Rising sea levels pose a threat

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The rising sea levels won't affect everyone, right?

Wrong. Many would think that simply living a couple of hundred meters above sea level makes them safe, however, they would be wrong. Your living area may not get flooded but the water itself is the smallest part of the problem. Seas influence climate, which can change dramatically under new circumstances. We get most of our water from freshwater sources and they are also constantly degrading. So, in fact, everyone will feel the consequences of rising water levels.

How much exactly does the sea level rise?

People have been measuring sea levels during the twentieth century, and we can look back on that livejasmin data. According to what our predecessors have gathered, sea levels have been rising 1.8 mm. per year during the last century. These days, scientists utilize satellites in order to research the ocean surfaces. Since 1993, sea levels rose for about 3.3 mm per year, that's twice as much as before.

Why do the sea levels rise?

Some think that this is a part of some kind of cycle. Truth is, we don't have enough information to confirm that. However, there is also solid evidence that the rise is occurring because of global warming. Research showed that more than ten years ago, sea levels rose because of water expanse due to warmth. These days, however, roughly 80% of the rise can be attributed to melting glaciers. According to research done by the GRACE mission, the Greenland ice sheet declines by 150 gigatons ( 150 billion tons) each year. Ice from Greenland and Antarctica causes a water level rise of 1 mm. per year.

In conclusion, not much is know about just how rising sea levels will affect our homes or, in a wider sense, our planet. The human race has never recorded such an experience so we'll have to wait and see.

Are we running out of breathable air?

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People who have concerns about our planet's future might have crossed this idea at one point in their lives or another. News of ozon layer holes and global warming are bombarding us from all manner of sources, from environmental activists to plausible scientists. We also know that developing countries have only recently begun to massively exploit their fossil fuel reserves in order to power their Jasmin live development. And as everybody learned in chemistry class, carbon reacts with oxygen to form carbon dioxide, the now infamous and overrated greenhouse gas. So in the end, since it's confirmed that carbon dioxide concentration in the biosphere is increasing, it can only mean that oxygen levels are falling. A perfectly logical notion, but there are a few other variables we have to consider.

The air we breathe consists of roughly 78% nitrogen, ~21% oxygen and just 1% other gasses. And this is just diatomic oxygen, the one needed for respiration and combustion, not ozone. Wikipedia says that the Earth's atmosphere weighs 5 × 10^18 kilograms. From these jasminlive numbers we get that there is a total of 1.05 x 10^18 Kg of oxygen in our atmosphere. I'd just like to point out that obviously these are rough estimations. We don't usually measure gasses in kilograms, so let's put that in litres. 1.05 x 10^18 kilograms of oxygen molecules, which have a molar mass of rougly 32 means 3.2813 x 10^19 moles of oxygen. Supposing all this oxygen was at 0 degrees centigrade and a pressure of 1 atmosphere, it would then be 7.35 x 10^20 litres.

To put that into persepctive, a human breathes 7-8 litres of air per minute. Which is 10800 liters per day. That's 2268 litres of oxygen per head per day. Now let's imagine that it's 2012, the year estimates say the human population will reach 7 billion people. That's 1.5876 x 10^13 oxygen breathed per day! Now, let's divide our total oxygen volume, which was 7.35 x 10^20 by oxygen breathed by 7 billion people per day ( 1.5876 x 10^13) and we get... 46298032.47 days, which is 126843.92 years, which is rougly 110 000 years more than civilized humans have already existed. That's a lot, isn't it? And this is considering there were no plants to photosynthesize.

Now let's take another example. Carbon, or rather, the burning of fossil fuels. Let's suppose a factory just burned a ton of coal. The barebones version would be, carbon reacts with oxygen to form carbon dioxide. A metric ton of carbon would need 2.66 tons of oxygen to react fully. Which means, if we wanted to burn all our oxygen in the atmosphere, we'd need 3.9375*10^14 metric tons of carbon. And that's only carbon atoms, coal usually has impurities.

Anyway, I've presented you with a few calculations, however, I hope they portray the fact that running out of oxygen will not be a problem. I can't deny global warming or melting ice in the polar regions, but all these numbers and the unimaginable vastness of our atmosphere begs the question, can we really influence our weather THAT much?

Is a manned flight to Mars possible?

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Problems that could hinder space efforts arise. Having recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of the legendary Moon landing, mankind has now set its eyes on the next frontier - Mars. While a Moon base and a stronger presence in the space around planet Earth are in the works, scientists do not neglect the possibility of launching a manned mission to Mars someday. In fact, knowledge is being gathered and Jasmine live technology is adapted daily. Multiple-use shuttles are already in use, suits, resistant to tiny particulates floating in the Moon's atmosphere are in the works. However, there's one thing that is difficult to change, because it's in our biology. Muscle degradation. Astronauts working for long periods of time on the ISS have been reported to loose up to a staggering 50% of their muscle mass. A perfectly healthy 40-year-old male will decrease to the physical level of an 80-year-old senior just after a period of a few months. And that's even with in-flight exercised and diet.

I found a nice picture on wikimedia commons. It shows the orbits of both Mars and Earth around the sun. As I'm sure you know, planets do not orbit in a perfect circle. Rather, their orbits resemble ovals. The point at which the planet is closest to the sun is called a perihelion, while the point where the orbiting planet is at its furthest is called the aphelion. I'm not sure as to how astronomers calculate trajectories, as they take gravitational pulls into account and let's not forget that Mars doesn't stay in place as well. At any rate, by current calculations even the shortest voyage would take up to a year. With a year to stay on Mars itself, the mission time would amount to 3 years. By that time the people would be little more than skeletons.

