The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.


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What the Earth will look like in 250 million years

This originally appeared on Mail Online.

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ET Alert

If you are a fan of Extra Terrestrials, Science Alert  has an interesting article on the latest plan to contact the closest Earth-like exoplanet in our Solar system:

Scientists are making preparations to send a transmission to Proxima b – the closest Earth-like exoplanet to our Solar System.

The team is putting together a plan to build or buy a powerful deep-space transmitter, and is now figuring out what our message should be…

The non-profit organisation is planning a series of workshops and a crowdfunding drive to make the scheme a reality – and it’s estimated they’ll need to raise around US$1 million a year to run the transmitter.

By 2018, the team wants to have laser or radio signals beamed out to Proxima b, which orbits Proxima Centauri – the closest star to our Solar System, at around 4.25 light-years away.

 


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3-D Printers

Every time I see these 3-D printers I think of Star Trek.  Printing an object, at that time, was just a fantasy.  Now we can to do it.  And, we are finding new uses for the technology all the time.  Can printing a cup of coffee or a meal be far behind?

New devices — in everything from cars to cell phones — often need custom-shaped magnets, notes Paranthaman. One advantage of 3-D printing is that it lets people customize magnets to fit any project.

This type of manufacturing “gives you the ability to make these magnets in more complex shapes than are possible with conventional machining,” says Randy Bowman. He studies magnets at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, and was not part of the new study. (NASA stands for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.)


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Nobel laureates call for a revolutionary shift in how humans use resources

Reposted from theguardian.com,

Amazon deforestation
Deforestation is among a growing list of planetary ailments, the Nobel laureates warn. Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex Features

 

Eleven Nobel laureates will pool their clout to sound a warning, declaring that mankind is living beyond its means and darkening its future.

At a conference in Hong Kong coinciding with the annual Nobel awards season, holders of the prestigious prize will plead for a revolution in how humans live, work and travel.

Only by switching to smarter, less greedy use of resources can humans avert wrecking the ecosystems on which they depend, the laureates will argue.

The state of affairs is “catastrophic”, Peter Doherty, 1996 co-winner of the Nobel prize for medicine, said in a blunt appraisal.

He is among 11 laureates scheduled to attend the four-day huddle from Wednesday – the fourth in a series of Nobel symposia on the precarious state of the planet.

From global warming, deforestation and soil and water degradation to ocean acidification, chemical pollution and environmentally-triggered diseases, the list of planetary ailments is long and growing, Doherty said.

The worsening crisis means consumers, businesses and policymakers must consider the impact on the planet of every decision they make, he said.

“We need to think sustainability – food sustainability, water sustainability, soil sustainability, sustainability of the atmosphere.”

Overlapping with the 2014 Nobel prize announcements from 6-13 October, the laureates’ gathering will focus on the prospect that global warming could reach double the UN’s targeted ceiling of 2C over pre-industrial times.

Underpinning their concern are new figures highlighting that humanity is living absurdly beyond its means.

According to the latest analysis by environmental organisation WWF, mankind is using 50% more resources than nature can replenish.

“The peril seems imminent,” said US-Australian astrophysicist Brian Schmidt, co-holder of the 2011 Nobel physics prize for demonstrating an acceleration in the expansion of the universe.

The threat derives from “our exponentially growing consumption of resources, required to serve the nine billion or so people who will be on planet Earth by 2050, all of whom want to have lives like we have in the western world,” said Schmidt.

“We are poised to do more damage to the Earth in the next 35 years than we have done in the last 1,000.”

Ada Yonath, an Israeli crystallographer co-awarded the 2009 Nobel for chemistry, said sustainability should not just be seen as conservation of animals and plants.

Humankind should also be much more careful in its use of other life-giving resources like antibiotics.

The spread of drug-resistant bacteria through incorrect use has become a key challenge in “sustainability for the future of humankind”, she stressed.

Several of the laureates suggested a focus on energy.

Dirty fossil fuels must be quickly phased out in favour of cleaner sources – and, just as importantly, the new technology has to spread quickly in emerging economies.

If these countries fail to adopt clean alternatives, they will continue to depend on cheap, plentiful fossil fuels to power their rise out of poverty.

