The theory goes: if it wasn’t for climate change, we, as in the entire planet, would not be discovering our shared humanity and climate change might be the catharsis for planetary unity. I’m not convinced that level of realization will happen over night, but I am hopeful that it could happen in our lifetime. We’ll see…
I wouldn’t call a new apple variety “game-changing.” However, a variety that can last longer than a few months in refrigeration is no small feat. I’ve never understood the Washingtonian penchant for Red Delicious. Maybe the Cosmic Crisp will become the new Pacifc Northwest favorite. Production of the classic red apple has been in decline for a while now. Personally, I favor the Gala, Fiji or Honeycrisp variety. Then again, there are quite a lot of cultivars out there to chose from.
Carell, an organic chemist, and his collaborators have now demonstrated a chemical pathway that — in principle — could have made A, U, C and G (adenine, uracil, cytosine and guanine, respectively) from basic ingredients such as water and nitrogen under conditions that would have been plausible on the early Earth. The reactions produce so much of these nucleobases that, millennium after millennium, they could have accumulated in thick crusts, Carell says. His team describes the results in Science on 3 October1.
The results add credence to the ‘RNA world’ hypothesis, says Carell, who is at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany. This idea suggests that life arose from self-replicating, RNA-based genes — and that only later did organisms develop the ability to store genetic information in the molecule’s close relative, DNA. The chemistry is also a “strong indication” that the appearance of RNA-based life was not an exceedingly lucky event, but one that is likely to happen on many other planets, he adds.
Automating agriculture is a complex proposition given the number and variety of tasks involved, but a number of robotics and autonomy companies are giving it their best shot. FarmWise seems to have impressed someone — it just raised $14.5 million to continue development of its autonomous weeding vehicle.
Currently in the prototype stage, these vehicles look like giant lumbering personnel carriers or the like, but are in fact precision instruments which scan the ground for invasive weeds among the crop and carefully pluck them out.
A pretty impressive, lumbering, weed-pulling, beast-of-a-prototype. It looks like an absolute unit too:
These sorts of bots have became very well known in the auto industry, the textiles industry, and now they’re coming to agriculture. Simply put, they’re designed to replace mundane awful tasks previously occupied by human hands. In the long-scheme of things, this is a good thing. Not-so-fun jobs should be automated. Improving the quality of life for mankind is a good thing.
But, if you think your job can’t be automated, think again. We have robots writing headlines and blog posts, self-writing their own programs, nailing roof tiles, and just about everything else (questionable or otherwise) in-between. That may sound really scary (and it is a little bit). The long-arc of these sorts of innovations will make create abundance with little effort, and will ultimately lead to a world where a majority the human-race are unemployable. I won’t claim to know the solution to that problem, but is an unavoidable outcome (see below) we should debate and talk about more freely, because it’s happening faster than you think.
I’m serious about the nail-gun wielding roofing-robot. It’s really something to behold:
If you have 15 minutes and you’re convinced your job can’t be occupied by automation, I urge you to watch CGP Grey’s film, Humans Need Not Apply. It’s a gripping must-watch short.
As Hurricane Dorian drew near to the Abaco Islands in the northwestern Bahamas early Sunday morning, the National Hurricane Center said in a bulletin that the maximum sustained winds around the eye of the storm had reached 160- miles an hour, making it a “catastrophic” storm with “devastating winds.”
It is moving westward fairly slowly — 8 miles an hour — and would soon be moving over Grand Abaco. The bulletin said storm surge as much of 15 to 20 feet was possible, enough to swamp many low-lying areas of the islands, and that as much as 24 inches of rain could fall before the storm passes.
This is pretty much a nightmare scenario. A storm originally forecast as a Category 3 or 4 has strengthened to a Category 5 in the balmy warm waters just south of The Bahamas. A weak jet stream, and unusually high temperatures of the waters have only strengthened the storm as it slowly creeps toward The States.
