World’s Oldest Asteroid Crater Discovered In Western Australia

World's Oldest Asteroid Crater Discovered In Western Australia

Scientists at Curtin University have discovered that a crater in Yarrabubba, Western Australia, may be the world’s oldest, and that the asteroid’s landing 2.2 billion years ago may one of the reasons behind the end of the last Ice Age.

Despite the crater itself having been discovered in the outback in 1979, scientist had previously not tested the mineral deposits left behind to determine its age. The crater is not visible to the naked eye due to billions of years of erosion.

To determine when the asteroid hit the earth, scientists tested tiny zircon and monazite crystals found within the rocks whose properties will have changed upon the impact. Tiny amounts of uranium and iron deposits within the crystals enabled the scientists to figure out relatively accurately how long ago the asteroid struck.

Zircon crystal used to date the Yarrabubba impact. Curtin University

Zircon crystal used to date the Yarrabubba impact. Curtin University

The team of scientist are very excited about the age of the crater especially in the context of the Earth’s other events.

At this point, 2.2 billion years ago, the Earth’s surface was covered in ice, and it is now believed that the water vapour produced by this asteroid striking such a thick sheet of ice could be the reason behind a warming effect on the planet, perhaps even ending the Ice Age. Water vapor today is the most abundant greenhouse gas within the Earth’s atmosphere. Without greenhouse gasses, it is estimated that the average temperature of the planet would be -18 degrees Celsius, rather than the 15 degrees Celsius that currently stands. With additional greenhouse gasses entering the atmosphere, the average temperature of the planet is set to continue to rise.

Other theories have suggested that the carbon dioxide, another greenhouse gas, released from volcanic eruptions may be responsible.


Main Image: Barlangi Hill, part of the Yarrabubba crater. Graeme Churchyard, Flickr Creative Commons

 

Smoke From Australia’s Fires Will Make Full Circuit Around The Globe

Smoke From Australia's Fires Will Make Full Circuit Around The Globe

The smoke from the recent bush fires on the east coast of Australia will continue to push across the Pacific and will eventually make at least one full circuit around the globe, according to NASA.

The space agency has used satellites to map the trajectory of the smoke which has so far affected New Zealand and parts of South America.

The smoke has travelled so high into the atmosphere it has moved into the stratosphere, the second atmospheric layer surrounding the earth, which could cause unprecedented and rapid changes in global atmospheric conditions. NASA added that the volume of smoke being released into the atmosphere is also responsible for multiple pyrocumulonimbus events – or fire-generated thunderstorms.

The agency is studying the effects of smoke at this altitude and whether it provides “a net atmospheric cooling or warming”.

In this tragic spell of bush fires, over 2000 homes have been destroyed and 28 people killed. The air quality of those living in cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra are experiencing severely diminished air quality which has been deemed ‘hazardous’ on several occasions by Australian officials. The is wide concern over public health.

Some of the harmful gasses released from the fires include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides. There is also great concern for the ultra-fine particles released into the atmosphere — invisible to the naked eye but able to penetrate deep into the lungs and cause irritation in the eyes, nose and throat. Officials have warned that face masks alone are not enough protection from these harmful particles, and has urged people to refrain from exercising outdoors.

More information:

Read: Extreme Australia

Main Image: Ferocious Fires in Australia Intensify, NASA

The Big Screen: 1917

The Big Screen: 1917

Co-written, directed and produced by Sam Mendes, 1917 is an epic war tale based on an account told to Mendes by his grandfather, Alfred Mendes, a decorated veteran who fought in Flanders in the 1st Rifle Brigade.

It chronicles the story of two young British soldiers during the First World War tasked with delivering a message deep in enemy territory that will stop 1,600 men, and one of the soldiers’ brothers, from walking straight into a deadly ambush.

The movie is scheduled for release across the UK on January 10, and received favourable reviews upon it’s premiere and release in North America. 1917 received the Best Picture award in the 77th Golden Globe Awards, despite it’s incomplete release!

World War I, the Great War, the War to End all Wars, no matter what you call it, it was a game changer. Lasting from 1914 to 1918, this war was the first to encompass almost every major power from across the globe. The Central Powers of Austria-Hungary, Germany, and the dying Ottoman Empire fought against the Allied Powers of France, Great Britain, Russia, and eventually the United States, all over a desire for power and territory. WWI also saw a clash between the old style of 19th century warfare and newly developed 20th century technologies that would change the face of war forever. By the time the Armistice was signed on November 11 1918, both sides had lost over 37 million soldiers and civilians.

