Rainforest Carbon Offsets Ineffective, New Investigation Reveals

Rainforest Carbon Offsets Ineffective, New Investigation Reveals

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Welcome everyone to this week’s science  news. Today we’ll talk about advances in   room temperature superconductivity,  greenwashing and carbon capture,   an experiment that sheds light on the mystery of  cosmic magnetic fields, a robot arm with a needle,   a camera with only one pixel, the supposedly  coming age of clean technology, better phone   memory, why rats might not have brought the plague  after all, and of course, the telephone will ring.  Every research area has its holy grail and in  condensed matter physics that’s room temperature   superconductors. Superconductors have nothing to  do with keeping the brass section under control,   they are materials that don’t impede the  flow of electrical currents as they offer   no electrical resistance. Superconductors  don’t let magnetic field lines in or out,   which is why they levitate above magnets and they  transport electricity at 100 percent efficiency,   at least theoretically. They’re  used today in things like MRI   scanners and particle accelerators  to generate strong magnetic fields.

The problem is, the known superconducting  materials must be cooled down to extremely   low temperatures to work. Even the so-called  “high temperature superconductors” still   need to be cooled to below minus 180 degrees  Celsius. A superconductor that would work at   room temperature would be a really big deal  because it would dramatically reduce energy   loss over long distances, and remove the need  to cool all these big magnets. Unfortunately,  

the only room temperature superconductors  that have so far been found are those in   which the room temperature is set to minus 180. Physicists have searched for their holy grail of   room temperature superconductivity for decades  without much success. It’s been known for a long   time that some of them become superconducting  at somewhat higher temperature when you   put them under pressure, but it isn’t a big  difference and the mechanism remained mysterious.  A 2020 paper in Nature supposedly revealed a  new material that became superconducting at   temperature of plus 15 degrees Celsius, which  my husband seems to think is room temperature,   but for that to work the material needed to be  kept at 267 Giga Pascal of pressure. For context,  

that’s three-quarters the pressure at the centre  of the Earth. This isn’t exactly every-day   conditions either, but it got everyone’s hopes  up by suggesting that pressure might actually   get the job done. Then, however, other researchers  raised doubts about the data processing methods   used in the paper. Nature retracted it in 2022.  The authors say they stand by their results. 

The new research from Leipzig University now  did not put forward a new room temperature   superconductor. Rather, they were trying to  understand how pressure affects the transition   to superconductivity. They placed a  much-studied type of superconductor,   called cu’prates, under high pressure in  a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer,   and looked at the charge distribution between  oxygen and copper atoms. The team was able to  

show that electrons moving between the two  elements were responsible for an increase   in its transition temperature. Professor Haase,  who led the research thinks that thanks to this   result it will take only a few more years  to find a room temperature superconductor.   Though I suspect that if he tries to convince his  colleagues of this, he may face some resistance. The phenomenon of superconductivity has been   known for more than a century and it  baffled even Einstein in his days,   so he is pretty excited by this progress,  even if it might not pan out in the end.

An investigation published by the Guardian und  der Zeit suggests that rainforest carbon offsets   from the world’s leading provider may be largely  worthless and thereby making climate change worse.  The company, Verra, deals with initiatives that  aim to prevent deforestation. They calculate how   much deforestation will be prevented by a certain  action, and convert this into credits that can be   traded. Companies can then buy those credits to  excuse their carbon emissions and the company uses   the money to make sure the actions are taken. However, several scientific studies have found  

that deforestation is only being stopped  in small areas which makes the claims by   Verra suspicious. The investigation  looked at three of these studies,   two from an international group of researchers,  and one from the University of Cambridge. These   groups studied different projects over different  time periods, and used different methods, but the   results broadly agree. The journalists used this  to conclude that Verra overstated the efficiency   of their projects by as much as 400 percent. Verra disputes these results, questioning both   the results and the methodology of the study,  and says it will be publishing its own analysis,   so we will probably hear more about this soon. Meanwhile, another report by authors of   Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  looked into the state of atmospheric carbon   dioxide removal. The news isn’t good. All  remotely realistic scenarios to keep global  

warming below 2 degrees rely heavily on carbon  capture and storage. Besides planting trees,   carbon capture can be done by ocean fertilization,  distributing minerals on the ground, or capturing   the stuff at the power plants where it  shouldn’t have been produced in the first   place. We talked about this in our earlier video  on carbon capture, and back then I came to the   conclusion that besides capturing carbon dioxide  directly at the production site and burying,   all the other methods are too expensive  or too inefficient to make much sense.  The report finds there is a big gap between  what countries are doing and what is needed,   and that there are few plans to scale up  carbon dioxide removal. Who’d have thought.  Hi Rishi, Eating insects mite bee a good  idea, but I doubt it’ll fly. 

