Armed and ready Mars 2020 rover is fitted with its robotic arm

first_img Mars 2020 rover enters its final year of engineering before launch Installation of SuperCam Mast Unit on Mars 2020 rover is a towering success Ready to roll: Mars 2020 rover fitted with wheels ahead of mission next year NASA’s Mars Helicopter is ready to take to the red skies Mars 2020 will capture high-definition color images from the Jezero Crater Editors’ Recommendations On June 21, 2019, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory install the main robotic arm on the Mars 2020 rover. Measuring 7 feet (2.1 meters) long, the arm will allow the rover to work as a human geologist would: by holding and using science tools with its turret. NASA/JPL-CaltechNASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory continues to make progress on preparing the Mars 2020 rover for its upcoming mission. Recently the rover had its six wheels fitted so it can traverse the Martian surface, and now it has had its robotic arm installed as well.The robotic arm is a complex piece of machinery in its own right, consisting of five electrical motors and five joints — the shoulder azimuth joint, the shoulder elevation joint, the elbow joint, the wrist joint, and the turret joint. In total the arm is 7 feet (2.1 meters) in length and will be used to move around and use scientific tools.At the end of the arm is the turret, which acts as the rover’s “hand” and includes equipment such as high-definition cameras, science instruments, and a percussive drill and coring mechanism.The rover will eventually have two arms: The main robotic arm which was just installed, as well as a smaller arm which will be installed inside the rover to handle samples of Martian rock and soil.After its launch in 2020, the rover will touch down in an area of Mars called the Jezero Crater which is thought to be the site of an ancient Martian lake. It will collect samples of rocks in the area and observe the structure of the sediment to give scientists clues as to whether there was once liquid water on the planet’s surface. It will collect both visual information, using high definition color cameras, and geological samples using its arm to be brought back to Earth for study.The NASA engineers are clearly having fun updating the public about the progress on the rover. “You have to give a hand to our rover arm installation team,” Ryan van Schilifgaarde, a support engineer at JPL for Mars 2020 assembly, said in a statement. “They made an extremely intricate operation look easy. We’re looking forward to more of the same when the arm will receive its turret in the next few weeks.”last_img read more

"Armed and ready Mars 2020 rover is fitted with its robotic arm"

Exploding star system revealed through ultraviolet Hubble image

first_img Editors’ Recommendations Telescopes, including Hubble, have monitored the Eta Carinae star system for more than two decades. It has been prone to violent outbursts, including an episode in the 1840s during which ejected material formed the bipolar bubbles seen here. NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of Arizona, Tucson), and J. Morse (BoldlyGo Institute, New York)This Hubble image shows Eta Carinae, a double star system 7500 light-years away, which has been exploding in slow motion for more than a hundred and eighty years.The system contains at least two stars which glow five million times brighter than our Sun, and the dramatic event began in 1838, when it experienced an enormous explosion called the Great Eruption. The event threw off enough light that it became the second brightest in the sky by April 1844, and sailors and mariners in the southern seas used it for navigation. It almost destroyed the system, but the light eventually faded although the explosions continued.A smaller eruption happened in 1892, and it has grown consistently brighter since 1940, suggesting the activity is still ongoing. This video traces the evolution of this remarkable system:The new image from Hubble has revealed more information about the two round globe shapes formed by dust, gas, and other materials pushed out into space by the explosion. It was previously thought that the clouds would glow with magnesium illuminated by nitrogen (which is shown in red in the image), but in fact complex magnesium structures were found in between the bubbles of gas instead.“We’ve discovered a large amount of warm gas that was ejected in the Great Eruption but hasn’t yet collided with the other material surrounding Eta Carinae,” Nathan Smith of Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, lead investigator of the Hubble program, explained in a statement. “Most of the emission is located where we expected to find an empty cavity. This extra material is fast, and it ‘ups the ante’ in terms of the total energy of an already powerful stellar blast.”Hubble captured ultraviolet wavelengths of light to create the image, which help to illuminate warm gas is a different way from other wavelengths.“We had used Hubble for decades to study Eta Carinae in visible and infrared light, and we thought we had a pretty full account of its ejected debris. But this new ultraviolet-light image looks astonishingly different, revealing gas we did not see in either visible-light or infrared images,” Smith said. “We’re excited by the prospect that this type of ultraviolet magnesium emission may also expose previously hidden gas in other types of objects that eject material, such as protostars or other dying stars; and only Hubble can take these kinds of pictures.” Spitzer captures childhood, middle age, and maturity of stars in one image See 265,000 galaxies in the epic Hubble Legacy Field mosaic The Very Large Telescope gets upgrade to aid its hunt for habitable exoplanets Images of the Whirlpool galaxy show the value of infrared light observations Cosmic dust feeds star formation in this week’s Hubble imagelast_img read more

"Exploding star system revealed through ultraviolet Hubble image"

SpaceXs Starhopper rocket bursts into flames during tests

first_img SpaceX hopes to blast off its Starship and Super Heavy Rocket project in 2021 SpaceX launches Falcon Heavy but loses core booster in crash landing SpaceX joins internet-from-space race with launch of 60 Starlink satellites How to watch SpaceX’s most difficult Falcon Heavy launch ever SpaceX launch to resupply ISS finally goes off after several delays Editors’ Recommendations SpaceX’s Starhopper creates fireball!SpaceX’s prototype Starhopper engine burst into flames after a routine engine test.ShareVideo Player is loading.Play VideoPauseUnmuteCurrent Time 0:09/Duration 0:33Loaded: 100.00%0:10Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:24 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedAudio Tracken (Main), selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreenSpaceX’s Starhopper rocket bursts into flames during testsCloseSpaceX ran into trouble Tuesday evening when a small fire erupted from the engine of a prototype rocket it was testing at the company’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas.The rocket in question is an early prototype of the company’s Starship rocket called Starhopper. Ultimately Starship is expected to be used for space tourism, specifically to transport up to 100 passengers from Earth to the moon and Mars. The fire, captured on video by Everyday Astronaut, produced a large burst of flames just after SpaceX tested the rocket’s engine. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Starhopper was damaged in the incident. We’ve reached out to SpaceX to find out how exactly the fire impacted the rocket — if at all — and will update this story if we hear back.Unlike some other space vessels, Starship, Spacehopper’s big brother, is expected to be completely reusable. Much like an airplane, it will be able to take off and land multiple times. SpaceX’s Falcon series of rockets are currently partially reusable.The vessel was originally named “Big Falcon Rocket.” CEO Elon Musk changed the name of the rocket to Starship last year. When he announced the name change on Twitter a commenter mentioned “unless this starship is sent on a mission to another star system it can’t be called a starship” to which Musk replied, “Later versions will.”Starhopper is meant to be a test rocket for the Starship project. During tests, the spacecraft has been flying short flights at a low altitude as a way of proving the technology used to power it actually works. If the project takes off, it could revolutionize space travel (and make it significantly less expensive by reusing the same rocket).The spacecraft uses SpaceX’s “Raptor” rocket engines, and the company plans to gradually add more of those engines over time, ultimately reaching the seven engines expected to be included in the final Starship rocket. That rocket will also have an additional 31 Raptor engines as part of a “Super Heavy” booster. SpaceX completed its first test of Starhopper in April.Inaugural missions for Starship are expected to happen as early as 2021.last_img read more

"SpaceXs Starhopper rocket bursts into flames during tests"

Inspector General Medicare Wrongly Paid Millions For Refills On Restricted Prescriptions

first_img This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Inspector General: Medicare Wrongly Paid Millions For Refills On Restricted Prescriptions The Associated Press/Washington Post: Inspector General: Medicare Wrongly Paid For $25M In Refills On Painkillers, Other DrugsMedicare routinely refilled pain pills and other restricted medications that are barred by federal law from renewal without a fresh prescription, government inspectors said in a report Thursday (9/27).last_img read more

"Inspector General Medicare Wrongly Paid Millions For Refills On Restricted Prescriptions"

