Analyse pollution in Mandovi: Cong. to NIO

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Chemist shoots Punjab drug officer dead, kills self

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India vs Bangladesh, FIFA 2022 World Cup Qualifier HIGHLIGHTS in Kolkata: Adil Salvages 1-1 Draw

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‘CM will come under Lokpal Bill’

first_imgPunjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Tuesday that his government would bring the Chief Minister, along with Ministers and bureaucrats, within the ambit of the Lokpal Bill to be enacted soon. “The reforms by the Congress government will help to wipe out corruption and mafia. We are working on a new Lokpal legislation with the powers to act on complaints against the Chief Minister, the Ministers and the bureaucrats,” he said. Capt. Singh said the government was also planning to give the panchayats judicial powers so as to ensure quick settlement of small cases and affordable justice at the grassroots. “Also, the Governance Ethics and Reforms Commission set up for comprehensive systematic reforms will scrutinise transactions above ₹50 crore,” he said. Fool-proof law The Chief Minister said the police were given a free hand to deal with criminal gangs. The government was working on a fool-proof law to control of organised crime.Asked about the portrait gallery work, set to start on July 6 in the Golden Temple complex in memory of those killed during ‘Operation Bluestar’ including Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Capt. Amarinder Singh said the Damdami Taksal, a Sikh educational organisation, was trying to foment trouble in the State.As for the fiscal position when he took over, he said the unpaid liabilities amounted to ₹13,039 crore, while debt had gone up from ₹51,155 crore in 2007 to ₹1,82,183 crore in 2017. Capt. Singh reiterated his support for the GST, saying it would be beneficial to Punjab.last_img read more

Three LeT militants killed in Sopore encounter

first_imgThree Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants were on Saturday killed in an encounter with security forces in Sopore area of Baramulla district in Kashmir, police said.Security forces launched an operation following information about the presence of militants in Amargarh area of Sopore, a police official said. He said militants opened firing on the security forces, who retaliated.Three LeT militants were killed in the ensuing gunbattle. Three weapons have been recovered from them, he said.last_img

Analyse pollution in Mandovi: Cong. to NIO

first_imgPanaji: The Congress has urged the National Institute of Oceaonography (NIO) to analyse the pollution level of the Mandovi river in and around the area where the Lucky Seven casino vessel has run aground, and near other casinos ships. A delegation of the party, led by Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Shantaram Naik, met NIO deputy director P.S. Rao at Dona Paula on Friday to make the demand. The delegation told Mr. Rao that the Congress is seriously concerned about the pollution in the Mandovi river caused by the damaging commercial activities of the casinos. Mr. Naik told Mr. Rao that Lucky Seven, which is grounded in the Mandovi river, is likely to cause serious environmental damage if necessary preventive measures are not taken.The delegation further demanded that the NIO should analyse the discharge of sludge water by casino vessels. They also urged the organisation to examine the effect on fishing activities in the river and on seafood consumption.Last month, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had declared in the State Assembly that a new casino policy would soon cap the number of casinos in a particular area.last_img read more

Soldier, LeT militant killed in Kulgam

first_imgA Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant and a soldier were killed in a fierce gunfight at Kulgam in south Kashmir on Tuesday, as another batch of militants managed to the give the Army the slip after being trapped in Pulwama.A police official said a heavy exchange of fire erupted between the hiding militants and the security forces at Nowbug Kund, Kulgam, during a cordon operation. “The operation got prolonged as the trapped militants changed their positions during the exchange of fire,” the official said.An LeT militant, identified as Muzamil Manzoor, a resident of Bardoo-Yaripora, Kulgam, was killed. However, Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin identified the militant as Showkat Ahmad Dar. The other trapped militants managed to escape into a jungle area. A soldier was also killed in the operation. A policeman associated with the Special Operations Group (SOG) suffered injuries, police said.Hideout bustedIn a separate operation, militants gave a search party of security forces the slip in Laam forests of Tral, Pulwama. “A hideout was busted and blankets were seized from the spot,” said the police. Railway services were disrupted in Kulgam and Anantnag. Internet services in the area too remained suspendedIn north Kashmir, a procession was taken out during the last rites for Ashiq Ahmed Bhat, a Hizbul Mujahideen militant killed along with his associate Toib Majid of Brat Kalan Sopore in Zachildara area of Handwara town on Monday night.A police official said Bhat was from the volatile Palhalan area. He had joined the militant ranks in April 2015 as a Class 10 student. Clashes also broke out after the funeral. Another militant Majid was also buried in Bratkalan Sopore as mourners chanted anti-India slogans.Paying tributes to the slain militants, Hizb chief Salahuddin, in a statement issued from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, said the ongoing struggle would continue till a logical conclusion was reached. “The sun of freedom will rise sooner or later in Kashmir.”last_img read more

