Tag Archive: Massachusetts Institute of Technology


OZONE NEWS

Plugging an ozone hole


by Staff Writers
Boston MA (SPX) Apr 17, 2014


File image.

Since the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole, scientists, policymakers, and the public have wondered whether we might someday see a similarly extreme depletion of ozone over the Arctic.

But a new MIT study finds some cause for optimism: Ozone levels in the Arctic haven’t yet sunk to the extreme lows seen in Antarctica, in part because international efforts to limit ozone-depleting chemicals have been successful.

“While there is certainly some depletion of Arctic ozone, the extremes of Antarctica so far are very different from what we find in the Arctic, even in the coldest years,” says Susan Solomon, the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science at MIT, and lead author of a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Frigid temperatures can spur ozone loss because they create prime conditions for the formation of polar stratospheric clouds. When sunlight hits these clouds, it sparks a reaction between chlorine from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), human-made chemicals once used for refrigerants, foam blowing, and other applications – ultimately destroying ozone.

A success story of science and policy
After the ozone-attacking properties of CFCs were discovered in the 1980s, countries across the world agreed to phase out their use as part of the 1987 Montreal Protocol treaty. While CFCs are no longer in use, those emitted years ago remain in the atmosphere.

 

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

An aerial view of clouds over a mountain range in Greenland.

Courtesy of Michael Studinger/NASA Earth Observatory

Full Screen

Courtesy of Michael Studinger/NASA Earth Observatory

 

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An Arctic ozone hole? Not quite

MIT researchers find that the extremes in Antarctic ozone holes have not been matched in the Arctic.

Audrey Resutek | Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change
April 14, 2014

Since the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole, scientists, policymakers, and the public have wondered whether we might someday see a similarly extreme depletion of ozone over the Arctic.

But a new MIT study finds some cause for optimism: Ozone levels in the Arctic haven’t yet sunk to the extreme lows seen in Antarctica, in part because international efforts to limit ozone-depleting chemicals have been successful.

“While there is certainly some depletion of Arctic ozone, the extremes of Antarctica so far are very different from what we find in the Arctic, even in the coldest years,” says Susan Solomon, the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science at MIT, and lead author of a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Frigid temperatures can spur ozone loss because they create prime conditions for the formation of polar stratospheric clouds. When sunlight hits these clouds, it sparks a reaction between chlorine from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), human-made chemicals once used for refrigerants, foam blowing, and other applications — ultimately destroying ozone.

‘A success story of science and policy’

After the ozone-attacking properties of CFCs were discovered in the 1980s, countries across the world agreed to phase out their use as part of the 1987 Montreal Protocol treaty. While CFCs are no longer in use, those emitted years ago remain in the atmosphere. As a result, atmospheric concentrations have peaked and are now slowly declining, but it will be several decades before CFCs are totally eliminated from the environment — meaning there is still some risk of ozone depletion caused by CFCs.

 

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OZONE NEWS

NASA Pinpoints Causes of 2011 Arctic Ozone Hole


by Maria-Jose Vinas for NASA’s Earth Science News
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Mar 13, 2013


Maps of ozone concentrations over the Arctic come from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite. The left image shows March 19, 2010, and the right shows the same date in 2011. March 2010 had relatively high ozone, while March 2011 has low levels. Credit: NASA/Goddard.

A combination of extreme cold temperatures, man-made chemicals and a stagnant atmosphere were behind what became known as the Arctic ozone hole of 2011, a new NASA study finds. Even when both poles of the planet undergo ozone losses during the winter, the Arctic’s ozone depletion tends to be milder and shorter-lived than the Antarctic’s.

This is because the three key ingredients needed for ozone-destroying chemical reactions -chlorine from man-made chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), frigid temperatures and sunlight- are not usually present in the Arctic at the same time: the northernmost latitudes are generally not cold enough when the sun reappears in the sky in early spring. Still, in 2011, ozone concentrations in the Arctic atmosphere were about 20 percent lower than its late winter average.

The new study shows that, while chlorine in the Arctic stratosphere was the ultimate culprit of the severe ozone loss of winter of 2011, unusually cold and persistent temperatures also spurred ozone destruction. Furthermore, uncommon atmospheric conditions blocked wind-driven transport of ozone from the tropics, halting the seasonal ozone resupply until April.

“You can safely say that 2011 was very atypical: In over 30 years of satellite records, we hadn’t seen any time where it was this cold for this long,” said Susan E. Strahan, an atmospheric scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and main author of the new paper, which was recently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres.

