna shot were more likely to have a side effect — 73 percent had an injection site reaction, compared with 65 percent of people who had a Pfizer / BioNTech dose. Around 51 percent of Moderna recipients had full-body symptoms, compared with 48 percent of people who got Pfizer / BioNTech.

The gap widened after the second dose. About 1.4 million people completed those check-ins. Almost 82 percent of people getting their second Moderna shot had injection site pain versus just under 69 percent of people with Pfizer / BioNTech. Overall, 74 percent of people said they had general reactions after their Moderna shot, compared with 64 percent of people getting Pfizer / BioNTech. The biggest difference was for chills, which were experienced by 40 percent of people taking Moderna and only only 22 percent of people taking the Pfizer / BioNTech shot.

People over 65 were also less likely to have side effects than people under 65, regardless of which vaccine they received.

Overall, the side effects and frequency of side effects were similar to the ones seen in clinical trials testing these vaccines. The clinical trials gave researchers and doctors an accurate look at the types of side effects people can expect after they get their shots

Consequences / Re: Drought 2021
« on: April 06, 2021, 10:50:15 PM »
And here are the rest of the results that you left out from the study you failed to cite...

Global and U.S. temperatures continue to rise

The annual average temperature for the globe and the contiguous U.S. has increased 1.8 degrees F from 1901 to 2016.

Sixteen of the warmest years on record for the globe occurred in the last 17 years; the last three years were the warmest.

Variability in temperature and precipitation is increasing

Annual precipitation has decreased in much of the West, Southwest, and Southeast and increased in most of the Northern and Southern Plains, Midwest, and Northeast. A national average increase of 4% in annual precipitation since 1901 mostly a result of large increases in the fall season.

Heatwaves have become more frequent in the U.S. since the 1960s.

Cold temperatures and cold waves have decreased since the early 1900s.

Annual trends toward earlier spring snowmelt and reduced snowpack are already affecting water resources in the western U.S.

Ocean temperatures are warming and an increase in sea level

Global average sea level has risen by about 7-8 inches since 1900.

Global average sea level is expected to rise by several inches in the next 15 years.

Temperature increases in Alaska and across Arctic are greater than the rest of the globe

Annual average near-surface air temperature in Alaska and across the Arctic has increased over the last 50 years at a rate more than twice as fast as the global average temperature.

Since the early 1980s, Arctic sea ice extent has decreased between 3.5 percent and 4.1 percent per decade, has become thinner by between 4.3 and 7.5 feet, and on average the season of melting lasts 15 more days per year.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 02, 2021, 11:29:16 PM »
COVID-19 Patients Can Be Categorized Into Three Groups

In a new study, researchers identify three clinical COVID-19 phenotypes, reflecting patient populations with different comorbidities, complications and clinical outcomes. The three phenotypes are described in a paper published this week in the open-access journal PLOS ONE 1st authors Elizabeth Lusczek and Nicholas Ingraham of University of Minnesota Medical School, US, and colleagues

In the new study, researchers analyzed electronic health records (EHRs) from 14 hospitals in the midwestern United States and from 60 primary care clinics in the state of Minnesota. Data were available for 7,538 patients with PCR-confirmed COVID-19 between March 7 and August 25, 2020; 1,022 of these patients required hospital admission and were included in the study. Data on each patient included comorbidities, medications, lab values, clinic visits, hospital admission information, and patient demographics.

Most patients included in the study (613 patients, or 60 percent) presented with what the researchers dubbed "phenotype II." 236 patients (23.1 percent) presented with "phenotype I," or the "Adverse phenotype," which was associated with the worst clinical outcomes; these patients had the highest level of hematologic, renal and cardiac comorbidities (all p<0.001) and were more likely to be non-White and non-English speaking. 173 patients (16.9 percent) presented with "phenotype III," or the "Favorable phenotype," which was associated with the best clinical outcomes; surprisingly, despite having the lowest complication rate and mortality, patients in this group had the highest rate of respiratory comorbidities (p=0.002) as well as a 10 percent greater risk of hospital readmission compared to the other phenotypes. Overall, phenotypes I and II were associated with 7.30-fold (95% CI 3.11-17.17, p<0.001) and 2.57-fold (95% CI 1.10-6.00, p=0.03) increases in hazard of death relative to phenotype III.

The authors add: "Patients do not suffer from COVID-19 in a uniform matter. By identifying similarly affected groups, we not only improve our understanding of the disease process, but this enables us to precisely target future interventions to the highest risk patients."

Elizabeth R. Lusczek et al, Characterizing COVID-19 clinical phenotypes and associated comorbidities and complication profiles, PLOS ONE (2021).

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: April 01, 2021, 06:27:37 PM »

Researchers Demonstrate First Human Use of High-Bandwidth Wireless Brain-Computer Interface

For years, investigational BCIs used in clinical trials have required cables to connect the sensing array in the brain to computers that decode the signals and use them to drive external devices.

Now, for the first time, BrainGate clinical trial participants with tetraplegia have demonstrated use of an intracortical wireless BCI with an external wireless transmitter. The system is capable of transmitting brain signals at single-neuron resolution and in full broadband fidelity without physically tethering the user to a decoding system. The traditional cables are replaced by a small transmitter about 2 inches in its largest dimension and weighing a little over 1.5 ounces. The unit sits on top of a user's head and connects to an electrode array within the brain's motor cortex using the same port used by wired systems.

For a study published in IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, two clinical trial participants with paralysis used the BrainGate system with a wireless transmitter to point, click and type on a standard tablet computer. The study showed that the wireless system transmitted signals with virtually the same fidelity as wired systems, and participants achieved similar point-and-click accuracy and typing speeds.

The researchers say the study represents an early but important step toward a major objective in BCI research: a fully implantable intracortical system that aids in restoring independence for people who have lost the ability to move. While wireless devices with lower bandwidth have been reported previously, this is the first device to transmit the full spectrum of signals recorded by an intracortical sensor. That high-broadband wireless signal enables clinical research and basic human neuroscience that is much more difficult to perform with wired BCIs.

... Dubbed the Brown Wireless Device (BWD), it was designed to transmit high-fidelity signals while drawing minimal power. In the current study, two devices used together recorded neural signals at 48 megabits per second from 200 electrodes with a battery life of over 36 hours. ...

John D Simeral et al. Home Use of a Percutaneous Wireless Intracortical Brain-Computer Interface by Individuals With Tetraplegia, IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering (2021)

Antarctica / Re: Ice Apocalypse - MULTIPLE METERS SEA LEVEL RISE
« on: April 01, 2021, 02:25:27 PM »
Melting Ice Sheets Caused Sea Levels to Rise Up to 18 Meters

New research has found that previous ice loss events could have caused sea-level rise at rates of around 3.6 meters per century, offering vital clues as to what lies ahead should climate change continue unabated.

... Geological records tell us that, at the end of the last ice age around 14,600 years ago, sea levels rose at ten times the current rate due to Meltwater Pulse 1A (MWP-1A); a 500 year, ~18 meter sea-level rise event.

Until now, the scientific community has not been able to agree about which ice sheet was responsible for this rapid rise, with the massive Antarctic Ice Sheet being a likely suspect, but some evidence pointing towards ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere..

The new study uses detailed geological sea-level data and state-of-the-art modelling techniques to reveal the sources of MWP-1A. Interestingly, most of the meltwater appears to have originated from the former North American and Eurasian ice sheets, with minimal contribution from Antarctica, reconciling formerly disparate views.

In addition to flooding vast areas of low-lying land, this unparalleled discharge of freshwater into the ocean—comparable to melting an ice sheet twice the size of Greenland in only 500 years—will have disrupted ocean circulation, with knock-on effects for global climate. Knowing the source of the meltwater will improve the accuracy of climate models that are used to replicate the past and predict changes in the future.

A reconciled solution of Meltwater Pulse 1A sources using sea-level fingerprinting, Nature Communications, (2021)

The rest / Re: Systemic Isolation
« on: March 31, 2021, 06:48:04 PM »
New Study Sows Doubt About the Composition of 70 Percent of Our Universe

Until now, researchers have believed that dark energy accounted for nearly 70 percent of the ever-accelerating, expanding universe.

