## Tuesday, December 01, 2015

### Joint Conference in Washington, DC on the use of CRISPR-Cas9 on Humans

Don't look now, but the future just pulled into town.

Hundreds of scientists, policymakers and the president's science adviser have gathered Tuesday in Washington for what will be a three-day summit on genetic engineering, with a focus on a new, relatively simple technique for manipulating genes. It's fast and flexible, and just about anybody with some lab equipment and a little know-how can potentially alter the human species. The technique is called CRISPR-Cas9, or simply CRISPR, and more generically referred to as "gene editing."

The summit kicked off early Tuesday morning at the headquarters of the National Academy of Sciences, which is one of the sponsors, along with the National Academy of Medicine, the Royal Academy (Britain), and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The Chinese scientists have been aggressive in using CRISPR, and one team made news this year when it reported results from experiments on nonviable human embryos.

“The overriding question is when, if ever, we will want to use gene editing to change human inheritance," summit chair David Baltimore of Caltech said in his introductory remarks.

### Atlas V Cygnus Space Station Resupply Mission at 5:55 PM ET Thursday

This will be a bit of a make or break, I'd think, for Orbital ATK for the next round of the resupply contracts to the space station.

I'll post a live feed link an hour before the launch if I am able.

### DARPA Cancels ALASA Responsive Micro Sat Launcher

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has scrapped plans to launch small satellites from a modified F-15 fighter jet after two tests of a new rocket fuel ended in explosions this year.

The World Bank on Monday launched a $500 million market-based scheme designed to help developing countries pay for emission reductions and combat climate change. Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland have jointly pledged an initial$250 million to get the so-called Transformative Carbon Asset Facility (TCAF) up and running next year, while the bank hopes further contributions will take the eventual total to $500 mln. The scheme, which will reward countries for reducing emissions by paying a fee for each ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) reduced, was launched in Paris a day after senior officials from almost 200 nations met in the French capital for two-week talks aimed at thrashing out a global deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The bank said the price per ton paid would be set on a case-by-case basis and said the scheme would support energy efficiency, renewable energy and waste management projects, as well as schemes to cut emissions in cities and from the transport sector. For many of the developing countries involved access to finance from richer nations is a major requirement of any Paris deal. ### American Martian Rovers With JPL Scientists for Scale ### How to Build a Reusable Solar Sail for Mars Mass breakdown model of solar-photon sail shuttle: The case for Mars Authors: Vulpetti et al Abstract: The main aim of this paper is to set up a many-parameter model of mass breakdown to be applied to a reusable Earth–Mars–Earth solar-photon sail shuttle, and analyze the system behavior in two sub-problems: (1) the zero-payload shuttle, and (2) given the sailcraft sail loading and the gross payload mass, find the sail area of the shuttle. The solution to the subproblem-1 is of technological and programmatic importance. The general analysis of subproblem-2 is presented as a function of the sail side length, system mass, sail loading and thickness. In addition to the behaviors of the main system masses, useful information for future work on the sailcraft trajectory optimization is obtained via (a) a detailed mass model for the descent/ascent Martian Excursion Module, and (b) the fifty–fifty solution to the sailcraft sail loading breakdown equation. Of considerable importance is the evaluation of the minimum altitude for the rendezvous between the ascent rocket vehicle and the solar-photon sail propulsion module, a task performed via the Mars Climate Database 2014–2015. The analysis shows that such altitude is 300 km; below it, the atmospheric drag prevails over the solar-radiation thrust. By this value, an example of excursion module of 1500 kg in total mass is built, and the sailcraft sail loading and the return payload are calculated. Finally, the concept of launch opportunity-wide for a shuttle driven by solar-photon sail is introduced. The previous fifty–fifty solution may be a good initial guess for the trajectory optimization of this type of shuttle. ### Japan, India Expected to Close US-2 Amphibious Aircraft (flying boat) Deal India and Japan are set to firm up an agreement to jointly produce amphibious military aircraft during the upcoming visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in what could be the first defence deal between the two countries. The US 2 amphibious aircraft, that has applications for search and rescue, surveillance as well as intelligence gathering, will be produced in India not only for domestic orders but will also be pitched jointly for exports in the region and beyond. ### Indonesia Confirms Ordering Su-35s Indonesia's defense minister had finally signed the official document approving to acquire Russia-made Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets to replace the would-be decommissioned F-5 E/F Tiger II operated by Indonesian air forces. The document had been submitted to the National Development Planning (Bappenas) for the follow up. Indonesian Air Forces Marshall Agus Supriatna has said recently that before the signing, the air forces has submitted the characteristics of fighter jets eligible to replace the F-5 E/F Tiger II which was in service since 1980. According to Agus, the air forces proposed two options to replace the light attack F-5 E/F Tiger II. One is Sukhoi 35, the other is F-16 Viper produced by the United States producer Lokheed Martin. "As the final user, the Indonesian Air Forces only submitted the technical specifications of fighter jets that we desire, capable to accomplish our missions," Agus was quoted as saying by a local media on Thursday. ### A Push in the Australian Senate to Reexamine Whether or not to buy the F-35 A push to examine the wisdom of Australia's planned$24 billion fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters - ranking as the nation's largest ever defence purchase - is underway in the Senate.

