Could autonomous cars destroy the auto insurance industry?

first_imgBreak the Mold with Real-World Logistics AI and… For Self-Driving Systems, Infrastructure and In… Tags: #autonomous cars#car insurance#GEICO#insurance#Self-Driving#transport#Warren Buffett Related Posts IT Trends of the Future That Are Worth Paying A…center_img Autonomous car adoption worldwide is going to have a major knock-on effect on most industries that rely on humans driving cars.One industry that may see a severe downturn in revenue is the auto insurance industry, according to Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett. The billionaire investor said to CNBC “anything that makes cars safer is very pro-social, and bad for the auto insurance industry.”See Also: Self-driving lobbying supergroup to play many dates in Washington D.C.Cars have been made way, way safer, but now when you start making the driver safer, that would be a big jump, and that will happen someday, and when it happens there will be a lot less auto insurance written.”Buffett’s holdings company manages Geico, one of the largest auto insurance companies in the United States. For the past 15 years, Geico has increased its revenue, but the onset of autonomous vehicles might see a downturn in the company’s success.Autonomous vehicle manufacturers might also take it upon themselves to self-insure, rather than have the customer spend thousands in insurance costs for a car controlled by the manufacturer’s software.Could insurance be split between car owners and car designers?We might even see a half-and-half solution, where automakers are willing to insure for accidents that happen due to a flaw in the software, but not if the customer takes control of the vehicle and has an accident.Either way, the likelihood of an accident on the road is bound to fall, which will make auto insurance less expensive; one would hope.Autonomous cars are also going to change how many miles cars rack up in a year, according to research from the University of Michigan. In the study, the team found that autonomous cars may allow families to downsize to one car and use the car for other purposes while they’re at work, like picking up the kids, shopping, or renting the car to a taxi service like Uber or Lyft for pick-ups.That might benefit auto repairs, since the car will spend more time on the road, causing issues with tires and the engine to arise quicker. Google has already made note of the potential uptake in repair shops, to reassure the industry that there’s still some future for them in the autonomous world. David Curry 5 Ways IoT can Help to Reduce Automatic Vehicle…last_img read more

Read More

Wolters Kluwer Interview: A Three-Part Series on the New Code Sec. 199A Passthrough Deduction and Proposed Regulations

