Building the World

June 28, 2018
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Life on Enceladus?

The global ocean of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, may contain organic molecules that are the birth of life. Image: NASA.

Water is one of the foundations of life: on Earth and perhaps elsewhere. NASA‘s Cassini spacecraft has discovered “complex organic molecules” in the plumes of spray from the ocean of Saturn’s moon. In 2015, Cassini found a global ocean beneath the crust of Enceladus. The mission collected data that will drive research for decades to come, even though Cassini immolated itself in September 2017, merging and disintegrating into the atmosphere of the planet it had come to explore, to court, and finally to become. Is there life on Enceladus?

Postberg, F, et al. “Macromolecular organic compounds from the depths of Enceladus.” 28 June 2018. Nature, Volume 558, p. 564 ff. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0246-4.

Strickland, Ashley. “Could life exist on Saturn’s moon Enceladus?” 27 June 2018. CNN.com. http://www.cnn.com/2018/06/27/us/enceladus-saturn-search-for-life/index.html.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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June 22, 2018
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Migrants and the Renewal of Culture

“Detail of Cyrene bronze head, circa 300 bce.” Image: British Museum and wikimedia.

Migrants have been a source of change, and renewal, throughout history. Cyrene, founded in 630 bce, several miles south of the Mediterranean Sea in Libya, became the first of five flourishing cities called the Pentapolis of Cyrenaica. Cyrene’s migrants brought fertile minds to a new land: it was here that Earth’s circumference was first determined by Eratosthenes. Fresh thinking, fostered in an atmosphere promoting science, technology, and art, produced an early map of the stars, the mechanics of doubling a cube, and research that developed prime numbers. The poet Apollonia was also a resident of Cyrene. What policies and cultural practices fostered such innovation? In today’s world, with migrants on the move and in the news, can we draw inspiration from Cyrene to build a better future?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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June 15, 2018
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Voice of the Future 2018: Stephen Hawking

15 June 2018, Westminster Abbey, message sent: 15 June 5518, 1A 0620-00, message received. As Stephen Hawking’s mortal remains were interred between Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, the visionary physicist’s words were sent, with music composed Vangelis for the occasion, to the black hole closest to earth, 3500 light years away.

Stephen Hawking, Voice of the Future. Image: European Space Agency.

Hawking’s Voice of the Future is “a message of peace and hope, about unity and the need for us to live together in harmony on this planet,” stated Lucy Hawking, the physicist’s daughter.

Black Hole 1A 0620-00 calls home a binary system with an orange dwarf star. According to Günther Hasinger, European Space Agency’s Director of Space, “when Stephen Hawking’s message reaches 1A 0620-00, it will be frozen in the event horizon.”

Ave atque vale is a phrase credited to the Roman poet Catullus, who wrote in elegy numbered 101: Atque in perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale, meaning “And for eternity, brother, hail and farewell.” In 2018, the poet’s words rang along with the chimes of Westminster.

Stephen Hawking, who wrote A Brief History of Time, may have changed the definition of the temporal dimension.  For Hawking’s TED Talk, “Questioning the Universe,” click here.

More:

Hawking, Stephen W. A Brief History of Time. 1988. ISBN: 9780553380163.

Stephen William Hawking, 1942-2018. http://www.hawking.org.uk.

Vangelis, Chariots of Fire. The Hawking CD, beamed into space 15 June 2018, was given to those attending services at Westminster Abbey. The public will soon find the album beaming worldwide.

Westminster Abbey. “Ashes of Stephen Hawking buried in the Abbey.” 15 June 2018. https://www.westminster-abbey.org/abbey-news/ashes-of-stephen-hawking-buried-in-the-abbey/

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June 9, 2018
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The Deep Future of Blue

Sea turtle, photo by Ukanda. Image: wikimedia.

Deep – from 650 to 3,200 feet; vast – composing 71% of Earth’s surface; unknown – only 15% of it is mapped; alive – 10 billion metric tons of marine life; treasure-filled: with troves of diamonds (De Beers is already there, with a $157 million dollar vessel sweeping the Atlantic seafloor off the coast of Namibia, and minerals (the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, in the Pacific from Mexico to Hawaii, contains cobalt, copper, manganese, nickel, zinc), what was once called the Twilight Ocean, now termed the Mesopelagic Ocean, may be the most important area of exploration of the future. Opportunities are significant and perhaps dangerous; environmental agreements are essential and increasingly urgent. Precedent, and lessons learned, might be seen in the Treaty of Tordesillas, the founding of Singapore, or even the Outer Space Treaty. Who owns what might be found in the deep blue? How are the rights of the original denizens protected?

