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posted by janrinok on Wednesday March 27, @10:26PM   Printer-friendly
from the beatings-shall-continue-until-morale-improves dept.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2024/03/job-flexibility-and-security-linked-to-better-mental-health-among-workers/

American workers who have more flexibility and security in their jobs also have better mental health, according to a study of 2021 survey data from over 18,000 nationally representative working Americans.

The study, published Monday in JAMA Network Open, may not be surprising to those who have faced return-to-office mandates and rounds of layoffs amid the pandemic. But, it offers clear data on just how important job flexibility and security are to the health and well-being of workers.

[...] Overall, the study's findings indicate "the substantive impact that flexible and secure jobs can have on mental health in the short-term and long-term," the researchers conclude.

They do note limitations of the study, the main one being that the study identifies associations and can't determine that job flexibility and security directly caused mental health outcomes and the work absence findings. Still, they suggest that workplace policies could improve the mental health of employees.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday March 27, @08:12PM   Printer-friendly
from the I-didn't-know-that-... dept.

https://buttondown.email/hillelwayne/archive/why-do-regexes-use-and-as-line-anchors/

Last week I fell into a bit of a rabbit hole: why do regular expressions use $ and ^ as line anchors?1

This talk brings up that they first appeared in Ken Thompson's port of the QED text editor. In his manual he writes: b) "^" is a regular expression which matches character at the beginning of a line.

c) "$" is a regular expression which matches character before the character (usually at the end of a line)

QED was the precursor to ed, which was instrumental in popularizing regexes, so a lot of its design choices stuck.

Okay, but then why did Ken Thompson choose those characters?


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday March 27, @05:41PM   Printer-friendly
from the not-welcoming-our-corporate-overlords dept.

Dr Andy Farnell at The Cyber Show writes about motivations behind dropping use of generative AI for graphics and moving back to manual design and editing of images. The show had been using generative AI to produce images since its first episode, but now find that it is time to rethink that policy. As the guard rails for generative AI are set up and the boundaries restricted, it gets more racist, more gendered, and less able to output edgy ideas critical of its corporate owners and its potential as an equalizing force seems dead already. So, while the show could set up its own AI instance to generate the images they desire, there is the matter of association and the decision to stop using it has been made.

Doubts emerged late last year after Helen battled with many of the generative platforms to get less racist and gendered cultural assumptions. We even had some ideas for an episode about baked bias, but other podcasters picked up on that and did a fine job of investigating and explicating.

Though, maybe more is still to be said. With time I've noticed the "guardrails" are staring to close in like a pack of dogs. The tools seem ever less willing to output edgy ideas critical of corporate gangsters. That feels like a direct impingement on visual art culture. Much like most of the now enshitified internet there seems to be an built-in aversion to humour, and for that matter to hope, love or faith in the future of humaity. The "five giant websites filled with screenshots of text from the other four" are devoid of anything human.

Like the companies that make them, commercial AI tools seem to have blind-spots around irony, juxtaposition and irreverence. They have no chutzpah. Perhaps we are just bumping into the limits of machine creativity in its current iteration. Or maybe there's a "directing mind", biasing output toward tepid, mediocre "acceptability". That's not us!

As Schneier writes;

"The increasingly centralized control of AI is an ominous sign. When tech billionaires and corporations steer AI, we get AI that tends to reflect the interests of tech billionaires and corporations, instead of the public."

Of course we have the technical chops to put a few high end graphics cards in a rack and run our own uncensored models. But is that a road we want to go down? Do we want to adopt the technology of the enemy when it might turn out to be their greatest weakness, and our humanity our greatest strength?

The Cyber Show is a long-form, English language podcast based in the UK which does deep dives into information communication technology, how it effects society, and various aspects of those effects.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday March 27, @12:52PM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

The inaugural Beacon Awards has handed three prizes to projects working on safer software for CHERI-enabled hardware running on the CheriBSD operating system. For the unitiated, CHERI is an abbreviation of Capability Hardware Enhanced RISC Instructions.

The Beacon Awards is a fresh scheme from the FreeBSD Foundation, in partnership with the UK government's Digital Security by Design initiative, to reward efforts at safer software. The Digital Security by Design initiative has been around for some six years now, and it funds multiple projects in the broader security R&D field. The Register reported on Arm jumping on board in early 2019. It worked: It was awarded £36 million ($45.43 million) at the gongs last week. Naturally, there were talks about much more money… but it's good to know that some real technological developments have come out of this.