Viewpoints The Countrys Deep Health Problems Anthems Rx Policy In Calif May

first_imgViewpoints: The Country’s Deep Health Problems; Anthem’s Rx Policy In Calif. May Not Be Legal; Wis. Gov. Medicaid Decision Looming This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The New York Times: America’s Health Disadvantage It is now shockingly clear that poor health is a much broader and deeper problem than past studies have suggested. An authoritative report issued by the Institute of Medicine this week found that, on average, Americans experience higher rates of disease and injury and die sooner than people in other high-income countries. … The panel suggested a campaign to raise public awareness of the American health disadvantage and a study of what other countries are doing that might be useful here (1/10). The Wall Street Journal: Team Of Liberal Loyalists It’s notable how (Jack) Lew’s reputation has changed during the Obama years. As White House budget director in the Clinton era, he was viewed by Republicans as a reasonable liberal they could do business with. But as budget director and chief of staff in the Obama White House, Mr. Lew has been the President’s most partisan and implacable negotiator. Our sources who have been in the room with the 57-year-old say he is now a fierce defender of entitlements in their current form, resists all but token spending restraint, and favors higher tax rates (1/9). Los Angeles Times: Anthem’s Mail-Order Policy May Have Crossed A Legal Line Anthem Blue Cross may be breaking California law by requiring some policyholders to buy their prescription drugs from a single mail-order pharmacy, according to the state attorney general’s office. … it shouldn’t be “my way or the highway,” not when people’s lives are on the line. Offer a discount for shopping at the pharmacy of Anthem’s choosing, but don’t punish people for going to the same drugstores that all other members are free to use (David Lazarus, 1/10). USA Today: Retirees Face Their Own ‘Fiscal Cliff’ One group with a darker financial future is older Americans. With some new twists to old-fashioned retirement saving plans, Americans can fill some gaps we can expect as Social Security, Medicare and other safety net programs get recast (Ted Fishman, 1/10). The Washington Post: FDA Should Revamp Nutrition Labels Millions of health-conscious people consider nutrition labels essential when they buy food, but the labels are showing their age. Improving food labels could spur companies to market much healthier foods and encourage consumers to make smarter choices. One problem is that because of advances in nutrition research since 1993, calories and refined sugars are considered more important today, and concern has shifted from total fat to saturated and trans fats (Michael F. Jacobson, 1/10). Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Walker’s BadgerCare DecisionOf all the decisions Gov. Scott Walker is likely to make in 2013, none will have a bigger impact than whether Wisconsin accepts over $12 billion in federal health care reform money over the next decade to fill the holes in BadgerCare. … It will guarantee hundreds of thousands of working Wisconsinites the freedom to control their own health care decisions, create thousands of 21st-century jobs in the health care professions and actually save the state budget hundreds of millions of dollars. It would be nothing short of public policy sabotage to turn the money down for the narrow partisan purpose of undermining the health care reform law. Yet Walker seems poised to do so (Robert Kraig, 1/9). Reuters: How To Improve VaccinationThe cost of [the current flu epidemic] is going to be enormous, both in dollars and in lives, and there’s a limited number of things that anybody can do to slow it down. … Vaccination isn’t perfect — as we’re discovering right now. Especially with respect to influenza, which comes in a dizzying variety of flavors, a vaccine can’t prevent an outbreak every year. But vaccination has proved itself time and time again as being the most ambitious and effective solution to public-health problems that the world has ever seen (Felix Salmon, 1/10). New England Journal of Medicine: Post-Hospital Syndrome — An Acquired, Transient Condition Of Generalized Risk To promote successful recovery after a hospitalization, health care professionals often focus on issues related to the acute illness that precipitated the hospitalization. Their disproportionate attention to the hospitalization’s cause, however, may be misdirected. Patients who were recently hospitalized are not only recovering from their acute illness; they also experience a period of generalized risk for a range of adverse health events. Thus, their condition may be better characterized as a post-hospital syndrome, an acquired, transient period of vulnerability (Dr. Harlan M. Krumholz, 1/10). last_img read more

"Viewpoints The Countrys Deep Health Problems Anthems Rx Policy In Calif May"

House To Vote Today On GOPs Healthcaregov Security Bill

first_img This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The measure, which would “require the Obama administration to notify Americans within 48 hours if their identity is compromised” via the Obamacare website, is part of the GOP strategy. The Washington Post: House Set To Vote On Healthcare.gov Security BillHouse lawmakers are set to vote Friday on a proposal designed to address potential security breaches on the HealthCare.gov Web site as Republicans seek to keep political attention focused on concerns with the ongoing rollout of the new federal health-care law (O’Keefe and Eilperin, 1/10).Fox News: Cantor: House Bill On ObamaCare Identity Theft Notification Is A ‘No-Brainer'[House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor] said on The Kelly File that many Americans are “legitimately” concerned with information and identity theft when sharing personal information online. “If there is any chance that one’s information and identity can be stolen or abused on the healthcare.gov website or in any way shape or form connected with the ObamaCare exchange then we should take the precautionary measures necessary,” Cantor said (1/9). The Associated Press: GOP-Led House Again Targets Obama Health Care LawThe bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., would require the secretary of health and human services to notify an individual within two business days of any security breach involving personal data provided to the government during health care enrollment. The administration, in objecting to the measure, said it already has implemented safeguards to secure personal information and notify consumers if a breach occurs (Cassata, 1/10).The Hill: White House Stops Short Of Veto Threats On House Healthcare BillsThe Obama administration stopped short Thursday of threatening to veto House bills to require officials to tell people if their personal data has been compromised through ObamaCare, and to require weekly reports on the health law’s implementation. … The White House added that more staff would likely be needed to comply, which would add “millions of dollars in costs to the States and the Federal Government, without additional funding from the Congress” (Kasperowicz, 1/9). House To Vote Today On GOP’s Healthcare.gov Security Billlast_img read more

"House To Vote Today On GOPs Healthcaregov Security Bill"

VA Watchdog Stops Short Of Tying Deaths To Delayed Care

first_imgIn a report released Tuesday, the VA’s Office of Inspector General criticized a Phoenix VA hospital for “troubling lapses in follow-up, coordination, quality and continuity of care.” Investigators said that numerous veterans died after receiving substandard care, but they could not substantiate allegations that delays had caused at least 40 deaths.Los Angeles Times: VA Inquiry Stops Short Of Linking Deaths To Delays In Care In PhoenixOn the same day President Obama pledged to regain veterans’ trust, Department of Veterans Affairs investigators reported that they had been unable to prove that delays in medical care caused any deaths at the VA medical center in Phoenix, epicenter of a national scandal over mismanagement in the veterans healthcare system. In a report released Tuesday, however, the VA’s Office of Inspector General criticized the Phoenix VA for “troubling lapses in follow-up, coordination, quality and continuity of care” (Carcamo and Hennessey, 8/26).The Washington Post: VA Watchdog Confirms Patients Died After Receiving Poor CareThe Department of Veterans Affairs’ watchdog confirmed Tuesday that numerous veterans died after receiving poor care in a VA hospital in Phoenix, Ariz., but stopped short of substantiating widely reported allegations that at least 40 veterans died while awaiting care. The VA inspector general’s office said in a report that it reviewed the records of 3,409 veterans and found 45 cases where patients experienced “unacceptable and troubling lapses” in care. Of those, 28 experienced long delays in care, and six died, the report said. Seventeen other patients experienced care that “deviated from the expected standard independent of delays,” and 14 of them died, the IG found (Lamonthe, 8/26).The Associated Press: IG: Shoddy Care By VA Didn’t Cause Phoenix DeathsInvestigators uncovered large-scale improprieties in the way VA hospitals and clinics across the nation have been scheduling veterans for appointments, according to a report released Tuesday by the VA’s Office of Inspector General. The report said workers falsified waitlists while their supervisors looked the other way or even directed it, resulting in chronic delays for veterans seeking care (8/26).Politico: VA Report: Deaths Not Linked To Wait TimesThe final report aligns with previous investigations from the watchdog office, which helped launch a scandal that cost former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki his post. The inspector general said in May it found evidence that employees, including senior level managers, manipulated wait times to hide the delays faced by veterans seeking medical treatment (French, 8/26).NPR: VA Deputy Secretary On Wait Times: ‘We Owe The American People An Apology’Melissa Block talks with Sloan Gibson, the deputy secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department, about the results of a recent probe into wait times at VA facilities (8/26).CNN: Scathing Report Slams Veterans’ Care But Says No Definite Link To DeathsA lengthy report on wait times at VA health care facilities in Phoenix found that 28 veterans had “clinically significant delays” in care, and six of them died, but investigators couldn’t conclusively link their deaths to the delays. The scathing report, released Tuesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General, said the delays were because of scheduling issues. There were also 17 patients — 14 of whom died — in the review who received poor care but not as a result of access or scheduling issues (Fantz, Griffin, Black and Bronstein, 8/26).NBC News: VA: No Proof Delayed Medical Care Caused Deaths In PhoenixInvestigators found no conclusive proof that delays in medical care caused patient deaths at the Phoenix VA Health Care System, even though some patients died while waiting for appointments and delays “adversely affected” the quality of care, according to a report released Tuesday by the VA’s inspector general. Dr. Sam Foote, a whistleblower at the Phoenix VA, had charged in February that up to 40 patients may have died waiting for appointments (Gardella, 8/26). VA Watchdog Stops Short Of Tying Deaths To Delayed Care This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more

