merbs writes: NASA has released its global temperature data for January 2016, and, once again, the record for the hottest month in recorded history has been shattered. At a time when these kinds of records are broken with some regularity, it takes a particularly scorching month to raise eyebrows in the climate science community. It has to be the hottest hottest month by a pretty hot margin.
Sure enough, last January did the trick: It was 1.13 C warmer than the global average of 1951-1980 (the benchmark NASA uses to measure warming trends)—in other words, a full 2F warmer than pre-1980 levels.
merbs writes: In 2013, NASA’s former chief climate scientist James Hansen published a short white paper that described the “Venus Syndrome”—a situation that could unfold far in the future, in which so much carbon dioxide is loaded into the atmosphere that Earth is rendered a replica of the scorching second planet from the sun. Hansen concluded that though it would take millions of years, “Earth can ‘achieve’ Venus-like conditions, in the sense of ~90 bar surface pressure, only after first getting rid of its ocean via escape of hydrogen to space.”
The University of Virginia's Sandia National Labs has unveiled the preliminary design for a new offshore wind turbine with 650-foot turbine blades. That, as its announcement points out, is twice the size of an American football field. It's also roughly the size of Trump Tower in New York.
merbs writes: Throughout the early 90s, a team of Russian astronomers and engineers were hellbent on literally turning night into day. By shining a giant mirror onto the earth from space, they figured they could bring sunlight to the depths of night, extending the workday, cutting back on lighting costs and allowing laborers to toil longer. If this sounds a bit like the plot of a Bond film, well, it’s that too.
The difference is that for a second there, the scientists, led by Vladimir Sergeevich Syromyatnikov, one of the most important astronautical engineers in history, actually pulled it off.
merbs writes: In Papua New Guinea, one well-financed, first-mover company is about to pioneer deep sea mining. And that will mean dispatching a fleet of giant remote-operated robotic miners 5,000 feet below the surface to harvest the riches scattered across ocean floor. These mammoth underwater vehicles look like they’ve been hauled off the set of a sci-fi film—think Avatar meets The Abyss. And they'll be dredging up copper, gold, and other valuable minerals, far beneath the gaze of human eyes.
merbs writes: A computer glitch that brought the Paris airport of Orly to a standstill Saturday has been traced back to the airport's "prehistoric" operating system. The computer failure had affected a system known as DECOR, which is used by air traffic controllers to communicate weather information to pilots. Pilots rely on the system when weather conditions are poor. DECOR, which is used in takeoff and landings, runs on Windows 3.1, an operating system that came onto the market in 1992.
Tim Libert, a privacy researcher, has published new peer-reviewed research that sought to quantify all the “privacy compromising mechanisms” on the one million most popular websites worldwide. His conclusion? “Findings indicate that nearly 9 in 10 websites leak user data to parties of which the user is likely unaware.”
merbs writes: If all goes according to plan, the world’s first private lunar mission will be launched just two years from now. SpaceIL, an Israeli nonprofit, has secured a launch contract with California-based Spaceflight Industries, and will aim to land a rover on the moon in the second half of 2017. It’s the first such launch contract to be verified by the $30 million Google Lunar XPrize competition.
merbs writes: Joe Haldeman wrote what is hailed by many as the best military science fiction novel ever written, 1974's 'The Forever War'. In this interview, Haldeman discusses what's changed since he wrote his book, what hasn't, and what the future of war will really look like.
merbs writes: Supporters of a basic income have finally organized a proper political movement. Basic Income Action is, according to co-founder Dan O’Sullivan, “the first national organization educating and organizing the public to support a basic income.”He tells me that “Our goal is to educate and organize people to take action to win a basic income here in the US.”