For many years, this mechanism has been associated with the so-called cosmological constant, developed by Einstein in 1917, that refers to an unknown repellant cosmic power.

But because the cosmological constant—known as dark energy—cannot be measured directly, numerous researchers, including Einstein, have doubted its existence—without being able to suggest a viable alternative.

Until now.

In a new study by researchers at the University of Copenhagen, a model was tested that replaces dark energy with a dark matter in the form of magnetic forces.

"If what we discovered is accurate, it would upend our belief that what we thought made up 70 percent of the universe does not actually exist. We have removed dark energy from the equation and added in a few more properties for dark matter. This appears to have the same effect upon the universe's expansion as dark energy," explains Steen Harle Hansen, an associate professor at the Niels Bohr Institute's DARK Cosmology Centre.

The usual understanding of how the universe's energy is distributed is that it consists of five percent normal matter, 25 percent dark matter and 70 percent dark energy.

In the UCPH researchers' new model, the 25 percent share of dark matter is accorded special qualities that make the 70 percent of dark energy redundant.

We don't know much about dark matter other than that it is a heavy and slow particle. But then we wondered—what if dark matter had some quality that was analogous to magnetism in it? We know that as normal particles move around, they create magnetism. And, magnets attract or repel other magnets—so what if that's what's going on in the universe? That this constant expansion of dark matter is occurring thanks to some sort of magnetic force?" asks Steen Hansen.

Karoline Loeve et al. Consistency analysis of a Dark Matter velocity dependent force as an alternative to the Cosmological Constant, arXiv:2102.07792 [astro-ph.CO]


Einstein originally introduced the concept in 1917 to counterbalance the effects of gravity.

... dark matter drive = antigrav propulsion?


Researchers Achieve World's First Manipulation of Antimatter by Laser

Researchers with the CERN-based ALPHA collaboration have announced the world's first laser-based manipulation of antimatter, leveraging a made-in-Canada laser system to cool a sample of antimatter down to near absolute zero. The achievement, detailed in an article published today and featured on the cover of the journal Nature, will significantly alter the landscape of antimatter research and advance the next generation of experiments.

Since its introduction 40 years ago, laser manipulation and cooling of ordinary atoms have revolutionized modern atomic physics and enabled several Nobel-winning experiments. The results in Nature mark the first instance of scientists applying these techniques to antimatter.

... "Furthermore, we are one step closer to being able to manufacture the world's first antimatter molecules by joining anti-atoms together using our laser manipulation technology,"

Laser cooling of antihydrogen atoms , Nature (2021).

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: March 28, 2021, 05:59:54 PM »

... Better?

The rest / Re: Astronomical news
« on: March 28, 2021, 03:49:43 AM »
New Theory Suggests Large Blobs of Material In Earth's Mantle Are Remnants of Protoplanet Theia

A team of scientists at Arizona State University has proposed that the large blobs of material in Earth's mantle (the large low-shear velocity provinces, LLSVPs) may be left over pieces of Theia, a protoplanet theorized to have struck Earth, resulting in the creation of the moon. The group argued their case at this year's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference and are awaiting publication in Geophysical Research Letters.

Most space scientists have come to believe that the moon was created when another planet (now called Theia) collided with a very early Earth—pieces of Earth, Theia or both that were flung into space during the collision eventually coalesced into the moon. Theories regarding what happened to the rest of Theia are still being argued. In this new effort, the team in Arizona suggests that much of Theia's mantle wound up in Earth's mantle, forming what are now called the large low-shear-velocity provinces, LLSVPs—one beneath parts of the African continent and one beneath the Pacific Ocean.

Scientists have been studying the LLSVPs for many years—their existence has been confirmed by studying seismic readings around the globe. When seismic waves run into the LLSVPs, they slow down, suggesting the material they are made of is denser than the rest of the mantle. The LLSVPs are very large and rest on the rim of the outer core. The team at ASU note that if Theia's mantle was denser than Earth's, any of it that made its way to the mantle would eventually work its way to the core.

To back up their ideas, the team at ASU built a model depicting Earth as it was approximately 4.5 billion years ago and then showing what could have happened if there were a collision with a planet the size of Mars, or even larger. The model also assumed that the mantle of the theorized planet Theia was rich in iron, making it extremely dense. In their model, Theia winds up mostly destroyed, with pieces flung into space to create the moon, and much of its mantle breaking into fragments, which make it all the way into Earth's mantle. Over billions of years, the fragments merge, forming the LLSVPs.

52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 2021 (LPI Contrib. No. 2548)

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: March 27, 2021, 05:48:16 PM »
Scientists Propose Highly Reliable Thermal Power Generator

Chinese scientists have proposed a highly reliable thermal power generator by combining thermoacoustic effect and triboelectric effect.

The latest research, published online in Applied Physics Letters and selected as a featured article, was directed by Prof. Luo Ercang and Prof. Yu Guoyao from the Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry (TIPC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

In this work, scientists invested a novel thermal power generator which could convert thermal energy into electric energy. No solid moving part consists is one of the attractive features of this novel generator. The generator could be highly reliable and readily to achieve a long life span. Besides, this generator promises a theoretically high heat-to-electric conversion efficiency.

This novel thermal power generator called thermo-acoustically driven liquid-metal-based triboelectric nanogenerator (TA-LM-TENG), which includes two parts: thermoacoustic engine (TAHE) and liquid-metal-based triboelectric nanogenerator (LM-TENG).

The TAHE first converts thermal energy into acoustic energy via oscillatory thermal expansion and contraction of the working gas. The LM-TENG then converts the acoustic energy into electrical energy via the coupling effect of contact electrification and electrostatic induction.

As shown in the schematic, when heating the hot heat exchanger of the TAHE, the working gas in the engine will start spontaneous oscillation. The oscillatory motion of working gas pushes the liquid metal column resonantly flowing upward and downward in the U-shaped tube. Liquid metal immersed and separated with the Kapton material periodically. The generator therefore generates an alternate electric potential difference at the electrodes. Electrical power is extracted from the TA-LM-TENG.

In the preliminary experiments, the scientists obtained a highest open-circuit voltage amplitude of 15V on a conceptual prototype.

Shunmin Zhu et al. Thermoacoustically driven liquid-metal-based triboelectric nanogenerator: A thermal power generator without solid moving parts, Applied Physics Letters (2021)

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: March 27, 2021, 05:38:32 PM »
New Problems Arise for Crop Storage as Planet Gets Warmer

About 25% of the nation's potato chips get their start in Michigan, where reliably cool air during September harvest and late spring has been ideal for crop storage. That's a big reason why the state produces more chipping potatoes than any other.

But with temperatures edging higher, Sackett had to buy several small refrigeration units for his sprawling warehouses. Last year, he paid $125,000 for a bigger one. It's expensive to operate, but beats having his potatoes rot

... The situation in Michigan illustrates a little-noticed hazard that climate change is posing for agriculture in much of the world. Once harvested, crops not immediately consumed or processed are stored—sometimes for months. The warming climate is making that job harder and costlier.

The annual period with outdoor air cool enough to store potatoes in Michigan's primary production area likely will shrink by up to 17 days by mid-century and up to a month by the late 2100s, according to an analysis by Julie Winkler, a Michigan State University geography and climate scientist.

The window for unrefrigerated storage is also narrowing for apples in the Northwest and Northeast, peanuts in the Southeast, lettuce in the Southwest and tomatoes in the Ohio valley, according to follow-up research published last year by plant physiology scientist Courtney Leisner at Auburn University. ... Growers of sugar beets, onions and carrots, will also  increasingly need refrigerated storage of those crops.

Growers will face tough choices about the economics of their operations. Producers who install equipment to regulate temperature and humidity will see power costs rising as the outside air gets hotter.

"Whose pocket is it going to come out of? Probably the consumer," Leisner said, adding that the potential effects of global warming on storage had been "largely ignored."

For delicate fruits and vegetables in the U.S. and Europe, a leading storage hurdle comes immediately after harvest, when temperatures must be lowered quickly to avoid decay. Lettuce and leafy greens such as kale are especially vulnerable, said Deirdre Holcroft, a plant biologist who worked previously for Dole Food Co. Inc.

