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Hungry black hole may be cosmic 'missing link'

Hungry black hole may be cosmic 'missing link' Astronomers say they have found the best evidence yet for an elusive class of black hole.

NASA goes back to the future and revives its formerly forbidden 'worm' logo

NASA goes back to the future and revives its formerly forbidden 'worm' logo NASA is restoring a squiggly graphic representation of its acronym, known as "the Worm," to a place of prominence, 28 years after it was consigned to the dustbin of space history. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine declared that "the worm is back" today in a tweet - and revealed that it's been painted on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that's due to launch NASA astronauts to the International Space Station as soon as next month. That demonstration mission will mark the first time U.S. astronauts have been launched to orbit from U.S. soil since the retirement of the space shuttle fleet in... Read More

Conifer is top tree in urban sound absorption test

Conifer is top tree in urban sound absorption test Scientists say trees have a role to play in combating noise pollution in urban environments.

Three human-like species lived side-by-side in ancient Africa

Three human-like species lived side-by-side in ancient Africa Two million years ago, Africa was home to three human-like species, new discoveries reveal.

Amid 'rapidly evolving' COVID-19 outbreak, Blue Origin's launch plans spark debate

Amid 'rapidly evolving' COVID-19 outbreak, Blue Origin's launch plans spark debate Discussions about future launch plans for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin space venture have reportedly generated internal acrimony due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak - and that, in turn, has generated reassurances about safety. The acrimony is laid out in a report from The Verge, based on accounts from unnamed employees as well as an audio recording of a staff meeting at the company's headquarters in Kent, Wash. Employees reportedly worried that plans for a test flight of Blue Origin's New Shepard suborbital spaceflight could put them at risk, because the operation would involve traveling to the company's... Read More

'Dinosaurs walked through Antarctic rainforests'

'Dinosaurs walked through Antarctic rainforests' Sediments drilled off the coast of the ice continent reveal a time of great warmth and plant growth.

Oceans can be successfully restored by 2050, say scientists

Oceans can be successfully restored by 2050, say scientists Researchers say there are good reasons to be optimistic about the future of our oceans.

Japanese astronaut joins the crew for SpaceX Dragon mission to space station

Japanese astronaut joins the crew for SpaceX Dragon mission to space station The first non-American to be added to the crew for a SpaceX Dragon flight to the International Space Station is Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi. Noguchi first visited the space station in 2005 during the first space shuttle flight following the 2003 Columbia shuttle tragedy, and rode a Russian Soyuz spacecraft for a six-month orbital stay on the station in 2009-2010. For his next mission, Noguchi will be teaming up with NASA's Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover Jr. - plus Shannon Walker, who was also named today as a member of the first crew to begin a regular tour of duty... Read More

Climate change: Warming clips the nightingale's wings

Climate change: Warming clips the nightingale's wings Rising temperatures may be having a profound impact on one of the world's favourite songbirds.

Self-isolation proves a boon to rainfall project

Self-isolation proves a boon to rainfall project Scientists have been amazed at the public's response to help digitise the UK's old rainfall records.

Univ. of Washington studies antimalarial drug's use to head off COVID-19, with Gates Foundation's aid

Univ. of Washington studies antimalarial drug's use to head off COVID-19, with Gates Foundation's aid University of Washington researchers are among the leaders of a newly announced clinical trial investigating whether hydroxychloroquine, a drug that's commonly used to counter malaria and autoimmune disease, can prevent COVID-19. The multi-site trial, managed by UW in collaboration with New York University's Grossman School of Medicine, aims to determine definitively whether taking the drug can prevent transmission in people exposed to the virus. "We currently don't know if hydroxychloroquine works, but we will learn in as short a timeframe as possible what the outcome is," principal investigator Ruanne Barnabas, associate professor of global health in the University of Washington... Read More

Peacock spiders show more of their colours

Peacock spiders show more of their colours A new batch of these ostentatiously coloured and popular arachnids is described in Australia.

Machine translates brainwaves into sentences

Machine translates brainwaves into sentences Scientists have taken a step forward in their ability to decode what a person is saying just by looking at their brainwaves when they speak.