Greens defence spokesman Peter Whish-Wilson on Friday has urged the Senate's standing committee on foreign affairs and trade to inquire into the suitability of the stealth jet for Australia's strategic interests.

The move comes after the election last month of new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on a promise to abandon plans to purchase the troubled fighter.

### NATO to Offer Montenegro Membership

The Balkan state of Montenegro will on Wednesday be formally invited to join the NATO military alliance, diplomatic sources said, a move which could further strain already difficult ties with Moscow.

The offer is expected to come after a meeting of foreign ministers from the 28-nation alliance in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"The proposed text has been approved at (NATO) ambassador level," one source said Monday, asking not to be named. "After that, it would take at most a year and a half for Montenegro to become a member state," the source added.

### Pre Mammalian Permian Therapsids Were Hairy: Evidence From Upper Permian Coprolites

Microbiota and food residues including possible evidence of pre-mammalian hair in Upper Permian coprolites from Russia

Authors:

Bajdek et al

Abstract:

Coprolites (fossil faeces) provide direct evidence on the diet of its producer and unique insights on ancient food webs and ecosystems. We describe the contents of seven coprolites, collected from the Late Permian Vyazniki site of the European part of Russia. Two coprolite morphotypes (A, B) contain remains of putative bacteria, cyanobacteria, fungi, protists, invertebrate eggs, arthropod elements, undigested bone and tooth fragments, fish scales and elongated hair-like structures with hollow interiors. Content, size and shape of the coprolites together with the associated body fossil record suggest that the most probable scat-producers were carnivorous tetrapods; the bone-rich morphotype A reveals short food retention time and a fast metabolism and is therefore assigned to therapsid carnivores whereas morphotype B with rarer and degraded bones are assigned to archosauromorphs or other non-therapsid carnivores. The general coprolite matrix contains abundant micron-sized spheres and thin-walled vesicles which are interpreted as oxide and phosphatic pseudomorphs after microbial cells. From analyses of the undigested bones, we infer that they represent remains of actinopterygian fish, a therapsid and unrecognizable parts of amphibians and/or reptiles. Additionally, hair-like structures found in one coprolite specimen occur as diagenetically altered (oxide-replaced) structures and moulds (or partly as pseudomorphs) in a microcrystalline carbonate-fluoride-bearing calcium phosphate. This suggests that the latest Permian therapsids probably were equipped with hair-like integument or hairsuit. If true, this is by far the oldest evidence of this mammalian character in the stem group of mammals.

### Europeans are Really all Turkish, well, Anatolian

The introduction of agriculture into Europe about 8,500 years ago changed the way people lived right down to their DNA.

Until recently, scientists could try to understand the way humans adapted genetically to changes that occurred thousands of years ago only by looking at DNA variation in today's populations. But our modern genomes contain mere echoes of the past that can't be connected to specific events.

Now, an international team reports in Nature that researchers can see how natural selection happened by analyzing ancient human DNA.

