New Guinea villagers unearth evidence of the island’s Neolithic past

Science - Posted On:2020-04-07 06:44:57 Source: arstechnica

When people in New Guinea started tending crops like yam and fruits around 8,000 years ago, they transformed nearly everything about life on the island. By around 5,000 years ago, people had begun settling in houses supported by wooden posts. The farmers developed new kinds of cutting tools, and they carved stone pestles to prepare yams, fruits, and nuts. They also wove brightly-colored fabrics with dyed fibers, elaborate carved stone figures of birds, and traded across 800km of ocean for obsidian.

The details of daily life were uniquely New Guinea. But the big picture—more people, settled village life, new types of stone tools, and a sudden flourishing of symbolic art—might have been familiar to people from other early agricultural societies around the world. Together, those things are a bundle of cultural trends that archaeologists call Neolithic.

Until recently, archaeologists didn’t think New Guinea had developed its own Neolithic culture. Instead, many researchers thought all the trappings of Neolithic village life had arrived around 3,200 years ago with the Lapita, a group of seafaring farmers who came to the island from Southeast Asia. That’s because the few Neolithic artifacts that could be properly dated all seemed to come from after the Lapita arrived. But the people of the small highland village of Waim recently rewrote that narrative, with a chance discovery during a local construction project.

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Supervised Self-Driving Shuttles Are Moving COVID-19 Tests In Florida

science - Posted On:2020-04-07 01:14:58 Source: slashdot

Autonomous shuttles are being used to move COVID-19 tests from a Jacksonville, Florida testing site to a nearby Mayo Clinic processing location, in what the medical nonprofit is calling a "first" for the U.S. But as is often the case with autonomous vehicle pilot programs, there's a catch: during each run made to and from the clinic, the self-driving shuttles are being trailed by an SUV driven by a human. The Verge reports: The SUV can be spotted in a video released by the Mayo Clinic, after one of the Mayo Clinic workers loads the cooler of tests onto the self-driving shuttle. The SUV then follows the shuttle across the Mayo Clinic's campus, where the batch of fresh tests is swapped for another cooler. Four of these vehicles have made the same run back and forth each day since March 30th. In a statement provided to The Verge, Joe Moye, the CEO of autonomous vehicle operator Beep, said the Jacksonville Transportation Authority is providing the chase vehicles to "ensure no traffic or pedestrians would potentially impact the delivery path of the COVID-19 samples and supplies." That's despite the fact that the Mayo Clinic's press release says the routes the shuttles are running "are isolated from pedestrians, traffic and staff." A representative for Beep, which worked with the Mayo Clinic, JTA, and self-driving shuttle builder Navya on the pilot, says that putting the tests in the attendant-less shuttle instead of in an SUV or truck being driven by a human helps limit any potential exposure to the novel coronavirus. And judging from the distance covered in the video released by the Mayo Clinic, it does look like using some sort of vehicle -- autonomous or not -- would indeed help speed up the delivery of the tests to the processing site. Another benefit, according to Moye, is that the shuttle helps keep many Mayo Clinic staff as free as possible, since they would otherwise have to transport the samples themselves. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Tesla Shows How It's Building Ventilators With Car Parts

science - Posted On:2020-04-06 19:29:59 Source: slashdot

Tesla has provided a behind-the-scenes look at its ventilator design process, which involves using parts from its vehicles. TechCrunch reports: Like Ford and General Motors, Tesla engineers are building its vent with parts for its vehicles. The reason is simple: car parts are available. Automotive companies obsessively stage parts for final assemble. Without doing so, having a shortage on, say, door handles can shut down a production line. In this thought, Tesla engineers say in this video they are trying to use as many car parts as possible. For instance, Tesla's ventilator uses the Model 3 infotainment system to power a Model 3 vehicle computer, which in turn, controls an air flow manifold. A suspension air tank is used as a oxygen mixing chamber. Among other parts, the team is also employing a Model 3 touchscreen as a controller. You can watch the behind-the-scenes video here. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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After troubled first flight, Boeing will refly Starliner without crew

Science - Posted On:2020-04-06 18:29:59 Source: arstechnica

Boeing announced on Monday evening that it will refly its Starliner spacecraft, without astronauts, to demonstrate the vehicle's safety for NASA.