More on WWI:

Study Guide: What Caused World War I?

Watch: Globe Trekker – World War I Special

Read: The Somme Valley Battlefields

Read: In Flanders Field

Watch: Adventure Golf – Northern France

Main Image: Gassed, Sargent John Singer, Wikipedia Commons

The Big Screen: True History of the Kelly Gang

The Big Screen: True History of the Kelly Gang

The new film depicting the life of famous bush-ranger Ned Kelly and his family is set to hit Australian cinemas on January 9 with a following release date in the UK of February 28.

After the death of his father – who was also a criminal – Kelly’s life of crime began at age 14, with his first prison stay coming just one year after. In and out of prison for various offences including murder, the next 10 years of his life were tumultuous and bloody.

One of the incidents he was most famous for occurred in April of 1878 after it was claimed that he shot a police trooper named Fitzpatrick who had arrived at his mother’s home.  The real facts of the case were never uncovered but nonetheless, family members, including: Mrs. Kelly, her son-in-law, William Skillion, and a neighbour, William Williamson, were arrested and charged with aiding and supporting the attempted murder of Fitzpatrick.  They were convicted.  Mrs. Kelly was sentenced to three years, while the men were sentenced to six.  Ned and his brother Dan were nowhere to be found, as they had gone into hiding in the Wombat Ranges. They were still fervently sought after, even offering a reward for information leading to their capture.

Some would say that Ned was a common hero, while others proclaim he was a common murderer. A gritty string of crime and punishment accompanied his life, which he later justified in a letter which became known as the Kelly’s manifesto. After a prolific career, he was eventually hanged for his crimes at the young age of 25. It is said that his final words were “such is life”.

Read more about the life of Ned Kelly and his Family before heading to the picture-house to see the universally acclaimed movie.

More on the Kelly Gang:

Read: Colonial Australia – The Gold Rush and Ned Kelly

Watch: Globe Trekker – Colonial Australia

Major Shipping Firms Dedicate $5bn To Clean Fuel Research

Major Shipping Firms Dedicate $5bn To Clean Fuel Research

7 major global shipping firms have between them pledged $5 billion to develop new clean fuel systems to tackle pollution caused by the industry.

The firms’ aim to decarbonise transoceanic shipping has been received positively by the wider industry and environmental campaigners alike. Shipping accounts for 3% of global emissions and for 90% of how goods are transported around the globe.

Currently viable options include biofuels, green hydrogen, ammonia, renewable electricity and fuel-cells.

The ship owners also are also welcoming a fuel levy to help support research and development in the future. The shipping industry is known for being heavily subsidised, with legislation protecting them from taxes in most parts of the world, however these calls signify a change in attitudes and an acknowledgement that pollution will not tackle itself.

This move also comes following an International Maritime Organisation regulation which has seen fuel suppliers innovating for the January 2020 date which it is set to come into effect, for heavy fuel oil suppliers cut the amount of sulfur used in ship fuels. The sulfur-containing fuel, when heated before combustion, creates harmful sulfur dioxide as a by-product which is released into the atmosphere. It is thought that the reduction of sulfur in the fuel will dramatically improve public health, particularly in the world’s busiest major port areas such as Shanghai, Singapore, Rotterdam, Los Angeles and Valencia.

The international shipping community is clearly demonstrating wider awareness and an eagerness to follow many of the world’s heavy industry communities in their commitment to tackle climate change.

More information:

Read: Chinese Firm to Manufacture 200,000 ‘New Energy’ Vehicles by 2025

Read: All-Female Sailing Team ‘eXXpedeition’ on a Mission to Clean Up Our Oceans

Read: IMO 2020 – cleaner shipping for cleaner air

By Sofi Summers

Main Image: Emma Maersk, Roy, Flickr Creative Commons

Tectonic: New Zealand White Island Volcano Erupts

Tectonic: New Zealand White Island Volcano Erupts

New Zealand’s White Island Volcano, known locally as Whakaari, has erupted with a tragic blast leaving 34 people injured, 8 people missing and 6 confirmed dead. The eruption took place at approximately 2:00PM local time on December 9th 2019.

