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The plot to “The Day after Tomorrow” might be real

A researcher has warned that the 2004 blockbuster movie “The day after tomorrow” is no longer just a part of science fiction but is already happening in reality. In movies, abrupt climate change effects can show up overnight, but in reality most climate change appears over decades of change.

Image: 20th Century Fox

The movie “The Day after Tomorrow” is generally based on the theory of “abrupt climate change”. As a consequence of global warming, the currents that circulate the ocean water around the world shut down, boiling up the tropics and freezing the North Atlantic.

Research suggests that the Atlantic Ocean’s Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) which also produces the Gulf Stream, is getting close to the dropping point, causing a wide area of North America and Europe to experience freezing temperatures for many years to come.

Running Atlantic’s Ocean Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC):

As of a recently published report, environment researcher Niklas Boers discovered that it’s turning out to be increasingly more likely that the AMOC could shut down unexpectedly.

The framework is responsible for moving warm surface streams from the tropical regions to Europe and Greenland through the Atlantic, where it freezes and sinks to the seafloor. Without this realistic transport line system, a huge part of North America’s east coast and Europe would be diving into freezing temperatures. The last ice age was caused by a huge ice lake cracking with a surge of freshwater upsetting the Atlantic Ocean, and was probably the last time when AMOC collapsed.

Was it destroyed?

While most of the movie is safely in the domain of science fiction, there is some practical scientific reasons  to support the concerns about potentially irreversible alterations in our climate within a couple of decades that would influence our communities, infrastructure, health, and ecosystems.

In the movie, the weathercaster Jack Hill, whose character was played by Dennis Quad, who already warned that climate change could create an ice age. Just after the warning, marine zoologists noticed a sudden chilling in the Atlantic Ocean, activating hurricanes off New York City.

According to Boers, it’s all an over-exaggeration because the effects would take hundreds of years, and also North America won’t get as chilly as the movie suggests. However, it is still a matter for concern. If the AMOC ever subsides; the long term effects could be catastrophic.

A Car That Collects Pollution

A London-based designer and architect, Thomas Heatherwick of the Heatherwick Studio has come up with a state-of-the art electric car concept that could clean air pollution as it drives around.

The concept car was introduced earlier in April 2021, after the designer was approached by a Chinese vehicle manufacturing company, IM Motors, to design the concept car, which is not only friendly to the environment, but also looks quite different.

The Airo, as it is being called, is a compact electric car, with its front grills containing air filters which could collect air pollutants amounting up to the size of a tennis ball in a year. The car uses the HEPA-Filter technology and doesn’t cause its own pollution but also actively contributes to vacuuming up all the pollutants from the cars driving alongside on the roads. If such a mechanism is introduced in all of the cars in China alone, it could create a significant change.

Talking to the BBC, the designer of the car said, “Think of a tennis ball in your lungs that is contributing to cleaning the air, and with a million vehicles in China alone that adds up.”

In addition to its pollutant collection functionality, the car looks nothing like your usual car. The interior of the car has more of a living room appeal with a table in the middle of four adjustable chairs, which can even be converted to a bed. The steering wheel of the car is hidden in the dashboard allowing extra room making it a good choice for sustainable living.

According to sources at the IM Motors, Heatherwick was approached intentionally knowing that he had no experience in designing cars and will come up with a novel idea, one that hasn’t ever been on the books before. Combining his knowledge of interior design with the blank canvas of eco-friendly car design, the London-based designer came up with the unique concept of Airo, which is now expected to go in production in China by 2023.

“Car manufacturers are falling over themselves to make electric cars, but a new electric car shouldn’t just be another one with a different look,” the designer of the car said.

While many welcomed the concept, the car has received a lot of criticism from automotive experts as well as environmentalists who are quite skeptic about the ability of the car to cut down pollution.

Peter Wells, a professor of business and sustainability at the Cardiff Business School’s Centre for Automotive Research believes that the car will not make any significant contribution towards eradicating environmental pollution. He also firmly believes that the car is not practical for most vehicle owners.

According to Peter Wells, since the car only gathers a tennis ball’s worth of pollutants in a year, it’s contribution in the urban areas of China alone will be insignificant and almost impossible to measure.

