Life Helps Protect the Planet

first_imgWhen humans make a mess of things, our fellow organisms try to help. That’s no excuse for our failures to be good stewards.Oil CleanupThe Deepwater Horizon oil spill in July 2010 was, without controversy, a terrible disaster brought on by human incompetence. Many species of marine organisms died, beaches were fouled, and teams had to go to extreme lengths to try to clean up the mess. But did all that oil just stay in the water? Remarkably, a new paper in PNAS shows, bacteria quickly ate up much of it. Some microbes are known to degrade oil, but the extent of bacterial assistance in the recovery has not been appreciated till now. Science Daily asks, “What happened to the Deepwater Horizon oil plume?” and answers, “Researchers simulate spill, discover new bacterium, map microbe activity.”Some bacteria were known to feed on hydrocarbon seeps in the Gulf of Mexico, but the oil spill gave them—and other previously unknown species—an opportunity to bring good out of human error. Microbial biologist Gary Anderson from Berkeley describes what happened:“Naturally occurring microbes at this depth are highly specialized in growing by using specific components of the oil for their food source. So the oil droplets provided a large surface area for the microbes to chew up the oil.”Working with Berkeley Lab scientist Jill Banfield, a study co-author and also a professor in UC Berkeley’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, the team used newly developed DNA-based methods to identify all of the genomes of the microbes that used the introduced oil for growth along with their specific genes that were responsible for oil degradation. Many of the bacteria that were identified were similar to oil-degrading bacteria found on the ocean surface but had considerably streamlined sets of genes for oil degradation.Plastic, Too?Many are rightly concerned about the accumulation of plastic in the oceans. There’s no excuse for it, and we humans must work together to stop it. But in another surprising discovery, there’s far less of it out there in the North Atlantic Gyre than expected. What’s happening? Michael LePage at New Scientist says,In fact, there’s only a tenth to a hundredth as much plastic as expected – and the amount of floating plastic does not appear to be increasing. “The trend should be there,” Sole says.This lack of trend cannot be explained by physical processes, according to his team’s mathematical models. Instead, they propose that there has been a population boom in microbes that have evolved the ability to biodegrade plastic.But have they really “evolved” this ability? It would be a remarkably fast case of evolution if they did, since humans have only been manufacturing plastic for about a century. Another possibility is that they already possessed genes to break it down, much like the highly-touted case of bacteria that supposedly evolved the ability to digest nylon (see Evolution News for refutation). LePage goes on to say that nobody really knows what microbes are capable of.In theory it is possible that some microbes have evolved the ability to break down plastics. Studies by Linda Amaral-Zettler of the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research show that the microbes colonising floating plastic are quite distinct from those in the surrounding water, and suggest some are feeding on pollutants.In effect, the plastic is creating a whole new ecosystem that Amaral-Zettler and colleagues call “the plastisphere”.But when ter Halle looked at the DNA of the organisms on floating plastic in the North Atlantic, she didn’t find any microbes known to be capable of breaking down plastic. That could be because they have not yet been discovered of course – there could be millions of unknown microbes still.It’s too early to say that microbes are helping clean up the human-caused pollution. They could, in fact, just be reducing the pollutants to millimeter-sized pieces we can’t detect. If so, the plastic could still infect the food chain. Sea turtles and whales are among the large animals that suffer and die from ingesting large pieces of plastic, parts of fishing nets and mylar balloons. The pollution must be curtailed, no matter what is going on. It’s just interesting to find another case of microbes that might be helping clean up after humans.Anti-Erosion TreesLarger organisms can also affect the planet. A new study posted by says that coastal mangrove forests are 800% more effective at protecting Florida beaches from erosion than salt marshes or artificial protections. Mangroves work well because their “dense tangles of prop roots … serve as highly effective shields for coastlines by reducing the force of breaking waves, decreasing erosion and increasing sediment deposition.” Conservationists would do well to increase their spread. “In all, mangrove habitats could provide $4.9 million worth of coastal protection more than manmade barriers,” scientists estimate.Atmospheric CleansingEven without microbes, the atmosphere has a trick to help clean up pollution. Nature discusses the “self-cleansing ability of prehistoric air,” showing that even without human error, the Earth sweeps the atmosphere clean regularly. Hydroxyl radicals (OH–), produced by UV light, the breakdown of ozone and water vapor, last only for a few seconds but attach to pollutants and neutralize them. There are many unknowns in this process, the articles point out. But then, these uncertainties also call into question the confidence of the consensus about climate change. A new study had some surprising results about the function of hydroxyl radicals to temperature:The new results highlight once again how little we understand about the complexity of chemistry–climate feedbacks and, more generally, of how strongly Earth-system processes are interconnected. Tropospheric composition is driven in different ways by the ocean, cryosphere (the part of the Earth system that is frozen water), lithosphere (Earth’s rocky, outermost shell) and the land and marine biospheres, but also by the stratosphere. It will be crucial to develop a better understanding of the feedback mechanisms involved to more accurately predict how anthropogenic emissions might affect climate and air quality in the future. In particular, a deeper understanding of how atmospheric composition — especially the lifetime of greenhouse gases — is affected by climate change will be important when using results from climate models to inform policy decisions about how global warming can be kept below certain temperature targets.Writer Michaela I. Hegglin ends by encouraging atmospheric scientists to tie their models to actual observations. “Simulations should not simply be ‘tuned’ to provide the best reproduction of the present climate, but should be built on an understanding of the processes involved, to allow the credible simulation of both past and present climates.” Why? Because climate feedbacks remain “relatively unexplored” at this point, despite the political trust put on climate models.Natural cleansing systems are no excuse for humans to pollute the planet. The extent to which our actions could overwhelm these automatic rescue processes is unknown. Still, it is quite remarkable that they work so well. Is any exoplanet around other stars so blessed? (Visited 330 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

