Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Earth’s oldest asteroid crater found in Australia

Posted: January 22, 2020 by oldbrew in Ice ages, News, research
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Credit: earth.com


Theories abound, but the inevitable carbon dioxide one pops up at the end.

Scientists have identified the world’s oldest asteroid crater in Australia, adding it may explain how the planet was lifted from an ice age, reports BBC News.

The asteroid hit Yarrabubba in Western Australia about 2.2 billion years ago – making the crater about half the age of Earth, researchers say.

Their conclusion was reached by testing minerals found in rocks at the site.

The scientists say the find is exciting because it could account for a warming event during that era.

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‘Truths’ is an acronym* but it helps with the publicity. The satellite ‘will be sensitive to light in the visible and near-infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum’.
[*Traceable Radiometry Underpinning Terrestrial- and Helio- Studies]

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The UK is going to lead a space mission to get an absolute measurement of the light reflected off Earth’s surface, reports BBC Science.

The information will be used to calibrate the observations of other satellites, allowing their data to be compared more easily.

Called Truths, the new spacecraft was approved for development by European Space Agency member states in November.

Proponents of the mission expect its data to help reduce the uncertainty in projections of future climate change.

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Low tide in Venice


This so-called man-made climate change thing must be a versatile beast, if it exists outside of myths. Wednesday’s rare super blue blood moon gets some of the blame here, but recent low rainfall also played a part.

Although the water levels in the city’s famous canals rise and fall with the tide, exceptionally low tides have left canals bare, reports Sky News.

Two months ago the high tide in Venice peaked at 187cm (6.14ft), leaving around 70% of the lagoon city centre under salt water.

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The Fainting of Betelgeuse — Update

Posted: January 12, 2020 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, Measurement, News

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This enormous star seems to be fading fast.

Spaceweather.com

Jan. 10, 2020: One day, perhaps in our lifetimes, perhaps a million years from now, the red giant Betelgeuse will dim a little–and then explode. The resulting supernova will rival the full Moon and cast shadows after dark, completely transforming the night skies of Earth. No wonder astronomers are closely tracking the current “fainting of Betelgeuse.”

“Fainting” is an actual astronomical term. It means dimming, the opposite of brightening. And right now, Betelgeuse is definitely fainting.

Brian-Ottum-Betelgeuse_Fainting_4x4_dated_1577930828  Betelgeuse photographed by Brian Ottum of Animas, New Mexico, almost 4 years apart using the same telescope and observing methods. 

Edward Guinan of Villanova University and colleagues caused a minor sensation last month when they reported “[Betelgeuse] has been declining in brightness since October 2019, now reaching a modern all-time low of V = +1.12 mag on 07 December 2019 UT. Currently this is the faintest the star has been during our…

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Tesla Model 3 [image credit: Vauxford @ Wikipedia]


Of course he could have removed the heavy battery pack altogether and replaced it with an equivalent car engine, in theory at least. But he didn’t, so on with the report…

An engineer from Austria has recreated an even cheaper Model 3 by converting Tesla’s flagship electric vehicle into a hybrid by adding a two-cylinder gasoline engine and “downgrading” the battery pack, reports OilPrice.com.

Frank Obrist from Lustenau, Austria, founder of engineering company OBRIST Powertrain, wants to make EVs more affordable.

OBRIST Powertrain claims that the hybrid Tesla would have twice the range compared to the fully electric vehicle as designed and manufactured by Tesla.

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Having one side of the planet constantly facing the star due to tidal locking could make habitability tricky though. There are three known planets in the system.
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From Wikipedia:
NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered its first Earth-size planet in its star’s habitable zone, the range of distances where conditions may be just right to allow the presence of liquid water on the surface.

Scientists confirmed the find, called TOI 700 d, using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and have modeled the planet’s potential environments to help inform future observations.

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A model of 20 oranges is compared with the theoretical and experimental structure [credit: KU Leuven]


Peculiar? Maybe, but the clusters are just based on the triangular number sequence: 0,1,3,6,10 etc. (add one more than last time).
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Freestanding clusters of twenty gold atoms take the shape of a pyramid, researchers discovered.

This is in contrast with most elements, which organize themselves by forming shells around one central atom, says EurekAlert.

The team of researchers led by KU Leuven published their findings in Science Advances.