One grand prize went to the Mojo JVM. This is a memory-secure Java runtime that "can run existing Java applications with no or minimal code changes," according to the awards page. Java isn't trendy any more and applets in web pages disappeared years ago, but it remains very significant in internal business-process apps in many large companies. Its development is sponsored by The Hut Group, an etailer which occasionally pops up on the Register. The team has a 17-minute Youtube video explaining how CHERI can bring greater memory-safety to the OpenJDK JVM.

Another grand prize went to Intravisor, a new form of virtualization host for cloud software, which can run various kinds of VMs with greater isolation on CHERI-enabled hardware. This includes its own lightweight ones and unmodified Linux environments. There's more info on the GitHub page, and there was a talk about Intravisor at the 2022 FOSDEM conference.

The third grand prize went to the appropriately named Capabilities Limited for its work refactoring 1.7 million lines of existing C++ web services software to CheriBSD on Morello.

Honorable mentions went to two pieces of research by the University of Glasgow's Jeremy Singer. One is Morello Micropython, a research project that's produced a CHERI-enabled Micropython interpreter. He has also been studying adapting the Boehm garbage collector to CHERI, which he terms Capability Boehm [PDF].

[...] in the course of developing inexpensive mass-market microcomputers, a lot of the security systems of earlier generations of computers were simply discarded, either for being too expensive or too much hard work. Capabilities were just one of them.

The CHERI research is looking for ways to restore these to existing systems running current software, with minimal modifications. If they're successful, the resulting hardware and software will be slightly slower – but also immune, or at least far more robust against, all kinds of software vulnerabilities and exploits.

As it is today, Linux has a bunch of performance-killing security features, whose impact you can see if you just turn them off temporarily. We're already paying the speed penalty for this stuff. CHERI could do better. It's a price worth paying.


Original Submission

posted by hubie on Wednesday March 27, @08:11AM   Printer-friendly
from the perhaps-it's-still-better-to-see-the-USA-in-your-Chevrolet dept.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun to step down as part of management shakeup at embattled plane maker:

Boeing Co CEO Dave Calhoun will step down by year-end, in a broad management shakeup brought on by the plane maker's sprawling safety crisis stemming from a January mid-air panel blowout on a 737 Max plane.

The plane maker also said that Stan Deal, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO, would retire, and Stephanie Pope would lead that business. Steve Mollenkopf has been appointed the new chair of the board.

The leadership change caps weeks of turmoil at Boeing, after the mid-air incident involving an Alaska Airlines-operated Max 9 jet carrying 171 passengers turned into a full-blown safety and reputational crisis for the iconic plane maker.

The company is facing heavy regulatory scrutiny and U.S. authorities curbed production while it attempts to fix safety and quality issues. The company is in talks to buy its former subsidiary Spirit AeroSystems to try to get more control over its supply chain.

[...] Since Calhoun took the reins, the company has endured ongoing delays to production. Still, in October, Calhoun was upbeat over how fast Boeing could raise output of its Max jets, saying Boeing would get back to 38 jets a month and was "anxious to build from there as fast as we can."

But weeks after the mid-air cabin panel blowout in January, Calhoun said it's time to "go slow to go fast."

The company's crisis has frustrated airlines already struggling with delivery delays from both Boeing and its rival Airbus, and the plane maker has been burning more cash than expected in this quarter than expected.

"For years, we prioritized the movement of the airplane through the factory over getting it done right, and that's got to change," West said last week.


Original Submission

posted by hubie on Wednesday March 27, @03:26AM   Printer-friendly
from the not-the-brightest-bulb-in-the-pack dept.

Scientists are predicting a once-in-a-lifetime nova explosion before September:

A sharp-eyed star gazer in Wyoming might catch a new star in the night sky this spring or summer. Beginning at any time now through the end of September, astronomers are expecting we can see the aftermath of a spectacular celestial event that happened 3,000 years ago.

Astronomers are awaiting a nova from T Coronae Borealis in the Northern Crown constellation, which is located between the constellations of the Boötes and Hercules. A nova is a brief moment when a flash of light from a binary star system shines brightly in the night sky.

The new light is so bright that T Coroane Borealis, ordinarily not visible to the naked eye, can potentially be spotted by Wyomingites. It won't look like much, but it's unusual to experience it from our small spot in the universe.