The future of blue, considered in the G7 Summit (or perhaps termed the G6+1), may advance foundational policy regarding Oceans, Seas, and Coastal Communities. The Charlevoix Blueprint for Healthy Oceans, Seas, and Resilient Coastal Communities Communique includes a statement on IUU fishing with a vessel certification and identification program. The Communique also includes an Annex: for the first time in history, there is an Ocean Plastics Charter: “We, the Leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the European Union taking a “lifecycle approach to plastics stewardship on land and at sea.

Interested in the strategic future of the blue? The International Seabed Authority, established by United Nations 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea, offers educational opportunities for polymetalic exploration with two Offshore Internships in the first quarter of 2019. Focus? Clarion-Clipperton Zone. Application deadline: 28 June 2018. Get involved now.

For More:

Charlevoix Blueprint for Healthy Oceans, Seas, and Resilient Coastal Communitieshttps://g7.gc.ca/en/official-documents/charlevoix-blueprint-healthy-oceans-seas-resilient-coastal-communities/

International Seabed Authority. “Global Sea Mineral Resources Internship 2019” https://www.isa.org/jm/formación/gsr-contractor-training-program/

Packard, Julie and Chris Scholin. “The Deep Sea May Soon Be Up for Grabs.” 8 June, 2018. New York Times.

Pew Trusts. “The Clarion-Clipperton Zone: Valuable minerals and many unusual species.” Fact sheet: 15 December 2017. http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/fact-sheets/2017/12/the-clarion-clipperton-zone/.

Thomson, Peter. United Nations Special Envoy for the Ocean. “The G7 should take the lea on ocean targets for 2020.” World Economic Forum, 8 June 2018. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/06/the-g7-should-take-the-lead-on-ocean-targets-for-2020/.

Trudeau, Justin. Prime Minister of Canada. “World leaders coming together at the G7 Summit to protect our oceans, seas, and coastal communities.” 1 June 2018. https://pm.gc.ca/news/2018/06/01/world-leaders-coming-together-g7-summit-protect-our-oceans-seas-and-coastal/.

United Nations. Convention on the Law of the Sea. http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/convention_overview_convention_htm/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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June 1, 2018
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Hello Kitty: making transport fun

“Hello Kitty” image by Iamzette2493, 2016. Wikimedia commons.

Shinkansen, Japan’s high speed bullet trains, made transport fun as well as profitable, both financially and environmentally. When the transport line opened, Japanese National Railways invited the public to name the new trains. Nominations totaled 700,000, making the so-called bullet (referring only to shape) trains instant celebrities and profitable from Day One, Winning train names included Kodama (Echo), Hikari (Light) opened for the Tokyo 1964 Olympics. A sign of the times, Tokyo-Kanazawa line added in 2015 was named Kagayaki (Glitter). Now, a new Shinkansen line will debut: Hello Kitty. Creator Sanrio, branding airplanes as well as every form of apparel, is partnering with West Japan Railway Company to showcase regional attractions and products, also for sale on the trains. Terminals feature Instagram-ready Photo Booths. Book a ride on the Hello Kitty Shinkansen.

Shinkansen “Eva” livery, celebrating Neon Genesis Evangelion. Image: wikimedia.

Shinkansen presented another special livery for anime series Neo Genesis Evangelion that proved so popular it was extended, leading up to the coming Hello Kitty debut. The Beijing Subway introduced bar codes linked to works of Confucius and other philosophers, offering free downloads to read while riding. Attracting greater public use of environmentally beneficial forms of transit may in part be encouraged by making transport fun again. What are your ideas?

Hello Kitty Shinkansen. http://www.jr-hellokittyshinkansen.jp/train/.

Maggie Hiufu Wong. “World’s cutest bullet train? Hello Kitty Shinkansen unveiled in Japan.” 29 May 2018. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/hello-kitty-shinkansen-train-japan/index.html.

Pinker, Joe. “What 50 Years of Bullet Trains Have Done for Japan.” 6 October 2014. The Atlantichttps://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/10/what-50-years-of-bullet-trains-have-done-for-japan/381143/

Sanrio. Hello Kitty Cafehttps://www.sanrio.com/pages/hellokittycafe

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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May 25, 2018
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If Cars Could Fly: Innovation Cities

Popular Science, 2008. Image: wikimedia.

