Archive for the ‘research’ Category

Credit: NASA


Could there even be more than one black hole? The search for a significant extra planet has drawn a blank so far.
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A coming sky survey will help test a wild idea — that a grapefruit-sized black hole lurks undiscovered in the outer solar system, says Mike Wall @ Space.com.

Over the past few years, researchers have noticed an odd clustering in the orbits of multiple trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs), which dwell in the dark depths of the far outer solar system.

Some scientists have hypothesized that the TNOs’ paths have been sculpted by the gravitational pull of a big object way out there, something 5 to 10 times more massive than Earth (though others think the TNOs may just be tugging on each other).

This big “perturber,” if it exists, may be a planet — the so-called “Planet Nine,” or “Planet X” or “Planet Next” for those who will always regard Pluto as the ninth planet.

But there’s another possibility as well: The shepherding object may be a black hole, one that crams all that mass into a sphere the size of a grapefruit.

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Researchers now want to ‘understand both the processes that excite the waves and the processes that act to damp the waves.’
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A ringing bell vibrates simultaneously at a low-pitched fundamental tone and at many higher-pitched overtones, producing a pleasant musical sound, says Phys.org.

A recent study, just published in the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences by scientists at Kyoto University and the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, shows that the Earth’s entire atmosphere vibrates in an analogous manner, in a striking confirmation of theories developed by physicists over the last two centuries.

In the case of the atmosphere, the “music” comes not as a sound we could hear, but in the form of large-scale waves of atmospheric pressure spanning the globe and traveling around the equator, some moving east-to-west and others west-to-east.

Each of these waves is a resonant vibration of the global atmosphere, analogous to one of the resonant pitches of a bell.

The basic understanding of these atmospheric resonances began with seminal insights at the beginning of the 19th century by one of history’s greatest scientists, the French physicist and mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace.

Research by physicists over the subsequent two centuries refined the theory and led to detailed predictions of the wave frequencies that should be present in the atmosphere. However, the actual detection of such waves in the real world has lagged behind the theory.

Now in a new study by Takatoshi Sakazaki, an assistant professor at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Science, and Kevin Hamilton, an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences and the International Pacific Research Center at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, the authors present a detailed analysis of observed atmospheric pressure over the globe every hour for 38 years.

The results clearly revealed the presence of dozens of the predicted wave modes.

Full article here.

Fine summer weather [image credit: BBC]

In climate fantasy world, everything is near-constant except human-caused trace gas emissions. Pathetic that this is considered to be serious science, rather than juvenile nonsense.
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Humans may need to “wait for decades” to see the results of large emission cuts on global surface temperatures, scientists have said.

Researchers in Norway used computer simulations to analyse various scenarios that looked at the effects of rapid reductions in several types of greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and black carbon, says TalkTalk.

They found that although large-scale emission cuts are needed to achieve the global climate goals, it may take decades before the effects of the reductions on temperatures can be measured.

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There are two faces of the Earth: study

Posted: July 2, 2020 by oldbrew in Geology, History, research

Pacific ‘ring of fire’


Recent research has also found why changes to Earth’s magnetic field are weaker over the Pacific.
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Earth’s mantle is currently classified into two main domains, African and Pacific.

However, little is known about their formation and history, and they are commonly assumed to be chemically the same, says Tech Explorist.

In a new study by Curtin University, scientists studied chemical and isotopic “make-up” of rocks sourced from thousands of kilometers below the surface.

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Ionized gas inside the Sun moves toward the poles near the surface and toward the equator at the base of the convection zone (at a depth of 200,000 km/125,000 miles).
Credit: MPS (Z.-C. Liang)


The title of the study cited in this report gives us the clue: ‘Meridional flow in the Sun’s convection zone is a single cell in each hemisphere’. The full cycle takes about 22 years on average, with a magnetic reversal halfway through.
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The sun’s magnetic activity follows an 11-year cycle. Over the course of a solar cycle, the sun’s magnetic activity comes and goes, says Phys.org.

During solar maximum, large sunspots and active regions appear on the sun’s surface. Spectacular loops of hot plasma stretch throughout the sun’s atmosphere and eruptions of particles and radiation shoot into interplanetary space.

During solar minimum, the sun calms down considerably. A striking regularity appears in the so-called butterfly diagram, which describes the position of sunspots in a time-latitude plot.

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Standing around at the EV charging station [image credit: makeitsunderland.com]


At the moment this is like trying to fill a bath from a very slowly dripping tap. A lot would need to happen to turn the tap of public enthusiasm for EVs on, starting with much lower prices. Where is all the extra electricity supply supposed to come from, and who voted for ‘net zero’ anyway?
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Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) today publishes new research on the uptake of low carbon technologies (LCTs) required to put the UK on the road to net zero.

