New nuclear fusion reactor design may be a breakthrough

Using permanent magnets may help to make nuclear fusion reactors simpler and more affordable.

Credit: C. Zhu/PPPL
  • Nuclear fusion is the process of fusing atomic nuclei, which can unleash vast amounts of energy.
  • Nuclear fusion reactors have existed for years, but none of them are able to sustainably produce energy.
  • A new paper describes how permanent magnets can be used on stellarators to control the flow of super-hot plasma.

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Study: Lifestyles of the wealthy are to blame for climate change

As it turns out, people who can afford to fly all the time use more energy than anybody else.

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  • The rich use much more energy per person than the poor do.
  • This holds up no matter where you go.
  • The findings suggest that, as the global poor gain wealth, strategies to keep emissions and energy use down will have to aim at several areas of consumption.
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'Waterworld' was a documentary? Geologists think Earth could have once been 100% ocean

The Hollywood blockbuster may have been right, if only 3.2 billion years off the mark.

(Photo: Universal Pictures)
  • Researchers find evidence that Earth may have been submerged in a global ocean during the Archaean eon.
  • The research could change our understanding of how life emerged.
  • It's one of many recent studies changing how we view our planet's infancy.
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3 ethical catastrophes you can help stop, right now

Deciding how we ought to live is one of the greatest challenges of being alive. Ask yourself these important questions to gain clarity, with philosopher Peter Singer.

  • Philosopher Peter Singer cites his top three ethical issues in the world today as: extreme poverty; climate change, which is related to poverty; and the way humans treat animals.
  • Any rational being should be interested in trying to understand how they ought to live, and whether they are doing things that are right or wrong. Singer suggests asking yourself important questions. When it comes to extreme poverty, ask: "Is it okay for me just to be living my life in my society and not doing anything for people who, through no fault of their own, are living in extreme poverty?"
  • For climate change, ask how you can put pressure on political leaders to take serious steps to prevent a climate change catastrophe that will disproportionately affect the poor. When it comes to animal cruelty, ask: "Am I complicit in the suffering that's being inflicted on animals, especially in factory farms but in other forms of farming as well? Am I complicit in that when I buy those products? And, if so, does that mean that I need to stop buying them?"
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Can these giant dams keep Europe from drowning?

Why a 400-mile enclosure around the North Sea is not as crazy as it sounds

Image: Groeskamp & Kjellsson
  • The Northern European Enclosure Dam (NEED) would cut off the North and Baltic Seas from the Atlantic Ocean.
  • It would save 15 countries, and up to 55 million people, from sea level rise—but at a cost.
  • The idea is a warning more than a plan: NEED will be necessary if we don't stop global warming now.
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