Science 

Palm oil: One woman’s fight to save ‘the last place on Earth’

Image copyright WFN Image caption Farwiza Farhan: Fighting to save Sumatra’s biodiversity There is only one place in the world where orangutan, rhinos, elephants and tigers still co-exist in the wild. Environmental activist Farwiza Farhan is fighting to protect this last wilderness, Sumatra’s Leuser Ecosystem. In 2012, her NGO, Yayasan HAkA, sued an oil palm company that had cleared forest under an illegally issued permit. She says she is driven by a sense of injustice that no-one is speaking up for the wildlife. On the pristine tropical rainforest… “Imagine standing…

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How much does a kilogram weigh? Depends on your ‘Planck constant’

PARIS (Reuters) – It may not change how you buy bananas, but scientists have voted to redefine the value of a kilogram, in what they called a landmark decision that will boost the accuracy of scientific measurements. A replica of the International Prototype Kilogram is pictured is seen at the 26th meeting of the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) to vote on the redefinition of four base units of the International System of Units (SI) in Versailles, France, November 16, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier Since 1889, a kilogram has…

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Russian Soyuz blasts off for ISS in first launch since accident

The Soyuz booster carrying the Progress MS-10 cargo craft blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan November 17, 2018. Russian State Space Corporation ROSCOSMOS/Handout via REUTERS MOSCOW (Reuters) – An unmanned rocket carrying cargo blasted off into space on Friday in the first launch of a Russian-made Soyuz-FG rocket from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur cosmodrome since a dramatic aborted launch in October. The rocket took off with a Progress MS-10 spacecraft at 18:14 GMT (00:14 local time) carrying supplies to the International Space…

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Climate change: Worries over CO2 emissions from intensifying wildfires

Image copyright Getty Images Rising numbers of extreme wildfires could result in a significant increase in CO₂ emissions, scientists warn. That could mean attaining the Paris climate agreement’s goal of keeping global temperature rise well below 2C could become harder, they say. Present emission-cut pledges by countries are projected to increase the average global temperature rise by more than 3C by the end of the century. That would lead to dangerous climate change impacts, experts say. These include sea level rise, drought, wildfires, among other extreme events. “We can’t neglect…

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How ‘miniature suns’ could provide cheap, clean energy

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Our sun is a huge nuclear fusion reactor. Can we mimic its energy-making process on earth? We’re just five years away from harnessing almost unlimited power from “miniature suns”, some start-ups say: nuclear fusion reactors that could provide abundant, cheap and clean energy. In a world of global warming caused by our addiction to fossil fuels, there is an urgent need to find sustainable alternative sources of energy. If we don’t, the future looks decidedly bleak for millions of people on this planet: water…

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Sophia Jex-Blake: The battle to be Scotland’s first female doctor

Image copyright The National Wallace Monument Edinburgh University was the first in Britain to admit women – but it was a reluctant change. This month marks the anniversary of the first intake in the 1860s and the riot that the reaction to their studies caused a year later. Sophia Jex-Blake led the women’s education charge in Britain, but faced opposition to her aspirations from an early age. Jex-Blake wanted to be a doctor in a time when it was unthinkable for a woman to be one. She wanted to change…

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Kilogram gets a new definition

Image copyright SPL Image caption There are now discrepancies between copies of the kilogram and the master version held in a French vault Scientists have changed the way the kilogram is defined. Currently, it is defined by the weight of a platinum-based ingot called “Le Grand K” which is locked away in a safe in Paris. On Friday, researchers meeting in Versailles voted to get rid of it in favour of defining a kilogram in terms of an electric current. The decision was made at the General Conference on Weights…

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SpaceX, TeleSat Canada bids get U.S. nod to expand satellite internet

WASHINGTON (Reuters – The U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to allow Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) Chief Executive Elon Musk’s Space X, Telesat Canada [PSPENC.UL] and two other companies to roll out new satellite-based broadband services. FILE PHOTO: Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk participates in a “fireside chat” at the National League of Cities (NLC) 2018 City Summit in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November 8, 2018. REUTERS/Kyle Grillot/File Photo The FCC voted to grant “market access” requests to Telesat, Kepler Communications Inc and LeoSat MA, Inc to offer…

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Face off: Realistic masks made in Japan find demand from tech, car companies

OTSU, Japan (Reuters) – Super-realistic face masks made by a tiny company in rural Japan are in demand from the domestic tech and entertainment industries and from countries as far away as Saudi Arabia. REAL-f Co. President Osamu Kitagawa holds a super-realistic face mask at his factory in Otsu, western Japan, November 15, 2018. REUTERS/Kwiyeon Ha The 300,000-yen ($2,650) masks, made of resin and plastic by five employees at REAL-f Co., attempt to accurately duplicate an individual’s face down to fine wrinkles and skin texture. Company founder Osamu Kitagawa came…

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‘We trust our rocket’, crew says ahead of first space launch since failure

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A U.S. astronaut said on Thursday she had full confidence in the safety of the Russian-made Soyuz rocket that will blast a three-person crew into space next month in the first such launch since a rocket failure. Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and U.S. and Canadian astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques are due to embark for the International Space Station on Dec. 3 after a similar launch on Oct. 11 ended in an emergency landing. Two minutes into that launch, a rocket failure forced Russian cosmonaut Alexei…

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