facility:max planck institute

  • Cutting ammonia emissions from farming ‘could save thousands of lives’

    Cutting levels of ammonia in the air could prevent at least 3,000 premature deaths every year in the UK, according to new research following an investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Channel 4 News and the Guardian.

    While most air pollutants have been cut dramatically in recent decades, levels of ammonia in the air have stayed high.

    Agriculture is the leading source of ammonia emissions and intensive livestock farming is particularly problematic, as the chemical leaks into the air from exposed animal waste and fertiliser.

    Ammonia causes fine particle pollution which can enter deep into the lungs and bloodstream, with significant consequences for cardiovascular and respiratory health.

    In 2017 researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Germany analysed data on air pollution and mortality. They estimated that a 50 per cent cut in agricultural ammonia emissions across Europe could avoid 52,000 deaths each year.

    Now, in new analysis for The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, they say a similar cut in the UK could prevent at least 3,000 premature deaths annually.

    Levels ‘unchanged for 25 years’
    Professor Alastair Lewis from the National Centre for Atmospheric Science said: “Almost all classes of pollutants [in the UK] have reduced very dramatically over the last 30 or 40 years.

    “The one that really stands out is ammonia, which is really unchanged over the last 25 years”. He puts that down, in part, to the complexity of the problem.

    Dairy farmer Abi Reader told Channel 4 News she supported moves to cut ammonia but was worried about the financial burden on the industry.

    She said it would cost around £50,000 to cover her farm’s slurry pit – the sort of measure farmers are being asked to adopt.

    She told Channel 4 News: “It’s certainly a good focus for us as an industry to make sure we do everything in our power….to reduce the emissions”.

    “The thing is we’re not seeing an extra return on our milk price to finance it” says Ms Reader, “so it’s something we would like to do but I can’t go broke for it”.

    In the Clean Air Strategy, the government says it is requiring farmers to adopt low-emission techniques and providing funding for equipment needed to cut pollution.

    #ammoniaque #agriculture #santé #industrie_agro-alimentaire

  • First-ever picture of a black hole | Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

    Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) is the name of this technique, in which the signals of the individual antennas are superimposed. This synchronization takes place with the aid of high-precision atomic clocks accurate to the nanosecond. An extreme angular resolution of less than 20 micro arc seconds can be achieved; if our eyes had such a power, we could see the individual molecules in our hands.
    The network of this so-called Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) included the 30-meter IRAM mirror in Spain and the APEX telescope in Chile, in which the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy is involved. In 2017 alone, the telescopes recorded a total of about four petabytes of data - such a large amount that postal transport is actually faster and more efficient than sending the data via the Internet.

    Pour plus de précisions sur la mise au point technique de l’EHT, voir aussi : https://www.mpg.de/13326245/interview-anton-zensus-max-planck-eht?c=2249

    #Event_Horizon_Telescope #EHT

  • Successful second round of fusion experiments with Wendelstein 7-X ...

    Successful second round of fusion experiments with Wendelstein 7-X

    New stellarator record achieved / next upgrading phase begun according to plan The experiments conducted from July until November at the Wendelstein 7-X fusion device at the Max Planck Institute for… Article word count: 805

    HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18534027 Posted by mrfusion (karma: 5975) Post stats: Points: 177 - Comments: 76 - 2018-11-26T15:35:53Z

    #HackerNews #7-x #experiments #fusion #round #second #successful #wendelstein #with

    Article content:

    New stellarator record achieved / next upgrading phase begun according to plan

    The experiments conducted from July until November at the Wendelstein 7-X fusion device at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Greifswald (...)

  • US military plan to spread viruses using insects could create ‘new class of biological weapon’, scientists warn

    Insects could be turned into “a new class of biological weapon” using new US military plans, experts have warned.

    The Insect Allies programme aims to use bugs to disperse genetically modified (GM) viruses to crops.

    Such action will have profound consequences and could pose a major threat to global biosecurity, according to a team that includes specialist scientists and lawyers.

    In theory, this rapid engineering would allow farmers to adapt to changing conditions, for example by inserting drought-resistance genes into corn instead of planting pre-engineered seeds.

    But this seemingly inoffensive goal has been slammed by the scientists, who say the plan is simply dangerous and that insects loaded with synthetic viruses will be difficult to control.