All the rhinoceroses

first_imgAssam’s Chief Wildlife Warden, N.K. Vasu, explains how to differentiate a male rhino from a female one | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar Rhino census 2018: Kaziranga now has 2,413 rhinos There is nothing ‘casual’ about Biju Saro, 26. His day begins at dawn as he goes about his job of keeping watch at the Bokabil anti-poaching camp, located about 2 km from Borbil Misinggaon, his village. He brings to it the same seriousness that fellow campers, forest guard Natun Chandra Das and home guard Dilip Khakhlari, do. But Saro is a casual employee, one of the 200 contracted to guard the great one-horned rhinoceros (or the Indian rhinoceros), Assam’s iconic mammal.Also Read Watch: Kaziranga’s one-horned rhinos | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar A forest guard keeps watch in Kaziranga, Assam A one-horned rhino is chased away as it ventures too close to a camp in Kaziranga National Park in Bokakhat district | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar  Bokabil is one of the 178 anti-poaching camps in Kaziranga National Park (KNP), the rhino domain important to the fragile Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot that stretches from eastern Bangladesh to Vietnam.For ₹7,500 a month, which is much lower than the ₹20,000 that the ‘regular’ guards get, Saro patrols a five sq km area around Bokabil camp, takes turns to monitor the animals round the clock from the camp’s watchtower, updates the Kohora range office regularly on his walkie-talkie, and cleans the weapons, usually a 12 bore rifle or a .303, that the guards use to battle poachers. Kohora (or Central) is one of the five ranges of KNP. The others are Agratoli (or Eastern), Bagori (or Western), Burapahar, and the Northern Range. The KNP used to be 1,030 sq km, with a core area of 482 sq km, when it was notified as a tiger reserve in 2007. But erosion by the Brahmaputra has shrunk it to 884 sq km now.Former KNP Director M.K. Yadava says that Kaziranga would require at least 3,000 men if they were to be deployed in eight-hour shifts. However, the park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985, only has a staff strength of about 1,300, of which 200 are casual workers. In the current arrangement, the guards are not expected to work by the clock.“We sleep in the afternoon between patrols,” says Saro. “And this is because both animals and poachers rest during this time. [Records show that poachers invariably strike at night]. Night-time is for keeping awake, listening to unfamiliar sounds, and gunshots.” What drives him is the hope of becoming a regular employee one day. “I have been a casual worker for three years now. As a local resident, I feel I deserve to be regularised when the department recruits guards the next time,” he says.Chasing the rhinoIt is early morning. The Borbil camp is not on the itinerary of Debasish Baruah, teacher of a local school and one of the enumerators for the Rhino Population Estimation 2018. Harun Chamru, a 45-year-old adivasi, is the driver of Baruah’s Gypsy. He seems to have lost his way after taking the wrong track at a fork flanked by tall elephant grass. “We normally don’t take jungle tracks other than the specified tourist routes,” says Chamru.  The Gypsy reaches Borbil camp at 8 a.m. Baruah’s team decides to have their breakfast — bread, butter, egg, an apple and two bananas — that has been packed for every member of the rhino census at the Kaziranga convention centre in Kohora. As they start eating, a sudden swaying of the elephant grass about 300 yards away alerts Saro. He dashes up the camp, which is on stilts. Annual flood levels are marked on its pillars with charcoal. He finds a rhino chasing another. “It’s a female,” he announces, pointing to an animal emerging from the grass.“There are many ways of differentiating a female from a male rhino,” explains Bhupen Talukdar, a retired forest officer who is delivering the pre-census briefing. “We look at the skin fold, the size of the bib (dangling under a rhino’s neck), cut marks on ears, the pattern of tubercles (the series of small lumps on a rhino’s hump), and, of course, the genitalia. But the easiest way is to observe the size of the head. A female rhino has an elongated, narrower head while the male’s head is thicker and shorter. Focus on the horn too. The male’s horn is broader and invariably broken, while the female’s is thinner, unblemished, and tapers into a conical form.”Rhinos are solitary animals, Talukdar says, but an adult with a calf is invariably a female. “If you spot them, you can simply jot down the sex even if you are unable to observe its head or horn.”The enumerators are asked to report to the convention centre before 5 a.m. for the estimation exercise the next day. “Your kitbag includes a GPS device, a compartmentalised map of Kaziranga, a note sheet with columns for male, female, ‘un-sexed’, and calves under three and over three years. ‘Un-sexed’ is for rhinos whose gender is difficult to determine from afar,” says Rabindra Sarma, KNP’s Research Officer.The GPS is a first for a Kaziranga census. About 40 elephants, 29 of them hired from private owners, are parked at strategically located camps, ready to take the observers around. Sarma has a word of advice for enumerators who would be on an elephant’s back. “Tie your GPS, binoculars, note sheets, everything around your neck. You never know when a rhino might give chase. If the elephant suddenly starts running, you’ll be caught off guard.”Sarma’s warning proves prophetic. Dilwar Hussain, a policeman turned environmentalist, is perched on an elephant, Urvashi, who starts running when a male rhino chases her away from a group of rhinos. “We couldn’t count that group properly,” he says later. “It was only when the mahout put a ‘gamosa’ [decorated Assamese cloth towel] on her eyes that she stopped running and we could resume counting.”The elephant-back estimation, which begins at 6:30 a.m., lasts for five hours. “It is tough on the elephant. Given that it is carrying our weight, it sweats more as the day gets hotter,” says Kaushik Barua, an environmentalist who counted 107 rhinos on Day 1 and 21 on Day 2 of the estimation exercise.The observers on jeeps have a longer day — they finish by 1 p.m. Baruah, a veteran, says counting on jeep is less challenging than doing it from an elephant’s back. But his vehicle ran into a herd of elephants, which blocked the track for 45 minutes. “We had no choice but to wait for the elephants to move,” says Chamru. “Elephants are less aggressive than rhinos.”Counting controversyKNP has had rhino censuses since 1966. But earlier estimation exercises were not dogged by controversy, which sets the latest exercise conducted on March 26-27 apart. In the run-up to the 2018 Rhino Population Estimation, some experts were sceptic about the methodology being adopted, pointing out that the headcount approach based on sighting by humans could lead to inflated figures, as had happened with tiger censuses in the past. They have suggested alternate methods such as distance sampling and camera traps.“The number of rhinos is important, but what matters most is how many breeding females, mothers, and calves we find. That is what gives us an idea about the trends and the health of the habitat,” says N.K. Vasu, Assam’s Chief Wildlife Warden. “We have been tracking the headcount since 1966, when Kaziranga had only 366 rhinos. Techniques such as distance sampling and random sampling have evolved since then, but headcount based on actual sightings [the total counted by every enumerator within his or her specified area of estimation] still offers the best results, given the sincerity with which forest officials and wildlife enthusiasts do their job.”  Bapiram Hazarika, more popularly known as Nigona Shikari, had in 1905 guided Baroness Mary Victoria Leiter Curzon around the core area of the present-day Kaziranga on elephant back. The baroness was the wife of Lord George Curzon, who as Viceroy of India would go on to earn notoriety by dividing Bengal.Impressed by the forest, Lady Curzon asked Nigona how the rhinos could be saved. “Stop the sahibs from hunting them,” he replied. Convinced, she persuaded Lord Curzon to prohibit the hunting of rhinos. Six months later, an area of 57 lakh acres was declared as the Kaziranga Proposed Reserve Forest. The park formally became a Reserve Forest in 1908, a game sanctuary in 1916, and was thrown open to visitors in 1938. It was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1950 and became a national park in 1974.“There are many legends behind the name Kaziranga. A popular one says it refers to two tribal lovers, Kazi and Rongai, who eloped to live among the animals,” says Rohini Ballave Saikia, Kaziranga’s Divisional Forest Officer. “Kaziranga is a love story between man and animal and between forest officials and the local people,” says Lohit Gogoi, who runs a restaurant at Kohora, the main tourist point. “People here know that their existence depends on the well-being and conservation of the rhino.”Officials say that they ensure synergy with local people, who keep them informed about any potential poaching activity. “There can be no conservation without the cooperation of the local community. We let people graze their cattle on the fringes of the park but ensure that they are immunised free of cost, for it is vital to prevent diseases from spreading to the wild animals. We also organise free trips inside the park for local children,” says Akashdeep.By afternoon, as counting ends, 2,413 rhinos have made it to the enumerated list: 758 males, 942 females, and 385 calves. The sex of 328 remains undetermined. Hopefully, all doubts about numbers will be put to rest after the recount next year.  Moh Chaturvedi, a Delhi-based independent environment consultant, counted 69 rhinos along an eight km stretch near the Mihimari and Gendamari camps straddling the Kohora and Bagori ranges. The boxes ticked on her census sheet say that the gender of a third of the rhinos could not be identified.Baruah has counted 16, six of them ‘un-sexed’. “They were too far away to be identified properly,” he says. The enumerators gather at the convention centre for a de-briefing in the evening. Each sheet is sealed in packets. A committee will pore over them carefully and arrive at the final tally.“The final counting is not an easy process. Two old rhinos died soon after the estimation was done. Such animals are removed from the list, as are those likely to be double counted by enumerators of adjoining blocks,” says Akashdeep Baruah, Director, KNP.The total count method relies heavily on the visibility of animals. Officials say that poor burning of tall grasses and reeds due to high moisture content have led to fewer rhinos being sighted this time. These grasses, which grow taller than elephants, are burnt by the forest guards around March every year, which is the time they dry up and constrict other vegetation. In a ‘normal burning’, 50-60% of the grassy stretches are burnt, while a ‘poor burning’ would cover lesser ground. It is difficult to spot rhinos and other animals hidden deep inside the acres and acres of tall grass and reeds growing in dense clusters.In this year’s exercise, 67 enumerators (38 forest officials from across Assam and 29 invited observers) undertook the census on the back of 40 elephants and jeeps. They have produced an estimate of 2,413 rhinos, 12 more than in 2015.“Kaziranga is a mixture of woodlands, grasslands and wetlands. The rhinos prefer the grasslands and wetlands, but we could burn only 20% of the grasslands this time against the annual rate of 60%. This affected visibility of the rhinos. So we have decided to go for a recount next year,” says Akashdeep Baruah.Kaziranga does have a precedent of estimation in successive years, though the gap between two censuses is typically three years. The 2012 estimation had a grass-burning issue too, and officials were apparently unhappy with the 2,290 rhinos counted that year. A re-estimation in 2013 yielded 2,329 rhinos. Keeping records of rhinos has become crucial, as poaching is the main reason for the decline of rhinos in Assam, apart from flood-related deaths, since the banning of legal hunting. Rhinos are poached for their horns and nails, used in traditional medicine. Government records say poachers killed 247 rhinos in Kaziranga between 1996 and March 2018. In the same period, 76 poachers were killed, while 575 were arrested for illegal entry in the park.“Estimation of rhinos should be deferred if the conditions are not right. We should ideally go for an assessment of the conditions before conducting the estimation,” says Vasu.Some experts have suggested different methodologies such as distance sampling — calculating the number of animals in quadrants defined by an imaginary line — that do not rely on actual sighting and are reportedly more accurate. Distance sampling involves counting a part of a population in a specified area and then extrapolating from it.In the case of tigers, camera traps (a remotely activated camera with motion sensors) and distance sampling ended the practice of estimating populations by counting pug marks. Before the birth of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), tiger figures were allegedly inflated from 1,800 in 1972 to more than 3,500 in 2000. The estimate came down to 1,411 in 2006 following the application of sampling methods and camera traps.“I have been involved in rhino and tiger censuses since 1999, and I can that say no method is foolproof as it all boils down to the efficiency and sincerity of the enumerators. We cannot rule out the possibility of a rhino being counted twice, but past experience suggests that there are greater chances of rhinos being undercounted. That is the reason why the estimate is always within a range of plus-minus 100 from the figure arrived at,” says Sarma. “Nonetheless, I still feel that sampling methods added to headcount can erase doubts. This time, we used GPS for the first time to ensure more accuracy. But to use GPS effectively, we need to design good transect lines along which an animal is expected to be present,” he adds.“People find fault in tiger estimation methods too. So it is not proper to say this method is better than that method. Every method has room for improvement,” says Dev Prakash Bankhwal, regional head of the NTCA.Whatever the method, officials insist that they do not want the rhino population to grow beyond Kaziranga’s carrying capacity. A 2014 population module by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) sounded the saturation alarm for Kaziranga rhinos and suggested adding more areas. “Studies revealed that Kaziranga has a carrying capacity of 2,700 rhinos, but the park has already lost land to erosion,” Sarma says. Creating more space for the rhino is believed to be the reason behind an eviction drive mandated by a Gauhati High Court order of October 2015.Of the six areas or ‘additions’ comprising Kaziranga’s buffer zone of 548 sq km, the northern range, encompassing islands along the Brahmaputra, has been cleared of settlers, as has been the Burapahar area. Most of the settlers here were migrant Muslims, making parties such as the All India United Democratic Front label the drives as selective. Non-Muslims in a couple of other additions are yet to be ejected or relocated.Indebted to a shikariAccording to a study by the Wildlife Institute of India, the old generation of shikaris (hunters) who subsequently turned into forest rangers had the tradition of regularly tracking tigers and mapping their movements. The rhinos of Kaziranga — and elsewhere in Assam — owe their existence to a shikari too, though he had earned the moniker for guiding white sahibs who hunted rhinos for trophies. There is a little tale which bears repetition here.last_img read more

Uttarakhand cop carries sick pilgrim on his back

first_imgAn Uttarakhand policeman on Wednesday rushed nearly two km uphill carrying a pilgrim, who had a mild heart attack, on his back and ensured the man received timely medical attention.Sub-Inspector Lokendra Bahuguna’s act not only proved to be a blessing for 55-year-old Ranjhi Rajag but also earned accolades for the man in khaki for his commitment to duty. The family of Mr. Rajag was perplexed when the pilgrim from Madhya Pradesh collapsed near the Bhairo Mandir here soon after his arrival at the Himalayan Yamunotri shrine on Wednesday morning, Barkot police station in-charge Vinod Thapliyal said. His family tried to make Mr. Rajag sit on horseback to take him to the nearest hospital but he could not sit steady. This is when Mr. Bahuguna offered to carry the pilgrim, who was in need of immediate medical care, on his back to the Yamunotri seasonal hospital. “With Mr. Rajag on his back, the Sub-Inspector walked two km uphill to the hospital where the pilgrim was treated for four hours before being discharged,” Mr. Thapliyal said. Doctors at the hospital said Mr. Rajag had suffered a mild heart attack. Soon after being discharged, Mr. Rajag thanked the police officer and also paid obeisance at the shrine with his family.Mr. Bahuguna’s act drew comparisons with that of another Sub-Inspector, Gagandeep Singh, who had saved a youth from a furious mob near Ramnagar in Nainital district.last_img read more

Turnout at Hooda’s rallies sets alarm bells ringing for BJP

first_imgThe large turnouts at the public meetings of former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda during the second leg of his Jan Kranti Yatra in Panipat, covering around 60 villages across four Assembly constituencies of the district in three days this past week, seem to suggest that the mood in the State is palpable for a political change ahead of the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections next year.This has set the alarm bells ringing for the State’s BJP leadership, as three of the four Assembly constituencies in the district are held by the party and none by the Congress.Major promisesHaving mustered a simple majority for the first time in the State, riding mainly on the “Modi wave”, the BJP seems to have squandered the opportunity, failing to deliver on its major promises of employment generation, implementation of Swaminathan Commission report and crackdown on corruption, besides inept handling of Jat reservation agitation and Ram Rahim conviction aftermath.Despite its “Haryana Ek-Haryanvi Ek” slogan, the party has been accused of creating a rift between the Jats and other groups for political gains.Also, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s Cabinet colleagues, BJP MLAs and party’s Gurugram MP and Union Minister of State for Planning (Independent Charge) Rao Inderjit Singh have publicly cast doubts over his leadership, not helping the party’s cause.Summing up the mood in the region, Satpal, a tea stall owner off National Highway 709 near Ishrana, said: “The people in Haryana voted for (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi with much hope, but his team in the State has failed him. Disappointed, the people are now turning back to Hooda.”Though the Aam Aadmi Party and the Indian National Lok Dal in an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party are vying to cash in on the resentment against the ruling party, Mr. Hooda seems ahead of his rivals with a huge mass appeal among the farmers, Dalits and the support of dominant Jat community in the stretch dominated by Deswali Jats that includes Rohtak, Panipat, Kaithal and Jind.Despite facing allegations of corruption in land deals, Mr. Hooda has emerged as an undisputed leader of the farmers in the State after former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal because of his pro-farmer decisions, such as waiving off electricity bills and farm loans worth ₹1,600 crore, increased compensation for land acquisition and hike in Minimum Support Price during his 10-year rule.Though Mr. Hooda maintains in his speeches that all sections are disillusioned with the present State government, his emphasis remains on the plight of the farmers and the Dalits in Haryana.New leadership Political analysts believe that Mr. Hooda’s charisma could lead the Congress to victory in the State if he is made the face of his party. However, infighting, delay in deciding on the new leadership and disarrayed organisational set-up in the State could mar the party’s prospects. If the Congress fails to seize the opportunity, it could be advantage INLD and BSP with the Jats turning to them to keep the BJP out.last_img read more

