More than every second person in the world now has a cellphone, and manufacturers are rolling out bigger, better, slicker models all the time. Many, however, have a bloody history.
Though made in large part of plastic, glass, ceramics, gold and copper, they also contain critical resources. The gallium used for LEDs and the camera flash, the tantalum in capacitors and indium that powers the display were all pulled from the ground — at a price for nature and people.
“Mining raw materials is always problematic, both with regard to human rights and ecology,” said Melanie Müller, raw materials expert of the German think tank SWP. “Their production process is pretty toxic.”
The gallium and indium in many phones comes from China or South Korea, the tantalum from the Democratic Republic of Congo or Rwanda. All in, such materials comprise less than ten grams of a phone’s weight. But these grams finance an international mining industry that causes radioactive earth dumps, poisoned groundwater and Indigenous population displacement
Source: Toxic and Radioactive: The Damage From Mining Rare Elements – EcoWatch
The exact origin of the coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, which started the COVID-19 pandemic, is still unclear. Early reports suggested that the virus jumped from an animal to a human at Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, a “wet market” that sells live animals. On March 30, the international team of scientists assembled by the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report of their recent visit to Wuhan to investigate the source of the virus and confirmed the “zoonotic source of SARS-CoV-2.”
“Evidence from surveys and targeted studies so far have shown that the coronaviruses most highly related to SARS-CoV-2 are found in bats and pangolins, suggesting that these mammals may be the reservoir of the virus that causes COVID-19,” the WHO report states. “In addition to these findings, the high susceptibility of mink and cats to SARS-CoV- 2 suggests that additional species of animals may act as a potential reservoir. … Several samples from patients with exposure to the Huanan market had identical virus genomes, suggesting that they may have been part of a cluster.”
Source: Live Animal Markets Should Be Closed to Prevent the Next Pandemic – EcoWatch
While historic, that Block Island plant produces only about 30 megawatts (MW) of electricity, enough to power about 20,000 average U.S. houses—or about 4% of Rhode Island’s homes. By comparison, a typical coal plant produces about 600 MW. In total, offshore wind farms currently generate just 42 MW in the U.S. But under an ambitious $3 billion Biden Administration plan unveiled last week, the U.S. is set to multiply that output to 30 gigawatts (GW)—30,000 MW—by the end of this decade. Among other things, the package includes federal loan guarantees for offshore wind development, a new “priority wind energy area” between Long Island and New Jersey, and funding for port improvements around the country to make it easier to build new offshore wind facilities.
Source: Will Biden’s Offshore Wind Plan Be Enough? | Time
Atlantic salmon have a challenging life history — and those that hail from U.S. waters have seen things get increasingly difficult in the past 300 years.
Dubbed the “king of fish,” Atlantic salmon once numbered in the hundreds of thousands in the United States and ranged up and down most of New England’s coastal rivers and ocean waters. But dams, pollution and overfishing have extirpated them from all the region’s rivers except in Maine. Today only around 1,000 wild salmon, known as the Gulf of Maine distinct population segment, return each year from their swim to Greenland. Fewer will find adequate spawning habitat in their natal rivers to reproduce.
Source: Removing Dams Could Save Atlantic Salmon From Extinction – EcoWatch
During some years in the spring, so many jellyfish wash ashore on the beaches of Washington, Oregon, and California that they carpet the sand in thick, gooey mats. The jellyfish Velella velella can pile so high that taken together, they likely equal six and half blue whales’ worth of stuff.
Researchers now want to know where the jellyfish came from and what they could mean for the ecosystem.
“The question is, Are all those gazillions of Velella colonies out there eating all the fish eggs?” said Julia Parrish, a marine ecologist at the University of Washington.
Source: Jellyfish May Benefit From Climate Change – EcoWatch
About one third of the world’s agricultural land is at high risk from pesticide pollution, a new study has found.
The research, published in Nature Geoscience Monday, looked at the use and spread of 92 active pesticide ingredients in 168 countries. They considered an area at risk if the concentration of a chemical exceeded the limit at which it would have no effect, and at high risk if that concentration exceeded the limit by a factor of 1,000.
Source: 64% of World’s Farmland at Risk From Pesticide Pollution, Study Finds – EcoWatch
As a physicist in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Time and Frequency Division, I have worked in the general area of operating atomic clocks and using output signals from them to distribute time and frequency information for more than 40 years. I am also a Fellow at JILA, an institute operated jointly by NIST and the University of Colorado Boulder, and I teach in the physics department of the university.
A particularly useful system was a helium-neon laser whose output at 3.39 µm was stabilized by comparing it to the wavelength absorbed by methane. This wavelength could then be used to measure tiny changes in the length of a 30-meter long interferometer, which was in the Poorman’s Relief Gold Mine near Boulder. The interferometer consisted of two mirrors mounted on piers that were firmly connected to the floor of the mine. The mirrors and the space between them were enclosed in an evacuated pipe.
Source: Everyday Time and Atomic Time: Part One | NIST
Climate change poses significant dangers to global food supplies as rising temperatures make storage more difficult, The Associated Press reports.
Food around the world is stored outside after harvest, before processing, but rising temperatures and other altered weather patterns threaten to drive prices higher as more food is lost and producers are forced to install costly equipment to protect food stores.
Source: Climate Change Threatens Potato Chip Production, Global Food Storage – EcoWatch
A team of researchers in China claims to have made the first conclusive demonstration of ‘quantum advantage’ – using quantum mechanics to perform calculations that would be too slow on classical computers.
The research group at the Chinese University of Science and Technology collaborated with the Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology (SIMIT) and the National Parallel Computer Engineering Technology Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences to build a quantum computer prototype in which up to 76 photons were observed exiting a network of 100 channels.
Last year, Google caused a stir by announcing that it had reached “quantum supremacy,” a term that identifies the ability of a quantum computer to perform a calculation that is practically impossible for a traditional supercomputer to solve, except by taking a disproportionate amount of time.
Source: Photon-based Computer Archived Quantum Supremacy
Diafilm TM220 is a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) diamond thermal grade that offers industrial users thermal conductivity in excess of 2200 W/mK. Element Six (E6) launched this new solution in 2019 and, in an interview with EE Times Europe, Daniel Twitchen, chief technologist at E6, explained how over the last two years diamond has become a key enabler to many interesting applications, particularly in the thermal management of high power density radio frequency (RF) devices and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), as well as high-frequency resistive power management components. The introduction of this material to the market is in response to the ever-increasing demand for power that is pushing the limits of semiconductor thermal management.
Element Six’s Diafilm grades, spanning from 700 to 2200 W/mK, have applications in RF-based on gallium nitride (GaN) and monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs) for phased array radar, space and satellite 5G base stations, and beyond. In addition, the success of terabit-speed optoelectronic networks for both metro and long-haul content delivery relies on highly efficient thermal management.
Source: Diamond Thermal Solutions for High Power Electronics – EE Times Europe