"We are committed to the safety of the men and women who design, build and ultimately will fly on the Starliner just as we have on every crewed mission to space," Boeing said in a statement. "We have chosen to refly our Orbital Flight Test to demonstrate the quality of the Starliner system. Flying another uncrewed flight will allow us to complete all flight test objectives and evaluate the performance of the second Starliner vehicle at no cost to the taxpayer."

The decision follows the initial uncrewed flight of Starliner in late December, when what was supposed to be a week-long mission was cut to two days and a plan to dock with the International Space Station was abandoned due to a "mission elapsed time" error.

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Experiment Finds That Gravity Still Works Down To 50 Micrometers

science - Posted On:2020-04-06 17:14:59 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via Ars Technica: To make small-scale gravity measurements, researchers rely on conceptually simple experiments: measure the changes in rotational speed of an oscillating disc that is subject to a periodically changing gravitational force. The periodic force is supplied by a spinning disc. Both discs have wedges cut out so that the force due to gravity varies as the gaps spin past each other. The two discs are arranged right on top of each other. One is attached to a thin cable and is set in motion by twisting the cable, while the other rotates at a constant rotational speed. As the oscillating disc changes its direction of rotation, it is still subject to a periodic torque from the rotating disc. These torque changes are highly periodic and can be measured very accurately. The wedged disc design gives a set of three rotational frequencies, so the instrumentation errors can be filtered out by examining changes that are common to all three frequencies. The researchers have gone through several iterations to slowly improve their sensitivity over the last decade. Their experiment eliminates -- so far as possible -- all forces due to electrical and magnetic fields. The researchers have a set of three test masses that sit on top of the experiment to allow them to calibrate their analysis against a larger signal. The major improvement, however, was in the analysis. To extract the force due to gravity, careful modeling is required. The researchers changed the design of the pattern cut out of the test mass so that analytical solutions to the model were obtainable for the torques involved. This eliminated many of the uncertainties due to computer modeling. This and many other experimental refinements have allowed them to measure gravitational attraction down to a distance of just 52 micrometers. Once they add additional stabilization against vibration, they will be able to measure at even smaller separations. In the meantime, they have verified that the inverse-square law holds for distances shorter than 50m, and therefore we have no New Physics. The findings have been published in the journal Physical Review Letters. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson Taken To Intensive Care For Coronavirus Treatment

science - Posted On:2020-04-06 15:44:59 Source: slashdot

Boris Johnson has been taken into the hospital intensive care unit for treatment for coronavirus after his condition worsened, his office said. The Guardian reports: The British prime minister was admitted to St Thomas's Hospital in London on Sunday night because his virus symptoms had not cleared up and he became more seriously ill on Monday afternoon, a government spokesperson said in an email. "Over the course of this afternoon, the condition of the prime minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the intensive care unit at the hospital," according to the statement. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will stand in for Johnson running the country, "where necessary." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Experiment finds that gravity still works down to 50 micrometers

Science - Posted On:2020-04-06 13:00:01 Source: arstechnica

Gravity is the weakest of the fundamental forces, but it's the only force that operates over very long distances. Hence, planets orbit stars, stars form galaxies, and galaxies cluster. Gravity also operates at the tiniest of scales, too, but its weakness makes it very hard to detect its influence. It's worth trying, though, as violations of the laws of gravity at very small scales would be good evidence for New Physics™. So physicists have been looking, though without much luck so far.

The force due to gravity reduces with the square of the distance. If you double the distance, the force is not halved but reduced to a quarter of its original value. This law, called an inverse square law, is based purely on geometry: we live in three spatial dimensions, and therefore the inverse square law holds. However, if the universe has more than three spatial dimensions, the inverse square law would break.

We know that over long distances—the Earth to the Moon, and the distances between stars—the inverse square law appears to be correct. At galactic and cosmological scales, the inverse square law also holds, with the caveat that dark matter and dark energy are required. You might think that what we call dark matter or dark energy would be potential evidence of extra dimensions, but it isn’t quite that simple. At these scales, the hidden dimension would have to be both large and unable to influence anything else, like photons. Since we also require consistency, and large hidden dimensions don’t appear to offer it at the moment, we are restricted to tiny hidden dimensions and changes to gravity at very small scales.

