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Articles related to "nature"


Indonesia Consider Molten Salt Nuclear Reactor Cheaper than Coal Power

  • Scientists attending the International Conference on Emerging Nuclear Energy Systems in Bali, Indonesia, were excited by ThorCon CEO Lars Jorgensen’s presentation of the design of the TMSR-500 liquid fission power plant.
  • Companies in Indonesia and the government of Indonesia are considering funding a test project for the Thorcon reactor.
  • This could lead a 3.5 GW project and then eventually could lead to mass production.

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World in 2030 With Faster Battery Improvements

  • Bloomberg New Energy Finance (NEF) forecasted in the Electric Vehicle Outlook 2020 that battery pack prices will get below $100/kWh in 2024 and reach $61/kwh in 2030.
  • Lab research shows lithium-iron phosphate batteries, which does not require nickel or cobalt, has a possible pathway to prices as low as $80/kWh. James Frith, head of energy storage at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in London said today’s batteries cost about $147/kWh, down from about $1,000 in 2010 and $381 in 2015.
  • There is a lot more room for improvement if silicon anodes and dry cell batteries are mastered and produced in large volumes.
  • There are various claims that a CATL (China battery company) with a LFP (lithium iron phosphate battery) has reached a $100/kWh price.
  • If Silicon Anodes can be mastered there is the theoretical potential to achieve 6000 watt-hours per kilogram.

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11,000-year-old mine in underwater cave surprises archaeologists

  • The mine, described in a new study published today in Science Advances, is one of the few archaeological sites to reveal where and how ancient humans extracted the vibrant pigments that have been put to a host of uses around the world, including mortuary rituals, cave painting, and even sunscreen.
  • Now, with such a pristine example of an ancient ocher mine in hand, the team was able to confirm that at least two other suspected sites in submerged caves some 20 miles south of La Mina in Quintana Roo were also likely mining operations.
  • The mining sites are located deep in underground systems, far from the reaches of light, says Holley Moyes of the University of California, Merced, who specializes in the ritual use of Maya caves and was not a part of the project.

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These worm-like amphibians may have venomous saliva

  • Most of the animals dwell underground, which is why “caecilians are maybe the most unknown group of vertebrates,” says Carlos Jared, an evolutionary biologist at the Butantan Institute in São Paulo, Brazil, and author of a new study on the animals.
  • But while looking at caecilians captured in Brazil, Jared discovered a never-before-described set of dental glands that produce saliva and, possibly, venomous enzymes.
  • For the research, study leader Pedro Luiz Mailho-Fontana, also a Butantan Institute evolutionary biologist, and colleagues performed analyses on saliva samples from two adult ringed caecilians (Siphonops annulatus) to determine what chemicals they contained.
  • While many imagine bee stingers and snake fangs when it comes to venom delivery, Mailho-Fontana says plenty of venoms have evolved from saliva.
  • “All oral glands produce a wide range of enzymes, including many of those listed.” In other words, animals can have this family of enzymes in their saliva without having a venomous variety.

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How scientists know COVID-19 is way deadlier than the flu

  • Using a more sophisticated calculation called the infection-fatality rate, paired with the past few months’ worth of data, the latest best estimates show that COVID-19 is around 50 to 100 times more lethal than the seasonal flu, on average.
  • This statistical tool uses data on known infections, including best estimates for undiagnosed and asymptomatic cases, to put numbers on how likely it is for an infected person to die from the disease.
  • Using a statistical model, epidemiologists at Columbia University estimated the infection-fatality rate for New York City based on its massive outbreak from March 1 to May 16.
  • In an informal analysis published on Medium, Meyerowitz-Katz compared the infection-fatality rates from influenza to several calculated around the world so far for COVID-19.
  • Using the handful of studies that have calculated infection-fatality rates for seasonal flu, Meyerowitz-Katz determined that somewhere between 1 and 10 people die for every 100,000 that are infected.