Fake news a drawback of tech penetration: Parrikar

first_imgSpread of technology comes with fallouts and drawbacks like fake news, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Sunday. “Today we have got technology penetration everywhere but there are some drawbacks also like fake news. There are news reports that say cell connectivity is dangerous to humans … People want cell phones, but they don’t want towers in their village,” Mr. Parrikar said at an IT-related public function here.”People should realise that fake news can do enormous harm and a rumour can do more harm,” the Chief Minister said. He announced that the Goa government was gearing to go fully digital vis-a-vis government transactions by December this year. “We have been completely online on payments whether it is Real-time gross settlement systems (RTGS) or other modes. Now we have decided that all our transactions will be digitalised. We are trying to do it by September but it may go up to December ,”Mr. Parriakar said.last_img read more

Maoist killed in encounter with STF ahead of polls in Chhattisgarh

first_imgA Maoist was gunned down in an encounter with security forces in Chhattigarh’s Bijapur district on Sunday morning, a day ahead of polling in the region for the State Assembly polls.Also Read The exchange of fire took place at a forest in Bedre area when a team of the Special Task Force (STF) was out on an anti-Naxal operation, a senior police official told PTI. As per the ground report, a body of a Naxal clad in ‘uniform’ and a rifle were recovered from the spot, located around 450 km from Raipur, he said. Further details are awaited as the search operation was still under way, he added.IED blast in KankerMeanwhile, a Border Security Force (BSF) personnel was injured when Maoists detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) in Chhattigsarh’s Kanker district on Sunday.A team of the BSF was out on an area-domination operation when Maoists blew up the IED in a forest area between Kattakal and Gome villages, located around 200 km from Raipur, Kanker Superintendent of Police K.L. Dhruv told PTI over the phone.”BSF’s Sub-Inspector Mahendra Singh sustained injuries in the explosion,” he said.Reinforcement was rushed to the spot and the injured personnel was being evacuated from the forest, he said, adding that a search operation was under way in the region.Security increasedSecurity has been heightened in seven districts of Bastar division and Rajnandgaon district which go to polls in the first phase on Monday. Around one lakh security personnel have been deployed to ensure smooth conduct of elections.Maoists have asked voters to boycott the polls. The 90-member Chhattisgarh Assembly will go to polls in two phases — on November 12 and 20 — and the results will be announced on December 11.The first phase of polls will cover 18 constituencies of eight Maoist-affected districts that include Bastar, Kanker, Sukma, Bijapur, Dantewada, Narayanpur, Kondagaon and Rajnandgaon. Ahead of polls, spike in IED seizures in Chhattisgarh last_img read more

Chemist shoots Punjab drug officer dead, kills self

first_imgA woman officer working with the Punjab government’s Drug and Food Chemical Laboratory was shot dead by a chemist at her office in Kharar on Friday. 38-year-old Neha Shorie, posted as zonal licensing authority of the lab was shot dead by Balwinder Singh, a resident of Morinda, whose chemist shop’s licence was cancelled a few years ago. The accused killed himself as well.“The accused went to the victim’s office and fired two rounds. Thereafter, he tried to run away but was nabbed, he then shot himself,” said an official police statement.The statement added that the local police team reached the spot immediately and took the accused into custody. The assistant was shifted for treatment at Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research where he later succumbed to his injuries.The assailant, a resident of Morinda in Punjab had a chemist shop there. The shop was closed a few years ago after his licence was cancelled following recovery of intoxicants during a raid conducted by the victim officer.SHO of Kharar City police station Bhagwant Singh Riar said the police have registered a case under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and and under the Arms Act against the accused and investigation was underway.Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has directed state’s Director General of police to ensure speedy probe into the murder of Neha Shorie. Mr. Singh ordered prompt investigation into the matter to get to the bottom of the case esides ensuring exemplary punishment to the accused.The Chief Minister said no one would be allowed to interfere or intimidate any public servant in the discharge of their duties.last_img read more

Quantum Cryptography Is Safe Again

first_imgIn theory, so-called quantum cryptography provides a totally secure way of sending information. In practice, maybe not. But now physicists have demonstrated how to close a technological loophole that could have left secrets open to eavesdroppers.Suppose Alice wants to send Bob a secret message. In ordinary cryptography, she can convert the message to binary numbers—i.e., a string of 0s and 1s—and then scramble it by combining it mathematically with another string of random 0s and 1s, which serves as the key. Bob then uses this key to undo the scrambling and read the message. Of course, to make the scheme work, Alice must pass the key to Bob without letting it be intercepted by an eavesdropper, Eve.Quantum cryptography introduces a twist—literally. Alice passes Bob the key by encoding it in single photons, which can be polarized horizontally to signal a 0 or vertically to signal a 1. If this were all there were to it, then Eve the eavesdropper could also read the key and then pass the photons to Bob. But Alice can also randomly rotate her transmitter to send photons polarized diagonally at plus or minus 45° some of the time. When her transmitter isn’t aligned with Bob’s receiver, the key transmission becomes ambiguous: For example, if Alice sends a photon polarized at 45° and Bob has his detector set to the horizontal-or-vertical orientation, then according to the rules of quantum mechanics, Bob will register a horizontal click with 50% probability or a vertical click with 50% probability. That’s no problem, as after the transmission of stream of photons, Alice and Bob can tell each other for which photons their devices were aligned and use only those to define the key.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)All this twisting shuts Eve out. Eve doesn’t know which orientations Alice and Bob are using, and if she guesses wrong she’ll disturb the photons in a detectable way. For example, suppose for a particular photon both Alice and Bob have their apparatuses set in the horizontal-vertical orientation, but Eve has hers set at 45°. Then, according to quantum mechanics, her measurement of the photon will change its state and leave it polarized at plus or minus 45°. This will then ruin the perfect agreement that Alice and Bob should see. Later, when they compare notes, they will spot errors and realize that someone has tampered with the transmission.However, in 2010, an international team of researchers showed that Eve could hack the system by exploiting a weakness in the so-called avalanche photodiodes (APDs) used to detect the individual photons. The problem is that APDs react differently to intense pulses of light than they do to single photons, so that the energy of the pulse must exceed a threshold to register a hit. As a result, all Eve has to do is intercept the single photons, make her best-guess measurements of their polarizations, and send her answers off to Bob as new, brighter pulses. If she guessed right and measured the photons with her apparatus in the same orientation as Alice and Bob’s, then Bob’s apparatus would interpret the bright pulse just like a single photon. But if she guessed wrong, so that she sent Bob a bright pulse whose polarization was off-kilter relative to the orientation of his apparatus, then Bob’s apparatus would actually split it into two dim pulses. Neither of these would be strong enough to make Bob’s detectors fire. So Bob would never notice the events in which Eve messed up the polarization of the photons. And he wouldn’t notice the loss of pulses, as a lot of photons never make it from Alice to Bob anyway because of detector inefficiency.Last year, physicist Hoi-Kwong Lo at the University of Toronto and colleagues claimed to find a way around the problem. In the new protocol, Alice and Bob would begin the creation of a quantum key by sending randomly polarized signals to Charlie, a third party. Charlie would measure the signals to determine not their actual polarization, but only whether the polarizations were at right angles. For instance, if Alice sent a vertical signal and Bob also sent a vertical signal, Charlie would signal “no.” But if Alice sent a vertical signal and Bob sent a horizontal signal, Charlie would signal “yes.” Once Bob heard a “yes,” he would simply twist his signal by 90° to make it the same as Alice’s—and this would form the quantum key. The trick here is that Charlie merely compares the polarizations of the photons without determining what they are, so there can be no splitting of photons, and no half-strength signals. As a result, no tampering by Eve would go unnoticed. Even if she peered over Charlie’s shoulder, she would know only whether Alice’s and Bob’s signals were correlated—never their actual values.Lo and colleagues just presented their idea. Now, in papers in press at Physical Review Letters, two independent groups of physicists have shown that the new protocol works. Wolfgang Tittel and colleagues at the University of Calgary in Canada placed Charlie’s detector on the Calgary main campus, Bob’s signal-generator in a lab 6 kilometers away, and Alice’s signal-generator in another lab 12 kilometers away. Although the researchers did not have Bob and Alice generating random signals as truly secure cryptography requires, they did show that the signal timings and measurements could be performed over such great distances. Meanwhile, Jian-Wei Pan at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei and colleagues have demonstrated the quantum-cryptography protocol with random signals, albeit just in the lab.Does this mean that quantum cryptography is safe after all? Grégoire Ribordy, CEO of the Swiss company ID Quantique, which makes commercial quantum cryptography, says that practical systems had already largely got around the blinding loophole by continuously adjusting the detectors, so that they are always reacting differently to incoming photons. Such a countermeasure makes it very difficult for Eve to thwart the security, because she would have to continuously tailor her strong light signal. But Ribordy adds that the demonstration of the new protocol by Tittel and others is welcome for developing future systems: “The short answer is that it is very interesting—although it is not yet mature enough to implement, from a practical point of view.”last_img read more

ScienceShot: Just Joking! Dogs’ Play Growls Exaggerate Their Size

first_imgDogs present themselves differently to other dogs depending on whether they’re protecting their food or goofing around. That’s the conclusion of a new study by scientists at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary.  They let dogs choose between photos of two other dogs, while simultaneously playing a recording of either a food or a play growl. (The play growls were made while owners engaged in tug-of-war with their dogs; these animals were not included in the experiment.)  One photo was of a dog whose size matched the growl, which reflects the length of a dog’s vocal tract; the other was of a dog either larger or smaller than the growler. When the listening dogs heard the food growl, they focused on the image of a dog who was the size of the growling dog. But when they heard the play growl, they fixed their eyes on the photo of the bigger dog, even though the growl was made by a smaller one, the scientists report in the current Applied Animal Behaviour Science. Dogs give an honest growl when guarding their food, the scientists believe, because a beagle, for instance, might be injured if it decides to play retriever. But a small dog making an “I’m really a BIG dog” growl during play likely knows that the other animal can see its size, and recognizes that it’s essentially making a joke. Dogs likely use the fake growls as they do their other exaggerated play behaviors, the researchers suggest—to reassure each other that the rough and tumble play is, after all, just a game.See more ScienceShots.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