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Gravity’s inverse square law tested at scale of a human hair and passes

Science - Posted On:2020-04-06 12:45:00 Source: arstechnica

Gravity is the weakest of the fundamental forces, but it's the only force that operates over very long distances. Hence, planets orbit stars, stars form galaxies, and galaxies cluster. Gravity also operates at the tiniest of scales, too, but its weakness makes it very hard to detect its influence. It's worth trying, though, as violations of the laws of gravity at very small scales would be good evidence for New Physics™. So physicists have been looking, though without much luck so far.

The force due to gravity reduces with the square of the distance. If you double the distance, the force is not halved but reduced to a quarter of its original value. This law, called an inverse square law, is based purely on geometry: we live in three spatial dimensions, and therefore the inverse square law holds. However, if the universe has more than three spatial dimensions, the inverse square law would break.

We know that over long distances—the Earth to the Moon, and the distances between stars—the inverse square law appears to be correct. At galactic and cosmological scales, the inverse square law also holds, with the caveat that dark matter and dark energy are required. You might think that what we call dark matter or dark energy would be potential evidence of extra dimensions, but it isn’t quite that simple. At these scales, the hidden dimension would have to be both large and unable to influence anything else, like photons. Since we also require consistency, and large hidden dimensions don’t appear to offer it at the moment, we are restricted to tiny hidden dimensions and changes to gravity at very small scales.

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A Google Plan To Wipe Out Mosquitoes Appears to Be Working

science - Posted On:2020-04-06 12:15:00 Source: slashdot

An experimental program led by Google parent Alphabet to wipe out disease-causing mosquitoes succeeded in nearly eliminating them from three test sites in California's Central Valley. From a report: Stamping out illness caused by mosquitoes is one of Alphabet unit Verily's most ambitious public-health projects. The effort appears to be paying off, according to a paper published in the journal Nature Biotechnology on Monday. Verily is also running coronavirus triage and testing in parts of California. Bradley White, the lead scientist on the Debug initiative, said mosquito-suppression is even more important during the pandemic, so that outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever don't further overwhelm hospitals. Since 2017, the company has released millions of lab-bred Aedes aegypti male mosquitoes into several Fresno County neighborhoods during mosquito season. The insects are bred in Verily labs to be infected with a common bacterium called Wolbachia. When these male mosquitoes mate with females in the wild, the offspring never hatch. In results of the trial published on Monday, Verily revealed that throughout the peak of the 2018 mosquito season, from July to October, Wolbachia-infected males successfully suppressed more than 93% of the female mosquito population at field test sites. Only female mosquitoes typically bite. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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What OneWeb’s failure tells us about space resiliency in the age of COVID-19

Science - Posted On:2020-04-06 12:00:03 Source: arstechnica

Last week, one of the leading companies attempting to build a satellite mega-constellation, OneWeb, filed for bankruptcy and laid off all of its employees. This was the largest failure in the aerospace industry of late, but it's hardly the only one, as other prominent companies such as LeoSat and Bigelow Aerospace lay off staff and potentially shutter operations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated financial pressures on the space industry, where many small and medium-sized businesses already live on the edge, needing regular infusions of private capital or government contracts to remain afloat. To get a sense of what OneWeb's failure means for this industry, Ars spoke with Chuck Beames, executive chairman of York Space Systems and chairman of the SmallSat Alliance (of which OneWeb was a member).

Beames also previously managed more than $1 billion in assets during his time at Vulcan Aerospace, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's fund to support space ventures. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

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Bill Gates To Spend Billions on Coronavirus Vaccine Development

science - Posted On:2020-04-06 11:30:00 Source: slashdot

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said his foundation will spend billions of dollars to fund the construction of factories for the most promising efforts to develop a vaccine to combat the novel coronavirus. From a report: Mr. Gates, a billionaire philanthropist who is one the richest people in the world, said the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will work with seven makers of a possible vaccine to build these factories. Mr. Gates, who announced the efforts in an appearance on "The Daily Show With Trevor Noah" Thursday, acknowledged that billions of dollars would be wasted on vaccines that won't pan out. "Our early money can accelerate things," Mr. Gates said. "Even though we'll end up picking at most two of them, we're going to fund factories for all seven, just so that we don't waste time in serially saying which vaccine works and then building the factory." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Elon Musk Shares a Video: Making Ventilators From Tesla Parts