Examining the expected changes in SSEN’s two distribution areas in the south of England and north of Scotland, the data reveals electric vehicle ownership will increase from 44,000 to 5m in these two areas alone.

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Sunspots [image credit: NASA]


The researchers’ sun clock looks like this.
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Extreme space weather events can significantly impact systems such as satellites, communications systems, power distribution and aviation, says a Warwick University press release.

They are driven by solar activity which is known to have an irregular but roughly 11 year cycle.

By devising a new, regular ‘sun clock’, researchers have found that the switch on and off of periods of high solar activity is quite sharp, and are able to determine the switch on/off times.

Their analysis shows that whilst extreme events can happen at any time, they are much less likely to occur in the quiet interval.

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Another bunch of climate alarmist predictions get exposed as over-the-top doom-mongering — literally, in this case.

Coral reef islands across the world could naturally adapt to survive the impact of rising sea levels, according to new research reported at Phys.org.

Coral reef islands across the world could naturally adapt to survive the impact of rising sea levels, according to new research.

The increased flooding caused by the changing global climate has been predicted to render such communities—where sandy or gravel islands sit on top of coral reef platforms—uninhabitable within decades.

However, an international study led by the University of Plymouth (UK) suggests that perceived fate is far from a foregone conclusion.

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During a total solar eclipse, the Sun’s corona and prominences are visible to the naked eye [image credit: Luc Viatour / https://Lucnix.be ]


There’s an interesting time-series animation of the solar corona here. Clear differences in the corona at solar minimum compared to maximum were observed by the globetrotting researchers.
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While the world has been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy (IfA) have been hard at work studying the solar corona, the outermost atmosphere of the sun which expands into interplanetary space, reports Phys.org.

This stream of charged particles radiating from the surface of the sun is called the solar wind and expands to fill the entire solar system.

The properties of the solar corona are a consequence of the sun’s complex magnetic field, which is produced in the solar interior and extends outward.

A new study by IfA graduate student Benjamin Boe, published Wednesday, June 3rd in the Astrophysical Journal, used total solar eclipse observations to measure the shape of the coronal magnetic field with higher spatial resolution and over a larger area than ever before.

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Credit: Wikipedia


Time for another Tunguska meteor theory.
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When a meteor zooms toward Earth at 45,000 mph with the strength 10-15 megatons of TNT—185 times more energy than the Hiroshima atomic bomb—it could possibly take out the entire planet, says Syfy.

If something like that doesn’t scream total annihilation, it’s hard to say what does, except this time it just missed.

Scorched earth and flattened trees were all that was left of the mysterious object after it passed dangerously close to the Tunguska region of Siberia in 1908.

Theories have ranged from a black hole colliding with Earth to a clash of matter and antimatter to an alien spaceship crash-landing. An eyewitness even swore the sky was being ripped in two. But why no crater? No debris?

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It now seems all planetary bodies can have magnetospheres, whether or not they have a significant magnetic field. This would also help to explain why Venus, with hardly any ‘protective’ magnetic field, has a much thicker atmosphere than Earth. Wikipedia might need an update.
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Five years after NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft entered into orbit around Mars, data from the mission has led to the creation of a map of electric current systems in the Martian atmosphere, reports Phys.org.

“These currents play a fundamental role in the atmospheric loss that transformed Mars from a world that could have supported life into an inhospitable desert,” said experimental physicist Robin Ramstad of the University of Colorado, Boulder.

“We are now currently working on using the currents to determine the precise amount of energy that is drawn from the solar wind and powers atmospheric escape.” Ramstad is lead author of a paper on this research published May 25 in Nature Astronomy.

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Image credit: MIT


Who wants to buy a secondhand EV after reading this? Maybe sellers should have to get a test certificate stating how much life there is left in the battery.
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Modeling study shows battery reuse systems could be profitable for both electric vehicle companies and grid-scale solar operations. — Technology.org reporting.

As electric vehicles rapidly grow in popularity worldwide [Talkshop comment – do they?], there will soon be a wave of used batteries whose performance is no longer sufficient for vehicles that need reliable acceleration and range.

But a new study shows that these batteries could still have a useful and profitable second life as backup storage for grid-scale solar photovoltaic installations, where they could perform for more than a decade in this less demanding role.

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Honghe Hani Rice Terraces in Yunnan Province, China [image credit: Wikipedia]


A look back to an earlier era of dramatic climate change, long before anyone had time to obsess about atmospheric trace gases.
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A major global cooling event that occurred 4,200 years ago may have led to the evolution of new rice varieties and the spread of rice into both northern and southern Asia, an international team of researchers has found.

Their study, published in Nature Plants and led by the NYU Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, uses a multidisciplinary approach to reconstruct the history of rice and trace its migration throughout Asia, says Phys.org.

Rice is one of the most important crops worldwide, a staple for more than half of the global population.