Cyborg Cockroach Sparks Ethics Debate

first_imgIf you are seeing a shark video above, please try viewing it in a different browser.At the TEDx conference in Detroit last week, RoboRoach #12 scuttled across the exhibition floor, pursued not by an exterminator but by a gaggle of fascinated onlookers. Wearing a tiny backpack of microelectronics on its shell, the cockroach—a member of the Blaptica dubia species—zigzagged along the corridor in a twitchy fashion, its direction controlled by the brush of a finger against an iPhone touch screen (as seen in video above).RoboRoach #12 and its brethren are billed as a do-it-yourself neuroscience experiment that allows students to create their own “cyborg” insects. The roach was the main feature of the TEDx talk by Greg Gage and Tim Marzullo, co-founders of an educational company called Backyard Brains. After a summer Kickstarter campaign raised enough money to let them hone their insect creation, the pair used the Detroit presentation to show it off and announce that starting in November, the company will, for $99, begin shipping live cockroaches across the nation, accompanied by a microelectronic hardware and surgical kits geared toward students as young as 10 years old.That news, however, hasn’t been greeted warmly by everyone. Gage and Marzullo, both trained as neuroscientists and engineers, say that the purpose of the project is to spur a “neuro-revolution” by inspiring more kids to join the fields when they grow up, but some critics say the project is sending the wrong message. “They encourage amateurs to operate invasively on living organisms” and “encourage thinking of complex living organisms as mere machines or tools,” says Michael Allen Fox, a professor of philosophy at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)“It’s kind of weird to control via your smartphone a living organism,” says William Newman, a presenter at TEDx and managing principal at the Newport Consulting Group, who got to play with a RoboRoach at the conference. At the same time, he says, he is pleased that the project will teach students about the neuroscience behind brain stimulation treatments that are being used to treat two of his friends with Parkinson’s disease.The roaches’ movements to the right or left are controlled by electrodes that feed into their antennae and receive signals by remote control—via the Bluetooth signals emitted by smartphones. To attach the device to the insect, students are instructed to douse the insect in ice water to “anesthetize” it, sand a patch of shell on its head so that the superglue and electrodes will stick, and then insert a groundwire into the insect’s thorax. Next, they must carefully trim the insect’s antennae, and insert silver electrodes into them. Ultimately, these wires receive electrical impulses from a circuit affixed to the insect’s back.Gage says the roaches feel little pain from the stimulation, to which they quickly adapt. But the notion that the insects aren’t seriously harmed by having body parts cut off is “disingenuous,” says animal behavior scientist Jonathan Balcombe of the Humane Society University in Washington, D.C. “If it was discovered that a teacher was having students use magnifying glasses to burn ants and then look at their tissue, how would people react?”Gage says that in his experience, working carefully and closely with insects and other animals in experiments can sensitize students to the fact that roaches “are actually similar to us and have the same neurons that we have.” He also notes that the company doesn’t kill their own roaches after the experiments, but sends them to a “retirement” tank that the team calls Shady Acres. Although they may be missing legs or antennae, the insects tend to get on with their lives after the experiments, he says. “They do what they like to do: make babies, eat, and poop.”“I try not to downplay the fact that in science we use animal models and a lot of times they are killed,” Gage says. “As scientists, we do this all the time, but it happens behind closed doors.” By following the surgical instructions, he says, all students learn that they have to care for the roaches—treating wounds by “putting a little Vaseline” on them, and minimizing suffering whenever possible. Still, Gage acknowledges, “we get a lot of e-mails telling us we’re teaching kids to be psychopaths.”The RoboRoach “gives you a way of playing with living things,” like a short-lived version of the forbidden “Imperius Curse” in the Harry Potter novels, says bioethicist Gregory Kaebnick of the Hastings Center in Garrison, New York. He finds the product “unpleasant,” but adds that he won’t be calling for a boycott, either. “I’ll just be happy that I found a cleverly marketed consumer item that I am very happy not to own.”last_img read more

Astronaut’s Help Gives Hollywood’s Take on Space Some Gravity

first_imgCatherine “Cady” Coleman is a chemist, former Air Force officer, flute player, scuba diver, and astronaut. And most recently: Hollywood adviser. In 2011, while serving 159 days aboard the International Space Station (ISS), Coleman spoke with actress Sandra Bullock, helping Bullock parse her role as a newbie astronaut destined for disaster in the dizzying new space thriller Gravity, opening tomorrow. The film sets Bullock’s character adrift in space after a catastrophic collision with space debris destroys her shuttle.In a recent interview with ScienceInsider, Coleman said her days in space were, by design, never as eventful as in the movies. But for her, Gravity captures the essence of life 400 kilometers above Earth. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.Q: What questions did Bullock ask you? What did she want to know?Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)C.C.: We talked about a lot of different things … how you moved and how you kept yourself in one place. We have handrails all over the station, like the monkey bars. You can be flying along, and then just hook your feet into one of these and stop. I came back with literally no calluses on my feet—they were like baby feet. Except on the tops of my feet, I had calluses from sliding under those bars. The other thing that we talked about was the emotional component of living someplace dangerous, and a place where you can be truly alone. How to live with that.Q: How do you deal with those challenges? C.C.: I have to compartmentalize a little bit, and put that sadness and grief I feel about not going on the zoo field trip with my first-grader in a special place, and not let it interfere with the important job that I’m doing. … That part of it is really challenging and hard, and this movie really brings that home to me. It was certainly a very emotional movie for me to watch.Q: You’ve been on two shuttle missions and you’ve lived on board the ISS. How realistic is the movie?C.C.: There’s a lot of things that [the film does] really, really, really nicely that make it almost an IMAX movie about being in space. I feel very lucky to have this job, but I don’t get to bring my friends and family with me. They have, to me, documented the look and the feel of living in low-Earth orbit, and that feeling of both isolation and the specialness of having a view that not many people get to have. At the same time, there are a lot of things [in the movie] that aren’t realistic. There are a lot of coincidences—each of them are perhaps possible—but it’s not probable that they would all happen on the same day, at the same time, or in the same order.Q: I’m assuming there are a lot of safety protocols to prevent astronauts from hurtling off into space. C.C.: It is physically possible, but we work really hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. We are tethered at all times during our space walks. We’re always connected by a retractable dog leash that can stretch out to be about 84 feet [25 meters] long. …Then we do an additional thing called a local tether, made of Kevlar, and it’s always hooked to you. As soon as you get somewhere [on a space walk] where you want to work, the first thing you do is reach out with your local tether and tether yourself.We train for that really, really hard. In the [training] pool, if at any time I go to a work site and I’m not either holding on or using my local tether, the divers will actually drag me 4 feet [1.2 meters] off the [mockup] station so it’s really clear, to me and to everyone else, that I let go—it’s actually embarrassing! That’s how serious it is. Having said all that, there are some pretty violent things that happen in the movie and I don’t know if those tethers would hold.Q: What happens if the tethers fail?C.C.: We do have a jetpack, but it’s not the one you see in the movie, [which is] modeled after one that we used to use. … But it ended up being not very practical, partly because there was no tethering [with that pack]. … [Now we wear] a new one, we call it SAFER, and its function is different. It’s just a rescue pack. If for some reason both of your leashes fail, you’d probably find yourself spinning, and then you just push a button, and that jetpack has a gyroscope that will sense where it is and stop itself from spinning. Once you’re stable, you’ll use your hand controller to turn yourself around, see where the station is, and fly back.Q: What about space debris? C.C.: The reason NASA doesn’t make documentaries that keep people in their seats is because each of the risks in this movie is real, but we work really hard to mitigate those risks. There’s a team in Colorado that tracks every piece of orbital debris over half an inch. It was actually fascinating for me to come back to Houston after Hollywood and be right in the middle of the arrival of the newest supply ship to the space station. What’s the first thing we have to deal with? There’s a piece of space junk in the way between that new supply ship and the space station. It just proves the point that these things are real for us, but we actually know how to deal with them.Q: So how big of an issue is space debris for NASA and the space station? C.C.: Space debris is an issue that we track every minute of every day. We track the debris and we can see when it’s coming within about a week. And we can certainly move the station—if we have time and we have enough fuel. Sometimes things appear more quickly and we don’t have time. [Light debris] is harder to track than something very solid that’s going to have a very even and constant trajectory. In that case, if we can’t be certain if debris is going to hit or not, and it’s too late to move the space station in time, we will actually wake the crew up if necessary, and have them be in their supply ships with the hatch closed, ready to undock from the station.Q: Is there anything you felt compelled to impart to make sure that Bullock understood a little bit of what it’s like to be up there? C.C.: Something that’s really hard for me to communicate is the physical beauty, and just the bigness of the picture. Looking down at the Earth, it’s very difficult for me now to think of myself as a citizen of just one country. I can’t help but feel like an inhabitant of the Earth. The physical beauty of just looking down at our planet makes it clear to me that our planet is just one house in the neighborhood. Everyone on our planet is a space traveler. Q: What was the most unexpected thing about life on the station?C.C.: Living in space is not so much about floating as it is about flying. For us down here on Earth, even flying in an airplane is pretty neat—it just seems like something people aren’t supposed to do, we don’t have wings! But flying without an airplane? Giving yourself a push with your little finger and flying across the long, extended hallway of an enormous space station? I miss that magical feeling. It is like living the life of Peter Pan. You wake up every day and you’re still living it. What’s magic about that is if that’s happening, what are the as-yet undiscovered possibilities of what we as humans can do?last_img read more

ScienceShot: Almost Certain Chance of Catching Next Supernova

first_imgThe last star to go supernova in the Milky Way—that astronomers know of—exploded in 1604, before Galileo first turned a telescope to the heavens. But with a neutrino detector now being built within a Japanese mountain that could come online as early as 2016, researchers might be able to do something as yet undone: Make detailed observations of a supernova in our galaxy before it visibly explodes. First, astronomers would be alerted to the unfolding event by the flood of neutrinos generated when a supernova collapses. Within minutes, they could determine the general area of the sky where the explosion would occur, point their infrared telescopes in that direction, and wait for the fireworks. (Outer portions of a supernova aren’t disrupted until anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours after the core collapse and neutrino burst occur, the researchers note.) An exploding star known as Tycho’s supernova (image) brightened the Milky Way in 1572. With the new sensor in place, instruments—especially infrared telescopes—would have an almost 100% chance of observing the next supernova in our galaxy, the researchers report in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal. But because the Milky Way contains a lot of dust, which effectively blocks visible light, the chances of anyone seeing that explosion in the nighttime sky are 20% or less, the researchers note. Odds are somewhat higher for people in the Southern Hemisphere, though, because many more of the galaxy’s stars are visible from there. At current estimated rates of supernova formation in the Milky Way, the odds of one popping off in the next 50 years could be as high as 90%.See more ScienceShots.*Correction, 1 November, 11:19 a.m.: This article has been revised to more accurately reflect the probabilities of a supernova occurring in the next 50 years.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

