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.

Water Discovered On Another Planet

The universe we live in is vast beyond our wildest imagination, we know that it is infinite and the planet we live on is the only planet suited for life. But, Earth is just one of billions of planets that thrive in the vast universe.

To believe that Earth is the only planet suited to support life amongst is foolish. For years intellectuals have argued that there may exist a planet with conditions somewhat similar to Earth on which life could bloom but so far we have been unable to find it. Until recently, when a planet that goes by the name K2-18b fell under the sight of NASA’s Kepler telescope.

K2-18b is by far the first planet to be discovered that could potentially host life. Lying in the Goldilocks Zone in the Leo constellation, where liquid water has been found, at an ideal temperature to potentially host living organisms in addition to suitable gases that wrap around the planet. First discovered by NASA in 2015, it is approximately 110 lightyears away and behaves much like the Earth, with a few exceptions. For example; the Earth revolves around the sun while K2-18b revolves around a red dwarf that is much cooler than the Sun and only warms up the planet to 10 degrees Celsius. Orbiting at a distance of 14 miles from the dwarf, the planet is said to complete the orbit in approximately 33 days, compared to Earth which completes one orbit in approximately 365 days.

The most important aspect of determining whether a planet can sustain life or not is by determining if there is water present on the planet. Water compromises about 70% of the Earth, without it, life cannot survive let alone thrive. So, to find a planet that could potentially support life, water is the first priority. 2 years after K2-18b’s discovery, NASA’s sole objective was to search for water on the planet. They found that every time the planet moved in front of the dwarf, the wavelength absorbed by the water dropped. Similarly, as the planet crossed, the wavelength rose. For NASA, this confirmed the presence of water vapors. Further studies show that K2-18b is much bigger than Earth nearly twice the size and has a temperature ranging from 0 to 40 degrees Celsius which is optimal in regards to supporting life. In addition to that, studies show that it may be made up of 50% water.

Knowing that another planet besides Earth exists that can support life is an exciting prospect, but with more than a hundred lightyears between the Earth and its equal, we are not inhabiting it anytime soon. But, maybe one day.

Wormholes

Wormholes are passageways through space-time, that are essentially connecting points between two separate distances or locations in the universe. If visualized, a wormhole is a tunnel connecting the entry and exit points linking two different points in space time, or different galaxies. The best and simplest way to show this phenomenon is a paper example when two dots are drawn at the opposite end of the paper, the paper folded in half and a hole pierced through the dots connecting the two dots with a pencil.

Wormholes are based as a solution to Albert Einstein’s equation of general relativity – the equation for which accounts for the short child wormholes, or Einstein Rosen Bridges, which essentially acts as giant blackhole linking two areas of space time. The theory suggests that the matter and light that is absorbed from one end escapes out of the other at the point known as a whitehole. This whitehole will be located somewhere else in the galaxy or maybe even in some other dimension.

These theoretical wormholes could be utilized for a variety of different things. Some say that travelling through a wormhole would take less time than through actual space, creating an enormous shortcut between any two destinations. Traveling at light speed seems impossible but we can easily travel faster than light using a wormhole. If two massively separated points are connected in this way, it would be possible to travel conventionally between the two locations, therefore even though the object is travelling slow inside the wormhole itself, it would still reach its destination before a beam of light outside. There are also theories surrounding significant gravitational field. For example, if we can place one end of a wormhole close to a blackhole, which has an incredible amount of gravity and acts to slow down the apparent time, the link between that place and somewhere else could provide the means of time travel.

Next step into space travelling or travelling to other dimensions, this theory relies on the many-world’s hypothesis and interpretation of Quantum Mechanics that reveals infinite universes in timelines. According to this idea, every choice or branching path that we take, exits in the endless list of others. Experts like Stephen  Hawking suggest that the wormholes could be all around us but they are microscopically small existing in very deceptive spacetime as nothing is completely flat or solid. According to this theory, there are incredibly small holes in every piece of matter including the time itself, even smaller than the atoms. However, being so tiny we can’t even begin to imagine traveling between them or manipulating them.

Of all the options, these are imaginably the least likely scenario, primarily because we are not even sure if the many wormholes interpretations have any basis in reality because scientists are not even sure if wormholes exists. They do exist in theory, but there is no empirical proof that they are there. The whole idea is still far far more science fiction than fact.

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.

Capturing CO2 from the Environment

CO2 is present in the air and is absorbed by trees and plants from the atmosphere, but to what extent? With all the trees that are being cut down through deforestation, which is credited to urbanization, the carbon dioxide in the air is increasing. Factories and transportation are releasing greenhouse gases into the environment and increasing the temperature of the planet and melting ice. All of this is due to excess carbon dioxide within the atmosphere. However, someone has found a way to use that to the advantage of the plant – by using the carbon dioxide in the air to create energy.  They plan to use CO2, equivalent to that absorbed by 40 million trees in a year.

Carbon Energy, which is backed by billions of dollars of support, has finally been able to gather enough money to start the design process for their negative emissions project. The purpose of the project is to suck the carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and re-use it to create energy. This facility is based in Calgary, Canada at the moment. The company has been able to raise 68 billion dollars for its project of using carbon dioxide from the air to create energy and is to date the most money raised for technology.

Steve Oldham, the owner of the company believes that besides awareness of environmental change and money, we also need technology to play a part. And he believes technology can play a major role in trying to turn around the environmental disaster that stands ahead of us. Through technology, new and innovative ways can be discovered to fix a problem which seems to have no solution. Through one factory, if 40 million trees worth of carbon dioxide is being used, then with many different factories in different parts of the world, a big change can be brought about in the world.

What the company plans to do is to use the carbon dioxide in the air and create carbon out of the air. The carbon will then be stored under-ground in the 230-acre factory and used to create fuel for different cars. Many different companies, like Chevrolet, might be interested in the company as a way to decrease their carbon footprint.

If big companies start to invest in projects like this and also become their customers, the difference to the environmental crisis the world is facing could be huge. Not only does this open ways for new technology and new ways to help the environment but it is also creating jobs, an alternative way of acquiring fuel and also helping companies reduce their own carbon emissions.