Human-made Biomass outweighs everything

Recent reports have revealed the massive impact of human beings on planet earth, as man-made products surpass all that exists in the world confirming the creation of a new geologic epoch called the Anthropocene.

Human Beings often hid behind the “we are just specks” in a greater galaxy when it came to the impact of their doings on the planet. However, a recent paper by Nature has revealed that global humanmade stuff now outweighs all living biomass.

From roads, smartphones, buildings, chairs, telephones to bricks, blocks and bottles, have now dominated most of the Earth. According to the stats, the humanmade mass totals up to 1.1 million metric tons. This amount means that biomass created by men now dominates most of the Earth, a result caused by modern development to urban society.

Plastic alone acquires more space than marine and terrestrial animals, statistically, double the weight. Whereas buildings and other infrastructure have surpassed shrubs and trees. In simpler words, the material created by man has become the dominant force in 2020 and will continue to do so. Thus, human beings may not be just a trivial speck anymore. Now that we are the principal force, it shows the power that we hold. With this power, human beings also become responsible for the resulting consequences.

“We cannot hide behind the feeling that we’re just a small species, one out of many,” says study co-author Ron Milo.

Human-made biomass from 1900 – Present

Scientists say that this increase was bound to happen at some time. However, the process of expansion of humanmade products sped up after 1900. In 1900, the Earth made up only 3% of the humanmade biomass, which means that the materials have doubled up within the gap of 20 years. The scientists say that most of the construction is in infrastructure, concrete, and asphalt used between World War II and the oil crisis of 1973. That was the time when first-world countries were actively building new estate.

In 2020, we are living in a reality that is much closer to Anthropocene. A new geological epoch where the humans are the dominant force, and that actions of every living person is driving the changes.

“It is an indication that, indeed, the transition happened and the name is appropriate,” Milo says

What it means for the future

The increase of humanmade biomass is not unexpected. However, the decrease of the total biomass on Earth is a cause for concert. The research shows that total biomass on Earth has declined about 1100 billion tons since the year 1900. This decline could be attributed to deforestation and extinction. In this case, the increase in manufactured products made by man is somewhat problematic for human health. If the speed with which mass is increased in 2020 persists, the humanmade products will increase three times more by 2040, eventually turning into waste and a threat to human life.

A Rare Commodity – Water Makes It To WSJ Futures Commodity

Water is all set to join the expensive commodities on earth like gold and oil on Wallstreet futures commodity. In an unexpected turn of events, water now sits next to the rare-valued items. 

 

Wallstreet futures commodity is a separate section where people in the relevant fields can bet on the price and worth of an item in the future. Earlier, rarities such as gold, copper, and diamonds acquired several spots. However, with water running scarce in many parts of the world, the Wallstreet Journal has added this to their futures commodity. 

 

This addition will allow the farmers, investors, and municipalities to bet on the worth of water in future. As water becomes a rare commodity for many, investors took this opportunity to bet on it by adding it to futures rare materials. CME Group launched the contract, which is tied to $1.1 B of California spot water market, according to Bloomsburg. 

 

The contracts were laid out in September, whereas the trading began on December 7. During the month of September, when the contract was initially laid out, California was experiencing high temperatures, long drought and scarcity of water. The deficiency of water in a developed country only hinted at more dangers to come across the world. 

 

Netizens are raging over Wallstreet journals’ addition of water into their betting services, as it may have a significant impact on prices of water in future. For example, in dry areas where water may be expensive during summers, people can offset the cost on futures commodity to reset the rates of water. However, this can work the other way around as well in order to reduce rates of water.

 

Patrick Wolf, the lead product developer with Nasdaq Global indexes, told CNN that this could be used for a good cause as well, as the contract will bring transparency to market pricing whenever water became scarce. 

 

“California has long periods of dry conditions followed by short periods of very wet conditions. And that affects the price a lot,” Patrick Wolf said. 

 

A report revealed by food and agriculture organization confirmed that around 1.2 B people in the world are experiencing a high level of water shortage. Another report confirmed the scarcity by revealing that the availability of freshwater resources per person has decreased by more than 20% in the past twenty years. 

 

“Climate change, droughts, population growth, and pollution are likely to make water scarcity issues and pricing a hot topic for years to come,” RBC Capital Markets managing director and analyst Deane Dray told Bloomsberg

 

Despite the rage and anger, it is a moment of truth of human beings. Water is becoming increasingly scarce in different parts of the world due to repetitive droughts, dry weather due to global warming, and heat. As the earth is ageing, the impact of human activities is speeding up the process of natural damage to the Earth, resulting in droughts and bad weather conditions.