IPCC: Mitigating Climate Change More Challenging Than Ever

first_imgBERLIN—Global greenhouse emissions are skyrocketing. Emissions cuts required to avoid dangerous impacts of climate change are steep. And despite decades of talk, world governments have made paltry efforts to address the problem.That’s the grim picture painted by a major report on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions released today by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).“There is a clear message from science: To avoid dangerous interference with the climate system, we need to move away from business as usual,” said Ottmar Edenhofer, an energy expert at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, who was a co-chair of the roughly 500-page report, in a statement.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The report also describes the daunting work required to sidestep climate dangers, says energy expert Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California. “To greatly reduce [carbon dioxide] emissions, we must revolutionize our systems of energy production and consumption,” he says. And that’s a “long, hard, and costly undertaking.”Several years in the making, the document is the third part of a three-part “assessment” of scientific literature since 2007, when IPCC last published its last round of voluminous assessment reports. IPCC released the first part, on climate science, in September 2013; the second report, on impacts of climate change, came out last month.Economists have compared the task of lowering the world economy’s carbon footprint—now the equivalent of about 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year—to turning a cruise ship. But the report says the ship is firing full steam ahead. Emissions in the first decade of this century were higher than the previous 3 decades, the report notes. “[T]he main contributors to emission growth were a growing energy demand and an increase of the share of coal in the global fuel mix,” the report’s summary says.From 2000 to 2010, world economies became more efficient in their use of energy, the report notes. That efficiency would have reduced global emissions by the equivalent of 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide over that time period, except that population grew steadily and energy use became more carbon intensive; the net result was an equivalent of 7 billion more tons of emissions in that decade than during the previous one.“There’s nothing that’s happened recently that suggests that we’re coming down,” Leon Clarke, an economist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, told reporters in a conference call. Clarke is one of the report’s authors.The report includes a variety of pathways to a more stable climate system by 2100, include aggressive paths that give the planet a shot to stay under an additional 2°C of warming, roughly equivalent to a carbon dioxide concentration of 450 parts per million (ppm). The concentration now is about 400 ppm. “The stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations at low levels requires a fundamental transformation of the energy supply system,” the summary of the report says.Zero carbon power in the form of renewables is a central part of the equation, the report says. It identifies four key technologies for achieving aggressive emissions reductions goals: nuclear power, energy efficiency, biofuels, and biomass energy with carbon capture and storage, known as BECCS.But tackling global emissions on such a massive scale will be pricey, the report finds. “A new element in this report is noting that BECCS could become important later this century if we are to stabilize atmospheric CO2 levels at 450 ppm or below,” Caldeira notes. “This says as much about the high cost of reaching these low stabilization levels as it does about the relatively low cost of BECCS. In most of the scenarios where BECCS plays a large role, the cost of [carbon dioxide] emissions rises to several hundred dollars per ton [of carbon dioxide].”Activists organizations, meanwhile, have sought to spin aspects of the report that suggest a glimmer of hope for a healthier atmostphere. “It is not too late to limit warming to less than 2°C – or even 1.5°C with less certainty – the levels beyond which risks start to accelerate substantially. But we have to stay within a limited carbon budget that is shrinking fast,” said Greenpeace in a prepared statement.last_img read more

The real mountain lions of LA County

first_imgFor years, a male mountain lion ruled the Santa Monica Mountains in southern California. Dubbed P1 by scientists, he feasted on deer and sired 22 cubs. But P1’s kingdom was surrounded by freeways and suburbs, and troubles arose. The details of inbreeding and murderous conflict are revealed online this week in Current Biology. Charting the ups and downs of P1 and his kin, scientists have discovered a steep decline in genetic diversity. Eventually, they say, planners will need to create a corridor to connect this small group of predators to other populations of mountain lions—if they want the population to survive.It’s rare to have a large carnivore living in a megacity. Like other top predators, mountain lions (Puma concolor) need a large range—about 1100 square kilometers for a healthy population to persist. That makes life for mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains, which span 660 square kilometers, a bit cramped. In the second half of the 20th century, the habitat became cut off from mountains to the north. The study is “dramatically documenting impacts of isolation by highways,” says Paul Beier of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, who has studied mountain lions in the Santa Ana Mountains, to the east. The isolation of the Santa Monica population was probably gradual, starting with the construction of the Ventura Freeway in the 1950s. Housing developments on either side of the freeway reduced the amount of habitat that the cats could easily travel through. When researchers started studying coyotes and bobcats in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in 1996, they weren’t even certain mountain lions still existed in the park.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)In 2002, a remote camera snapped a picture of P1. “It’s amazing that we even have a large carnivore,” says Seth Riley, a wildlife ecologist with the National Park Service (NPS). Riley and other NPS staff captured P1 and other mountain lions by setting foot snares (the latest versions send a text message when tripped) and fitted them with GPS collars. Evolutionary biologist Robert Wayne of the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues analyzed DNA from samples of blood, as well as fur and scat left on trails. The DNA revealed low genetic diversity, compared with other populations, although there aren’t any apparent physical problems. Among large carnivores in North America, only Florida panthers are in worse shape. The genetic analysis also revealed that P1 was the top cat. For years, he alone mated with two adult females in the park. The problem was the lack of room for his offspring. Juvenile mountain lions must disperse from their birthplace, because their fathers monopolize the females. As far as researchers know, only one juvenile has escaped. In February 2012, researchers received a photo of a young male in Griffin Park, a 26-square-kilometer urban refuge to the east. After he was trapped, genetic analysis suggested he had come from the Santa Monica Mountains, traveling about 30 kilometers and crossing Interstate 405 and the Hollywood Freeway. “Now he’s stuck in this tiny dead-end home range with no breeding opportunities,” Riley says.Back in the Santa Monica Mountains, P1 had snapped. He killed one of his sons, and, for no apparent reason, a daughter as well. Then, even more inexplicably, he killed one of his own mates. “It doesn’t seem like a good strategy,” says Riley, who is baffled. In 2009, the researchers discovered another worrying development: P1 had bred with one of his daughter, reducing genetic diversity.  The good news is that one mountain lion has crossed into the Santa Monica Mountains, although it may have spelled the end for P1. In 2008, NPS caught a young male, which they named P12, just north of the Ventura Freeway. They gave him a tracking collar, and in February 2009, they saw that he crossed the freeway in the middle of the night. (It’s not clear that P12 dashed across the freeway; he may have taken the one underpass.) Not long after that, P1’s collar was discovered near a ranch. The researchers noticed rocks nearby, with blood from an unidentified panther, so the collar may have come off in a fight. He hasn’t been seen since. By that time, P1 was old and it’s possible that P12 subsequently killed him, Riley says.P12 brought fresh blood to the population. He had eight offspring, passing on genes from the north. Unfortunately, P12 has also mated with one of his daughters. The lesson is that just a single immigrant can rapidly improve the gene pool, but that further inbreeding will erode that progress just as quickly. “The idea is not novel, but the dramatic confirmation is a wake-up call,” Beier told Science in an e-mail.It’s not clear how long the mountain lions can persist by themselves in the park. A postdoc has joined Riley and Wayne to analyze the viability of the population. Ultimately, these mountain lions will need better access to other habitat and individuals. (Moving mountain lions into the park is a last-ditch option, Riley says.) After a young mountain lion was killed by traffic, the California Department of Transportation added new fencing to funnel animals toward the road that crosses under the freeway, but Riley says it’s not a good passage for mountain lions. “In the long run, we need a tunnel or an overpass to be effective.”last_img read more

No more beach time for sea turtles?

first_imgCompared with most sea turtles, green turtles (Chelonia mydas) are beach bums. Whereas other species spend virtually their entire lives at sea—coming ashore for only a few hours to nest—green turtles can be spotted throughout the year on sandy Pacific beaches. But fast-forward a few decades, and these sightings might be rarer. In an attempt to understand what makes green turtles catch their rays on the sand, scientists tracked the number of turtles sunning themselves on one Hawaii beach. Every day for 6 years, volunteers there tallied the turtles. The animals, researchers report online today in Biology Letters, tend to come ashore when the sea surface temperatures drop below 23°C. Today, this occurs during the winter months in Hawaii, the Galápagos Islands, and some Australia beaches within the sea turtles’ range. But the sea surface temperatures in these areas have been rising by about 0.04°C per year. If this rate continues, by 2039 Hawaii’s water will be warm enough that the turtles won’t get chilly enough in the winter to bask on the sand. By 2100, the researchers hypothesize, green turtles might not be seen basking on any Pacific beaches, instead keeping warm enough in the water. Because they still haven’t cleared up the biological importance of warming on land for green turtles, researchers don’t yet know whether this change could negatively impact the turtle populations.last_img read more