"VA Watchdog Stops Short Of Tying Deaths To Delayed Care"

Viewpoints Smarter Way To Pay Doctors Or MakeBelieve Reform Sen Johnsons Alternative

first_img Early this summer the Supreme Court will render a decision on King v. Burwell, the case challenging the IRS workaround that allows ObamaCare subsidies to be paid through federal exchanges. Many on the right believe that if the justices rule against the administration, it would be the final stake in the heart of ObamaCare. Nothing could be further from the truth. … Without an effective response from Republicans, there is little doubt that the crisis would allow President Obama to permanently cement ObamaCare in place. (Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., 4/13) Forbes: Chief Actuary Blows Away Make-Believe Medicare ‘Doc Fix’ In a welcome break from political stasis, Congress may be on the verge of passing important bipartisan legislation to fix the way Medicare pays doctors. A bill before the Senate this week, which the president is willing to sign, would shift toward paying based on how well doctors care for their patients, rather than on how much care they provide. The fix isn’t perfect, but it’s far better than most of us expected from a polarized Congress. Yet much of the commentary about the bill is very negative. Stranger still, it comes in the form of two contradictory arguments — both wrong. (Peter R. Orszag, 4/14) National Review: A Bill That Actually Reforms Medicare The Washington Post’s Plum LIne: GOP Resistance To Obamacare Is Working Brilliantly Viewpoints: ‘Smarter’ Way To Pay Doctors Or ‘Make-Believe’ Reform? Sen. Johnson’s Alternative Health Plan A selection of opinions on health care from around the country. The estimate of the legislation’s long-term impacts by Medicare’s chief actuary is sober reading. The legislation provides for a bonus pool that physicians can qualify for over the next 10 years but applies only in 2019 to 2024. The budgetary “out-years” provide for minimal increases in reimbursement rates. Beginning in 2026, physicians would receive a 0.75 percent annual increase if they participate in some alternative payment models or a 0.25 percent annual increase if they do not. Both are significantly lower than the normal rate of inflation. (Chris Jacobs, 4/13) Tomorrow, the Senate will consider H.R. 2, a Medicare-reform bill that has already acquired a classic Beltway acronym, MACRA. Conservatives should give their full support: According to a report released last week, MACRA not only would pay for itself but would result in large net savings to the Medicare program over time, reducing unfunded liabilities and preventing massive new debt. (Ryan Ellis, 4/13) There are two major differences between this so-called “fix” and previous ones. The first one is real: Previous increases have been offset by cuts to other government spending, and this one is not. The second one is fiction: That this doc fix is a permanent solution to the fee problem. (John R. Graham, 4/14) center_img The Wall Street Journal: A Make-Or-Break ObamaCare Moment Bloomberg: A Smarter Way To Pay Doctors The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: House ‘Doc Fix’ Bill Makes Things Worse, Medicare Analysis Finds One of the core purposes of the Affordable Care Act is to expand health care to people who previously lacked it, and today Gallup-Healthways released new numbers showing once again that the law is accomplishing this goal. But buried in the data is an indicator of a different kind of success: Republican resistance to the law at the level of states is also having a substantial impact by limiting the drop in percentages of uninsured people, keeping the uninsured rate higher than it might otherwise have been. (Greg Sargent, 4/13) As the figure above shows quite incredibly clearly, since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the share of the uninsured has fallen sharply. As this Gallup-Healthways poll indicates, about 88 percent of adults are now covered, compared to about 82 percent at the peak uninsured rate before Obamacare kicked in. Moreover, the largest gains have accrued to the young, those with low incomes and Hispanics. For example, since late 2013, the share of the uninsured is down just two percentage points for those with incomes about $90,000 (most of whom already had coverage); for those with incomes below $36,000, it’s down nine percentage points. (Jared Berstein, 4/13) The Washington Post: Can Someone Please Print This Graph On A T-Shirt?! Sharp Decline In The Uninsured Since The ACA Came Online. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more

"Viewpoints Smarter Way To Pay Doctors Or MakeBelieve Reform Sen Johnsons Alternative"