"It allows us to put a time and date on selection and to directly associate selection with specific environmental changes, in this case the development of agriculture and the expansion of the first farmers into Europe," said Iain Mathieson, a research fellow in genetics at Harvard Medical School and first author of the study.

By taking advantage of better DNA extraction techniques and amassing what is to date the largest collection of genome-wide datasets from ancient human remains, the team was able to identify specific genes that changed during and after the transition from hunting and gathering to farming.

Many of the variants occurred on or near genes that have been associated with height, the ability to digest lactose in adulthood, fatty acid metabolism, vitamin D levels, light skin pigmentation and blue eye color. Two variants appear on genes that have been linked to higher risk of celiac disease but that may have been important in adapting to an early agricultural diet.

Other variants were located on immune-associated genes, which made sense because "the Neolithic period involved an increase in population density, with people living close to one another and to domesticated animals," said Wolfgang Haak, one of three senior authors of the study, a research fellow at the University of Adelaide and group leader in molecular anthropology at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

"Although that finding did not come fully as a surprise," he added, "it was great to see the selection happening in 'real time.'"

The work also supports the idea that Europe's first farmers came from ancient Anatolia, in what is now Turkey, and fills in more details about how ancient groups mixed and migrated.

### Russia's Most Syrian Adventure #44

A Russian Airstrike in Lataminah

Over the past two months, 1,500 people have been killed by Russian airstrikes.

Russia's Su-34 strike fighters, the rough equivalent of the American F-15E, has started carrying air to air missiles.

France has warned Russia that Russia's airstrikes must only hit Daesh/IS.
Coalition forces conducted 15 airstrikes against IS/Daesh on Sunday.

Negotiations have started for the rebels to retreat from Homs, according to the Assadite government.

Assadites have denied they ever used chemicals weapons.

Putin and Obama are to hold talks on Syria and Ukraine while at the climate summit in Paris.  Putin is refusing to meet with Erdogan.

Here are some of the ways the sanctions imposed by Russia on Turkey will bite.  Even with the sanctions, Turkey will not apologize for the downed aircraft.  The Su-24 Fencer pilot's body has been shipped back to Russia.

There was a weird report that Turkey was blockading Russian ships crossing the Dardanelles.  I have significant doubts there.

### Scuffle in the South China Sea #15: Did the US Frak up and Accidentally ACKNOWLEDGE Chinese Territorial Claims?!

As it turns out, the USS Lassen reportedly did not engage in a FONOPS to demonstrate that the islands China has built exert no right to territorial waters reaching out 12 nautical miles. Instead, the U.S. ship reportedly conducted “innocent passage,” turning off its radars and grounding its helicopters as it transited within 12 nautical miles of the islands. Undertaking “innocent passage” is done only in another nation’s territorial waters.

In short, the United States, by its actions, may have actually recognized China’s claims. If the reports are correct, the United States treated the artificial island atop Subi Reef as though it were a naturally occurring feature, and therefore entitled to a 12 nautical mile band of territorial water. This is precisely the opposite of what had been announced.

[...]

Like it or not, the message that the White House is now repeatedly sending is that the United States, in fact, accepts that the Chinese artificial islands should be treated as national territory, like a natural feature. In short, the United States is acceding to China’s efforts to close off portions of the open ocean.

Oh FRAK!   *THAT* is a colossal frak up.

Someone, PLEASE, tell me this is not what happened!

### Tribrachidium: an Ediaracan NeoProterozoic Organism was a Suspension Feeder Hydrodynamic Modeling Reveals

Computer simulations have allowed scientists to work out how a puzzling 555-million-year-old organism with no known modern relatives fed, revealing that some of the first large, complex organisms on Earth formed ecosystems that were much more complex than previously thought.

The international team of researchers from Canada, the UK and the USA, including Dr Imran Rahman from the University of Bristol, UK studied fossils of an extinct organism called Tribrachidium, which lived in the oceans some 555 million years ago. Using a computer modelling approach called computational fluid dynamics, they were able to show that Tribrachidium fed by collecting particles suspended in water. This is called suspension feeding and it had not previously been documented in organisms from this period of time.

