Welcome to those interested in Science!
The effects of Global Warming are so simple. Adding more heat to the atmosphere, the oceans, and land is increasing the energy in the environment. And with more energy the environment releases more as it tries to reach a new stable equilibrium. More storms and worse storms are now in our future for decades if not centuries to come. We'll all have to pay for our stupidity!
Global Warming Is A Fact! Climate Change Is A Fact!
Burning Fossil Fuels Is The Major Cause Of Global Warming!
Only 24 of 13,950 peer-reviewed climate articles
reject climate change! That's only 0.17 percent!
Where would you place your bet?
Installation with 160 CO2 Removal Machines
We'll need 625,000 of these structures to remove the 37 Billion Tons of CO2 that we are currently dumping every year into the atmosphere.
That will be 2,500 rows of them 25 miles long!
16 Links to Sioux Falls Scientists Latest Website Pages:
9-28-18 Why haven’t we heard from aliens? Because we’ve barely started looking
The search for alien life has found nothing so far. But the part of the galaxy we’ve searched is equivalent to just a bathtub of water in the world’s oceans. Where is everybody? With billions of stars in our galaxy, many of which are thought to harbour habitable planets, surely there should be signs of life. Yet after decades of searching, we’ve found nothing. The mystery of this great silence is known as Fermi’s paradox, after physicist Enrico Fermi. Some have used it to argue that the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI) is doomed. But a new mathematical analysis of SETI activity by Jason Wright at Pennsylvania State University and his colleagues shows this is far from the case. The team claim that the basic assumption of Fermi’s paradox – that there’s nobody out there – is false. In fact, we’ve barely begun looking. Wright’s team analysed the many variables involved in SETI – what to look for, where to look, how often and for how long – and ended up with an eight-dimensional model. They then devised an equation that computes the fraction of the galaxy searched so far. “It lets you build the haystack, then calculate how much of it you’ve looked at,” says Wright. They claim that the volume of our galaxy searched so far is roughly equivalent to a bathtub of water in the world’s oceans. “You don’t have to do a calculation to say we’ve only just started,” says Duncan Forgan at the University of St Andrews, UK, who is a member of the UK SETI network. “But they’ve done a nice job of showing the huge scale of the problem mathematically.”
8-27-18 ‘Replication crisis’ spurs reforms in how science studies are done
But some researchers say the focus on reproducibility ignores a larger problem. What started out a few years ago as a crisis of confidence in scientific results has evolved into an opportunity for improvement. Researchers and journal editors are exposing how studies get done and encouraging independent redos of published reports. And there’s nothing like the string of failed replications to spur improved scientific practice. That’s the conclusion of a research team, led by Caltech economist Colin Camerer, that examined 21 social science papers published in two major scientific journals, Nature and Science, from 2010 to 2015. Five replication teams directed by coauthors of the new study successfully reproduced effects reported for 13 of those investigations, the researchers report online August 27 in Nature Human Behavior. Results reported in eight papers could not be replicated. The new study is an improvement over a previous attempt to replicate psychology findings (SN: 4/2/16, p. 8). But the latest results underscore the need to view any single study with caution, a lesson that many researchers and journal gatekeepers have taken to heart over the past few years, Camerer’s team says. An opportunity now exists to create a scientific culture of replication that provides a check on what ends up getting published and publicized, the researchers contend.
8-13-18 US mid-term elections: Truth-seeking scientists run for office
"Scientists are not natural politicians... but they solve problems and defend principles," says Valerie Horsley. She's one of a record number of scientists who are running for office in the US in 2018.
