When searching for hitherto unidentified animals in the darkest depths of the oceans, researchers expect to find grisly, alien-like species but, recently, they encountered an altogether cuter new creature: a Dumbo octopus.
Using almost entirely non-invasive scanning techniques instead of the standard highly invasive and sometimes fatal lab tests and dissections, researchers from the University of Bonn successfully identified the never-before-seen Grimpoteuthis imperator, or Dumbo octopus.
The G. imperator, a new subspecies of an already rare breed of octopus, was discovered in the northern part of the Emperor Seamounts, an underwater mountain ridge in the northwest Pacific Ocean. They live at depths of 7,000 meters (22,966 feet). The researchers suggested the common name for the critter: Emperor Dumbo in English, Dumbo Impérial in French, and Kaiserdumbo in German.
Rather than dissecting Dumbo, the marine biologists instead used high-field magnetic resonance imaging and micro-computed tomography scans to ascertain its origin before carrying out minimally invasive gene analysis on tissue samples to verify it was indeed a new species.
Measurements and digital photo comparisons with other types of Dumbo octopus – so called because of its two head fins, which resemble the large elephant ears sported by the lovable Disney character – were undertaken to settle the matter.
The researchers were also surprised to encounter a systemic heart in the new deepwater Dumbo, which had hitherto never been described in octopus species before.
Glaciers alloverAntarctica are in trouble as ice there rapidly melts. There’s no Antarctic glacier whose fate is more consequential for our future than the Thwaites Glacier, and new research shows that things aren’t looking good for it.
There are two ways to get your hands on a meteorite. You can send up a billion-dollar robot to retrieve asteroid samples, or you can wait for a friendly space rock land at your doorstep for free. The latter option happened on February 28th, when a rare meteorite from the early solar system landed in a driveway in Winchcombe, England.
Scientists call this kind of meteorite “carbonaceous chondrite.” It contains a lot of carbon, so it looks a lot like coal, but carbonaceous chondrite actually dates back to the beginnings of our solar system and could help us understand Earth and other planets came to be. If this is like other samples of carbonaceous chondrite, it should also contain bits of diamond, graphite, and soft clay—a sign that the rock encountered water at some point.
Residents of Winchcombe, England, noticed a fireball reigning down before exploding in the sky the night of Sunday, February 28th. The next day, someone found the rock in their driveway, bagged it up, and contacted the U.K. Meteor Observation Network.
As noted by the Natural History Museum, the Winchcombe Meteorite is significantly larger than rocks collected by billion-dollar space probes. The Hayabusa2 probe returned to Earth last year with just 4.5 grams of asteroid rock, while the OSIRIS-REx probe is expected to return in 2023 with 60 grams of rock. But the Winchcombe Meteorite is 300 grams. Good things come to those who wait, I guess.
NASA has no photos of Asteroid 2001 FO32, so here’s a picture of Eros. NASA
On March 21st, a Golden Gate Bridge-sized asteroid will whiz within 1.5 million kilometers of Earth, just close enough to see with a telescope. Asteroid 2001 FO32 will be the largest asteroid to glance by our planet in 2021, and if you don’t own a telescope, you can still watch the asteroid’s journey through the Virtual Telescope Project’s live feed.
An impact with Asteroid 2001 FO32 could cause mass destruction and rippling climate effects on Earth. While it isn’t the biggest asteroid we’ve encountered, Asteroid 2001 FO32 measures around a mile in length and flies at nearly 77,000 MPH. Thankfully, NASA says that we don’t need to worry about Asteroid 2001 FO32—not for another 200 years, at least.
You may have seen headlines about an #asteroid that will safely fly by Earth on March 21. While this asteroid, known as 2001 FO32, is large, it will safely zip past Earth at a distance of 1.3 million miles—five times further away than the Moon—and poses no risk of hitting Earth. pic.twitter.com/oZZG5UaFsf
Of course, finding a mile-wide rock that’s over a million kilometers away from Earth is like picking a needle out of a haystack, even with a good telescope. The asteroid will shine much dimmer than any star in our night sky, so you’re best off watching it through the Virtual Telescope Project’s live feed.
The Virtual Telescope Project live feed begins March 21st at 11pm ET (or March 22nd at 4am if you’re in the UK, where Virtual Telescope Project is based). The live feed is free to watch and will follow the asteroid until it’s too far to see, which will take a few hours.