DAF Reveals Three PlugIn Electric Trucks At IAA

DAF electrified its CF and LF trucks.DAF Trucks was presenting at the 2018 IAA a fleet of plug-in trucks that will enter field tests in 2018 and 2019.Besides the all-electric DAF CF Electric, announced earlier this year, there is also the all-electric DAF LF Electric and plug-in hybrid DAF CF Hybrid.DAF says that it intends to offer electrified trucks “when the market is ready”, which hopefully means shortly after the pilot tests.More trucks at IAA Customer field tests starting in 2018 and 2019 Source: Electric Vehicle News 90 Years of DAF ExcellenceRecord 16.5% Market Share in EuropeMarket Leader in TractorsMarket leader in The Netherlands, Hungary, United Kingdom, Poland, Belgium, Romania, the Czech Republic and BulgariaLargest import brand in Germany DAF CF Battery Electric Innovation Truck240 kW/325 hp electric motor170 kWh lithium-ion battery packRange of 100 kilometresFeaturing VDL E-Power Technology 7 photos Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on September 30, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle News Press blast:Innovative Electric Trucks Demonstrate the Road to the Future ‘Proud of our heritage, leading today, ready for the future’ is DAF’s overall theme at IAA 2018 – which is being held in Hanover from 20 to 27 September. DAF Trucks is exhibiting its full, industry-leading product and services range, the result of 90 years of heritage in developing innovative transport solutions. DAF is the European market leader in tractors and is number 1 in fuel efficiency, uptime, reliability and driver comfort. DAF’s powertrain leadership is demonstrated by the advanced LF Electric, CF Electric and CF Hybrid Innovation trucks that are on display at Europe’s largest truck exhibition and are a key part of DAF’s vision on future transport. DAF CF HybridThe CF Hybrid is like one of those “Hybrids” that turns out to a plug-in hybrid. The all-electric range is expected to be 30-50 km (19-31 miles) using an 85 kWh batteryDAF CF Hybrid specgross weight of 40,000 kgZF electric motor 75 kW/100 hp continuous and 130 kW (177 hp) peak plus a 330 kW (449hp) ICE85 kWh battery30-50 km (19-31 miles) of all-electric rangefull charge in 1.5 hour or 80% in 20 minutes Ford Unveils Wild F-Vision Electric Semi Truck Hyundai Reveals Render Of Fuel Cell Truck For 2019 The DAF stand is located in Hall 17 of the exhibition complex. Occupying an area of 2,500 m2, it showcases the complete on highway and vocational product range that set the standard in quality, low operating cost and vehicle performance. The DAF trucks on display include the LF for distribution transport, the versatile CF designed for a wide variety of applications and the flagship XF for heavy and long distance transport. The CF and XF were voted ‘International Truck of the Year 2018’ thanks to a comprehensive package of technical innovations, resulting in a 7% fuel efficiency enhancement that sets the benchmark in the industry. The DAF LF was awarded ‘Fleet Truck of the Year 2018’ in the United Kingdom.To highlight the importance that DAF and its 1,100 sales and service dealers attach to a full range of services to support their class leading products, PACCAR Financial, PacLease, PACCAR Parts, DAF MultiSupport Repair and Maintenance and the DAF Connect fleet management system are prominently featured in the DAF IAA stand.On the Road to Zero Emission Transport To underline DAF’s aim to further strengthen its industry leading position in fuel efficiency and low emissions, DAF is exhibiting a full range of Innovation Trucks at the IAA. These include the LF Electric and CF Electric for medium and heavy duty city distribution, as well as the CF Hybrid for mid-range distribution with zero emissions in urban areas and the best overall efficiency. These innovative solutions have been developed to champion the needs for improving local air quality in cities, as well as reducing CO2 emissions.DAF LF Electric Innovation TruckThe DAF LF Electric is a 19 tonne fully electric truck for zero emissions city distribution. The truck features Cummins technology with a 195 kW/266 hp electric motor (peak: 250 kW/340 hp). The motor is powered by a battery pack of up to 222 kWh, providing a range of up to 220 kilometres when the truck is fully laden. As the battery pack is modular, capacity can be scaled to the range required by customers. For city distribution the 220 kilometre range of the DAF LF Electric is ideal.DAF CF Electric Innovation TruckThe DAF CF Electric is the ideal zero emission solution for urban distribution requiring higher payloads and volumes. This includes applications where single or double axle semi-trailers are the standard, such as in supermarket delivery.The CF Electric is a 4×2 tractor unit for up to 37 tonne GCW applications. The truck is based on DAF’s versatile CF series – ‘International Truck of the Year 2018’ – and uses VDL’s advanced E-Power Technology for fully electric operation. The centre of the intelligent powertrain is the 210 kW/286 hp (peak: 240 kW/326 hp) electric motor, which gets its energy from the 170 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.The CF Electric has a range of approximately 100 kilometres which is appropriate for high volume city distribution applications. Quick charging of the batteries can be performed in 30 minutes or a full charge can be accomplished in as little as 1.5 hours. Freight loading and unloading time can be used to charge the battery pack.DAF CF Hybrid Innovation TruckThe DAF CF Hybrid has been developed for driving electrically with zero emissions in urban areas, while offering a much longer range to operate beyond those urban areas, thanks to the latest, ultra-clean diesel technology. The combination of electric and diesel power ensures the highest logistical efficiency.The sophisticated DAF CF Hybrid features the very efficient 10.8 litre PACCAR MX-11 engine (330 kW/450 hp), a ZF electric motor (75 kW/100 hp / peak: 130 kW/175 hp), in combination with a dedicated ZF TraXon gearbox for hybrid drivelines.The electric motor is powered by an 85 kWh battery pack, which allows for a full electric, zero emission range of 30 to 50 kilometres, depending on the Gross Combination Weight. The batteries can be charged by the diesel engine during on-highway operations, and by using a DC charger at a charging location. The vehicle is designed with a fast charge capability that takes 30 minutes for a full charge and only 20 minutes for a charge of up to 80%.Outside urban areas, the CF Hybrid is powered by the clean and efficient PACCAR MX-11 diesel engine, where the hybrid technology provides additional fuel savings thanks to the smart energy management. Regenerative energy is captured during braking and when using speed-related controls like Down Hill Speed Control and Predictive Cruise Control. This energy can be used by the electric motor to operate in conjunction with the diesel engine to further reduce fuel consumption.The battery pack of the hybrid system powers the electric driveline, the electric air compressor, as well as the optional intelligent e-PTO. The e-PTO can be used to drive refrigeration equipment on semi-trailers for temperature controlled transportation further enhancing low noise operation.Customer Focused Strategy“The overriding priority for any development is to provide value to our customers”, stated Ron Borsboom, member of the Board of Management, responsible for product development. “Our approach has always been and will always be to thoroughly validate our new developments before launch. That customer focused strategy continues with electric and hybrid trucks. Zero emissions and low noise levels may be demanded in the future as cities announce their intentions to create zero emission zones which could drive a need for our customers to have a wide variety of solutions to meet their needs.”The first CF Electric trucks will be released into field test operation with leading customers this year and similar field tests are planned to start with the LF Electric and CF Hybrid in 2019. DAF will be ready to introduce these state-of-the-art trucks when the market is ready.90 years of DAF ExcellenceTo commemorate the fact that it has been 90 years since Hub van Doorne laid the foundation of DAF, a historic DAF 1600 model from the late sixties is on display at the IAA-stand, next to a highly exclusive XF 90th Anniversary Edition which commemorates the founding of DAF in 1928. The vehicle features a premium options package, exclusive striping and exterior design elements, as well as the most powerful 530 hp/390 kW PACCAR MX-13 engine. DAF’s famous historic logo is proudly displayed on the front of the truck, on the sides and back of the cab, as well as in the luxurious, fully leather upholstered interior.In the past 90 years DAF has developed the European truck industry’s leading vehicles. DAF’s heavy-duty market share in Europe grew from 15.3% in 2017 to 16.5% in the first half of this year. DAF Trucks is the heavy duty market leader in The Netherlands, Hungary, United Kingdom, Poland, Belgium, Romania, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, and is Europe’s market leader in the tractor segment. In Germany – the largest truck market in Europe – DAF is the largest import brand.“With excellent trucks – setting the standard in efficiency and quality – and industry-leading services, DAF is well positioned to further expand its presence throughout Europe and beyond”, said Harry Wolters, DAF Trucks’ president.The DAF stand in Hall 17 features dedicated areas with class leading trucks for long distance and vocational operation, highlighting that DAF delivers the perfect vehicle for every application. 4 photos DAF CF Hybrid Electric Innovation TruckPACCAR MX-11 diesel engine130 kW/177 hp ZF electric motor85 kWh lithium-ion battery packElectric range from 30 to 50 kilometres DAF CF ElectricThe CF Electric tractor-trailer doesn’t have high range – just 100 km (62 miles) – but according to DAF it could be a perfect choice for supermarkets, which need a lot of supplies within the range. The technical partner on the project was VDL, known from electric buses.DAF CF Electric – Technical Specification:Tractor weight 9,700 kg (gross weight of 37,000 kg)Electric motor: 210 kW (286 hp), 2,000 Nm continuous and  240 kW (326 hp) peakCapacity batteries 170 kWhRange 100 km (62 miles)Quick battery charge 30 minutesFull battery charge 1.5 hours DAF LF ElectricThe LF Electric is a medium-duty distribution truck with some 220 km (137 miles) of range. The 250 kW powertrain comes from Cummins.DAF LF Electric spec:electric motor: 195 kW (266 hp) continuous and 250 kW (340 hp) peakModular lithium-ion battery packs up to 222 kWhRange of up to 220 km (137 miles)80% fast charge in 70 minutes19,000 kg gross weight 7 photos Scania Presents New L 320 6×2 Truck In PHEV Version State-of-the-art Electric & Hybrid Innovation TrucksDAF LF Battery Electric Innovation Truck250 kW/340 hp electric motorModular lithium-ion battery packs up to 222 kWhRange of up to 220 kilometresFeaturing Cummins Technology read more

"DAF Reveals Three PlugIn Electric Trucks At IAA"

See Where Automakers Electric Car Investments Are Going

first_imgSource: Electric Vehicle News At the same time, consumer demand is being boosted by longer driving range, lower battery costs and quicker charge speeds. As a result, more EVs and PHEVs will hit the streets, increasing visibility and further increasing demand for driving electric.See It GraphedIt should come as no surprise that China is receiving the bulk of automaker’s financial investments. The country has been pushing heavily for plug-ins via EV mandates and purchasing credits. Currently, over $135 billion dollars have been announced for investments in China.German automaker Volkswagen is leading the pack with $91 billion planned for electric car development. Volkswagen has $45.5 billion aimed at the Chinese market. Daimler ($42 billion), Hyundai/Kia ($20 billion), Changan ($15 billion) and Toyota ($13.5 billion) round out the top 5.In contrast, early leaders in the plug-in space have announced more modest investments. Nissan, Renault and Tesla are all on the record with $10 billion. General Motors has promised $8 billion, while BMW has announced $6.5 billion and BYD plans for $3.86 billion. These lower numbers are likely because these automakers have already sunk significant amounts of money into electric vehicle technologies.Naturally, actual spending will almost certainly be higher. The assessment does not include spending by automotive suppliers, technology companies or other organizations that might work with automakers. For the full breakdown by automaker, check out the link below.Source: Reuters Honda To Launch 20 Electrified Cars In China By 2025 No one is shocked that China will see the largest slice of the pie.Over the next decade, automakers will be investing heavily in electric vehicle technologies. Reuters analyzed investment and procurement budgets announced by automakers over the past two years. According to Reuters, $300 billion is currently devoted to EV technologies.So what is fueling this move away from fossil fuels? One of the main contributors is growing consumer demand. The other primary reason is greater pressure from governments around the globe. Emission and fuel economy standards are becoming stricter. In addition, many nations are now mandating electric car sales.Electric Vehicles In China General Motors Has Grand Electric Car Plans For China More Info On Tesla Model 3 Configuration In China Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on January 12, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle Newslast_img read more

"See Where Automakers Electric Car Investments Are Going"