France invited the world’s innovators to “make our planet great again.” Now, the city that hosted the world Climate Agreement will welcome a new R&D center with a budget of $23 million and a goal of developing an electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle – a flying car. Actually, a taxi. It’s an Uber endeavor, joining the company’s network of R&D hubs in Pittsburgh, PA and San Francisco, CA, USA, as well as Toronto, Canada. In France, the project will include an educational five-year research partnership with École Polytechnique. Charlemagne might approve: combining innovation with education was in part responsible for the earliest development of universities. Another model linking education with R&D: medieval craft guilds. Like Charlemagne’s hubs, Paris, home of the Eiffel Tower, looks upward. Name of the flying car program? Elevate.

Kottasová, Ivana. “Uber invests millions to build flying taxis in France.” 24 May, 2018. CNN. http://money.cnn.com/2018/05/24/technology/uber-flying-taxi-france/index.html.

Macron, Emmanuel. “Make our planet great again.” 2 June 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03NMa4X0dyQ.

McFarland, Matt. “Uber unveils plans to demo flying cars by 2020.” 25 April 2017, CNN, http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/24/technology/uber-flying-car/index.html.

Uber. “Uber Elevate: The Future of Urban Air Transport.” https://www.uber.com/info/elevate/.

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May 18, 2018
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Volcanology and the Future

“Kilauea at Dusk,” photographed in 1983 by G.E. Ulrich, USGS. Image: wikimedia.

Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano has been erupting, dangerously. But it is always in some form of activity, as one of the world’s most active volcanos, and is therefore heavily instrumented. Volcanic prediction is feasible, according to Paul Segall, professor of geophysics at Stanford University; whereas earthquakes, caused by similar disturbances below Earth’s surface, are less predictable. Volcanos may become an important factor in mitigating climate change. Here’s why:

Iceland is the site of CarbFix, exploring the future of carbon capture. When CO2 is extracted from the atmosphere, at a plant near Reykjavik’s Hellisheidi power station, it is pumped underground to combine with basalt. As a result, the combination becomes rock. In fact, the ancient Romans used volcanic ash to form a particular building material. Basalt contains calcium, magnesium, and iron – elements that bind easily with CO2; basalt is like a sponge for CO2. Could this be answer to Earth’s carbon crisis? Maybe – basalt is the most common rock type on the planet; it’s even found on the ocean floors. India, Saudi Arabia, and Siberia are particularly well-endowed. Problem? CarbFix is water-intensive, not ideal for the already thirsty water planet. It takes 25 tons of water to transform one ton of CO2. Humans cause the emission of 35 gigatons of CO2 (a gigaton is a billion tons) per year. But the potential encourages research by CarbFix partners including Columbia University in New York, National Center for Scientific Research in France, and Reykjavik Energy in Iceland. Theoretically, the amount of world basalt could store all the CO2 emissions caused by burning fossil fuels, since Prometheus.

Kilauea is a basaltic shield volcano, producing an eruptive form of basalt called Tholeiite, according to Ken Rubin, professor of geology and geophysics, University of Hawaii.  It’s the dominant basalt type on Earth. In the future, we may learn to work with volcanic basalt to combat CO2 emissions and build a better climate. Meanwhile, if you would like to give support to those in need, due to Kilauea’s recent eruption, here are some ways to help.

For more:

Ancheta, Dillon. “Here’s how to help those affected by the Big Island eruptions.” 5 May, updated 22 May, 2018. Hawaii News Now. http://www.hawaiinewsnowcom/story/38119223/heres-how-you-can-donate-to-those-impacted-by-the-kilauea-eruption/.

Brooke, Kathleen Lusk. “Philosopher’s Stone?” 17 June 2018, Building the World Blog. http://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2016/06/17/philosophers-stone/

CarbFix. https://www.or.is/carbfix

Perasso, Valeria. “Turning carbon dioxide into rock – forever.” 18 May 2018. BBC News. www.bbc.com/news/world-43789527/.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

 

 

 

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May 10, 2018
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Hail to the Ride

Didi’s app logo. Image: wikimedia.

Next time you hail a ride, consider this: China’s ride-hailing market is already greater than the entire world’s combined, at $30 billion. The United States ride-hailing market is $12 billion. A report by Bain & Company predicts China’s market will soon double. China’s equivalent of Uber and Lyft is Didi Chuxing. In fact, Didi bought out Uber’s China operations in 2016, giving the company instead a 18% stake in Didi. But only 40% of ride requests arrive via the Didi app; equally powerful are Tencent’s WeChat and Alibaba’s Allpay. Order movie tickets and dinner along with your ride? Do it in one click with Meituan Dianping, with 320 million users. Bain’s Raymond Tsang estimates China’s ride-hailing market will reach $72 billion by 2020. The advent of self-driving vehicles may be part of the strategy: Didi is an AI and autonomous conglomerate. When the United States Transcontinental Railroad was built, telegraph communications infrastructure was laid under the tracks. Will ride-hailing vehicle and communications infrastructure be planned as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, bringing the New Silk Road into the future?

