There’s a rare bit of good environmental news coming from the United States Congress. It entails old, spent coal mines that continue to churn out damaging pollutants even though they are no longer in use. Per the Associated Press, “Tucked into the Senate-passed infrastructure bill is $11.3 billion for the cleanup of defunct coal mines to be distributed over 15 years — money experts say would go a long way toward rehabilitating the sites that date back to before 1977. Cleanup efforts are currently funded by fees from coal mining companies, but that money has fallen far short of what’s needed to fix the problems.” More of this please. And while you’re at it U.S. Congress, how about more often. Show you care. https://bit.ly/39m0FpD
A volcano that erupted on La Palma Island in Spain has caused mass evacuations. According to Reuters, “Lava flowing from the Canary Islands’ first volcanic eruption in 50 years has forced the evacuation of 5,500 people, destroyed at least 100 houses, and was expected to trigger toxic gases when it reaches the sea in the evening.” So far, it’s been quite the year for natural disasters. https://reut.rs/3lGfcSM
Sometimes, scientists can be so clever it’s really worth noting. One company has taken an altogether novel approach to treating certain types of cancers. Per FierceBiotech, “Boston Scientific’s tumor-targeting glass microbeads continue to shatter expectations for cancer treatment. The latest results of a long-term study showed adding TheraSpheres to a standard chemotherapy regimen could extend survival for patients with colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver… Each of the miniscule beads contains a small but mighty dose of Y-90, a radioactive isotope of yttrium with a half-life of less than three days. The beads are planted directly in a tumor by a catheter, helping minimize the dose and damage to nearby healthy tissues.” Glass microbeads. Who’da a thunk it? https://bit.ly/3klghjr
Just in case you missed it, the amateur astronauts who were shuttled into Earth’s orbit on a SpaceX ship returned home safely yesterday. Per the BBC, “Four amateur astronauts have splashed down successfully in the Atlantic Ocean after three days in space. They are the first private, all-civilian team ever to orbit the Earth. The Inspiration4 crew left on a SpaceX capsule from Florida on Wednesday, and landed off the state’s coast after 19:00 local time (23:00 GMT) on Saturday. Four parachutes slowed the capsule’s descent before it landed in the water, where SpaceX boats sped to retrieve it.” Once again, Elon Musk and SpaceX have pushed the space exploration envelope forward and showed the world a glimpse of what the future may be like, especially when it comes to commercial space travel. https://bbc.in/3kpjA9c
With the possibility of increased space travel on the horizon, companies have begun staking their claim on the less sexy but no less essential industry of shuttling supplies back and forth to non-Earth locations. NASA has turned to private industry to devise efficient and affordable methods of sending cargo to and from those destinations Per Science,“The Commercial Lunar Payload Services program has tasked a number of companies—including Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic—with delivering landers to the Moon’s surface twice a year. Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander, roughly the size of a tree house, is set to blast off this year from Cape Canaveral, Florida, as is Houston-based Intuitive Machines’s Nova-C. A second Astrobotic lander, Griffin, is expected to launch in 2023, ferrying the well-equipped, NASA-designed Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover. Its neutron counter, spectrometers, and specialized drill will seek out evidence of water and attempt to identify its origin.” Bring on cities on the moon, we say. Just mind the space garbage (easier said than done for humans). https://bit.ly/3hSBgsf
So, theoretical physics being what it is, scientists have proposed a new form of dark energy to partially account for the old version which has not be discovered as of yet. According to Nature, “Two separate studies — both posted on the arXiv preprint server in the past week1,2 — have detected a tentative first trace of this ‘early dark energy’ in data collected between 2013 and 2016 by the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) in Chile. If the findings are confirmed, they could help to solve a long-standing conundrum surrounding data about the early Universe, which seem to be incompatible with the rate of cosmic expansion measured today. But the data are preliminary and don’t show definitively whether this form of dark energy really existed.” Proposing a new paradigm so that it neatly explains the shortcomings of the older one feels a lot like then governments print up money so that they can pay off their debts. https://go.nature.com/39l3YgC
Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.