Renault Electric Car Sales Increased In February 2019 By 27

first_imgRenault news Renault Sold More EVs In Europe Than Any Other Automaker Renault Ends Sale Of ZOE Q90 With 43-kW AC Charging Capability New Renault ZOE To Get 250 Miles Of Electric Range Eight months of consistent growthRenault electric car sales in February increased by 27% to 3,861, which is the best February ever. This time both the ZOE and Kangoo Z.E. generated similar growth rate, while the Master Z.E. reached its peak of 55 (still not much though).Electric cars currently account for 2.2% of passenger car sales (3.9% in Europe) and 2.4% of commercial car sales (3.0% in Europe).Renault ZOE – 3,154 (up 25%) and 7,149 YTD (up 58%)Renault Kangoo Z.E. – 652 (up 27%) and 1,192 YTD (up 15%)Renault Master Z.E. – 55 (new)center_img Renault electric car sales – February 2019So far this year, sales amounted to 8,409 (up 52% year-over-year), including:Renault ZOE – 7,149 (up 58%)Renault Kangoo Z.E.- 1,192 (up 15%)Data does not include the Twizy – heavy quadricycles (L7e). Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on March 18, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle News Source: Electric Vehicle Newslast_img read more

"Renault Electric Car Sales Increased In February 2019 By 27"

Supreme Court Rules Against D Magazine and Court Reliance on Wikipedia

first_img© 2017 The Texas Lawbook.By Allen Pusey(March 17) – The Supreme Court of Texas Friday allowed a defamation suit against D Magazine to proceed while rejecting an appeals court’s use of Wikipedia to reach the same decision. The lawsuit involved an anonymously written article in the Dallas-based magazine titled “The Park Cities Welfare Queen” concerning a woman living in a $1.15 million home in University Park who had been receiving food stamps. The woman, Janay Rosenthal, was described as a Park Cities mom who “has figured out . . .You must be a subscriber to The Texas Lawbook to access this content. Not a subscriber? Sign up for The Texas Lawbook. Remember me Passwordcenter_img Lost your password? Usernamelast_img read more

"Supreme Court Rules Against D Magazine and Court Reliance on Wikipedia"

SCOTX LawyerClient Privilege Applies to Patent Agents

first_img Password Lost your password? Not a subscriber? Sign up for The Texas Lawbook. Remember mecenter_img Patent agents who provide authorized legal services may invoke attorney-client privilege to withhold client communications, the Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday. The ruling supports Andrew Silver, the inventor of tablet technology for ordering and paying the tab at a restaurant. Silver claims Tabletop Media failed to pay him for his patent and is fighting a Dallas trial court’s order compelling the production of emails between Silver and his non-attorney patent agent. The Texas Lawbook has complete details . . .You must be a subscriber to The Texas Lawbook to access this content. Usernamelast_img read more

"SCOTX LawyerClient Privilege Applies to Patent Agents"

Central Banks Buying Equities

first_img Are Central Banks Supporting Share Markets? » QUESTION: Central banks around the world are currently purchasing equities. If they continue to purchase equities, will we ever have a significant market downturn again? What happens when central banks acquire enough shares to control corporations?PEANSWER: Yes. The central banks have been buying equities to try to diversify their balance sheets as they also see what is coming down the road. Still, they are not the major buyers to influence the market in that manner. Corporate buybacks have been a much stronger factor in the marketplace.The reason why we will not have a major crash is simply because this time it is different — the crash is in the debt markets. « World View v Domestic & Why It Has Been Always Wrong center_img Categories: Stock Indicies Tags: Central Banks, corporate buybacks, Equities last_img read more

"Central Banks Buying Equities"

Train Derails in Okanogan CountyChelan County Commissioners Disappointed With State Parks Plan

first_imgNo one was injured in a train derailment in Okanogan County Monday. The locomotive was starting to move after being loaded near Janice Bridge when several of its 52 rail cars slid off the tracks.The ground under the rails 2-and-a-half miles north of Riverside appeared to liquefy, causing five cars carrying Calcium Carbonate to derail.  The substance is a non-hazardous neutral stone.The train was also carrying lumber and was traveling less than 9 miles-an-hour when the incident occurred. last_img read more

"Train Derails in Okanogan CountyChelan County Commissioners Disappointed With State Parks Plan"

JRCs new report identifies lung cancer trends in Europe

first_imgAug 2 2018Scientists at the Joint Research Centre, the European Commission’s Science and Knowledge service, place Europe’s regions under the microscope in a report identifying cancer trends within and across countries.Today is World Lung Cancer Day, which aims to spread awareness about the impact of the disease on individuals and societies across the world.In Europe, 2018 predictions of cancer incidence and mortality are available via the European Cancer Information System (ECIS).These predictions stem from a collaborative exercise led by WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in collaboration with the JRC, the European Network of Cancer Registries and the International Association of Cancer Registries.Restricting to EU-28, ECIS estimates that in 2018 there will be 3 million new cases of cancer and over 1.4 million cancer-related deaths.Scientists also expect lung cancer, the third most common type of newly diagnosed cancer in Europe, to cause the most deaths.Relying on country-level information may not be sufficient to fully understand cancer trends and drive health policies.For this reason, JRC scientists placed Europe’s regions under the microscope in a report identifying cancer trends within and across countries.The study provides evidence to help authorities in developing the right policies to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease.Smoking remains the dominant cause of lung cancer in Europe, accounting for over 80% of cases.The report identifies lung cancer trends and analyses these alongside smoking habits, gender and geographic distribution.It also covers trends in stomach cancer and breast cancer, giving an overview on the main risk factors and prevention measures for each.Regarding lung cancer, 2018 estimates for incidence and mortality rates vary considerably across EU countries, reflecting the different levels of the smoking epidemic.Lung cancer incidence in men has been decreasing in most European countries over the last two decades, while women have experienced an increase.This generally correlates to the difference in smoking habit trends, where a decrease in smoking prevalence has been evident for men for a longer period than for women.By increasing the level of detail to include regions, scientists were able to highlight important variations that are otherwise diluted when considering only the national level and indicating therefore that country-level information may not be sufficient to exhaustively depict cancer trends and drive health policies.Related StoriesResearchers use AI to develop early gastric cancer endoscopic diagnosis systemHow cell-free DNA can be targeted to prevent spread of tumorsTrends in colonoscopy rates not aligned with increase in early onset colorectal cancerThe incidence and mortality figures reported above are based on population-based cancer registries which collect, manage and analyze data on new patients diagnosed with cancer occurring in a well-defined population.Cancer burden indicators in Europe: insights from national and regional informationFor more than 30 years since the first ‘Europe against cancer’ program was launched, actions taken at EU level were implemented to extend and save lives.The Commission has been at the forefront of tackling risk factors, promoting screening to detect cancer early, and best practices to help EU countries improve the quality, effectiveness, resilience of health systems and to reduce inequalities in access to health services.Population-based cancer registries are the data providers that enable the monitoring of cancer frequency and collecting information on new cancer cases in well-defined populations.They are critical resources for the clinical and epidemiological investigation of cancer and for the planning and evaluation of cancer prevention and control programs.The European Cancer Information System (ECIS) application is a web-based tool conceived and developed by the JRC to report and disseminate cancer burden indicators at European level, on incidence, mortality and survival, from data submitted by around 150 European cancer registries.It provides added value by allowing regional and national comparisons of harmonized cancer indicators, quantifying the burden of cancers and following its trends and changes over time. It can help to understand the causes of certain types of cancer and compare best practices in prevention, diagnosis and treatment interventions.The Socio-economic regional microscope seriesThis analysis is part of the JRC’s Socio-economic regional microscope series of short publications which aim to open-up new areas of analysis, and present the stories which can only be told using regional socio-economic data.Source: https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/news/monitoring-lung-cancer-burden-europelast_img read more

"JRCs new report identifies lung cancer trends in Europe"

