US-European Satellite Will Make World’s First Global Freshwater Survey

The Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission will make measurements of over 95% of Earth’s lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.

Water is life, but for all its importance, humanity has a surprisingly limited view of Earth’s freshwater bodies. Researchers have reliable water level measurements for only a few thousand lakes around the world, and little to no data on some of the planet’s important river systems. The upcoming Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite will fill that enormous gap. By helping to provide a better understanding of Earth’s water cycle, it will both aid in better management of water resources and expand knowledge of how climate change affects lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.


A collaboration between NASA and the French space agency Centre National d’Études Spatial (CNES), with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency and the United Kingdom Space Agency, SWOT is scheduled to launch in November from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Engineers and technicians are finishing up work on the satellite in a facility run by Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France.


SWOT has several key tasks, including measuring the height of water bodies on Earth’s surface. Over the ocean, the satellite will be able to “see” features like eddies less than 60 miles (100 kilometers) across – smaller than those that previous sea level satellites could observe. SWOT will also measure more than 95% of Earth’s lakes larger than 15 acres (6 hectares) and rivers wider than 330 feet (100 meters) across.


“Current databases maybe have information on a couple thousand lakes around the world,” said Tamlin Pavelsky, the NASA freshwater science lead for SWOT, based at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “SWOT will push that number to between 2 million and 6 million.”

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This Wearable Ultrasound Sticker Can Continuously Image Organs for 48 Hours

Ultrasound is a convenient, noninvasive tool for doctors to look inside the human body and check out a person’s liver, heart and other internal structures, as well as the developing fetus of a pregnant patient. But today’s ultrasound imaging technology is large and technical, so it’s only available in healthcare facilities and must be operated by highly trained technicians. Plus, patients, who take time out of their schedules to go to an appointment, have to be covered in a sticky gel.


Now, researchers say they’ve developed an innovative solution to some of these challenges. Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have unveiled a new adhesive ultrasound patch that’s about the size of a postage stamp and can provide continuous imaging of the body’s inner workings for up to 48 hours. The scientists shared their new technology in a paper published last week in the journal Science.


“We believe we’ve opened a new era of wearable imaging,” says Xuanhe Zhao, a mechanical engineer at MIT and one of the study’s authors, in a statement. “With a few patches on your body, you could see your internal organs.” In the past, engineers developing wearable ultrasound technologies have run into issues with image quality and flexibility, but the new MIT stickers seem to have struck the right balance. To create the small devices, which are about three millimeters thick and two square centimeters in size, engineers combined rigid transducers with a stretchy, sticky layer that encapsulates a layer of water-based hydrogel.

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250 Top Udemy Courses of All Time (2022)

Udemy is one of the largest online learning platforms for professional learning. According to the company, they have 35 million registered users. An analysis by Class Central shows they have launched over 157,000 courses since 2010.


The pandemic has boosted the fortune of many online providers. Udemy is no exception. In 2020 alone, the company raised $123 million and increased its valuation by over $1 billion. Overall, the company has raised ~$300 million at a valuation over $3 billion.


Class Central also experienced a quarantine boost: of all the people who ever used Class Central, 40% did so for the first time in 2020. After focusing exclusively on MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses for the last nine years, they are ready to expand to other kinds of online courses.

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Physicists discover a “family” of robust, superconducting graphene structures

MIT physicsts identified new multilayered configurations of graphene that can be twisted and stacked to elicit robust superconductivity at low temperatures. The study establishes these configurations as the first known “family” of multilayer magic-angle superconductors.


When it comes to graphene, it appears that superconductivity runs in the family. Graphene is a single-atom-thin material that can be exfoliated from the same graphite that is found in pencil lead. The ultrathin material is made entirely from carbon atoms that are arranged in a simple hexagonal pattern, similar to that of chicken wire.


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Portrait of Bravery: Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska

“We’re looking forward to victory. We have no doubt we will prevail. And this is what keeps us going.”

“These have been the most horrible months of my life, and the lives of every Ukrainian,” she said, speaking her country’s language through a translator. “Frankly I don’t think anyone is aware of how we have managed emotionally.” What inspires her, she told me, is her fellow Ukrainians. “We’re looking forward to victory. We have no doubt we will prevail. And this is what keeps us going.”