7-18-18 Move over, Hubble. This sharp pic of Neptune was taken from Earth
Cancelling out blur from Earth’s atmosphere lets astronomers focus like never before. A telescope on Earth has snapped pictures of Neptune at least as clear as those from the Hubble Space Telescope. The trick? Taking the twinkle out of stars. Released by the European Southern Observatory on July 18, the images come from a new observing system on the Very Large Telescope in Chile. The instrument uses four lasers to cancel out blurring caused by Earth’s atmosphere — the same effect that makes it look like stars are twinkling — at different altitudes. The system is an updated version of adaptive optics (SN: 6/14/03, p. 373), a technique astronomers have long used to focus telescopes. Lasers create artificial “stars” whose size and brightness are precisely known. That gives scientists a way to measure how the atmosphere is distorting their view of real, faraway stars at any given moment. Small motors then change the shape of the telescope’s mirror in real time to correct for that distortion and see the sky as it really is. The resulting images from the Chilean telescope are as sharp and clear as those taken from space. That’s good news, as Hubble won’t last forever, and planned future space telescopes won’t take images in the visible part of the light spectrum (SN: 3/17/18, p. 4). With adaptive optics, telescopes on the ground can pick up where Hubble leaves off. (Webmaster's comment: Neptune is 4 times the size of Earth and this is the best we can do.)
7-5-18 Most Americans think funding science pays off
But there is some disagreement over where that money should come from. Forget all the ridicule heaped on treadmill-running shrimp. About 80 percent of U.S. adults think that government spending on medical research, engineering and technology, and basic science usually leads to meaningful advances, a new survey from the Pew Research Center shows. The nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization queried 2,537 people from April 23 to May 6. No matter where they fell on the political spectrum, a majority of Republicans and Democrats shared that view. Of liberal Democrats surveyed, 92 percent said government investments in basic scientific research “usually pay off in the long run.” Of conservative Republicans, 61 percent agreed. That general agreement broke down when it came to private versus government spending. Two-thirds of conservative Republicans said that private investment alone would be enough to see that scientific progress is made, compared with 22 percent of liberal Democrats. Surveys in 2017, 2014 and 2009 by Pew also found similar support among Americans for spending taxpayer dollars on science. (Webmaster's comment: Conservative Republicans just want research on what makes them personally wealthy!)
6-27-18 How to think about… Scientific truth
All swans are white. Or are they? It’s difficult to establish absolute truths about the world, and science is the worst method – apart from all the others. VIENNA, 1919: a city scarred by lost war and empire. Navel-gazing is in order, and Sigmund Freud’s new ideas of the subconscious and psychoanalysis are all the rage. One young apprentice cabinet-maker is brooding – how could anyone prove them true, when the subconscious is unknowable? Karl Popper soon abandoned cabinet-making for a loftier pursuit. He wanted to find a way to demarcate ideas like Freud’s from what he saw as a truer kind of knowledge: science. It still isn’t at all easy. By its nature, science can’t rely on logical deduction alone, or build up knowledge purely from incontestable truths (see “How to think about… Logic”). It must make leaps into the unknown, just as Freud did, formulating hypotheses and searching for evidence of their truth. This is called induction, and it hides a niggle described by philosopher David Hume 150 years before Popper. The classic example involves checking the colour of as many swans as you can find, then extrapolating a rule to say “all swans are white”. That sounds like science. But it can’t lead to reliable knowledge, Hume argued, because you can never know a black swan isn’t in the next pond. Popper’s resolution seems oddly negative: science is about proving not truth, but falsehood. The crucial thing is that when you find evidence that disproves a scientific hypothesis, you discard or amend that hypothesis. You can never find truth exactly, but by slowly ruling out ideas, you edge closer to it. When at some point the weight of evidence seems overwhelming, your hypothesis becomes a scientific theory, like the general theory of relativity, the theory of evolution by natural selection or the theory of human-induced climate change.
4-14-18 On the ground at today’s March for Science rallies
The March for Science returns with rallies around the globe in support of science-based policies. Follow our coverage from New York and elsewhere. The March for Science returned today for its second year, with marches and rallies planned for 200 cities worldwide. Last year’s march was one of the largest public displays of support for science, drawing 1.3 million people around the globe to rallies in more than 450 cities. David Kanter, an organiser of the march in New York, says the theme of the day is the intersection of science and education. “We really want to focus on the power of science and scientific training to empower young people, to empower communities that have often been underrepresented in society and in science,” he says. “The theme for all the marches this year is accountability, making sure that all of our elected officials are held accountable in terms of being able to respect science.” This morning in Washington Square Park in New York, the day started slow as a small crowd began to gather under a cloudless sky. Some, like mechanical engineer Patrick Landry, had attended marches and rallies last year. He came out today because “carbon emissions keep going up, we need to send a message to our administration and the world that we need to find a solution,” he said. Other marchers, like Liz Ndoye, a retired teacher from Hoboken, did not attend last year but felt that current events make this year’s march particularly important. “I’m terrified to live in a time when our leaders say science is fake news or a conspiracy. Marches make everyone aware there are people concerned about, for example, the EPA rolling back regulations,” Ndoye said.
