Supersonic Plasma Jets Detected in Earth’s Atmosphere

Written by BEC Crew

For the first time, researchers have discovered supersonic plasma jets in Earth’s upper atmosphere, and they’re responsible for some pretty extreme conditions, including temperatures near 10,000°C (18,032°F).

These jets not only appear to be changing the chemical composition of Earth’s ionosphere – they’re actually pushing this atmospheric layer so far up, some of the planet’s atmospheric materials are being leaked out into space.

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Environmentalists Lose Big In Battle To Stop Fracking

Written by Andrew Follett

Environmentalists lost a major lawsuit against hydraulic fracturing Wednesday, clearing one of the last major roadblocks to fracking in Britain. The Preston New Road Action Group (PNRAG) sued to stop fracking in Lancashire, England. High Court Justice Ian Dove threw out the suit, dealing PNRAG a huge setback. Dove ruled PNRAG’s lawsuit was groundless, and “not made out in substance.”

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Ominous Future: Harvard Scientists to Geo-engineer Stratosphere

Written by Harry Pettit

Harvard researchers are set to test aerosol sprays that could be used to ‘combat climate change.’ The controversial technique could one day be used to block incoming solar radiation and cool down Earth to combat the effects of global warming.

The first-of-its-kind experiment could begin as early as next year and will pump small amounts of material into the stratosphere to reflect the sun’s rays. But scientists have previously warned that the results of changing our own climate could be ‘catastrophic’.

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NASA Has Major Announcement About Search For Life Beyond Earth

Written by Thomas Tamblyn

NASA has scheduled a major press conference where it plans to reveal a new discovery about ‘ocean worlds in our solar system.’ While we don’t know the specifics of what NASA will reveal the agency has confirmed that what has been discovered will “inform future ocean world exploration…and the broader search for life beyond Earth.”

The conference is scheduled for Thursday April 13 at 7PM UK time and will focus on new discoveries around ocean worlds within our own solar system.

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Renewables’ deep-sea mining conundrum

Written by David Shukman

Deep sea miningImage copyright: NOC/NERC
Image caption: These are early days of prospecting. Mining proper has yet to get under way

British scientists exploring an underwater mountain in the Atlantic Ocean have discovered a treasure trove of rare minerals. Their investigation of a seamount more than 500km (300 miles) from the Canary Islands has revealed a crust of “astonishingly rich” rock.

Samples brought back to the surface contain the scarce substance tellurium in concentrations 50,000 times higher than in deposits on land.

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Scientists Admit Losing Control of Artificial Intelligence

Written by Shivali Best

From driving cars to beating chess masters at their own game, computers are already performing incredible feats.

And artificial intelligence is quickly advancing, allowing computers to learn from experience without the need for human input. But scientists are concerned that computers are already overtaking us in their abilities, raising the prospect that we could lose control of them altogether.

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Brain cell therapy ‘promising’ for Parkinson’s disease

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brain cellsImage copyright: SPL

Scientists believe they have found a way to treat and perhaps reverse Parkinson’s disease, by making replacement cells to mend the damaged brain. They say human brain cells can be coaxed to take over the job of the ones that are destroyed in Parkinson’s.

Tests in mice with Parkinson-like symptoms showed that the therapy appeared to ease the condition. Many more studies are needed before similar tests can begin in people. Experts say the research published in Nature Biotechnology is hugely promising, although at a very early stage.

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Poop sediments record Antarctic ‘penguin Pompeii’

Written by Jonathan Amos

PenguinsImage copyright: STEPHEN ROBERTS

The perilous history of a penguin colony on a small Antarctic island has been recorded in their excrement. For thousands of years, the birds have nested on the Ardley outcrop where their poop, or guano, would collect at the bottom of a lake. But when scientists drilled into these sediments, they got quite a surprise.

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NASA Now Knows Why Mars Became Uninhabitable

Written by Andrew Follett

Mars’ atmosphere is full of metal, potentially explaining how the planet became uninhabitable, according to new results from a NASA probe published Monday.

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) found metal ions capable of showing how the planet’s upper atmosphere behaves. Mars doesn’t have a global magnetic field like Earth, preventing metal ions from being locked into the atmosphere in layers. This helps explain how the martian atmosphere was lost to space, eventually rendering the planet uninhabitable.

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Modern Solar Grand Maximum Ends: ‘Little Ice Age’ Cooling Coming!

Written by Kenneth Richard

During the 20th and early 21st centuries, Earth’s inhabitants have enjoyed an epoch of very high solar activity that is rare or unique in the context of the last several thousand years.  The higher solar activity and warmer temperatures have allowed the planet to briefly emerge from the depths of the successive solar minima periods and “Little Ice Age” cooling that lasted from the 1300s to the early 1900s.  Unfortunately, solar scientists have increasingly been forecasting a return to a solar minimum period in the coming decades, as well as the concomitant cooler temperatures.

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Upper part of Earth’s magnetic field reveals details of a dramatic past

Written by Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

Satellites have been mapping the upper part of the Earth magnetic field by collecting data for three years and found some amazing features about the Earth’s crust. The result is the release of highest resolution map of this field seen from space to date. This ‘lithospheric magnetic field’ is very weak and therefore difficult to detect and map from space. But with the Swarm satellites it has been possible.

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