“Arctic ozone levels were possibly the lowest ever recorded, but they were still significantly higher than the Antarctic’s,” Strahan said. “There was about half as much ozone loss as in the Antarctic and the ozone levels remained well above 220 Dobson units, which is the threshold for calling the ozone loss a ‘hole’ in the Antarctic – so the Arctic ozone loss of 2011 didn’t constitute an ozone hole.”

The majority of ozone depletion in the Arctic happens inside the so-called polar vortex: a region of fast-blowing circular winds that intensify in the fall and isolate the air mass within the vortex, keeping it very cold.

 

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Why Did FBI Monitor Occupy Houston, and Then Hide Sniper Plot Against Protest Leaders?

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MSN Money

 

Technology and globalization have transformed employment amid the slow economic recovery.

Man reading job listings © Tetra Images, Getty Images

Mark Riley was 53 years old when he lost a job as a grant writer for an Arkansas community college. “I was stunned,” he said. “It happened on my daughter’s 11th birthday.” His boss blamed state budget cuts.

That was almost three years ago and he still hasn’t found steady work. Riley, whose unemployment benefits ran out 14 months ago, says his long and fruitless search is proof employers won’t hire men out of work too long.

“We’re poor, but we’re not broke,” Riley said. “We still have property. We have cars. We have some assets, we just can’t liquidate them.”

Riley’s frustration is widely shared. More than one in six men ages 25 to 54, prime working years, don’t have jobs—a total of 10.4 million. Some are looking for jobs; many aren’t. Some had jobs that went overseas or were lost to technology. Some refuse to uproot for work because they are tied down by family needs or tethered to homes worth less than the mortgage. Some rely on government benefits. Others depend on working spouses.

Having so many men out of work is partly a symptom of a U.S. economy slow to recover from the worst recession in 75 years. It is also a chronic condition that shows how technology and globalization are transforming jobs faster than many workers can adapt, economists say.

The trend has been building for decades, according to government data. In the early 1970s, just 6 percent of American men ages 25 to 54 were without jobs. By late 2007, it was 13 percent. In 2009, during the worst of the recession, nearly 20 percent didn’t have jobs.

Although the economy is improving and the unemployment rate is falling, 17 percent of working-age men weren’t working in December. More than two-thirds said they weren’t looking for work, so the government doesn’t label them unemployed. The January snapshot of the job market is due Friday.

For women, the story is different. In the 1950s, only about a third of women ages 25 to 54 had jobs. That rose steadily until the 1990s, and then leveled off for reasons that aren’t clear. At last tally, about 70 percent were working; 30 percent weren’t.

Men without jobs stand apart in a society that has long celebrated work and hailed the breadwinners who support their families. “Our culture is one that venerates work, that views work as good for its own sake,” said David Autor, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist.

The bleak prospects for the long-term unemployed—40 percent of men looking for jobs say they have been out of work six months or more—alarms policy makers and economists. The longer a person is unemployed, according to historic data, the harder it is to find a job.

Surveys find that most of the jobless spend their days in the same way working men spend weekends—watching TV, working out, sleeping. Economists say part of the problem is that men with few marketable skills and little education can’t find work that pays enough to get them off the couch.

Since the early 1970s, the average inflation-adjusted wage for high-school dropouts has fallen about 25 percent; for high-school graduates with no college degree, it is down about 15 percent. Simply put, many of the available jobs don’t pay enough to get men to take them, particularly if securing a job requires moving, long commutes or surrendering government benefits.

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Image Source :  WIkimedia Commons

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The Frightening New Mind Control Technology That Can Hack Your Brain

Daniel G. J.

StoryLeak

by
July 28th, 2013
Updated 07/29/2013 at 2:58 am

There’s a frightening new technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that’s right out of a comic book. Scientists at the technical school have figured out how to implant false mental reactions in a mouse.

This technological ‘advancement’ is terrifying when considering that it could lead to real life brainwashing and mind control like that shown in the classic movie The Manchurian Candidate (the classic film starring Frank Sinatra). In the film, communists turn an average man into an assassin by implanting false memories into his mind.

A similar plot is found in Total Recall. The brainwashing shown in these movies were fantasy, but what’s happening at MIT is apparently real.

A team of MIT researchers led by neuroscientist Susumu Tongawa figured out how to implant responses in the brains of mice by manipulating neurons. They even have a name for their technique, optogenetics, and it allows them to manipulate brain cells with chemicals. Remember the term optogenetics; we’re going to be hearing a lot about it in years to come.

Brain Hacking

Basically, these scientists have figured out how to hack the brain much like cyber crooks can hack your computer. They’re still a long way from hacking human brains, but that seems to be the goal here.

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Rising food prices, climate change and global ‘unrest’

I don’t mean to put a damper on the everyone’s summer holidays, but the current heatwaves in the U.S. and Europe has me thinking back to numerous warnings issued during last summer’s major drought and “record-breaking heatwave” in the U.S.

