Open thread April 5, 2022 Dan Crawford | April 5, 2022 6:14 am Comments (23) | Digg Facebook Twitter |
Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination for Supreme Court heads to full Senate with three Republicans saying they will support her
Boston Globe – April 4
Humans are responsible for climate change and humans have the capacity to solve it
Boston Globe – April 4 – Ko Barrett
Ko Barrett is a vice chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change
‘A file of shame’: Major UN climate report shows world is on track for catastrophic levels of warming
Boston Globe – April 4
The world is on track to usher in a devastating level of global warming, warns a major report from the world’s leading climate scientists.
“It is a file of shame, cataloguing the empty pledges that put us firmly on track towards an unlivable world,” UN Secretary General António Guterres said of the study in a statement. …
The US Economy Is Booming. So Why Are Economists Worrying About a Recession?
NY Times – April 5
Employers are adding hundreds of thousands of jobs a month, and would hire even more people if they could find them. Consumers are spending, businesses are investing, and wages are rising at their fastest pace in decades.
So naturally, economists are warning of a possible recession.
Rapid inflation, soaring oil prices and global instability have led forecasters to sharply lower their estimates of economic growth this year, and to raise their probabilities of an outright contraction. Investors share that concern: The bond market last week flashed a warning signal that has often — though not always — foreshadowed a downturn.
Such predictions may seem confusing when the economy, by many measures, is booming. The United States has regained more than 90 percent of the jobs lost in the early weeks of the pandemic, and employers are continuing to hire at a breakneck pace, adding 431,000 jobs in March alone. The unemployment rate has fallen to 3.6 percent, barely above the prepandemic level, which was itself a half-century low. …
scientists have discovered a new beauty-aid…
Are Toxoplasma-infected subjects more attractive, symmetrical, or healthier than non-infected ones? Evidence from subjective and objective measurements [PeerJ]
Parasites are among the main factors that negatively impact the health and reproductive success of organisms. However, if parasites diminish a host’s health and attractiveness to such an extent that finding a mate becomes almost impossible, the parasite would decrease its odds of reproducing and passing to the next generation. There is evidence that Toxoplasma gondii(T. gondii) manipulates phenotypic characteristics of its intermediate hosts to increase its spread. However, whether T. gondii manipulates phenotypic characteristics in humans remains poorly studied. Therefore, the present research had two main aims: (1) To compare traits associated with health and parasite resistance in Toxoplasma-infected and non-infected subjects. (2) To investigate whether other people perceive differences in attractiveness and health between Toxoplasma-infected and non-infected subjects of both sexes.
First, we found that infected men had lower facial fluctuating asymmetry whereas infected women had lower body mass, lower body mass index, a tendency for lower facial fluctuating asymmetry, higher self-perceived attractiveness, and a higher number of sexual partners than non-infected ones. Then, we found that infected men and women were rated as more attractive and healthier than non-infected ones.
Our results suggest that some sexually transmitted parasites, such as T. gondii, may produce changes in the appearance and behavior of the human host, either as a by-product of the infection or as the result of the manipulation of the parasite to increase its spread to new hosts. Taken together, these results lay the foundation for future research on the manipulation of the human host by sexually transmitted pathogens and parasites.
Yellen to Warn of ‘Enormous Economic Repercussions’ From Ukraine Invasion
NY Times – April 5
Ms. Yellen will make clear that the United States has no intention of easing the economic pressure it is exerting on Russia through sanctions on its central bank, financial institutions and leaders. Ms. Yellen plans to emphasize that more than half of the world economy is united in the effort to impose sanctions on Russia and that the Biden administration is working to ensure that Russia does not benefit from financing available through the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
“Treasury is committed to holding Russia accountable for its actions so it cannot benefit from the international financial system,” Ms. Yellen plans to tell lawmakers.
Ms. Yellen also plans to underscore how the war in Ukraine is causing global food prices to surge amid disruptions to wheat exports, casting the effect as especially problematic for poor countries. She will also argue that Russia’s actions are a reminder to invest in energy independence so the world is not reliant on such nations for oil and gas.
“We are witnessing the vulnerability that comes from relying on one fuel source or one trade partner, which is why it is imperative to diversify energy sources and suppliers,” Ms. Yellen will say.
The economic disruption is taking place at a fragile moment, as the global economy emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, which has snarled supply chains and fueled inflation. …
1973 again . . .
After Russian advances, US, Britain and Australia expand a partnership to develop hypersonic missiles.
NY Times – April 5
US tested hypersonic missile in mid-March
CNN – April 4
but kept it quiet to avoid escalating tensions with Russia
In February 2020, the US Department of Energy’s office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation released its report, Initial Evaluation of Fuel-Reactor Concepts for Advanced LEU Fuel Development, a screening study for potential fuel and reactor types that may be relevant to switching US naval nuclear propulsion away from reliance on highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel. The DNN report … ends up recommending two reactor types and seven fuels for further investigation in the next phase of its work. …
Currently, US and UK naval reactors are fueled by weapon-grade HEU (93.5% U-235). Russia and India also use HEU (≥ 20% U-235). The other two countries with nuclear submarines, China and France, use LEU. …
US study of reactor and fuel types to enable naval reactors to shift from HEU fuel
Enriched uranium – Wikipedia
LEU is ‘low-enriched uranium’, the stuff that drives ordinary nuclear reactors. There is also HALEU.
Wikipedia: Enriched uranium is a type of uranium in which the percent composition of uranium-235 (written 235U) has been increased through the process of isotope separation. Naturally occurring uranium is composed of three major isotopes: uranium-238 (238U with 99.2739–99.2752% natural abundance), uranium-235 (235U, 0.7198–0.7202%), and uranium-234 (234U, 0.0050–0.0059%). 235U is the only nuclide existing in nature (in any appreciable amount) that is fissile with thermal neutrons. …
Low-enriched uranium (LEU) has a lower than 20% concentration of 235U; for instance, in …the most prevalent power reactors in the world, uranium is enriched to 3 to 5% 235U. High-assay LEU (HALEU) is enriched from 5–20%. …
Fun fact: nuclear submarines are actually steam-powered.
Nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers (have) onboard nuclear reactors. Atoms in the nuclear reactor split, which releases energy as heat. This heat is used to create high-pressured steam that turns propulsion turbines that provide the power to turn the propeller.
Nuclear propulsion for submarines – EPA
In 1996, France decided to stop enriching uranium to HEU levels for weapons purposes. If the Navy had wanted to use HEU fuel, it would have had to invest significant money to have its own HEU enrichment facility. By choosing to only use LEU fuel with enrichments much less than 20 percent in the fissile isotope uranium-235, France has saved money by purchasing from the commercial market. Moreover, France’s decision to use LEU fuel for naval propulsion has not degraded the operational performance of the ships.
Is LEU fuel the right choice for other nations? The author points out that it depends on the technical and economic context. For non-nuclear weapon states that only want a small nuclear navy, such as Brazil, this choice would be very suitable.
France apparently uses HALEU reactors for propulsion
Labor shortages across economy are creating opportunities for older workers
Boston Globe – April 7
For the record…
Judge Jackson is now a justice in waiting
NY Times – April 7
[Ketanji Brown-Jackson was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by a Senate vote of 53-47, all 48 Dems with their 2 Ind allies and 3 GOP senators voting in her favor, 47 remaining GOP senators opposed.]