Sweden hunting for Russian submarine less than 31 miles from Stockholm

Nuclear submarine (NS) "Yuri Dolgoruky"

The Swedish military mobilized its troops to a magnitude unseen since the Cold War. (Image courtesy of rt.com)

On 18 October, Sweden mobilized its ships, troops, and helicopters in a search for suspected Soviet submarines in the Baltic Sea less than 31 miles from Stockholm. The Swedish military has said that their source for this information is trustworthy, and that over 200 military personnel were involved in the search. The event was triggered by increasing tensions between the Baltic and Nordic states, and Russia. Countries in the area have become increasingly wary of Russia since the annexation of Crimea, in Ukraine. Last month, Sweden said two Russian warplanes entered its airspace, calling it a “serious violation”, and sending a protest to the Russian ambassador. Just last week, Finland accused Russia of interfering with one of their environmental research vessels in international waters.

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Researchers say consumption of sugary soft drinks may be linked to DNA aging


Consumption of high sugar soft drinks may be linked to aging. (Image courtesy of Reuters)

Researchers have studied the impact of drinking carbonated, high-sugar drinks in over 5000 healthy adults aged 20 to 65. They found that those who reported drinking a 350 mL bottle of a carbonated beverage per day had DNA changes normally found in cells 4.6 years older. They also found that telomeres, protective DNA caps on the ends of chromosomes, were shorter. Normally, telomeres become shorter every time a cell divides, and are associated with human lifespan as well as cancer and heart disease. The rush of sugar after consuming a soft drink may lead to oxidative stress and inflammation, resulting in adequate conditions for telomere degradation.

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India launches air quality index as a warning of pollution levels


New Delhi’s pollution levels recently surpassed that of China’s capital, Beijing. (Image courtesy of The New York Times)

India’s capital, New Delhi, has the worst air pollution in the world. The Air Quality Index will measure air quality throughout the country, and warn citizens when pollution levels are above dangerous levels. In New Delhi, pollution levels are three to four times their sanctioned limit of 100 micrograms per cubic meter, reaching 400 last winter, while the World Health Organization’s recommended maximum is 20 micrograms per cubic meter. Recently, New Delhi has been undergoing rapid economic development, raising both the living standards and pollution levels. The index will measure eight different pollutants and will include easy-to-understand colour coded warning levels.

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Technological breakthrough in nuclear fusion energy; Small nuclear reactors could be ready for use within a decade


Tom McGuire, head of the project, stands next to the compact fusion reactor inside his lab. (Image courtesy of Reuters)

On 15 October, Lockheed Martin Corp announced that it had developed nuclear fusion reactors small enough to fit on the back of a truck. They say that it is possible to build a 100-megawatt that is ten times smaller than current reactors. In less than a year, Lockheed will build and test a compact fusion reactor, followed by a prototype in five years, and possibly a fully functional reactor in ten years. This work could provide a new energy source to solve global conflicts about energy. Compact nuclear fusion would produce much less waste than coal powered plants, and generate nearly 10 million times the amount of energy the same amount of coal would.

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Iceland in midst of largest continuous volcanic eruption in centuries

Caption: An aerial view of lava and plumes of gas near Bárðarbunga volcano. (Image courtesy of mashable.com)

Since 31 August 2014, Iceland’s volcano Bárðarbunga has been spewing sulfur fumes and lava with no indication of stopping. Concentrations of the fumes have reached unhealthy levels in many parts of the country, causing cancellation of sporting events, and posing a danger to residents with asthma. The ongoing eruption has produced a lava field the size of Manhattan, and is growing at a rate of 0.6 miles per day. The eruption is currently in the Holuhraun lava fields, 28 miles away from the crater of Bárðarbunga. If the eruption had taken place under the ice there, flooding could have occurred, and affected farmers living downhill from the volcano, as well as tourism in Northeastern Iceland. Scientists are monitoring the site carefully as there is a possibility of an eruption in that location.

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