British Library App Brings Dickens, The Beatles, Beowulf to Your Smartphone

first_imgThe national library of Great Britain and the world’s largest library, the British Library, is launching its first smartphone app today for iPhone, iPad and Android. The “Treasures” app offers a selection of the items available in the Library’s Sir John Ritblat Treasures Gallery and includes over 100 collection items, 250 high-definition images, and 40 videos with expert commentary, as well as information about the Library’s current exhibitions.The app includes major literary, political and musical texts: the first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Charles Dickens’s handwritten draft of Nicholas Nickleby, Nelson’s Battle Plan written before his victory at Trafalgar, Galileo’s letters, Jane Austen’s teenage writings, the original Magna Carta, Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebooks, and handwritten lyrics by The Beatles. The videos that accompany many of the items help put the collection in context and include, for example, linguist David Crystal discussing the poem Beowulf.Frances Brindle, British Library Director, Strategic Marketing & Communications stresses the importance of access to the library’s collections via mobile technologies. “The Library is committed to increasing access to its collections and broadening the reach of our services and this app demonstrates our commitment to engaging with the mobile community.”The iPhone and Android versions are available to download for £2.39 (US $3.99). The iPad version – in HD – will cost you £3.49 (US $5.99) There is an introductory discount for the apps that will run until January 24. What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Tags:#mobile#web Related Posts Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagementcenter_img audrey watters Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