"Novas are a little subtle compared to supernovas," said Max Gilbraith, the planetarium coordinator for the University of Wyoming Physics and Astronomy Department. "They are called new stars because they will briefly appear as a new light in the sky for a couple of months."

Novas might be called new stars, but that's not what Wyomingites will see when it happens sometime in the next few months. Gilbraith said the bright light of a nova is a "momentary flare" from the outside of a dying star interacting with what's left of the inside of a dead star.

[...] The light of the distant nova will reach Earth sometime in the next seven months. Astronomers won't know for sure until it gets here.

[...] Gilbraith said the nova will have a similar brightness to Polaris, the North Star. People might believe that the North Star is the brightest in the sky, but it doesn't hold a candle to the truth.

Astronomers don't know when we'll see the nova, but they know where. It'll be visible in the constellation Corona Borealis, shining like a jewel in the Northern Crown. It's a U-shaped constellation behind Hercules' back and under Boötes the Herdman's elbow.

[...] While not as spectacularly dramatic as a supernova, Gilbraith hopes Wyomingites will be curious enough to seek out Corona Borealis and observe the impending nova. Once its light gets here, it should be visible for several weeks, at least.

[...] The nova might not be the brightest or most exciting sight in the night sky, but it's quite important for science. Gilbraith said novae help astronomers measure precise distances in space, revealing our distance from other galaxies with much greater accuracy.

But T Coroane Borealis is special. It's one of only five recurring novae in the night sky, which means it has repeatedly sent flashes of light, usually once every 80 years.

[...] "A nova is a standard candle that always occurs at a characteristic mass," he said. "It's holding onto some mass thrown it from its neighbor, and it will briefly reignite that candle just a little."

A NASA page has a small star map that shows where to look for it.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday March 26, @10:41PM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

Google will spend $1 billion to build a new data center in Kansas City. Monique Picou, Google VP of cloud supply chain and operations, announced the initiative at a press conference attended by both Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and Missouri governor Mike Parson. The new plant is expected to provide significant benefits for Missouri's Northland economy, while Picou highlighted how Kansas City and Google can work together to bring a brighter future to the region.

Data centers are the backbone of Google's investment strategy, Picou said, especially now that the industry is reaching an important "inflection point" for tech innovation thanks to AI algorithms. Governor Parson said that the data center will support up to 1,300 jobs, a majority of which will be part of construction operations for the new plant.

Mayor Lucas said that one in every ten workers in Kansas City is involved in the technology industry, and thanks to Google, the city will keep growing its appeal for tech companies. The firm is planning to fund the North Kansas City School District's STEAM center with a $100,000 grant, and to bring its Skilled Trades and Readiness program to the area.

Mountain View is also partnering with Ranger Power and D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments (DESRI) to acquire a carbon-free energy source for its data center. The plant will seemingly be fed 400 megawatts by the Missouri-based Beavertail Solar farm, an energy station located in a former coal community that will help Google achieve its ambitious goals for an all carbon-free energy consumption by 2030.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday March 26, @05:52PM   Printer-friendly

https://www.38north.org/2024/03/revisiting-the-2014-korea-hydro-and-nuclear-power-hack-lessons-learned-for-south-korean-cybersecurity/

In December 2014, North Korea's cyber group Kimsuky conducted an attack on the South Korean Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP), leaking personal information of 10,000 employees, reactor blueprints, manuals, electricity charts, radiation methods and more. Despite the impact of the 2014 KHNP hack on South Korea, it has figured minimally in English-language cybersecurity literature.

[...] In 2013, North Korea used the DARKSEOUL malware to paralyze ROK broadcasting stations, banks and government sites after its long-term espionage campaign, Operation Troy. In December 2014, however, despite those precautionary steps, KHNP was hacked. Kimsuky used a Twitter account named "president of anti-nuclear reactor group" to post sensitive documents and blueprints from KHNP and threatened to leak more information unless specific reactors in Gori and Wolseong were shut down by Christmas.

[...] As with most research regarding cyber operations and the DPRK, the scarcity of publicly available information posed a challenge. This was especially true for the period from 2014 to 2022 when the Moon Jae-in administration in South Korea was reluctant to publicly attribute cyber operations to North Korea for political purposes.

[...] The 2014 KHNP hack marked a pivotal turning point for ROK cyber policy. While North Korea's Kimsuky was successful in stealing sensitive information and publicly demonstrating the vulnerabilities of the South Korean nuclear energy industry to cyberattacks.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday March 26, @02:52PM   Printer-friendly

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-68662881

The US must provide assurances that Julian Assange will not receive the death penalty if convicted, before a UK court rules on whether he can appeal against his extradition.