Heirloom plants: Saving the nation's seeds from extinction

Heirloom plants: Saving the nation's seeds from extinction The incredible history of the UK's heirloom plants and why they're set to make a comeback.

SpaceX wins NASA contract to send cargo to lunar Gateway with new Dragon XL craft

SpaceX wins NASA contract to send cargo to lunar Gateway with new Dragon XL craft NASA has tapped a type of SpaceX cargo craft that hasn't yet been built to deliver supplies to a moon-orbiting outpost that hasn't yet been launched. SpaceX's robotic Dragon XL, a cylindrical, supersized version of its workhorse Dragon spacecraft, will handle shipments to the Gateway space platform as the first commercial provider to receive a Gateway Logistics Services contract from NASA. The contract is similar to NASA's existing Commercial Resupply Services contracts with SpaceX, Northrop Grumman and Sierra Nevada Corp. for cargo shipments to the International Space Station. NASA's Artemis program calls for the first elements of the Gateway to... Read More

Plastic: How to predict threats to animals in oceans and rivers

Plastic: How to predict threats to animals in oceans and rivers Scientists find out more about the threats of plastic to thousands of fish, whales and other aquatic life.

Climate change: 'Gob-smacking' vision for future UK transport

Climate change: 'Gob-smacking' vision for future UK transport Public transport and active travel will be the "natural first choice", the Transport Secretary says.

Xplore's Xcraft space probe lands in Xtronaut 2.0 board game - and STEM students are the winners

Xplore's Xcraft space probe lands in Xtronaut 2.0 board game - and STEM students are the winners Seattle-based Xplore isn't due to launch its first Xcraft space probe until late 2021, but it's already landed in an educational board game. Xtronaut 2.0, a multiplayer game devised by planetary scientist Dante Lauretta and Xtronaut Enterprises CEO Michael Lyon, will feature Xcraft as one of the deck's playing cards. Players can combine the cards to create their own game-board missions to deep space. The arrangement is part of a sponsorship deal for Xtronaut 2.0's Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. "We are proud to have the Xcraft featured in Xtronaut 2.0, and are delighted that our sponsorship enables us to give 120... Read More

Help needed to rescue UK's old rainfall records

Help needed to rescue UK's old rainfall records Pre-1960s handwritten rain gauge data can inform drought and flood planning, but only if digitised.

Calling all kids: Send Blue Origin a space postcard while you're stuck at home

Calling all kids: Send Blue Origin a space postcard while you're stuck at home Are you looking for educational activities to occupy the kids while you're cooped up due to the coronavirus outbreak? One option is to make space postcards for the Club for the Future, an educational campaign created by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin space venture. Last year, Blue Origin collected thousands of student-decorated cards, and sent them to space and back on its New Shepard suborbital craft. After the flight, the cards were stamped "Flown in Space" (in some cases, by Bezos himself) and then mailed back to their senders. Now Blue Origin is inviting students, educators and parents to... Read More

Climate change: Green energy plant threat to wilderness areas

Climate change: Green energy plant threat to wilderness areas Solar, wind and hydro electric installations are often built in conservation areas.

How are you doing during the COVID-19 crisis? Scientists want to hear your story

How are you doing during the COVID-19 crisis? Scientists want to hear your story Researchers at the University of Washington are launching a study aimed at answering the question that's on a lot of people's minds as the coronavirus epidemic spreads through the Seattle area: How are you holding up? The King County COVID-19 Community Study, a.k.a. KC3S, is recruiting King County residents to tell their stories. The study is scheduled to collect data through April 19. "We want to start collecting this information now - as the COVID-19 pandemic is unfolding - about how families and communities are being impacted, and how they are adapting," Nicole Errett, a lecturer in the UW Department... Read More

Mammal study explains 'why females live longer'

Mammal study explains 'why females live longer' Across wild mammal species, females live over 18% longer than males because of genetics and environment.

Fossil worm shows us our evolutionary beginnings

Fossil worm shows us our evolutionary beginnings A tiny, 555-million-year-old seafloor creature reveals why our bodies are organised the way they are.