I’ve tried crickets. They were okay,   but the legs kept getting stuck  between my teeth. It really bugged me. French flies? Nah, but cricket on  toast sounds pretty British to me! Sure thing. The universe is full of magnetic fields,  but physicists don’t understand why. “On  

the first day at 3 minutes past 2 God created  magnetic fields”, didn’t pass peer review,   so the origin of cosmic magnetic fields  has remained a mystery. But according to   researchers in California a solution to this  long-standing problem just came a step closer. Cosmic magnetic fields are weak, about one  millionth of the strength of the magnetic   field of Earth, but they’re measurable because  they affect the polarization of electromagnetic   waves and the motion of charged particles. Cosmic  magnetic fields span through intergalactic space,  

between galaxy clusters, and have been  measured even in voids. The issue is,   while they’re weak, they’re still stronger  than expected, so where do they come from? Scientists believe that these magnetic fields grew  from small seeds in the early universe, but just   how they grow has remained difficult to explain.  New research published in the Proceedings of the   National Academy of Sciences now supports the  idea that magnetic fields can arise spontaneously   in plasma from temperature differences, and that  that’s what happened in the intergalactic medium.  Known as Weibel instability, this effect  was predicted in 1959 by the Swiss physicist   Erich Weibel. Astrophysicists have  long suspected that it might play a  

role for the formation of cosmic magnetic  fields, but the Weibel instability isn’t   well-understood. While some types of this  instability have previously been observed,   the very one that’ s interesting for cosmology  turned out to be difficult to produce in the   laboratory. Researchers from UCLA now succeeded  at this. This instability converts differences   in temperature into energy of magnetic fields by  a kind of self-organisation of plasma currents.   The instability is characterized by the growth  of small, filamentary structures called “Weibel   filaments” that form in the plasma and can  generate magnetic fields. These filaments  

can then merge to form larger structures, which  can in turn amplify the original magnetic field. This doesn’t put the problem to  rest. But being able to measure   the effect in the laboratory might help with  understanding what’s happening in the cosmos.  A lot of lab work involves getting tiny amounts of  fluids from one place to another which is somewhat   of a pain, but researchers from ETH have now built  a robot that could take over much of this work.  Published in Nature Communications, the work  details a tiny glass needle that oscillates   at ultrasonic frequencies, and which can be  attached to a robotic arm. If the needle is  

dipped into liquid, then varying the frequency  of its oscillations creates vortices that   can do a number of useful jobs. Not only  can the vortices be used to mix liquids,   but they can pump fluids through a mini-channel  system, and the right pattern of oscillations   can attract large particles present in a liquid  toward the needle. To show that this works, the   scientists captured zebrafish embryos, but they  believe it could also be used to capture cells.  The researchers want to add extra needles to the  end of the arm to create even more complex vortex   patterns and hope that one day the robot can  handle a variety of lab jobs. The poor robot’s got   really tiny arms though, so let’s hope it doesn’t  walk off and buy a sports car to compensate. The age of clean technology is near, according  to a new report from the International Energy   Agency. They looked at the production of  renewable energy and the supply chains  

it requires to make the technology work.  According to the IEA, the number of US jobs   in the green manufacturing sector will more  than double by 2030, to 14 million. By then,   the global market for clean energy technologies  could be worth 650 billion dollars, if countries   fully implement their announced energy and  climate pledges. That’s a pretty big “if”  

if you ask me, but you didn’t, so I’ll shut up. Overall, the report predicts a bright future for   green technologies. It also points out though  that diversification of the supply chain is   necessary to avoid that increased demand will push  up prices. For example, prices for the batteries   used in electric vehicles, rose by 10 percent in  2022, the first rise ever in this sector. It’s  

been caused by an increase of the prices for  the raw materials cobalt, nickel, and lithium.  And despite its overall positive outlook, the  IEA acknowledges there are still challenges   ahead. They note for example that only 25  percent of announced solar manufacturing   projects are actually under construction, so  there’s a lot of talk and very little walk. I certainly wish my children would  finally reach the age of clean technology. The working memory that’s in your PC or smartphone  is pretty fast, probably running at around three   thousand cycles per second, unless you’ve  got something particularly high-end,   in which case, please consider  supporting us on Patreon. This working memory is currently dynamic random  access memory, DRAM for short. The data in this  

memory gets lost when you switch the power  off. This is why your phone or laptop has   a second type of memory, for example your  hard drive, which keeps your data when the   device shuts down. This memory, however, is much  slower. And then there’s Magnetoresistive RAM,   MRAM for short, a promising new technology  that is both fast and keeps data when you   shut down and that could one day be used both  for working memory and long-term storage. DRAM stores data as electrical charges,  and is limited by the speed at which the   charges can be drained or stored. This gives  it an access time of around 60 nanoseconds.   MRAM is faster because the technology relies  on measuring voltages rather than currents.  