first_imgLast year’s tax reform created a new 20-percent deduction of qualified business income for passthrough entities, subject to certain limitations. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) (P.L. 115-97) created the new Code Sec. 199A passthrough deduction for noncorporate taxpayers, effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017. However, the provision was enacted only temporarily through 2025. The controversial deduction has remained a buzzing topic of debate among lawmakers, tax policy experts, and stakeholders. In addition to its impermanence, the new passthrough deduction’s ambiguous statutory language created many questions for taxpayers and practitioners.The IRS released the much-anticipated proposed regulations on the new passthrough deduction, REG-107892-18, on August 8. The guidance has generated a mixed reaction on Capitol Hill, and while significant questions may have been answered, it appears that many remain. Indeed, an IRS spokesperson told Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting before the proposed regulations were released that the IRS’s goal was to issue complete regulations but that the guidance would “not cover every question that taxpayers have.”Wolters Kluwer recently spoke with Joshua Wu, member, Clark Hill PLC, about the tax implications of the new passthrough deduction and proposed regulations. That exchange included a discussion of the impact that the new law and IRS guidance, both present and future, may have on taxpayers and tax practitioners.The interview is presented as a three-part series running from Tuesday, September 11 through Thursday, September 13. Part I of the interview can be located here.Part II – Aggregation, Winners & LosersWolters Kluwer: How do the proposed regulations provide both limitations and flexibility regarding the available election to aggregate trades or businesses?Joshua Wu: Treasury agreed with various comments that some level of aggregation should be permitted to account for the legal, economic and other non-tax reasons that taxpayers operate a single business across multiple entities. Permissive aggregation allows taxpayers the benefit of combining trades or businesses for applying the W-2 wage limitation, potentially resulting in a higher limit. Under Proposed Reg. 1.199A-4, aggregation is allowed but not required. To use this method, the business must (1) qualify as a trade or business, (2) have common ownership, (3) not be a SSTB, and (4) demonstrate that the businesses are part of a larger, integrated trade or business (for individuals and trusts). The proposed regulations give businesses the benefits of electing aggregation without having to restructure the businesses from a legal standpoint. Businesses failing to qualify under the above test will have to consider whether a legal restructuring would be possible.Wolters Kluwer: How does Notice 2018-64 Methods for Calculating W-2 Wages for Purposes of Section 199A, which accompanied the release of the proposed regulations, coordinate with aggregation?Joshua Wu: Notice 2018-64 contains a proposed revenue procedure with guidance on three methods for calculating W-2 wages for purposes of section 199A. The Unmodified Box method uses the lesser of totals in Box 1 of Forms W-2 or Box 5 (Medicare wages). The Modified Box 1 method takes the total amounts in Box 1 of Forms W-2 minus amounts not wages for income withholding purposes, and adding total amounts in Box 12 (deferrals). The Tracking wages method is the most complex and tracks total wages subject to income tax withholding. The calculation method is dependent on the group of Forms W-2 included in the computation and, thus, will vary depending upon whether businesses are aggregated under 1.199A-4 or not. Taxpayers with businesses generating little or no Medicare wages may consider aggregating with businesses that report significant wages in Box 1 that are still subject to income tax withholding. Under the Modified Box 1 method, that may result in a higher wage limitation.Crack & PackWolters Kluwer: What noteworthy anti-abuse safeguards do the proposed regulations seek to establish? How do the rules address “cracking” or “crack and pack” strategies?Joshua Wu: Treasury included some anti-abuse provisions in the proposed regulations. One area that Treasury noted was the use of multiple non-grantor trusts to avoid the income threshold limitations on the 199A deduction. Taxpayers could theoretically use multiple non-grantor trusts to increase the 199A deduction by taking advantage of each trust’s separate threshold amount. The proposed regulations, under the authority of Section 643(f), provide that two or more trusts will be aggregated and treated as a single trust if such trusts have substantially the same grantor(s) and substantially the same primary beneficiary or beneficiaries, and if a principal purpose is to avoid tax. The proposed regulations have a presumption of a principal purpose of avoiding tax if the structure results in a significant tax benefit, unless there is a significant non-tax purpose that could not have been achieved without the creation of the trusts.Another anti-abuse issue relates to the “crack and pack” strategies. These strategies involve a business that is limited in its 199A deduction because it is an SSTB spinning off some of its business or assets to an entity that is not an SSTB and could claim the 199A deduction. For example, a law firm that owns its building could transfer the building to a separate entity and lease it back. The law firm is an SSTB and, thus, is subject to the 199A limitations. However, the real estate entity is not an SSTB and can generate a 199A deduction (based on the rental income) for the law partners. The proposed regulations provide that a SSTB includes any business with 50 percent common ownership (direct or indirect) that provides 80 percent or more of its property or services to an excluded trade or business. Also, if a trade or business shares 50 percent or more common ownership with an SSTB, to the extent that trade or business provides property or services to the commonly-owned SSTB, the portion of the property or services provided to the SSTB will be treated as an SSTB. The proposed regulations provide an example of a dentist who owns a dental practice and also owns an office building. The dentist rents half the building to the dental practice and half to unrelated persons. Under 1.99A-5(c)(2), the renting of half of the building to the dental practice will be treated as an SSTB.Winners & LosersWolters Kluwer: Generally, what industries can be seen as “winners” and “losers” in light of the proposed regulations?Joshua Wu: The most obvious “losers” in the proposed regulations are the specified services businesses (e.g., lawyers, accountants, doctors, etc.) who are further limited by the anti-abuse provisions in arranging their affairs to try and benefit from 199A. On the other hand, certain specific service providers benefit from the proposed regulations. For example, health clubs or spas are exempt from the SSTB limitation. Additionally, broadcasters of performing arts, real estate agents, real estate brokers, loan officers, ticket brokers, and art brokers are all exempt from the SSTB limitation.Wolters Kluwer: What areas of the Code Sec. 199A provision stand out as most complex when calculating the deduction, and how does this complexity vary among taxpayers?Joshua Wu: With respect to calculating the deduction, one complex area is planning to maximize the W-2 wages limitation. Because compensation as W-2 wages can reduce QBI, and potentially the 199A deduction, determining the efficient equilibrium point between having enough W-2 wages to limit the impact of the wage limitation, while preserving QBI, will be a fact-driven complex planning issue that must be determined by each taxpayer. Another area of complexity will be how taxpayers track losses which may reduce future QBI and, thus, the 199A deduction. The proposed regulations provide that losses disallowed for taxable years beginning before January 1, 2018, are not taken into account for purposes of computing QBI in a later taxable year. Taxpayers will be left to track pre-2018 and post-2018 losses and determine if a loss in a particular tax year reduces QBI or not.The third and final segment of the interview discusses how the proposed regulations may change and provides key takeaways for practitioners. The final segment will be released on Thursday, September 13.By Jessica Jeane, Senior News EditorLogin to read more tax news on CCH® AnswerConnect or CCH® Intelliconnect®.Not a subscriber? Sign up for a free trial or contact us for a representative.last_img read more