Tribrachidium lived during a period of time called the Ediacaran, which ranged from 635 million to 541 million years ago. This period was characterised by a variety of large, complex organisms, most of which are difficult to link to any modern species. It was previously thought that these organisms formed simple ecosystems characterised by only a few feeding modes, but the new study suggests they were capable of more types of feeding than previously appreciated.

Dr Simon Darroch, an Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt University, said: "For many years, scientists have assumed that Earth's oldest complex organisms, which lived over half a billion years ago, fed in only one or two different ways. Our study has shown this to be untrue, Tribrachidium and perhaps other species were capable of suspension feeding. This demonstrates that, contrary to our expectations, some of the first ecosystems were actually quite complex."

Co-author Dr Marc Laflamme, an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga, added: "Tribrachidium doesn't look like any modern species, and so it has been really hard to work out what it was like when it was alive. The application of cutting-edge techniques, such as CT scanning and computational fluid dynamics, allowed us to determine, for the first time, how this long-extinct organism fed."

## Sunday, November 29, 2015

### Robopocalypse Report #32

Drones:

Amazon unveiled its new delivery drone design.  It reportedly has a range of 15 miles.

Corporate drone users are talking about airspace use for drones for safety reasons.

The FAA panel has actually recommended individual drones NOT be registered, but rather pilots of drones over 1/2 lbs.  Pilots must be 13 or older.  Just means the parents will register for their kids.  Drones are expected to be the holiday gift and the FAA is scrambling in preparation for what's expected to be hundreds of thousands of new drones taking to the air after this season.

The FAA may be testing an air traffic control system for drones.  Maybe.

Oregon is regulating drones, whatever the FAA may do.

Paradise Valley, the wealthy Phoenix suburb, is also regulating drones.

Wired went to the Drone Expo in San Jose and the saw the future.  The future looks like a swarm of bees, it seems.

DJI, the premier drone maker, is expanding into agricultural drones.

Some have started using drones to work vineyards.

Japan expects to be doing home deliveries by drone within three years.

The Work Horse Group might beat Google and Amazon to using drones for deliveries.

Geologists are using drones to hunt for oil.

Italy is looking into how to inspect infrastructure, specifically bridges and buildings, with drones.

Self Driving Cars:

The US Department of Transportation has signaled it will begin formulating rules for self driving cars.  This is pretty big.

What people REALLY want a self driving car for is to have it go park itself.

Volvo has released photos of its concept car, promises the car will be on the road in Sweden by 2017 and will be taking on liability for any accidents caused by its cars.

Tesla is aggressively hiring for their self driving car project.

### French may be Negotiating to Build Factory for Rafale Fighters in India

India's largest-ever military deal is likely to bring in big business for the private sector with the French side looking to set up a production centre for the Rafale fighter aircraft as well as a low-cost executive jet in India, besides sharing vital aircraft technology for the indigenous Tejas project.

### Russia to Upgrade its Missile Defense Systems

The Russian Aerospace Forces will receive a modernized missile defense system in the near future, Colonel Andrei Cheburin announced.

"I’m sure that in the short-term perspective we will receive an upgraded missile defense system," Cheburin told RSN Radio.

### When China's J-20 Stealth Fighter Prototypes Took Flight

China Defense Blog has a post up about when the different J-20 stealth fighter prototypes took flight.

### Academic Bun Fight: the Pleistocene/Holocene Boundary and the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis

Bayesian chronological analyses consistent with synchronous age of 12,835–12,735 Cal B.P. for Younger Dryas boundary on four continents

Authors:

Kennett et al

Abstract:

The Younger Dryas impact hypothesis posits that a cosmic impact across much of the Northern Hemisphere deposited the Younger Dryas boundary (YDB) layer, containing peak abundances in a variable assemblage of proxies, including magnetic and glassy impact-related spherules, high-temperature minerals and melt glass, nanodiamonds, carbon spherules, aciniform carbon, platinum, and osmium. Bayesian chronological modeling was applied to 354 dates from 23 stratigraphic sections in 12 countries on four continents to establish a modeled YDB age range for this event of 12,835–12,735 Cal B.P. at 95% probability. This range overlaps that of a peak in extraterrestrial platinum in the Greenland Ice Sheet and of the earliest age of the Younger Dryas climate episode in six proxy records, suggesting a causal connection between the YDB impact event and the Younger Dryas. Two statistical tests indicate that both modeled and unmodeled ages in the 30 records are consistent with synchronous deposition of the YDB layer within the limits of dating uncertainty (∼100 y). The widespread distribution of the YDB layer suggests that it may serve as a datum layer.