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The stratosphere isn’t even supposed to have clouds…

Spaceweather.com

Jan. 1, 2020: A spectacular display of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) that began two days ago is still going strong around the Arctic Circle. This picture, taken on Dec. 31st by Per-Anders Gustavsson in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, shows why some onlookers mistake them for daytime auroras:

psc_icehotel

“The colors were amazing,” says Gustavsson, who drives a tour bus for Visit Abisko. “I was driving by the world-famous Ice Hotel when we saw the clouds. We just had to stop for pictures.”

“I’ve seen a lot of beautiful things during my years in the Arctic,” he adds. “This was easily one of the greatest displays I have ever seen.”

Polar stratospheric clouds are newsworthy because normally the stratosphere has no clouds at all. The stratosphere is arid and almost always transparent. Only when the temperature drops to a staggeringly cold -85C can sparse water molecules assemble themselves into icy stratospheric clouds. PSCs…

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Image credit: steelguru.com


Guess who ends up paying that bill? National Grid may yet be broken up as the inquest into the fiasco goes on, and a vague comment says wind power needs to be ‘more secure’.

Three energy firms are to pay a total of £10.5m following August’s power cut that left over a million people without electricity and caused travel chaos, reports BBC News.

Although the power cut lasted for less than an hour, it affected homes, businesses and hospitals, while rail services were disrupted for days.

RWE Generation, Orstead and UK Power Networks will pay into a redress fund run by the UK’s energy watchdog, Ofgem.

Ofgem says it will continue to look into the role National Grid played.

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‘Carbon’ means the harmless but vital trace gas carbon dioxide, of course. By showing fake climate virtue they may be hoping to keep hot-headed climate protesters off their backs, while selling a few more tickets to gullible travellers.

The boss of British Airways has declared “our future has to be sustainable” as the airline begins offsetting carbon emissions from domestic flights, reports ITV News.

Chief executive Alex Cruz said a “multifaceted response” is required to tackle climate change.

BA is making all its flights within the UK carbon neutral from Wednesday.

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The causes of the foehn effect in the lee of mountains [image credit: Depunity @ Wikipedia]


Foehn (Föhn) winds are an interesting climatic phenomenon that cause rapid temperature changes. They’re well-known in Alpine regions but not so much in the UK.
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The highest ever temperature recorded for the UK this late in the year was early on Sunday morning in the Scottish Highlands, reports LBC News.

A Met Office observation post in Cassley, in Sutherland, north Scotland, recorded a temperature of 16.8C at 3am on Sunday morning – this was well above the average nighttime temperature for that area in late December of zero degrees.

However given how early in the morning the high temperature was recorded, most people would have slept through it.

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The human cost of the EV revolution 

Posted: December 23, 2019 by oldbrew in Legal, News
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Child exploitation claims are casting a large shadow as a new case goes to court. Looking the other way won’t do any more, at least not if these major firms lose the legal argument – which would mean higher product prices. Not what the so-called ‘EV revolution’ needs, with high prices and other issues already deterring buyers.

Cobalt is one of the most important metals in the tech industry, but the use of child labor in cobalt mines in the DRC is a major problem for Big Tech and electric car manufacturers, says OilPrice.com.

There’s a chance that the iPhone you’re about to get for Christmas contains cobalt mined by a six-year-old. There’s also a chance that that six-year-old has been killed or maimed in the processes of mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the lion’s share of the world’s cobalt comes from.

Or, maybe, for those whose Christmas lists are more upscale, you’ll be driving around in a new Tesla next week, with a battery containing cobalt from that same mine.

Our luxuries are necessarily someone else’s sacrifice – and sometimes that sacrifice is the ultimate one.

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Lots of coal in Australia


Evidence that at least one national leader understands that winding down the economy to impress shouty ‘activists’ is not a sensible policy, despite the current emergencies.

Australian PM Scott Morrison says he will not make “reckless” cuts to the nation’s coal industry, despite criticism of his response to climate change and a deadly bushfire crisis.

Australia is being ravaged by bushfires which have killed nine people and razed hundreds of homes since September, reports BBC News.

As the crisis escalated last week, Mr Morrison faced a backlash for deciding to take a family holiday to Hawaii.

On Monday, he reiterated he would not adjust his policies through “panic”.

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Trump turns the screws on Nordstream 2.

