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Submission + - The civic duties of scientists

Lasrick writes: A postdoc research associate at Cornell University’s Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-based ScienceS and Education (CLASSE) explores the reasons why there are so few scientists in Congress, and why (and how) that should change. 'For the sustainable advancement of science, for the preservation and promotion of liberal democracy, and for meeting the urgent challenges of today when law and policy lag behind science and technology, scientists must be active in the political discourse.' Great read.

Submission + - Factcheck on Daily Mail claim about global warming data manipulation

Lasrick writes: In a guest post at Climate Brief, Zeke Hausfather goes point by point through an article from Sunday's Daily Mail, which makes the astonishing claim that 'world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data' and accuses the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of manipulating the data to show more warming in a 2015 study.

Submission + - It is 30 seconds closer to midnight (thebulletin.org)

Dan Drollette writes: The hands of the Doomsday Clock were re-set today, to show that we are even closer to nuclear midnight. Here's the reasoning behind it. (PS — You can also watch a replay of the live press conference this morning at clock.thebulletin.org)

Submission + - New Interactive: World Nuclear Power Reactor Construction, 1951-2017

Lasrick writes: Since 1951, 41 nations have engaged in the construction of 754 nuclear reactors. See the status of each one with a brand-new interactive launched at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: World Nuclear Power Reactor Construction, 1951-2017. Built in partnership with the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, Visioncarto, and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the interactive enables users to find out about status and developments in nuclear power plant building, new and abandoned constructions, and reactor startups and shutdowns on a global scale through more than 60 years of nuclear industry. This is an incredible resource for energy researchers and aficionados.

Submission + - How Russia Recruited Elite Hackers for Its Cyberwar (nytimes.com)

Lasrick writes: 'For more than three years, rather than rely on military officers working out of isolated bunkers, Russian government recruiters have scouted a wide range of programmers, placing prominent ads on social media sites, offering jobs to college students and professional coders, and even speaking openly about looking in Russia’s criminal underworld for potential talent.' Important read.

Submission + - SPAM: China abandons banning the bomb

Dan Drollette writes: In a world no longer centered around the United States, Beijing's position on the UN resolution to ban nuclear weapons could be seen as a bellwether for how China will behave.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - SPAM: A dangerous moment for climate change, and for science

Dan Drollette writes: We're at a tipping point, says Princeton physicist Rob Socolow, who's been studying global carbon management and fossil fuel sequestration for years. (He's famous in the climate science arena, because of his 'wedges' paper on different approaches to solve the problem using current technology.) [spam URL stripped]...
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Just 90 companies are accountable for more than 60 percent of greenhouse gases (thebulletin.org)

Dan Drollette writes: Working much like a detective, a climate researcher was able to track down how much carbon each fossil fuel company was responsible for putting into the air since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. (And it only took 12 years, and a worldwide network of volunteers to gather the data.) He found that a relative handful of companies bear the responsibility for most greenhouse gases ... and they pumped more than half of it into the atmosphere in the last 30 years.

Submission + - Gene drives: The good, the bad, and the hype (thebulletin.org) 1

Lasrick writes: Under normal circumstances, a specific gene has a 50 percent chance of being transmitted to an offspring, but over time, some genes may disappear from a population, especially if the gene in question makes the population less fit. A gene drive is the process by which scientists force an altered gene into an animal population to permit the inheriting of a desired trait at a higher rate and with greater certainty than through natural reproduction alone. Gene drives are not new and they can occur naturally, for example when a gene produces multiple copies of itself in a genome, or when a gene disables or destroys other genes to increase inheritance odds.

Genetic alterations of domesticated plants and animals are not new, either. The novelty of recent gene drives resides in the use of the Crispr technique, which not only allows gene editing with precision, speed, and economy, but also has the potential of ensuring that alterations made in wild animals will persist in nature. Gene drives are being investigated as tools to eradicate infectious diseases or control pests that cause agricultural, economic, and environmental damages; yet they have also raised security concerns. Sonia Ben Quagrham-Gormley and Kathleen Vogel write about the good, the bad, and the hype of gene drives and find that there's been too much hype and not enough empirical data around the security issue, especially when it comes to the bioweapons threat.

Submission + - Even US military is looking at blockchain technology—to secure nuclear wea (qz.com)

Lasrick writes: Blockchain technology has been slow to gain adoption in non-financial contexts, but it could turn out to have invaluable military applications. DARPA, the storied research unit of the US Department of Defense, is currently funding efforts to find out if blockchains could help secure highly sensitive data, with potential applications for everything from nuclear weapons to military satellites.

Submission + - A changing climate for coral reefs (thebulletin.org)

Dan Drollette writes: Coral bleaching has been in the news. But how is it different from coral death, what does it mean, what are the long-term prospects, and why should we care? From an Aussie scientist, who has been studying the Great Barrier Reef and the effects of climate change for nearly 3 decades.

Submission + - Alaska Oil Reserves May Have Grown 80% on Giant Discovery (bloomberg.com)

schwit1 writes: A small company just announced that it has made a “world-class” oil discovery in Alaska, which could be the largest find in the state in years.

Caelus Energy LLC, a small company backed by private equity, says that it has discovered oil on Alaska’s northern coast. The field could hold as much as 6 billion barrels of oil, with about 1.8 to 2.4 billion barrels considered to be recoverable. If that is the case, the discovery would instantly raise Alaska’s statewide recoverable oil reserve base by about 80 percent.

But producing the oil will not be easy. Drilling must take place in the winter. To drill the field, the tentative plan would be to build manmade islands to drill through. Oil produced in the shallow water of Smith Bay will need to be moved somehow. Caelus will have to build an $800 million pipeline that travels 125 miles, connecting to an existing pipeline system in Prudhoe Bay.

“It’s a really exciting discovery for us, and we think it’s really exciting for the state of Alaska,” Caelus CEO Jim Musselman said in a phone interview with Bloomberg. “They need a shot in the arm now.”

“It is not going to be easy, but we’ve had projects like this around the world,” Musselman told The Wall Street Journal. He formerly led Kosmos Energy when it recorded a massive oil discovery of the coast of Ghana about a decade ago.

The one thing that Caelus has in its favor is strong support from the state of Alaska. Desperate to halt declining output and cratering state revenues, the Alaskan government has been frantically searching for ways to increase oil production. Output has been falling from Alaska’s aging North Slope, with production down below 500,000 barrels per day from a peak in the late 1980s at over 2 million barrels per day.

Submission + - Tackling near and far AI threats at once

Lasrick writes: Artificial intelligence experts are divided over the threat of superintelligent computers. One group argues that even though these machines may be decades or centuries away, the scale of the catastrophe they could cause is so great, we should take action now to prevent them from taking over the world and killing everyone. Another group dismisses the fear of superintelligent computers as speculative and premature, and prefers to focus on existing and near-future AI. Seth Baum of the Catastrophic Risk Institute believes there is common ground here, and that both groups can and should work together. He outlines the three areas they should work on, starting with putting their collective emphasis on technology for the benefit of society.

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