 

Quintessence – A New Element That May Rip the Universe Apart

Every unexplainable event in Space is generally attributed to dark energy. So was the unexpected expansion of the Universe. However, many scientists suggest that “Quintessence” might be responsible for the expansion.

Generally considered as Space’s intrinsic element, dark energy has been found to form 68% of everything that exists in the universe. Fortunately, scientists now have a name for it.

To understand Quintessence, one must go back to the ‘Big Bang,’ that formed a universe. A blast, for example, blows up and then culminates into nothing by collapsing. Similarly, the universe was expected to collapse. However, there are three ways in which this could stop:

  • The gravitational force takes over, resulting in a Big Crunch.
  • Expansion overpowers the gravity, and universe freezes into a Big Rip.
  • Both the forces balance out one another, shutting down the collapse.

Making sense of Quintessence

First discovered in 1988 by Ratra and Peebles, the idea of Quintessence later matured into a whole concept in Robert R. Caldwell, Rahul Dave, and Paul Steinhardt’s paper in 1998. The authors breathed life into this hollow concept which was later considered as the fifth element by many scientists.

To explain the expansion, scientists’ first guess was that dark energy is something that inherently existed in Space. They implied that dark energy per unit of Space is fixed as a “cosmological constant.” However, not all scientists were on the same page. These were the scientists who first coined the term Quintessence, derived from the fifth element.

According to a cosmologist at Dartmouth College, Robert Caldwell, “Quintessence is a tangible medium that has fluctuations of its own,” and is a mix of matter and the cosmological constant.

Big Rip Vs the Big Crunch

When the Big Bang took place, the universe was hot, dense, and full of matter. It had anti-matter, energies, and radiations. Scientists discovered and made sense of many elements. However, missing out on Quintessence birthed many false theories.

The data collected since the year 1990 is proving that Big Crunch may not happen and a new matter that defines the universe in the 21st century may change everything forever.

Scientists have already predicted the final fate of the universe. According to cosmologists, the universe will eventually wrap up in a big crunch. However, the accelerating rate of expansion is contrary to all theories. The universe is swelling faster than ever, instead of crunching. Scientists now believe that a Big Rip is more likely to end the universe than a Big Crunch, and the mysterious element Quintessence would be responsible for that.

Cosmologists are still working on confirming the presence and impact of the fifth element; however, if the component does prove to be the force behind expansion. It would help scientists determine the fate and age of the Universe.

Years Later, Radio Bursts in Space Remain A Mystery

Theories and assumptions chipped in by scientists around the globe keep stacking up, but none of them has been able to detect the source of a mysterious radio burst in space.

“The joke is that the number of theories outnumbers the number of known bursts,” says astrophysicist Emily Petroff of The Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy.

First discovered in 2007 by Lorimer et al., Fast Radio bursts (FRB) continue to be an exciting topic of research due to their mysterious nature. FRBs seem like an aesthetic meteor shower gone mega, but they are much complicated than that.

Fast Radio Bursts in a Nutshell 

The source might be unknown, but scientists have been able to define the fast radio bursts aptly. As evident from the name, they are a burst of radio emission that last for milliseconds. These short-lived blasts are anything but ordinary. A generic FRB releases as much energy in milliseconds as the sun radiates in 3 days.

When the bursts were first spotted, they were considered to be rare. Not much attention was paid to it as enough data wasn’t available. Fortunately for the researchers, the bursts became more frequent. Unfortunately, more data hasn’t been much help.

FRBs are becoming repetitive.

There have been dozens of FRBs since 2007. However, no pattern was found, making it challenging for astrophysicists to make sense of anything. In 2012, repeated bursts were observed for the first time, allowing the researchers to collect data effectively. These bursts are typically known as FRB 121102 and have helped the scientists understand this enigma better. For the first time, the bursts weren’t random, but they were found in the same position in the sky. These bursts kept repeating on a 157-day cycle, allowing the researchers to gather the appropriate data that might answer some questions.

The data collected from FRB 121102 did set a base. The majority of scientists agreed that Magnetars cause these bursts. Magnetars are sub-class of neutrons that are formed from stellar explosions. Type-I explosions (super luminous supernovas) create these magnetars that are capable of producing such intense energy that is detectable from other galaxies.

Despite theories and research, scientists are still to come to a conclusion. Data from 2012 confirmed that these explosions are taking place outside of our galaxies. However, new data testifies that bursts are gradually nearing the universe. In fact, the first burst within the milky way was spotted this year in April. Known as FRB 200428, these bursts were accompanied by X-rays, something that has never happened before. Similar outbreaks were repeated on 3 and 24 May, some 30,000 light-years away from earth.

