7 Countries Leading the Way on the Race to Go Electric


Starting in 2019, Volvo will be producing only cars with electric motors, or hybrids—vehicles that run on combined electric and petrol-driven engines.

China is the world’s biggest market for both electric and hybrid vehicles, with approximately 350,000 sold last year.

Norway, with the world’s highest number of electric cars per capita, and where 40 percent of newly registered vehicles last year were electric powered, aims to end all sales of petrol and diesel cars within eight years.

Germany plans to have more than one million electric cars on its roads by 2020, while the Netherlands proposes to ban combustion engines by 2025.

France recently joined the high-powered rush to electric vehicles, saying it would end all sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040 as part of its commitment to meeting the targets of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change.

India, now one of the world’s biggest car markets, announced plans earlier this year to have only electric cars on its roads by 2030.

Source: 7 Countries Leading the Way on the Race to Go Electric

UK has nearly 800 livestock mega farms, investigation reveals | The Guardian


Nearly every county in England and Northern Ireland has at least one mega farm, and they are also scattered across Scotland and Wales.

The march of US-style mega farms – defined in the US as facilities housing 125,000 broiler chickens, 82,000 laying hens, 2,500 pigs, 700 dairy or 1,000 beef cattle – has been revealed in an investigation by the Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Most of these farms have gone unnoticed, despite their size and the controversy surrounding them, in part because many farmers have expanded existing facilities rather than seeking new sites.

Source: UK has nearly 800 livestock mega farms, investigation reveals | Environment | The Guardian

No, the laws of Australia don’t override the laws of mathematics


When a reporter asked Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, “Won’t the laws of mathematics trump the laws of Australia?,” Mr. Turnbull reportedly responded “Well the laws of Australia prevail in Australia, I can assure you of that. The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia.”

Actually, the laws of mathematics, including the mathematical framework that enables strong cryptography, apply in Australia and in every other country. The laws of mathematics can’t be undone by wishing they didn’t exist, or by legislating them away.

Source: No, the laws of Australia don’t override the laws of mathematics

When the Desert Pushes Back Against Human Engineering | Pacific Standard


The American West is a testament to hubris. We beat back the desert with a complex plumbing system of dams, canals, and pumps to create a thriving civilization in the hottest and driest region of the country.

But today it’s becoming clear that many of the structures built to prevent a shortage of water have ultimately contributed to its scarcity.

And, now, even as we try to come up with new ways to engineer the environment in our favor, the desert is pushing back into its former territory …

Source: When the Desert Pushes Back Against Human Engineering – Pacific Standard

After Oranges


We gather this in the early pages of the book, where no one in Florida will hand John McPhee a taste of fresh-squeezed orange juice. He gets cup after cup of concentrate from Floridians who tell him it is really so much better, the industrially balanced flavors and sweetness.

In a small act of defiance, he grabs a couple of oranges off a tree near his motel and juices them on a reamer bought from a hardware store’s dusty shelf.

Source: After Oranges

Dark Days


Venezuela’s fortunes rise and fall with the price of oil, and when crude prices tanked in 2014, its economy was thrown into chaos.

A government that had relied on oil revenues to fund social spending suddenly came up short of hard currency for imports, causing shortages of every kind.

As Nicolas Maduro’s government struggles to contain the crisis, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest his government.

Source: Dark Days

Can We Recreate Evolution?


What most goes against our intuition is that complex structures can be better dissipaters of energy than simpler ones.

Catalysts help you up an energy hill so that you can drop even further down on the other side.

Casting our gaze across the entirety of biological evolution, each organism is such an energy hill. It forms only if it is thermodynamically favored—if by pumping energy uphill to create it, even more energy is released.

A lizard, for example, requires more energy to make than a lizard’s-worth of E. coli, but it consumes more energy at a greater rate. A world that contains both lizards and bacteria, then, is energetically favored over a world of only bacteria.

A world that also includes warm-blooded cows, munching grass and emitting heat, methane, and fertilizer, is an even better entropy engine; one with tigers is better still. It is the ecosystem that is energetically favored: A lush green Earth teeming with life pulls more heat out of the hot center of the planet and out of the sun, releasing it into cold, dark space, than does, say, Mars.

Our biosphere is but a sophisticated icepack for the sun.

Source: Can We Recreate Evolution?

How to Build the Perfect Dog


When Belyaev began the fox experiment, nearly nothing about the process of domestication was known.

Why had so few animal species of the millions on the planet had become domesticated—only a few dozen in all? Most were mammals, but also a few species of fish and birds, and a few insects, including the silk moth and the honeybee. Then there was the question of why so many of the changes that had taken place in domesticated mammals were so similar.

As Darwin had noted, most of them developed patches of different coloring in their fur and on their hides—spots, patches, blazes, and other markings. Many also retained physical characteristics from childhood well into their adulthood that their wild cousins outgrew, such as floppy ears, curly tails, and babyish faces—referred to as the neotenic features—that make young animals of so many species so adorable.

Source: How to Build the Perfect Dog

Researchers Create First Low-Energy Particle Accelerator Beam Underground in the United States

null
Through the project, called CASPAR (Compact Accelerator System for Performing Astrophysical Research), researchers will recreate the nuclear fusion processes responsible for energy generation and elemental production in stars, to understand more about how stars burn and what elements they create while doing so.

CASPAR is one of only two underground accelerators in the world, located at the Sanford Underground Research Facility(SURF), in Lead, South Dakota.

The other, the Laboratory for Underground Nuclear Astrophysics (LUNA) is located in Italy, near Gran Sasso mountain.

Source: Researchers Create First Low-Energy Particle Accelerator Beam Underground in the United States

Next-gen drones will fly and dive into the sea like pelicans | New Scientist


Forget flying cars – flying submarines are about to make a splash. The US navy is developing a souped-up version of underwater drones that will boast the ability to get airborne.

The drones are known as gliders because they vary their buoyancy to glide through the water for great distances on little power. In 2009, one crossed the Atlantic without recharging. But they are also slow, a drawback that flight could help with.

Source: Next-gen drones will fly and dive into the sea like pelicans | New Scientist