White Island’s volcano is New Zealand’s most active cone volcano, situated off the northeastern coast of New Zealand’s north island, attracting tourists, geologists and volcanologists from afar. The volcano has been releasing volcanic gasses constantly at least since it was first sighted by Captain James Cook 250 years ago in 1769.

In the past, the volcano has had eruptions of Lava, ash and pyroclastic flows, with the most recent significant eruption having been in 2016. In October 2019, the volcano was raised to a Volcanic Alert level 2, stating that there was increased volcanic activity and indicating that an eruption was more likely to occur.

Further seismic activity in the hours following the eruption included subsequent eruptions, and an earthquake at a magnitude of 5.3 in Gisborne, Northeastern New Zealand in the early hours of December 10th. The island is now on Volcanic Alert level 3, with GeoNet stating that the volcano is in minor eruption, but that the alert level could change without notice.

Of the confirmed fatalities, the injured and the missing people, all were either visiting the island as tourists or operating the tours. Pilot Productions extends it’s deepest sympathies and thoughts to all those affected by the eruption.

More information:

Study Guide: Volcanoes

Read: Captain Cook continues to inspire travel habits

Watch: Volcanoes – Ring of Fire

Watch: Globe Trekker – New Zealand 1

Watch: Globe Trekker – New Zealand 2

Main Image: White Island, New Zealand – Volcano, Thru MyShutter, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Summers

British Identity, Brexit and the End of the Empire

British Identity, Brexit and the End of the Empire

As the pre-election debates heats up in Britain, one thing is certain — that the country’s collective identity as either British or as citizens of wider Europe is still seriously polarized, and even the outcome of the election is unlikely to unite a divided nation or provide an answer to this complicated identity crisis.

Contrary to the simplistic view that this is as a result of immigration, some historians believe that it is borne out of a subconscious desire to return to the days of greatness that the British empire had prior to the beginning of their demise.

In the context of other large scale empires, Britain’s demise has been short-lived thus far. The Roman Empire spent 300 years falling from its pinnacle moment of greatness, clinging on to its powers by any means necessary and never submitting to other powers which may dilute their influence. Hindsight provides us the luxury of analysing the Roman Empire over the course of several hundred years and makes it easy for historians and political analysts to draw parallels between certain behaviors, such as rejecting large supranational powers and trying to retain sovereignty and power — much of the basis of the bubbling eurosceptic movement which resulted in the national referendum in 2016.

A desire to enter into new trade deals with commonwealth nations could signify a nostalgia for the past. Nations such as India and Singapore also happen to be widely emerging economies with successful, innovative and deeply competitive tertiary sectors. Some of the systems left behind by colonialism lend themselves to future partnerships, based on free-market principles and de jure democratic processes. Whether this is a tangible reality or a misplaced confidence is a matter for history to decide, but the kinship and shared sensibility between ex-colonial nations with such historical relationships is not to be ignored.

Whatever the outcome, history tells us it is difficult to reclaim the glory days of the past. Will Britain thrive as an independent nation in a global world, or is her position within a greater European superstate still the best option for economic prosperity and social harmony?

More information:

Read: Important Historical Sites of the British Empire

Read: Brexit and the British Empire

Watch: Empire Builders – British Empire

Buy: Globe Trekker – Rise & Fall of the British Raj DVD

Study Guide: The Lost World of Joseph Banks

Watch: The Grassroots Tour – Colonial Relics of the Raj

Watch: Historic Walks – Albertopolis, London: Age of Empire

Main Image: The Natural History Museum, Albertopolis, London. Pilot Productions ©

By Sofi Summers

 

 

 

Chinese Firm to Manufacture 200,000 ‘New Energy’ Vehicles by 2025

Chinese Firm to Manufacture 200,000 'New Energy' Vehicles by 2025

Chinese bus and truck manufacturer Beiqi Foton Motor plans to put 200,000 ‘new energy’ vehicles on the road by 2025. The $2.6 billion (¥18 billion) initiative hopes to develop new road transportation vehicles with hybrid-electric, fully-electric, and hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Hydrogen as fuel is created by the electrolysis of water, which splits the oxygen from the hydrogen. The electrolysis process can use wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, fossil fuels, biomass or nuclear energy to generate the electricity required in a ‘green’ manner.