Pham, Sherisse. “China’s $30 billion ride-hailing market could double by 2020.” 15 May 2018. CNN. http://money.cnn.com/2018/05/15/technology/china-ride-hailing-market/index.html. Includes link to a video on Didi’s expansion into Brazil.

Alibaba Holding Group: stock symbol: BABA

Didi Chuxing: http://ww.didichuxing.com

Tencent: stock symbol: TCEHY

For telegraph infrastructure combined with transport building, see sections 18 and 19 of “An Act to aid in the Construction of a Railroad and Telegraph Line,” 1 July, 1862. Building the World, pages 237-238.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

 

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May 3, 2018
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Evolution of Rights: Environment

Should Trees Have Legal Standing? Image: virgin forest, wikimedia.

New Zealand declared personhood of the Whanganui River, sacred to the Maori and to the environment. Then India followed, establishing rights of two rivers: Ganges, and Yamuna, site of the Taj Mahal. Next, Colombia mandated the rights of the Atrato River, setting precedent for the Supreme Court of Colombia to assure an “intergenerational pact for the life of the Colombian Amazon.” It was the passion of children, 25 young citizens rising up to prevent further deforestation that had shown an increase of 44% between 2015-2016. Working with Dejusticia, the children petitioned the Colombian government and won, obtaining a tutela (legal regulation regarding rights). Bolivia has established perhaps the broadest environmental rights declaration: Law of the Rights of Mother Earth. How has climate change intensified the evolution of environmental rights?

Bolivia: Ley De Derechos De La Madre Tierrahttps://www.scribd.com/document/44900268/Ley-de-Derechos-de-la-Madre-Tierra-Estado-Plurinacional-de-Bolivia

Brooke, Kathleen Lusk and Zoe G. Quinn, “Rivers are People Too.” 24 March 2017. Building the World Bloghttp://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2017/03/24/rivers-are-people-too/

Cano, Lidia Pecharroman. “Rights of Nature: Rivers That Can Stand in Court.” 14 February 2018. Earth Institute, Columbia University. mdpi.com/2079-9276/7/1/13/pdf.

Colombia: Law STC 4360-2018, number 11001-22-03-000-2018-00319-01, approved 4 April 2018. https://www.dejusticia.org/en/climate-change-and-future-generations-lawsuit-in-colombia-key-excerpts-from-the-supreme-courts-decision/

India:https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/ganges-and-yamuna-rivers-given-rights-people-india-180962639/

New Zealand:  Te Awa Tupua Claims Settlement Bill 129-2, 2016. http://www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2016/0129/latest/DLM6830851.html

Stone, Christoper. “Should Trees Have Standing? Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects.” Southern California Law Review, 1972, No. 45, pp 450-501.https://iseethics.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/stone-christopher-d-should-trees-have-standing.pdf

Appreciation to Evan T. Litwin for suggestion of Colombian 2018 law.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

 

 

 

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April 27, 2018
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Bridges to the Future

“London Bridge Illuminated at Dusk,” by photographer burge500, 2006. Image: wikimedia commons.

The land of London Bridge just announced a span to a better environment, banning single-use plastics. The UK government states the measure will help eliminate any increase in what is estimated as over 150 million tons of plastic in our oceans. As a result, one million birds and 100, 000 sea mammals die from ingesting or getting trapped in plastic waste. Particularly concerning are smaller pieces of plastic like Q-tips and plastic straws that slip through filters into rivers and oceans. Scotland earlier led the ban on single-use plastics; the new law will be introduced across the Commonwealth.

In the United States, such environmental considerations are up to states and cities, banning or taxing single-use plastics: California was the first state in 2014; Boston recently joined the increasing group of cities with an urban plastic bag tax.

Corley, McKinley. “Another Big US City is Banning Single-Use Plastic Bags.” 18 December 2017. https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/another-big-us-city-banning-single-use-plastic-bags/

Nace, Trevor. “UK To Ban All Plastic Straws, Q-tips, and Single-Use Plastics.” 25 April 2018. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2018/04/25/uk-to-ban-all-plastic-straws-q-tips-and-single-use-plastics/#cb4a4ff11383

Thanks to Cherie E. Potts for suggesting this topic.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

 

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