Analysts at Rabobank, a Netherlands-based bank specialising in food and agri-business financing, were crunching the numbers and predicted at the time that food prices, specifically meat prices, would soar in 2013 as a result of the U.S. drought.

Back in 2011, the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), a research body of academics from Harvard and MIT, using data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Food Price Index, published a paper that correlated “outbreaks of unrest” in 2008 and 2011 with increases in food prices. They claimed to have identified the precise threshold for global food prices that leads to worldwide unrest: 210 points

“high global food prices are a precipitating condition for social unrest. More specifically, food riots occur above a threshold of the FAO price index of 210.”

Yaneer Bar-Yam, president of NECSI and one of the paper’s authors, said:

“When people are unable to feed themselves and their families, widespread social disruption occurs. We are on the verge of another crisis, the third in five years, and likely to be the worst yet, capable of causing new food riots and turmoil on a par with the Arab Spring.”

The aggregated FAO Food Price Index averaged 211.3 points in June this year, but more telling indicators might be their June 2013 Cereal Price Index, which averaged 236.5 points, and their Sugar Price Index, which averaged 242.6 points. Dairy prices are also riding above this 210 threshold, so when we consider that most people’s diets are substantially based on sugar, cereals and dairy, followed by meats from cattle raised on grains, it seems pretty clear that we’re very much in the danger zone.

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Earth Watch Report –  Space

Image Source  NASA

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 Earth approaching objects (objects that are known in the next 30 days)

Object Name Apporach Date Left AU Distance LD Distance Estimated Diameter* Relative Velocity
285263 (1998 QE2) 30th May 2013 0 day(s) 0.0392 15.2 1.4 km – 3.1 km 10.58 km/s 38088 km/h
(2011 BM45) 31st May 2013 1 day(s) 0.0749 29.2 130 m – 280 m 27.67 km/s 99612 km/h
(2004 KH17) 02nd June 2013 3 day(s) 0.0979 38.1 110 m – 250 m 12.91 km/s 46476 km/h
1 AU = ~150 million kilometers,1 LD = Lunar Distance = ~384,000 kilometers Source: NASA-NEO

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2.7 km wide Asteroid 1998 QE2 will fly past Earth on May 31, 2013

 photo ThisdiagramshowstheorbitofAsteroid1998QE2-Credit-NASAJPL-Caltech_zpsd81ad91a.jpg

This diagram shows the orbit of Asteroid 1998 QE2 – Credit – NASA JPL-Caltech

 

 

Asteroid 1998 QE2 will fly past Earth at end of May at a distance of 5.8 million kilometers, or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon. The asteroid’s size is estimated to be about 2.7 kilometers. It will make its closest approach on May 31, 2013 at 20:59 UTC. This will be the closest it gets to Earth for at least the next two centuries. It has a cycle of about 15 years and 46 days.

Asteroid 1998 QE2 seen by Q62 iTelescope  Observatory (Credit: Guido&Howes/Remanzacco Observatory)

Asteroid 1998 QE2 was discovered on August 19, 1998, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program near Socorro, New Mexico. Its name is given by Minor Planet Center, which gives every newly discovered asteroid a provisional designation starting with the year of first detection, along with an alphanumeric code indicating the half-month it was discovered, and the sequence within that half-month.

This flyby doesn’t spark much interest with astronomers and other experts who are monitoring potentially dangerous asteroids (PHAs). However, it will interesting target for those who dabble in radar astronomy and have a 70 meter or larger radar telescope on their hands.

According to radar astronomer Lance Benner, the principal investigator for the Goldstone radar observations from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Asteroid 1998 QE2 will be an outstanding radar imaging target at Goldstone and Arecibo Observatories and he expects him and his colleagues to obtain a series of high-resolution images that could reveal a wealth of surface features. Radar images from the Goldstone antenna might resolve features on the asteroid as tiny as 3.75 meters across, even at a distance of 4 million miles away. The two telescopes have complementary imaging capabilities that will give astronomers a chance to learn as much as possible about the asteroid during its brief visit near Earth.

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Lethality of Roundup ‘Weedkiller’ Extends Beyond Plants To Humans, Study Suggests

Lethality of Roundup 'Weedkiller' Extends Beyond Plants To Humans, Study Suggests

A shocking new study finds that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide, “…may be the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment,” capable of contributing to a wide range of fatal human diseases.