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How Long is COVID Infectious? What Scientists Know So Far

Those with SARS-CoV-2 are often advised to isolate for only a few days. But evidence is mounting that some people can continue to pass on the virus for much longer.  When the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) halved its recommended isolation time for people with COVID-19 to five days back in December, it said that the change was motivated by science. Specifically, the CDC said that most SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of the illness, in the one to two days before the onset of symptoms and for two to three days after. Many scientists disputed that decision then and they continue to do so. Such dissent is bolstered by a series of studies confirming that many people with COVID-19 remain infectious well into the second week after they first experience symptoms. Reductions in the length of the recommended isolation period — now common around the world — are driven by politics, they say, rather than any reassuring new data. “The facts of how long people are infectious for have not really changed,” says Amy Barczak, an infectious-disease specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “There is not data to support five days or anything shorter than ten days [of isolation].” Barczak’s own research, published on the medRxiv preprint server, suggests that one-quarter of people who have caught the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 could still be infectious after eight days.


Published in Nature  (July 26, 2022): 

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Hyundai is Trying to Certify its Flying Taxi for Commercial Use in the US

Supernal has given passengers a first look at what the cabin of its flying taxi may look like – and there are clearly some influences from parent company Hyundai Motor Group. The eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) concept was revealed at the Farnborough International Airshow, in Hampshire, England, and it illustrates how the Advance Air Mobility (AAM) sector can take inspiration from the automotive market. Supernal says it teamed up with Hyundai’s design studios to create the cabin concept as it works to certify its eVTOL vehicle for commercial use in the United States in 2028, with the United Kingdom and European Union expected to follow shortly after.


In addition, it is collaborating with Hyundai’s external partners and more than 50 affiliates – spanning automobiles, automotive parts, construction, robotics and autonomous driving – to co-create the AAM value chain. The five-seat cabin concept strikes a fine balance between using automotive design processes and materials while meeting the safety standards of commercial aviation.


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Artificial photosynthesis can produce food without sunlight

Scientists are developing artificial photosynthesis to help make food production more energy-efficient here on Earth, and one day possibly on Mars.


Scientists have found a way to bypass the need for biological photosynthesis altogether and create food independent of sunlight by using artificial photosynthesis. The technology uses a two-step electrocatalytic process to convert carbon dioxide, electricity, and water into acetate. Food-producing organisms then consume acetate in the dark to grow. The hybrid organic-inorganic system could increase the conversion efficiency of sunlight into food, up to 18 times more efficient for some foods.


Photosynthesis has evolved in plants for millions of years to turn water, carbon dioxide, and the energy from sunlight into plant biomass and the foods we eat. This process, however, is very inefficient, with only about 1% of the energy found in sunlight ending up in the plant. Scientists at UC Riverside and the University of Delaware have found a way to bypass the need for biological photosynthesis altogether and create food independent of sunlight by using artificial photosynthesis.


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Clearly Visible Human-Caused Global Warming Effects: Lake Mead Keeps Dropping

Water levels are at their lowest since 1937.


Continuing a 22-year downward trend, water levels in Lake Mead stand at their lowest since April 1937, when the reservoir was still being filled for the first time. As of July 18, 2022, Lake Mead was filled to just 27 percent of capacity. The largest reservoir in the United States supplies water to millions of people across seven states, tribal lands, and northern Mexico. It now also provides a stark illustration of climate change and a long-term drought that may be the worst in the U.S. West in 12 centuries.


The low water level comes at time when 74 percent of nine Western states face some level of drought; 35 percent of the area is in extreme or exceptional drought. In Colorado, location of the headwaters of the Colorado River, 83 percent of the state is now in drought, and the snowpack from last winter was below average in many places.


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How to Give and Receive Feedback About Creative Work

When it comes to creative projects, giving and receiving feedback in a way that’s actually productive can be tricky. In this piece, the author offers two research-backed suggestions: First, ask for broad feedback out of curiosity around how you can improve. Second, offer feedback based on subjectivity. Importantly, managers need to understand that their opinions provide only potential trajectories a creative worker might try — not the “right” road to take. With these guidelines, both managers and their employees can improve process of sharing feedback on creative endeavors.

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