Life

Blockchain revolution comes to world of humanitarian aid

by Juliette Michel © Agence France-Presse NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — Blockchain, the technology behind the cryptocurrency bitcoin, is taking root in a sector far from finance: the world of humanitarian aid. By offering refugees a virtual identity, reassuring donors that their money is being well spent, or rushing funds where they are needed most, aid charities are experimenting with the technology in the hopes that it can improve their work. “We are at the very […]

Light pollution threatens Chile’s dark skies

by Miguel SANCHEZ Agence France-Presse PARANAL, Chile (AFP) – It seems nothing can escape the inexorable spread of light pollution — not even the giant telescopes probing the heavens above northern Chile, a region whose pristine dark skies, long considered a paradise for astronomers, are under increasing threat. The Atacama desert, 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) north of the capital Santiago, provides ideal conditions where astronomers study the stars in darkness so profound they appear like diamonds on […]

Borneo orangutans dying off as forests are lost: study

MIAMI, United States (AFP) — The population of orangutans in Borneo has plummeted by more than half since 1999 — nearly 150,000 of the apes — largely due to chopping down forests for logging, paper, palm oil and mining, researchers said Thursday. Illegal hunting of the critically endangered apes is also a leading factor in their disappearance, said the study published in the journal Current Biology. “Our findings are alarming,” said the report, which estimated […]

Shellfish reefs: Australia’s untold environmental disaster

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Virtually all of Australia’s shellfish reefs have disappeared, making them the country’s most threatened ocean ecosystem, scientists said Thursday, calling for more investment to rescue the important marine habitats. While recent global focus has been on the destruction of coral reefs, a study led by the Nature Conservancy found that between 90 and 99 percent of shellfish reefs have vanished since British colonisation 230 years ago. The reefs, formed by millions […]

Andromeda galaxy was formed in ‘recent’ star crash: study

PARIS, France (AFP) — The Milky Way’s neighboring galaxy, Andromeda, was formed in a colossal crash between two smaller star systems no more than three billion years ago when Earth already existed, researchers said Wednesday. Calculating the birth date of the galaxy has been a major challenge for astrophysicists given the vast age gap between the different stars it is made up of. For the latest study, French and Chinese researchers led by Paris Observatory […]

Extreme weather to rise even if Paris goals are met: study

by Kerry Sheridan Agence France Presse MIAMI, United States (AFP) — The risk of extreme weather such as heat waves, floods and drought will rise significantly even if the commitments in the 2015 Paris climate accord are met, a study warned on Wednesday. The report in the journal Science Advances analyzes the likelihood of hot spells, dry periods and excess rain in the coming years, all phenomena that are exacerbated by global warming and rising […]

Qualcomm mulls ‘next steps’ in Broadcom takeover bid

SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — Qualcomm said Wednesday its board would “promptly” consider a hostile $121 billion takeover bid by Singapore-based Broadcom following a meeting of top executives of the two computer chipmaking giants. “We met with representatives of Broadcom for two hours earlier today, and listened carefully to what they had to say,” Qualcomm said in a statement. “The Qualcomm board will promptly meet to discuss the meeting and to determine next steps.” The meeting […]

Extreme weather to rise even if Paris goals are met: study

by Kerry Sheridan © Agence France-Presse MIAMI, United States (AFP) — The risk of extreme weather such as heat waves, floods and drought will rise significantly even if the commitments in the 2015 Paris climate accord are met, a study warned on Wednesday. The report in the journal Science Advances analyzes the likelihood of hot spells, dry periods and excess rain in the coming years, all phenomena that are exacerbated by global warming and rising seas. Already, the dire […]

Ants nurse wounded warriors back to health: study

by Mariette le Roux and Laurence Coustal Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — African Matabele ants dress the wounds of comrades injured during hunting raids and nurse them back to health, according to an “astonishing” discovery reported Wednesday. After collecting their wounded from the battlefield and carrying them back home, nestmates become medics, massing around patients for “intense licking” of open wounds, according to a study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society […]

Russia launches cargo spacecraft after aborted liftoff

MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — Russia on Tuesday launched an unmanned Progress cargo ship to the International Space Station after a glitch led officials to postpone the planned liftoff two days earlier. The Soyuz rocket carrying the Progress ship took off from the snow-covered Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 11:15 am Moscow time (0815 GMT) and reached its designated orbit several minutes later, the Russian space agency said. “We have liftoff!” the Roscosmos space agency tweeted. […]

For global water crisis, climate may be the last straw

by Marlowe Hood Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Before man-made climate change kicked in — and well before “Day Zero” in Cape Town, where taps may run dry in early May — the global water crisis was upon us. Freshwater resources were already badly stressed before heat-trapping carbon emissions from fossil fuels began to warm Earth’s surface and affect rainfall. In some countries, major rivers — diverted, dammed or over-exploited — no longer […]

UK navy works to remove WWII bomb after airport closed

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Bomb disposal experts from Britain’s Royal Navy were continuing in their efforts late Monday to remove a World War II bomb after its discovery closed London City Airport. The 500-kilogram (1,100-pound) German bomb was discovered early on Sunday morning in King George V Dock, during planned works near the runway of London’s most central airport. As experts worked to move the unexploded ordnance, the airport was shut down and a […]