science - Posted On:2020-04-06 03:44:58 Source: slashdot

Elon Musk shared a new video today from Tesla Engineering. "We're trying to make some ventilators from some car parts, so we can help the medical industry without taking away from their supply," it begins. (All three people who appear in the video are wearing a face mask.) It ends with a demonstration of a prototype using a touchscreen display from the Model 3 infotainment system. "There's still a lot of work to do," the video concludes, "but we're giving it our best effort to make sure we can help some people out there." Yesterday ventilator manufacturer Medtronic also tweeted that Musk's other company SpaceX "is now making a vital component for critical care ventilators," meaning more of the devices would arrive sooner for Covid-19 patients. Meanwhile, the New York Post writes: Musk promised last month to shift production to the sorely-needed medical devices, but evidently found that buying existing ventilators with his own largesse was more practical. He shelled out to send 1,000 of the life-saving machines to California, and also vowed to buy some for New York, earning the gratitude of Mayor Bill de Blasio. Musk made good, with the city's public hospital system on Saturday tweeting their gratitude for ventilators Tesla donated, now in use at Lincoln Hospital in The Bronx. But, with the apex of the contagion possibly upon New York, Cuomo said Sunday that time had run out for Tesla to make new ventilators. "Their time-frame, frankly, doesn't work for our immediate apex, because whether we're talking two days or 10 days, you're not going to make ventilators at that time," said Cuomo, noting that the hang-up is that some parts have to come from overseas. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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How Robert Cringely Scored 5 Million N95 Masks From China

science - Posted On:2020-04-05 21:44:58 Source: slashdot

This week, tech pundit Robert Cringely described how a chance conversation with China-based entrepreneur Anina led to a friend with a garment factory "now making fully certified N-95 respirators with no clear distribution plan." Late on a Sunday night with the tech world in shut-down, how long would it take for me to find someone looking for up to five million N-95 masks? It took 10 minutes. I reached out to Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and to Mark Cuban from the Dallas Mavericks and Shark Tank... Mark Cuban put me in touch with ProjectN95, a just-created national clearinghouse for urgently needed medical equipment... It's important to realize what a miracle we accomplished. Normally there are lots of middlemen in Chinese distribution, but in this case, there were none, which meant maximal speed and minimal price. The goods were U.S. FDA certified, too, and the certification could be verified... We are tech people attempting to function during a pandemic, but what really counted here were personal relationships. Anina knows and trusts the factory owner. Anina and I have known each other for 15 years and I've known Marc Benioff and Mark Cuban even longer. We spend billions as a culture trying to build digital versions of such webs of trust, but sometimes it is better to do it the old fashion way. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Scientists Create 'Xenobots' -- Virtual Creatures Brought to Life

science - Posted On:2020-04-05 19:29:59 Source: slashdot

"If the last few decades of progress in artificial intelligence and in molecular biology hooked up, their love child — a class of life unlike anything that has ever lived — might resemble the dark specks doing lazy laps around a petri dish in a laboratory at Tufts University." The New York Times reports on a mind-boggling living machine that's programmable -- and biodegradable. Strictly speaking, these life-forms do not have sex organs — or stomachs, brains or nervous systems. The one under the microscope consisted of about 2,000 living skin cells taken from a frog embryo. Bigger specimens, albeit still smaller than a millimeter-wide poppy seed, have skin cells and heart muscle cells that will begin pulsating by the end of the day. These are all programmable organisms called xenobots, the creation of which was revealed in a scientific paper in January... A xenobot lives for only about a week, feeding on the small platelets of yolk that fill each of its cells and would normally fuel embryonic development. Because its building blocks are living cells, the entity can heal from injury, even after being torn almost in half. But what it does during its short life is decreed not by the ineffable frogginess etched into its DNA — which has not been genetically modified — but by its physical shape. And xenobots come in many shapes, all designed by roboticists in computer simulations, using physics engines similar to those in video games like Fortnite and Minecraft... All of which makes xenobots amazing and maybe slightly unsettling — golems dreamed in silicon and then written into flesh. The implications of their existence could spill from artificial-intelligence research to fundamental questions in biology and ethics. "We are witnessing almost the birth of a new discipline of synthetic organisms," said Hod Lipson, a roboticist at the Columbia University who was not part of the research team. "I don't know if that's robotics, or zoology or something else." An algorithm running for about 24 hours iterated through possible body shapes, after which the the two researchers tried "to sculpt cellular figurines that resembled those designs." They're now considering how the process might be automated with 3-D cell printers, and the Times ponders other future possibilities the researchers have hinted at for their Xenobots. ("Sweep up ocean microplastics into a larger, collectible ball? Deliver drugs to a specific tumor? Scrape plaque from the walls of our arteries?") Sharing the Times' story on Twitter, Vint Cerf summed it up with just three words> . "This is weird." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Mobilizing 3D Printers Around the World Against the Coronovirus

