Florida is experiencing record-breaking ocean heating, with water temperatures in the mid-90s Fahrenheit (mid-30s Celsius). The intense heat threatens delicate coral reefs, denies swimmers refreshing dips, and exacerbates the already oppressive summer weather. Meteorologists predict that, with humidity, the temperature will feel like 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) by the end of the week. In addition to the extreme heat, Florida is bracing for a Saharan dust storm, which will further worsen air quality. This scorching trend is part of a global phenomenon, with the world recently witnessing an unprecedented heatwave. Global sea surface temperatures have been at record highs since April, and the North Atlantic has experienced exceptionally hot temperatures since mid-March. Climate change is identified as the underlying cause of these extreme and potentially deadly events. Experts warn that the situation is concerning and anticipate more temperature records to be broken. (Associated Press)
The China Association of Auto Manufacturers (CAAM) has revoked a pledge to avoid “abnormal pricing” that it had brokered between 16 automakers, including Tesla, leading to the collapse of a truce in the fierce price war over electric vehicles (EVs) in China. CAAM acknowledged that the agreement violated China’s antitrust law. The move has intensified competition over pricing and features, which is driving EV sales but also threatening the profitability of the industry. In March, CAAM had called for automakers and local authorities to reduce “price-cut hype” in order to ensure stable industry development. The revoked pledge has created uncertainty regarding pricing strategies and may impact sales. Analysts suggest that only a limited number of companies will survive the intense competition and excess capacity in China’s EV market by 2030, leading to a potential industry shakeout. (Reuters)
The Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA), a crucial legislative framework for biosecurity policy in the United States, is set to expire at the end of September. Congress must take action to reauthorize it to strengthen the country’s defenses against future infectious diseases and other threats. PAHPA has played a vital role in the nation’s public health response, enabling the rapid development and distribution of medical countermeasures during the COVID-19 pandemic. The reauthorization should include common-sense reforms, such as affirming White House strategic leadership, expanding the authority of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, and elevating attention to global needs. While major new financial commitments may not be feasible at this time, a “lean” reauthorization that focuses on reauthorizing existing authorities and programs with minimal changes can be achieved. Congress must act quickly to reach bipartisan agreement on these essential provisions before PAHPA’s authorities expire. (STAT)
Researchers have developed a prototype of a flexible and comfortable “soft smart hand exoskeleton” or robo-glove that provides feedback to individuals who need to relearn tasks requiring manual dexterity and coordination after a stroke. The glove, designed as a proof-of-principle, focuses on helping patients relearn to play the piano but can be adapted for other daily tasks. The smart hand exoskeleton features tactile sensors, soft actuators, and artificial intelligence, aiding in the relearning process after neurotrauma. The glove, custom-made to fit each wearer’s anatomy, utilizes soft pneumatic actuators and flexible sensors to mimic natural hand movements and provide tactile sensations. Machine learning techniques were used to teach the glove to distinguish between correct and incorrect piano play. Further development is needed to improve sensing accuracy, adaptability, and dexterity of the exoskeleton design. (Frontiers In)
Scientists have made progress in achieving fusion energy through a technique called dynamic shell formation, which could make fusion power plants more feasible for mass production. Fusion, the same reaction that powers the sun, has long been seen as an ideal energy source due to its safety, cleanliness, affordability, and reliability. In December 2022, scientists achieved ignition at the National Ignition Facility, but significant challenges remain. The new research demonstrates the potential of dynamic shell formation, which involves injecting a liquid droplet of deuterium and tritium into a foam capsule that forms a spherical shell when bombarded by lasers. This method eliminates the need for costly cryogenic layering and could make the production of fusion targets easier. Although further research is needed, the experiment suggests that dynamic shell formation could be a promising path towards practical fusion energy reactors. (Futurity)
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WORDS: The Biology Guy. (@thebiologyguy)
IMAGE CREDIT: Mylo Kaye.