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posted by martyb on Monday June 21, @08:18PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the rock-solid dept.

Self-healing concrete eats CO2 to fill its own cracks in 24 hours:

Concrete has a massive carbon footprint, so technologies that boost its performance and enable it to last longer could have profound benefits for the environment. This has led to the development of self-healing concrete that can repair its own cracks, and scientists have now demonstrated an exciting new form of this that makes use of an enzyme found in human blood.

Tiny cracks that form in concrete mightn't pose an immediate problem to the structural integrity of a construction, but as water gets in and the rupture spreads it can greatly compromise its strength. The idea with self-healing concrete is to intervene in this process while the cracks are still tiny, sealing up the material to prevent not just a catastrophic collapse, but expensive maintenance or a complete replacement of the structure.

[...] Through their testing, the scientists demonstrated their doped concrete can repair its own millimeter-scale cracks within 24 hours. The team says this is a marked improvement on some previous technologies that have used bacteria to self-heal, which are more expensive and can take up to a month to heal even far smaller cracks.

While the amount of CO2 the concrete gobbles up is likely to be negligible in the grand scheme of things, the real environmental potential of the material lies in its potential longevity. Rahbar predicts that this type of self-healing technology could extend the life of a structure from 20 years to 80 years, which reduces the need to produce replacement concrete in what is a notoriously carbon-intensive process.

There is a related 44-second video on YouTube.

Biologists Create Self-Healing Concrete
Fungi Can Help Concrete Heal Its Own Cracks

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday June 21, @05:40PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the name-game dept.

iPhone bug breaks WiFi when you join hotspot with unusual name:

​A new iPhone bug has come to light that breaks your iPhone's wireless functionality by merely connecting to a specific WiFi hotspot.

Once triggered, the bug would render your iPhone unable to establish a WiFi connection, even if it is rebooted or the WiFi hotspot is renamed.

A bug like this could be exploited by malicious actors planting rogue WiFi hotspots in popular areas to bork iPhone devices connecting to them.

[...] "After joining my personal WiFi with the SSID '%p%s%s%s%s%n', my iPhone permanently disabled it's WiFi functionality. Neither rebooting nor changing SSID fixes it :~)," tweeted Schou.

Schou told BleepingComputer that his experiment worked successfully on an iPhone XS, running iOS version 14.4.2.

Tests conducted by BleepingComputer on an iPhone running iOS 14.6 confirm an iPhone's wireless functionality would break after connecting to the strangely named wireless network.

[...] In multiple tests attempting to connect to this strange SSID, our Wi-Fi settings would begin to function erratically, but all led to the same behavior - the breaking of our iPhone's wireless connectivity.

In some tests, connecting to the SSID would fail, but we could no longer access our regular wireless network.

Other tests led to the behavior described by Schou, where the iPhones Wi-Fi setting would be disabled [...]

[...] The only way to fix our iPhone's broken Wi-Fi feature was to reset the device's iPhone network settings, which we describe how to do at the end of the article.

[...] According to users, the issue is unique to iPhones and does not appear to be reproducible on Android devices:

The fix outlined in the article involves resetting all your network settings back to factory defaults. It appears that any previous settings (access points, passwords, etc.) would be lost so it would be best to record them on paper beforehand.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday June 21, @03:11PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the thar-she-blows!? dept.

Europa volcanism & interior heating modeled in detail, offers research targets for upcoming missions

Europa, an icy Jovian moon that likely possesses an ocean beneath its icy crust, may have an interior that is hot enough to produce volcanic activity on its seafloor. New research provides evidence that this seafloor volcanism likely occurred in the moon's past and [may be] ongoing at present as well.

The team of researchers, led by Dr. Marie Běhounková of Charles University in the Czech Republic, developed their own 3D models of Europa's interior and heating transfer properties to investigate the possibility of volcanism on Europa's ocean floor given other volcanism seen in the Jovian system.

[...] These volcanoes would form due to the melting of Europa's interior and heat transfer from the rocky interior of Europa to the seafloor. Models developed by Běhounková et al. show that many different factors — including radiogenic power and tidal forces — contribute to the melting of the icy moon's interior.

[...] A Laplace resonance is a phenomenon that occurs when three planetary bodies with an orbital period ratio of 1:2:4 exert regular and periodic gravitational effects on each other. These nudges create tidal forces that translate to the heating of the body's interior.

It's that interaction that led Běhounková et al.'s research toward the conclusion that this resonance and the associate tidal forces can cause increased periods of volcanic activity — called magmatic pulses — on Europa.