BUDGET 2016 COVERAGE: A roundup of Obama’s science spending request

first_imgThe Obama administration on 2 February presented its budget request to Congress for the 2016 fiscal year, which begins in October. ScienceInsider tracked the numbers on rollout day and provided analysis. Click here to see all of our Budget 2016 coverage.8:05 p.m.: That’s all for today, folks! Come back tomorrow for more coverage of science policy, politics, and money on ScienceInsider.8 p.m.: The top Republican and Democat on the House of Representatives science committee react to today’s budget request.Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), chair of the House science committee:“Under this president, our nation’s debt has grown by more than $7 trillion. And the president’s latest budget proposal is more of the same. The American people do not want increased taxes and the government spending what it doesn’t have.“Investments in science and technology have the potential to create jobs and yield future economic growth. Rather than focus on areas that have clear benefits for Americans, the president instead chose to push a partisan agenda. His budget includes new spending for costly ineffective energy subsidies and a new $500 million United Nations program to promote ‘climate change resiliency’ in other countries. I’m disappointed the president chose to play politics with taxpayers’ dollars instead of offering real solutions.“I am disappointed that the budget request does not adequately support the programs that will take us farther into space to destinations like Mars. In fact, his budget cuts human space exploration and planetary science.  The Obama administration continues to include costly distractions, such as climate funding better suited for other agencies, and an asteroid retrieval mission that the space community does not support.“It is clear that the president is out of touch with how Americans want their government to be run. House Republicans will continue to promote policies to make the federal government and our nation’s scientific enterprise more efficient, effective and accountable.”Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX), ranking member of the House science committee:“The President’s Budget would help ensure that the U.S. can compete in a 21st Century global economy and solidify America’s place as a scientific and technological leader. The commitment to STEM education, advanced manufacturing, and energy efficiency and the development of clean energy alternatives is encouraging. I am most pleased by the 6 percent increase for research and development.  Robust investments in R&D and education are essential if we want to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and unlock untold societal benefits.“I am also pleased that the budget would undo the sequester. The full impact of sequestration on non-defense discretionary spending would be very detrimental to our research, education, and innovation enterprise. The scientists, engineers, and innovators of today make discoveries and develop technologies that improve the quality of life and security of our citizens, generate whole new industries and jobs, and keep our nation thriving in a competitive world economy. They also help to give our children the inspiration and grounding they will need to become the next innovators, or just to be prepared for the high-skilled jobs of the future.  The only responsible course of action is to invest in our research agencies like the President has proposed, not hamstring them with arbitrary sequestration cuts.“I look forward to reviewing the specific budget requests of the agencies under the jurisdiction of the Committee in more detail in the weeks ahead and I look forward to working with the President and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that America remains a leader in science and technology in the decades to come.”7:55 p.m.: CDC close to flat, but with new antimicrobial mandateThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would see a small increase under the president’s budget request. The agency would get nearly $7.1 billion—up almost 2% from 2015 levels, not counting the emergency $1.7 billion it got this year to support domestic and international Ebola response.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The most notable increase would go to “emerging and zoonotic infectious disease” programs, allotted $699 million in the 2016 budget—a nearly $300 million increase.  Most of that comes with the president’s initiative to combat antibiotic resistance, a $1.7 billion initiative announced last week, of which CDC would take a $280 million slice. That funding would support efforts to educate hospitals about antibiotic stewardship and to monitor emerging threats. The agency plans to double the number of sites in the Emerging Infections Program—a research and surveillance network of labs, clinics, and state health departments—from 10 to 20.CDC’s budget for injury prevention and control would also spike under the plan, from $150 million to $257 million, as CDC is folded into a broader effort by the administration to reduce rates of prescription drug abuse. –Kelly Servick7:50 p.m.: A food-focused bump for FDAObama’s budget request includes $4.9 billion for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—a 9% increase over 2015. Federal appropriations alone—not counting user fees collected from companies seeking FDA review—amount to $2.76 billion, or a 6% increase, according to a preliminary analysis by the Alliance for a Stronger FDA.The agency’s food safety efforts would see the biggest boost—$109 million, or 4%—as part of an ongoing overhaul meant to cut down on foodborne illness, mandated by 2011’s Food Safety Modernization Act. Meanwhile, its oversight of medical products would see just a 1% increase in funding.That’s problematic, given that both the agency’s workload and the complexity of the science involved in the review process continue to increase, says Steven Grossman, the alliance’s deputy executive director. “It’s clear that the medical products stuff is growing much faster than the budget is,” he says. –Kelly Servick7:48 p.m.: At NOAA, a 6.3% increase and an emphasis on climate and weatherThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) budget request reveals a strong focus on planning for and mitigating the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events, with money set aside for new weather satellites, climate mitigation planning, and additional grants for coastal resilience studies. The budget also calls for expanding NOAA’s existing efforts to study ocean acidification and for upgrading the National Weather Service’s infrastructure.The total NOAA request is $3.333 billion, 6.3% above 2015. For the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, the agency’s main research arm, the request is $485 million, an increase of 12%. Within the office, climate research would get a big boost, a 9% increase to $189 million. There’s also a 33% hike for ocean acidification research, to $30 million.The budget asks for $2 billion to push forward with the next generation of weather satellites, including $380 million to begin to develop a Polar Follow-On satellite program, designed to fill the data gap between the current Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite with NASA and the planned Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), of which the first satellite is scheduled to launch in early 2017. Funding for the follow-on satellites may come at the expense of the budgets for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series (GOES-R) and JPSS, however, both of which stand to decrease by about $100 million for 2016.Overall, NOAA research did well—it’s the best budget for NOAA research in a long time, says Scott Rayder, a former chief of staff at NOAA and now a senior adviser at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. “There’s something there for everyone.” In particular, he notes the administration’s apparent emphasis on climate “news you can use,” such as regional forecasts, rather than global forecasts. There’s also a focus on developing forecasts with a seasonal to interannual timeframe—about 3 months to a year—which are in high demand in industry, Rayder says. “The marketplace—agriculture, transportation, energy, water managers—they all want this information. So in this space, the administration and Congress can agree that it’s a good thing.”NOAA is also requesting $147 million to begin construction of a new ocean survey vessel with a variety of capabilities, from surveying marine mammal populations to servicing National Weather Service buoys. To save costs, NOAA is requesting that the ship be built to the same specifications as two already-planned ships for the federally funded academic research fleet, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s R/V Neil Armstrong and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s R/V Sally Ride. “It’s a smart acquisition decision,” Rayder says. With the federal fleet aging and likely to decline by 50% by 2026, “they really need this vessel.” –Carolyn Gramling7:36 p.m.: UPDATED—USGS climate, natural hazards programs would gain under 13.7% budget boostThe U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) was among the winners in the White House’s budget request for 2016. The agency was allotted nearly $1.2 billion—an increase of 13.7% from 2015.All seven of the agency’s so-called mission areas—Ecosystems, Climate and Land Use, Energy, Minerals and Health, Natural Hazards, Water Resources, Core Science Systems, Science Support—would see gains. The agency’s climate and land use research programs would get largest overall bump, 27%. Core Science Systems, which supports research, would get 14% raise to $187 million, while the agency’s natural hazards program would get a 13% increase to $155 million.“It’s a very strong budget,” said Suzette Kimball, the agency’s acting director, at a briefing today. “We have very limited actual decreases in budget.” If approved by Congress—and that remains to be seen—the increase would help pay for studies of everything from insects that pollinate crops to sinkholes and space weather.The proposed increases also reflect the Obama administration’s shift toward trying to take a more active role in mitigating the potential effects of climate change, said Lexi Shultz, public affairs director at the American Geophysical Union in Washington, D.C. “We’re facing a somewhat unprecedented threat because we, as a nation, don’t have a handle on everything we need to do to protect ourselves from the effects of climate change. So I don’t think it’s surprising that the administration would prioritize [USGS’s climate and land research programs] above all others.” The agency, administration officials have suggested, could play a key role in helping communities anticipate and prepare for climate-related catastrophes and long-term changes.Although the agency’s water resources programs would see the smallest funding increases under the proposed budget—just 5% to $222 million—they would remain the agency’s single largest spending area. Some the new funds, the agency says, would go to studying how drought affects entire ecosystems.Overall, USGS’s percentage increase is nearly double the White House’s overall 7% proposed increase for discretionary spending. That favored status reflects White House’s recognition of USGS’s value, says Shultz, who adds: “Now what we’d really like to see is Congress share in this recognition.” Whether the Republican-led Congress will be as enthusiastic, however, won’t be known until later this year. –David Shultz7:35 p.m.: UPDATED—NASA budget includes missions to fly past Europa and to redirect an asteroidNASA’s request of $18.5 billion represents a rise of 2.7% over 2015 enacted levels. That may not come close to the 5% rises requested by other research agencies, such as the National Science Foundation. But for NASA watchers, it’s better than it has been a long time.“This is the best starting point we’ve had in 4 years from the White House,” says Casey Dreier, director of advocacy for the Planetary Society, based in Pasadena, California. “That shouldn’t be dismissed.”For NASA’s science office, perhaps the biggest surprise is an official embrace of a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa that would launch in the mid-2020s. The agency asks for $30 million for the Europa mission in 2016 and plans on developing the mission concept this spring. That request signals a detente between the administration, which had avoided requesting funding for Europa, and Congress, which always plumped for the mission—including the $100 million that it appropriated for Europa in 2015. “This is a big change in administration policy and we’re very pleased,” Dreier says.At a briefing today, NASA chief financial officer David Radzanowski would not say what the overall price tag of the Europa mission would be, only that it would have to cost much less than $4 billion. That’s why advocates have pushed for a “Europa Clipper” concept that would spin around the moon in multiple flybys, rather than calling for an orbiter—a more difficult and expensive mission that would subject the spacecraft to much greater doses of radiation from Jupiter. There has been growing evidence that Europa may be emitting plumes of water from its south pole, and many scientists want any mission to be able to sample those plumes for signs of life.The budget also asks for $220 million for an Asteroid Initiative, which includes money for a controversial mission to send astronauts to an asteroid that had been redirected from its natural orbit to the vicinity of Earth. However, there is no line item for the asteroid redirect mission, and the agency has delayed making a decision on choosing an approach for the mission (whether to snatch a boulder from a larger asteroid, for instance, or to bag up an entire asteroid and bring it to Earth). Marcia Smith, a veteran space policy analyst and consultant based in Arlington, Virginia, says the longer NASA avoids committing to a particular mission, the easier it will be for a subsequent administration to kill the proposal. “It seems that time is running out for them to make that choice,” she says. “It suggests that they’re having some challenges at a fundamental level.”In the request, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate gets far less of a boost than the agency does overall—a rise of just 0.8% to $5.289 billion. Within the four science divisions—earth science, astrophysics, planetary science, and heliophysics—earth science appears to be the big winner. That division gets $1.947 billion—a whopping 10% jump over 2015 levels.This is no surprise coming from the Obama administration, which has consistently tried to raise earth science funding. But it also comes with increased responsibilities—the administration wants NASA to take over the management of all nonweather satellites from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Nevertheless, Steven Running, chair of a NASA earth science advisory committee meeting, was pleased both with the funding request, as well as with a year that had seen the launch of three major missions: the Global Precipitation Measurement mission, joint with the Japanese Space Agency; the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 mission; and the Soil Moisture Active Passive mission, which just launched on 31 January. “NASA Earth science has had a tremendously good year,” says Running, of the University of Montana, Missoula. “We’re feeling our oats.”NASA planetary science appears to be the biggest loser in the Science Mission Directorate, with a 5% cut from 2015 enacted levels. But that reflects the pattern of the last few years, where the administration underasks for planetary and Congress overdelivers to the division. “It’s a very familiar story,” Dreier says. Among now operating planetary missions, the agency expects to zero out the Mars Opportunity rover, the Mars Odyssey orbiter, and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. But Radzanowski says that the agency has been able to find money to continue operations for aging missions before. “We will look at ways to continuing operations—if they actually are operational by 2016 and the science value does make sense.”The agency requests a 3.7% hike to $709 million for astrophysics, and an additional $620 million to continue building its chief astronomical priority, the $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope. “On the whole, it’s not a bad situation,” says Bradley Peterson, an astronomer at Ohio State University, Columbus, who heads a NASA astrophysics advisory committee.One surprise is the administration request for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a joint mission with the German space agency that consists of a converted 747 jet with a telescope riding in the rear. Last year, the administration tried to cancel the mission, which has been expensive and relatively unproductive scientifically. But Congress rushed to the mission’s aid with $70 million for 2015. This year the agency asked for $85 million. “Let bygones be bygones,” Dreier joked. “I was very surprised to see that, coming out as if nothing had happened.” According to Peterson, “that was recognition that they should not have made any unilateral decision on the future of SOFIA without discussions with our German partners.”Within the human exploration program, which takes up roughly a quarter of NASA’s overall budget, the agency continues to take a two-pronged approach to developing rockets that would return astronauts to space after the retirement of the Space Shuttle. The commercial crew program—which provides subsidies to companies such as SpaceX and Boeing to develop privately owned, human-rated rockets and capsules—would get $1.244 billion, a more than 50% jump over what Congress gave the program in 2015.In addition, the agency would spend almost double that, $2.453 billion, on its own capsule, Orion, and a rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), a lumbering, and delayed, heavy-lift vehicle that will not see its first launch until the end of 2018. Yet NASA’s request calls for 15% less than Congress spent on Orion and SLS for 2015. The requested levels are telling and anticipate familiar battles with Congress, which has taken a dim view of commercial crew while protecting SLS. Both the Europa mission and the asteroid redirect mission could take advantage of rides on a SLS rocket in the 2020s. –Eric Hand7:33 p.m.: UPDATED—DOE’s science office rises 5%, with advanced computing a big winnerThe president’s budget doles out $5.3 billion for the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science, a 5% increase that beats out inflation. “It’s not a windfall by any means, but on the other hand, certainly we understand it’s a pretty constrained budget environment so being able to see any increase at all is a positive thing,” says Thom Mason, director of DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.Five of the six major research programs within the Office of Science get a share of the good news.The biggest winner is the Advanced Scientific Computing Research program, which would see an increase of 14.8%, to $621 million. This increase would support efforts by DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration, which manages the nuclear weapons stockpile, and the Office of Science to develop fast, cutting-edge exascale computers, paving the way for advanced climate modeling and biomedical applications.Nuclear physics receives a 5% increase, to $625 million. That’s consistent with the funding needed for construction of the new Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at Michigan State University.High Energy Physics received a 2.9% increase to $788 million, which includes support for the planned Long Baseline Neutrino Facility.The funding for Basic Energy Sciences grew by 6.7%, to $1.8 billion. That budget will pay for planned upgrades of the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois and the Linac Coherent Light Source at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. “That’s an area where in the last couple of years we’ve seen budget increases requested but they’ve not made it through [Congress],” Mason says. “It would be good if we actually could realize those requested increases.”DOE’s Biological and Environmental Research program would get a 3.4% bump to $612 million. (But the Obama administration’s efforts to increase funding for this program have often gotten a frosty reception from Republicans in Congress, who now control both the House and Senate.)The lone outlier is DOE’s fusion program, which would get a 10.3% cut, to $420 million. The program saw an increase in 2015 partly as a result of Congress’s desire to maintain a domestic fusion research program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The White House had proposed cutting that project in order to help pay for ITER, the troubled international fusion project under construction in France. But a fierce lobbying campaign persuaded Congress saved the MIT project for 1 year. Now, however, DOE is struggling to figure out how to pay for both ITER and a few domestic projects—and the administration appears to be reinforcing the idea that there won’t be any new money in the short run.For the DOE budget overall, “the emphasis is really in the energy technology areas,” rather than the Office of Science, says Michael Lubell of the American Physical Society in Washington, D.C. Programs supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency received major increases in the request, as they have in previous years. But if history is any judge, the increases are unlikely to be approved by Congress. –Emily Conover5:10 p.m.: AAU says Pentagon basic research cuts “inconceivable”The Association of American Universities, which represents many of the nation’s largest research campuses, has issued this reaction to today’s budget request (edited for brevity):”The President’s FY16 budget contains the kind of investments in scientific research and higher education that would help close the nation’s innovation deficit. By proposing