OceanGate chooses Toray CMA to make carbon fiber for its Titanic submersibles

OceanGate chooses Toray CMA to make carbon fiber for its Titanic submersibles Everett, Wash.-based OceanGate says Toray Composite Materials America is its preferred provider for the carbon fiber material that will be used in the company's next-generation submersibles. Toray CMA is the world's largest supplier of carbon fiber and the leader in providing fibers for numerous aircraft, including the Boeing 777 and 787. The company's U.S. head office is in Tacoma, Wash. OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush said in a statement that Toray CMA "will play a critical role as we develop the next generation of manned submersible, to usher in a new era of exploration using aerospace-quality composites." Toray CMA's vice president... Read More

Climate change: Earth's deepest ice canyon vulnerable to melting

Climate change: Earth's deepest ice canyon vulnerable to melting Nasa scientists probe Denman Glacier which fills the deepest land gorge on Earth.

Electric car emissions myth 'busted'

Electric car emissions myth 'busted' Fears that electric cars could actually increase carbon emissions are a baseless, a study suggests.

As Natural Disasters Strike, a New Fear: Relief Shelters May Spread Virus

As Natural Disasters Strike, a New Fear: Relief Shelters May Spread Virus WASHINGTON -- Coast-to-coast storms. A spate of wildfires. Flooding in Hawaii. As the United States rushes into disaster season, federal officials now have an added crisis to worry about: How to stop tightly packed disaster-response shelters from becoming hot spots of coronavirus transmission.The virus is forcing emergency managers to rethink long-held procedures for operating shelters like these in real time. That challenge comes as the nation's crisis-response workforce is already taxed by three years of brutal hurricanes, floods and wildfires, a trend that climate change promises to accelerate."All of these activities that we do during and after disasters are activities that require a lot of people to be in close proximity to each other," said Samantha Montano, assistant professor of emergency management and disaster science at the University of Nebraska, Omaha. "And that is the exact opposite of what we need to do to keep people safe from COVID-19.""Any hazards that we're concerned about on an annual basis, we need to be twice as concerned about them now," she said.The Federal Emergency Management Agency has begun encouraging workers to "practice social distancing" and to limit to four the number of disaster victims who can be in one of its field offices at any given time, a spokeswoman said Thursday. The agency has also halted training at its National Fire Academy and Emergency Management Institute, as well as other facilities.It also said Thursday that it would let states seek reimbursement for sheltering victims individually, for example in hotels. However, in a disaster scenario, hotels themselves might be damaged or unusable because of the crisis, or simply not close enough to serve the immediate needs.So one of the most pressing challenges remains: What to do about shelters?When Americans are forced to leave their homes because of flooding or fires and have nowhere else to go, charitable organizations routinely open temporary shelters that usually consist of rows of cots in school gymnasiums, churches, convention centers or other large indoor spaces.Those shelters have offered a place of refuge, one that has become increasingly important as climate change causes more frequent and intense disasters.On Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued data predicting widespread flooding between now and the end of May, with major or moderate floods in 23 states. California has already been hit by nine wildfires this year; the National Interagency Fire Center reported 11 new large fires around the country this week alone.A major storm stretched across much of the country this week, with FEMA warning Friday of heavy rain from the southern plains to the Tennessee Valley. And hurricane season is just 10 weeks away.The coronavirus has the potential to turn the shelters from a refuge into a danger of their own.The American Red Cross, which runs most of the temporary shelters around the U.S., has set new guidelines for their operation, trying