Journal Reference:
Marie Běhounková, Gabriel Tobie, Gaël Choblet, et al. Tidally Induced Magmatic Pulses on the Oceanic Floor of Jupiter's Moon Europa, Geophysical Research Letters (DOI: 10.1029/2020GL090077)

Previously: Hydrogen Emitted by Enceladus, More Evidence of Plumes at Europa
Plate Tectonics on Europa and Subsurface Oceans in the Outer Solar System
NASA Finds Evidence of Water Plume on Europa
Europa Plume Sites Lack Expected Heat Signatures
Jupiter's Watery Moon, Europa, Is Covered in Table Salt
Jupiter's Ocean Moon Europa Probably Glows in the Dark

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday June 21, @12:38PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the moah-powah dept.

ESA/NASA complete ISS spacewalk to install first new solar array

Two astronauts went outside the International Space Station (ISS) to complete installation of the first of six new Boeing-built solar arrays — part of a program to increase the station's electrical power generation capacity as its science and research demands increase and future expansion plans continue.

The Extravehicular Activity (EVA) – officially known as US EVA-75 – began at 11:42 UTC / 07:42 EDT when Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency (ESA) and Shane Kimbrough from NASA took their spacesuits to battery power before exiting the Quest Airlock to begin their work.

The eight original Solar Array Wings (SAWs) on the ISS, which each produce around 30 kilowatts (kW) of power for a total of about 250kW are beginning to show signs of degradation, with the oldest array now having been in space since 2000 when the P6 truss and associated arrays was delivered to the station by Shuttle Endeavour's STS-97 crew.

With over 20 years of use, and normal degradation of solar arrays, the eight SAWs now only produce around 160kW of power – against a backdrop of rising power demands from the station's increasing users.

The new arrays will bring it back up to 215 kW.

Future expansion plans? I thought it was still at risk of being deorbited after 2030.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday June 21, @10:04AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the nuclear-proliferation? dept.

Mass-produced floating nuclear reactors use super-safe molten salt fuel

Copenhagen startup Seaborg Technologies has raised an eight-figure sum of Euros to start building a fascinating new type of cheap, portable, flexible and super-safe nuclear reactor. The size of a shipping container, these Compact Molten Salt Reactors will be rapidly mass-manufactured in their thousands, then placed on floating barges to be deployed worldwide – on timelines that will smash paradigms in the energy industry.

[...] [Perhaps] the most impactful change to the business model is Seaborg's proposal to install these reactors on barges, and float them offshore rather than buying up land to develop nuclear power plants. There are several advantages here. For starters, you can manufacture them in bulk at a single facility. Seaborg is looking at Korean shipyards, which are already closely and efficiently connected to supply chains with enormous production capacity.

"If you want us to build not one reactor to start with, but a thousand, we could start by building a thousand," Schönefeldt told Radio Spectrum. "That will take, like, three or four years on these shipyards. So it's basically unroofed in how fast you can scale it."

These barges can be moved just about anywhere on the planet, either moored offshore or on large or small rivers, depending on how big a reactor it is. There's virtually no site preparation required; it's fully self-contained and very easy to connect to a power grid. Seaborg estimates it can service 95 percent of the world's population this way, putting basically no land requirements on a baseload or load-following power station up to a healthy 600 MW, which could supply nearly 100,000 homes.

Some imagineering required.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday June 21, @02:31AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the What-they-always-say dept.

Maybe. Maybe not. New study, reported on at SciTechDaily,

The world's largest ice sheets may be in less danger of sudden collapse than previously predicted, according to new findings led by the University of Michigan.

The study, published in Science, included simulating the demise of West Antarctica's Thwaites Glacier, one of the world's largest and most unstable glaciers. Researchers modeled the collapse of various heights of ice cliffs—near-vertical formations that occur where glaciers and ice shelves meet the ocean. They found that instability doesn't always lead to rapid disintegration.

"What we found is that over long timescales, ice behaves like a viscous fluid, sort of like a pancake spreading out in a frying pan," said Jeremy Bassis, U-M associate professor of climate and space sciences and engineering. "So the ice spreads out and thins faster than it can fail and this can stabilize collapse. But if the ice can't thin fast enough, that's when you have the possibility of rapid glacier collapse."

Or, not.

[...] "There's no doubt that sea levels are rising, and that it's going to continue in the coming decades," Bassis said. "But I think this study offers hope that we're not approaching a complete collapse—that there are measures that can mitigate and stabilize things. And we still have the opportunity to change things by making decisions about things like energy emissions—methane and CO2."