    They also say that despite being in operation since 2016 and distributing $27m in funds to scientists, Darpa has failed to properly justify the existence of such a programme.

    Research programme with potential for dual use: scientists fear that the Insect Ally programme by the US could encourage other states to increase their own research activities in the field of biological warfare (MPG/D.Duneka)
    “Given that Darpa is a military agency, we find it surprising that the obvious and concerning dual-use aspects of this research have received so little attention,” Felix Beck, a lawyer at the University of Freiburg, told The Independent.

    Dr Guy Reeves, an expert in GM insects at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, said that there has been hardly any debate about the technology and the programme remains largely unknown “even in expert circles”.

    He added that despite the stated aims of the programme, it would be far more straightforward using the technology as a biological weapon than for the routine agricultural use suggested by Darpa.

  • The surprising #comet

    As #Rosetta began homing in on #Comet_67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in the weeks leading up to its arrival in August 2014, it became very clear that this was no ordinary comet. But its striking shape was only just the beginning of the comet’s surprises. After more than two years spent living with the comet, #rosetta scientists reflect on some of the mission’s unexpected discoveries, the mysteries solved and the new questions raised. “Rosetta has completely changed our picture of #Comets,” says Eberhard Grün, an interdisciplinary scientist working on the Rosetta mission at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany. “Previously, they were pictured as dirty ice balls – or, as some prefer, icy #dust balls – but now we know them, or at least this one, to be geologically complex (...)

    #Science #instruments #magnetic_field #perihelion #science #water

  • Warmer Mediterranean turns the Sahel green

    Climate change can have mixed consequences: It would appear that the warming of the Mediterranean region, which has brought greater heat and drought to the countries there for around 20 years, is behind an increase in rainfall in the Sahel region. As researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg report in the current edition of the journal Nature Climate Change, due to higher sea temperatures in the Mediterranean more moisture from the eastern Mediterranean is reaching the southern edge of the Sahara at the start of the West African monsoon in June. Moreover, according to the current study, the future development of precipitation in the Sahel region is crucially dependent on the warming of the Mediterranean.

    #climat #sahel #méditerranée

  • This system instantly edits videos to make it look like you’re saying something you’re not | TechCrunch

    The video up top shows a work-in-progress system called Face2Face (research paper here) being built by researchers at Stanford, the Max Planck Institute and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.

    The short version: take a YouTube video of someone speaking like, say, George W. Bush. Use a standard RGB webcam to capture a video of someone else emoting and saying something entirely different. Throw both videos into the Face2Face system and, bam, you’ve now got a relatively believable video of George W. Bush’s face — now almost entirely synthesized — doing whatever the actor in the second video wanted the target’s face to do. It even tries to work out what the interior of their mouth should look like as they’re speaking.


    #visage #fake #manipulation

  • New Study Finds That Having Your First Child Makes You Miserable | Alternet

    A collaborative effort by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and the University of Western Ontario, the study collected surveys from 2,016 German couples “from three years before a first birth through at least two years after the first birth.” As the Washington Post notes, while anticipatory happiness levels rose in the year preceding birth of a first child, in both the first and second years following, 70 percent of new parents reported a drop in their happiness levels. And these drops, measured on a happiness scale from 1-10, were pretty huge:

  • OSIRIS detects hints of ice in #comet’s neck

    This post is based on information provided by the OSIRIS team at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany. If it could be seen with the naked human eye, the nucleus of #Comet_67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko would be a dark grey all over. With its array of specialised filters, however, #Rosetta’s scientific imaging system OSIRIS can discern tiny differences in reflectivity at different wavelengths across the comet’s surface. In turn, these differences can reveal clues as to the local composition of the comet. The image shown here focuses on the Hapi region of the comet. Hapi is located in the neck between the comet’s two lobes and has in the past months proven to be particularly active, the source of many of the spectacular jets of dust and gas seen in the wider-view (...)