Posted: December 22, 2019 by tallbloke in Defence, Energy, News, Politics, pressure

DW.com has this

US sanctions targeting the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany became law on Friday evening after President Donald Trump signed off on a massive defense bill.

The sanctions target companies involved in constructing the $11 billion (€9.93 billion) energy project, which will transport Russian gas under the Baltic Sea and deliver it directly to Germany.

The bill describes Nord Stream 2 as a “tool of coercion and political leverage” that Moscow could use against Berlin — and says it risks significantly weakening US ties to Germany and other European allies.

US lawmakers in both houses of Congress overwhelmingly approved the sanctions.

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Small modular reactor [credit: ANS Nuclear Cafe]


The battle to make nuclear power more practical and affordable steps up a gear.

NuScale Power’s small modular reactor (SMR) design has cleared the latest stage of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)’s review process, reports New Civil Engineer.

The reactor is the world’s first SMR to undergo design certification review by the NRC, after passing phase 4 of the review process. It is on track for approval by September 2020.

SMR supporters see the reactors as a safer, more affordable nuclear power option.

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Norwegian oil platform, North sea [image credit: Wikipedia]


Sounds like a woman of much commonsense, then. Of course any perceived deviation from climate alarmist orthodoxy translates as ‘controversial’ in much of the media.

Norway appointed on Wednesday a skeptic on wind power and climate change as its new oil minister who will oversee oil and gas drilling and wind turbine installations on and offshore Western Europe’s largest oil producer, reports OilPrice.com.

Sylvi Listhaug of the right-wing Progress Party was appointed Minister of Petroleum and Energy on Wednesday, replacing Kjell-Børge Freiberg who was “honourably discharged from his office,” the Norwegian government said.

Listhaug is taking over one of the most important ministries which oversees one of Norway’s top exports—oil and gas—as well as the government’s majority stake in energy giant Equinor.

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Magnetic North on the move [credit: ESA]


Few will notice anything, but some airport runways will have to change their markings.

The team of researchers that maintain the World Magnetic Model (WMM) has updated it and released it a year ahead of schedule due to the speed with which the pole is moving, reports Phys.org.

The newly updated model shows the magnetic north pole moving away from Canada and toward Siberia.

The magnetic north pole is the point on the Earth that compasses designate as true north. It is the result of geological processes deep within the planet—molten iron flow creates a magnetic field with poles near the geographic North and South Poles.

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You couldn’t make it up. Having for years rejected claims that industrial-scale burning of wood was not sustainable, climate obsessives now discover…exactly that. At least the media waited until the COP conference in Madrid ended, to avoid upsetting the delegates.

Experts horrified at large-scale forest removal to meet wood pellet demand, says The Guardian.

A few snippets from the article:

Climate thinktank Sandbag said the heavily subsidised plans to cut carbon emissions will result in a “staggering” amount of tree cutting, potentially destroying forests faster than they can regrow.

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Six cyclones form a hexagonal pattern around a central cyclone at Jupiter’s south pole. Generated image – credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM


Suddenly Saturn’s hexagon isn’t unique in the solar system any more.

Jupiter’s south pole has a new cyclone, reports Phys.org.

The discovery of the massive Jovian tempest occurred on Nov. 3, 2019, during the most recent data-gathering flyby of Jupiter by NASA’s Juno spacecraft.

It was the 22nd flyby during which the solar-powered spacecraft collected science data on the gas giant, soaring only 2,175 miles (3,500 kilometers) above its cloud tops.

The flyby also marked a victory for the mission team, whose innovative measures kept the solar-powered spacecraft clear of what could have been a mission-ending eclipse.

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Mammoth field fires up Norway’s oil industry

Posted: December 12, 2019 by oldbrew in Energy, News
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Image credit: ogj.com


In the real world, demand for oil continues unabated. Note for climate squealers: ‘At the production stage, each barrel has a carbon footprint 25 times lower than the global average’. Whoopee!

Under yellow metal legs stretching beneath the sea, billions of dollars lie buried.

As the world tries hard to halt global warming, mutters Phys.org, a huge oil field breathes new life into Norway’s oil sector.

“Massive!”, exclaims a delighted Arne Sigve Nylund, the head of energy giant Equinor’s Norway operations.

“At its peak, it will represent approximately 25-30 percent of the total oil production from the Norwegian continental shelf,” he says as he takes reporters on a tour of the Johan Sverdrup oil field, hardhat firmly secured on his head.

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