Radioactive Hybrid Pigs

A little over a decade after the horrifying 2011 Tsunami which led to the meltdown of a reactor at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Japanese scientists have found a hybrid wild boar species in the radioactively dangerous zone of Fukushima.

This discovery suggests that the flora and the fauna of the region has thrived ever since the eviction of humans, allowing them to reclaim their space and adapt to life in a new environment. The hybrid pigs are a proof of the thriving fauna.

Scientists believe that the livestock that people were forced to abandoned at their homes during the 2011 evacuation have started breeding with the local wild boar to create these new hybrids.

A study by PhD students at the Fukushima University revealed that a large population of the wild boar in Fukushima had a European domesticated pig DNA variation. These wild boar-pig hybrids were first discovered in 2015, and since then their frequency has remained stable.

The study which was carried out by Donovan Anderson, a PhD student at the Fukushima University with other colleagues, included them studying samples of 243 different types of boars, pigs & hybrids. Of the sample studied, 16% were hybrid suggesting that the local population of wild boar bred with the abandoned domesticated pigs. The study also revealed that over 75% of the hybrid boar population was discovered within the initial 20km radius of the radioactive-eviction zone.

Donovan Andersen, the co-author of the study also suggests that that the hybrid boars are less likely to remain hybrids in the longer term since they had only 8% of pig’s DNA, further indicating that the domesticated pigs had poor adaptive capabilities and survival characteristics in the wild

“We do not expect these adaption changes in boar, likely caused from the absence of people, to maintain in populations especially as [human] disturbance returns,” Anderson said.

What Happened in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster?

On March 11, 2011, an earthquake measuring 9.0 Magnitude struck with its epicenter near Japan’s largest island Honshu. Less than 1 hour after the earthquake, Tsunami waves as high as 15 meters hit the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant, flooding the basements, and shutting down the diesel generators. The reactors 4, 5 and 6 were already shut down for scheduled maintenance when the earthquake hit, however, reactors 1, 2 and 3 were operating at the time.

When the flooding water disabled the diesel generators for all except the 6th unit. First level emergency was announced, and the state machinery was immediately put to work in order to avoid the meltdown of reactors and devise alternate cooling mechanisms. However, reactors 1, 2 and 3 went through meltdowns followed by hydrogen explosions, making the region extremely hazardous and inhabitable, forcing over 160,000 people out of their homes. 

As human life now readies to return to Fukushima, authorities continue to hunt down wild boars in the area that may still be radioactive and pose a threat to the human population.

Scientists puzzled by a blinking star

The universe is full of beautiful stars, and each one of them is distinctive. The reality is every star in the galaxy follows a similar route to producing the colorful twinkling.

According to a recent article, scientists have discovered a mysterious star located towards the center of our galaxy more than 25,000 light-years away, that appears to be only the second one of its kind. The star seems to be particularly dramatic and it is known as “exceptionally rare” because it kept on blinking on and off.

Observations by the scientists:

An international team of researchers observed the star, labeled VVV-WIT-08, and predict it is 100 times the size of the Sun. While numerous stars modify their brightness level because they are eclipsed by another star in the solar system, it’s strange for a star to have a period of several months of darkness and then light up again.

Furthermore, scientists observed that it is not the first blinking star. Multiple blinking stars were spotted with the VVV-WIT-08, but the researchers don’t have enough details on these.

University of Hertfordshire scientist Philip Lucas finds it hard to recognize the existence of giant “blinking stars”. Another study in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society reports that the “blinking star” is surrounded by an orbital companion, which might be another planet or a star. This companion surrounds the giant star, causing it to disappear and reappear in the sky when it passes across it. Researchers can only speculate on the origin of the elongated and large object between the earth and the distant star.

Scientists have been searching for explanations for the puzzling activities of the twinkling star. An analytical theory by an astronomer states that since the blinking star is located in the dense region of the galaxy, it’s possible that an anonymous dark object could have drifted in front of the giant star unintentionally, but demographically that’s unlikely to happen. However, another possibility says that the planet orbiting the star is surrounded by a huge dust cloud and that occasionally blocks the view almost entirely.

Presently, there appear to be multiple potential stars of this kind, and there are certainly more to be discovered but now the challenge is to find the potential hidden planet.  