4-13-18 What to expect from this Saturday’s March for Science
The March for Science on 14 April will involve rallies in more than 200 cities, as a sequel to last year’s inaugural march in protest of president Donald Trump. What started as a march is turning into a movement. This year’s March for Science will involve rallies on 14 April in more than 200 cities, as a sequel to last year’s inaugural march in protest of president Donald Trump and his administration’s anti-science rhetoric. This time around, the day of protest aims to be more than just crowds of people wielding witty signs – though those will likely still be in high supply. “The theme of the march last year has hardened and endured into this year,” says David Kanter, co-organiser of the New York City march. “Given that last year it was the early months of the Trump administration, there was more anxiety there. But the ultimate goals of building a community of science advocates and influencing policy with science are still the driving forces.” In Washington, DC, crowds will descend on the National Mall for a morning of talks and performances before the march. Cities around the world have adapted the March for Science to their own communities, including seminars to encourage more scientific activism. Marches in other places, including New York City and London, will also promote voter registration efforts. “We’re hoping people come away from the march knowing more about organisations in their own backyard,” says Jillian Sequeira, a coordinator of the London March for Science. For the New York organisers, the focus is on influencing local and national politics. “Our driving concern is making sure that the work of scientists is used in decision-making to make smart policy,” says Kanter.
4-11-18 Science fans have many reasons to take to the streets again
A global rally against the denigration of science was a huge event in 2017. The need for a repeat this weekend is strong, says Jonathan Berman. WHEN I first started recruiting for a scientists’ march on Washington DC in early 2017, it seemed like an uphill battle. I was just a researcher without money, connections or crowd-pulling charisma, moved to action by the election of Donald Trump, a powerful climate change denier and anti-vaxxer, as US president. Of course, science was already beset with human problems. Research funding had been declining and although people often said they loved science, they would then say how acupuncture had “cured” their back pain, or produce a salad of words like “quantum” and “consciousness” with no regard to physics or neuroscience. Science was well loved, but much abused and rarely understood. I felt nearly alone, facing a world of fantasists, believers and deniers. That feeling turned out to be wrong. Thanks to thousands of volunteers and hundreds of thousands of protesters, the Washington event became the March for Science, the largest public science education event in history. It extended to cities around the world and saw more than 1 million people participate. It is hard to quantify its impact. But a year later, more scientists than ever have run for political office. There are new expos and outreach projects. Sound science seems to be entering the cultural lexicon as a virtue, like honesty or hard work. More people are aware of science denial and more are taking on leadership roles in science education and advocacy. And science advocates are poised to rally again. The second March for Science is on 14 April. There are good reasons for a repeat.
2-5-18 Wikipedia has become a science reference source even though scientists don’t cite it
Phrases from Wikipedia pages on hot scientific fields end up in published papers, a study finds. Wikipedia: The settler of dinnertime disputes and the savior of those who cheat on trivia night. Quick, what country has the Nile’s headwaters? What year did Gershwin write “Rhapsody in Blue”? Wikipedia has the answer to all your burning trivia questions — including ones about science. With hundreds of thousands of scientific entries, Wikipedia offers a quick reference for the molecular formula of Zoloft, who the inventor of the 3-D printer is and the fact that the theory of plate tectonics is only about 100 years old. The website is a gold mine for science fans, science bloggers and scientists alike. But even though scientists use Wikipedia, they don’t tend to admit it. The site rarely ends up in a paper’s citations as the source of, say, the history of the gut-brain axis or the chemical formula for polyvinyl chloride. But scientists are browsing Wikipedia just like everyone else. A recent analysis found that Wikipedia stays up-to-date on the latest research — and vocabulary from those Wikipedia articles finds its way into scientific papers. The results don’t just reveal the Wiki-habits of the ivory tower. They also show that the free, widely available information source is playing a role in research progress, especially in poorer countries.