Read More

AI is Turning the Page of Digital Signage

first_imgIf you’re in retail, you’ve probably heard it before: Personalization matters. Tailoring the shopping experience to meet customers’ expectations and deliver what they need before they know they need it is key to success in a competitive retail environment. Because of this desire to meet — and exceed — customer expectations, there’s also a move in retail to bring the online experience into the physical store.That’s where digital signage comes in. Digital signage can provide customers with product and reviews, interactive experiences, tailored offers, and more. As the collection and analysis of customer data advances, artificial intelligence (AI) is starting to play a larger role in digital signage, too — a trend powered by Intel technologyOpens in a new window.AI Meets Digital Signage at the StoreYou’ve probably seen digital signage in a variety of places: hospitals, airports, and malls for starters. These signs have been used for years to convey information such as directions or promotions in places where people will see them. In some cases, these signs have allowed people to search for information or get answers to questions.In retail, digital signage has taken a leap forward with the help of new technologies and anonymous data analytics. Footwear maker Adidas, for example, created a Virtual Footwear WallOpens in a new window for some of the brand’s retail stores using a touchscreen digital display and Intel-powered technology. The wall allowed customers to select shoe models, view them from all angles, and see product information. Using anonymous, built-in video analytics, the company gathered data so it could provide customers with personalized experiences.Like Adidas, many retailers collect demographic data such as age and gender and use it to create relevant content for customers on digital signage. It’s common for retailers to use intelligent scheduling software that can present content based on trends in customer data. In some cases, customers will even see content chosen for them while they’re shopping in real time.The concept of AI being used for tasks like self-checkout and answering customer questions isn’t new. But as we can see, AI is also starting analyze more data in less time, produce deeper insights, and continuously learn how to adapt to customer audiences so retailers can use signage to create more personalized shopping experiences.Artificial Intelligence in Programmatic AdvertisingAI also plays an important role in advertising. We’ve already seen this technology roll out online for programmatic display ads. AI helps with online ad campaign managementOpens in a new window by employing machine learning algorithms that can deliver relevant content and make real-time bidding more efficient. AI generally serves to make advertisements online more personalized, presenting high-quality ads to the right consumers at the right times.AI has begun to play a similar role in advertising on digital signage, using data about sign viewers to display targeted ads and offers. Retailers can now participate in programmatic advertising, placing ads on digital screens out in the world, similar to the way they would online.Within their own stores, retailers also use demographic data to decide what ads or promotions to present to customers at certain locations. Other times, retailers even use video analytics to decide which ad to show to a person standing in front of a sign in real time.Why does this matter? Companies can start using digital signageOpens in a new window to target motivated customers already in stores. Take this example from Rite Aid: The company used a digital signage display to present coupons to customers based on demographic data. This meant they could show an ad for reading glasses, for example, to older shoppers entering the store rather than to teenagers, making it more likely the ad would lead to a purchase.As these applications demonstrate, many opportunities exist for retailers to use AI to deliver timely, appropriate advertisements, and it’s pretty certain we’ll be seeing more of this in the future.Build Better Digital Experiences With IntelRetailers want engaged customers, and shoppers want retailers to engage them. Digital signage with AI technology provides a platform for retailers to take shopping experiences to a new level, wowing customers with unique interactions and exceptional service. If retailers continue to take advantage of data and AI, their digital signage could play a key role in driving sales. To get started, learn more about Intel’s digital signage platformsOpens in a new window. Then head over to our retail solutions portalOpens in a new window to see all the ways Intel is working with retailers to transform the industry.last_img read more