Climate change is "going to add more and more pressure into the system," Holcroft said.

The rest / Re: Astronomical news
« on: March 25, 2021, 03:20:44 PM »
Previously Thought to Be Science Fiction, a Planet In a Triple-Star System Has Been Discovered

Kepler Object of Interest 5 (KOI-5) was one of the first batch of possible exoplanets sent down by the Kepler space telescope in 2009. But the first follow-up data quickly showed the system was complicated by an additional star and weird follow-up observations. Mission astronomers were gleefully (and perhaps slightly frantically) wading through possible exoplanet discoveries, so it was put aside and the data was left in the public archive. The same system was flagged again a decade later by TESS as a TESS Object of Interest (TOI-1241).

High-resolution imaging by one team of astronomers was combined with longer time baseline radial velocity data from another team and the story began to emerge: KOI-5 was a triple-star system with an exoplanet orbiting one of the stars. This discovery was presented at the January 2021 American Astronomical Society meeting, and a peer-reviewed paper is forthcoming.

Two sun-sized stars, designated A and B, orbit each other every 29 years in the middle of the system, while a third, smaller star orbits the two central stars every 400 years. The discovered planet is called KOI-5Ab, because it orbits star A, on an orbit that is tilted wildly away from the plane of the stars' orbits.

Data from Kepler and TESS, which required the effort of dozens of astronomers working together, has revealed the size of KOI-5Ab: seven times the radius of the Earth. Another team of astronomers used radial velocity data to measure the mass of KOI-5Ab: 57 times the mass of the Earth. Combining these numbers gives the density, and tells us this planet is a gas giant planet, a bit smaller and denser than Saturn.

Even in orbit over this planet, full darkness would only be available for brief snatches every couple hundred years when all three stars wandered into the same portion of the celestial sphere. This exoplanet system sounds like a science fiction story, but astronomers have been able to conclusively prove its existence.

See also: Nightfall by Isaac Asimov

Consequences / Re: Heatwaves
« on: March 24, 2021, 10:18:20 PM »
Deadly Heat Waves Will Be Common In South Asia, Even at 1.5 Degrees of Warming

Residents of South Asia already periodically experience heat waves at the current level of warming. But a new study projecting the amount of heat stress residents of the region will experience in the future finds with 2 degrees Celsius of warming, the population's exposure to heat stress will nearly triple.

Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will likely reduce that impact by half, but deadly heat stress will become commonplace across South Asia, according to the new study in Geophysical Research Letters, short-format reports with immediate implications spanning all Earth and space sciences.

... On the current climate trajectory, it may reach 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming in 2040. This deadline leaves little time for South Asian countries to adapt. "Only half a degree increase from today is going to cause a widespread increase in these events," ...

Their analysis suggests at 2 degrees of warming, the population's exposure to unsafe labor temperatures will rise more than two-fold, and exposure to lethal temperatures rises 2.7 times, as compared to recent years. Risks at 2°C warming would be about twice as high compared to 1.5°C.

The results differ from a similar study conducted in 2017, which predicted that heat waves of lethal temperatures will occur in South Asia toward the end of the 21st century. The researchers suspect the earlier study is too conservative, as deadly heat waves have already hit the region in the past. In 2015, large parts of Pakistan and India experienced the fifth deadliest heat wave in the recorded history, which caused about 3,500 heat-related deaths.

Fahad Saeed et al, Deadly heat stress to become commonplace across South Asia already at 1.5°C of global warming, Geophysical Research Letters (2021).

The rest / Re: Systemic Isolation
« on: March 23, 2021, 03:54:00 PM »
CERN Experiment Hints at New Force of Nature

Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva have spotted an unusual signal in their data that may be the first hint of a new kind of physics.

The LHCb collaboration, one of four main teams at the LHC, analysed 10 years of data on how unstable particles called B mesons, created momentarily in the vast machine, decayed into more familiar matter such as electrons.

The Standard Model of particle physics, firmly maintains that the particles should break down into products that include electrons at exactly the same rate as they do into products that include a heavier cousin of the electron, a particle called a muon.

But results released by CERN on Tuesday suggest that something unusual is happening. The B mesons are not decaying in the way the model says they should: instead of producing electrons and muons at the same rate, nature appears to favour the route that ends with electrons—around 85 muon decays for every 100 electron decays.

In physics parlance, the result has a significance of 3.1 sigma, meaning the chance of it being a fluke is about one in 1,000. While that may sound convincing evidence, particle physicists tend not to claim a new discovery until a result reaches a significance of five sigma, where the chance of it being a statistical quirk are reduced to one in a few million.

“It’s an intriguing hint, but we have seen sigmas come and go before. It happens surprisingly frequently,” Parkes said.

“I would say there is cautious excitement. We’re intrigued because not only is this result quite significant, it fits the pattern of some previous results from LHCb and other experiments worldwide,” he said.

If the result turns out to be true, it could be explained by so-far hypothetical particles called Z primes or leptoquarks that bring new forces to bear on other particles.

“There could be a new quantum force that makes the B mesons break up into muons at the wrong rate. It’s sticking them together and stopping them decaying into muons at the rate we’d expect,” Allanach said. “This force could help explain the peculiar pattern of different matter particles’ masses.”

After analyzing trillions of collisions produced over the last decade, we may be seeing evidence of something altogether new—potentially the carrier of a brand new force of nature.

Test of lepton universality in beauty-quark decays, arxiv, (2021)

Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: March 18, 2021, 09:52:26 PM »
^ ... stick with grain alcohol and rain water

Consequences / Re: Hurricane Season 2021
« on: March 18, 2021, 02:56:14 PM »
Precise Prediction of Hurricane Power vs. Ocean Temperature

Researchers have been studying the relation between water temperature and hurricane frequency for years now. There have been suggestions that as temperature increases, storms become more powerful.

Now, Tandon researcher Edward Wolf has released new research that confirms both facts. In studying recent hurricane data, Wolf was able to pinpoint the ocean temperature where it becomes possible for hurricanes to form. That temperature is approximately 26.5 degrees Celsius. Much like how water boils at 100 degrees Celsius (and not a degree lower), weather patterns cannot phase change into a hurricane until this water temperature is met.

Wolf also developed a simple algorithm that can predict the severity of a storm by measuring the temperature of the water beneath it. As the temperature goes up, the severity of the storm increases in a consistent and measurable manner. Not only does this prove that water temperature and storm strength are directly linked, it could be a tool to efficiently gauge the strength of a storm—an early warning system that could help communities in its path prepare.

Wolf's research also provides one surprising detail: the algorithm describing how storm severity increases in proportion to ocean temperatures finds a direct analog in ferromagnetism—the strength of an iron magnet's field: the temperature-defined phase change of ferromagnetism follows the same critical exponent formula T-Tc ⅓ determining shift to magnetism at specific temperatures.

Researchers are now able to use the vast scientific literature on ferromagnetism in order to study hurricane formation, which by its nature has less raw data to work with. Wolf was able to use previous iron studies to fine tune his algorithm, producing even finer data.

Precise Prediction of Hurricane Power vs Ocean Temperature, International Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. Vol. 5, No. 1, 2021, pp. 1-5.

Science / Re: Where are we now in CO2e , which pathway are we on?
« on: March 15, 2021, 11:25:11 PM »
Study Predicts Oceans Will Start Emitting Ozone-Depleting CFCs

The world's oceans are a vast repository for gases including ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs. They absorb these gases from the atmosphere and draw them down to the deep, where they can remain sequestered for centuries and more.

Marine CFCs have long been used as tracers to study ocean currents, but their impact on atmospheric concentrations was assumed to be negligible. Now, MIT researchers have found the oceanic fluxes of at least one type of CFC, known as CFC-11, do in fact affect atmospheric concentrations. In a study appearing today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team reports that the global ocean will reverse its longtime role as a sink for the potent ozone-depleting chemical.

Since its phaseout, levels of CFC-11 in the atmosphere have been steadily declining, and scientists estimate that the ocean has absorbed about 5 to 10 percent of all manufactured CFC-11 emissions. As concentrations of the chemical continue to fall in the atmosphere, however, it's predicted that CFC-11 will oversaturate in the ocean, pushing it to become a source rather than a sink.