to curb the risk of transmission by screening evacuees and isolating those who show symptoms, as well as spacing cots 6 feet apart and emphasizing good hygiene.Officials with the organization said they knew that wasn't a perfect solution.Amid a pandemic, "a congregate shelter is not the best environment," said Trevor Riggen, senior vice president for disaster services for the Red Cross, using the term for shelters that place groups of people in a single shared space. He said the Red Cross would try to move more people into hotels or motels, but added that there weren't always enough available rooms close to a disaster, particularly if the number of people who need shelter extends into the hundreds.Public health officials said it would be better to house disaster victims separately, despite the additional cost and logistical hurdles."Congregate settings are clearly a higher infection-control risk, especially when dealing with a novel respiratory virus," said Lucy Wilson, who ran infection control for Maryland and is now a professor in the emergency health services department at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. She compared group shelters to other crowded settings like dormitories, barracks, prisons and cruise ships, where "respiratory diseases are known to rapidly spread."Arnold Monto, a professor of epidemiology and global health at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, said he thought the Red Cross was taking reasonable steps to protect the health of people in its shelters. But he said it seemed likely, based on what is known so far about COVID-19, that people who don't have symptoms may nonetheless have the disease -- and, more important, can probably spread it to others."Being in a motel would give them more distance," Monto said. "The more people you have, the more likely that one of them might be affected."The federal government's Thursday announcement that states can seek federal reimbursement for the cost of sheltering people individually -- provided it's at the direction of a public health official -- could help address that concern, assuming the rooms are available. Keeping people out of group shelters "may be necessary in this Public Health Emergency to save lives," the agency said in a fact sheet, "as well as to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe."Riggen said the Red Cross would try to get people into hotels when the risk of contagion is particularly high. Following an apartment fire this month in Jacksonville, Florida, a state with a large number of coronavirus cases, the organization put 45 people in hotels on the advice of local health officials, he said.In the meantime, the Red Cross is continuing to rely on shelters, but with a few changes.Its new guidelines call for taking the temperature of everyone coming into shelters, whether evacuees or volunteers, as well as checking for other symptoms of COVID-19. Once inside, everyone is supposed to be checked three times a day. Other steps include hand-washing stations, along with "enhanced cleaning of all hard surfaces."People are also told not to pull their cots together.The Red Cross has already applied its new guidelines at two shelters, according to Riggen. One is in Hawaii, which was hit this week by flooding. That shelter housed 150 people on Tuesday night.The other was at a school in Salt Lake City, which was set up following a 5.7-magnitude earthquake Wednesday. A Red Cross spokeswoman, Greta Gustafson, said Friday that no one had stayed at the shelter. Workers at the shelter denied entry Thursday to a photographer for The New York Times."We are not aware of any positive tests" for COVID-19 at either of the two shelters, Gustafson said.Despite the risk of the coronavirus, switching from a shelter model to putting people in hotels is more challenging that it might seem. And money isn't the only problem.In addition to being expensive, having people dispersed across different locations makes it harder to provide them with food and supplies, Riggen said. In some places, particularly rural areas, there may not be enough hotels nearby. And it's not always possible to get a hotel room if somebody is pushed from their home in the middle of the night."We don't want to leave people standing out on the curb waiting," Riggen said.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