It was first cultivated 9,000 years ago in the Yangtze Valley in China and later spread across East, Southeast, and South Asia, followed by the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

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Magnetic North on the move [credit: ESA]


It’s down to a process known as ‘flux lobe elongation’, according to researchers. They foresee the magnetic north pole travelling a further 390–660 km towards Siberia.
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European scientists think they can now describe with confidence what’s driving the drift of the North Magnetic Pole, says BBC News.

It’s shifted in recent years away from Canada towards Siberia.

And this rapid movement has required more frequent updates to navigation systems, including those that operate the mapping functions in smartphones.

A team, led from Leeds University, says the behaviour is explained by the competition of two magnetic “blobs” on the edge of the Earth’s outer core.

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Saturn’s hexagon


The ever-mysterious hexagon goes under the microscope, or telescope at least.

A rich variety of meteorological phenomena takes place in the extensive hydrogen atmosphere of Saturn, a world about 10 times the size of the Earth.

They help us to better understand similar features in the Earth’s atmosphere, says Phys.org.

Among Saturn’s atmospheric phenomena is the well-known “hexagon,” an amazing wave structure that surrounds the planet’s polar region.

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Siberian permafrost [image credit: Julian Murton / BBC]


Since viruses – and not much else – are in the news these days, here’s a reminder that they’re nothing new. If anything they’re less scary than in the distant past, judging by this story.
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Giant viruses known as “Girus”, frozen in the permafrost from the remote landscapes of Siberia and the Antarctic are being studied by Michigan State University, reports HeritageDaily – Archaeology News.

The researchers have shed light on these enigmatic, yet captivating giant microbes and key aspects of the process by which they infect cells.

“Giant viruses are gargantuan in size and complexity,” said principal investigator Kristin Parent, associate professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at MSU.

“The giant viruses recently discovered in Siberia retained the ability to infect after 30,000 years in permafrost.”

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Magnetic North on the move [credit: ESA]


They have a go at doing so, anyway. To make it more complicated, the South Magnetic Pole is also moving, but at a much lesser rate.

European scientists think they can now describe with confidence what’s driving the drift of the North Magnetic Pole, says BBC News.

It’s shifted in recent years away from Canada towards Siberia.

And this rapid movement has required more frequent updates to navigation systems, including those that operate the mapping functions in smartphones.

A team, led from Leeds University, says the behaviour is explained by the competition of two magnetic “blobs” on the edge of the Earth’s outer core.

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Tropical beach


Are these researchers proposing a kind of reverse greenhouse effect in the tropics?

Conventional knowledge has it that warm air rises while cold air sinks, says Phys.org.

But a study from the University of California, Davis, found that in the tropical atmosphere, cold air rises due to an overlooked effect—the lightness of water vapor.

This effect helps to stabilize tropical climates and buffer some of the impacts of a warming climate.

The study, published today in the journal Science Advances, is among the first to show the profound implications water vapor buoyancy has on Earth’s climate and energy balance.

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Image credit: livescience.com


They might do well to remember that historic climate data always show carbon dioxide rises *following* temperature rises, often with quite a long time lag, never leading them, which raises awkward questions for ‘heat-trapping’ theories and climate models based on them.
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A new study from University of Michigan climate researchers concludes that some of the latest-generation climate models may be overly sensitive to carbon dioxide increases and therefore project future warming that is unrealistically high, says Phys.org.

In a letter scheduled for publication April 30 in the journal Nature Climate Change, the researchers say that projections from one of the leading models, known as CESM2, are not supported by geological evidence from a previous warming period roughly 50 million years ago.

The researchers used the CESM2 model to simulate temperatures during the Early Eocene, a time when rainforests thrived in the tropics of the New World, according to fossil evidence.

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Synthesizing ammonia using less energy

Posted: April 25, 2020 by oldbrew in Emissions, Energy, research
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This is mainly about fertilizers. A caption in the quoted report points out: ‘Ammonia is currently obtained by reacting nitrogen (N2) from air with hydrogen (H2). This reaction requires high energy and is, therefore [sic], powered by fossil fuels, contributing to over 3% of the global CO2 emissions.’ But the report notes that ammonia is critical for fertilizers that help feed 70% of the world’s population, so restricting ammonia use to satisfy climate obsessives would not be a smart option — at least as far as the 70% are concerned. But using wind power to produce ammonia has proved ineffective, so new ideas are sought by fuel-averse researchers.
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Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) have developed an improved catalyst by taking the common dehydrating agent calcium hydride and adding fluoride to it, reports Phys.org.

The catalyst facilitates the synthesis of ammonia at merely 50 °C, by using only half the energy that existing techniques require. This opens doors to ammonia production with low energy consumption and reduced greenhouse gas emission.

Ammonia is critical for making plant fertilizer, which in turn feeds approximately 70% of the world’s population.

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