News for the Week (1/4/2019)

China Lands a Probe on the Far Side of the Moon

China’s Chang’e 4 mission successfully landed a probe on the far side of the Moon on Thursday. The robotic lander will study the surface and subsurface and determine the composition of the South Pole – Aitken basin; a giant dent on the far side of the Moon of mysterious origin that happens to be the largest basin in the solar system. Landing on the far side of the Moon is a first for humanity as all previous missions have gone to the near side. (Link)

spa basinImage Credit: EPA/CNSA

The Hole in the Ozone Layer Should Heal Within Our Lifetimes

A recent UN report has determined that the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica is healing up nicely and could be back to “pre-hole” conditions with 40 years. The ozone hole was created by the release of manmade chemicals into the atmosphere, especially chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). After scientists identified the problematic chemicals, policy makers took action and passed the Montreal Protocol, curtailing the use of ozone-depleting chemicals. (Link)

China Builds a Giant Air Purifier to Tackle Smog

An experimental tower was built in China and has demonstrated that it can improve air quality over an area of more than 3 square miles. The 328 foot tall tower is the world’s largest air purifier. Air is driven through the tower by heating it up with sunlight. It requires very little power to function. (Link)

China Air Purifier.jpgImage Credit: VCG/Getty Images

News for the Week is posted every Friday. Click here to read last week’s news.

News for the Week (12/28/2018)

Congress Passes OPEN Government Data Act

Congress passed a bill on 21 December that makes data more accessible to the public and codifies two important principles:

  1. “public information should be open by default to the public in a machine-readable format, where such publication doesn’t harm privacy or security
  2. federal agencies should use evidence when they make public policy” (Link)
US_Capitol_west_side.JPGImage Credit: Martin Falbisoner

Researchers Develop a New Hydrogen Fuel Catalyst

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a cheaper catalyst to split water to form hydrogen fuel. This new catalyst is made of microscopic sheets of metal carbide and is assembled with gelatin, a component of Jell-O. It splits water just as efficiently as platinum – the current, best catalyst for splitting water. (Link)

HydrogenEvolution.jpgImage Credit: Wiley/Xining Zang

US Passes National Quantum Initiative Act

The United States recently passed legislature which authorizes $1.2 billion for researching quantum computing. The bill establishes the National Quantum Coordination Office and an advisory committee to the White House. (Link)

181221-quantum-630x415.jpgImage Credit: IBM

Elon Musk on What Motivates Him

To read a CNBC article on what motivates entrepreneur, Elon Musk, click here. When asked about why alternative methods of transportation are important, he replied: “Yes. It’s very important for the future of the world. It’s very important for all life on Earth. This supersedes political parties, race, creed, religion, it doesn’t matter. If we do not solve the environment, we’re all damned,” said Elon Musk.

News for the Week is posted every Friday. Click here to read last week’s news.

News for the Week (12/21/2018)

United States Ends Ban On Industrial Hemp Farming

With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp farming is now legal in the United States for the first time since 1970. Hemp, which does not contain psychoactive compounds, has numerous uses including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, food, medicine, renewable energy and more. (Link) (Link)

Image Credit: Thinkstock/torstengrieger

Over 1,000 Institutions Pledge to Withdraw From Fossil Fuels

As climate talks take place in Poland, a milestone achievement has been reached in which 1,000 institutions have pledged to divest from fossil fuels. The sum total withdrawn by governments, universities, banks and other organizations is approaching $8 trillion. (Link)

Saudi Arabia Now Allows the Teaching of Philosophy

Secondary schools in Saudi Arabia will begin teaching philosophy in classrooms. A decades long ban on teaching philosophy has been lifted and 200 teachers will be trained on the topic. (Link)

Image Credit: Middle East Monitor

More Companies Are Shifting to a 4 Day Work Week

Companies around the world are trying out a 4 day work week instead of the typical 5 day work week. Many companies are finding that employees are more productive, have more motivation, and have less burnout. (Link)

Image Credit: Reuters

News for the Week is posted every Friday. Click here to read last week’s news.

News for the Week (12/14/2018)

Investors Managing $32 Trillion in Assets Call for Action on Climate Change

Over 400 investors who manage a combined $32 trillion signed the 2018 Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change. Talks continue on the best way to approach the issue. “The global shift to clean energy is underway, but much more needs to be done by governments to accelerate the low carbon transition and to improve the resilience of our economy, society and the financial system to climate risks,” the statement reads. (Link)

Giant Tesla Battery Plant Saved $40 Million in the First Year of Operation

A 100 megawatt (MW) battery power plant was built using Tesla batteries in Australia to serve as a “peaking” plant at a cost of $66 million. Within the first year, the plant has saved $40 million while emitting zero emissions and operated cheaper and quicker than traditional “peaking” plants. (Link)

Image Credit: Electrek

Costa Rica Went 300 Days Using Renewable Energy Alone for Electric Grid

Using a combination of technologies including hydropower, wind and geothermal, Costa Rica met all of their electricity demands for 300 days using only renewable energy. (Link)

Image Credit: Google

Largest Maritime Shipping Company Pledges Zero Carbon Emissions

The world’s largest shipping company, Maersk, based out of Denmark, recently said it will cut its carbon emissions to zero by the year 2050. To put this in perspective, if shipping were a country it would be the 6th largest greenhouse gas emitter. Maersk accounts for 20% of sea-based freighting. (Link)

Image Credit: Maersk

Voyager 2 Probe Leaves the Solar System

NASA’s Voyager 2 probe has left the heliosphere, a protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields around Sun, marking the second time a manmade object has left the solar system. The probe is now 11 billion miles away from Earth, meaning it takes 16.5 hours for communications traveling at the speed of light to reach the probe. (Link)

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scotland Produced More than 100% of Its Energy Needs With Wind Power

The country of Scotland produced more than 100% of its electric needs with wind power for the first time ever. On November 28th, wind generated over 116 gigawatts (GW) which is enough to power 9.6 million homes. (Link)

Image Credit: Woldcam/Jan Arne Wold

News for the Week is posted every Friday. Click here to read last week’s news.