The court has adjourned its decision by three weeks to give the US government time to comply.

US authorities say the Wikileaks founder endangered lives by publishing thousands of classified documents.

His lawyers have argued that the case is form of "state retaliation".

In a High Court judgment on Tuesday, Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Johnson said that Mr Assange would be able to bring an appeal on three grounds, unless assurances were given by the United States.

These assurances are that the 52-year-old would be protected by and allowed to rely on the First Amendment - which protects freedom of speech in the US; that he would not be "prejudiced at trial" due to his nationality; and that he would not face the death penalty if he is convicted.

Judges have given the US authorities three weeks to make those assurances, with a final hearing potentially taking place on 20 May.

"If assurances are not given then we will grant leave to appeal without a further hearing," said Dame Victoria in the court's ruling.

"If assurances are given then we will give the parties an opportunity to make further submissions before we make a final decision on the application for leave to appeal."

See also: Julian Assange faces further wait over extradition ruling

posted by hubie on Tuesday March 26, @01:11PM   Printer-friendly
from the please-dispose-of-your-serpents-properly dept.

In total, 11 pythons were caught, with one exceeding 16 feet [4.9m] in length:

What would have been a bad dream for many was a massive win for the Florida wildlife experts who discovered a 7-foot-wide, 500-lb. pile of invasive Burmese pythons.

The snakes, which are not indigenous to the region and have significantly disrupted Florida's ecosystem for more than four decades, were discovered on Feb. 21 in a marsh near Naples, per the Miami Herald.

[...] According to the Miami Herald, the pythons were located using novel implants researchers inserted in male "scout snakes." Once the snakes were set free, those tracking them could follow a signal emitted from the reptiles into remote areas.

YouTube

500 pounds of python caught when mating rituals revealed in Florida marsh, team says:

Burmese pythons are native to Southeast Asia and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission suspects they made their way into the wilds of Florida as exotic pets that escaped or were intentionally released.

Necropsies have revealed they are eating at least 24 species of mammal, 47 species of bird and three reptile species in South Florida, according to University of Florida research.

In one case, a 31.5-pound python ate a 35-pound deer. "We see the remains of deer inside pythons often. This is concerning and it should sound an alarm." Bartoszek says.

Even more frightening is the fact they may be expanding their turf to the north and showing up in seemingly impossible places. In 2017, a python was found in open water nearly 15 miles off the coast of southwest Florida, Bartoszek wrote in a scientific note published in Herpetological Review.

The conservancy — one of Florida's largest environmental organizations — was among the first to take action, launching a ground war that has lasted more than a decade.

[...] "It's a big Everglades. I'm not declaring victory by any stretch, but we are winning key battles. We feel like we are attempting to hold the line around Naples while we all wait for additional control tools to develop," Bartoszek says.

"There's an area where we had four active scouts and they have not found us a female in that sector this season. ... We are cautiously optimistic, you can't take (1,300) snakes out of the equation and not make an impact."


Original Submission

posted by hubie on Tuesday March 26, @08:26AM   Printer-friendly

https://phys.org/news/2024-03-life-blocks-stable-venus-conditions.html

If there is life in the solar system beyond Earth, it might be found in the clouds of Venus. In contrast to the planet's blisteringly inhospitable surface, Venus' cloud layer, which extends from 30 to 40 miles above the surface, hosts milder temperatures that could support some extreme forms of life.

If it's out there, scientists have assumed that any Venusian cloud inhabitant would look very different from life forms on Earth. That's because the clouds themselves are made from highly toxic droplets of sulfuric acid—an intensely corrosive chemical that is known to dissolve metals and destroy most biological molecules on Earth.

But a new study by MIT researchers may challenge that assumption. Published today in the journal Astrobiology, the study reports that, in fact, some key building blocks of life can persist in solutions of concentrated sulfuric acid.

The study's authors have found that 19 amino acids that are essential to life on Earth are stable for up to four weeks when placed in vials of sulfuric acid at concentrations similar to those in Venus' clouds. In particular, they found that the molecular "backbone" of all 19 amino acids remained intact in sulfuric acid solutions ranging in concentration from 81% to 98%.