science - Posted On:2020-04-05 16:59:59 Source: slashdot

"From face-shields to respirator valves, 3-D printer owners pitch in to the efforts to provide PPE to Australian hospitals," writes davecb (Slashdot reader #6,526). The Guardian talked to Mat Bowtell, a former Toyota engineer in Australia who's using fourteen 3D printers to manufacture thousands of face shields for healthcare workers. And citing 3D printing, the director of a not-for-profit working with the government says the country has an "incredible onshore capability" to respond to the pandemic: "The 3D printing capability onshore is a massive distinguisher for Australia to step up to the crisis," he said. When asked how else 3D printing might be deployed in practice, Goennemann points to the supply of ventilators, which are needed to assist breathing in the most seriously ill Covid-19 patients... Goennemann says Resmed, the main ventilator manufacturer, could struggle to get parts due to the disruption of global supply chains. That's where 3D printing can help. "I don't want to speak on behalf of Resmed, but that's an area where we have critical supply, and parts can be 3D printed onshore rather than being procured offshore," he said... For Bowtell, the decision to shift his production to face shields had nothing to do with profit. It was about doing what he could in the most extraordinary of times. "It's about survival at the moment," Bowtell said. "Just helping people to get through this together." Reuters also reported that one Italian company used its 3D printers to manufacture valves for respirators for its local hospital. And a paywalled article at Fortune also describes the team building an open source ventilator, while also noting that more than 4,800 people with 3D printers "have, via a public Google Doc, signed up to help print everything from face shields to ventilator parts for their local hospitals." They also highlight Budmen Industries, an upstate New York company selling 3D printers that has now also printed 1,492 face shields for New York medical workers. And there's also the CoVent-19 Challenge, "an open innovation 8-week Grand Challenge for engineers, innovators, designers, and makers" on the GrabCAD Challenges platform, to create "a rapidly deployable, minimum viable mechanical ventilator for patients with COVID-19 related ventilator-dependent lung injury." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Don’t Panic: The comprehensive Ars Technica guide to the coronavirus [Updated 4/5]

Science - Posted On:2020-04-05 12:45:00 Source: arstechnica

More than 1.2 million people have been infected with a new coronavirus that has spread widely from its origin in China over the past few months. Over 67,000 have already died. Our comprehensive guide for understanding and navigating this global public health threat is below.

This is a rapidly developing epidemic, and we will update this guide periodically to keep you as prepared and informed as possible.

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Stanford Begins America's First Large-Scale Test For Coronavirus Antibodies