News for the Week (12/7/2018)

China Launches a Mission to the Far Side of the Moon

China will launch a rocket today to put a lander on the far side of the Moon as part of the Chang’e 4 mission – a first for humanity (previous missions have all gone to the near side). The robotic lander will study the surface and subsurface and determine the composition of the South Pole – Aitken basin; a giant dent on the far side of the Moon of mysterious origin that happens to be the largest basin in the solar system.  (Link)

Moon - Far SideImage Credit: Chinese Academy of Sciences

World Bank Pledges $200 Billion in Financing to Fight Climate Change

The World Bank announced on Monday it will make available $200 billion in climate action investments between 2021 and 2025. “Much of the climate action financing is being set aside for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, notably through development of renewable energy strategies.” (Link)

Climate Change - Pollution.jpgImage Credit: Pixabay

A New Theory May Explain the “Missing” 95% of the Universe

In trying to understand what the universe is made of, cosmological models often require dark energy and dark matter in concentrations of approximately 95% of the universe. The other 5% is ordinary matter we can see and interact with. A new model published in Astronomy and Astrophysics suggests a fluid with negative gravity fills all space. This idea had been rejected in the past, but this new model gets around previous objections by proposing this fluid is constantly coming into existence. A computer simulation predicts the formation of dark matter halos around galaxies, which matches observations by radio telescopes. To read more, click here: Link

darkmatter.jpgImage Credit: KiDS Survey

Luxembourg Will Make All Public Transportation Free

Starting in 2020, all public transportation in the country of Luxembourg will be free. This decision is part of the government’s plan to reduce traffic congestion and prioritze the environment. (Link)

Luxembourg City.jpg

Image Credit: Rueters, Eric Vidal

News for the Week is posted every Friday. Click here to read last week’s news.

News for the Week (11/30/2018)

Scientists Figure Out How To Convert CO2 Into Plastics and Other Materials

Scientists at Rutgers University in New Jersey have developed catalysts that can convert carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) into precursors for plastics, adhesives and pharmaceuticals with a high efficiency of conversion. With this process, carbon dioxide is diverted from being released into the atmosphere and turned into useful materials. (Link)

Image Source: Rutgers University

Chile and India Become World Leaders in Renewable Energy Amongst Developing Nations

The 2018 Climatescope report by energy researcher, BloombergNEF, list Chile and India as 1st and 2nd in renewable energy amongst developing nations. The organization looked at clean energy policies, emissions, installed capacities and more for 103 countries. (Link)

Image Source: Reuters

Aviation Company is Building an Electric Plane

The aviation company, Eviation, is building an all-electric airplane that can travel over 600 miles on one charge and travel about as fast as traditional turboprops used in commuter roles. The operating costs are significantly less at about $200 per hour versus $1,000 per hour. (Link)

To visit Eviation’s website, click here.

Image Source: Eviation

SpaceX Will Deliver Research Equipment to the International Space Station

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will deliver 20 new experiments to the International Space Station on December 4th. The mission, CRS-16, will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and deliver equipment to carry out experiments in genomics, cellular biology, botany and immunology. (Link)

Image Source: SpaceX

News for the Week is posted every Friday. Click here to read last week’s news.

News for the Week (11/23/2018)

NASA Announces They Will Go Back to the Moon

NASA announced that they will go back to the Moon and set up a base there by 2020. The decision to go back was influenced by the signing of the Space Policy Directive 1, in 2017 by President Trump, stating, “It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972, for long-term exploration and use. This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints — we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, to many worlds beyond.” (Link)

Image Source: NASA

Germany Stops All Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

After the journalist, Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi, was murdered inside a Saudi consulate in Turkey, apparently by agents of the Saudi government, Germany responded by saying it will not approve any new arms exports to Saudi Arabia. (Link)

Update: Denmark, Netherlands and Finland also stop weapons sales to Saudi Arabia in response to their role in killing civilians in Yemen. (Link)

Image Source: Google

Oil Demand for Cars is Falling as Electric Vehicles Market Share Increases

The International Energy Agency published its World Energy Outlook report recently and concluded that oil demand for cars is slowing down and will peak in the 2020s as electric vehicles and fuel efficiency measures become more prevalent. (Link)

Image Source: Tesla

Scientists Redefine the Kilogram

For over 100 years, the kilogram was defined as the weight of a physical piece of metal in a Paris laboratory. An issue with this is that if that piece of metal gains weight by collecting dirt or dust, or loses weight by scraping it during a measurement, its mass changes which technically changes the value of the kilogram for the entire world. To fix this issue, it will now be defined with the use of a fundamental physical constant, the Planck constant, to keep the value consistent. (Link)

News for the Week is posted every Friday. Click here to read last week’s news.