It has access times as low as a nanosecond. But access times are not the whole story, you also   need to be able to manipulate the memory entries.  An experimental breakthrough from the University   of Tokyo’s Department of Physics, just published  in Nature, set a new record. Usually MRAMs are   made from ferromagnets, that’s the things normal  people just call magnets. In ferromagnets,   the magnetic moments of atoms want to align.  The new work uses antiferromagnets, in which   the magnetic moments of neighbouring atoms want to  point in opposite directions. The benefit of using  

antiferromagnets for data storage is that they  don’t need to be arranged in parallel lines. The   researchers claim that with this method, switching  speeds in the order of a trillion cycles a second   could be possible, and then we’ll be able to  receive and delete lottery scams faster than ever. A group of researchers from Canada has developed  the so far fastest single pixel camera. Yes,  

just one pixel. You’re currently enjoying  this video at about 8 million pixels,   if your bandwidth allows. If not, keep it  that way, because I look much better at   lower resolution. YouTube videos will probably  trend toward even higher resolution in the   next couple of years, though personally I  think that’s more information than anyone   wants or needs. Single pixel cameras are  on the very other end of camera technology. These cameras aren’t going  to revolutionize Tik-Tok,   but they do have a couple of advantages  that make them suitable for certain tasks.   For one, single pixel cameras don’t need a  sensor array, so they are small. They also  

have a high dynamic range, which means they work  well in cases where the brightness of an image   changes a lot from one place to another. They  work in the infrared and in the ultraviolet,   don’t require a lot of light to work, and  they don’t produce huge image files. Single   pixel cameras are used for example to inspect  medical samples or surfaces of electronics. These single-pixel cameras work by putting  different masks in front of the camera so   that the one pixel can capture different light  distributions from the same scene. The full  

image is then reconstructed by computation. But  an issue with these single-pixel cameras is that   so far their frame rate has been low. The new prototype improves on this with   a framerate of one hundred frames per second  for real-time video streaming. For reference,   this video runs at 25 frames per second. But at  that framerate the single pixel camera reaches   barely a resolution of 59 times 61 pixels. That’s  about the same resolution of those weird gifs  

we all had on our homepages in the 90s. For offline recording, they make it to 12   thousand frames per second – admittedly at a  resolution of just 11 times 13 pixels, that’s   low even in 90s standards. Still this is enough  to scan surfaces, and this isn’t a theoretical   breakthrough, this is finished, patented, and  actively looking for commercial applications.

Hi Elon, I saw they found out  your autopilot video was staged. Yes, I also stage my phone calls, but  people don’t literally die from it. It kept crashing it into a fence. Oh, well,  I guess it’s alright then. Love you too.

The Black Death, an outbreak of bubonic plague  ravaged Europe in the 1300s. The plague is   caused by a bacterium, and can now be treated with  antibiotics but back then it killed as much as 60   percent of the population. The plague has given  rats a bad reputation because the story has it,   the bacterium was spread by fleas  that in return were spread by rats. 

This story has been questioned before, but new  research from the University of Oslo has now   found evidence that it’s indeed not true. Based  on long-term environmental data, the researchers   find that climate conditions in Europe, then and  now, just can’t sustain a reservoir of plague   bacteria in rats. The Black Death was part of  what’s known as the second plague pandemic.   While other plague outbreaks indeed developed  in step with the fertility cycles of rat fleas,   the second pandemic moved much faster,  showing no correlation with those cycles.  The researchers say that what instead happened is  that the plaque was probably repeatedly introduced   to Europe by wildlife from Asia and that it partly  spread by person-to-person contact, a possibility   that had previously been suggested to explain why  it spread so rapidly. This research isn’t just of   historical interest. The plague still exists:  a 1994 outbreak in India killed 50 people.

This may be the first time that rats have received  positive press since Disney’s Ratatouille. I like doing these weekly science news  – I’ve never been more up to date on   what’s going on at the cutting  edge of research. But to be fair,   if you want to really understand a  scientific topic, the newest news isn’t   a good place to start. A good place to start  is Brilliant, who have been sponsoring this vi Brilliant offers courses on a large variety of  topics in science and mathematics. All their   courses are interactive, with visualizations and  movable parts. It's a fresh and new approach to  

learning that makes even challenging subjects  fun. Whether you want to brush up your knowledge   on algebra, or understand neural networks, or  cryptocurrencies, or computational biology,   Brilliant has you covered. All their  courses will challenge you with questions,   so you can check your understanding right away.  And they are expanding their content each month. I like looking up things on Brilliant, and  now even have my own course on Brilliant   which accompanies my videos on quantum  mechanics. This course will introduce you   to quantum mechanics starting from the  very basics, so you don’t need to be an   expert already to understand it. My course  gives you an introduction to interference,  

superpositions and entanglement, the  uncertainty principle, and Bell’s theorem. If you're interested in trying Brilliant out,  use our link Brilliant dot org slash Sabine and   sign up for free. You'll get to try out everything  Brilliant has to offer for a whole week, and the   first 200 subscribers using this link will get  20 percent off the annual premium subscription. Thanks for watching, see you next week.

2023-01-27 18:44

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