Problematic dating of claimed Younger Dryas boundary impact proxies

Author:

Holliday

Extract:

The PNAS paper by Kennett et al. (1) uses statistical methods in an attempt to improve the geochronological control for purported Younger Dryas boundary (YDB) impact proxies. The underpinning data for these analyses are problematic, however, as discussed by Meltzer et al. (2) and Holliday et al. (3). Several examples illustrate the problems. At Barber Creek the YDB zone is at ∼100 cm below the surface, but in situ wood charcoal dated to 10,500 ± 50 14C y B.P. (∼12.5 k cal yrs) is documented below 100 cm (3). The large SD for the modeled age of the YDB here (1) (12,865 ± 535 cal yrs) easily accommodates the high-precision date on the charcoal from below the spherule zone. At Blackville the sediments dated by optically stimulated luminescence are mixed and thus the dates cannot be considered reliable (3). The supposed impact proxies at Bull Creek are from 307- to 312-cm depth (3). The radiocarbon date of ∼12,960 cal yrs is from 298 to 307 cm and is a bulk sample on soil organic matter, thus representing a mean residence time for the soil carbon. Impact proxies are, therefore, older than ∼12,960 y by some unknown amount; they are also found in abundance in strata less than 3,000 y old. The Usselo soil in northwest Europe spans ∼1,400 y based on ∼50 radiocarbon ages, dating primarily to the Allerød and into the YD (2).

Thbbbbbppppt:

Reply to Holliday and Boslough et al.: Synchroneity of widespread Bayesian-modeled ages supports Younger Dryas impact hypothesis

Authors:

Kennett et al

Extract:

Holliday (1) rejects age-depth models for the Younger Dryas boundary layer (YDB) in Kennett et al. (2), claiming that they are incorrect for several reasons, including age reversals, high age uncertainties, and use of optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating. These same claims previously were presented in Meltzer et al. (3) and were discussed and refuted in Kennett et al. (2). These criticisms apply to nearly all dated archaeological and geological sequences, including the Odessa meteorite impact crater, where paradoxically, Holliday et al. (4) modeled an impact age using OSL dating (greater than 70% of dates used) with large uncertainties (to greater than 6,000 y) and age reversals (greatre than 40% of dates are reversals). Thus, Holliday (1) argues against a practice that he and many other researchers have used and continue to use today. In an ideal world, all dates would be in perfect chronological order with high accuracy and certainty, but such scenarios are rarely possible (2). It is because of such dating difficulties that Bayesian analysis is a powerful chronological tool, and is rapidly becoming the archaeological standard.

### There Were Distinct Major Papionin Primate Clades in the Pliocene/Pleistocene South Africa

Cercopithecoid humeri from Taung support the distinction of major papionin clades in the South African fossil record

Authors:

Gilbert et al

Abstract:

Associated cercopithecoid postcrania are rare in the Plio-Pleistocene fossil record, particularly in the case of South African karst cave sites. However, as clear postcranial differences between major papionin clades have been documented, it should be possible to assign isolated papionin postcrania to the Cercocebus/Mandrillus and Papio/Lophocebus/Theropithecus groups wherever sufficient anatomy is preserved. Here, we demonstrate that two partial humeri preserved at Taung, UCMP 56693 and UCMP 125898, are most likely attributable to the Cercocebus/Mandrillus and Papio/Lophocebus/Theropithecus clades, respectively. Univariate analyses (ANOVAs and t-tests) and multivariate analyses (discriminant function analyses) of humeral features, combined with a phylogenetic analysis of 24 humeral characters, all support our assessment. Given that the overwhelming number of craniodental specimens at Taung are attributable to two papionin taxa, Procercocebus antiquus (a member of the Cercocebus/Mandrillus clade) and Papio izodi (a purported fossil species of the modern genus Papio), we assign UCMP 56693 to Pr. antiquus and UCMP 125868 to P. izodi with a high degree of confidence. Implications for cercopithecoid evolution and biogeography are discussed, with a particular emphasis on these two fossil taxa.

