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.

Did Einstein make errors?

According to BBC reports, astronomers can map the existence of dark matter by observing the light traveling to Earth from distant galaxies, making the evaluation of the universe more effortless than the previously defined theories.

The research looked at almost a quarter of the southern hemisphere’s sky in the hope of understanding the concepts of Einstein’s theory of general relativity and the cosmos.

The map researcher Niall Jeffery implies that there’s something weird in Einstein theories and says that “if this inequality is true, then Einstein was wrong, unlocking a door to new opportunities and research about the universe”.

The concept of dark matter:

Dark matter makes up 80% of the universe, and its gravitational force is enough to mesh the galaxies together in a mechanism known as the cosmic web.

We are aware that dark matter twists the light emerging from the faraway stars. Where the effect is greater, a higher concentration of dark matter exists. Scientists believe that it is still a great mystery because we can’t see it and barely understand its concepts. However, it shows its existence because of the influence it has on space.

The latest map was created by International researchers at the Dark Energy Survey Collaboration, by utilizing the data of almost 100 million galaxies.

The resulting map has evaluated that galaxies make a huge framework, and areas of dark matter are crafted with superclusters of galaxies. However, they have also spotted the location of diverse cosmic voids where the conventional laws of physics might not apply.

Prediction about the universe:

Jeffery excitedly told BBC about the structures of dark matters as he believes that for the first time gravity might behave distinctively internally. By recognizing their shapes and locations, the map provides an interesting point for further study.

Shortly after the Big Bang, astronomers made predictions using Einstein’s theories about how dark matter had extended over 13.8 million years of the universe. However, these predictions are not consistent with the latest observations made by The Dark Energy Survey.

“We might have revealed some mandatory facts of the universe, but even after years of persevering, we didn’t succeed. But my instincts say that all the measurements were correct and we must shore up to make it succeed”, said Prof. Carlos Frenk to the British broadcaster. 

Carlos Frenk doesn’t want to omit Einstein’s theory. Additionally, he has anticipated some tweaks in the astrophysics of galaxies.

Fungus Growth Indicates Life on Mars?

The planet Mars has always thought to harbor life because of its physical similarities, as well as its proximity, to Earth. Yet, no solid evidence of any oxygen-breathing existence has been found on Mars, and the search to discover it continues. On 30th July, 2020, NASA launched the Perseverance Rover, which landed on Mars on 18th February, 2021, to look for any signs of pre-existing life by collecting samples of rock and regolith from the Jezero Crater.

The Jezero Crater is believed to have been a lake at some point in the past, but is now dried up. This mission, titled Mars 2020, is meant to look for any signs of ancient microbial life in this crater. However, a team of researchers seem to be far ahead of the Perseverance Rover, because they claim to have discovered signs of life, far advanced than what the Perseverance Rover is expected to look for.

Fungus on Mars!?

The team of researchers, which released its findings in the Advances in Microbiology journal published by Cambridge University Press, boldly claimed that “Fungus-like Martian specimens” are evident in images taken by NASA’s Opportunity and Curiosity rovers, way before the mission of the Perseverance Rover, the whole point of which is to find life on Mars!

Experts and other researchers are highly critical of this claim, displaying concerns regarding the conditions on Mars which “are unfit for any life to barely survive, let alone thrive”, according to Jonathan Clarke, president of Mars Society Australia. Directly finding a growing fungal organism, like the alleged mushrooms, is hence far from possible. Furthermore, nothing in the images proves that the round ball-like objects were ‘growing’ on Mars; Clarke explained that if you find seashells on the beach, it does not mean that they grew there-the situation seems to mimic this seashell expression rather than being evidence of life on Mars.

The Self Proclaimed Scientist

If this whole scenario doesn’t seem dubious enough, one of the authors of the paper is Rhawn Gabriel Joseph, who is infamous in the field of microbiology and astrophysics for promoting unreliable theories regarding life on other planets; he even went as far as starting his own renegade journal to publish his so-called findings.