It’s hard to say whether the new information collected each day is bringing us closer to unraveling this enigma, or just making it all more complicated.

 

Neurotoxin Might Have Caused the Death of Elephants in Botswana

Botswana has the world’s biggest population of elephants, so when 70% of them collapsed and died at the same time, the world was shocked. While there were several possible explanations such as anthrax or poisoning, nothing could be proved. The recent discovery by researchers has put an end to endless speculations behind the unfortunate event.

“We have a number of hypotheses we are working on. Elephants are the only animals drinking below the surface of the water and sucking the silt, which is where toxins reside,” said Mmadi Reuben, a veterinary officer in the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.

The elephants were found dead near the water canals lined with a large number of cyanobacteria. It’s a type of blue-green algae that is single-celled. They are known for their ability to stick together in large clumps of green color on wet surfaces and areas. Evidently, these clumps of green algae are incredibly deadly and toxic to both humans and animals. Cyanobacteria on aquatic surfaces mostly attack the nervous system, liver, and skin that is exposed to it.

According to research, green algae makes food through photosynthesis, which means that they are on the peak during the summer season. Due to the changing weather conditions and global warming, the heat waves are increasing, ultimately impacting the growth of green algae.

The researchers involved in the investigation found samples of green algae in water which led them to conclude that it may have caused the death of elephants. They further said that the growth of green algae in watering holes could be attributed to the drought last year. The adverse weather condition was followed by heavy rain.

“When the water holes dried at the end of June, the disease also ended, the important thing is that investigations continue into why this happened so that going forward, we can stop this from happening again in time,” Mmadi said.

As mentioned before, Botswana has a huge number of animals which many locals believe is too many, with people complaining that these animals eat the crops and their presence in a village is generally not safe. However, the animals in Botswana are what makes it unique as a key tourist attraction that garners earnings of $2 Billion per year.

Despite the water samples, the researchers are refraining people from drawing conclusions until the investigation has been completed.

“Just because cyanobacteria were found in the water, does not prove that the elephants died from exposure to those toxins. Without good samples from dead elephants, all hypotheses are just that: hypotheses.”  McCann said.

However, it’s safe to say that investigations are going in the correct directions. Cyanobacteria is renowned for causing the death of animals in the past. The green algae has previously killed fish, birds, and various other animals according to a report by Global Change Biology.

Mass Extinction Caused by Exploding Star

Growing up, we have all heard at least once that hundreds of millions of years ago, the Earth bloomed with simple unicellular life, evolving gradually and slowly into ferocious dinosaurs and one day a big explosion happened and life on Earth vanished.

Much research has been carried out throughout history to get a hint of what life was like on Earth before humans. In fact, the research still goes on and every now and then, archeologists and scientists dig up something fascinating that satisfies our curiosity to understand about the past.

Research has helped scientists gain a perspective on exactly what might have happened all those millions of years ago. According to the University of Illinois, a supernova 65 light years away might have something to do with the mass extinction that happened nearly 339 million years ago; one of the worst in the planet’s lifetime. Nobody knows for sure how or what events led to the mass extinction, but of all the limited knowledge of the event that the researchers have, they gathered information by studying ancient plants. The spore of most of the plants in the study had been sunburnt by UV radiation caused by lower ozone in the Earth’s atmosphere. And since, the ozone levels in the Earth’s atmosphere are severely damaged by natural events it is extremely likely that the supernova may have been behind the extinction that happened all those years ago.

Another fact that strengthens the claim is that any supernova explosion within 25 light years of distance, otherwise referred to as the kill zone, can prove fatal to the Earth. So it is quite possible that a cosmic explosion some 65 light years away may have caused some trouble on Earth. Apart from the extinction on such a massive scale, it was the Earth’s ecosystem that took the most damage to the point that the effects lasted for well over one hundred thousand years.

Scientists researching the event also looked at other possible explanations such as a meteorite shower or other cosmic events. However, none of these explanations can be correct when comparing the amount of damage that had been dealt to the Earth’s ozone layer and the time it took to recover – more than a century. In the end, scientists came to a possible conclusion that it is highly likely that a supernova explosion may have caused a massive shower of cosmic radiations onto the Earth’s atmosphere, hence severely damaging the Ozone layer.

Whether the event happened the way the scientists concluded or not depends greatly on the presence of plutonium isotopes from the Devonian period. If they can be found, the presence of these isotopes on Earth will confirm the event of a supernova explosion since these can only come to Earth via an explosion.