Plan to save monarch butterflies backfires

first_img Email Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) It started with the best of intentions. When evidence emerged that monarch butterflies were losing the milkweed they depend on due to the spread of herbicide-resistant crops in the United States, people across the country took action, planting milkweed in their own gardens. But a new paper shows that well-meaning gardeners might actually be endangering the butterflies’ iconic migration to Mexico. That’s because people have been planting the wrong species of milkweed, thereby increasing the odds of monarchs becoming infected with a crippling parasite.Habitat loss in both the United States and Mexico has long been the main threat to the North American monarch population. After decades of effort, Mexico curbed deforestation in the butterflies’ winter habitat in the oyamel fir and pine forests of Michoacán and Mexico states. But the loss of milkweed in the United States continues to be a major issue, scientists say. The plant, on which monarchs lay their eggs, used to spring up in between rows of corn, soybeans, and other commercial crops. But today, many farmers plant herbicide-resistant versions of these crops, which allows them to spray their fields with powerful chemicals such as Roundup—killing milkweed in the process. Last year, the number of monarchs that migrated to Mexico was the lowest ever recorded, covering a mere 0.67 hectares of forest, down from a high of 21 hectares in the 1996 to 1997 season. (Scientists in Mexico are planning to announce this season’s count by the end of the month.)That’s why many monarch buffs swung into action. However, the only species of milkweed widely available in the United States is Asclepias curassavica, which is native to the tropics. Tropical milkweed is pretty, easy to grow, and monarchs love it. “If I were a gardener, I would have done the same thing,” says Dara Satterfield, a doctoral student in ecology at the University of Georgia, Athens.center_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country The problem is that tropical milkweed—at least when planted in warm environments like southern Texas and the U.S. Gulf Coast—doesn’t die back in the winter like native milkweed does. When presented with a place to lay their eggs year-round, many monarchs don’t bother making the trip to Mexico at all. Tropical milkweed is “trapping the butterflies” in these new winter breeding sites, says Lincoln Brower, a monarch biologist at Sweet Briar College in Virginia.But it turns out that year-round tropical milkweed presents an even more direct threat to the butterflies. Milkweed hosts a protozoan parasite called Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE). As caterpillars, monarchs ingest the parasite along with their normal milkweed meals, and when they hatch from their chrysalises they are covered in spores. “It’s a debilitating parasite,” Satterfield says. Infected monarchs are much weaker than their healthy counterparts and don’t live nearly as long. In fact, if an OE-infected monarch tries to migrate, it will probably die long before it arrives in central Mexico, Satterfield says.In that way, the migration is vital to keeping OE under control in the North American monarch population, Satterfield explains. Migrating “weeds out some of the sick monarchs every year,” preventing them from passing the parasite along to their offspring. What’s more, it gives the monarchs a chance to leave behind contaminated milkweed plants, which then die off during the winter. When the butterflies return in the spring “they start over fresh” with new, clean milkweed, Satterfield says. But if the monarchs aren’t migrating, and the tropical milkweed isn’t dying off, OE never goes away.To figure out if tropical milkweed is increasing OE infections among monarchs, Satterfield enlisted scientists and volunteers to help her sample thousands of butterflies at breeding sites in the United States, as well as in their winter habitat in Mexico. The technique is easy to learn and, with a light touch, harmless: Simply press a small piece of transparent tape against a monarch’s abdomen to collect any OE spores and then send the tape to Satterfield’s lab. She and her colleagues then counted the number of spores trapped by the tape to tally infection rates at different sites.Monarchs who stayed in the southern United States for the winter were five to nine times more likely to be infected with OE than migrating butterflies were, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. In some winter breeding sites, 100% of monarchs they sampled were infected, Satterfield says.The work proves “absolutely definitively” that tropical milkweed is threatening the monarchs and their migration, Brower says. And the findings are particularly troubling for monarchs returning from Mexico in the spring, he adds. They pass right through these winter breeding sites and could lay eggs on infected milkweed while they are there or mate with infected butterflies. Infecting the returning monarchs with OE “is the last thing we want to do, particularly when the monarchs are in the low numbers that they are now,” Brower says.Satterfield’s study “quantifies something we knew was a risk,” says Karen Oberhauser, a conservation biologist at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. And it’s hitting the monarchs at a particularly vulnerable moment. If the North American population were bigger, the number of winter-breeding, OE-infected butterflies would be trivial compared with the number of hearty monarchs migrating to Mexico. But as the population shrinks, risks like OE can have an outsized effect on overall population numbers, Oberhauser explains. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now reviewing the monarch’s status under the Endangered Species Act.There is some good news. Nearly all tropical milkweed in the southern United States is in gardens, Oberhauser says. So if everyone who planted it to help the butterflies can be convinced to replace it with a native milkweed species—or at least cut the plant back every few weeks during the winter—they could quickly put a stop to the destructive winter-breeding trend. (Native milkweed isn’t always as easy to get as tropical milkweed, but it’s starting to become more available online, Satterfield reports.) According to Oberhauser, tropical milkweed is “a problem we can solve.”*Update, 14 January, 1:13 p.m.: The article originally stated that this season’s winter colony count would be announced on 15 January. The announcement has since been rescheduled for a later date.*Correction, 20 January, 2:28 p.m.: The previous two images for this story depicted the wrong plant. The image for this story has been changed to picture Asclepias curassavica.last_img read more

"Plan to save monarch butterflies backfires"

Study raises questions about measuring radioactivity in fracking wastewater

first_imgCommonly used testing methods may underestimate the total radioactivity of wastewater produced by gas wells that use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to tap the Marcellus Shale, a geological formation in the northeastern United States, concludes a new study. The findings suggest government agencies should consider retooling some testing recommendations and take a fresh look at possible worker exposure to potentially harmful waste, the authors say. But some outside researchers are skeptical that the laboratory study reflects real-world conditions.Fracking, which involves injecting water mixed with chemicals and sand deep underground in order to fracture rock and release oil and gas, generates large amounts of wastewater. Some of the waste is simply injected water that flows back to the surface. But in the Marcellus and other formations, a major waste component is salty, mineral rich water found naturally underground. Researchers have long known that this natural brine can carry radioactive components, including radon gas, radium, and other isotopes of uranium and thorium. And the waste’s radioactivity has gotten increased attention as a fracking boom in the Marcellus has resulted in the recovery of millions of liters of wastewater, which is typically stored, treated, or recycled for use in other fracking wells. In some cases, improper handling has resulted in the release of radioactive fracking waste that has contaminated streams and rivers. Last year, Andrew Nelson, a doctoral candidate in human toxicology at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, helped the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) write an analysis that concluded that agency-recommended testing methods may understate some measures of radioactivity. Although EPA does not regulate most oil and gas activities, laboratories that test water for state regulators, oil and gas producers, and wastewater treatment plants often rely on the agency’s recommended methods. One problem with current EPA techniques, the report found, is that they focus on levels of radium in fresh water used for drinking, and so do not work well with fracking waste. In part, that’s because Marcellus Shale wastewater is saltier than seawater; it also holds other potentially problematic radionuclides in addition to radium.Now, in a paper published online on 2 April in Environmental Health Perspectives, a team led by Nelson shows that radium-focused tests can significantly underestimate the total radioactivity of wastewater that is stored in closed containers, such as tanks. The researchers found the testing methods don’t fully measure radium’s daughter decay products, which can build up in the days and years after the briny waste reaches the surface. Radioactivity levels in stored wastewater can rise fivefold within 15 days, for example, and continue to rise for decades.To undertake their study, the researchers obtained a sealed sample of Marcellus wastewater and then measured selected radioactive isotopes that appeared as radium decayed into daughter products. The half-lives, radioactivity, and chemistry of radium isotopes and their decay products vary considerably, the researchers note. For example, the half-life of radium-226 is 1600 years (meaning it takes that long for 50% of the total to decay). In contrast, lead-210’s half-life is 22.2 years, while polonium-210’s is 138.4 days. To calculate the total radioactivity of a sample over time, researchers must account for all of these daughter products.At first, the researchers could barely detect the presence of many daughter isotopes, including polonium-210 and lead-210. Over time, however, the levels rose as the decay reactions took place and continued to rise for months.Just how much risk these radioactive isotopes might pose to people exposed to the waste is unclear. One issue is that the researchers used a sealed sample, which meant that radon gas that gives birth to daughter isotopes could not escape into the air. At real-world fracking sites, however, the radon may escape from the wastewater as it emerges from the wellhead, sits in collecting ponds, or is transferred between containers, notes environmental engineer Radisav Vidic of the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study. “If radon gas leaves the solution you stop the subsequent creation of the daughter products,” he says.One of the study’s authors, however, notes that the half-lives of some of the radioactive products are so short that they could still pose problems in the days after the waste surfaces, before radon has a chance to escape. Radon-220, for instance, has a half-life of just 55.6 seconds. “That means that it’s unlikely to escape before the other daughters are formed,” says co-author Michael Schultz, a radiochemist at the University of Iowa. And even if some radon gas does escape, more can be generated in closed containers as any remaining radium decays, Nelson adds.Another issue is uncertainty about the health risks posed by the different isotopes. Some are considered to pose a greater risk because they emit radiation that can penetrate the body, while others are considered less risky because they must be inhaled or ingested to do damage. And some can accumulate in the food chain, with long-lived isotopes potentially posing a threat for decades.Given such unknowns, “we have yet another reason to be concerned about understanding exposure related to the hydraulic fracturing procedures,” says environmental toxicologist Bernard Goldstein, a professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, who was not involved in the study. “They’ve made a very good case that we need a much more thorough evaluation of worker exposure at different places at different times,” he says.David Allard, director of Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Radiation Protection in Harrisburg, says the new study’s findings agree with those of a recent state analysis of radioactive fracking wastewater, particularly regarding radon decay in sealed containers. But Allard believes there is little risk to the public or workers of exposures exceeding international radiation standards during normal fracking procedures. But he adds that spills of fracking wastewater may pose some additional risk because it can carry radium-226 into ground water.Allard agrees that tests tailored to waste from oil and gas operations are needed. Although EPA has recognized potential problems with current testing methods for use on fracking wastewater, it is not clear whether the agency is contemplating new recommendations. “EPA does not have authority to regulate [hydraulic fracturing] wastewaters as they are generated,” said an EPA representative in a statement. Its “non-regulatory” testing methods, the statement noted, are available only “as a tool for hydraulic fracturing.” Email Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwecenter_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrylast_img read more