to eliminate sequestration and raise the budget caps, it permits needed investments in the ideas, discoveries, and people that can provide the foundation for our nation’s future.The budget’s proposed increases for the National Institute of Health, National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and ARPA-E, NASA, and the Agriculture Food Research Initiative would help build our economy, improve health, and strengthen our national security …On the other hand, we find it inconceivable that the Defense budget contains an 8.3-percent cut in basic research, given the significant overall increase provided for the Pentagon. Defense basic research is critical to our national security. For this nation’s fighting men and women to remain the world’s best equipped, most technically advanced force, we need to sustain the investment in Defense basic research. Congress rejected a similar cut last year, and we hope that it will step in again.”5:08 p.m.: President’s 2016 budget offers 3.3% boost for NIH; modest increase includes more for precision medicine, antibiotic resistance, BRAIN InitiativeThe National Institutes of Health (NIH) would rise $1 billion, bringing its total budget to $31.3 billion under President Barack Obama’s 2016 budget request released today. That 3.3% increase is good news for biomedical research advocates.Within the $1 billion are two new cross-agency research efforts announced in Obama’s January State of the Union address and described in more detail by the White House last week. The Precision Medicine Initiative includes $130 million spread across NIH’s institutes to create a 1-million-volunteer study to explore links between genes and health; another $70 million would expand National Cancer Institute efforts to treat cancer by targeting genes that drive tumor growth. And $100 million (in addition to an existing $361 million) would go for diagnostic test development, genome sequencing, a clinical trial network, and other research as NIH’s contribution to a trans-agency National Strategy to Combat Antibiotic Resistance.The request also includes $70 million in new money for the cross-agency BRAIN Initiative, more than doubling its NIH funding; $51 million more for Alzheimer’s disease research (a 9% increase over current spending); and $51 million more for vaccines against such diseases as HIV and influenza.The 3.3% raise is “a nice increase for NIH. We’re very gratified by that number,” says Jennifer Zeitzer, deputy director of public affairs for the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in Bethesda, Maryland. “We do wish for more, obviously. But we’re in a good spot. This lays out a vision for what we can do.” She adds, however, that the increase will depend on Congress following through on Obama’s request to scrap the 2011 mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration.But the head of another biomedical research advocacy group, Research!America CEO Mary Woolley, said although her group, based in Alexandria, Virginia, is “pleased” by what it calls “a starting point,” her group feels the new initiatives at NIH “should supplement, not supplant, the imperative of making up for a decade’s worth of lost ground.” Her group is pinning its hopes on a bill introduced by House of Representatives Democrats called the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act that would allow NIH’s budget to gradually grow to the level it would have reached if it had risen with inflation since 2003. –Jocelyn Kaiser4:08 p.m.: White House favors USGS with rock-solid 13.7% increaseThe U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) was among the winners in the White House’s budget request for 2016. The agency was allotted nearly $1.2 billion—an increase of 13.7% from 2015. (That percentage is nearly double the White House’s overall 7% proposed increase for discretionary spending.) If Congress goes along—and that’s unlikely—the increase would dwarf the 1.4% budget increase USGS got this year. –David Shultz3:51 p.m.: NIST shoots for 29% increase as White House backs advanced manufacturingThe president’s budget aims to boost the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST’s) numbers with a 29% increase to $1.12 billion, up from $864 million last year. This overall number includes a near 12% bump for the NIST labs, also known as the Scientific and Technical Research and Services, from $676 million to $755 million.But the biggest winner appears to be NIST’s Industrial Technology Services. ITS includes a series of programs to support innovations in manufacturing. Within that bailiwick, the administration proposes to spend $144 million this year on the new National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, a collaborative effort between industry, academia, and government partners to speed manufacturing innovation. The heart of that effort would be the creation of two Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation, which are expected to cost $150 million over 5 years.Also noteworthy in the ITS budget is the quiet phaseout of the Technology Innovation Program (TIP), the successor to the once highly controversial Advanced Technology Program, which shared R&D costs between government and industry. TIP funding for 2015 was down to a meager $5 million, and that number has been zeroed out for 2016. –Robert F. Service3:46 p.m.: Correction: DOD basic research gets an 8% cut, not a modest increaseThanks to some sharp eyes at the Association of American Universities for noticing that our earlier item on DOD basic research contained an error. The request actually calls for an 8% cut to the Pentagon’s basic research account, to about $2.1 billion. This account has been under heavy pressure in recent years, with Congress stepping in at times to plus up the numbers. It provides major funding for several fields, including engineering research, computer science, and math. (To avoid confusion, we have removed the earlier item.)3:15 p.m.: EPA requests 4.6% boost for science and technology, including computational toxicology researchScience and technology spending at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would get a $34 million (or 4.6%) boost over what Congress approved last year, to $769 million, under the president’s fiscal year 2016 budget proposal. Of note, the president’s request includes a 58% hike in funding for computational toxicology research to $33.8 million, to help develop better and faster methods for screening chemicals for potential health concerns.”One of the great challenges that EPA has faced for some time has been being able to increase the speed of their assessments — their risk assessments and their hazard assessments,” says Paul Anastas, former EPA assistant administrator and now a chemist at Yale University. “And being able to use these high-throughput protocols that the computational toxicology allows is going to be essential going forward. So I think that that’s really very important, and perhaps one of the biggest highlights in the investments in the science and technology budget.”The request also includes a 9% increase for climate, air, and energy research to $100.3 million. –Puneet Kollipara1:55 p.m.: Lukewarm praise from Research!America for National Institutes of Health and health numbers … This in from Research!America president and CEO Mary Woolley:”We are pleased that the President’s FY16 budget proposal calls for the elimination of sequestration and makes a down payment on the bipartisan goal of accelerating medical progress.  We see this as a starting point.  It is absolutely important to invest in initiatives that focus on precision medicine, Alzheimer’s, antimicrobial resistance and other growing health threats, but these investments should supplement, not supplant, the imperative of making up for a decade’s worth of lost ground.  We believe that Congress and the White House can, and must, unify behind a moonshot as envisioned in the bipartisan Accelerating Biomedical Research Act. Medical progress is not just a health imperative, it is a strategic imperative, integral to national security, fiscal stability and economic progress.  Leaders on both sides of the aisle clearly appreciate that the time is now to turn ideas into reality.  It may be a truism, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.”1:32 p.m.: NASA’s science office gets modest 0.8% boost, but agency embraces mission to EuropaNASA overall gets a request of $18.5 billion, which represents a rise of 2.7% over 2015 enacted levels. The agency continues to go with a two-pronged approach to developing rockets that would return astronauts to space after the retirement of the Space Shuttle. The commercial crew program—subsidies for companies like SpaceX to develop privately owned, human-rated rockets—would get $805 million, while the agency would spend $2.051 billion on its own rocket, the Space Launch System, a lumbering, and delayed, heavy-lift vehicle that will not see its first launch until the end of 2018.The budget asks for $100 million to develop a mission formulation to Jupiter’s moon Europa. That signals the end of a low-grade battle between the administration, which had avoided requesting funding to pursue the mission, and Congress, which always appropriated money toward the goal. The budget would also provide support for a controversial mission to send astronauts to an asteroid that had been redirected from its natural orbit to the vicinity of Earth. Both of those missions could conceivably ride on a Space Launch System rocket in the 2020s.In the request, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate gets far less of a boost—a rise of just 0.8% to $5.289 billion. Within the four science divisions—earth science, astrophysics, planetary science, and heliophysics—earth science appears to be the big winner. That division gets $1.9 billion—a whopping 7.3% jump over 2015 levels. This is no surprise from the administration, which has consistently tried to raise the earth science division above the others.Steven Running, chair of a NASA earth science advisory committee meeting, was pleased both with the request, as well as with a year that had seen the launch of three major missions: the Global Precipitation Measurement mission, joint with the Japanese Space Agency; the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 mission; and the Soil Moisture Active Passive mission, which just launched on 31 January. “NASA earth science has had a tremendously good year,” says Running, of the University of Montana, Missoula. “We’re feeling our oats.”But the other divisions still get to continue work on their babies. An agency fact sheet mentions support for a Mars rover planned to launch in 2020 and also for the James Webb Space Telescope—though its development costs have been capped at $8 billion. –Eric Hand1:15 p.m.: Remember those decade-old plans to double the budgets of NSF, DOE Science, and NIST? How’s that going?A trio of research agencies still waiting to reap the rewards of a promised doubling of their budgets fared well in the new request. In 2006, President George W. Bush proposed a 10-year doubling for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). In 2007, Congress enacted the America COMPETES Act that set an even faster, 7-year doubling path, and once President Barack Obama was elected, he pledged to honor the doubling, although the details became fuzzier as the years passed. In fact, the three agencies have seen their budgets rise by a total of 33% from 2006 to 2015.This year’s budget would mark the end of the original Bush pledge, and the Obama administration has clearly pushed to make the news as rosy as possible. The president’s 2016 request would boost the trio’s budget to 40% above their 2006 appropriations. For NSF, that would mean a jump from $5.65 billion to $7.72 billion, a rise of 37%. The Office of Science would grow from $3.63 billion to $5.34 billion, a boost of 48%. NIST, by far the smallest of the three agencies, would come closest to an actual doubling, soaring 91%, from $395 million to $755 million. –Jeffrey Mervis1:10 p.m.: DOE’s advanced computing program would get a big boost as science office grows 5.3%Under the proposed budget, the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science would get a 5.3% increase overall, to $5.3 billion. The biggest bump within DOE goes to their Advanced Scientific Computing Research program, which would see an increase of 14.8%, to $621 million. Basic Energy Sciences would get a boost of 6.7%, to $1.8 billion. Nuclear Physics would increase by 5.0%, to $625 million. High Energy Physics would get $788 million, a 2.9% increase. Biological and Environmental Research would grow by 3.4% to $612 million. Fusion Energy Sciences, however, would shrink by 10% to $420 million. –Emily Conover12:47 p.m.: NIST’s research labs would get a boost of nearly 12%, to $755 million12:35 p.m.: Early reaction to NIH numbersA statement just in from Carrie Wolinetz, president, United for Medical Research, a coalition that works to boost biomedical research funding.“We welcome President Obama’s FY16 budget proposal to increase National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and eliminate harmful sequestration. NIH has fostered remarkable advancements in human health, but has suffered from inadequate funding for the past decade. Additional resources will help defeat our nation’s most harmful diseases — including cancer, heart disease and diabetes — and fuel job creation in the life sciences sector – a win-win.”12:21 p.m.: NSF gets 5.2% overall, education would jump 11%The National Science Foundation (NSF) would receive a 5.2% increase, to $7.724 billion. The six research directorates would grow by 4.3%, to $6.19 billion, while the education directorate would jump by 11%, to $962 million. NSF would also receive a 9% boost in its management account to continue planning for its 2017 move to a new headquarters building in Alexandria, Virginia.Noon: A first look at the numbers from the budget request (more to come):Would provide $146 billion for research and development, 5.5% above 2015 levels. R&D includes basic and applied research and technology development programs. Requests $450 million for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative; current budget is $325 million. $32.8 billion for basic research, a 3% increase. $31.3 billion for the National Institutes of Health, a roughly 3% increase. 5.2% increase for the National Science Foundation, up $379 million to $7.724 billion. $3 billion request for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, $101 million over 2015.10:40 a.m.: What are science advocates looking for in today’s budget request?Last week ScienceInsider asked a variety of folks who closely follow federal spending on science what they would be looking for in today’s budget request. Here are some of their answers:Pat White, president, Act for NIH, Washington, D.C.My eye will obviously be on NIH.  Here are the things I’ll be looking out for:The NIH budget.  As you know, NIH’s budget has declined by nearly 25 percent since 2003, when adjusted for inflation.  In the best of times, NIH could fun 1-in-3 research proposals.  Today, that number has fallen to its lowest level ever, about 1-in-6.  That means thousands of promising proposals that could lead to cures for disease are not pursued every year.  Rumor is Administration will ignore sequestration and budget caps in FY16 proposal.  What’s that mean for NIH?Areas for bipartisan achievement with Congress and the White House for medical research.  Historically, NIH and medical research have been non-partisan issues.  In the 1990s, the NIH budget was doubled and the Human Genome Project were completed by a Republican Congress and a Democratic White House.  We have that same opportunity today.David O. Conover, vice president for research, Stony Brook University, New YorkWe will be looking closely at the total requests for NSF, NIH, and DOE. Last year we were disappointed that the President’s budget did not set a higher mark for those funding agencies, but it was the 2nd year of the budget cap agreement so it was a zero sum game. Not so this year. Within the NSF budget, we will be looking at the agency request level for social sciences and geosciences since these directorates have been called out for reductions and/or criticism by Congress. Will the request demonstrate resolve to fight for these disciplines or bow to pressure?Barry Toiv, vice president for public affairs, Association of American Universities (AAU), Washington, D.C.Here are questions that will be on our minds at AAU:1.      Does discretionary spending rise beyond the sequestration level and perhaps beyond the statutory cap, and is that accomplished in a way that has any chance of enactment?2.      Do the basic research budgets in each of the major research agencies suggest significant progress toward closing the innovation deficit?3.      Does the precision medicine proposal provide new resources or does it come from existing NIH funding?4.      Does the Defense Department budget show progress toward achievement of the 20/20 principle? The 20/20 principle is an investment benchmark level for Defense Science and Technology (S&T) and 6.1 basic research programs—investments in Defense S&T should constitute 20% of the total Defense RDT&E budget, and investments in 6.1 basic research should comprise 20% of the total DOD S&T budget (6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 programs). This investment principle is predicated on past DOD S&T investments that have yielded cutting edge technologies with both military and civilian applications.  The 20/20 investment principle could be achieved over a three-year period by increasing the share of funding by approximately one percent in FY15, FY16, and FY17 for 6.1 basic research and by approximately one percent in total for DOD S&T during the same time frame. Jon Retzlaff, managing director, Office of Science Policy and Government Affairs, American Association for Cancer Research, Washington, D.C.In addition to advocating for the President’s initiative on precision medicine, the AACR will be focused on making sure that Congress understands the importance of providing annual funding increases for NIH that takes into account inflation and provides for a healthy percentage of real growth.  We also strongly believe that it’s important that NIH’s annual funding increases are predictable, consistent, and sustainable over the long-term.  Therefore … we hope to see that the President’s FY 2016 budget proposal prioritizes NIH funding so that the agency is able to begin the process of ensuring that our country is able to consistently support the plethora of research opportunities to improve public health that currently exist.Scott Rayder, senior adviser for development and partnerships at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, ColoradoI hope that the Administration does not flat fund R&RA (research and related activities) at NSF. Last year (FY15 Presidents Request) was the first time in NSF history that research was level funded. I hope FY 16 PresBud is better.7:45 a.m.: Top line R&D number out; White House wants 6% bump for R&D, spending caps liftedThe Obama administration will ask for a 6% increase in federal spending on research and development, according to a White House fact sheet previewing today’s budget request to Congress for the 2016 fiscal year, which begins in October.“Our long-term economic competitiveness depends upon continued robust investment in R&D,” according to the statement, “including significant investments in basic research and advanced manufacturing technology.  The Budget invests in biomedical research—like the BRAIN initiative, which is developing tools and technologies to offer new insight into diseases like Alzheimer’s, and Precision Medicine, which can improve health outcomes and better treat diseases. It also emphasizes agricultural research, looking at climate resilience and sustainability.”The federal R&D budget includes spending on both basic and applied research. It will total roughly $140 billion this year, so a 6% increase would mean an additional $8 billion spread across the six or seven agencies that fund the bulk of the nation’s research activities. The exact distribution in the request won’t be known until later today.The increases for research are part of the Obama administration’s arguments for lifting spending caps established by a 2011 budget deal with Congress. The fact sheet suggests the caps set for 2016 would starve research. “[A]ssuming roughly current funding patterns, research funding adjusted for inflation would reach its lowest levels since 2002,” the fact sheet notes, “other than when sequestration was in full effect in 2013.”The White House fact sheet also hints at new investments in clean energy and efforts to combat climate change, but provides no details. “In order to secure America’s energy future and protect our children from the impacts of climate change, the Budget invests in clean energy, improving energy security, and enhancing preparedness and resilience to climate change,” the fact sheet states.It also hints at spending on public health priorities. “The Budget provides resources to support the Global Health Security Agenda, increases funding to eradicate polio and other global health challenges, and creates a new Impact Fund for targeted global HIV/AIDS efforts,” the fact sheet states. “In addition, the Budget increases funding for domestic preparedness efforts to more effectively and efficiently respond to potential future outbreaks here at home. The Budget also makes investments to address the domestic HIV epidemic to help States develop HIV implementation plans to support the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.”Come back to ScienceInsider today to see our rolling coverage of the budget release.Click here to see all of our Budget 2016 coverage.center_img $71.3 billion for overall Pentagon R&D, a 9% increase. $34.1 billion for applied research, a 4% increase. Repeats last’s years request for $325 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy; Congress gave just $275 million. Repeats call to make the R&D tax credit permanent.last_img read more

