• Keeping pace with the fast-developing science of gene drives

    The emerging science of gene drives is drawing attention for its potential to help with critical health issues such as mosquito-borne diseases and environmental concerns such as agricultural pests and invasive species. At its most basic, a gene drive operates outside the traditional realm of genetics, in which an offspring has a 50-50 chance of inheriting a trait from one of its parents. A gene drive introduces a trait that will spread — or drive — through a population. “The science of gene drives is moving very fast,” says an expert. “[O]ur ability to assess the risks of gene drives, to oversee them with regulatory agencies, and to have a public discussion around gene drives is falling behind the science — We don’t want to wait until we have the technology in front of us to have discussions about regulation, oversight, ethics, and engagement.”

  • Human activity has been causing climate change for nearly two centuries

    An international research project has found human activity has been causing global warming for almost two centuries, proving human-induced climate change is not just a twentieth century phenomenon. The study found warming began during the early stages of the Industrial Revolution and is first detectable in the Arctic and tropical oceans around the 1830s, much earlier than scientists had expected.

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  • Solar-powered Ring Garden combines desalination, agriculture for drought-stricken California

    With roughly 80 percent of California’s already-scarce water supply going to agriculture, it is crucial for the state to embrace new technologies that shrink the amount of water required to grow food. Alexandru Predonu has designed an elegant solution which uses solar energy to power a rotating desalination plant and farm that not only produces clean drinking water for the city of Santa Monica, but also food crops — including algae.

  • Data shows growing political polarization on climate change

    New research discusses the increasing partisan polarization of American attitudes toward climate change. The article details the escalation of partisan polarization, particularly toward environmental protection and climate change, over the past few decades in America, showing an increasing gap between self-identified Republicans’ and Democrats’ attitudes toward human-caused climate change. While Democrats have increasingly accepted the reality and seriousness of climate change over the past two decades, Republicans have become more skeptical.

  • GW Program on Extremism expands research, expertise

    Since its launch in June 2015, the George Washington University’s Program on Extremism has contributed research and analysis on violent and non-violent extremism. GW notes the program’s report ISIS in America: From Retweets to Raqqa has been used by policymakers and law enforcement as a trusted source. Now in its second year, program leadership says they will continue to grow as a leading resource of expertise and research on extremism by expanding with new initiatives and hires.

  • Chicago becomes first city to launch Array of Things, an innovative urban sensing project

    This week in Chicago, the Array of Things team begins the first phase of the groundbreaking urban sensing project, installing the first of an eventual 500 nodes on city streets. By measuring data on air quality, climate, traffic, and other urban features, these pilot nodes kick off an innovative partnership among different organizations aiming better to understand, serve, and improve cities.

  • Assessing climate change vulnerability in urban America

    Impacts of climate change – rising sea levels, heat waves, rising rates of diseases caused by ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes, and many more — will affect cities across the country. One of the first efforts systematically to assess how cities are preparing for climate change shows that city planners have yet fully to assess their vulnerability to climate change, leaving serious risks unaddressed. Most city planners have yet to prepare for climate-related risks and the consequences.

  • Pace of Earth’s warming “unprecedented in 1,000 years”: NASA

    The warming of the planet is proceeding at a pace not experienced within the past 1,000 years, making it “very unlikely” to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius – the goal agreed by nations at the Paris climate summit last December. Recent research found that continuing current levels of carbon dioxide emissions for just five more years will eliminate any chance of restraining temperatures to a 1.5C increase and avoid runaway climate change.

  • Large-scale metamaterials could earthquake-proof buildings in tremor-prone regions

    Metamaterials – artificial structures that exhibit extraordinary vibrational properties – could come to the rescue of regions threatened by earthquakes, according to new research. The study, performed by researchers in Europe and involving detailed computer simulations, shows that large-scale metamaterials can attenuate the energy and amplitude of harmful low-frequency vibrations associated with seismic shocks.

  • Nuclear forensics summer program trains students for a future in nuclear security

    A sure sign of summer is the return of interns to the Lawrence Livermore campus. Students interact with premier researchers and access equipment and facilities not available anywhere else, while scientists lay groundwork for advancing their fields. LLNL runs an eight-week summer internship for students interested in nuclear science and its range of specialties — nuclear forensics, environmental radiochemistry, nuclear physics, and beyond. Together, these disciplines support the laboratory’s nuclear security mission through analysis of nuclear processes and properties.

  • French schools to hold security drills, including mock terrorist attacks

    As part of the French government’s bolstering of security measures in the wake of a series of terrorist attacks, French schools, beginning with the new school year, will now conduct three security drills a year – including at least one drill in which a mock assailants enter the school building.

  • Wider temperature tolerance is based on ion-pair-coordinated polymers

    A new class of fuel cells based on a newly discovered polymer-based material could bridge the gap between the operating temperature ranges of two existing types of polymer fuel cells, a breakthrough with the potential to accelerate the commercialization of low-cost fuel cells for automotive and stationary applications.

  • Rising seas threaten 1.9 million U.S. homes with current value of $882 billion

    Typically when we talk about “underwater” homes, we are referring to negative equity. But there is a more literal way a home can be underwater: Rising sea levels, and the flooding likely to come with them, could inundate millions of U.S. homes worth hundreds of billions of dollars. If sea levels rise as much as climate scientists predict by the year 2100, almost 300 U.S. cities would lose at least half their homes, and 36 U.S. cities would be completely lost. The total combined current value of all homes at risk of being underwater with a 6-feet rise in sea levels is $882 billion.

  • Presidential candidates may be psychopaths – but this is not necessarily a bad thing

    Oxford University’s Dr. Kevin Dutton has spent much of his career looking at psychopaths and researching psychopathic traits, identifying those which can be of benefit and those which can lead to incarceration. He contends that being a psychopath is not an all-or-nothing affair. Instead, psychopathy is on a spectrum along which each of us has our place. In a new study, Dutton finds that Donald Trump ranks above Adolf Hitler and only just below Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, and Henry VIII. Hillary Clinton ranks between Napoleon and Nero.

  • Robot, drones to help collect crop testing data to bolster agricultural production

    A rumbling robot and several high-flying drones recently made an on-site appearance at Clemson University to burrow through and buzz above fifteen acres of experimental sorghum plots containing more than 2,800 replicated entries. The space-age devices are part of a collaborative project with Clemson University and other partners designed to significantly enhance the ease and frequency of data collection for crop testing in ways that will eventually benefit all agricultural production in South Carolina and around the world.