The researchers project that by the year 2075, the oceans will emit more CFC-11 back into the atmosphere than they absorb, emitting detectable amounts of the chemical by 2130. Further, with increasing climate change, this shift will occur 10 years earlier. The emissions of CFC-11 from the ocean will effectively extend the chemical's average residence time, causing it to linger five years longer in the atmosphere than it otherwise would. This may impact future estimations of CFC-11 emissions.

"By the time you get to the first half of the 22nd century, you'll have enough of a flux coming out of the ocean that it might look like someone is cheating on the Montreal Protocol, but instead, it could just be what's coming out of the ocean," ...

"Generally, a colder ocean will absorb more CFCs," Wang explains. "When climate change warms the ocean, it becomes a weaker reservoir and will also outgas a little faster."

Peidong Wang el al., "On the effects of the ocean on atmospheric CFC-11 lifetimes and emissions," PNAS (2021).

Greenland and Arctic Circle / Re: What's new in Greenland?
« on: March 15, 2021, 10:52:55 PM »
Scientists Stunned to Discover Plants Beneath Mile-Deep Greenland Ice

In 1966, US Army scientists drilled down through nearly a mile of ice in northwestern Greenland—and pulled up a fifteen-foot-long tube of dirt from the bottom. Then this frozen sediment was lost in a freezer for decades. It was accidentally rediscovered in 2017.

In 2019, University of Vermont scientist Andrew Christ looked at it through his microscope—and couldn't believe what he was seeing: twigs and leaves instead of just sand and rock. That suggested that the ice was gone in the recent geologic past—and that a vegetated landscape, perhaps a boreal forest, stood where a mile-deep ice sheet as big as Alaska stands today.

Over the last year, Christ and an international team of scientists—led by Paul Bierman at UVM, Joerg Schaefer at Columbia University and Dorthe Dahl-Jensen at the University of Copenhagen—have studied these one-of-a-kind fossil plants and sediment from the bottom of Greenland. Their results show that most, or all, of Greenland must have been ice-free within the last million years, perhaps even the last few hundred-thousand years.

The discovery helps confirm a new and troubling understanding that the Greenland ice has melted off entirely during recent warm periods in Earth's history—periods like the one we are now creating with human-caused climate change.

The new study provides the strongest evidence yet that Greenland is more fragile and sensitive to climate change than previously understood—and at grave risk of irreversibly melting off.

"This is not a twenty-generation problem," says Paul Bierman, a geoscientist at UVM in the College of Arts & Sciences, Rubenstein School of Environment & Natural Resources, and fellow in the Gund Institute for Environment. "This is an urgent problem for the next 50 years."

The material for the new PNAS study came from Camp Century, a Cold War military base dug inside the ice sheet far above the Arctic Circle in the 1960s. The real purpose of the camp was a super-secret effort, called Project Iceworm, to hide 600 nuclear missiles under the ice close to the Soviet Union. As cover, the Army presented the camp as a polar science station.

The military mission failed, but the science team did complete important research, including drilling a 4560-foot-deep ice core.

They were focused on the ice and, apparently, took less interest in a bit of dirt gathered from beneath the ice core. Then, in a truly cinematic set of strange plot twists, the ice core was moved from an Army freezer to the University of Buffalo in the 1970s, to another freezer in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the 1990s, where it languished for decades—until it surfaced when the cores were being moved to a new freezer.

... The new study makes clear that the deep ice at Camp Century—some 75 miles inland from the coast and only 800 miles from the North Pole—entirely melted at least once within the last million years and was covered with vegetation, including moss and perhaps trees. The new research, supported by the National Science Foundation, lines up with data from two other ice cores from the center of Greenland, collected in 1990s. Sediment from the bottom of these cores also indicate that the ice sheet was gone for some time in the recent geologic past.

And the new study shows that ecosystems of the past were not scoured into oblivion by ages of glaciers and ice sheets bulldozing overtop. Instead, the story of these living landscapes remains captured under the relatively young ice that formed on top of the ground, frozen in place, and holds them still.

Andrew J. Christ el al., "A multimillion-year-old record of Greenland vegetation and glacial history preserved in sediment beneath 1.4 km of ice at Camp Century," PNAS (2021).

... Cosmogenic 26Al/10Be and luminescence data bracket the burial of the lower-most sediment between <3.2 ± 0.4 Ma and >0.7 to 1.4 Ma. In the upper-most sediment, cosmogenic 26Al/10Be data require exposure within the last 1.0 ± 0.1 My.

The unique subglacial sedimentary record from Camp Century documents at least two episodes of ice-free, vegetated conditions, each followed by glaciation. The lower sediment derives from an Early Pleistocene GrIS advance. 26Al/10Be ratios in the upper-most sediment match those in subglacial bedrock from central Greenland, suggesting similar ice-cover histories across the GrIS. We conclude that the GrIS persisted through much of the Pleistocene but melted and reformed at least once since 1.1 Ma.

The politics / Re: Economic Inequality
« on: March 15, 2021, 07:04:28 PM »

The politics / Re: The Trump Presidency
« on: March 13, 2021, 01:09:43 PM »

The rest / Re: Archaeology/Paleontology news
« on: March 12, 2021, 02:42:05 PM »
Experts Recreate a Mechanical Cosmos for the World's First Computer

Video at link

Researchers at UCL have solved a major piece of the puzzle that makes up the ancient Greek astronomical calculator known as the Antikythera Mechanism, a hand-powered mechanical device that was used to predict astronomical events.

Published in Scientific Reports, the paper from the multidisciplinary UCL Antikythera Research Team reveals a new display of the ancient Greek order of the Universe (Cosmos), within a complex gearing system at the front of the Mechanism.

Lead author Professor Tony Freeth (UCL Mechanical Engineering) explained: "Ours is the first model that conforms to all the physical evidence and matches the descriptions in the scientific inscriptions engraved on the Mechanism itself.

"The Sun, Moon and planets are displayed in an impressive tour de force of ancient Greek brilliance."

A Model of the Cosmos in the ancient Greek Antikythera Mechanism

The rest / Re: Archaeology/Paleontology news
« on: March 09, 2021, 11:35:22 PM »
World's First Dinosaur Preserved Sitting On Nest of Eggs With Fossilized Babies

The fossil in question is that of an oviraptorosaur, a group of bird-like theropod dinosaurs that thrived during the Cretaceous Period, the third and final time period of the Mesozoic Era (commonly known as the 'Age of Dinosaurs') that extended from 145 to 66 million years ago. The new specimen was recovered from uppermost Cretaceous-aged rocks, some 70 million years old, in Ganzhou City in southern China's Jiangxi Province.

... The fossil consists of an incomplete skeleton of a large, presumably adult oviraptorid crouched in a bird-like brooding posture over a clutch of at least 24 eggs. At least seven of these eggs preserve bones or partial skeletons of unhatched oviraptorid embryos inside. The late stage of development of the embryos and the close proximity of the adult to the eggs strongly suggests that the latter died in the act of incubating its nest, like its modern bird cousins, rather than laying its eggs or simply guarding its nest crocodile-style, as has sometimes been proposed for the few other oviraptorid skeletons that have been found atop nests.

... The team also conducted oxygen isotope analyses that indicate that the eggs were incubated at high, bird-like temperatures, adding further support to the hypothesis that the adult perished in the act of brooding its nest. Moreover, although all embryos were well-developed, some appear to have been more mature than others, which in turn suggests that oviraptorid eggs in the same clutch might have hatched at slightly different times. This characteristic, known as asynchronous hatching, appears to have evolved independently in oviraptorids and some modern birds.

One other interesting aspect of the new oviraptorid specimen is that the adult preserves a cluster of pebbles in its abdominal region. These are almost certainly gastroliths, or "stomach stones," rocks that would have been deliberately swallowed to aid the dinosaur in digesting its food. This is the first time that undoubted gastroliths have been found in an oviraptorid, and as such, these stones may provide new insights into the diets of these animals.

