Humans Produce More CO2 Than Volcanoes

Every year, humanity releases 100 times more carbon dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere than all the volcanoes on the planet together. This is one of the key findings of a study of carbon stocks in the world that the Deep Carbon Observatory has conducted over the past decade. According to Newsweek, scientists have estimated that there are 1.85 billion gigatons of carbon on Earth. It exists in various forms in soil, in gases and in liquids. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and oceans accounts for 1% of the total matter reserves, that is 43,500 gigatons.

“Carbon, the basis of all living forms and an important source of energy for humanity, is moving across the planet from the mantle to the atmosphere. To maintain a stable future, it is imperative that we understand the full carbon cycle”, said Marie Edmondson of the University of Cambridge, who participated in the DCO program.

One of the mechanisms how carbon enters the Earth’s atmosphere is provided by volcanoes. Magma contains dissolved gases, including carbon dioxide. When a volcano erupts, these substances enter the atmosphere.

The DCO team found that every year, due to the activities of people, 40-100 times more carbon dioxide rises into the air than all the volcanoes on the planet. According to scientists, volcanoes and other magmatic processes spew about 300-400 million tons of carbon dioxide. The publication recalls that mass extinctions are associated with the eruption of volcanoes on Earth, in particular the one that happened 252 million years ago. Then 96% of marine species on the planet died.

Atmospheric CO2 exceeded 415 parts per million for the first time in history. Specifically, it has reached 415.26 parts per million according to the records. Remember that the consensus among experts puts the “safe” limit at 350 ppm.

However, as usual when we talk about climate change, the problem is not the concentration, but the trend. To get an idea, when scientists started recording in 1959, the figures were at 315 ppm and most of the growth has occurred in recent years. According to the United States Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), three of the four largest increases in atmospheric CO2 have occurred in the last four years.

Although, in a way, we are getting used to this type of news, put in perspective the figures give vertigo. As Eric Holthaus explained, we humans have never known a world like this. We have to go back many years in time to find similar CO2 concentrations: about three million years according to the most precise models.

And as the World Meteorological Organization pointed out at the end of 2018, “there are no indications of investment in this trend, which is triggering long-term climate change, sea level rise, ocean acidification and a greater number of phenomena extreme weather”.

Therefore, it is much better understood how it is possible that the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity (IPBES) stated that more than one million species were at risk of extinction due to pollution and climate change.

Human Brain Robots

We have all seen countless movies in which robots take over the world and wipe out humanity, where robots behave like humans and form a whole force to fight against the beings that created them. Most of us didn’t really believe that one day, robots that behave like humans, would actually become real. Until now. Scientists have been able to make tiny human brains and hook them up to robots! For many, it is still unbelievable, but scientists are actually moving closer and closer to creating life in a laboratory.

The steps that have been taken are just the beginning and there is a very long way to go until scientists are able to completely replicate a human brain and successfully implant it into a metal body.

Scientists have been able to come up with ways to make robots behave like humans. They were able to produce organoids which generate brain waves that could show signs of consciousness, and reproduce qualities of the human brain like being capable of sentience (capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively) and of feeling pain, agony and distress.

It all started at the University of California, San Diego lab, of biologist Alysson Muotri, where the scientists used stem cells to grow organoids. These are tiny, self-organized three-dimensional tissue cultures. These organoids were then packed into a box and shipped to space to see how they develop in a zero gravity environment. As said by Muotri, they are most likely ‘replicating like crazy’ in space. It was then observed that the organoids produced were giving off brain waves or complex designs of neural activities. As the organoids matured, it was observed that they showed changes in the brain waves, similar to the changes that take place in the developing brain of a premature baby. This peculiar finding is forcing the scientists to revisit the limitations of lab-grown mini-organs and the ethical issues surrounding them.

To proceed with the experiment, Dr. Muotri hooked the mini brains up onto a spider-shaped robot in order to study the neural activity. The results that he got from this could possibly prove that scientists are now able to generate partially conscious life in a laboratory.