"Study raises questions about measuring radioactivity in fracking wastewater"

Tech and talent win big in UK science budget

first_img By Erik StokstadMar. 8, 2017 , 1:15 PM Another £250 million will be spent on fellowships for students and scientists over the next 4 years. Just over a third of this money will support 1000 Ph.D.s, a sizable increase, with 85% in science, technology, engineering, and math subjects that are consistent with the industrial strategy. The remainder will go to early- and midcareer researchers. The government will also provide an extra £50 million over the next 4 years to bring scientists to the United Kingdom from overseas. No figures were immediately available to provide percentage increases in these areas. CAMBRIDGE, U.K.—A major boost to government R&D spending in the United Kingdom will focus on technology and supporting scientific talent. In today’s announcement of the U.K. 2017–18 budget, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond revealed details of the new £4.7 billion over 4 years that the government pledged last November. The money is part of an Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for research partnerships with business, designed to develop the U.K. economy.The new funding round consists of £270 million largely for research and development on electric vehicle batteries; drug manufacturing technology; and artificial intelligence and robots for work in space, offshore energy, nuclear power plants, and mining. The areas were selected after a consultation with universities and industrial firms. Some of this pot has not yet been allocated, says Sarah Main, director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, an advocacy group in London, and should be used in general support of university research. “Let’s make sure that gets delivered,” she says. Tech and talent win big in U.K. science budgetcenter_img The MASCOT telemanipulator system used inside the Joint European Torus, a fusion experiment near Culham, U.K. The United Kingdom plans to fund more research on robots in space, offshore energy, nuclear power plants, and mining. United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority last_img read more

"Tech and talent win big in UK science budget"