The vehicles will mostly be used for commercial purposes, such as public transportation and road haulage, in a bid to improve air quality and help China to battle pollution in its economic and industrial hubs.

Beijing Air Pollution, Kentaro Iemoto, Flickr Creative Commons

Beijing Air Pollution, Kentaro Iemoto, Flickr Creative Commons

Atmospheric Pollution is a well documented issue in China, and is estimated to be responsible for 1.6 million deaths a year. Many large national companies are beginning to make the commitment to developing greener practices to help combat the problem.

This level of commitment to innovation is a responsible and economically feasible way for industry leaders around the world to tackle some of the environmental damage caused by industrialisation. Environmental damage has largely been caused by ‘innovation’, but could be solved by it too.

China, despite being the worlds 4th largest producer of oil, produces just 5% of the world’s supply which is not enough to meet the demand of the nation. In 2017, China surpassed the United States as the worlds number one importer of oil. In the future, a move towards renewable energy and hydrogen as a source of fuel could see China’s crude oil consumption, among other fossil fuels, fall dramatically.

Watch our episode Tough Trucks – Morocco to see the the world’s first fully electric pick-up truck!

Main image: Toyota hydrogen fuel cell at the 2014 New York International Auto Show, Joseph Brent, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Summers

Rare Mouse-Deer Caught on Camera in Vietnam

Rare Mouse-Deer Caught on Camera in Vietnam

One of our greatest pleasures is discovering cute, exotic animals that we never knew existed, and this Mouse-deer is no exception. Especially considering nobody has seen one since the 90’s!

‘Chevrotain’ otherwise known as mouse-deer (though not belonging to either family), are the smallest hoofed mammals in the world, originating in forests in South and South-East Asia, and forested parts of West Africa. The Silver-Backed Chevrotain is native to Vietnam and had not been sighted for around 30 years – until now.

The Vietnamese Chevrotain had made it onto the Global Wildlife Web Size-5_Silver-Backed-Chevrotain_whiteConservation’s 25 most wanted missing species list, with specialists unsure as to whether these creatures had become extinct.

Chevrotain originating in Asia can weigh between 0.7 and 8.0 kg. In other words, their size ranges from a small Guinea Pig up to a Jack Russell dog. They lack antlers or horns, but have long canine teeth used for fighting. Chevrotain live mostly on plants, live in couples and give birth to one (very cute) baby Chevrotain at at time.

Cameras were set in forested areas by zoologists in order to find out, and fortunately there were multiple sightings of the mousy-looking critter. The Silver-Backed Chevrotain is the first of 25 missing species that the organisation hopes to find.

Global Wildlife ConservationGlobal Wildlife Conservation

Main Image: Global Wildlife Conservation

Equal Pay Confirmed for Australia’s “Matildas”

Equal Pay Confirmed for Australia's "Matildas"

The bosses of Australia’s national football team have laid-down a new deal for the female Matildas meaning they will get the same 24% share of commercial revenue as the male team.

The new deal comes following the Matildas’ campaign during the Women’s World Cup this summer for female football players to receive fairer pay. The World Cup gained more support and viewership than ever before, with over 82 million people watching the final between the USA and the Netherlands – A 56% uplift on the previous games in 2015.

The public’s increased interest and support hasn’t gone unnoticed by the rest of the game, with FIFA

Gianni Infantino, Piotr Drabik, Flickr Creative Commons

Gianni Infantino, Piotr Drabik, Flickr Creative Commons

President Gianni Infantino pledging to spend $1 billion on women’s football over the next four years.

However, Football Federation Australia’s decision is the first of its kind, with clear ambitions to set precedent on how women could be paid more fairly further afield than football. The worldwide movement originally gained most of its traction in America, where the game is very big business.

Along with the issue of cash, the national team are also addressing the current differences in training between the two teams, with women set to receive the same coaching as their male counterparts; better negotiating of sponsorship deals; and providing greater parental support systems to help the players return to the game post-partum.

The female players will also be afforded the luxury of flying business class when travelling for games – a luxury previously reserved for only the male team.

Main Image: Australia’s Matildas at the Women’s World Cup 2019, Liondartois, Wikimedia Commons

By Sofi Summers