Dr. Muotri emphasized the fact that these are just clusters of replicating brain cells, not actual brains. Another point to state is that the mini brains barely scratch the surface of a human brain’s capabilities. The human brain is immensely complex, whereas the mini-brains are just a simple ball of neurons. But, of course, creating these simple balls of neurons, somewhat similar to the human brain, was also once believed to be an impossible task.

As the scientists agree, there is a long way to go to make human brain robots a success in the world of science and technology. But, this is also a huge landmark and many scientist across the globe are experimenting with and are hopeful that this research will not stop here.

Neom – Future city

Neom is a future city that is being planned by the Saudi government and especially the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Bin Salman. He plans to create a city that will be out of a movie using all sorts of technology and advancements. Some of the features of the city were listed in a 2,300-page document that has been created by the Saudi government while planning for this mysterious and futuristic city.

The city will have many attractions that the tourists will love and will definitely want to see. They will have an artificial moon that will light up the night sky, every night. They plan to have Jurassic park inspired robotic dinosaurs that people interact and mingle with. They also will have robot maids, glow in the dark beaches and even flying cars! This ambitious city looks like something that will attract the whole world and will encourage people to visit Saudi Arabia, which hasn’t really been a hub for tourism, except the holy pilgrimage.

However, the downfall of this futuristic city is that it will force the local tribes to relocate that have existed in Saudi Arabia for centuries. It is also planned that a human gene-editing clinic will be placed within the city and the city will be under surveillance of the government 24 hours of the day. It seems that the city is more of a dystopian future in books rather than a futuristic, fun tourist spot.

The location that has been planned for this city is the North-west of Saudi Arabia, which at the moment is barren except for a few tribes that live there. The city is said to cost around 500 billion dollars and will need a lot of investment from very rich people and the crown prince himself, who will also be overseeing the construction of the city.

Right now the place where Neom is said to be created is barren and is a large desert, like most of Saudi Arabia. However, the crown prince plans on using the method of cloud seeding, which means that they engineer the clouds to produce rain and this will not only improve the climate of the city but also enable fresh produce to grow on a barren land.

According to the document, Neom plans to have more Michelin star restaurants in one city than anywhere around the world. The city also plans on having the best education provided to children who inhabit the city with holographic teachers. The crown prince wants to give people the best-paying jobs and wants to create a healthy economy where both parties are satisfied.

The chief executive of the city says that they plan on using the latest and most advanced technology; hence this is the reason why some of it is still theoretical and may take time to develop.

Facebook’s Mind Reading Headset

Have you ever imagined a world where you would just think things and they would happen? For example, you thought to send a happy birthday message to your grandmother and your phone does it automatically? Well, this concept seems to be coming closer to becoming reality very soon. In 2017, Facebook decided to create a device which would use your thoughts to type. So whatever you were thinking at that moment would be typed out by Facebook’s new brain-computer. Now Facebook has started to show how far they have come with this invention and how soon consumers can have it in their hands. It is something that will revolutionize technology as it will let the disabled speak and make our daily lives much easier.

Facebook says that they are in collaboration with scientists and researchers at the University of California to work on this new invention. They stated that they want to connect the world without any limitations whether they are geographical, physical or mental. They want to make the world instantly accessible and completely hands-free. So with collaboration from researchers, Facebook is trying to build a device that will let patients with neurological diseases have a voice again by examining their brain’s activity in real-time.

An experiment was conducted by the researchers where a neurological patient who had been surgically implanted with electrodes on the surface of his brain was asked to answer questions aloud. Around 61% of the time, the computer was able to comprehend and present the correct answer through brain signals alone. Researchers now believe that this could have a real impact on society as it would enable those who cannot speak to now have a voice and share their opinion with the world too.

However, there is much more work to be done. Right now the project is just at the beginning stage where it is starting to take form. What the researchers aim to achieve will take many years of trials and practice. The researchers want to decode around 100 words per minute with a vocabulary of 1000 words, and they want less than a 17% chance of error. This is a huge goal for the researchers and if this is achieved, it could transform the technological world.