Says Dr. Xu, "It's extraordinary to think how much biological information is captured in just this single fossil. We're going to be learning from this specimen for many years to come."

Shundong Bi et al, An oviraptorid preserved atop an embryo-bearing egg clutch sheds light on the reproductive biology of non-avialan theropod dinosaurs, Science Bulletin (2020)

The politics / Re: The Trump Presidency
« on: March 06, 2021, 01:32:24 PM »

The politics / Re: The Trump Presidency
« on: March 05, 2021, 03:28:26 PM »

Science / Re: Ocean temperatures
« on: March 04, 2021, 11:25:15 PM »
Apparent Atlantic Warming Cycle Likely an Artifact of Climate Forcing

Volcanic eruptions, not natural variability, were the cause of an apparent "Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation," a purported cycle of warming thought to have occurred on a timescale of 40 to 60 years during the pre-industrial era, according to a team of climate scientists who looked at a large array of climate modeling experiments.

The result complements the team's previous finding that what had looked like an "AMO" occurring during the period since industrialization is instead the result of a competition between steady human-caused warming from greenhouse gases and cooling from more time-variable industrial sulphur pollution.

"It is somewhat ironic, I suppose," said Michael E. Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science and director, Earth System Science Center, Penn State. "Two decades ago, we brought the AMO into the conversation, arguing that there was a long-term natural, internal climate oscillation centered in the North Atlantic based on the limited observations and simulations that were available then, and coining the term 'AMO.' Many other scientists ran with the concept, but now we've come full circle. My co-authors and I have shown that the AMO is very likely an artifact of climate change driven by human forcing in the modern era and natural forcing in pre-industrial times."

The researchers previously showed that the apparent AMO cycle in the modern era was an artifact of industrialization-driven climate change, specifically the competition between warming over the past century from carbon pollution and an offsetting cooling factor, industrial sulphur pollution, that was strongest from the 1950s through the passage of the Clean Air Acts in the 1970s and 1980s. But they then asked, why do we still see it in pre-industrial records?

Their conclusion, reported today (Mar. 5) in Science, is that the early signal was caused by large volcanic eruptions in past centuries that caused initial cooling and a slow recovery, with an average spacing of just over half a century. The result resembles an irregular, roughly 60-year AMO-like oscillation.

"Some hurricane scientists have claimed that the increase in Atlantic hurricanes in recent decades is due to the uptick of an internal AMO cycle," said Mann. "Our latest study appears to be the final nail in the coffin of that theory. What has in the past been attributed to an internal AMO oscillation is instead the result of external drivers, including human forcing during the industrial era and natural volcanic forcing during the pre-industrial era."

The researchers looked at state-of-the-art climate models both for preindustrial times over the past thousand years where external factors such as solar and volcanic drivers were used, and unforced, "control" simulations where no external drivers were applied and any changes that happen are internally generated. When they looked at simulations for the short, 3- to 7-year El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycles, they found that these cycles occurred in the models without adding forcing by climate change, volcanic activity, or anything else.

However, when they looked for the AMO, it did not occur in the unforced model and only appeared in modern times using climate change variables as forcing and in preindustrial times with forcing by volcanic eruptions.

... "What we know is an oscillation like El Niño is real, but the AMO is not."

M.E. Mann el al., "Multidecadal climate oscillations during the past millennium driven by volcanic forcing," Science (2021).

The rest / Re: Systemic Isolation
« on: March 04, 2021, 03:40:32 PM »
A Potential Model for a Real Physical Warp Drive

A pair of researchers at Applied Physics has created what they describe as the first general model for a warp drive, a model for a space craft that could travel faster than the speed of light, without actually breaking the laws of physics. Alexey Bobrick, and Gianni Martire have written a paper describing their ideas for a warp drive and have published it in IOP's Classical and Quantum Gravity.

In this new effort, the researchers have taken a previous idea based on warping space-time a step further to create a model for a warp drive that they believe could be feasible in the future.

Bobrick and Martire start with the idea of an Alcubierre warp drive, a concept developed by Miguel Alcubierre in 1994—he envisioned it as spacecraft that could contract space time in front of the vehicle while expanding it behind the craft. But such a craft would require a massive amount of negative energy, which would not be feasible for a real spacecraft. Bobrick and Martire suggest instead that a massive gravitational force could be used to bend space time. The trick is finding a way to compress a planet-sized mass to a manageable spacecraft-module size in order to use its gravity. Because of the implied difficulties, a warp drive created from the model developed by the researchers could not be built today, but it does suggest that someday it might be possible.

Alexey Bobrick et al. Introducing physical warp drives, Classical and Quantum Gravity (2021)

Monitoring Methane Emissions from Gas Pipelines

For the first time, scientists, using satellite data from the Copernicus Sentinel missions, are now able to detect individual methane plumes leaking from natural gas pipelines around the globe.

In 2020, Kayrros, a European technology start-up, successfully developed a tool to accurately detect individual methane emissions from space. Now, the platform is being used to track regular methane emissions along gas pipelines, for example in Siberia, with emission rates of up to 300 tons per hour recorded.

By combining data from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P and Sentinel-2 missions, along with artificial intelligence algorithms, Kayrros scientists detected 13 methane emission events, with rates up to 164 tons per hour in 2019-2020, along the Yamal-Europe pipeline—a 4196 km pipeline running across Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany.

Another 33 emission events, with rates up to 291 tons per hour, were detected over the same period on the shorter, Brotherhood pipeline. When contacted, operators confirmed that these events were related to planned maintenance and have been duly reported to the relevant authorities.

Remarkably, the number of emission events detected by Kayrros increased by 40% over Russia in 2020 from 2019, even though the COVID-19 pandemic helped cut Russian gas exports to Europe by an estimated 14%, according to the IEA.

Over the same period, Kayrros also detected major methane releases in the US, from numerous emissions associated with shale oil production, as well as in other countries such as Kazakhstan.

Policy and solutions / Re: Water Resource Management
« on: March 03, 2021, 06:23:06 PM »
Humans Control Majority of Freshwater Ebb and Flow On Earth, Study Finds

Proportion of seasonal surface water storage variability associated with reservoirs by hydrologic basin from Oct 2018 to July 2020. Darker colors represent higher influence of human-managed reservoirs on surface water storage and lighter colors represent less influence.

Humans have made a remarkable impact on the planet, from clearing forests for agriculture and urbanization to altering the chemistry of the atmosphere with fossil fuels. Now, a new study in the journal Nature reveals for the first time the extent of human impact on the global water cycle.

The study used NASA's Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat-2) to assemble the largest ever dataset of seasonal water levels in more than 227,000 lakes, ponds and reservoirs worldwide. The data reveal that even though human-managed reservoirs comprise only a small percentage of all water bodies, they account for 57% of the total seasonal water storage changes globally.

"We tend to think of the water cycle as a purely natural system: Rain and snowmelt run into rivers, which run to the ocean where evaporation starts the whole cycle again," said Sarah Cooley, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University who launched the research project while a graduate student at Brown University. "But humans are actually intervening substantially in that cycle. Our work demonstrates that humans are responsible for a majority of the seasonal surface water storage variability on Earth."

From October 2018 to July 2020, the satellite measured water levels in 227,386 bodies of water, ranging in size from the American Great Lakes to ponds with areas less than one tenth of a square mile. Each water body was observed at different times of year to track changes in water levels. The researchers cross-referenced the water bodies they observed with a database of reservoirs worldwide to identify which water bodies were human-controlled and which were natural.

While countries like the U.S. and Canada gauge reservoir levels and make that information publicly available, many countries don't publish such data. And very few non-reservoir lakes and ponds are gauged at all. So there was no way to do this analysis without the precise satellite observations, the researchers said.

The study found that while natural lakes and ponds varied seasonally by an average of .22 meters, human-managed reservoirs varied by .86 meters. Added together, the much larger variation in reservoirs compared to natural lakes means that reservoirs account for 57% of the total variation. In some places, however, human influence was even stronger than that. For example, in arid regions like the Middle East, American West, India and Southern Africa, variability attributed to human control surges to 90% and above.