The Lungs of the Earth At a Tipping Point?

For decades now, environmentalists have raised concerns over the precarious outcome of global warming, caused mainly by the emission of greenhouse gases, deforestation and increased industrialization as well as commercialized farming of crops and cattle.

A study published recently in the research journal Nature suggests the outcome which most scientists feared – the Amazon Rain Forest is heading to become a part of the global warming problem, not the solution, with its increased Carbon Dioxide emissions adding to the deadly greenhouse gas.

A team of Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research captured 590 air samples using small planes over a nine year period from 2010 to 2018.

The study suggests that the Amazon Rain Forest as a whole is emitting three times more Carbon Dioxide than it’s absorbing. The case is worst for the eastern section of the Rain Forest where there has been excessive deforestation and it is now emitting 10 times more CO2.

“We find that total carbon dioxide emissions are greater in the eastern of the rain forest than in the west, mostly as a result of spatial differences in carbon-monoxide-derived fire emissions. Southeastern Amazonia, in particular, acts as a net carbon source to the atmosphere,” the international team of researchers write in the paper.

Scientists Deeply Concerned About the Collapse of the Rain Forest:

The Amazon is home to the largest tropical rain forest on the planet. The climate within it is warming which will have a knock-on effect around the world.

The study has further raised concerns among environmentalists, encouraging them to raise awareness among global communities before the lungs of the world completely collapse.

John Schmoll, a professor of biology at Queen’s University is utterly disturbed by the findings of the study and says that with climate change, we are sleepwalking to disaster. “We keep getting wakeup calls but we are not waking up”, he remarks.

“We even have to cut out greenhouse gases even more which is a daunting task, because we already have enough trouble meeting any target that we have set for ourselves right now”, he adds.

Kerry Bowman, a researcher for the University of Toronto says that the Amazon is absolutely under siege on many fronts.

“There are a number of complex issues leading to the region moving from a site that captures Carbon Dioxide, to one that produces the greenhouse gas, including burning the rain forest to make room for crops and livestock,” says Bowman.

In addition to the general abuse of the Rain Forest by communities, there is a lack of environmental protection from some of the countries within the Amazon basin as well.

The Amazon was one once the largest CO2 Capture sites on the planet. Experts suggests that if changes aren’t made soon, it could become one of the biggest emitters in the near future, and one of the key causes of global warming.

Scientists transform snails into Cyborgs

Scientists at Michigan University, USA, adopted an unfamiliar strategy to observe the behavior of a single species of snails by transforming them into “cyborgs” so they can keep a track of them and study their survival.

History of invasive snail:

Harnessing power from the living world has always been a dream for humans, and between geothermal, solar, and other sources, we’re getting a step closer every day. Shortly, there might be the availability of more power from the world of tiny shelled creatures.

In the 1970s, wildlife researchers presented an invasive snail, also known as the rosy wolf snail to the Society Island of French Polynesia. As a result the invasive snail has eliminated almost every existing snail species in the surrounding area, representing a destructive loss of biodiversity. However, five species somehow managed to survive, including the Particle hyaline.

Particle hyaline is significant for Polynesians because of its eccentric color, making it exceptionally attractive for use in jewelry. Tree snails are also of pivotal importance for the island forest ecosystems, being a dominant group of native grazers.

Usage of Micro Mote (M3) in solar snails:

With the alliance between the scientists of the University of Michigan and engineers of the world’s smallest computers, scientists acknowledged the reason why Particle hyaline can tolerate more sunlight than its invasive predator. The Particle hyaline crawls at the edges during the daytime while its predator is compelled to hide in the shade.

During the midday sun, the Particle hyaline is able to withstand 10 times more sunlight compared to the rosy wolf snails. The scientists suspect that the predator couldn’t crawl far enough into the forest edge to catch the Particle hyaline because they wouldn’t be able to look for shade if the sunlight became too hot.

In 2014 by the team of researchers at the University of Michigan, developed the world’s smallest complete computer – the Michigan Micro Mote (M3). The tiny computer was attached to the rosy wolf snail’s shell allowing them to wirelessly gather data never before observed, utilizing miniature electronics that could be the start of a new wave of cyborg technology.