Newzlab

Bold ideas for Planet Earth (Mostly science!)


Okay, I generally put aside most space and astronomy stuff for their own category. But I do have to say that while I am nototiously critical of the SLS/Artemis moondoggle, I do hope the three SLS monstrosities we’ve largely paid for will eventually work well, so we can get as much as 5% of our money’s worth. And a useless-silly footprint stunt. Then – Heinlein-willing – commercial launch will consign the wretched thing to obsolescence and history and NASA can go back to the real business of grownups, way farther out. 

Oh, yes. The Large Hadron Collider is back up and upgraded, discovering tetra and even pent-quark particles. Some think there are now enough of these particles to begin grouping them together, like the chemical elements in the periodic table. That is an essential first step towards creating a theory and set of rules governing exotic mass.

== Saving Earth through geo-engineering? ==

One newly proposed method for addressing climate change involves sequestering plant waste CROPS: Crops Residue Oceanic Permanent Sequestration (competing for an X-Prize for carbon removal) envisions reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide by bundling agricultural waste into half-ton cubes and disposing of them in the deep ocean, below the thermocline – in extremely cold water, where their carbon will be undisturbed for millennia. This should be substantially less expensive than attempting to remove carbon dioxide by industrial processes. And the odds of it being politically acceptable are…

Other concepts being explored: The idea of using sun-shields to block maybe 1% of incoming sunlight – and perhaps even more of the UV – has a new proposed method… blowing giant bubbles. Intriguing and it may come to that. But still very expensive and it only works until something happens out there and it stops.

Gregory Benford and some others prefer that far-cheaper prospect of aerosols spread in the upper atmosphere that reflect light back into space. On paper and in the lab, they are short-lived and harmless. But again, any time you stop, all benefits are lost.

Much more effective across millions of years would be my method to enlarge (gradually) Earth’s orbit. Decidedly easy for some future civ to do… maybe even our g-g-g-kids, since it only requires 1000x the might of this already mighty civilization!  See my video Lift the Earth! as well as the numbers behind the idea.

But I have long favored another approach that appears to be a win-win, all around! From Phys.org“When smoke from the 2019–2020 Australian wildfires billowed across the Southern Ocean, the iron-rich particles it deposited on the ocean triggered an algae bloom bigger than Australia—and it had a rapid and prolonged impact on the Southern Ocean’s marine ecosystem and its carbon cycle.” … 

“The phytoplankton bloom outlasted the wildfires by almost half a year. Phytoplankton blooms don’t usually survive longer than a few weeks, so the duration of this bloom was astounding and has rarely been observed before on such time scales.”

Read the article. The hope is that ocean fertilization into strong currents (not contricted zones like the Black Sea, Med and Caribbean) can lead to plankton, then krill, then burgeoning of whale population back to pre-indistrial levels, which some believe could make the fertilization cycle persistent with their… well… whale… poop.

Which segués kinda naturally into our final geoengineering project and the most-necessady!


Peecycling! Not urinating while on a bike! No, it’s giving urine back to nature along (especially) with the rare phosphorus (P!) that otherwise gets flushed to sea. In 99% of humans, pee is perfectly harmless when cycled through dirt and foliage or flowers, and recycling it may even be required, someday, as I depict in the future, in Existence.

Again… P (Phosphorus) will be the next scarcity, far more than oil ever was. Time to be thinking about it, before the King of Morrocco owns the world. Do see Existence.

== Our bio future ==

Scientists in Sweden have created a liquid that can absorb solar energy and store it as a thermal fuel for as long as 18 years. The fluid works like a rechargeable battery, but instead of electricity, sunlight goes in and heat comes out when it’s needed. It appears to be about Hydrogen plus Methane, but looking into it.  

Artificial photosynthesis can produce food without sunshine: A two-step electrocatalytic process can convert carbon dioxide, electricity, and water into acetate, the form of the main component of vinegar. Food-producing organisms then consume acetate in the dark to grow. ‘Combined with solar panels to generate the electricity to power the electrocatalysis, this hybrid organic-inorganic system could increase the conversion efficiency of sunlight into food, up to 18 times more efficient for some foods.’ Feed such a system CO2 directly from major producers like cement factories and the phase two reactors get nutrients from agricultural runoff. Very similar to current prototype systems using algae and sunlight.

Experiments showed that a wide range of food-producing organisms can be grown in the dark directly on the acetate-rich electrolyzer output, including green algae, yeast, and fungal mycelium that produce mushrooms. Producing algae with this technology is approximately fourfold more energy efficient than growing it photosynthetically. Yeast production is about 18-fold more energy efficient than how it is typically cultivated using sugar extracted from corn.” And “Using artificial photosynthesis approaches to produce food could be a paradigm shift for how we feed people.” 

== Interesting research ==

The rate of developing Alzheimer’s was lowest among those who consistently received the flu vaccine every year, a very large study says. Though people who received at least one influenza vaccine were 40% less likely than their non-vaccinated peers to develop Alzheimer’s disease over the course of four years.  “Since there is evidence that several vaccines may protect from Alzheimer’s disease, we are thinking that it isn’t a specific effect of the flu vaccine.”

Like the new ‘miracle” cancer treatment etc., I am not betting the farm on preliminary results!  Still… track this…. Alas, it bodes poorly for Trumpist America.

New research turns the idea of heat-loving dinosaurs on its head: It presents the first physical evidence that Triassic dinosaur species, which were a minor group largely relegated to the polar regions at the time, regularly endured freezing conditions there. Hence when a sudden ice age swept the planet at the begin of the Jurassic, the cold tolerant and feathered dinosaurs swept in too.

Unusual superconductivity observed in twisted trilayer graphene: “While superconductors have been around for a long time, a remarkably new feature in twisted graphene bilayers and trilayers is that superconductivity in these materials can be turned on simply through the application of a voltage on a nearby electrode…”

And so we move onward. A spectacular scientific civilization! Whose fact-based professions are truly the groups who are vastly more-hated upon than all the races and genders. Wager me on that and let’s compare actual amounts of time spent in direct dissing, on Fox. We’re on the same side!

The side of a future with some hope.



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