12-25-17 Eight amazing science stories of 2017
It was a year of endings and beginnings: the plucky Cassini spacecraft's 13-year-long mission reached its finale, while the fledgling field of gravitational wave astronomy bagged the catastrophic collision of two dead stars. BBC News looks back on eight of the biggest science and environment stories of 2017.
- Star crash: In 2017, scientists detected Einstein's gravitational waves from a new source - the collision of two dead stars, or neutron stars.
- Cassini's final bow: The Cassini spacecraft arrived in the Saturn system in 2004. In the 13 years it was operational it transformed our understanding of the ringed planet and its moons.
- Paris pull-out: While he was on the campaign trail, Donald Trump said he would "cancel" the Paris climate agreement, taking the US out of the deal. But after winning the US election in November of that year, he made few public pronouncements on the topic of climate change.
- Multiple "Earths": But this year, astronomers discovered a planetary system with seven Earth-sized planets. What's more, these worlds seem to be locked in a strange "resonance" as they orbit their host star.
- Recent relative: In July, researchers unveiled fossils of five early humans found in North Africa that showed our species - Homo sapiens - emerged at least 100,000 years earlier than previously recognised. The finds suggested that our species did not evolve in a single "cradle" in East Africa.
- Dark skies: On 21 August, a giant shadow cast by the Moon swept across America, marking the first total solar eclipse since the country's founding in 1776 where totality made exclusive landfall in the US.
- Visitor from beyond: Though scientists had been predicting for years that we would be visited by an asteroid from interstellar space, 2017 was the first time we spotted one.
- Giant iceberg: One of the biggest icebergs ever recorded broke away from Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf in July.
12-13-17 Is there a limit to what science can understand?
Maybe science can't answer all the complex questions. Where does that leave us? Albert Einstein said that the "most incomprehensible thing about the Universe is that it is comprehensible." He was right to be astonished. Human brains evolved to be adaptable, but our underlying neural architecture has barely changed since our ancestors roamed the savannah and coped with the challenges that life on it presented. It's surely remarkable that these brains have allowed us to make sense of the quantum and the cosmos, notions far removed from the "commonsense" everyday world in which we evolved. But I think science will hit the buffers at some point. There are two reasons why this might happen. The optimistic one is that we clean up and codify certain areas (such as atomic physics) to the point that there's no more to say. A second, more worrying possibility is that we'll reach the limits of what our brains can grasp. There might be concepts, crucial to a full understanding of physical reality, that we aren't aware of, any more than a monkey comprehends Darwinism or meteorology. Some insights might have to await a post-human intelligence. (Webmaster's comment: I've been saying the same thing for a long time. You could teach chimps how to drive a car but they'll never understand how to fix the engine. Humans are smarter than chimps, and they understand how to use many of the physical laws of the universe, but not why those laws are what they are and what's behind them. Human intelligence has its limits.)
11-13-17 Bad news: Carbon emissions have suddenly started rising again
Emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel are on the rise again. We desperately need more action to stop climate change, and that means putting a price on carbon. If the world does not do more to limit greenhouse gas emissions soon, the final slender hope of preventing global temperature rise being much above 2°C will slip away. Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry are set to rise sharply this year, after remaining stable for the past three years. “This is really not good news,” says Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the UK, who led the research by the Global Carbon Project. The findings are yet more evidence that, despite the 2015 Paris agreement, the world is still not doing nearly enough to limit emissions. Yet there is wide agreement on what needs to be done: introducing a meaningful price on carbon. “We need to cost the negative effects of carbon into the activities that produce it,” says Le Quéré. “A carbon price is absolutely essential,” economist Nicholas Stern told a meeting in London organised by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures earlier this month. “We may be on a path to 3°C. The risks are enormous.” The biggest global obstacle to investment in clean growth is governments’ failure to pursue clear, credible and predictable policies, Stern said. A well-designed carbon price is an indispensable part of any strategy for efficiently reducing emissions. The European Union does have a carbon trading scheme, but it has produced a low and erratic carbon price – which doesn’t incentivise cutting emissions. The scheme has been close to meaningless, says Wendel Trio of Climate Action Network Europe. Reforms announced last week won’t change this. “What businesses want to know is that the price of carbon is going to be high, and that the price will increase,” says Le Quéré. Le Quéré’s team previously found that, from 2014 to 2016, emissions from fossil fuels and industry remained flat despite continuing economic growth. This led some to hope that global emissions had peaked, although many experts warned it was too early to tell. Now fossil fuel and industry emissions are projected to rise 2 per cent in 2017, to a record 37 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide. Whether emissions will continue to rise in the coming years or flatten out again is not clear, says Le Quéré. “We can’t say what trajectory is going to be realised.”