### Russia's Most Syrian Adventure #43

The airstrikes in Raqqa by Russians.  Note the accuracy of the guided weapons.  Also note they seem to have hit the same parking lot twice.  The second time you can see some sort of damage from the first strike or remnants thereof based on discolorations.

Airstrikes by Russians in Ariha today killed at least 18 (possibly as high as 40) and wounded dozens.

Putin has placed economic sanctions on Turkey for the shoot down.  Restrictions have been placed on Russian firms operating in Turkey, Turkish companies in Russia, Turkish goods have been restricted and Turkish citizens may no longer work for Russian firms.

There are reports of Turkish students in Russia being taken from dorms.

The Russian athletes competing in Turkey have been placed under special protection.

Russia has breached Israeli airspace repeatedly, too.

The American led coalition says the Russian report that the S-400 stopped the airstrikes in Syria is nonsense.

### Penciling in Details of the Hadean

Penciling in details of the Hadean

Author:

House

Abstract:

Some truly remarkable graphite is described by Bell et al. in PNAS (1). Graphite is, of course, the same material as found in pencil tips or in the anode of lithium ion batteries. Graphite is, however, also a very common material in Earth Science, and is often the form of carbon found in very old fossils that have been subjected to substantial heat. The graphite described in the Bell et al. article is remarkable because it is exceptionally old, dating to the Hadean eon. Officially, the Hadean is defined as the time period from the formation of the Earth until 4 billion y ago. Until recently, this has been a seemingly convenient definition, leaving it as the geological eon without a rock record on Earth. Over the past quarter century, however, the discovery and exploration of detrital zircon minerals from the Jack Hills conglomerates of Western Australia (2) have provided a new window into this early time. Jack Hills zircons crystallized in magma chambers at various times as far back as 4.4 billion y ago (3, 4). So far, these zircons and their inclusions are currently our only tangible record of the first half a billion years of Earth history. Based in part on the extreme age of some of these zircon minerals, along with similarly old age dates for a Martian meteorite (5), the Planetary Science and Earth Science communities now appreciate that planets form and cool rather quickly (6). No longer is the Hadean just a placeholder on our timelines between the formation of the Earth and the oldest known rocks

## Saturday, November 28, 2015

### I Smell BS: New Startup Aims to Start the Singularity by Uploading *YOU* Into an Android Bot

As advancements in technology continue at an ever-increasing pace, will there ever come a day when we’ll be able to use science to cheat death? Australian startup company Humai seems to think so; it claims to be working on a way to transfer a person’s consciousness into an artificial body after they’ve died.

“We want to bring you back to life after you die,” says Humai CEO Josh Bocanegra on the company’s website. “We’re using artificial intelligence and nanotechnology to store data of conversational styles, behavioral patterns, thought processes and information about how your body functions from the inside-out. This data will be coded into multiple sensor technologies, which will be built into an artificial body with the brain of a deceased human. Using cloning technology, we will restore the brain as it matures.”

In an interview with Australian Popular Science, Bocanegra said: “We'll first collect extensive data on our members for years prior to their death via various apps we're developing.” After death, the company will cryogenically freeze members’ brains until the technology is fully developed, at which point the brains will be implanted into an artificial body.

Wait.  I think Tom Scott already posited this one.

### China's Plans for a Clone Factory for Food

In Chinese mythology, the Monkey King is a beast with magical fur. All he has to do is pull out a hair, blow on it and it is instantly transformed into a clone of himself.