Glyphosate is the world’s most popular herbicide and is designed to kill all but genetically modified “Roundup Ready” plants, such as GM corn, soy, beet, cottonseed and canola.  Over 180 million pounds of the chemical are now applied to US soils each year,[ii] and while agrichemical manufacturers and government regulators have considered it ‘relatively safe,’ an expanding body of biomedical research indicates that it may cause over 30 distinct adverse health effects in exposed populations at far lower concentrations than used in agricultural applications.

The new report, authored by Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Anthony Samsel, a retired science consultant from Arthur D. Little, Inc., brings to the forefront concerns voiced by an outspoken minority that Roundup and related glyphosate herbicide formulations are contributing to diseases as far-ranging as inflammatory bowel disease, anorexia, cystic fibrosis, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and infertility.   In fact, the authors propose that glyphosate, contrary to being essentially nontoxic, “…may be the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment.

The researchers identified the inhibition and/or disruption of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes as a hitherto overlooked mechanism of toxicity associated with glyphosate exposure in mammals.

CYP enzymes are essential for detoxifying xenobiotic chemicals from the body. Glyphosate therefore enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins.  The researchers also showed how interference with CYP enzymes acts synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut bacteria (e.g. tryptophan), as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport, a critical biological system for cellular detoxification (e.g. transulfuration pathway which detoxifies metals).

 

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cnsnews.com

 

chomskyMIT Professor of Linguistics Noam Chomsky. (AP)

(CNSNews.com) — MIT Professor of Linguistics Noam Chomsky, a long-time left-wing writer and activist, told Al-Jazeera that he does not believe President Barack Obama has a “moral center,” and that he is running a “global assassination campaign” using drone warfare.

“There’s some nice rhetoric here and there, but you look at the actual policies, they’re pretty shocking,” Chomsky said, speaking of President Obama. “The drone assassination campaign’s a perfectly good example. It’s just a global assassination campaign.”

In an interview on Saturday, Jan. 12, with Al-Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan, Chomsky was asked, “Does President Barack Obama have a moral compass? And if he does, is he ignoring it at his own peril, at the country’s peril?”

 

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Published on Nov 16, 2012

To support Kelvin and young innovators like him, please visit http://www.crowdrise.com/InnovateSalone

15-Year-Old Kelvin Doe is an engineering whiz living in Sierra Leone who scours the trash bins for spare parts, which he uses to build batteries, generators and transmitters. Completely self-taught, Kelvin has created his own radio station where he broadcasts news and plays music under the moniker, DJ Focus.

Kelvin became the youngest person in history to be invited to the “Visiting Practitioner’s Program” at MIT. THNKR had exclusive access to Kelvin and his life-changing journey – experiencing the US for the first time, exploring incredible opportunities, contending with homesickness, and mapping out his future.

Here is a link to the Bobby Fala track in the video on SoundCloud: http://soundcloud.com/karen-kilberg/kpei-ragga

Photos courtesy of Adam Cohn (http://www.adamcohn.com/) and Paula Aguilera

PRODIGIES is a bi-weekly series showcasing the youngest and brightest as they challenge themselves to reach new heights and the stories behind them.

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Mussel goo inspires blood vessel glue


by Staff Writers
Vancouver, Canada (SPX)


Asst. Prof. Christian Kastrup co-invented a gel, inspired by mussel’s “sheer strength” for clinging to cliffs, that can shore up weakened blood vessels.

A University of British Columbia researcher has helped create a gel – based on the mussel’s knack for clinging to rocks, piers and boat hulls – that can be painted onto the walls of blood vessels and stay put, forming a protective barrier with potentially life-saving implications.

Co-invented by Assistant Professor Christian Kastrup while a postdoctoral student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the gel is similar to the amino acid that enables mussels to resist the power of churning water.

The variant that Kastrup and his collaborators created, described in the current issue of the online journal PNAS Early Edition, can withstand the flow of blood through arteries and veins.

The gel’s “sheer strength” could shore up weakened vessel walls at risk of rupturing – much like the way putty can fill in dents in a wall, says Kastrup, a member of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Michael Smith Laboratories.

By forming a stable barrier between blood and the vessel walls, the gel could also prevent the inflammation that typically occurs when a stent is inserted to widen a narrowed artery or vein; that inflammation often counteracts the opening of the vessel that the stent was intended to achieve.

The widest potential application would be preventing the rupture of blood vessel plaque. When a plaque ruptures, the resulting clot can block blood flow to the heart (triggering a heart attack) or the brain (triggering a stroke). Mice treated with a combination of the gel and an anti-inflammatory steroid had more stable plaque than a control group of untreated mice.

“By mimicking the mussel’s ability to cling to objects, we created a substance that stays in place in a very dynamic environment with high flow velocities,” says Kastrup, a member of UBC’s Center for Blood Research.

 

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Related Links
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