11-3-17 Humans are driving climate change, federal scientists say
New U.S. report tallies impacts from hottest-ever years to extreme weather threats. Jakobshavn Glacier in western Greenland (its front edge, where ice is calving into the ocean is one of the world’s fastest-shrinking glaciers. A new U.S. report increases projections of average global sea level rise due to accelerating ice sheet melting if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated. It is “extremely likely” that humans are driving warming on Earth since the 1950s. That statement — which indicates a 95 to 100 percent confidence in the finding — came in a report released November 3 by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. This interagency effort was established in 1989 by presidential initiative to help inform national science policy. The 2017 Climate Science Special Report, which lays out the current state of scientific knowledge on climate change, will be rolled into the fourth National Climate Assessment, set to be released in late 2018. The last national climate assessment, released in 2014, also concluded that recent warming was mostly due to humans, but didn’t give a confidence level (SN Online: 5/6/14). Things haven’t gotten better. Ice sheet melting has accelerated, the 2017 report finds. As a result, projections of possible average global sea level rise by 2100 under a high greenhouse gas emissions scenario (in which emissions rise unabated throughout the 21st century) have increased from 2 meters to as much as 2.6 meters. In addition, the report notes that three of the warmest years on record — 2014, 2015 and 2016 — occurred since the last report was released; those years also had record-low sea ice extent in the Arctic Ocean in the summer.
See the Global Temperature History Charts
See the Global Ice Loss Charts
10-30-17 Record surge in atmospheric CO2 seen in 2016
Concentrations of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere surged to a record high in 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Last year's increase was 50% higher than the average of the past 10 years. Researchers say a combination of human activities and the El Niño weather phenomenon drove CO2 to a level not seen in 800,000 years. Scientists say this risks making global temperature targets largely unattainable. his year's greenhouse gas bulletin produced by the WMO, is based on measurements taken in 51 countries. Research stations dotted around the globe measure concentrations of warming gases including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. The figures published by the WMO are what's left in the atmosphere after significant amounts are absorbed by the Earth's "sinks", which include the oceans and the biosphere. 2016 saw average concentrations of CO2 hit 403.3 parts per million, up from 400ppm in 2015. "It is the largest increase we have ever seen in the 30 years we have had this network," Dr Oksana Tarasova, chief of WMO's global atmosphere watch programme, told BBC News. "The largest increase was in the previous El Niño, in 1997-1998 and it was 2.7ppm and now it is 3.3ppm, it is also 50% higher than the average of the last ten years."
Sioux Falls Scientists is a group made up of people who love science as well as those interested in science, and scientists themselves. This website provides news articles, documentaries, courses and books that describe how science works and the latest discoveries of science, especially the latest discoveries in the fields of global warming and evolution science. Located in Sioux Falls, SD, the Sioux Falls Scientists have meetings and social gatherings where people of free thought and open minds meet and share ideas, share what they have learned about science and share what they think about the latest science discoveries.
To become a member of this group join
Sioux Falls Free Thinkers on Meetup.com
Our meetings and social gatherings are posted at Sioux Falls Free Thinkers on Meetup.com. Sioux Falls Free Thinkers Upcoming Events can be seen on the Meetup.com Calendar.