This time, he did succeed in getting his paper accepted, yet was not safe from critics who shattered his ideas to pieces because of the unconvincing evidence-his reputation does not help either. According to David Flannery, who is part of the NASA Mars 2020 team and a lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology, “We have more than photos, records, instruments that tell us what these materials [in the images] are made of.” There is no evidence at all which even implies that the images captured on Mars display mushrooms or any life forms for that matter.

It is indeed true, and perplexing nonetheless, that a paper stating that Mushrooms have been found to grow on Mars exists; yet, as experts have already stated, it will be difficult for anyone to take these findings seriously because of their dubious nature.

Human Reproduction

Scientists warn that the world might become infertile by 2045 if we continue at the current rate. The last decade has seen multiple warnings and threats being issued regarding the fertility of the youth by the researchers and experts who have blamed artificial products for the rapid decrease.

Right now, environmentalists have categorized the use of plastic as one of the most dangerous practices observed globally that is assisting the process of declining fertility.

The Guardian published research conducted in 2017 by Shanna Swan, a professor of environmental medicine and public health at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in New York City about the fertility rate. The findings of the study focused on the sperm count among men in Western Countries and it was discovered that it had dropped by more than 50 percent over the last 40 years. 3 years later, Swan published a book titled Count Down that provides a detailed insight into how and why humans are not being able to procreate as efficiently as before.

“People are recognizing we have a reproductive health crisis, but they say it’s because of delayed childbearing, choice or lifestyle – it can’t be chemical,” Swan said to the Guardian. “I want people to recognize it can. I am not saying other factors aren’t involved. But I am saying chemicals play a major causal role.”

Furthermore, the Human Reproduction Update also released a study in 2017 that highlighted how the sperm concentration in men fell from 99 million per ml in 1973 to 47.1 million per ml in 2011. When you look at the statistics, you see a sharp decline of 53.4% in the sperm count in the western countries namely Australia, North America, Europe, New Zealand etc.

Swan, who has studied this issue profoundly says that one of the reasons for this steep fall is the chemicals that “interfere with or mimic the body’s sex hormones”.

“Phthalates, used to make plastic soft and flexible, are of paramount concern,” Swan said. “They are in everybody and we are probably primarily exposed through food as we use soft plastic in food manufacture, processing and packaging.” She further added that “They lower testosterone and so have the strongest influences on the male side, for example diminishing sperm count, though they are bad for women, too, shown to decrease libido and increase risk of early puberty, premature ovarian failure, miscarriage and premature birth.”

The solution to this problem is not quite simple. It has taken years and years of damage for the researchers to notice the significant decline in the fertility rate so it is not an issue you can get prescribed medicines for. Swan, along with other researchers considers it a threat to humanity because if the trend continues then the world would have fewer and fewer human beings by the end of 2045.

“The current state of reproductive affairs can’t continue much longer without threatening human survival,” Swan writes in Count Down. She says that we need a complete overhaul of the chemical industry to reassess which products are actively harming the reproductive growth rate and people at least need to be warned about the consequences of the consumption of plastic.

Faster Than Light Travel

Are you fascinated by Star Trek’s famous superluminal spacecraft propulsion system, the Warp Drive? The one that would enable space crafts to travel faster than light? Guess what? Scientists have finally come up with theories grounded in conventional physics that might just make FTL travel through a warp drive possible!

In a new bombshell dropped by astrophysicist Dr. Erik Lentz of Germany’s Gottingen University, bending the fabric of space and time to the will of scientists is quite possible. Lentz introduced the first theoretical design of Warp Drive grounded in the concepts of conventional physics which will allow scientists to overcome the vast expanse between humans and stars and making Faster-Than-Light (FTL) travel quite possible.

Lentz’s theory published in the peer-reviewed journal, Classical and Quantum Gravity, reimagined the shape of the warp space thus overcoming the dependence on exotic materials as suggested in models suggested by scientists previously.