In a separate study published recently in Geophysical Research Letters, the research team was able to use ICESat-2 data to shed light on how reservoir water is being used. The study showed that in places like the Middle East, reservoir levels tend to be lower in summer and higher in the winter. That suggests that water is being released in the dry season for irrigation and drinking water. In contrast, the trend in places like Scandinavia was the opposite. There, water is released in the winter to make hydroelectric power for heating.

Human alteration of global surface water storage variability, Nature (2021).

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: March 03, 2021, 03:39:06 PM »
Global Warming Poses Threat to Food Chains

Rising temperatures could reduce the efficiency of food chains and threaten the survival of larger animals, new research shows.

Scientists measured the transfer of energy from single-celled algae (phytoplankton) to small animals that eat them (zooplankton).

The study—by the University of Exeter and Queen Mary University of London, and published in the journal Nature—found that 4°C of warming reduced energy transfer in the plankton food webs by up to 56%.

Warmer conditions increase the metabolic cost of growth, leading to less efficient energy flow through the food chain and ultimately to a reduction in overall biomass

"Phytoplankton and zooplankton are the foundation of food webs that support freshwater and marine ecosystems that humans depend on.

"Our study is the first direct evidence that the cost of growth increases in higher temperatures, limiting the transfer of energy up a food chain."

"In general, about 10% of energy produced on one level of a food web makes it up to the next level," said Dr. Diego Barneche, of the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Oceans Institute at the University of Western Australia.

"This happens because organisms expend a lot of energy on a variety of functions over a lifetime, and only a small fraction of the energy they consume is retained in biomass that ends up being eaten by predators.

"Warmer temperatures can cause metabolic rates to accelerate faster than growth rates, which reduces the energy available to predators in the next level up the food web."

The study measured nitrogen transfer efficiency (a proxy for overall energy transfer) in freshwater plankton that had been exposed to a seven-year-long outdoor warming experiment in the UK.

"Warming impairs trophic transfer efficiency in a long-term field experiment" Nature (2021).

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: February 28, 2021, 01:23:51 AM »
Gish gallop

The politics / Re: The Trump Presidency
« on: February 27, 2021, 04:13:15 PM »

Consequences / Re: Hurricane Season 2021
« on: February 27, 2021, 06:04:40 AM »
Watch 2020’s Hurricane Season Unfold In a Mesmerizing Four-Minute Timelapse

This week, NASA released a grim four-minute timelapse of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, a mesmerizing display of last year’s record-breaking string of tropical commotion.

2020’s season “smashed records with an unprecedented 30 named storms, marking the fifth year in a row with above-average hurricane activity,” NASA said in a blog accompanying the video.

The agency’s Scientific Visualization Studio used a complex algorithm to process and merge hordes of data from an array of weather satellites in orbit, combining it with estimates and observations from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center and National Hurricane Center.

The product is a fascinating four-minute and 26-second look at last year’s hurricane activity, unfolding in a colorful display of wispy cyclone formations tumbling across the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

... “The bar has been raised,” Brian McNoldy, a senior researcher at the University of Miami’s Marine and Atmospheric Science school, tweeted last week. “When we mention the average number of named storms, hurricanes, & major hurricanes, we’re typically referring to a recent 30-year ‘climate normal’. We’ve been using 1981-2010, but now we have 1991-2020, and the counts have increased by 12-19%.”

Last year’s Atlantic hurricane season was the fifth costliest on record, causing roughly $60 billion in economic damage, according to a report from AccuWeather. The most expensive season on record was in 2017, hitting $306.2 billion in costs.

“Climate normals are updated each decade to keep up with a changing climate,” McNoldy said. “What was normal 50 years ago isn’t normal now.”

Hurricane season, June 1st, 2021, is less than 100 days away.

Consequences / Re: Places becoming less livable
« on: February 27, 2021, 01:27:10 AM »
The Louvre Moves Its Treasures as Climate Change Brings More Floods to Paris

The Paris museum is relocating many artworks not on display to a storage facility in northern France designed to stand up to global warming impacts

... When the River Seine that runs through Paris overflowed this month, officials at the Louvre Museum were relieved some of their most valuable items were safely stored in northern France.

The world's largest and most visited museum, with almost 10 million visitors annually, had already transported some 100,000 at risk art pieces to the new Louvre Conservation Center in Lievin, some 190 km north. The reason? Climate change.

"The current floods show once again how necessary it is to protect our art works from flooding," said Jean-Luc Martinez, Director of the Louvre, which owns about 620,000 artworks, only 35,000 of which are on display in the Parisian former palace.

"Soon this flood danger will - once and for all - be behind us," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

With climate change, scientists say heavy rains that cause flooding are set to become more frequent, threatening riverside gems like the Louvre, Notre Dame cathedral and the Musee d'Orsay - home to the world's greatest Impressionist paintings.

The problem is not unique to Paris. Italy built flood barriers to protect Venice's historic city centre after salty sea water damaged St Mark's Basilica, while London's Tate galleries sit on flood-prone sites. [

"We have a lot of museums whose collections will be affected if they are not stored properly," said Mechtild Rossler, director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, which supports landmark buildings recognised by the U.N. cultural agency.

By mid-2021, Louvre officials hope 250,000 at-risk paintings, sculptures and tapestries - including the Venus de Milo - will be in their new, $120 million home, where they will be safe from floods, heatwaves and other extreme weather.

The Louvre Conservation Center is set to become one of Europe's largest art training and research centres, visited by museum specialists, conservators and academics from around the world, as well as offering art refuge for countries in conflict.


Money Down the Drain: Flood-Prone Miami to Spend Billions Tackling Sea Level Rise

The US city of Miami is to invest billions of dollars to tackle its vulnerability to rising sea levels, a reality that already affects the daily lives of residents used to constant flooding.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava said Friday she will protect communities hardest hit by rising sea levels, which eat away at beaches and leave residents particularly vulnerable to flooding during hurricane season.

"We must continue to focus on restoration, preservation and protection of this sacred space," she told a news conference.

"And so we will be together investing billions of dollars... in our infrastructure so that we can lift this community and others that are so affected by sea level rise," she added.

She cited "adaptation action areas" as a first priority to be studied, which would include raising low-lying roads, and waterproofing and converting southern Florida's widely used septic tanks into sewage systems.

The city of Miami Beach—which is part of Miami-Dade County—invested millions of dollars in raising the level of many of its streets in 2016.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: February 26, 2021, 06:01:25 PM »
Seafaring Nightmare: Aerosol Transmission Drove SARS-CoV-2's Spread Aboard Diamond Princess Cruise Ship

New modeling research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, illustrates not only how SARS-CoV-2 likely spread among passengers and crew, but how the Diamond Princess may serve as an object lesson for "floating incubators" and other built environments and airborne viruses.

Environmental health investigators at Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health and their collaborators have demonstrated that airborne transmission accounted for more than 50 percent of the disease spread aboard the cruise ship. Inhalation of virus-laden aerosols by passengers and crew occurred during close contact and at longer range, the scientists found.

Writing in the PNAS, Drs. Parham Azimi, Joseph G. Allen and colleagues underscore that it wasn't aerosols alone that fueled a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak that affected hundreds aboard the luxury liner. Other routes of transmission contributed to the contagion, including fomite transmission, the spread of infection through contact with contaminated objects.

... To evaluate the importance of multiple transmission routes of SARS-CoV-2 aboard the cruise ship, the team developed a modeling framework that utilized reams of detailed information from the Diamond Princess outbreak. The Harvard environmental health scientists modeled 21,600 scenarios "to generate a matrix of solutions across a full range of assumptions for eight unknown or uncertain epidemic and mechanistic transmission factors," they wrote in PNAS.

Aerosols smaller than approximately 10 micrometers, which were likely involved in all three modes of transmission—short- long-range and fomite transmission—likely contributed to more than half of the overall disease spread aboard the ship. Both large droplets and small aerosols contributed equally to transmission before passengers were quarantined, while small aerosols dominated transmission afterward.

... The new research by the Harvard team adds new context to a CDC investigation that was conducted aboard the Diamond Princess a few weeks after it docked and passengers had disembarked. CDC scientists clad in hazmat suits boarded the star-crossed vessel and took biological samples as part of their outbreak assessment. There was extensive evidence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA throughout passenger cabins, in hallways and other areas of the massive cruise liner. The inescapable presence of coronavirus RNA suggested explosive spread throughout the ship.