The Sioux Falls Scientists group will never have any dues. Membership is not required to attend our meetings. This group will probably never have any formal rules except treating other members and their opinions with respect and giving everyone equal time to speak. This group will never purge members for expressing their opinions or for forming their own group of people interested in science in general or in a particular field of scientific study. The only loose requirement is that members, and those attending our meetings, have an interest in one of the subjects of the Sioux Falls Free Thinkers websites.
We look forward to seeing you at one or more of our events and meetings!
Life Changing Event: Trilobites: When I was in 5th or 6th grade I found a 400 million-year-old fossil of a Trilobite in a 10-12 inch limestone rock in a gravel pit near the home I lived in the country. I brought it into school and asked the science teacher whether or not it might contain more fossils. The IDIOT took it from me and using a hammer broke the rock in half right through the fossil ruining it. I realized then that I knew more about science than did the science teacher.
The Chinese Take The Lead!
6-8-18 China to surpass the U.S.
China is on track to surpass the U.S. in spending on scientific research by the end of this year. The U.S. spends $500 billion annually on research, but China has been increasing its spending by an average of 18 percent a year, and is now luring foreign scientists and retaining Chinese who used to emigrate to the U.S.
5-21-18 China launched a satellite to help explore the moon’s far side
A satellite launched on 21 May will allow China's upcoming moon lander – the first to visit the far side – to receive commands and send data back to Earth. China is getting ready for a trip to the far side of the moon. On 21 May, the China National Space Administration launched a satellite that will relay information between Earth and a planned moon lander and rover, both set to launch in late 2018. The satellite – called Queqiao, which means Magpie Bridge – launched from southwest China’s Xichang Satellite Launch Center aboard a Long March 4C rocket. Chang’e 4, the moon lander, will be the first spacecraft ever to land on the far side of the moon, if all goes to plan. Because the far side always faces away from Earth, the lander will not be able to communicate directly with its operators – any commands sent to it, or data sent back, would be blocked by the moon itself. To solve that problem, a satellite that sits in the line of sight both of the lander and Earth’s surface is needed to relay information back and forth. There is a special spot in space that’s ideal for that, called L2, which is about 64,000 kilometres past the moon. At that spot, the combined gravity of the sun and Earth counteract the forces that could tug an object out of orbit. It’s a perfect spot to park a spacecraft, because it can sit there without constantly firing its thrusters. It’s also a place particularly well-suited for Queqiao. From L2, the satellite will have a view of the entire far side when the moon passes in front of Earth. Queqiao will be placed into a “halo” orbit that circles L2, so that it will still have a line of sight to Earth even when is the moon blocks out part of the planet.
5-20-18 China is set to launch a satellite to support a future lunar rover
The rover will be the first to visit the farside of the moon. The Chinese space program is set to launch a satellite aimed at supporting future communications from a planned mission to the farside of the moon. The Chang’e-4 mission, which will include a rover and a lander, would be the first to visit the moon’s farside. In the first of a two-launch plan to get all the pieces in place, the supporting relay satellite, named Queqiao, is scheduled to lift off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on May 21, Chinese media report. The three-day launch window opens at 5 a.m. Beijing time (5 p.m. EDT on May 20), according to the Chinese online news site GB Times. Queqiao will go to an orbit beyond the moon that will allow it to communicate simultaneously with points on both the moon and Earth. It will also carry a Dutch-built radio telescope, which will be switched on in 2019 to search for long-wavelength signals from the universe’s first stars. The Chang’e-4 rover and lander were originally built as backups for the Chang’e-3 mission, which landed two spacecraft on the moon in 2013. Another 2019 mission, Chang’e-5, aims to bring back the first rocks from the moon since Apollo 17 in 1972.