[...] "The ocean is always there, sort of tickling the ice in a very complex way, and we've only known for a decade or two just how important it is," he said. "But we're beginning to understand that it's driving a lot of the changes we're seeing, and I think that's going to be the next big frontier in our research."

Journal Reference:
J. N. Bassis, B. Berg, A. J. Crawford, et al. Transition to marine ice cliff instability controlled by ice thickness gradients and velocity [$], Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.abf6271)

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Sunday June 20, @11:59PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the ♪-I-feel-the-earth-move-under-my-feet-♪ dept.

The Earth Has a Pulse—A 27.5-Million-Year Cycle of Geological Activity:

Analysis of 260 Million Years of Major Geological Events Finds Recurring Clusters 27.5 Million Years Apart

[...] “Many geologists believe that geological events are random over time. But our study provides statistical evidence for a common cycle, suggesting that these geologic events are correlated and not random,” said Michael Rampino, a geologist and professor in New York University’s Department of Biology, as well as the study’s lead author.

Over the past five decades, researchers have proposed cycles of major geological events—including volcanic activity and mass extinctions on land and sea—ranging from roughly 26 to 36 million years. But early work on these correlations in the geological record was hampered by limitations in the age-dating of geologic events, which prevented scientists from conducting quantitative investigations.

[...] The team analyzed the ages of 89 well-dated major geological events of the last 260 million years. These events include marine and land extinctions, major volcanic outpourings of lava called flood-basalt eruptions, events when oceans were depleted of oxygen, sea-level fluctuations, and changes or reorganization in the Earth’s tectonic plates.

They found that these global geologic events are generally clustered at 10 different timepoints over the 260 million years, grouped in peaks or pulses of roughly 27.5 million years apart. The most recent cluster of geological events was approximately 7 million years ago, suggesting that the next pulse of major geological activity is more than 20 million years in the future.

The researchers posit that these pulses may be a function of cycles of activity in the Earth's interior—geophysical processes related to the dynamics of plate tectonics and climate. However, similar cycles in the Earth’s orbit in space might also be pacing these events.

Journal Reference:
Michael R. Rampino, Ken Caldeira, Yuhong Zhu. A pulse of the Earth: A 27.5-Myr underlying cycle in coordinated geological events over the last 260 Myr [open], Geoscience Frontiers (DOI: 10.1016/j.gsf.2021.101245)

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Sunday June 20, @07:11PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the beautiful-time-to-be-alive dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

New findings published this week in Physical Review Letters suggest that carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen cosmic rays travel through the galaxy toward Earth in a similar way, but, surprisingly, that iron arrives at Earth differently. Learning more about how cosmic rays move through the galaxy helps address a fundamental, lingering question in astrophysics: How is matter generated and distributed across the universe?

"So what does this finding mean?" asks John Krizmanic, a senior scientist with UMBC's Center for Space Science and Technology (CSST). "These are indicators of something interesting happening. And what that something interesting is we're going to have to see."

Cosmic rays are atomic nuclei—atoms stripped of their electrons—that are constantly whizzing through space at nearly the speed of light. They enter Earth's atmosphere at extremely high energies. Information about these cosmic rays can give scientists clues about where they came from in the galaxy and what kind of event generated them.

[...] Iron is a particularly useful element to analyze, explains Cannady, a postdoc with CSST and a former Ph.D. student with Cherry at LSU. On their way to Earth, cosmic rays can break down into secondary particles, and it can be hard to distinguish between original particles ejected from a source (like a supernova) and secondary particles. That complicates deductions about where the particles originally came from.

"As things interact on their way to us, then you'll get essentially conversions from one element to another," Cannady says. "Iron is unique, in that being one of the heaviest things that can be synthesized in regular stellar evolution, we're pretty certain that it is pretty much all primary cosmic rays. It's the only pure primary cosmic ray, where with others you'll have some secondary components feeding into that as well."

[...] "We didn't expect that the nuclei—the carbon, oxygen, protons, iron—would really start showing some of these detailed differences that are clearly pointing at things we don't know," Cherry says.

The latest finding creates more questions than it answers, emphasizing that there is still more to learn about how matter is generated and moves around the galaxy. "That's a fundamental question: How do you make matter?" Krizmanic says. But, he adds, "That's the whole point of why we went in this business, to try to understand more about how the universe works."

Journal Reference:
O. Adriani et al. Measurement of the Iron Spectrum in Cosmic Rays from 10  GeV/n to 2.0  TeV/n with the Calorimetric Electron Telescope on the International Space Station [open], Physical Review Letters (DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.126.241101)

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Sunday June 20, @02:29PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the we-are-alive-in-spite-of-nature dept.