The devastating wind and sustained rain is going to pummel the tropical islands before reaching Florida on September 2, Labor Day at 2am. The NWS precipitation forecast says it all:
As Hurricane Dorian quickly approaches, it’s time to revisit the hurricane forecast maps. We often forget that these storms are highly complex systems, that can grow and contract and can move across hundreds of miles fairly quickly. Shouldn’t our weather projection maps communicate that complexity? Perhaps, that’s a tall order. As an primer, this was the forecast projection map for Hurricane Maria in 2017:
The great tragedy of these sorts of maps, is they communicate a very compressed amount of uncertainty. The paths these hurricanes can take can vary wildly around small meteorological variables. They’re simple and offer a condensed overview of the uncertainty of the storm (over time) without the baggage of demystifying a map legend and fraying model paths. While the cone projection maps condenses information, the spaghetti projection map illustrates the ensemble of projections:
Studies show that some people misinterpret the map as indicating the hurricane getting bigger over time. Others think it shows areas under threat. Research by Hurakan, a University of Miami team I’m a part of, suggests 40 percent of people wouldn’t feel threatened if they lived just outside of the cone.
The NWS does publish wind projection maps. Again, we’re looking at Hurricane Maria, which easily illustrates the destructive wind speed that pummeled Puerto Rico along its path in 2017:
It’s instrumental to look at all the projections available to you, to collectively assemble a full picture of the storm ahead. This method of forecasting multiple models (known as ensemble forecasting) isn’t new either. It’s regularly used for tornado and severe storm predictions as well.
Our planet, Earth, as it has come to be known — is the only place known to harbor life, is a pretty weird and mysterious ball of mud. We have it pretty good here. Even as we sit right on the cusp of complete annihilation, it’s really not so bad here. Protected by our thin atmosphere and fickle magnetosphere, we dodge immediate extermination by the all too occasional heat, radiation, and the insufferable sub-zero temperatures of interstellar space.
New research may now have yielded a more credible explanation for the fairy circles as examples of natural ecosystem engineering by a particular species of sand termites, Psammotermes allocerus. A German scientist reported on Thursday that most likely these industrious termites were the agents for making much of their desert home an oasis of permanent grassland.
The only thing Australia has in common with southwest Africa is the dry, arid conditions that resemble a desert. But apart from that, the two continents have been separated from each other for about 200 million years now, and the wildlife disparity couldn’t be more different.
Many other researchers, including entomologists and botanists, aren’t convinced. They think the circles occur because plants engage in a tug-of-war for water and other scarce nutrients. Due to their battles, the landscape “self-organizes” into rings of deep-rooted grasses, draining water from a central reservoir where no other plants can thrive. This explains why, as the researchers Michael Cramer and Nichole Barger found in 2013, the fairy circles are restricted to places with low rainfall, and why they grow after dry years and shrink after wet ones.
There we have it. To be brief, there are two grass types: one that prefers to grow deep with roots on the edges of moisture and nutrients., and the other which prefers to grow in a collective matrix with shorter root structures. A slide from Cramer and Barger’s research is pretty revealing:
As images of wildfires in South America’s Amazon region draw global attention, a large and potentially devastating series of fires is raging in Central Africa and parts of Southern Africa.
Among the regions at risk is the Congo Basin forest, the second-largest tropical rainforest, after the Amazon, mostly in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The region absorbs tons of carbon dioxide, a key in the fight against climate change, and has been called the world’s “second lung,” following the Amazon.
For weeks, a debate over where to get the best chicken sandwich has waged between Popeyes, Chick-fil-A and the chicken-eating public at large. But KFC, another chicken giant with a global reach, is working on its own agenda: a plant-based “chicken” that proved so popular in a sales test that it sold out in a single day.
“It’s confusing, but it’s also delicious,” read a tweet from KFC on Monday announcing the sale of Beyond Fried Chicken, created with the help of the company Beyond Meat, at a single location in Atlanta. In about five hours on Tuesday, a KFC representative said, the restaurant sold as many plant-based boneless wings and nuggets as it would sell of its popular popcorn chicken in an entire week. (A “Kentucky Fried Miracle,” the company declared.)
In 24 hours, the test market sold out. This is simply put, delicious news for everyone.
Kentucky Friend Chicken is rolling out Beyond Meat’s plant-based meat substitute deep-fried nuggets and boneless wings in test markets in Atlanta. The Morning Brew reports:
The meatless revolution has breached the castle walls. Today, a KFC store near Atlanta is rolling out Beyond Meat’s plant-based nuggets and boneless wings, all but guaranteeing fried chicken will remain in the news cycle for a second straight week.
I cannot wait to try this. Here’s to hoping the test market responds well to Beyond Fried Chicken 🤞