4-27-18 Toughest ever heat shields made of springy sponge-like stuff
Chinese scientists have developed a compressible aerogel that has shown in early heat shield tests to be 5 times more resilient than previous materials. The first highly compressible yet heat-resistant material for spacecraft heat shields has been developed – and in early tests, it is proving five times more resilient to vibration and shock damage than any previous material. Heat shield tiles like those used on NASA’s space shuttle, which prevented it from being incinerated on re-entry, were often found to be heavily damaged when the spacecraft landed. This made reuse of the shuttle a slow and expensive business. The damage was due to the fragile nature of the ultralight, ceramic aerogel that the tiles were made of. This material has such low density it is known as ‘frozen smoke’ – its filigree-like structure of silicon dioxide nanoparticles means it weighs only as much as three times the same volume of air. But they are utterly miraculous heat insulators: it’s possible to hold a piece in one hand while blow torching the other side of it, with no ill effects. Still, their fragility has always been their downfall. Until now, that is. A team of chemists led by Bin Ding and Yang Si at Donghua University in China, have engineered a compressible aerogel that can cope with severe vibration without shattering. A traditional ceramic aerogel, says Si, is comprised of silicon dioxide nanoparticles strung together like discrete beads on a necklace, which is inherently brittle. Their new aerogel, called a ceramic nanofibrous aerogel, is made from continuous, flexible ceramic nanofibres which are much less prone to snapping. (Webmaster's comment: Another cutting-edge invention by the Chinese.)
4-26-18 Robot port in China to unload shipping containers without humans
Driverless vehicles will make the global shipping network cheaper and more efficient – and cost jobs. On an overcast spring morning in the port of Caofeidian in northeastern China, a vast ship-to-shore crane whisks a fully-laden shipping container through the air and onto an idling truck. Though there’s a human sitting inside, a careful observer would spot that the truck is calling all the shots. That’s because the vehicle is one of a fleet of five autonomous trucks that a Chinese startup called TuSimple is using to ferry containers around the terminal. A few other ports use trucks that follow paths marked by magnets or sensors embedded in the ground but Caofeidaian is the first to use vehicles that can navigate a port by themselves. It’s like moving from trams to cars. The goal of the pilot project is to demonstrate the ability of autonomous vehicles to perform the role of a so-called “terminal tractor,” bearing containers from the shore to the cargo yard. “At this stage, we want to achieve high-level reliability and consistency of autonomous terminal tractors rather than moving lots of containers,” says TuSimple’s Bruce Ouyang. By the end of the year Ouyang wants to replace all the human-piloted terminal trucks deployed at Caofeidian with 20 self-driving models. The cranes loading the containers will be autonomous too, with a central system coordinating the movements of both the cranes and trucks. In total, they will have to process 300,000 standard-sized containers per year to match the current throughput of the port.
4-18-18 Will China beat the world to nuclear fusion and clean energy?
In a world with an ever-increasing demand for electricity and a deteriorating environment, Chinese scientists are leading the charge to develop what some see as the holy grail of energy. Imagine limitless energy with virtually no waste at all: this is the lofty promise of nuclear fusion. On Science Island in Eastern China's Anhui Province, there is a large gleaming metal doughnut encased in an enormous shiny, round box about as big as a two-storey apartment. This is the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (or EAST). Inside, hydrogen atoms fuse and become helium which can generate heat at several times the temperature of the sun's core. Powerful magnets then control the reaction, which could one day produce vast amounts of electricity if maintained. Around the globe, they are trying to master nuclear fusion - in the United States, Japan, Korea, Brazil and European Union - but none can hold it steady for as long as the team in Anhui. Right now that's 100 seconds and it gets longer every year. Here they're already talking about goals which are 10 times as long, at temperatures of 100 million degrees Celsius. But there's a reason why fusion has eluded scientists and engineers since the early advances in the Soviet Union in the 1950s. It is really difficult. (Webmaster's comment: Notice it was the Soviet Union that led the way. My money is on the Chinese, the new leaders of high tech!)
8-23-17 First underwater entanglement could lead to unhackable comms
First underwater entanglement could lead to unhackable comms
A Chinese experiment suggests submarines could use quantum communication to send messages secured by the laws of physics. The weird world of quantum mechanics is going for a swim. A team of Chinese researchers has, for the first time, transmitted quantum entangled particles of light through water – the first step in using lasers to send underwater messages that are impossible to intercept. “People have talked about the idea of underwater quantum communication before, but I’m not aware of anyone who has done an experiment like this,” says Thomas Jennewein at the University of Waterloo in Canada. “An obvious application would be a submarine which wants to remain submerged but communicate in a secure fashion.” Entanglement starts with a beam of light shot into a crystal. This prism splits the light into pairs of photons with strangely linked behaviour. Manipulate one particle in a pair, and its partner will instantly react. Measure the first one’s polarisation, for example, and entanglement could ensure that its twin will have the opposite polarisation when measured. These entangled photons can theoretically be used to set up a secure communication line between two people, with privacy guaranteed by the laws of physics.
