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Marine life: towards an extinction worthy of the Permian-Triassic crisis in the event of inaction


Unless we act quickly to limit global warming, nearly all marine species will be at high or critical risk of extinction by the end of the century. Also, there is still time to act to avoid these gloomy prospects. At least that is what a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change reports on August 22.

This is the kind of news that unfortunately surprises us less and less. We all know that the living world is very hard hit by pollution, climate change, deforestation and other practices of overexploitation of natural resources. However, new studies reveal that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, no less than 90% of marine species will be at risk of extinction by the end of the century.

In their study, the international team of researchers took into account some twenty-five thousand species located in the upper ocean and how they are likely to react to the continued rise in temperatures as well as increasing acidification. waters. Indeed, it should be remembered that in addition to causing an accumulation of heat in the climate system, part of the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) dissolves in the ocean and lowers its pH.

Towards a carnage of marine life in the event of inaction or insufficient action
The results show that with global warming of 3°C to 5°C, corresponding to an absence of regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, 90% of marine life forms would be threatened with extinction. The good news is that with global warming kept at 2°C in line with the objectives of the Paris climate agreement, the risk of extinction would be greatly reduced for most of the species studied. This scenario of course implies a rapid and deep decrease in our emissions with a net zero reached around the middle of the century.

The life forms most at risk are often those experiencing other stresses such as overfishing. It goes without saying that with such a collapse of marine life, human societies would be very hard hit, especially with regard to populations and economies that depend very directly on fisheries resources. For these low-income countries often located in the deep south, the issue of food insecurity is therefore a serious one.

Note that if we fail to keep the climate at a level consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement, we would be heading for the greatest extinction of species ever known on Earth since the terrible episode of the Permian-Triassic boundary that decimated over 95% of marine life 252 million years ago. “Our climate risk assessment can help prioritize vulnerable species and ecosystems for marine conservation and fisheries management efforts,” the study notes in its executive summary.

Elephant seals to refine our understanding of the ‘Blob’


By ingeniously taking advantage of elephant seals, a study has shed light on the mechanisms involved in the dynamics of the Blob, this exceptional marine heat wave that occurred a few years ago in the northeast Pacific. The results were published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans on July 4.

The marine heat wave that affected the northeast Pacific between 2013 and 2016 was the most intense ever reported since the beginning of observations, with anomalies sometimes exceeding 6°C. Named The Blob in reference to a nanar from the 1950s, it has fueled a large body of studies, especially since several aftershocks have occurred since then, including a notable one between 2019 and 2021.

Elephant seals to examine The Blob

Thanks to sensors placed on a group of northern elephant seals, a team of researchers was able to record the phenomenon from below from 2014 to 2017. Indeed, if the monitoring of temperature anomalies on the surface of the sea is easy thing with satellite instruments, the situation quickly becomes complicated for anomalies located below the surface. However, they play a strong role in terms of the persistence and risk of a resurgence of the heat wave.

“Elephant seals collect data in places different from existing oceanographic platforms,” reports Christopher Edwards, lead author of the study. “This is an underutilized dataset that can tell us about important oceanographic processes and help biologists understand the ecology of northern elephant seals.”

An understanding of the phenomenon that is being refined

The most valuable measurements were collected during the migratory phases, when the animals dive several hundred meters deep and travel long distances. They revealed larger heat anomalies than previously estimated, with an extended thermal excess at least up to a thousand meters deep. The latter was also largely maintained during 2017, at the very time when the Blob was disappearing on the surface.

“These temperature anomalies are so deep that they are unlikely to result from mixing from the surface,” explains the researcher. “A reasonable mechanism is that the exceptionally warm waters were transported north from the south. What we don’t yet know is whether this northward transport is directly related to surface warming. Surface changes may have transiently altered deeper currents to pull southerly waters northward.”

What is certain, however, is that in a context of global warming, marine heat waves will become more frequent, more intense and will affect larger areas. As the latest IPCC report indicates, these are trends that have already begun. For example, since the 1980s, the number of marine heat waves has doubled worldwide.

“The more information we can collect, the better off we will be in terms of understanding what is happening and dealing with challenges,” the lead author points out. “While elephant seals have been used to study the physical oceanography of polar regions for some time, this is one of the first studies to use the data collected to answer oceanographic questions in temperate regions, such as the North Pacific Ocean.

Artificial Intelligence: a new support for memory loss


Thanks to Artificial Intelligence, an algorithm could help establish basic relationships to recover memory

A report published by the University of Toronto specified that a computer algorithm, aided by Artificial Intelligence, is capable of helping memory loss. The way in which this discovery works would be similar to the way in which the brain carries out its activities: it stores and retrieves information strategically. Parham Aarabi, an academic from said think tank, is the creator of this system.

“Most people think that Artificial Intelligence is more like a robot than a human being, I think that has to change,” Aarabi said. “Ten years ago computing was about absolutes, now we want our computers to make rough conclusions and guess percentages. We want a processor to tell us that there is a 10 percent chance that an image contains a car and a 40 percent that it contains a pedestrian,” he stressed.