"What is absolutely surprising is that concentrated sulfuric acid is not a solvent that is universally hostile to organic chemistry," says study co-author Janusz Petkowski, a research affiliate in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS).

[...] The search for life in Venus' clouds has gained momentum in recent years, spurred in part by a controversial detection of phosphine—a molecule that is considered to be one signature of life—in the planet's atmosphere. While that detection remains under debate, the news has reinvigorated an old question: Could Earth's sister planet actually host life?

In search of an answer, scientists are planning several missions to Venus, including the first largely privately funded mission to the planet, backed by California-based launch company Rocket Lab. That mission, on which Seager is the science principal investigator, aims to send a spacecraft through the planet's clouds to analyze their chemistry for signs of organic molecules.

Journal Reference:
Maxwell D. Seager, Sara Seager, William Bains, and Janusz J. Petkowski. Stability of 20 Biogenic Amino Acids in Concentrated Sulfuric Acid: Implications for the Habitability of Venus' Clouds. Astrobiology. ahead of print http://doi.org/10.1089/ast.2023.0082


Original Submission

posted by hubie on Tuesday March 26, @03:40AM   Printer-friendly

https://www.righto.com/2015/11/macbook-charger-teardown-surprising.html

Have you ever wondered what's inside your Macbook's charger? There's a lot more circuitry crammed into the compact power adapter than you'd expect, including a microprocessor. This charger teardown looks at the numerous components in the charger and explains how they work together to power your laptop.

Most consumer electronics, from your cell phone to your television, use a switching power supply to convert AC power from the wall to the low-voltage DC used by electronic circuits. The switching power supply gets its name because it switches power on and off thousands of times a second, which turns out to be a very efficient way to do this conversion.

[...] One unexpected component is a tiny circuit board with a microcontroller, which can be seen above. This 16-bit processor constantly monitors the charger's voltage and current. It enables the output when the charger is connected to a Macbook, disables the output when the charger is disconnected, and shuts the charger off if there is a problem. This processor is a Texas Instruments MSP430 microcontroller, roughly as powerful as the processor inside the original Macintosh.


Original Submission

posted by hubie on Monday March 25, @10:53PM   Printer-friendly

Doctors transplant gene-edited pig kidney into living human for 1st time - National:

Doctors in Boston have transplanted a pig kidney into a 62-year-old patient, the latest experiment in the quest to use animal organs in humans.

Massachusetts General Hospital said Thursday that it's the first time a genetically modified pig kidney has been transplanted into a living person. Previously, pig kidneys have been temporarily transplanted into brain-dead donors. Also, two men received heart transplants from pigs, although both died within months.

The patient, Richard "Rick" Slayman of Weymouth, Massachusetts, is recovering well from the surgery last Saturday and is expected to be discharged soon, doctors said Thursday.

Dr. Tatsuo Kawai, the transplant surgeon, said the team believes the pig kidney will work for at least two years. If it fails, Slayman could go back on dialysis, said kidney specialist Dr. Winfred Williams. He noted that unlike the pig heart recipients who were very sick, Slayman is "actually quite robust."

[...] Dr. Parsia Vagefi, chief of surgical transplantation at UT Southwestern Medical Center, called the announcement "a big step forward." But echoing the Boston doctors, he said studies involving more patients at different medical centers would be needed for it to become more commonly available.

The experiment marks the latest development in xenotransplantation, the term for efforts to try to heal human patients with cells, tissues, or organs from animals. For decades, it didn't work — the human immune system immediately destroyed foreign animal tissue. More recent attempts have involved pigs that have been modified so their organs are more humanlike — increasing hope that they might one day help fill a shortage of donated organs.

[...] Pigs have long been used in human medicine, including pig skin grafts and implantation of pig heart valves. But transplanting entire organs is much more complex than using highly processed tissue. The kidney implanted in Slayman was provided by eGenesis of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The pig was genetically edited to remove harmful pig genes and add certain human genes to improve its compatibility with humans.

[...] The Food and Drug Administration gave special permission for Slayman's transplant under "compassionate use" rules.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday March 25, @06:07PM   Printer-friendly
from the Aperiodic-indistinguishability dept.

Never-Repeating Patterns of Tiles Can Safeguard Quantum Information

For over half a century, aperiodic tilings have fascinated mathematicians, hobbyists and researchers in many other fields. Now, two physicists have discovered a connection between aperiodic tilings and a seemingly unrelated branch of computer science: the study of how future quantum computers can encode information to shield it from errors. In a paper posted to the preprint server arxiv.org in November, the researchers showed how to transform Penrose tilings into an entirely new type of quantum error-correcting code. They also constructed similar codes based on two other kinds of aperiodic tiling.