... Yet as detailed as their modeling study is—and it is possibly the most extensive and exhaustive of the Diamond Princess outbreak to date—there are still important questions that have yet to be answered. For one, how long do viral particles remain viable aerially?

"That is one of the biological factors that is very uncertain," Azimi said. "In one of the most widely cited articles about the viability of SARS-CoV-2 [by virologist Neeltje van Doremalen of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases] it is estimated that the half-life of SARS-CoV-2 in the air is approximately one hour. This means that it would take about one hour for half of the infectious viruses to lose their viability. After two hours, 75 percent of viruses would lose their viability in indoor air, and so on."

The modeling research by the Harvard-led team emphasizes that fomite transmission apparently played a role on the ship, albeit much smaller than aerosol spread. However, that finding suggests fomite transmission should not be shunted aside as possible risk factor.

"Although the contribution of fomite transmission is low it is still plausible, Azimi said. "It is important to notice that when we use our best estimates of model inputs, calculated from our PNAS paper, in other environments, such as school classrooms, the contribution of fomite transmission is about 5 percent. This contribution is low but it is not zero. Therefore, we do not recommend that people stop washing their hands."

Parham Azimi et al. Mechanistic transmission modeling of COVID-19 on the Diamond Princess cruise ship demonstrates the importance of aerosol transmission, [/I]Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences[/I] (2021)

Policy and solutions / Re: Ships and boats
« on: February 25, 2021, 05:37:42 PM »
There's always wind/sail

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: February 21, 2021, 11:01:30 PM »
US Approaches 500,000 COVID-19 Deaths

To illustrate this milestone of half a million deaths, The New York Times published a front-page graphic running the length of the page, with each small point representing a dead American.

The bottom of the column, which represents the deaths of recent months, is particularly dark and almost uniformly black.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: February 21, 2021, 08:01:39 PM »
Mayo Clinic Study Suggests Efficacy of 1st Pfizer, Moderna Shot Increases With Time

The Minnesota-based clinic, in a study of 31,000 people in four US states who received at least one vaccine shot, found the inoculations were 75 percent effective 15 days after the first shot, and around 83% effective 36 days after the first shot; the figure climbs to 89% for people who received both doses

FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines are effective per real-world evidence synthesized across a multi-state health system

The politics / Re: The Collapse Of America
« on: February 20, 2021, 05:19:08 PM »

Policy and solutions / Re: Robots and AI: Our Immortality or Extinction
« on: February 20, 2021, 11:34:22 AM »
Do As AI Say: Susceptibility In Deployment of Clinical Decision-Aids

Abstract: Artificial intelligence (AI) models for decision support have been developed for clinical settings such as radiology, but little work evaluates the potential impact of such systems. In this study, physicians received chest X-rays and diagnostic advice, some of which was inaccurate, and were asked to evaluate advice quality and make diagnoses. All advice was generated by human experts, but some was labeled as coming from an AI system.

As a group, radiologists rated advice as lower quality when it appeared to come from an AI system; physicians with less task-expertise did not. Diagnostic accuracy was significantly worse when participants received inaccurate advice, regardless of the purported source. This work raises important considerations for how advice, AI and non-AI, should be deployed in clinical environments.



Why Developing AI to Defeat Us May Be Humanity’s Only Hope

One glance at the state of things and it’s evident humanity’s evolved itself into a corner. On the one hand, we’re smart enough to create machines that learn. On the other, people are dying in Texas because elected officials want to keep the government out of Texas. Chew on that for a second.

What we need is a superhero better villain.

Humans fight. Whether you believe it’s an inalienable part of our mammalian psyche or that we’re capable of restraint, but unwilling, the fact we’re a violent species is inescapable.

And it doesn’t appear that we’re getting better as we evolve. Researchers from the University of Iowa conducted a study on existing material covering ‘human aggression’ in 2002 and their findings, as expected, painted a pretty nasty picture of our species:

... In its most extreme forms, aggression is human tragedy unsurpassed. Hopes that the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust would produce a worldwide revulsion against killing have been dashed. Since World War II, homicide rates have actually increased rather than decreased in a number of industrialized countries, most notably the United States.

The rational end game for humanity is self-wrought extinction. Whether via climate change or mutually assured destruction through military means, we’ve entered a gridlock against progression.

Luckily for us, humans are highly adaptive creatures. There’s always hope we’ll find a way to live together in peace and harmony. Typically, these hopes are abstract – if we can just solve world hunger with a food replication machine like Star Trek then maybe, just maybe, we can achieve peace.

But the entire history of humanity is evidence against that ever happening. We are violent and competitive. After all, we have the resources to feed everyone on the planet right now. We’re just choosing not to.

That’s why we need a better enemy. Choosing ourselves as our greatest enemy is self-defeating and stupid, but nobody else has stepped up. We’re even starting to kick the coronavirus’ ass at this point.

Simply put: we need the aliens from the movie Independence Day to come down and just attack the crap out of us.

Or… killer robots

Just to be clear, we’re not advocating for extraterrestrials to come and exterminate us. We just need to focus all of our adaptive intelligence on an enemy other than ourselves.

In artificial intelligence terms, we need a real-world generative adversarial network where humans are the learners and aliens are the discriminators. ... Anything less than total cooperation and our species would fail to pass the discriminator’s test and the aliens would swat our attempt away like a cosmic Dikembe Mutombo.

We can’t control aliens. In fact, it’s possible they don’t even exist. Aliens are not dependable enemies.

We do, however, have complete control over our computers and artificial intelligence systems. And we should definitely start teaching them to continuously challenge us.

With AI, we can dictate how powerful an opponent it becomes with smart, well-paced development. We could avoid the whole shooting lasers at cities part of the story and just slowly work our way towards the rallying part where we all work together to win.

Maybe we need an AI adversary to be our “Huckleberry” when it comes to the urge for competition. If we can’t make most humans non-violent, then perhaps we could direct that violence toward a tangible, non-human opponent we can all feel good about defeating.

We don’t need killer robots or aliens for that. All we need is for the AI community and humanity at large to stop caring about making it even easier to do all the violent things we’ve always done to each other and to start giving us something else to do with all those harmful intentions.

Maybe it’s time we stopped fighting against the idea of robot overlords, and came up with some robot overlords to fight.

The rest / Re: Astronomical news
« on: February 20, 2021, 01:45:33 AM »

Permafrost / Re: Siberian permafrost hole/blowout
« on: February 19, 2021, 07:56:22 AM »
Russian 3D Model Details Explosive Origins of Arctic Crater

Russian scientists believe that a massive crater above the Arctic Circle described as a “pit to hell” was formed as a result of an explosion caused by built-up methane.

The researchers based their conclusions on a 3D model they created from drone footage from inside the well-preserved crater that has not yet eroded or filled with water. Satellite images revealed that the crater formed in Siberia’s extreme northwest between May and June 2020, the researchers wrote in a paper published in the journal Geosciences last week.

The model confirmed scientists’ hypothesis that the crater exploded due to pressure from methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide.

Gas, ice fragments and frozen soil scattered across the remote Yamal Peninsula as far as 200 meters from the explosion site, the researchers said. They warned, based on previous studies, that the crater could experience “repeated powerful gas blowouts.”

Dr. Merritt Turetsky, the director of the U.S.-based Institute of Arctic and Apine Research, stressed that “localized heave mounds that explode with buildup of methane are not the same as widespread methane release due to permafrost thaw.“

Yamal gas blowout crater C17: 3D model of the ground surface and underground cavity in two orthogonal directions (A,B) according to aerial photography from UAV (field data of 26 August 2020).

New Catastrophic Gas Blowout and Giant Crater on the Yamal Peninsula in 2020: Results of the Expedition and Data Processing, Geoscience (2021)

The rest / Re: Archaeology/Paleontology news
« on: February 18, 2021, 11:16:44 PM »
A Global Environmental Crisis 42,000 Years Ago

The temporary breakdown of Earth's magnetic field 42,000 years ago sparked major climate shifts that led to global environmental change and mass extinctions, a new international study co-led by UNSW Sydney and the South Australian Museum shows.