Thus, the specialist has worked on this class of approaches to retrieve and store information thanks to copies that help humans determine what to remember and what to forget. For this reason, certain studies carried out prior to the creation of the algorithm showed that the brain and memory prioritize recent events.

In a few words, said Artificial Intelligence would work like other similar systems: it would search database entries in search of patterns that help memory. This would help the system to be refined enough after a certain time to establish relationships more effectively and discover new problems.

In this way, the aforementioned Artificial Intelligence would serve as a bio-inspired artificial memory capable of being a support for people with retention problems. “Ultimately, it’s aimed at people with memory loss, it helps them remember things in a very human way, very gently, without overwhelming them,” adds Aarabi.

The specialist also emphasizes that this would be an important step in building professional relationships in favor of health care. Therefore, the Artificial Intelligence developed by the expert has the purpose of serving society in a more practical way. Above all, in relation to memory problems suffered by various factors. “Biologically inspired memory may very well bring AI a step closer to human-level capabilities,” Aarabi concluded.

Virtual reality: the first “hologram patient” has just been operated on


In the UK, university doctors have for the very first time performed an operation on a hologram using a virtual reality headset. The software is quite advanced. He is indeed able to adapt the patient’s response or to add complications to the operation. For the doctors behind the project, the next step will be to expand the content of the application and extend its use to other medical schools.

A rather realistic application
In 2016, a surgical operation was broadcast live in virtual reality (VR). In 2020, surgeons carried out an operation 15 km away using 5G and virtual reality glasses. However, a press release from the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) details a completely different experience: the operation in VR of a “hologram patient”. The software is intended for apprentice doctors who must here wear a VR headset and operate on the virtual patient using tools that are also virtual. However, an experienced doctor accompanied the learners to supervise the operation and correct any errors made.

The doctors used an app called HoloScenario. The goal? Recreate a realistic medical environment in which decisions must be made in real time in order to treat the patient. However, the software in question is indeed very realistic, because it is able to adapt the patient’s response to the actions of the doctors and to add complications as may be the case during a real operation.

An application for the moment still quite limited
For the moment, the HoloScenario application is reserved only for emergency care as well as for various respiratory conditions such as asthma, pulmonary embolism and pneumonia. Nevertheless, the creators of the software are currently working on other modules concerning other medical disciplines: cardiology and neurology. The University of Cambridge, which is behind this initiative, wants to extend the use of the device to other faculties of medicine. The objective is to develop distance training and provide medical courses.

In April 2022, we mentioned another VR medical platform, this time intended for the training of veterinarians. Ultimately, the Osso VR application aims to provide veterinarians with a complete catalog of veterinary procedures. In turn, the HoloScenario application may one day also benefit from a complete catalog.

SpaceX places its 33-engine launcher on its launch pad


After a series of seven test flights of Starship prototypes from August 2020 to May 2021, SpaceX is about to tickle the skies again with its Starship spacecraft. This time he won’t be alone, but styled above his huge booster named Super Heavy. Equipped with thirty-three new generation Raptor engines, the launcher has just reached its launch pad to carry out tests.

A Busy Year in South Texas
Gradually, SpaceX pushed the limits, starting with two 150-meter jumps before moving on to flights reaching nearly 12.5 km. After a few failures, this first test program ended last year with a soft landing of the Starship SN15. By this point, SpaceX had pushed its prototype ship as far as it could go. Indeed, the vehicle did not yet have the capacity to reach orbit on its own. To do this, the company has developed a first stage called “Super Heavy”, as well as the associated ground systems.

In recent months, SpaceX has also taken care of its new baby: the Raptor 2. The original engine was indeed too heavy and lacked performance. For comparison, the former produced 185 tons of thrust, while the latter will produce at least 230. It should also cost half as much to build and be considerably stronger.

All of this work has not been easy. This huge vehicle requiring thirty-three engines, the company had to rethink its production capacities. Aerojet Rocketdyne, the former leader in propulsion in the United States, has set a goal of building four RS-25 engines for NASA’s SLS rocket per year. For its part, SpaceX currently builds at least four of its own engines per week.

A lot of effort has also gone into the development of a huge “launch and capture” tower. Standing over 150 meters tall, the structure will support the fully stacked rocket during refueling and launch operations. Then, a few minutes after launch, it will grab the first stage with huge “wands” as the rocket slows near the ground. The whole design and construction process took about thirteen months.

Finally, in recent months, the company was also dependent on the FAA and its environmental report.

Next crucial tests
For all these reasons, the launch pads of Boca Chica, Texas have been silent for over a year. Now the company can move forward. This Thursday, June 23, the Super Heavy Booster 7 prototype was even moved in order to carry out its first tests. To do this, it was lifted for the first time by the famous “sticks” of the launch tower and placed on its support.

If this booster survives pressure testing and potentially a static firing test in the days and weeks to come, it could be requisitioned to perform the Starship’s first orbital test flight. Elon Musk recently said he thinks a launch attempt could happen in July.