January-October 2014 temperatures highest on record — ScienceDaily

January-October 2014 temperatures highest on record — ScienceDaily.

The global average temperature over land and ocean surfaces for January to October 2014 was the highest on record, according to NOAA. October was the hottest since records began in 1880.

What’s a Mint Country?

In 2001 the world began talking about the Bric countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – as potential powerhouses of the world economy. The term was coined by economist Jim O’Neill, who has now identified the “Mint” countries – Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey – as emerging economic giants.

via BBC News – The Mint countries: Next economic giants?.

These countries have an excellent demographic future near-term because they are growing, in contrast to the Brics.  They are also geographically poised to take advantage of increasing world trade.

For example, Mexico is next door to the US, but also Latin America. Indonesia is in the heart of South-east Asia but also has deep connections with China.

And as we all know, Turkey is in both the West and East. Nigeria is not really similar in this regard for now, partly because of Africa’s lack of development, but it could be in the future if African countries stop fighting and trade with each other.

Corruption is a big problem in these places, but most people on the ground say that with improved education systems and more transparency the problem will solve itself.

Lack of adequate infrastructure is another issue.

Here is an amazing statistic. About 170 million people in Nigeria share about the same amount of power that is used by about 1.5 million people in the UK. Almost every business has to generate its own power. The costs are enormous.

“Can you imagine, can you believe, that this country has been growing at 7% with no power, with zero power? It’s a joke.” says Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote.

If they grow without the power, think how much more they will be able to do once they have reliable sources of electricity.

So over the next 30 years look for the Mints, and hope that we can keep up with them!

Ships – Across the Ocean to Trade

China’s Growth Fuels Boom in World Shipping Traffic.

Since ships haul 90 percent of world trade, the changes in ship traffic reflect changes in the global economy, especially the rising importance of Asia. Although the Atlantic Ocean’s share of global traffic dropped from nearly 40 percent in 1992 to 32 percent in 2012, the Pacific’s share rose from 35 to 39 percent.

The Largest Armies Ever

Halcyon Maps | Military Superpowers Throughout History.

After-effects of Lake Effect Snow

Bills game scheduled for snowy Buffalo could move elsewhere | Weather – WCVB Home.

Science is SO Awesome!

Explainer: What Philae Did In Its 60 hours on Comet 67P | IFLScience.

So what did rhe lander actually do?  Analytical chemistry.

Although chemical molecules can be right- or left-handed, all those on earth are left handed.

Many molecules come in one of two forms, known as stereoisomers, which chemists designate as left- or right-handed. These two forms are identical apart from the fact that they are mirror images of each other.

Your hands are a perfect analogy. Structurally, they are the same except for the fact that you can’t superimpose one on the other. And so it is with stereoisomers.

Explainer: What Philae Did In Its 60 hours on Comet 67P | IFLScience

Does the same hold true for comets?

Strangely, life on Earth is based entirely on left-handed molecules. It is perfectly possible to make the right-handed versions, but life just doesn’t. Where this preference for left-handedness comes from is a mystery. One theory is that the bias came from within the chemistry of comets. In the comets, right-handed molecules may have been preferentially destroyed by a combination of sunlight (to provide energy to trigger chemical reactions) and liquid water (with which the organic compounds could react).

Philae’s COSAC instrument is designed to sniff away at the comet’s organic contents and figure out whether they look like the building blocks of life and, importantly, whether the comet contains the same preference for lefty chemistry as Earth-bound life.

Second, it will determine (or try to) whether the comet came from detritus in our solar system, or from somewhere else.

A given element is defined by the number of protons in its nucleus. For example carbon always has six protons. However the number of neutrons can vary giving rise to carbon-12 (six protons and six neutrons), carbon-13 (with seven neutrons) and carbon-14 (with eight neutrons). All these different variations are known as isotopes. The ratio of these isotopes in any given body will vary depending on its origins. And since the material in the solar system came from more or less the same place, the isotopic carbon ratios for the Sun, the Earth and asteroids are pretty much the same.

But comets might be different, in fact remote measurements of comet Hale-Boop suggest that it may be an extra-solar alien. The problem is there were large uncertainties in these readings, so we can’t be sure of their accuracy. By sending the Ptolemy instrument to the surface of a comet this should all be resolved, as its isotopic measurements are meant to be as accurate as those performed on Earth, and the solar or alien origins of Comet 67P can be confirmed.

So where did this comet come from?  The lander will try and help us figure it out.  And, just maybe, it will shed new light on our origins.

What If Europe Never Colonized Africa?

Africa, Uncolonized: A Detailed Look at an Alternate Continent | Big Think | Strange Maps.

What if Europeans had never colonized Africa?  What would the “state” boundaries look like?

The map – upside down, to skew our traditional eurocentric point of view – shows an Africa dominated by Islamic states, and native kingdoms and federations. All have at least some basis in history, linguistics or ethnography. None of their borders is concurrent with any of the straight lines imposed on the continent by European powers, during the 1884-85 Berlin Conference and in the subsequent Scramble for Africa.

Much different than the current boundaries, of course.  Would it be more peaceful and prosperous?

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