science - Posted On:2020-04-05 12:45:00 Source: slashdot

"Crowds flock to Santa Clara County test sites to learn if they have antibodies to COVID-19," reports the Bay Area Newsgroup, citing long lines of cars forming at three Stanford research sites for the drive-through tests: The 2,500 test slots on Friday and Saturday filled up within hours, as news of the project -- the first large scale study of its type in the U.S. -- spread quickly through the county. The test detects protective antibodies to the virus rather than the virus itself. This gives scientists a snapshot of how many people in the county have already been infected, but weren't seriously sick and didn't realize it. And it tells residents whether they carry potentially protective antibodies -- so may be immune to future infection. "This is critical information," said principal investigator Dr. Eran Bendavid, an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine with Stanford Health Policy. "We will show the country what to do and how to do it," he said... It can guide public health measures and policies -- showing where the epidemic is heading, when it is safe to lift shelter-in-place restrictions and how far away we are from "herd immunity," when it becomes harder for a virus to spread... This approach, called a "serological test," remains a research tool and is not yet widely available in the United States. Stanford is working on a second test that will be deployed for more widespread use. U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval is imminent -- "within hours, not days," [California governor] Newsom said.... Meanwhile, a global effort to study antibodies is being coordinated by the World Health Organization. Called Solidarity II, more than a half dozen countries will pool their findings from large-scale testing... It is not yet proven that these antibodies actually provide protection... But there are promising clues that COVID-19 might act like it's closest cousin, the SARS virus, which triggers an immune response that persists for at least three years. In a Chinese study of rhesus monkeys, COVID-19 antibodies protected the animals from a second infection. If protected, people could potentially return to work. There is also the prospect that the antibodies could be used as therapy against the disease. Dozens of companies are working to develop antibody tests, as are researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The article notes that United Biomedical Inc will "soon" also provide free antibody testing to all 8,000 residents in Telluride, Colorado, and in some countries in Asia. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Could Radioactivity Make Otherwise Frozen Planets Habitable?

science - Posted On:2020-04-05 10:44:56 Source: slashdot

sciencehabit writes: Not too close, but not too far. That's long been the rule describing how distant a planet should be from its star in order to sustain life. But a new study challenges that adage: A planet can maintain water and other liquids on its surface if it's heated, not by starlight, but by radioactive decay, researchers calculate. That opens up the possibility for many planets — even free-floating worlds untethered to stars — to host life, they speculate. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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How to refuel a nuclear power plant during a pandemic

Science - Posted On:2020-04-05 09:14:57 Source: arstechnica

Each spring, nearly 1,000 highly specialized technicians from around the US descend on the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station near Phoenix, Arizona, to refuel one of the plant’s three nuclear reactors. As America’s largest power plant—nuclear or otherwise—Palo Verde provides around-the-clock power to 4 million people in the Southwest. Even under normal circumstances, refueling one of its reactors is a laborious, month-long process. But now that the US is in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, the plant operators have had to adapt their refueling plans.

Each of Palo Verde’s three nuclear reactors are ensconced in their own bulbous concrete sarcophagus and operate almost entirely independent of one another. This allows plant operators to periodically take one of the reactors offline for refueling and maintenance without totally disrupting the flow of energy to the grid. Each reactor is partially refueled every year and a half, with about one-third of the fuel in the reactor core being swapped out for a fresh batch.

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Why Taiwan's Coronavirus Response Is Among The Best Globally

science - Posted On:2020-04-05 06:44:57 Source: slashdot

Why does Taiwan have less than 400 confirmed cases of Covid-19? Taiwan's experience with the 2003 SARS outbreak "helped many parts of the region react faster to the current coronavirus outbreak and take the danger more seriously than in other parts of the world," reports CNN, "both at a governmental and societal level, with border controls and the wearing of face masks quickly becoming routine as early as January in many areas." Their article also notes that Taiwan "has a world-class health care system, with universal coverage," which drew praise in new report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: "Taiwan rapidly produced and implemented a list of at least 124 action items in the past five weeks to protect public health," report co-author Jason Wang, a Taiwanese doctor and associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford Medicine, said in a statement. "The policies and actions go beyond border control because they recognized that that wasn't enough." This was while other countries were still debating whether to take action. In a study conducted in January, Johns Hopkins University said Taiwan was one of the most at-risk areas outside of mainland China -- owing to its close proximity, ties and transport links. Among those early decisive measures was the decision to ban travel from many parts of China, stop cruise ships docking at the island's ports, and introduce strict punishments for anyone found breaching home quarantine orders. In addition, Taiwanese officials also moved to ramp up domestic face-mask production to ensure the local supply, rolled out island-wide testing for coronavirus -- including re-testing people who had previously unexplained pneumonia -- and announced new punishments for spreading disinformation about the virus. "Given the continual spread of Covid-19 around the world, understanding the action items that were implemented quickly in Taiwan, and the effectiveness of these actions in preventing a large-scale epidemic, may be instructive for other countries," Wang and his co-authors wrote.... Taiwan is in such a strong position now that, after weeks of banning the export of face masks in order to ensure the domestic supply, the government said Wednesday that it would donate 10 million masks to the United States, Italy, Spain and nine other European countries, as well as smaller nations who have diplomatic ties with the island. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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