Read More

Top stories: Bumblebees in trouble, memory loss, and energy-boosting enzymes

first_img‘Old-age protein’ may cause memory lossThe next time you forget where you left your car keys, you might be able to blame an immune protein that builds up in your blood as you age. The protein impairs the formation of new brain cells and contributes to age-related memory loss—at least in mice, according to a new study. Blocking it could help prevent run-of-the-mill memory decline.Catastrophic Chinese floods triggered by air pollutionSign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)In 2013, the worst flooding to hit China in 50 years was happening in the Sichuan province. About 200 people died, and a further 300,000 were displaced. Researchers designed computer simulations to model what had happened in order to find out whether the flood was caused by pollution. In the case of the Sichuan storms, soot had altered air circulation patterns and redistributed rainfall. The results suggest that air pollution should become a regular factor for weather forecasting.Need an energy boost? This enzyme may helpWhether you’re entering the home stretch of a marathon or trying to lug your groceries up that last flight of stairs, you push and push, and just when you think you can’t push any more, your body summons a bit of extra energy to get you through. Now, scientists have figured out where that boost comes from. What’s more, they say we may be able to use supplements to help us access it.Bumblebees being crushed by climate changeAs our climate changes, plants and animals are on the move. But bumblebees don’t seem to have gotten the memo. Rather than moving north toward cooler weather, the bees are staying put within shrinking ranges—or just disappearing altogether.Independent group pans WHO’s response to EbolaIf the World Health Organization (WHO) is to better protect humanity from major epidemics, it will have to change fundamentally. That is the conclusion of an independent panel charged with assessing WHO’s handling of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has killed more than 11,000 people.last_img read more