NASA’s airborne telescope has made another major discovery just months after it confirmed the presence of water on the Moon’s sunlit surfaces. SOFIA’s latest find relates to the essence left by an icy comet that zipped past Earth in 2016…
Human fingerprints are all over the world’s freshwater. A new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature shows that while human-controlled freshwater sources make up a minimal portion of the world’s ponds, lakes, and rivers, they are responsible more than half of all changes to the Earth’s water system.
Sometimes the smallest innovations can have the biggest impacts on the world’s efforts to stop global climate change. Arguably, one of the biggest contributors in the fight against climate change to date has been the switch to the humble LED light, which has slashed hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions simply by reducing energy consumption in buildings.
And now firms backed by Robert Downey Jr. and Bill Gates are joining investors like Amazon and iPod inventor Tony Fadell to pour money into a company called Turntide Technologies that believes it has the next great innovation in the world’s efforts to slow global climate change — a better electric motor.
It’s not as flashy as an arc reactor, but like light bulbs, motors are a ubiquitous and wholly unglamorous technology that have been operating basically the same way since the nineteenth century. And, like the light bulb, they’re due for an upgrade.
“Turntide’s technology and approach to restoring our planet will directly reduce energy consumption,” said Steve Levin, the co-founder (along with Downey Jr. ) of FootPrint Coalition Ventures.
The operation of buildings is responsible for 40% of CO2 emissions worldwide, Turntide noted in a statement. And, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), one-third of energy used in commercial buildings is wasted. Smart building technology adds an intelligent layer to eliminate this waste and inefficiency by automatically controlling lighting, air conditioning, heating, ventilation and other essential systems and Turntide’s electric motors can add additional savings.
That’s why investors have put over $100 million into Turntide in just the last six months.
PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 16: Tony Fadell Inventor of the iPod and Founder and former CEO of Nest attends a conference during Viva Technology at Parc des Expositions Porte de Versailles on June 16, 2017 in Paris, France. Viva Technology is a fair that brings together, for the second year, major groups and startups around all the themes of innovation. (Photo by Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images)
The company, led by chief executive and chairman Ryan Morris is commercializing technology that was developed initially at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Turntide’s basic innovation is a software controlled motor, or switch reluctance motor, that uses precise pulses of energy instead of a constant flow of electricity. “In a conventional motor you are continuously driving current into the motor whatever speed you want to run it at,” Morris said. “We’re pulsing in precise amounts of current just at the times when you need the torque… It’s software defined hardware.”
The technology spent eleven years under development, in part because the computing power didn’t exist to make the system work, according to Morris.
Morris was initially part of an investment firm called Meson Capital that acquired the technology back in 2013, and it was another four years of development before the motors were actually able to function in pilots, he said. The company spent the last three years developing the commercialization strategy and proving the value in its initial market — retrofitting the heating ventilation and cooling systems in buildings that are the main factor in the built environment’s 28% contribution to carbon dioxide emissions that are leading to global climate change.
“Our mission is to replace all of the motors in the world,” Morris said.
He estimates that the technology is applicable to 95% of where electric motors are used today, but the initial focus will be on smart buildings because it’s the easiest place to start and can have some of the largest immediate impact on energy usage.
“The carbon impact of what we’re doing is pretty massive,” Morris told me last year. “The average energy reduction [in buildings] has been a 64% reduction. If we can replace all the motors in buildings in the US that’s the carbon equivalent of adding over 300 million tons of carbon sequestration per year.”
That’s why Downey Jr.’s Footprint Coalition, and Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures and the real estate and construction focused venture firm Fifth Wall Ventures have joined the Amazon Climate Fund, Tony Fadell’s Future Shape, BMW’s iVentures fund and a host of other investors in backing the company.
The company has raised roughly $180 million in financing including the disclosure today of an $80 million investment round, which closed in October.
Buildings are clearly the current focus for Turntide, which only yesterday announced the acquisition of a small Santa Barbara, Calif.-based building management software developer called Riptide IO. But there’s also an application in another massive industry — electric vehicles.
“Two years from now we will definitely be in electric vehicles,” Morris said.
“Our technology has huge advantages for the electric vehicle industry. There’s no rare earth minerals. Every EV uses rare earth minerals to get better performance of their electric motors,” he continued. “They’re expensive, destructive to mine and China controls 95 percent of the global supply chain for them. We do not use any exotic materials, rare earth minerals or magnets.. We’re replacing that with very advanced software and computation. It’s the first time Moore’s law applies to the motor.”
Toyota has announced that it has developed a product packaging a fuel-cell (FC) system into a compact module and that it intends to begin selling the product in the spring of 2021 or later. The new FC module will be utilizable by companies developing and manufacturing fuel-cell products for a wide variety of applications. Those applications include mobility for trucks, … Continue reading