To the Stars with Data: March 6 2022
The long road to electric cars, 4+ millions new space objects, bee-inspired bioplastic, and much more
Can you believe it’s March already? 2022 is already 18% over. 😱 If this year isn’t going as you had hoped, there’s no better time to recalibrate than today! Let this be your sign.
Now, let’s go to the stars with data!
Thought-Provoking Data Viz
Quick hits. In this US-based viz, Reuters guides us through a visual journey to understand why it will take 30+ years for half or more of vehicles on the road to be electric. The biggest reason is that there are over 250 million on the road and only 17 million vehicles are sold each year. Even if 100% of new vehicles sold from now on are electric, it will take at least 10-15 years for all vehicles on the road to be electric. Luckily, policymakers can speed this up by doing things like increasing emissions standards or providing incentives for consumers to purchase electric vehicles.
Digging deeper. The wide adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is a bit of a chicken-or-egg problem. Without the appropriate infrastructure (such as widespread charging stations), consumers won’t purchase EVs. However, without consumers purchasing EVs, companies are unlikely to create infrastructure because it won’t be profitable. This is why governmental funding and regulation are so important; without it, there aren’t incentives for either consumers or companies to embark on the EV path.
🌏 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its sixth assessment report on climate change
“The science is clear. Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.” -IPCC
“An atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.” -UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
Quick hits. The report is comprised of 3,675 pages and has 270 authors. If you don’t feel like reading this behemoth of a document, here’s a summary. Want to take action? Here are 80 science-backed things we can do.
Digging deeper. Let’s bullet some numbers, shall we? These are from a Bloomberg article (paywall):
3.3 to 3.6 billion: Number of people globally living in settings that are “highly vulnerable” to climate change
44%: Share of all disaster events since the 1970s that have been related to flooding
50%: Share of the human population that may be exposed to periods of life-threatening climatic conditions arising from coupled impacts of extreme heat and humidity by 2100 in a low-emissions scenario
2050: Date by which simulations project the Arctic Ocean will likely become practically free of summer sea ice for the first time
99%: Estimated percentage of the world’s coral lost with a temperature rise of 2°C
10%-25%: Projected increase in losses in global yields of rice, maize, and wheat per degree of warming
17%: Share of mobilized private finance related to climate change devoted to Africa from 2016 to 2018
Other Earth News
💨💰 The US recently completed the largest sale of land for offshore wind, to the tune of $4.37 billion. The sites have a combined potential of ~3GW of energy, which could power ~1 million homes.
🐭🧠 Researchers reconstructed the most detailed map of a mouse brain to date. Importantly, the map included everything, not just the neurons. The mapped portion of the brain is 1000 times smaller than a pea but still contained 8 million objects. Here’s the paper and here’s the data.
🧠🔊 Researchers recorded the brain waves of a dying patient. The brain waves appeared the same as those of someone dreaming, recalling memories, or meditating.
🔭 Scientists create a huge map of 4.4 million space objects, most of which have never been seen before
Quick hits. A team of astronomers recently discovered over 4.4 million space objects using LOFAR, a pan-European radio telescope. Most of the space objects are have never been seen before or are new discoveries at the radio wavelength. The astronomers combed through over 3,500 hours of observations, resulting in 8 petabytes of data (~20,000 laptops). This release only represents 27% of the entire survey completed by LOFAR, which means there are likely a lot more space objects coming our way. 😎 Here’s the paper, for you nerds out there.
Digging deeper. Let’s do a little electromagnetic (EM) spectrum 101 to understand the importance of radio waves and why finding millions of new space objects is even possible.
The EM spectrum consists of EM radiation (aka “light” or “waves”), which is energy and travels and spreads out as it travels.
Examples of EM radiation types are X-rays (what you might encounter at the doctor!), ultraviolet (AKA UV rays, or what sunscreen protects us from), visible light (what we interpret as colors), and radio.
Considering that many space objects are “bright” when looking at radio wavelengths (like active galaxies and pulsars), we’ll see plenty of objects that may not be nearly as bright when looking at other wavelengths.
Other space news
🛰 The Orbital Index provided a thorough overview of the aerospace ramifications as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Though chilling, it’s certainly worth a read.
📉 Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson’s space firm, lost nearly $1 billion in 2020 and 2021. Billionaires pumping money into space tourism may not be all fun and games… for them, at least.
🔭 The James Webb Space Telescope continues to successfully align and “stack” its 18 mirrors. The GIF below showcases improvements of the image as a result of its alignment process.
🐝 Humble Bee Bio. Based in New Zealand, they’re making a bioplastic inspired by the bioplastic made by a species of bee to waterproof its nest. Amazingly, they’re creating the bioplastic through genetically-modifying microbes to produce the bioplastic.
📈 Future Fund. They’re a philanthropic fund distributing $100m+ per year for many futuristic, massively-scalable projects in topics such as AI, space governance, and biorisk. Shout out to Richie Meneses for bringing this to my attention! 🎉