Read More

From shrinking spines to space fungus: The top five dangers of space travel

first_imgHuman errorMaking mistakes is something humans are extraordinarily good at, and in space, mistakes tend to hold heavier consequences. Andy Weir, the author of the science-fiction novel The Martian, took full advantage of that, crafting his entire plot around how a stranded astronaut must expertly solve dozens of problems or face certain death. Real-life space explorers are not always as lucky. Take the space shuttle Challenger and Columbia disasters, for example. Both shuttles broke apart because of mechanical problems, killing all seven astronauts on board each time. With Challenger, rubber O-rings were the culprit, causing the shuttle to break apart in the sky when they couldn’t seal properly in the cold. Columbia broke apart during re-entry when insulating foam separated from the shuttle and punctured its left wing. NASA management knew about mechanical issues in both cases, but considered them unimportant because they had never derailed a mission in the past.On long spaceflights where tensions might be running high or radiation could cause unusual anxiety, depression, or confusion, it’d be no surprise to see human-caused errors like a crash landing, leaky space suits, or even the loss of the water supply. Finding a way to limit the dangers of space and learning from past mistakes will ensure the safest flight to Mars and beyond. And with a little luck, our astronauts could end up as successful as Weir’s. Aspergillus fumigatus is the most common cause of invasive fungal infection in humans. The airborne microorganism grows well on the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is seen inside a Soyuz simulator at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia. Astronauts will have to get along in small spaces like this one for years on the way to another planet. Cosmic radiation, energy-charged atom fragments from the sun, and supernovae outside our galaxy can give astronauts anxiety, depression, and impaired decision-making. Microgravity makes meal time fun, but it can also cause muscle atrophy. Astronauts like NASA’s Karen Nyberg must exercise for 2 hours a day to prevent muscle loss up in orbit. Cai Yang Xinhua News Agency/Newscom Space fungusWe’ve known since the 1960s that some microorganisms can survive the perils of space, including microgravity, extreme temperatures, and radiation. And given that our best efforts to wipe space vessels clean of microorganisms often fails, exposure to these potentially pathogenic organisms is unavoidable. Now, a new study supports that claim. In October, researchers found that the airborne fungus Aspergillus fumigatus, the most common cause of invasive fungal infection in humans, grows just as well on the ISS as it does on Earth. And if fumigatus lives just fine in space, the researchers write, so could many other, more lethal pathogens. The researchers say this calls for a better detection and cleaning policy to avoid sending a ship full of astronauts into the dangers of deep space, only to have them killed by an earthly pathogen. Going stir crazyIf you’ve ever been on a long family road trip, you’ve had a taste of what a trip to Mars might be like—except that when your dad plays too much ABBA, you can eventually exit the vehicle. In a years-long deep space voyage without pit stops, a spat could mean life and death for crewmembers. In a NASA-funded report published this year on long space flights, Jack Stuster, a cultural anthropologist at private research corporation Anacapa Sciences in Santa Barbara, California, writes that U.S. astronauts’ No. 1 concern on missions to the International Space Station (ISS) was getting along with crewmates. Their journals, positive overall, reflected that concern: “I think I do need to get out of here,” one astronaut wrote. “Living in close quarters with people over a long period of time, definitely even things that normally wouldn’t bother you much at all can bother you after a while … that can drive anybody crazy.”And that was when Earth was right out the window. If astronauts start to feel this way when both Earth and their destination are but tiny pinpoints in space, things will feel even grimmer, Stuster says. Though these feelings can be limited by keeping busy, and by the intense psychological screenings that crewmembers undergo, the spectre of violence—and even mutiny—will always be a possibility. NASA center_img Cosmic radiationEn route to another world, astronauts will be bombarded with cosmic radiation: tiny, high-energy atom fragments that whiz through space and can damage cells and DNA. People on Earth are protected from cosmic rays thanks to Earth’s magnetic field, but an unprotected, Mars-bound astronaut would receive 0.3 sieverts of radiation on a one-way trip—that’s hardly close to the lethal dose of 8 sieverts or even the radiation sickness–causing dose of 1 sievert, but researchers think that amount (equivalent to 24 computerized tomography scans) is enough to cause irreversible damage to brain cells and other cells that aren’t readily replenished.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)“The central nervous system is the 800-pound gorilla in all of this,” says Charles Limoli, a radiation oncologist at the University of California, Irvine. In a recent rodent study in Scientific Reports, Limoli suggests that cosmic rays would cause long-term brain damage in astronauts on the way to another planet, resulting in dementia, memory deficits, anxiety, depression, and impaired decision-making. “This is not positive news for astronauts deployed on a 2- to 3-year round trip to Mars,” he says. But it might be a problem we can fix. Several research groups, including Limoli’s, are working on a drug that could protect cells and DNA from being broken apart. Still, others are trying to invent shields that would deflect the rays altogether. NASA When President John F. Kennedy declared in 1962 that the United States would go to the moon, not because it is easy, but “because [it is] hard,” he had no idea how hard. Nevertheless, the success of the Apollo 11 moon landing and subsequent manned missions inspired space explorers of all stripes to justify their journeys to other cosmic outposts in the same vein: because it’s the ultimate challenge. But with each new study, the passage to Mars and other planets seems fraught with more danger than ever thought possible.Just lifting off the surface of Earth and landing on another planet is bad enough. But how intense are the dangers of actually traveling in space? Here are five of the most dangerous threats astronauts will face when traveling to Mars and beyond. Bill Ingalls/NASA Anna_Gavrylova/iStockphoto MicrogravityFrom YouTube videos of astronauts playing with floating blobs of water or doing effortless backflips, it seems like microgravity would be a blast. But up in space, the reality is much more serious. The absence of gravity causes bones and muscles to deteriorate, leading to a number of physiological problems. Astronauts on the ISS exercise for 2 hours a day to protect their muscles from wasting away, but losing bone density is unavoidable.Microgravity could also affect the body in other, unpredictable ways. Many astronauts, including Scott Kelly, have returned to Earth with blurred vision. The cause, according to research presented this week at the Radiology Society of North America’s annual meeting, is an increased volume of spinal fluid that pushes against the optic nerve and eyeballs, causing farsightedness. In another study, scientists discovered that the spinal muscles of ISS astronauts—essential for support and movement—shrank significantly during their time in space, decreasing by 19%. That could be the reason more than half of all ISS crew members report spinal pain and are four times more likely than Earth-bound citizens to have herniated disks, the researchers write in Spine. One solution? Space yoga—researchers say it might help increase spine mobility and strength. Exactly which poses they’ll do is yet to be determined. Technicians at mission control—like these at work at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center—work with astronauts to make sure missions run smoothly and without error.last_img read more