“This will lead to major climate change in the future, and might well destabilise a large fraction of the world’s population due to the change of [climate] conditions,” warned Schmidt.

The climate impact of Asia’s rapid urbanisation will be one of the meeting’s focus areas.

Another concern aired by laureates was the need to strip away blinkers about the danger, while remaining patient in explaining to people why change would be to their advantage.

George Smoot, co-awarded the 2006 physics prize for his insights into the big bang that created the universe, gave the example of LED lighting, a low-carbon substitute for inefficient incandescent bulbs.

“A great innovation is not enough,” he said. “It must be adopted and used widely to have major impact and that starts with general understanding. But until people move from old incandescent bulbs to the new ones, the impact is much less.

“So we need the solutions, for authorities to authorise or encourage their use through regulation, and for people to adopt them.”

And that could only work once everyone understands the benefits for humanity as a whole, but also for themselves, said Smoot.

 

 

 


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Is the Universe a Simulation?

 

It seems to me we have finally come around to proving mathematically what Hindus and Buddhists have been saying all along — this world is an illusion:

…If Pythagoras had not lived, or if his work had been destroyed, someone else eventually would have discovered the same Pythagorean theorem. Moreover, this theorem means the same thing to everyone today as it meant 2,500 years ago, and will mean the same thing to everyone a thousand years from now — no matter what advances occur in technology or what new evidence emerges. Mathematical knowledge is unlike any other knowledge. Its truths are objective, necessary and timeless.
What kinds of things are mathematical entities and theorems, that they are knowable in this way? Do they exist somewhere, a set of immaterial objects in the enchanted gardens of the Platonic world, waiting to be discovered? Or are they mere creations of the human mind? Continue reading


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Study Shows One in Four Americans Don’t Know Earth Revolves Around Sun

One in four Americans unaware that Earth revolves around Sun: poll

I found this article in the Indian press.  It is an embarrassing indictment of our educational system.

Americans are enthusiastic about the promise of science but lack basic knowledge of it, with one in four unaware that the Earth revolves around the Sun, said a poll out today.
The survey included more than 2,200 people in the United States and was conducted by the National Science Foundation.

Ten questions about physical and biological science were on the quiz, and the average score – 6.5 correct – was barely a passing grade.

Just 74 per cent of respondents knew that the Earth revolved around the Sun, according to the results released at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Fewer than half (48 per cent) knew that human beings evolved from earlier species of animals.

The result of the survey, which is conducted every two years, will be included in a National Science Foundation report to President Barack Obama and US lawmakers.

One in three respondents said science should get more funding from the government.

Nearly 90 per cent said the benefits of science outweigh any dangers, and about the same number expressed interest in learning about medical discoveries.

 


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Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK): An Interview With Dr. Michael Hutchins

Reposted from National Geographic blog:

Posted by Jordan Carlton Schaul of University of Alaska on January 11, 2014
 

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Inuit man eating narwhal (NGS)

The following interview is my 12th in a serieswith my esteemed colleague Dr. Michael Hutchins. Michael recently joined the American Bird Conservancy, as the organization’s National Bird Smart Wind Campaign Coordinator.

The distinguished ecologist has agreed to answer my questions about indigenous knowledge and the impact of such informational resources on the management of wildlife populations.

Jordan: In many cases, the large scale hunting of megafauna by indigenous peoples has been implicated in mass extinctions in the late Pleistocene. Is it fair to attribute the demise of some large placental and marsupial mammals to indigenous peoples?

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Inuit woman (NGS)

Michael: This is an interesting question.  It is difficult to say, as what happened in prehistory must be pieced together through sketchy evidence. However, I am highly skeptical of the claims of some scientists, such as Paul Martin (Martin, P.S. 2005.Twilight of the Mammoths: Ice Age Extinctions and the Rewilding of America. Berkeley: University of California Press), who has blamed indigenous people for widespread Pleistocene extinctions.

Martin developed his theory of Pleistocene overkill, also known as the “blitzkrieg model” based on his observation that the sudden demise of large Ice Age mammal populations coincided with the arrival of humans on different continents. Martin hypothesized that as humans migrated from Africa and Eurasia to Australia, the Americas, and the Pacific islands, they rapidly hunted large animals to extinction.  But, as we all know, correlation does not imply causation. Continue reading