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Toppling statues is a first step toward ending Confederate myths

  • Like dominoes, the Confederate statues along Richmond, Virginia’s historic Monument Avenue are coming down one by one.
  • This statue of General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson on Richmond’s Monument Avenue was removed on July 1, the day the city’s mayor ordered the immediate removal of all Confederate statues.
  • In June, protesters toppled the statue on top of the column after George Floyd’s killing by police officers in Minneapolis.
  • African-American artist Kehinde Wiley modeled this sculpture, “Rumors of War,” on the equestrian statue J.E.B. Stuart on Monument Avenue.
  • Virginia recently enacted a law enabling local authorities to remove Confederate monuments, but an injunction from the state Circuit Court has restricted Charlottesville’s ability to do so.
  • As for the toppling of Confederates on Richmond’s Monument Avenue, I learned that the city’s oldest museum, the Valentine, was in talks with various interested parties about potentially housing them.

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America declared independence on July 2—so why is the 4th a holiday?

  • Fireworks, flags, and hot dogs: The Fourth of July is steeped in patriotism and tradition, and celebrated as the day disgruntled American colonists broke ties with Great Britain and declared their intention to found a democratic nation of their own.
  • The process of declaring independence didn’t get underway until June 7, 1776, when Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution in the Second Continental Congress.
  • Jefferson echoed that language in his draft document, which declared that “all men are created equal” and had an inalienable right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” He presented his draft to his fellow committee members and they made extensive edits before submitting it to the Continental Congress on June 28.
  • With the Declaration of Independence complete, the Continental Congress voted to adopt it on July 4, 1776.

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‘We are living in a different world’: Scenes from a drive across America

  • While I’ve taken plenty of road trips, I’d never moved myself 2,500 miles across the country in the middle of national protests and a global pandemic.
  • But I’d made my own one-woman parade out of a moving truck and the small flags tucked in the front seat to keep me company on the way to a new home, a new community.
  • The wind buffeted me as I stopped for gas about an hour outside Amarillo, Texas, on a stretch of old Route 66 parallel to the modern interstate.
  • I imagined people—imagined, because I didn’t see any people—nursed on a mid-century belief we’d one day make a home in the stars; people who’d grown under a sky so huge and close they might have been wicked up into it if they’d only stretched a little taller.

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Migrant teens need school. Around the world, they face pressure not to go.

  • For years, Rahimi has been spending 19 hours a day working in restaurant kitchens, attending school, and studying.
  • When Sandra Aparicio’s Phoenix, Arizona, middle school switched to distance learning, only five out of her 85 English immersion students were logging into online lessons, which can be a struggle for those learning a new language or with limited access to technology.
  • Even before the pandemic, migrant teens were under overwhelming pressure to skip school to make money—to pay down smuggling debts, to send remittances to their families, to help younger siblings, to survive.
  • Their father can't work and their mother is illiterate, but the children in the Al Razzaq family, ages six to 13, still attended school before the pandemic.
  • Educators at the school, which serves new immigrants with limited English skills, tried to track them down and keep the rest of the students engaged online.

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Horseshoe crab blood is key to making a COVID-19 vaccine—but the ecosystem may suffer.

  • In 2016, a synthetic alternative to crab lysate, recombinant factor C (rFC), was approved as an alternative in Europe, and a handful of U.S. drug companies also began using it.
  • But on June 1, 2020, the American Pharmacopeia, which sets the scientific standards for drugs and other products in the U.S., declined to place rFC on equal footing with crab lysate, claiming that its safety is still unproven.
  • But she and other conservationists fear that without rFC or other alternatives available, the ongoing burden on horseshoe crab blood for COVID-19 vaccines and related therapeutics may imperil the crabs and the marine ecosystems that depend on them.
  • According to the statement from Lonza, Charles River Laboratories and another lysate maker, Associates of Cape Cod, Inc., raise horseshoe crabs in hatcheries and release them into the ocean.
  • Lonza’s statement says the company would also prefer to use lysate alternatives and has trademarked its own rFC, called PyroGene.

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