I Spent a Year in Space, and I Have Tips on Isolation to Share

I Spent a Year in Space, and I Have Tips on Isolation to Share Being stuck at home can be challenging. When I lived on the International Space Station for nearly a year, it wasn't easy. When I went to sleep, I was at work. When I woke up, I was still at work. Flying in space is probably the only job you absolutely cannot quit.But I learned some things during my time up there that I'd like to share -- because they are about to come in handy again, as we all confine ourselves at home to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Here are a few tips on living in isolation, from someone who has been there.Follow a scheduleOn the space station, my time was scheduled tightly, from the moment I woke up to when I went to sleep. Sometimes this involved a spacewalk that could last up to eight hours; other times, it involved a five minute task, like checking on the experimental flowers I was growing in space. You will find maintaining a plan will help you and your family adjust to a different work and home life environment. When I returned to Earth, I missed the structure it provided and found it hard to live without.But pace yourselfWhen you are living and working in the same place for days on end, work can have a way of taking over everything if you let it. Living in space, I deliberately paced myself because I knew I was in it for the long haul -- just like we all are today. Take time for fun activities: I met up with crewmates for movie nights, complete with snacks, and binge watched all of "Game of Thrones" -- twice.And don't forget to include in your schedule a consistent bedtime. NASA scientists closely study astronauts' sleep when we are in space, and they have found that quality of sleep relates to cognition, mood, and interpersonal relations -- all essential to getting through a mission in space or a quarantine at home.Go outsideOne of the things I missed most while living in space was being able to go outside and experience nature. After being confined to a small space for months, I actually started to crave nature -- the color green, the smell of fresh dirt, and the feel of warm sun on my face. That flower experiment became more important to me than I could have ever imagined. My colleagues liked to play a recording of Earth sounds, like birds and rustling trees, and even mosquitoes, over and over. It brought me back to earth. (Although occasionally I found myself swatting my ears at the mosquitoes.)For an astronaut, going outside is a dangerous undertaking that requires days of preparation, so I appreciate that in our current predicament, I can step outside any time I want for a walk or a hike -- no spacesuit needed. Research has shown that spending time in nature is beneficial for our mental and physical health, as is exercise. You don't need to work out two and a half hours a day, as astronauts on the space station do, but getting moving once a day should be part of your quarantine schedule (just stay at least six feet away from others).You need a hobbyWhen you are confined in a small space you need an outlet that isn't work or maintaining your environment.Some people are surprised to learn I brought books with me to space. The quiet and absorption you can find in a physical book -- one that doesn't ping you with notifications or tempt you to open a new tab -- is priceless. Many small bookstores are currently offering curbside pickup or home delivery service, which means you can support a local business while also cultivating some much-needed unplugged time.You can also practice an instrument (I just bought a digital guitar trainer online), try a craft, or make some art. Astronauts take time for all of these while in space. (Remember Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield's famous cover of David Bowie's Space Oddity?)Keep a journalNASA has been studying the effects of isolation on humans for decades, and one surprising finding they have made is the value of keeping a journal. Throughout my yearlong mission, I took the time to write about my experiences almost every day. If you find yourself just chronicling the days' events (which, under the circumstances, might get repetitive) instead try describing what you are experiencing through your five senses or write about memories. Even if you don't wind up writing a book based on your journal like I did, writing about your days will help put your experiences in perspective and let you look back later on what this unique time in history has meant.Take time to connectEven with all the responsibilities of serving as commander of a space station, I never missed the chance to have a videoconference with family and friends. Scientists have found that isolation is damaging not only to our mental health, but to our physical health as well, especially our immune systems. Technology makes it easier than ever to keep in touch, so it's worth making time to connect with someone every day -- it might actually help you fight off viruses.Listen to expertsI've found that most problems aren't rocket science, but when they are rocket science, you should ask a rocket scientist. Living in space taught me a lot about the importance of trusting the advice of people who knew more than I did about their subjects, whether it was science, engineering, medicine, or the design of the incredibly complex space station that was keeping me alive.Especially in a challenging moment like the one we are living through now, we have to seek out knowledge from those who know the most about it and listen to them. Social media and other poorly vetted sources can be transmitters of misinformation just as handshakes transmit viruses, so we have to make a point of seeking out reputable sources of facts, like the World Health Organization and the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.We are all connectedSeen from space, the Earth has no borders. The spread of the coronavirus is showing us that what we share is much more powerful than what keeps us apart, for better or for worse. All people are inescapably interconnected, and the more we can come together to solve our problems, the better off we will all be.One of the side effects of seeing Earth from a the perspective of space, at least for me, is feeling more compassion for others. As helpless as we may feel stuck inside our homes, there are always things we can do -- I've seen people reading to children via videoconference, donating their time and dollars to charities online, and running errands for elderly or immuno-compromised neighbors. The benefits for the volunteer are just as great as for those helped.I've seen humans work together to prevail over some of the toughest challenges imaginable, and I know we can prevail over this one if we all do our part and work together as a team.Oh, and wash your hands -- often.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

OneWeb increases mega-constellation to 74 satellites

OneWeb increases mega-constellation to 74 satellites The London-based start-up expands its network with a Soyuz launch from Baikonur in Kazakhstan

Natural history TV 'boosts species awareness'

Natural history TV 'boosts species awareness' Programmes, such as Sir David Attenborough's, triggered a greater interest in species.

NASA delays work on Moon rocket during virus pandemic

NASA delays work on Moon rocket during virus pandemic Fears raised the next Moon mission will be delayed as the US space agency shuts down two facilities.