However there are a few downfalls too, the procedure is surgically invasive, which in itself is a huge risk. This is a different model compared to the one aimed for normal consumers which will be manual headsets. Also in the initial trials, there was very limited vocabulary that was tested which means very limited answers could be provided. It leaves a great deal of scope for improvement. This device will take many years to be completed and to reach the consumers and patients, and will need much more money and effort to become a reality.

Elon Musk’s Mars City

Elon Musk has decided to build a city on Mars, the neighboring planet to Earth. It is said that if it were to be built, it would be the most expensive construction in human history and could even cost up to 1/8 of the world’s total economy.

The CO of SpaceX does not only want to send humans onto mars to visit but he even sees them starting a permanent settlement. If things go according to the Musk’s plan, a proper city and settlement on Mars could be developed as early as 2050.

After that, there are many questions that may arise. Specialists believe that the people living there could develop and evolve according to the conditions of the planet; they could inhabit the planet and even build an economy from ground up. Musk even suggests that they plan on selling people return tickets to Mars at the same price as a house may cost in the United States.

It is said that the new futuristic city will cost within 100 billion dollars to 100 trillion dollars. These assumptions of the numbers are based upon the fact that around 1 million tons of cargo would be needed on Mars and would be transported from Earth to Mars. Hence, the extremely high cost.

It is said that they will be using the Starship to start the mission onto Mars. The rocket is a 348-foot rocket, made out of stainless steel and is completely reusable, it holds a pressurized cabin which could easily hold up to 100 people within it and take them up to Mars. It is also made to carry payload to Mars, however only if SpaceX can solve the problem of adding more fuel during orbit.

The journey, however, could only take place when Earth and Mars are closest. Hence to build a city by the year 2025, Musk believes that the ships need to start going up to Mars by 2024. He plans to update people in August 2019. He also said that they will be sending 4 ships of which 2 will be manned and other 2 will be unmanned.

The reason that Musk says he wants to carry out this project is that he believes that humans need something to look forward to. Due to climate change and global warming, our future seems to be bleak and depressed. He believes that space travel may be exciting for people and will free humans from the confinements of Earth. It could also be a way to solve all the global warming issues and save the human race from extinction that we are progressing towards, due to the current conditions within the world.

Neural Implants for the Blind

Due to various diseases including cancer, many people become blind. It really is a sad story, however, it is their eyes that cause the issue and not their visual cortex. In this way, their visual cortex which is part of the brain is completely fine and undamaged, but as there is no information coming in from the eyes, it holds no use for the person. This, however, is not the case anymore. Through an amazing medical trial, 6 people who were blind are now able to partially see. The device that helps achieve this is called Orion. It takes pictures from a camera and inputs them directly into the brain, acting as the eyes for the person.

Doctors believe that this is a ray of hope for those who are completely blind and have lost their eyesight due to a disease or accident. They believe that if the camera completely erases the purpose of the eyes, it could lead to many more opportunities for people who cannot see.

Orion is made up of 2 parts. It includes an implant within the person’s brain and a pair of glasses which contain the camera. The camera in the glasses takes pictures and sends information to 60 electrodes which are placed in the implant within the brain. These electrodes process information and present it to the visual cortex. This then shows the blind person a partial image of what is in front of them. Meaning the device removes the need for natural eyesight.

For testing the device, researchers used a computer. They first chose completely blind people and showed them a black screen on a computer with a white square, which moved within a random pattern. They would then ask them to point at the square at whatever position it was at. They pointed at the correct place, making scientists believe their invention truly worked.

It is believed that the square which was shown to the patients may just be the beginning. If they were to introduce many more electrodes within the brain, they would be able to create a proper image, which would show the blind person everything around them. What they aim to do is use the reference of a style of painting. When you paint tiny thousands of spots, they come together and represent a full picture – this could be done in the brain too. When electrodes are stimulating thousands of places in the brain while the camera is feeding the information, there is potential that a proper image may be created in the same way as a painting.

Even the way the device is at the moment, it really has the potential of changing lives.