“The suggested theory has opened up new dimensions for studies of FTL travel moving it a step away from theoretical physics and closer to engineering,” said Lentz in a statement.

The Warp drive concept is quite fascinating to scientists and researchers particularly because if the concept really comes to life, it will enable humans to travel to the Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system, in 3 years or less. If a usual modern rocket were to travel the same distance, it will take more than 50,000 years, and thus practically impossible.

While the fictional star trek model of FTL Warp Drive worked by the collision of matter and antimatter generating explosive energy which would be used to propel the space ship faster than the speed of light, the idea was no more than fiction.

In 1994, physicist Miguel Alcubierre proposed a Warp Drive model which is known as the Alcubierre Drive. In his research paper abstract, Miguel wrote, “by a purely local expansion of spacetime behind the spaceship and an opposite contraction in front of it, motion faster than the speed of light as seen by observers outside the disturbed region is possible.”

The idea of Alcubierre was based on expanding massive amounts of energy, however, particle physics knows of no such mechanism capable of creating this amount of negative energy.

Lentz’s paper suggests a new method of warp drive, one that isn’t dependent on exotic matter. In his research he discovered spacetime bubbles, taking the shape of solitons, which the scientists working previously had overlooked.

Applying the same Einstein’s equations of general relativity for various configurations of solitons, Lentz was able to finally find one equation that could work with conventional energy resources and didn’t need negative energy.

“The next step is to figure out how to bring down the astronomical amount of energy needed to within the range of today’s technologies, such as a large modern nuclear fission power plant. Then we can talk about building the first prototypes,” Lentz said.

Smart Fabrics Turning Your Clothes into a Walking Digital Display

Imagine walking around with your clothes lighting up like a digital display, allowing you to send messages and emails and turning into a keyboard. Even more shocking, imagine a direct communication with your clothes allowing them to adapt to varying temperatures or share crucial fitness information with your instructor while you are in the middle of a marathon run.

While it sounds like an ironman suit straight out of science fiction, smart fabric is quite real and scientists from the Fudan University in China have been able to create a fabric with embedded digital components that can conveniently be used as a digital display and communication tool while being folded, washed, and worn like your regular clothes.

The introduction of durable smart fabrics are set to revolutionize the world of wearable gadgets. According to experts the market size is expected to exponentially increase by 30.4% from 2019 to 2025.

The attempts at building conductive yarns that could be woven into fabrics had been going on for decades, but most attempts barely made it out of the research labs and onto people’s bodies since the resulting fabrics were extremely fragile and couldn’t withstand the abuse our clothes are usually put through.

Other smart fabrics which have been able to make it to market operate in predetermined ways such as the high-end beachwear manufactured by a French startup Spinali Design, with ultraviolet sensors which notify users when to apply sunscreen.

However, this new fabric developed by the researchers in China has been able to withstand over 100 washing and drying cycles and its display continues to work just fine, becoming a revolutionary leap forward in the field of electronic textiles that will have an insurmountable impact on industries worldwide, according to research published in the journal “Nature.”

The authors of the research journal suggest that the practical use for smart fabrics will not just be limited to fashion designer being able to integrate adaptive electronic displays into their outfits, but will have far more serious and life changing applications.

People with physical or cognitive impairments will be able to conveniently communicate with the smart fabrics. In addition, the speech-to-text display will allow communicating in foreign languages. The use of smart fabrics for the advertising industry will also evolve the concepts of marketing & advertising allowing people to turn into walking billboards.

Many tech giants around the world have been actively working on integrating the smart fabric technology to new applications. For instance, Google has been working with Levis for quite a few years to develop a smart denim jacket using Google’s Project Jacquard Smart Tech giving built in touch controls to the sleeves of the jacket. Similarly, Apple filed a patent to integrate health monitoring technology into clothing. 

There’s still some time until we see our local clothing outlets displaying digital clothing on their mannequins, but it may just happen in the very near future.