Vampire bats 'French kiss with blood' to form lasting bonds

Vampire bats 'French kiss with blood' to form lasting bonds Researchers observing the mammals saw them sharing regurgitated blood with their neighbours.

Grace gravity mission captures Greenland ice loss

Grace gravity mission captures Greenland ice loss The US-German Grace satellites saw Greenland shed 600 billion tonnes of ice by the end of summer last year.

Fossil 'wonderchicken' could be earliest known fowl

Fossil 'wonderchicken' could be earliest known fowl A newly discovered fossil bird could be the oldest-known ancestor of every chicken on the planet.

Upgrade for popular UK nature sanctuary

Upgrade for popular UK nature sanctuary Climate change: It's Back to Nature on Britain's holiday coast

Ancient tsunami may have struck Falkland Islands

Ancient tsunami may have struck Falkland Islands Evidence of past underwater landslides suggests giant waves probably hit the British territory.

Climate change: The rich are to blame, international study finds

Climate change: The rich are to blame, international study finds The Leeds University study looked at 86 countries and came to broadly the same conclusions about the rich.

How to argue with a racist: Five myths debunked

How to argue with a racist: Five myths debunked Stereotypes and myths about race are not just used by racists. Here's how to debunk five myths.

Climate change: Will planting millions of trees really save the planet?

Climate change: Will planting millions of trees really save the planet? From Greta Thunberg to oil firms, people are pushing for more trees to be planted - but why?

Huge knowledge gap over health of soil

Huge knowledge gap over health of soil A vital knowledge gap about England's environment has been uncovered by soil campaigners.