Developing Specific Theories About Why Your Dream Client Must Change

first_imgIt is crucial you develop a theory as to why your dream client should change. If you are professionally, persistently pursuing their business, you need to know why they should consider doing something different—without you having to ask what’s keeping them up at night. In Chapter 2 of Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition, you will find an easy to follow recipe for developing a general theory out of super-trends and their implications. From there, you can work on a more specific theory—or theories.Win customers away from your competition. Check out Eat Their LunchA General Theory About ChangeWhatever your company does, the founders had a theory about their ideal client and what problem they were solving for them. A medical device manufacturer starts with the broad theory that surgeons need knee joints and hip joints to help their patients. A software company creates a program to help a person or company do something they would otherwise have to do in a more limited format, maybe a format that makes it more challenging to create and impossible to share.Your company has a general theory about why it exists. The arguments in the prior paragraph are too broad and too vague to be useful in sales if you need to displace your competitor to win new business. In these cases, your dream client has already made the first decision, the decision to buy whatever it is you sell. Your theory has to be something more strategic.The trends that might compel that change are advancements in new technologies that are better and more comfortable and durable. Another trend might be that insurance companies pay more for better medical devices that reduce the overall cost of treatment and reducing recovery time. It might also be possible to reduce the time it takes to perform the procedure, allowing the surgeon to do multiple surgeries in the same day (the brain surgeon that removed my AVM did two operations at the same time).A more specific general theory, one that might cause a doctor to change from one manufacturer to another, might be a new substrate that is easier to use, that lasts longer, and speeds up the patient’s recovery time and allows them to best use their time in the medical facility. If the surgeon believes these outcomes are strategic, they might believe they’re worth exploring change. The conversation is more than discovery; it is exploration, where both sides walk away knowing more.Be More SpecificFrom the general theory, you can drill down to a much more specific theory. If you sell knee and hip joints, you might learn that some reasonably large percentage of surgeons are unhappy with the procedure required to install the medical device. The whole procedure is complicated enough, but something about the product they’re using makes it more complicated. After exploring change with a half dozen surgeons, you recognize that one more specific theory is that one type of surgery is more difficult because of the same process required by the device.That is only one theory. Maybe you find out that the devices don’t last as long as you would want them to, and that they cause a lot of patients to suffer and complain. You now have another specific theory as to why your dream client should change.How You Get from the Trends to ChangeBy sharing the fact that there are new materials, you can work towards a conversation about how long patients with the old material are able to go longer without having to undergo another surgery versus patients using new materials. The trend is towards new materials, and this point is made more powerful if you show other new materials in addition to the new material you use in your device. The trend is neutral; it’s true whether it’s your device or some other made of new material.The Value of Stockpiling SpecificsIt takes time and effort to build a territory and account plan. To prospect effectively, you need a general theory about why your dream client should change. You need a more specific theory to explore the reason your dream client should change. As you go through the process of having these sales conversations, you move closer to the particular approach that is most compelling to your prospective client.As you work to discover the different specific reasons your dream clients change what they are doing, you become aware of the factors that allow you to quickly get to compelling reasons your dream client should do something different. If you were to take a piece of paper and write down the general theory your business was created, you’d have something comprehensive.As you pay attention to the trends that are going to impact your clients and prospects, you’ll start to discover more specific theories, like the one I used in ETL about 11,000 baby boomers retiring every day and the lack of people to backfill their roles—and their skills. For some prospects, that trend might provide a theory that they should build a training program to replace the Boomers with Gen X or Millennials or Gen Z. For another, the theory might be attracting the retirees to bring their knowledge and experience into their new business as a way to speed up their results.You need a good general theory about what your dream client should change, but as you sell, you should be more specific. Essential Reading! Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch “The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition.” Buy Nowlast_img read more

NGT orders action against polluting distillery

first_imgFollowing a plea alleging violation of environmental norms by a Karnal-based distillery, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Haryana government to take action against “erring officials”.Following a report submitted by a panel comprising representatives from the Central Pollution Control Board and the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) that stated violations by the unit, a Bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel rapped the HSPCB for inaction.‘Failed to act’“We find that in spite of the report showing serious violation of law, the Haryana State Pollution Control Board has failed to initiate any action for prosecution and assessment and recovery of compensation for the damage caused. This may show either negligence, collusion or incompetence of the State PCB,” the Bench observed.Directing the HSPCB to take immediate steps, the green panel said, “The State PCB may now forthwith take steps in this regard to protect health of inhabitants and to uphold the rule of law, failing which action may be initiated against Chairman and Member Secretary of the State PCB.”last_img read more

Rain or Shine flaunts depth, rips debuting Alaska

first_imgPH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss It wasn’t exactly the kind of tournament debut that the Aces were hoping for, but coming into the game without four key players–who more often that not are starters–Alaska was easy picking for Rain or Shine.Rain or Shine now has victories over three of the tournament heavyweights, the other two being San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption charges PDEA chief backs Robredo in revealing ‘discoveries’ on drug war Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town Mindanao leg of Batang Pinoy more than winning medals, says PSC chair Butch Ramirez SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes Grace Poe files bill to protect govt teachers from malicious accusations View comments LATEST STORIES MOST READ PBA IMAGESPacking a depth in manpower that the enemy couldn’t match, Rain or Shine on Sunday night broke away early from Alaska and went on to post an 85-72 triumph that kept the Elasto Painters within a breath of the PBA Philippine Cup pace at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.The Painters won a second straight game and rose to 4-1 to stay tugging at the coattails of the unbeaten Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters.ADVERTISEMENT US judge bars Trump’s health insurance rule for immigrants Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woeslast_img read more


first_img(REOPENS SPD 10) (REOPENS SPD 10) Tendulkar welcomed the MCAs move and said budding cricketers will be encouraged.”I am happy that Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) has cleared my suggestion for more players in school squad to be involved actively. Budding cricketers will be encouraged and I welcome the move,” the right-handed batsman said. PTI NRB PM PMlast_img