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Mekong Delta may be completely submerged by 2050 according to scientists

The Mekong delta, an area where more than 12 million people live, could be completely submerged by 2050 due to rising sea levels caused by global warming underway according to a Utrecht University scientist in The Netherlands.

Philip Minderhoud has in fact collected the topographic data of the Mekong delta area, analyzed them and published the results in a study published today in Nature Communications. The sea level altitude data of this area had been unknown for years because it was owned only by the Vietnamese government, which only recently allowed some teams of scientists to perform more in-depth analysis.

The researcher, together with his colleagues, realized that the average altitude above sea level of this area is only 0.8 meters, which is two meters lower than the estimates previously made based only on satellite data. Such an altitude practically doubles the number of people involved in the processes that will see the now inevitable sea-level rise, processes that at this point will involve more than 12 million Vietnamese.

According to the same Minderhoud similar assessments can also be made for other areas of river deltas that could do the same purpose: in this regard, the scientist cites the river Ganges in Bangladesh and India and the Irrawaddy river in Myanmar.

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Units of measurement already used in commerce 3,000 years ago in northwestern Europe

An archaeological study shows that the use of weights and scales to measure the value of goods and materials in general was already widespread in the second millennium and at the beginning of the first millennium BC in north-western Europe.

Lorenz Rahmstorf, a researcher at the University of Göttingen, published a work in the journal Antiquity following analyzes that he and his team carried out of various objects from the middle and late Bronze Age found in various British islands and northern France.

The researcher found that these objects were based on the same weight units. This indicates that weights and standard measures to facilitate trade and exchange were already in use along European trade routes.

This contrasts with the common belief that trade during the Bronze Age in Northwestern Europe was substantially based on simple exchange and bartering. The existence of a real unit of measurement, as precise as that identified by the researcher, instead allowed people to compare exact reports of the value of the materials exchanged, using the latter as if they were precise sums of money.

This also allowed traders to perform much more complex calculations, such as calculating profits, creating currencies and exploiting any production surplus. Furthermore the weight units identified by the researcher are compatible and in some respects identical to those dominant in the eastern Mediterranean at that time: this indicates that the same knowledge of standard weights and measures was much more widespread than previously thought and was not alone limited to the advanced cultures of the eastern Mediterranean and western Asia, such as those of Greece, Egypt or Mesopotamia.

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Fasting useful for reducing inflammation according to a new study

A fasting regimen can be positive to reduce inflammation and to generally combat chronic inflammatory diseases and the pathologies that can result from them. A new study, this time published on Cell, highlights the positive aspects of fasting and in general of the strong caloric restrictions that can be applied to a normal diet periodically.

Miriam Merad, the author of the study and director of the Precision Immunology Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, showed that intermittent fasting in mice promotes the reduction of the release of pro-inflammatory cells called “monocytes” in the blood.

During the fasting period, these cells appeared in mice to enter a sort of “sleep,” which led them to reduce their inflammatory action compared to the same cells of the mice that had instead taken food. According to Merad herself, “Monocytes are highly inflammatory immune cells that can cause severe tissue damage and the population has seen an increasing amount in their blood circulation due to the eating habits that humans have acquired over the last few centuries.”

The same researcher also admits that the study of the anti-inflammatory effects of fasting can have an “enormous potential” – if the molecular mechanisms by which fasting acts on inflammatory diseases are accurately discovered, new therapeutic strategies could be developed to mimic this process.

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Banana fungus parasite arrives in Colombia

The entire banana industry is on alert after a serious banana plant disease has spread to Colombia, one of the largest banana producing countries in the world. The fact that even this disease, previously found only in crops in Asia, has reached even South America is rekindling local concerns regarding the production of one of the most consumed fruits in the world.

The producers fear for the Global market, currently too dependent on the Cavendish banana, a type of banana known for its durability during sea journeys and in general for its resistance after it has been harvested.

The disease is caused by the parasitic fungus Fusarium oxysporum which most likely came from Asian countries. In recent weeks, confirmation was expected regarding the spread of this fungus also in Latin America, and confirmation came precisely from the analyzes carried out on some crops in Colombia.

According to experts, this parasite could also haunt the Cavendish banana after the Gros Michel quality, also known as Big Mike banana, was literally devastated in the 1950s by another strain of the same parasite that is spreading again today.

But this time, compared to the 1950s when the entire production moved to Cavendish, there is no “backup” banana to bet on if Cavendish also disappears.

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Cargo drones for transporting goods over long distances are about to become a reality

Elroy Air, a California start-up, has successfully completed tests related to the first flight of a cargo drone. This is an unmanned aircraft that can carry heavy loads and that could begin to make real deliveries by mid-2020.

This is a sector, that of delivering goods with unmanned vehicles or aircraft, which could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars according to analysts.

Among the various sub-sectors, more and more space is being given to delivery by cargo drones, which could completely revolutionize the entire industry of logistics.

It is precisely in this sector that Elroy is trying to enter, together with other start-ups, using Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft, ie aircraft that take off and land vertically, in this case without even the pilot, and which so they won’t even need a track but just some free space.

Furthermore, those used by Elroy stand out from the crowd because they are not small or medium-sized drones. These are much larger cargo drones, capable of carrying much heavier loads and capable of covering much longer distances.

The company, in any case, hopes, at least initially, to use its first aircraft for the delivery of medical supplies or for the delivery of sensitive material, for example after a disaster or during military missions. However, the same start-up makes it clear that it does not disdain any collaboration with shipping companies such as FedEx or UPS.

The first prototype built by the company, called Chaparral, will be able to carry more than 100 pounds of materials for at least 480 miles.