In Italy, researchers blast proposal to ban seafloor mapping with air guns

first_imgScientists in Italy are protesting a move by politicians to outlaw the use of high-pressure blasts of air to map the sea floor. Backers of the ban say it is needed to protect marine mammals and other creatures that can be harmed by the noise created by so-called air guns. But opponents argue the measure—which includes jail terms of up to 3 years for violators—would damage research and energy prospecting efforts in Italian waters, and that there are less onerous ways to protect sea life.Air guns, which are towed by ships, use compressed air to generate sound waves that reflect off seafloor rock formations. Differences in the reflections allow researchers to map seafloor geology, and such seismic surveys are often used to identify new sources of oil and gas, as well as earthquake-generating faults or magma chambers that could create volcanic eruptions. But the noise created by air guns has been implicated in disturbing marine environments, and even causing the deaths of some marine mammals. As a result, many nations require survey vessels to take steps to protect sea life, such as halting surveys if animals are seen nearby or forbidding measurements in particularly sensitive regions or during certain seasons.No country has banned the technique outright, however, notes Elisabetta Erba, president of the Italian Geological Society in Rome. The Italian ban, which is part of an environmental protection bill, was proposed by two center-right senators and approved by Parliament’s upper house on a 114 to 103 vote on 3 March. The bill, which establishes a number of “eco crimes,” now awaits a vote in the lower Chamber of Deputies.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)”Equating the technique of seismic reflection to an ecocrime such as the release of pollutants is scientifically wrong and misleading,” Erba wrote in a statement released by the Italian Geological Society on 10 March. “Hitting research is not the way to enact serious policies requiring industry to respect the environment.”Similar sentiments were expressed in a 9 March note to government officials and parliamentarians from the presidents of several of the Italian research institutions that make regular use of air guns, including the National Research Council, the National Institute of Nuclear Physics, and the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology. The research bosses argue that the drafters of the measure are not really concerned about the environment but want to block oil and gas exploration—a sensitive subject given the considerable opposition in Italy to new onshore and offshore drilling. They also claim that the parliamentary debate on the measure contained many scientific errors. It is “incomprehensible,” they write, that politicians did not seek their institutes’ views on the matter.One of the senators who put forward the amendment, former surgeon Giuseppe Compagnone of the GAL parliamentary coalition, says he is not confident that the measure will become law. The lower house is dominated by supporters of Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s government, he notes, which opposed the measure in the Senate.It is not yet known exactly when the lower chamber will vote. If it makes any changes to the bill, the measure must return to the Senate for an additional vote.last_img read more