Social Distancing? You Might Be Fighting Climate Change, Too

Social Distancing? You Might Be Fighting Climate Change, Too As the nation shifts abruptly into the fight against coronavirus, a question arises: Could social isolation help reduce an individual's production of greenhouse gases and end up having unexpected consequences for climate change?The biggest sources of carbon emissions caused by our lifestyles come from three activities, said Kimberly Nicholas, a researcher at the Lund University Center for Sustainability Studies in Sweden: "Any time you can avoid getting on a plane, getting in a car or eating animal products, that's a substantial climate savings." Many people trying to avoid the coronavirus are already two-thirds of the way there.Christopher M. Jones, lead developer at the CoolClimate Network, an applied research consortium at the University of California, Berkeley Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, said that "all these extra precautions that schools and businesses are taking to keep people home are saving lives, and that's clearly what's most important." Having said that, he added that many of the actions people are taking in response to the coronavirus outbreak could have a benefit of a reduced carbon footprint -- though others would have little effect or could even expand it, he said.Here are four areas we may see changes in greenhouse gas emissions because of the coronavirus.Transportation: Big ReductionsPeople are staying home and flying less. That's good for the planet, Nicholas said. "For average Americans, the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions is driving," she said. Anything that reduces driving, including working from home, "has a big impact on our climate pollution." Avoiding air travel can have a large effect as well: One round-trip flight from New York to London, she said, produces as much greenhouse gas emissions as the preventive climate impact of nearly eight years of recycling. Nicholas was an author of a 2018 study that examines greenhouse gas emissions reductions in actions people take to fight climate change and is currently writing a book about personal action and the climate crisis.The actual effects on your greenhouse gas emissions of staying home will greatly depend on where you live, Jones said. For the roughly 25% of Americans living in the suburbs and another 25% in rural areas, cutting out a commute often means driving far less. But about 50% of Americans live in urban areas, and for those who use mass transit, avoiding a commute doesn't necessarily cause much of a dip in emissions. UC Berkeley has suspended in-person instruction, and Jones said: "I commute by train, and the train is going with or without me and everyone else, so I don't think there's an impact there."Food: A Big MaybeJones has done research into the relative carbon footprints of dining at home or dining out, but so far, the results are fuzzy. "We don't have conclusive evidence yet," he said, citing the comparative efficiency benefits of eating out and the waste involved in making meals at home. "We waste about 25% of the food that we buy," he said. If you drive long distances to go to a favorite place -- like Austinites who drive more than 30 miles to Lockhart, Texas, for excellent barbecue, "that's going to swamp the emissions from your food."Nicholas said that where you eat is not as important as what you eat; "eating beef has a disproportionate climate impact," she said, while eating foods "lower on the food chain" such as plants results in a much smaller carbon footprint. So here's your chance for a twofer: save the planet by working down the stockpiles of rice and beans that you panic-bought along with all that toilet paper.At Home: It's Still Location, Location, LocationFor people who turn their thermostats down while they are out of the house, staying home means more heat and more greenhouse gases. But when it comes to the greenhouse gas impact of heating your home, "Where you live is by far the biggest factor in determining your carbon footprint," Jones said. "If you live in a cold climate, heating your home can more than offset the savings from driving your vehicle."The energy mix where you live also matters, as well: Much of the Northeast still depends on coal to produce power, while California has relatively lower-carbon power sources, getting 31% of its electricity from renewable energy and only around 3% from coal.Shopping: More, Less, Differently?If you're at home staring at your computer without the prying eyes of your co-workers, you may be tempted to shop online a bit more. Or maybe you'll avoid the supermarket or mass transit by ordering your groceries. A bump in online shopping might be bad for your wallet, but it could be good for the planet, Nicholas said. She cited research suggesting that people who decide to use online ordering and package delivery could well be reducing their effect on climate change, thanks to the benefits of logistically organized, centralized delivery routes and driving less. "I would expect in general that having fewer vehicles on the road is better for the climate," she said. (While online shopping can reduce greenhouse gases, it is most effective when you order in bulk to limit the number of trips delivery vehicles make to your home.)Will any of the low-carbon behaviors that people have adopted persist after the crisis passes? Charles Duhigg, author of "The Power of Habit" and a former New York Times reporter, said habits built over lifetimes are hard to shake. "As soon as the environment becomes stable again, the habit starts to reassert itself" unless there is a "powerful reward" to the new behavior.Duhigg said that while there is no set time for a habit to form or change, some cultural habits could, if the pandemic response lasts long enough, take hold. One example: shaking hands. "I could see other kinds of behavior replacing that habit or maybe just diminishing" and wondered aloud whether his own children might one day think "hand shaking is a weird, old-timey thing."Some practices, like videoconferencing and telecommuting, may gain ground, Duhigg said, for a reward of saved time and trouble. He expressed doubts, however, that leisure travel behavior would see a similar shift. "It seems unlikely to me that people will say, 'You know, I loved not taking vacations. I learned staying at home with my kids is so rewarding!' "Nicholas, who makes an effort to fly less for conferences, said the best result of this epidemic could be "finding new ways to work and collaborate and learn and study and share, with less physical travel," she said.Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said that the disease, for all of the pain and destruction it is causing, can teach important lessons. "It's unfortunate to learn it this way, but we're learning we can do a whole lot more today in terms of what we do, how we do it and where we do it."Never waste even a tragic crisis," he said.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

Greenland and Antarctica ice loss accelerating

Greenland and Antarctica ice loss accelerating The Earth's great ice sheets are losing mass six times faster today than they were in the 1990s.

ExoMars Rosalind Franklin: Rover mission delayed until 2022

ExoMars Rosalind Franklin: Rover mission delayed until 2022 Europe and Russia decide to postpone their mission to search for life on the Red Planet.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says there's nothing to fear from Starlink broadband satellites (and no spin-out)

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says there's nothing to fear from Starlink broadband satellites (and no spin-out) Will SpaceX's Starlink broadband satellite constellation ruin astronomy? Will it threaten the telecom industry? Will SpaceX spin out Starlink anytime soon? SpaceX's billionaire CEO, Elon Musk, answered all three questions today at a fireside chat at the Satellite 2020 conference in Washington, D.C.: No, no and no. The session started late, and Musk seemed a bit tired - perhaps because he'd just come from working on SpaceX's Starship super-rocket development project, which is taking shape at the company's Boca Chica test facility in south Texas. Nevertheless, his fans rushed into the conference hall and hung on his every word. Starlink... Read More

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