Read More

Water mismanagement triggered ecological disaster in Australian rivers, panel concludes

first_img Water mismanagement triggered ecological disaster in Australian rivers, panel concludes Dead fish floating in the Darling River near Menindee, Australia, earlier this month. Even before a recent massive fish die-off put Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin in the headlines worldwide, scientists had been warning that mismanagement of the region’s scarce water was setting the stage for an environmental disaster.They were right, a report released today by a special government commission concludes. The yearlong inquiry found that too much water is being taken out of the river network for irrigation and household use.The Murray-Darling system comprises more than 100 named waterways that drain 1 million square kilometers in the country’s arid southeast. Heavy irrigation has left the lower reaches of the rivers running at about a third of historical levels and sometimes completely dry. Occasionally, as over the past 6 weeks, the flow is too low to flush nutrients from agricultural runoff through the system, leading to algal blooms and subsequent fish kills.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*) Jeremy Buckingham’s Office center_img By Dennis NormileJan. 31, 2019 , 1:15 PM A year ago, the state of South Australia—which hosts a relatively short stretch of the Murray River including its mouth on the Southern Ocean—empaneled a royal commission to address a long list of questions about the effectiveness of the 2007 Water Act and the 2012 Basin Plan, both created to preserve the ecology of the river system. The report contends that implementation of the Basin Plan has lost sight of the Water Act’s original intent, which was to “ensure the return to environmentally sustainable levels of extraction for water resources that are overallocated or overused.” That clear objective has “morphed into a misleading and dangerous misunderstanding” that there should be a balance among economic, environmental, and social considerations, the panel says.The commission’s 44 recommendations include making new assessments of how much water must be left in the rivers to sustain the basin ecology, studying the impacts of climate change, increasing decision-making transparency, and purchasing additional water for the rivers through buybacks from farmers. Although the report is 750 pages long, some of its findings are amusingly terse. To the question whether the current implementation of the Basin Plan is “likely to achieve the objects and purposes of the [2007] Act,” the commission simply answered: “No. See entire report.”“The Royal Commission has provided an outstanding service to the nation,” says Quentin Grafton, an economist specializing in water issues at Australian National University in Canberra. But the fate of the recommendations remains to be seen. Implementation of some will require coordination between other Murray-Darling basin states—New South Wales, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, and Queensland—and the federal government, as well as revisions to both the Water Act and the Basin Plan that would likely meet with fierce resistance from farmers. But, “If just half of these recommendations could be followed, a much better future for the basin is likely to ensue,” says Caroline Sullivan, an environmental economist at Southern Cross University in Lismore, Australia.last_img read more

Read More