8-22-17 China’s quantum submarine detector could seal South China Sea
China’s quantum submarine detector could seal South China Sea
A major advance in SQUIDs, quantum devices that measure magnetic fields, could allow China to detect submarines at longer range than anyone else. On 21 June, the Chinese Academy of Sciences hailed a breakthrough – a major upgrade to a kind of quantum device that measures magnetic fields. The announcement vanished after a journalist pointed out the invention’s potential military implications: it could help China lock down the South China Sea. “I was surprised by the removal,” says Stephen Chen of the South China Morning Post, who raised the issue. “I have been covering Chinese science for many years, and it is rare.” Magnetometers have been used to detect submarines since the second world war. They are able to do this because they can measure an anomaly in Earth’s magnetic field – like one caused by a massive hunk of metal. But today’s devices can only detect a submarine at fairly short range, so tend to be used to home in on the location once the sub has already been spotted on sonar. You could widen their range if you had a magnetometer based on a superconducting quantum interference device, or SQUID. Superconducting magnetometers are exquisitely sensitive, but their promise has been limited to the lab. Out in the real world, they are quickly overwhelmed by background noise as minuscule as changes in Earth’s magnetic field caused by distant solar storms. Given that level of sensitivity, you can forget about mounting such a sensor on an airplane, for example. The US Navy gave up work on superconducting magnetometers to pursue less sensitive but more mature technologies. (Webmaster's comment: In other words the United States couldn't do it.)
8-10-17 Chinese satellite sends 'hack-proof' message
Chinese satellite sends 'hack-proof' message
China has successfully sent "hack-proof" messages from a satellite to Earth for the first time. The Micius satellite beamed messages to two mountain-top receiving stations 645 km (400 miles) and 1,200 km away. The message was protected by exploiting quantum physics, which says any attempt to eavesdrop on it would make detectable changes. Using satellites avoids some limitations that ground-based systems introduce into quantum communication. Complicated optics on the Chinese satellite protect messages with entangled photons - sub-atomic particles of light manipulated so that some of their key properties are dependent on each other. The curious laws of the quantum realm dictate that any attempt to measure these key properties irrevocably changes them. By encoding a key to encrypt data using entangled photons, it becomes possible to send messages confident that they have reached a recipient free of interference. Ground-based encryption systems that use entangled photons have been available for years. However, the maximum distance over which messages can be sent securely is about 200km. This is because the fibre-optic cables through which they travel gradually weaken the signals. Repeater stations can boost distances but that introduces weak points that attackers may target to scoop up messages. By contrast, laser signals sent through the atmosphere or via satellites in space can travel much further before being weakened. (Webmaster's comment: The Chinese increase their lead in this cutting-edge technology.)
7-7-17 China’s quantum satellite adds two new tricks to its repertoire
China’s quantum satellite adds two new tricks to its repertoire
Era of ultrasecure communication inches closer. China’s quantum satellite has met two more milestones, performing quantum teleportation and transmitting quantum encryption keys through space. Scientists teleported the properties of photons, or particles of light, from a ground station in Tibet to the satellite. A record-breaking quantum satellite has again blown away the competition, achieving two new milestones in long-distance quantum communications through space. In June, Chinese researchers demonstrated that the satellite Micius could send entangled quantum particles to far-flung locations on Earth, their properties remaining intertwined despite being separated by more than 1,200 kilometers (SN Online: 6/15/17). Now researchers have used the satellite to teleport particles’ properties and transmit quantum encryption keys. The result, reported in two papers published online July 3 and July 4 at arXiv.org, marks the first time the two techniques have been demonstrated in space. (Webmaster's comment: The Chinese have taken a clear lead in this cutting edge technology. In response Trump has cut our science budget.)
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