Second Space Rock Struck Earth After the One That Killed the Dinosaurs:

About 66 million years ago, Earth took a one-two punch, according to a new study.

First came a space rock 6-miles-wide that struck present-day Mexico. The impactor, named Chicxulub, contributed to the demise of the dinosaurs, along with 50% to 75% of life on Earth.

Then, 650,000 years later, a mile-sized asteroid known as Boltysh struck. The rock carved out a 15-mile-wide crater into what is now central Ukraine.

Scientists once thought both Boltysh and Chicxulub contributed to the mass extinction that doomed the dinosaurs. But according to the study published Friday in the journal Science Advances, Boltysh likely impacted Earth long after the last victims of the extinction died out.

[...] While it's unlikely Boltysh exacerbated the die-off, Pickersgill said the second impact may have delayed Earth's recovery from the catastrophic extinction.

Journal Reference:
Annemarie E. Pickersgill, Darren F. Mark, Martin R. Lee, et al. The Boltysh impact structure: An early Danian impact event during recovery from the K-Pg mass extinction [open], Science Advances (DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe6530)

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Sunday June 20, @09:44AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the just-5-more-minutes dept.

How Do Constantly Swimming Sharks Ever Rest? Scientists Just Figured It Out:

Marine biologists have discovered that sharks 'surf' ocean currents in a conveyor belt configuration, allowing them to take turns resting.

[...] These sharks never stop swimming for their entire lives. They need to keep moving in order to extract enough oxygen with their gills to keep them alive, so stationary resting, like the way other animals rest, is out of the question.

Exactly how sharks rest was a bit of a puzzle, until on a dive during the day, Papastamatiou noticed that the sharks were swimming against the updraft current in a certain channel. Even more interestingly, they were remarkably still, barely moving their fins or tails.

[...] As they crept forward to the front of the channel, the lead sharks would slip backwards, letting the current carry them back to the starting position. It was like some sort of strange conveyor belt – the sharks would inch forward against the current, be carried back, then inch forward again.

Journal Reference:
Yannis P. Papastamatiou, Gil Iosilevskii, Valentina Di Santo, et al. Sharks surf the slope: Current updrafts reduce energy expenditure for aggregating marine predators, Journal of Animal Ecology (DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.13536)

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Sunday June 20, @05:00AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the they're-not-asking-anymore dept.

The headline at WFAA reads: 'Woke up sweating': Some Texans shocked to find their smart thermostats were raised remotely

When Deer Park resident Brandon English got home from work on Wednesday, his house was hot.

[...] His wife received an alert on her phone soon after that. The family said their thermostat had been changed remotely, raising the temperature of their home during a three-hour “energy saving event.”

The family’s smart thermostat was installed a few years ago as part of a new home security package. Many smart thermostats can be enrolled in a program called "Smart Savers Texas." It's operated by a company called EnergyHub.

The agreement states that in exchange for an entry into sweepstakes, electric customers allow them to control their thermostats during periods of high energy demand. EnergyHub’s list of its clients include TXU Energy, CenterPoint and ERCOT.

'Unplanned' Outages Hit Texas Power Plants in Soaring Temperatures

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Sunday June 20, @01:13AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the this-is-magic dept.

Team describes science-based hiccups intervention:

Researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) and colleagues worldwide describe a new science-based intervention for hiccups in a research letter published June 18 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

In the publication, the scientists coined a new term for the intervention: the “forced inspiratory suction and swallow tool,” or FISST. The team also reported the results of a survey of 249 users who were asked whether it is superior to hiccup home remedies such as breathing into a paper bag.

[...] “Hiccups are occasionally annoying for some people, but for others they significantly impact quality of life,” said Ali Seifi, MD, associate professor of neurosurgery in UT Health San Antonio’s Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine. “This includes many patients with brain and stroke injury, and cancer patients. We had a couple of cancer patients in this study. Some chemotherapies cause hiccups.”

[...] FISST is a rigid drinking tube with an inlet valve that requires forceful suction to draw water from a cup into the mouth. The suction and swallow simultaneously stimulate two nerves, the phrenic and vagus nerves, to relieve hiccups.

Journal Reference:
James Alvarez, Jane Margaret Anderson, Patrick Larry Snyder, et al. Evaluation of the Forced Inspiratory Suction and Swallow Tool to Stop Hiccups [open], JAMA Network Open (DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.13933)

Original Submission

Forceful suction induces the diaphragm, a sheaf of muscle that inflates the lungs during breathing, to contract. The suction and swallow also prompt the epiglottis, a flap that covers the windpipe during swallowing, to close. This ends the hiccup spasms.