Xu Xiaochun, chief executive of BoyaLife, says the fable is not far from reality, as far as his Chinese biotechnology company is concerned. This week he announced an investment of $31m in a joint venture with South Korea’s Sooam Biotech that aims to clone 1m cows a year from their hair cells. High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Sometime next year, researchers in BoyaLife’s laboratory on the outskirts of the coastal city of Tianjin will take skin cells from a few carefully chosen cattle (Kobe beef is Mr Xu’s favourite). The scientists will extract the nucleus from each cell and place it into an unfertilised egg from another cow. The cloned embryos will then be implanted in surrogate dairy cows housed on cattle ranches throughout China. His ambition is staggering. Starting with 100,000 cloned cattle embryos a year in “phase one”, Mr Xu envisages 1m annually at some point in the future. That would make BoyaLife by far the largest clone factory in the world. Mr Xu says the latest techniques enable cloning to be carried out in an “assembly line format” at a rate of less than 1 minute per cell. Based on a four- hour shift and 250 working days a year, a proficient cloner would “manufacture” 60,000 cloned cow embryos a year, he says, adding that a team of 50 will be sufficient for the planned scale of the project. Mr Xu plans to have a staff of 300 and eventual total investment is estimated at$500m.

### The Carbon Market is a Work in Progress

It was supposed to be the way the market would cut greenhouse gases by itself: governments selling companies permits-to-pollute, which they could trade among themselves. Over time, the number of permits would be reduced, and the cost to companies of failing to cut emissions would rise.

Yet, 10 years after the EU launched the world's biggest carbon trading scheme, the effectiveness of the concept is in question and climate activists are disenchanted or hostile.

While there is still support for national or regional markets, not least in China, which plans to launch the world's biggest scheme in 2017, any hopes of creating a global carbon market at next week's U.N. climate conference in Paris look wildly optimistic.

### What Controls Sand Dune Migration in Martian Herschel Crater?

Present-day aeolian activity in Herschel Crater, Mars

Authors:

Cardinale et al

Abstract:

In this report, we show evidence for ripple and dune migration in Herschel Crater on Mars.

We estimate an average dune migration of 0.8 m and a minimum ripple migration of 1.1 m in a time span of 3.7 Earth-years. These dunes and ripples are mainly shaped by prevailing winds coming from the north, however we also report the presence of secondary winds which elongate the barchans’ horns. Such a complex wind scenario is likely caused by the influence of winds blowing off the western crater rim as suggested by the Mars Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (MRAMS), an atmospheric mesoscale model. A multi-directional wind regime at the local scale is also supported by the observed bimodal distribution of the ripple trends. For the first time, a survey integrating the assessment of dune and ripple migration is presented, showing how dune topography can influence the migration patterns of ripples and how underlying topography appears to control the rates of dune migration.

### Orbital ATK's Cygnus Encapsuled For March 2016 Launch on an Atlas V

Preparations for the first launch of a Cygnus cargo spacecraft in more than a year, and the first on an Atlas 5 rocket, have gone smoothly despite some changes in timing of loading cargo on the spacecraft, an Orbital ATK executive said.

An Atlas 5 is scheduled to launch the Cygnus craft from Cape Canaveral, Florida, Dec. 3. The launch will be the first for the Cygnus since the October 2014 failure of Orbital’s Antares rocket shortly after liftoff from Wallops Island, Virginia.

Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital purchased the Atlas 5 launch from United Launch Alliance shortly after the failure, and in August acquired a second Atlas 5 for a Cygnus mission planned for March 2016. While the Cygnus has not previously flown on the Atlas, integrating the cargo spacecraft to the rocket has gone well.

### Wuh?! The Bride, Basra, Iraq

Basra, Iraq, is known as "the bride of the gulf," after its life-supporting fertile lands. Building vertically instead of outwards is one way to protect those lands and the new Bride vertical city does just that. It has its own own neighborhoods, schools, clinics and transport system.

### Homo naledi may Date From the Gelasian Pleistocene Quaternary (2 Million Years ago)

Estimating the age and affinities of Homo naledi

Author:

Thackeray

Extract:

Recent discoveries of more than 1500 hominin fossils from the site of Rising Star in the South African Cradle of Humankind, attributed to a new species (Homo naledi), have attracted global interest. As yet no secure date for this extraordinary material has been obtained, and the relationship of this species to other Plio-Pleistocene taxa has been greatly debated in the media. Here I report results of morphometric analyses that may facilitate an assessment of the age and affinities of crania attributed to H. naledi.

pop sci write up.