This dramatic turning point in Earth's history—laced with electrical storms, widespread auroras, and cosmic radiation—was triggered by the reversal of Earth's magnetic poles and changing solar winds.

The researchers dubbed this danger period the 'Adams Transitional Geomagnetic Event', or 'Adams Event' for short—a tribute to science fiction writer Douglas Adams, who wrote in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that '42' was the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

The findings are published today in Science.

..."The findings were made possible with ancient New Zealand kauri trees, which have been preserved in sediments for over 40,000 years.

"The kauri trees are like the Rosetta Stone, helping us tie together records of environmental change in caves, ice cores and peat bogs around the world," says co-lead Professor Alan Cooper, Honorary Researcher at the South Australian Museum.

The researchers compared the newly-created timescale with records from sites across the Pacific and used it in global climate modelling, finding that the growth of ice sheets and glaciers over North America and large shifts in major wind belts and tropical storm systems could be traced back to the Adams Event.

One of their first clues was that megafauna across mainland Australia and Tasmania went through simultaneous extinctions 42,000 years ago.

"This had never seemed right, because it was long after Aboriginal people arrived, but around the same time that the Australian environment shifted to the current arid state," says Prof. Cooper.

The paper suggests that the Adams Event could explain a lot of other evolutionary mysteries, like the extinction of Neandertals and the sudden widespread appearance of figurative art in caves around the world.

... According to the team's findings, the most dramatic part was the lead-up to the reversal, when the poles were migrating across the Earth.

"Earth's magnetic field dropped to only 0-6 percent strength during the Adams Event," says Prof. Turney.

"We essentially had no magnetic field at all—our cosmic radiation shield was totally gone."

During the magnetic field breakdown, the Sun experienced several 'Grand Solar Minima' (GSM), long-term periods of quiet solar activity.

Even though a GSM means less activity on the Sun's surface, the weakening of its magnetic field can mean more space weather—like solar flares and galactic cosmic rays—could head Earth's way.

"Unfiltered radiation from space ripped apart air particles in Earth's atmosphere, separating electrons and emitting light—a process called ionisation," says Prof. Turney.

"The ionised air 'fried' the Ozone layer, triggering a ripple of climate change across the globe."

"Early humans around the world would have seen amazing auroras, shimmering veils and sheets across the sky," says Prof. Cooper. [... aboriginal dream time?...]

Ionised air—which is a great conductor for electricity—would have also increased the frequency of electrical storms.

"It must have seemed like the end of days," says Prof. Cooper.

The researchers theorise that the dramatic environmental changes may have caused early humans to seek more shelter. This could explain the sudden appearance of cave art around the world roughly 42,000 years ago.

"We think that the sharp increases in UV levels, particularly during solar flares, would suddenly make caves very valuable shelters," says Prof. Cooper. "The common cave art motif of red ochre handprints may signal it was being used as sunscreen, a technique still used today by some groups.

... While the magnetic poles often wander, some scientists are concerned about the current rapid movement of the north magnetic pole across the Northern Hemisphere.

"This speed—alongside the weakening of Earth's magnetic field by around nine percent in the past 170 years—could indicate an upcoming reversal," says Prof. Cooper.

"If a similar event happened today, the consequences would be huge for modern society. Incoming cosmic radiation would destroy our electric power grids and satellite networks."

A. Cooper at South Australian Museum in Adelaide, SA, Australia el al., "A global environmental crisis 42,000 years ago," Science (2021).

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: February 18, 2021, 02:08:48 AM »
Impact of COVID-19 In Africa 'Vastly Underestimated' Warn Researchers

The impact of COVID-19 in Africa has been vastly underestimated, warn researchers in a study published by The British Medical Journal (BMJ) today.

Outside of South Africa, this is the first study to provide systematic surveillance data capturing the impact of COVID-19 in Africa.

Their findings are based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results for 364 deceased people of all ages at the University Teaching Hospital morgue in Lusaka, Zambia between June and September 2020, enrolled within 48 hours of death.

The findings show that COVID-19 deaths accounted for 15-20% of all sampled deaths—many more than official reports suggest and contradicting the widely held view that COVID-19 has largely skipped Africa and had little impact.

They also show that COVID-19 deaths occurred across a wider age spectrum than reported elsewhere and were concentrated among people aged under 65, including an unexpectedly high number of deaths in children.

The absence of data on COVID-19 in Africa has fostered a widely held view that the virus has largely skipped Africa and had little impact. However, this may be an example of the "absence of evidence" being widely misconstrued as "evidence of absence."

To address this evidence gap, a team of international researchers set out to measure the fatal impact of COVID-19 in an urban African population.

Deaths were stratified by COVID-19 status, location, age, sex, and underlying risk factors.

Overall, the virus was detected in 70 (19%) of people. The average age at death was 48 years and 70% were men.

Most deaths in people with COVID-19 (73%) occurred in the community and none had been tested for the virus before death. Among the 19 people who died in hospital, six were tested before death.

Among the 52 people with data on symptoms, 44 had typical symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, fever, shortness of breath), of whom only five were tested before death.

COVID-19 was identified in seven children, only one of whom had been tested before death.

The proportion of deaths with COVID-19 increased with age, but 76% of people who died were aged under 60 years.

The five most common underlying conditions (comorbidities) among people who died with COVID-19 were tuberculosis (31%), high blood pressure (27%), HIV/AIDS (23%), alcohol misuse (17%), and diabetes (13%).

This is an observational study using data from one city, in one African country, over a short three month span, and the researchers point to several limitations, such as relying on the accuracy of medical chart data and being unable to identify deaths indirectly due to COVID-19, such as from heart attacks or strokes.

However, this was a well-designed study, carried out by researchers with a high level of experience in postmortem sampling and data collection, which minimised the potential for false positive results.

As such, the authors say that contrary to expectations, COVID-19 deaths were common in Lusaka, and the majority occurred in the community where testing capacity is lacking.

Yet few who died at health facilities were tested, despite presenting with typical symptoms of COVID-19. Therefore, COVID-19 cases were under reported because testing was rarely done, not because CV19 was rare, they explain.

If these data are generalizable, the impact of COVID-19 in Africa has been vastly underestimated, they conclude.

Covid-19 deaths in Africa: prospective systematic postmortem surveillance study, BMJ (2021)

The rest / Re: Archaeology/Paleontology news
« on: February 12, 2021, 12:50:35 PM »
Dramatic Discovery Links Stonehenge to Its Original Site – in Wales

Stonehenge likely made with stones from older monument

An ancient myth about Stonehenge, first recorded 900 years ago, tells of the wizard Merlin leading men to Ireland to capture a magical stone circle called the Giants’ Dance and rebuilding it in England as a memorial to the dead.

Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account had been dismissed, partly because he was wrong on other historical facts, although the bluestones of the monument came from a region of Wales that was considered Irish territory in his day.

Now a vast stone circle created by our Neolithic ancestors has been discovered in Wales with features suggesting that the 12th-century legend may not be complete fantasy.

Its diameter of 110 metres is identical to the ditch that encloses Stonehenge and it is aligned on the midsummer solstice sunrise, just like the Wiltshire monument.

A series of buried stone-holes that follow the circle’s outline has been unearthed, with shapes that can be linked to Stonehenge’s bluestone pillars. One of them bears an imprint in its base that matches the unusual cross-section of a Stonehenge bluestone “like a key in a lock”, the archaeologists discovered.

The evidence backs a century-old theory that the nation’s greatest prehistoric monument was built in Wales and venerated for hundreds of years before being dismantled and dragged to Wiltshire, where it was resurrected as a second-hand monument.

The newly discovered circle – one of the largest ever constructed in Britain – is virtually a stone’s throw (3 miles) from the Preseli quarries from which the bluestones were extracted before being dragged more than 140 miles to Salisbury Plain some 5,000 years ago.

Mike Parker Pearson et al. The original Stonehenge? A dismantled stone circle in the Preseli Hills of west Wales, Antiquity (2021).

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