[...] FISST stopped hiccups in nearly 92% of cases, users self-reported. In terms of satisfaction, 226 of 249 participants (90.8%) affirmatively answered questions about whether they found the tool easy to use.

On a different measure, subjective effectiveness, 183 of 203 participants (90.1%) indicated that FISST was effective when they used it. Fewer participants answered this question, possibly because it was last in the survey, Dr. Seifi said.

I was walking with some friends, one of whom was a doctor, when I came down with hiccups. He matter-of-factly told me to take a *deep* breath, hold it for 10 seconds, and then exhale slowly -- about 20-30 seconds, He said that hiccups happen when the diaphragm was in spasm. Holding my breath and exhaling slowly interrupted that. I was skeptical, but it sounded plausible so I tried it. It worked for me. And several times since. I've suggested it to several others and it generally seemed to work!

The cases described in the study seem more persistent and severe. FISST appears to be based on a similar principle, so this sounds promising.

posted by mrpg on Saturday June 19, @08:39PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the I-saw-it-coming dept.

In the visual thalamus, neurons are in contact with both eyes but respond to only one:

We have two eyes, but perceive the tree in front of us only once. Our brain therefore has the complicated task of combining the information of both eyes in a meaningful way. To do so, visual stimuli first travel from the retina via so-called ganglion cells to the visual thalamus. There, the information does end up in clearly defined areas -- depending on the type and eye-of-origin of retinal ganglion cells transporting the visual stimuli. Signals from the right and left eye are thus clearly separated in the visual thalamus and independently transmitted to the visual cortex. Only in this brain region, the incoming information is combined -- at least according to a long-standing theory.

However, recent anatomical studies describe that a surprising number of neurons in the mouse visual thalamus has contact to both eyes. Does the separation of 'left eye' and 'right eye' information channels not hold true in mice? Scientists from Tobias Bonhoeffer's department wanted to shed more light on this newly raised question. They further developed an optogenetic method, so that they could activate ganglion cells of both eyes successively with light of different colors and measure the corresponding electrical responses in a thalamic cell.

Journal Reference:
Joel Bauer, Simon Weiler, Martin H.P. Fernholz, David Laubender, Volker Scheuss, Mark Hübener, Tobias Bonhoeffer, Tobias Rose. Limited functional convergence of eye-specific inputs in the retinogeniculate pathway of the mouse. Neuron, 2021; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2021.05.036

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Saturday June 19, @04:01PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Pastafarianism-molto-al-dente dept.

The South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) failed to be Touched by His Noodly Appendage in a decision on Adelaide woman Tanya Watkins' claim that FSM was formed for a "religious, educational, charitable or benevolent purpose".

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) remains in the realms of satire in central Australia after an appeal for formal recognition was rejected by a South Australian legal authority on the grounds that it is a "sham" and a "hoax".

[...] In the ruling, Ms McEvoy noted that while various "Pastafarian texts" are set out in traditional religious forms, they "contain some surprising articulations", such as references to the books of the Bible as the "Old Testicle" and "New Testicle".

Story from the ABC:

Earlier ABC stories tell about how New Zealand is more accepting than Australians of our colander-headed brethren and sistren:

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Saturday June 19, @11:40AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the I-knew-it dept.

Memory helps us evaluate situations on the fly, not just recall the past: Widely known as crucial for long-term memory, hippocampus also supports short-term memory:

The findings shed light on how the hippocampus contributes to memory and exploration, potentially leading to therapies that restore hippocampal function, which is impacted in memory-related aging and neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia, the study authors said.

In the study, scientists monitored participants' brain activity and tracked their eye movements while looking at different complex pictures. The scientists discovered that as we visually scan our environment and absorb new information, our hippocampus becomes activated, using short-term memory to better process new visual information to help us rapidly reevaluate situations.

[...] "At any given moment, your brain rapidly initiates eye movements that you are typically unaware of," said corresponding author James Kragel, a postdoctoral research fellow at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "Our findings suggest the hippocampus uses memory to inform where your eyes look, thereby priming the visual system to learn and reevaluate our environment on the fly.

Journal Reference:
James E. Kragel, Stephan Schuele, Stephen VanHaerents, et al. Rapid coordination of effective learning by the human hippocampus [open], Science Advances (DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abf7144)

Original Submission