### The Inferred Aptian Cretaceous Paleoceanography of the South Atlantic

Late Aptian (Cretaceous) paleoceanography of the South Atlantic Ocean inferred from dinocyst communities of the Sergipe Basin

Authors:

Carvalho et al

Abstract:

The late Aptian (Early Cretaceous) is a crucial time interval for understanding the paleoceanographic changes in the Southern Hemisphere. Oceanographic changes in the emerging South Atlantic Ocean during this interval are reflected in the stratigraphic distribution of dinoflagellate communities recorded in the Muribeca and Riachuelo formations of the Sergipe Basin in northeastern Brazil. The Subtilisphaera community, in the lower and middle parts of the section, appears to be related to the Subtilisphaera Ecozone and suggests the onset of Tethyan influence in the central South Atlantic, in a restricted to inner-neritic environment. The succeeding Spiniferites community, in the middle part of the section, represents the first significant transgression, probably of eustatic origin. The Cyclonephelium-Exochosphaeridium community, in the upper part of the section, appears to be related to an oceanic event characterized by intermittent dysoxic-anoxic conditions. The uppermost part of the section is dominated by the Spiniferites community, related to a progressive regional transgression and culminating in an open-marine, fully Tethyan environment in the central part of the widening South Atlantic.

### Apidium zuetina: a new Anthropoid Primate From Oligocene Paleogene Libya

During upheaval in Libya in 2013, a window of opportunity opened for scientists from the University of Kansas to perform research at the Zallah Oasis, a promising site for unearthing fossils from the Oligocene period, roughly 30 million years ago.

From that work, the KU-led team last week published a description of a previously unknown anthropoid primate -- a forerunner of today's monkeys, apes and humans -- in the Journal of Human Evolution. They've dubbed their new find Apidium zuetina.

Significantly, it's the first example of Apidium to be found outside of Egypt.

"Apidium is interesting because it was the first early anthropoid primate ever to be found and described, in 1908," said K. Christopher Beard, Distinguished Foundation Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and senior curator with KU's Biodiversity Institute, who headed the research. "The oldest known Apidium fossils are about 31 million years old, while the youngest are 29 million. Before our discovery in Libya, only three species of Apidium were ever recovered in Egypt. People had come up with the idea that these primates had evolved locally in Egypt."

Beard said evidence that Apidium had dispersed across North Africa was the key facet of the find. He believes shifting climatic and environmental conditions shaped the distribution of species of Apidium, which affected their evolution.

"We've found evidence that climate change -- not warming, but cooling and drying -- across the Eocene-Oligocene boundary probably is the root cause in kicking anthropoid evolution into overdrive," he said. "All of these anthropoids, which were our distant relatives, were living up in the trees -- none of them were coming down. When the world became cooler and dryer in this period, what was previously a continuous belt of forest became more fragmented. This created barriers to gene flow and movement of animals from one part of forest to what used to be adjacent forest."

With a forest broken up, there was an inhibition of gene flow that through time resulted in speciation, or the creation of new species, according to the KU researcher.

"Animals that are sequestered become different species over millions of years," Beard said. "As the climate oscillates again, you've got different species of Apidium. As forests expand and contract, now you've got competition between species of Apidium that have never seen each other before. One species outcompetes the other, the other goes extinct, and we think that's what we're picking up with this Libyan Apidium, which is related to the youngest and largest species of Apidium known from Egypt."

Beard said that Apidium zuetina would have been physically similar to modern-day squirrel monkeys from South America, but with smaller brains, and would have dined on fruits, nuts and seeds.

"We know that Apidium was a very active arboreal monkey, a really good leaper," he said. "We know they actually had fused lower-leg bones just above the ankle joint. That's really unusual for anthropoid primates, and the only reason for it to happen is because you like to jump a lot, as it stabilized the join between those bones and the ankle."

The team identified Apidium zuetina through detailed analysis of its teeth.