Physicists are planning to build lasers so powerful they could rip apart

first_img 3 5 Largely missing from the fray are U.S. scientists, who have fallen behind in the race to high powers, according to a study published last month by a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine group that was chaired by Bucksbaum. The study calls on the Department of Energy to plan for at least one high-power laser facility, and that gives hope to researchers at the University of Rochester in New York, who are developing plans for a 75-PW laser, the Optical Parametric Amplifier Line (OPAL). It would take advantage of beamlines at OMEGA-EP, one of the country’s most powerful lasers. “The [Academies] report is encouraging,” says Jonathan Zuegel, who heads the OPAL.Invented in 1960, lasers use an external “pump,” such as a flash lamp, to excite electrons within the atoms of a lasing material—usually a gas, crystal, or semiconductor. When one of these excited electrons falls back to its original state it emits a photon, which in turn stimulates another electron to emit a photon, and so on. Unlike the spreading beams of a flashlight, the photons in a laser emerge in a tightly packed stream at specific wavelengths.Because power equals energy divided by time, there are basically two ways to maximize it: Either boost the energy of your laser, or shorten the duration of its pulses. In the 1970s, researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California focused on the former, boosting laser energy by routing beams through additional lasing crystals made of glass doped with neodymium. Beams above a certain intensity, however, can damage the amplifiers. To avoid this, LLNL had to make the amplifiers ever larger, many tens of centimeters in diameter. But in 1983, Gerard Mourou, now at the École Polytechnique near Paris, and his colleagues made a breakthrough. He realized that a short laser pulse could be stretched in time—thereby making it less intense—by a diffraction grating that spreads the pulse into its component colors. After being safely amplified to higher energies, the light could be recompressed with a second grating. The end result: a more powerful pulse and an intact amplifier. 1990 C. BICKEL/SCIENCE By Edwin CartlidgeJan. 24, 2018 , 9:00 AM 1980 Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country 4 KAN ZHAN 2020 Exawatt Petawatt Terawatt Gigawatt Megawatt Kilowatt Watt Amplifiers for the University of Rochester’s OMEGA-EP, lit up by flash lamps, could drive a U.S. high-power laser. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Powering upResearchers at Lawrence LivermoreNational Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore, California, set early power records by am-plifying energies in mammoth machines.But a room-size laser in Shanghai, China, now holds the record, after squeezing modest energies into extremely short bursts. Three important techniques have propelled lasers to high powers. 1 First laserTheodore Maiman coaxed laser light from a 2-centimeter-long ruby crystal pumped by photo graphic flash lamps. 2 Janus (LLNL)The two-beam laseramplified 100-picosecond pulses to 100 joules of energy to create the first terawatt shot. 3 Nova (LLNL)Pulses from the Nova laser were shortened using CPA to achieve the first petawatt. 4 National Ignition Facility (LLNL)Shots focus 192 high-energy pulses on a target to induce fusion. Because the pulses are long, their power does not exceed a petawatt. 5 ShanghaiSuperintense Ultra fast Laser FacilityBy squeezing laser pulsesto just tens of femtose-conds, the laboratory achieved record powers with tabletop systems. Mode lockingAlthough very pure, laser light is emitted over a range of wave lengths, or modes, that reso-nate in cavities like guitar strings. These modes can be made to constructively interfere for an intense burst tens of femtoseconds long. Chirped-pulseamplification (CPA)Intense pulses can damage amplifiers. CPA avoids that by stretching a laser pulse with diffraction gratings. After safe amplification, the pulse is compressed. Optical parametricamplificationA high-energy pump beam can amplify a stretched seed pulse within a nonlinear crystal that can be made large to withstand intense inputs. Inside a cramped laboratory in Shanghai, China, physicist Ruxin Li and colleagues are breaking records with the most powerful pulses of light the world has ever seen. At the heart of their laser, called the Shanghai Superintense Ultrafast Laser Facility (SULF), is a single cylinder of titanium-doped sapphire about the width of a Frisbee. After kindling light in the crystal and shunting it through a system of lenses and mirrors, the SULF distills it into pulses of mind-boggling power. In 2016, it achieved an unprecedented 5.3 million billion watts, or petawatts (PW). The lights in Shanghai do not dim each time the laser fires, however. Although the pulses are extraordinarily powerful, they are also infinitesimally brief, lasting less than a trillionth of a second. The researchers are now upgrading their laser and hope to beat their own record by the end of this year with a 10-PW shot, which would pack more than 1000 times the power of all the world’s electrical grids combined.The group’s ambitions don’t end there. This year, Li and colleagues intend to start building a 100-PW laser known as the Station of Extreme Light (SEL). By 2023, it could be flinging pulses into a chamber 20 meters underground, subjecting targets to extremes of temperature and pressure not normally found on Earth, a boon to astrophysicists and materials scientists alike. The laser could also power demonstrations of a new way to accelerate particles for use in medicine and high-energy physics. But most alluring, Li says, would be showing that light could tear electrons and their antimatter counterparts, positrons, from empty space—a phenomenon known as “breaking the vacuum.” It would be a striking illustration that matter and energy are interchangeable, as Albert Einstein’s famous E=mc2 equation states. Although nuclear weapons attest to the conversion of matter into immense amounts of heat and light, doing the reverse is not so easy. But Li says the SEL is up to the task. “That would be very exciting,” he says. “It would mean you could generate something from nothing.”The Chinese group is “definitely leading the way” to 100 PW, says Philip Bucksbaum, an atomic physicist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. But there is plenty of competition. In the next few years, 10-PW devices should switch on in Romania and the Czech Republic as part of Europe’s Extreme Light Infrastructure, although the project recently put off its goal of building a 100-PW-scale device. Physicists in Russia have drawn up a design for a 180-PW laser known as the Exawatt Center for Extreme Light Studies (XCELS), while Japanese researchers have put forward proposals for a 30-PW device. 1970 1960 1 2010 UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER LABORATORY FOR LASER ENERGETICS/EUGENE KOWALUK 2000 Laser light Mirror Partialmirror Lasing crystal Diffractiongrating Nonlinearcrystal Pump Seed Amplifiedpulse This “chirped-pulse amplification” has become a staple of high-power lasers. In 1996, it enabled LLNL researchers to generate the world’s first petawatt pulse with the Nova laser. Since then, LLNL has pushed to higher energies in pursuit of laser-driven fusion. The lab’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) creates pulses with a mammoth 1.8 megajoules of energy in an effort to heat tiny capsules of hydrogen to fusion temperatures. However, those pulses are comparatively long and they still generate only about 1 PW of power.To get to higher powers, scientists have turned to the time domain: packing the energy of a pulse into ever-shorter durations. One approach is to amplify the light in titanium-doped sapphire crystals, which produce light with a large spread of frequencies. In a mirrored laser chamber, those pulses bounce back and forth, and the individual frequency components can be made to cancel each other out over most of their pulse length, while reinforcing each other in a fleeting pulse just a few tens of femtoseconds long. Pump those pulses with a few hundred joules of energy and you get 10 PW of peak power. That’s how the SULF and other sapphire-based lasers can break power records with equipment that fits in a large room and costs just tens of millions of dollars, whereas NIF costs $3.5 billion and needs a building 10 stories high that covers the area of three U.S. football fields.Raising pulse power by another order of magnitude, from 10 PW to 100 PW, will require more wizardry. One approach is to boost the energy of the pulse from hundreds to thousands of joules. But titanium-sapphire lasers struggle to achieve those energies because the big crystals needed for damage-free amplification tend to lase at right angles to the beam—thereby sapping energy from the pulses. So scientists at the SEL, XCELS, and OPAL are pinning their hopes on what are known as optical parametric amplifiers. These take a pulse stretched out by an optical grating and send it into an artificial “nonlinear” crystal, in which the energy of a second, “pump” beam can be channeled into the pulse. Recompressing the resulting high-energy pulse raises its power.To approach 100 PW, one option is to combine several such pulses—four 30-PW pulses in the case of the SEL and a dozen 15-PW pulses at the XCELS. But precisely overlapping pulses just tens of femtoseconds long will be “very, very difficult,” says LLNL laser physicist Constantin Haefner. They could be thrown off course by even the smallest vibration or change in temperature, he argues. The OPAL, in contrast, will attempt to generate 75 PW using a single beam.Mourou envisions a different route to 100 PW: adding a second round of pulse compression. He proposes using thin plastic films to broaden the spectrum of 10-PW laser pulses, then squeezing the pulses to as little as a couple of femtoseconds to boost their power to about 100 PW.Once the laser builders summon the power, another challenge will loom: bringing the beams to a singularly tight focus. Many scientists care more about intensity—the power per unit area—than the total number of petawatts. Achieve a sharper focus, and the intensity goes up. If a 100-PW pulse can be focused to a spot measuring just 3 micrometers across, as Li is planning for the SEL, the intensity in that tiny area will be an astonishing 1024 watts per square centimeter (W/cm2)—some 25 orders of magnitude, or 10 trillion trillion times, more intense than the sunlight striking Earth.Those intensities will open the possibility of breaking the vacuum. According to the theory of quantum electrodynamics (QED), which describes how electromagnetic fields interact with matter, the vacuum is not as empty as classical physics would have us believe. Over extremely short time scales, pairs of electrons and positrons, their antimatter counterparts, flicker into existence, born of quantum mechanical uncertainty. Because of their mutual attraction, they annihilate each another almost as soon as they form.But a very intense laser could, in principle, separate the particles before they collide. Like any electromagnetic wave, a laser beam contains an electric field that whips back and forth. As the beam’s intensity rises, so, too, does the strength of its electric field. At intensities around 1024 W/cm2, the field would be strong enough to start to break the mutual attraction between some of the electron-positron pairs, says Alexander Sergeev, former director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’s (RAS’s) Institute of Applied Physics (IAP) in Nizhny Novgorod and now president of RAS. The laser field would then shake the particles, causing them to emit electromagnetic waves—in this case, gamma rays. The gamma rays would, in turn, generate new electron-positron pairs, and so on, resulting in an avalanche of particles and radiation that could be detected. “This will be completely new physics,” Sergeev says. He adds that the gamma ray photons would be energetic enough to push atomic nuclei into excited states, ushering in a new branch of physics known as “nuclear photonics”—the use of intense light to control nuclear processes. 2 Physicists are planning to build lasers so powerful they could rip apart empty space A laser in Shanghai, China, has set power records yet fits on tabletops. One way to break the vacuum would be to simply focus a single laser beam onto an empty spot inside a vacuum chamber. But colliding two beams makes it easier, because this jacks up the momentum needed to generate the mass for electrons and positrons. The SEL would collide photons indirectly. First, the pulses would eject electrons from a helium gas target. Other photons from the laser beam would ricochet off the electrons and be boosted into high-energy gamma rays. Some of these in turn would collide with optical photons from the beam.Documenting these head-on photon collisions would itself be a major scientific achievement. Whereas classical physics insists that two light beams will pass right through each other untouched, some of the earliest predictions of QED stipulate that converging photons occasionally scatter off one another. “The predictions go back to the early 1930s,” says Tom Heinzl, a theoretical physicist at Plymouth University in the United Kingdom. “It would be good if we could confirm them experimentally.”Besides making lasers more powerful, researchers also want to make them shoot faster. The flash lamps that pump the initial energy into many lasers must be cooled for minutes or hours between shots, making it hard to carry out research that relies on plenty of data, such as investigating whether, very occasionally, photons transform into particles of the mysterious dark matter thought to make up much of the universe’s mass. “Chances are you would need a lot of shots to see that,” says Manuel Hegelich, a physicist at the University of Texas in Austin.A higher repetition rate is also key to using a high-power laser to drive beams of particles. In one scheme, an intense beam would transform a metal target into a plasma, liberating electrons that, in turn, would eject protons from nuclei on the metal’s surface. Doctors could use those proton pulses to destroy cancers—and a higher firing rate would make it easier to administer the treatment in small, individual doses.Physicists, for their part, dream of particle accelerators powered by rapid-fire laser pulses. When an intense laser pulse strikes a plasma of electrons and positive ions, it shoves the lighter electrons forward, separating the charges and creating a secondary electric field that pulls the ions along behind the light like water in the wake of a speedboat. This “laser wakefield acceleration” can accelerate charged particles to high energies in the space of a millimeter or two, compared with many meters for conventional accelerators. Electrons thus accelerated could be wiggled by magnets to create a so-called free-electron laser (FEL), which generates exceptionally bright and brief flashes of x-rays that can illuminate short-lived chemical and biological phenomena. A laser-powered FEL could be far more compact and cheaper than those powered by conventional accelerators.In the long term, electrons accelerated by high-repetition PW pulses could slash the cost of particle physicists’ dream machine: a 30-kilometer-long electron-positron collider that would be a successor to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. A device based on a 100-PW laser could be at least 10 times shorter and cheaper than the roughly $10 billion machine now envisaged, says Stuart Mangles, a plasma physicist at Imperial College London.Both the linear collider and rapid-fire FELs would need thousands, if not millions, of shots per second, well beyond current technology. One possibility, being investigated by Mourou and colleagues, is to try to combine the output of thousands of quick-firing fiber amplifiers, which don’t need to be pumped with flash tubes. Another option is to replace the flash tubes with diode lasers, which are expensive, but could get cheaper with mass production.For the moment, however, Li’s group in China and its U.S. and Russian counterparts are concentrating on power. Efim Khazanov, a laser physicist at IAP, says the XCELS could be up and running by about 2026—assuming the government agrees to the cost: roughly 12 billion rubles (about $200 million). The OPAL, meanwhile, would be a relative bargain at between $50 million and $100 million, Zuegel says.But the first laser to rip open the vacuum is likely to be the SEL, in China. An international committee of scientists last July described the laser’s conceptual design as “unambiguous and convincing,” and Li hopes to get government approval for funding—about $100 million—early this year. Li says other countries need not feel left in the shadows as the world’s most powerful laser turns on, because the SEL will operate as an international user facility. Zuegel says he doesn’t “like being second,” but acknowledges that the Chinese group is in a strong position. “China has plenty of bucks,” he says. “And it has a lot of really smart people. It is still catching up on a lot of the technology, but it’s catching up fast.”last_img read more

"Physicists are planning to build lasers so powerful they could rip apart"