    #Images #Instruments #Science #rosetta #science

    • False colour image showing the smooth Hapi region connecting the head and body of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Differences in reflectivity have been enhanced in this image to emphasise the blue-ish colour of the Hapi region. The scientific data was acquired on 21 August 2014 by the scientific imaging system OSIRIS with broad-band filters centred at 989, 700, and 480 nanometres. These images have been combined here as red, green, and blue, respectively, and the composite has been processed to enhance the slight colour differences. During these observations Rosetta was 70 km from the comet, and the corresponding spatial resolution is 1.3m per pixel.
      Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team

  • Lifestyle determines gut microbes

    An international team of researchers has for the first time deciphered the intestinal bacteria of present-day hunter-gatherers


    The research team, composed of anthropologists, microbial ecologists, molecular biologists, and analytical chemists, and led in part by Stephanie Schnorr and Amanda Henry of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, compared the Hadza gut microbiota to that of urban living Italians, representative of a “westernized” population. Their results, published recently in Nature Communications, show that the Hadza have a more diverse gut microbe ecosystem, i.e. more bacterial species compared to the Italians. “This is extremely relevant for human health”, says Stephanie Schnorr. “Several diseases emerging in industrialized countries, like IBS, colorectal cancer, obesity, type II diabetes, Crohn’s disease and others, are significantly associated with a reduction in gut microbial diversity.”


    The Hadza gut microbiota is well suited for processing indigestible fibres from a plant-rich diet and likely helps the Hadza get more energy from the fibrous foods that they consume. Surprisingly, Hadza men and women differed significantly in the type and amount of their gut microbiota, something never before seen in any other human population. Hadza men hunt game and collect honey, while Hadza women collect tubers and other plant foods. Though they share these foods, each sex eats slightly more of the foods they target. “The differences in gut microbiota between the sexes reflects this sexual division of labour”, says Stephanie Schnorr. “It appears that women have more bacteria to help process fibrous plant foods, which has direct implications for their fertility and reproductive success.” These findings support the key role of the gut microbiota as adaptive partners during the course of human evolution by aligning with differing diets.

    Finally, the Hadza gut microbe community is a unique configuration with high levels of bacteria, like Treponema, that in western populations are often considered signs of disease, and low levels of other bacteria, like Bifidobacterium, that in western populations are considered “healthy”. However, the Hadza experience little to no autoimmune diseases that would result from gut bacteria imbalances. Therefore, we must redefine our notions of “healthy” and “unhealthy” bacteria, since these distinctions are clearly dependent on the environment we live in. Genetic diversity of bacteria is likely the most important criterion for the health and stability of the gut microbiome.


  • Quantum steps towards the Big Bang

    (Phys.org) —Present-day physics cannot describe what happened in the Big Bang. Quantum theory and the theory of relativity fail in this almost infinitely dense and hot primal state of the universe. Only an all-encompassing theory of quantum gravity which unifies these two fundamental pillars of physics could provide an insight into how the universe began. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) in Golm/Potsdam and the Perimeter Institute in Canada have made an important discovery along this route. According to their theory, space consists of tiny “building blocks”. Taking this as their starting point, the scientists arrive at one of the most fundamental equations of cosmology, the Friedmann equation, which describes the universe. This shows that quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity really can be unified.
    For almost a century, the two major theories of physics have coexisted but have been irreconcilable: while Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity describes gravity and thus the world at large, quantum physics describes the world of atoms and elementary particles. Both theories work extremely well within their own boundaries; however, they break down, as currently formulated, in certain extreme regions, at extremely tiny distances, the so-called Planck scale, for example. Space and time thus have no meaning in black holes or, most notably, during the Big Bang.
    Daniele Oriti from the Albert Einstein Institute uses a fluid to illustrate this situation: “We can describe the behaviour of flowing water with the long-known classical theory of hydrodynamics. But if we advance to smaller and smaller scales and eventually come across individual atoms, it no longer applies. Then we need quantum physics.” Just as a liquid consists of atoms, Oriti imagines space to be made up of tiny cells or “atoms of space”, and a new theory is required to describe them: quantum gravity.


  • Space mirrors will dry out US and Eurasia | New Scientist

    INSTALLING huge mirrors in space would help reverse global warming, but they would come at a price: less rain for the Americas and northern Eurasia.

    Previous studies have shown that geoengineering cannot restore both temperature and rain to previous levels, but they could not specify what a geoengineered climate would look like.

    Hauke Schmidt of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, and his colleagues played out the same simple scenario in four different climate models.