Humans are not the only animals to build elaborate housing and grow crops—or to add carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere through their industry. A new study shows that the leaf-cutter ant Atta cephalotes is also a master builder and cultivator and a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Found in ecosystems throughout the New World, Atta species excavate massive, several-meter-deep underground nests that include complex tunnels and chambers, exits, and entrances. The ants drag vast quantities of vegetation into the nests to feed their main food source: a fungus called Leucoagaricus gongylophorus. To maintain the proper concentrations of CO2 and oxygen belowground, the nests also feature air vents and chimney-like turrets that enhance ventilation.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: eos.org

Scientists in China have reported a major breakthrough in the quest for nuclear fusion technology, which would harness power through the same processes that occur within stars. At the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor in Hefei, China, researchers managed to heat hydrogen within the ‘artificial sun’ to a temperature of more than 100 million degrees Celsius, or 212 million degrees Fahrenheit, at which point it becomes plasma. The temperatures inside EAST are actually about seven times hotter than the center of the sun, where the added pressure from gravity allows for fusion to occur.

 

On Earth, extreme temperatures are necessary to produce nuclear fusion, which occurs when two nuclei come together to form a heavier nucleus. The fusion process releases vast amounts of heat and energy, the results of which we can see when we look up at the Sun, or any star in the night sky. The opposite of fusion is nuclear fission, which occurs when the nuclei of atoms split in a chain reaction. This process also releases extraordinary amounts of energy, and it’s currently used in nuclear weapons and power plants worldwide. However, nuclear fission leaves behind dangerous radioactive waste. Nuclear fusion is relatively clean.

 

That’s partly why scientists worldwide have been racing for years to develop a safe and reliable way to produce the conditions necessary for nuclear fusion, which in theory could someday give the world a virtually limitless supply of clean energy. The recent success at EAST represents an important step toward that goal.

 

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Sourced through Scoop.it from: bigthink.com

A new theory tries to explain the mysterious phenomena that exists at the center of black holes.

 

Black holes are among the most mysterious places in the universe; locations where the very fabric of space and time are warped so badly that not even light can escape from them. According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, at their center lies a singularity, a place where the mass of many stars is crushed into a volume with exactly zero size. However, two recent physics papers, published on Dec.10 in the journals Physical Review Letters and Physical Review D, respectively, may make scientists reconsider what we think we know about black holes. Black holes might not last forever, and it’s possible that we’ve completely misunderstood their nature and what they look like at the center, according to the papers. [read: Stephen Hawking’s Most Far-Out Ideas About Black Holes]

 

 

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.livescience.com

Just like a lock can be picked, any biometric scanner can be fooled. Researchers have shown for years that the popular fingerprint sensors used to guard smartphones can be tricked sometimes, using a lifted print or a person’s digitized fingerprint data. But new findings from computer scientists at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering could raise the stakes significantly.

 

 

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.wired.com

Designed by Danny Hillis, the Clock is designed to run for ten millennia with minimal maintenance and interruption. The Clock is powered by mechanical energy harvested from sunlight as well as the people that visit it. The primary materials used in the Clock are marine grade 316 stainless steel, titanium and dry running ceramic ball bearings. The entire mechanism will be installed in an underground facility in west Texas.

 

In 02011, The American Astronomy Society published a paper co-written by Danny Hillis that describes how the Clock reckons time over its 10,000-year design lifetime.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: longnow.org