At the heart of the correspondence is a simple observation: In both aperiodic tilings and quantum error-correcting codes, learning about a small part of a large system reveals nothing about the system as a whole.

...in 1995, the applied mathematician Peter Shor discovered a clever way to store quantum information. His encoding had two key properties. First, it could tolerate errors that only affected individual qubits. Second, it came with a procedure for correcting errors as they occurred, preventing them from piling up and derailing a computation. Shor's discovery was the first example of a quantum error-correcting code, and its two key properties are the defining features of all such codes.

...An infinite two-dimensional plane covered with Penrose tiles, like a grid of qubits, can be described using the mathematical framework of quantum physics: The quantum states are specific tilings instead of 0s and 1s. An error simply deletes a single patch of the tiling pattern, the way certain errors in qubit arrays wipe out the state of every qubit in a small cluster.

The next step was to identify tiling configurations that wouldn't be affected by localized errors, like the virtual qubit states in ordinary quantum error-correcting codes. The solution, as in an ordinary code, was to use superpositions. A carefully chosen superposition of Penrose tilings is akin to a bathroom tile arrangement proposed by the world's most indecisive interior decorator. Even if a piece of that jumbled blueprint is missing, it won't betray any information about the overall floor plan.

-----

I wonder... does the Penrose / Einstein principle of non-repetition preclude cylindrical, or even donut surface topology full tilings? If not, that could solve the infinite plane mapping into a physically realizable quantum computer problem. I do wonder, but not enough to give up all my other work and hobbies to pursue deeply theoretical mathematics being heavily studied by thousands of PhD mathematicians less than half my age...

Related:
Hobbyist Finds Math's Elusive 'Einstein' Tile
How Space and Time Could Be a Quantum Error-Correcting Code
How Quantum Computers Will Correct Their Errors


Original Submission

posted by hubie on Monday March 25, @01:21PM   Printer-friendly

Scientists argued that mankind had been reshaping the planet long before the 1950s:

A top panel of geologists has decided not to grant Anthropocene, or 'human age', its own distinct place in Earth's geological timeline after disagreeing over when exactly the era might have begun.

After 15 years of deliberation, a team of scientists made the case that humankind has so fundamentally altered the natural world that a new phase of Earth's existence – a new epoch – has already begun.

Soaring greenhouse gases, the spread of microplastics, decimation of other species, and fallout from nuclear tests – all were submitted as evidence that the world entered the Anthropocene in the mid-20th century.

But the proposal was rejected in a contentious vote that has been upheld by the International Union of Geological Sciences, the field's governing body said in a statement published on its website on March 21.

[...] Despite this, the Anthropocene would endure as a widely used term: "It will remain an invaluable descriptor of human impact on the Earth system," the union said.

In 2009 scientists began an enquiry that ultimately concluded that the Holocene epoch – which began 11,700 years ago as the last ice age ended – gave way to the Anthropocene around 1950.

They gathered a trove of evidence to show this, including traces of radioactive material found in the layered sediment of lakes, the global upheaval of plants and animals, and omnipresent "forever chemicals".

But opponents argued mankind had been reshaping the planet long before the 1950s, pointing to defining moments like the advent of farming and the industrial revolution.

[...] "I feel this has been a missed opportunity to recognise and endorse a simple reality, that our planet left its natural functioning state in the mid-20th century," Dr Head, a professor of earth sciences at Brock University in Canada, told AFP.

There was no disagreement that 'the age of man' had resulted in profound planetary changes, said Dr Erle Ellis, an environmental scientist critical of the Anthropocene proposal.

But scientists weren't convinced this impact represented an epoch, no less one that definitively began only seven decades ago, said Dr Ellis, professor of geography and environmental systems at the University of Maryland.

"The truth is, there was never a need for a firm boundary. It just wasn't the critical thing," he told AFP earlier this month after the proposal was first voted down.

Previously:
    • Human Made Materials Now Outweigh Earth's Entire Biomass
    • Anthropocene Angst and Godzilla's Growth
    • The Latest Chapter in Earth's History: The Meghalayan Age
    • For the Second Time, We Are Witnessing a New Geological Epoch: The Anthropocene


Original Submission