One of the first molecular studies on muscle degradation in space was conducted on 9 astronauts who lived in the ISS for 180 days. Ironically, the crew with most muscles at the beginning of the experiment also experienced the greatest loss. The research and all the collected data shows scientists that new exercise routines have to be designed, capturing the essence of movements we are used to doing daily on Earth.

A galaxy similar to Milky Way - NGC300

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ESO presents us with yet another stunning high-definition image

The galaxy is titled NGC (new general catalogue) 300. You'd think it's unremarkable just because it doesn't have a name yet, but you'd be wrong. In fact, this space object is of great importance to astronomers. So much, that they spent dozens of hours over the course of several years taking a proper hih-definition image of the galaxy. What you see here is just a small version, go to the ESO website to get the original picture. There's something about 100MB images of galaxies that makes me feel all warm inside. Download it and study it.

However, this is not how the galaxy would look to the human eye, even if one somehow got close enough to see it. Observers at the La Silla observatory in Chile have taken numerous images of the galaxy with different filters. The original purpose of this edevour was to take a photo emphasizing on the star-forming regions. As such, filters isolating the light coming from clouds of ionised hydrogen and oxygen were used. That's the reason why you can very clearly see star clusters, nebulae and even individual stars in the image.

NGC is of interest to astronomers because of the unique state of the galaxy. It's similar to Milky Way, as in it's spiral, tilted towards us and while it's interacting with a neighbouring galaxy, it's not yet deformed. Astronomers said that this picture will provide basis for research for many years to come.

Wastewater not to be wasted?

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The dirtier it is, the more we need it

The state of organic things varies a lot. An apple, which just a week ago was shining in a dark red color on the branch of a tree is now rotten, mouldy, brown and soaking in liquid. Some people will throw this apple in the garbage can, others - out the window, while a small portion might actually make compost out of it, completing the circle of life. However, people often disregard the wastewater that comes out of their homes, be it human waste, tap water or street drainage. This wastewater runs through numerous sewer systems stretching across the suburbs, whole cities even. It is then collected in wastewater processing plants where through physical (such as evaporation) and chemical (adding aluminum and various salts) processes the water is filtered. However, even though the untreated wastewater is unusable to us, it is rich with both organic and unorganic materials, which meants nutrients for other living organisms - bacteria or plants.

The treatment process renders all these nutrients unusable. 50 years ago nobody would have even considered putting what basically is sewage on their crops, but now it's becoming a viable possibility. Nowadays fertilizers are being made from materials dug out from Earth. Phosphorus and potassium are excavated as salts. As everything, though, the deposits are running out and ways to recycle the elements already circulating in our life is needed. A german research organisation Fraunhofer has been looking into extracting the nutrients from wastewater and will be showcasing their work in the upcoming IFAT ENTSORGA fair. What the team hopes to achieve is extracting phosphate from sewage to be used as a fertilizer, packed and ready for sale. Now we'll have to wait for the fair to find out how they managed that.

Zigzagging to easily pass difficult terrain

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The Human body was originally made so that it would be able to accomplish the main primal instincts: finding food and leaving offspring. One of the main evolutionary steps that our great primate ancestors took, standing up on two feet, opened a window to countless new possibilities, including the usage of weapons in finding prey. As satisfying the primal urges became much easier, their thinking capabilities increased significantly. They started clustering into groups of like-minded individuals as it was easier to hunt and safer to live this way. As earth's relief is mostly hilly, settling on steep hills became inevitable. They managed to overcome these natural obstacles by simply zigzagging up the slope, instead of going straight.

These days, zigzaging while facing difficult terrain comes naturally to us. A perfect example of it would be some simple stairs in a multi-story house. We could place a ladder, but climbing it would be hard and you wouldn't be able to carry any objects while on it.

Marcos Llobera, a University of Washington assistant professor of anthropology and a landscape archeologist said, that whether a zigzag will be present, depends on the terrain itself. If the elevation is minimal, there is no need to zigzag, as a human can easily overcome the distance and height. However, if the elevation is rather high and a human is not capable of climbing it in a straight line, he will use the zigzagging tehnique to his advantage.

There is a point, or critical slope, where it becomes metabolically too costly to go straight ahead, so people move at an angle, cutting into the slope. Eventually they need to go back toward the direction they were originally headed and this creates zigzags. The steeper the slope, the more important it is that you tackle it at the right angle."

The danger of mobile phones

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The known facts

We have all been told that mobile phones are "bad for your health". Some say that frequent exposure to mobile phone radiation can cause cancer, others say they are simply not environmentally-friendly. Hell, a mobile phone blew up in one guy's pocket in China if I recall correctly. But, I am writing about how they are bad for your health, not lethal. Studies are being carried-out, testing exactly what part of a mobile phone is the most dangerous.

The Experiment

The Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) have recently conducted a study on how RF-EMF (radiofrequency modulated electromagnetic fields) affect the human body. Earlier studies have shown that RF-EMF mess-up protein activity in the human endothelial cell line.

The human endothelical cell line

Conditions: A small area of the 10 volunteers' skin was exposed to RF-EMF. Biopsies were taken from both: the exposed and non-exposed areas of skin. Proteins were extracted from the biopsies and analyzed using sophisticated software.

Hypothesis: Proteins in the exposed to RF-EMF areas will be altered. Results: Analysis testified, that 8 proteins have indeed been altered. Two of which were present in all volunteers.

Conclusion

As the test has shown, mobile phones can be hazardous. And with more innovations like GPS or bluetooth being added, who knows what the travelling waves can do to our fragile human bodies.