This is Good News Friday, where we find some good economic, energy, and environmental news and share it with PP readers. Please send any positive news to [email protected] with subject header "Good News Friday." We will save and post weekly. Enjoy!
A New Physics Theory of Life (jdargis)
“You start with a random clump of atoms, and if you shine light on it for long enough, it should not be so surprising that you get a plant,” England said.
England’s theory is meant to underlie, rather than replace, Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, which provides a powerful description of life at the level of genes and populations. “I am certainly not saying that Darwinian ideas are wrong,” he explained. “On the contrary, I am just saying that from the perspective of the physics, you might call Darwinian evolution a special case of a more general phenomenon.”
United States to Lift Sudan Sanctions (jdargis)
On Friday, the Obama administration will announce a new Sudan strategy. For the first time since the 1990s, the nation will be able to trade extensively with the United States, allowing it to buy goods like tractors and spare parts and attract much-needed investment in its collapsing economy.
In return, Sudan will improve access for aid groups, stop supporting rebels in neighboring South Sudan, cease the bombing of insurgent territory and cooperate with American intelligence agents.
The massive report falls at a hazy time for enforcement of that scheduling. Despite the federal prohibition, dozens of states have enacted or passed laws allowing for medical and recreational use of marijuana. The Obama Administration was lenient in its enforcement of the federal law, largely leaving states alone. However, it’s unclear how President-elect Donald Trump’s Administration will handle the situation.
Quitting alcohol, like quitting any drug, is hard to do. One reason may be that heavy drinking can actually change the brain. Our research team at Texas A&M University Health Science Center has found that alcohol changes the way information is processed through specific types of neurons in the brain, encouraging the brain to crave more alcohol. Over time, the more you drink, the more striking the change.
Last year was probably the low point for conventional oil discoveries, with just 3.7 billion barrels found, according to analysts at energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie. This was 14 percent less than the conventional oil finds in 2015 and the lowest level in 65 years. Even if WoodMac’s updated figures are not as gloomy as earlier forecasts from August of last year, the numbers remain extremely low, with only 431 wells drilled last year.
Nuclear waste takes thousands of years to decay. But that long-lived radioactivity could be exactly what makes these nuclear waste diamond batteries last for millennia.
Researchers at the University of Bristol have used graphite, the waste product of nuclear reactors, to develop a man-made diamond which produces electricity when placed in close proximity to a radioactive source. Although these batteries produce only a small amount of current, they offer an incredibly long battery life of thousands of years.
This weekend, so much water fell from the sky that at one point nearly 63 million gallons of water per minute poured into the Folsom Reservoir near Sacramento, leaving dam operators at the long-dry basin opening the floodgates in an exercise that has occurred just a few times in the past five years.
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