Feb 27, 2016

Louis Leakey (1903-1972) proved that human evolution was centered in Africa, and not Asia, as proposed earlier

Kenyan archaeologist and anthropologist whose fossil discoveries in East Africa proved that human beings were far older than had previously been believed and that human evolution was centered in Africa, rather than in Asia, as earlier discoveries had suggested. Leakey was also noted for his controversial interpretations of these archaeological finds.

Born of British missionary parents, Leakey spent his youth with the Kikuyu people of Kenya, about whom he later wrote. He was educated at the University of Cambridge and began his archaeological research in East Africa in 1924; he was later aided by his second wife, the archaeologist Mary Douglas Leakey (née Nicol), and their sons. He held various appointments at major British and American universities and was curator of the Coryndon Memorial Museum in Nairobi from 1945 to 1961.

Feb 20, 2016

The Earth is warming up

The Earth has warmed 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit on average since the late 19th century. Most of the warming has occurred since 1960, the period covered on this map. It reveals the regional variety buried in the global average. A few areas, most near the Antarctic, actually have gotten colder since 1960, while some parts of the Arctic have warmed as much as 15 degrees. Natural climate cycles explain why the warming has happened unevenly and fitfully, but not the warming trend itself, which has overwhelmed the cooling effect of the ash from volcanoes. It has coincided over the past half century with a surge in carbon emissions from rapidly industrializing world. Finding a way to stop those emissions – a climate change – is the challenge for the next half century. 
(National Geographic, November 2015)

Feb 14, 2016

Nuclear Power Plants Worldwide

As of June 2015 there were 438 reactors operational with 67 power plants under construction.
(European nuclear society: https://www.euronuclear.org)

Feb 7, 2016

New 'Superman' crystals can store data for billions of years

Researchers in the U.K. have developed a way of storing digital data inside tiny structures contained in glass. The storage technology is so stable and safe that it can survive for billions of years, scientists at the University of Southampton said this week. That's a lot longer than your average computer hard drive.

Sadly, the human inventions don't look like the glittering crystals that Superman uses to generate holograms of people from his home planet. Instead, they take the form of small glass discs that have already been used to store historic documents, like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Bible."This technology can secure the last evidence of our civilization: all we've learned will  not be forgotten," said Peter Kazansky, a professor at the university.

Each disc can hold up to 360 terabytes of data -- the equivalent of 22,500 basic iPhones.

The wizardry involved is invisible to the human eye. The scientists use a sophisticated laser to encode the information into minuscule formations, known as nanostructures, inside fused quartz. The structures alter the way light travels through the glass, allowing the data to be read by special optical devices.

The researchers call the data storage 5D, because the information is translated into five different dimensions of the nanostructures — their height, length, width, orientation and position.

The scientists from Southampton, who are presenting their research at an international conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, say they are looking for industry partners to further develop and commercialize the technology.