You may have heard that the world could be in for 20 feet of sea level rise even if it meets its climate goal of keeping warming below 2°C. And if you haven't heard, feel free to get caught upover here. We'll wait.
That rise would vastly reshape coastlines around the world and endanger millions unless efforts are made to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the changes already in the pipeline. Specifically, 444,000 square miles of land that's home to more than 375 million people today will be swallowed up by the oceans.
But saying that (and showing maps and figures) only conveys a fraction of the change society could be in for. To really understand what climate change could mean for coastal areas, photos really do the trick.
Below are 10 before-and-after images of iconic locations in major U.S. coastal cities if sea levels rose 25 feet. The after images were created by visual artist Nickolay Lamm using sea level rise mapping data developed by Climate Central. Boston's Back Bay becomes the Front Bay, Los Angeles's Venice Beach and Miami's Ocean Drive disappear completely and the Washington Monument could find a second use as a lighthouse.
Venice Beach Boardwalk
Back Bay Boston
Ocean Drive Miami
San Diego Convention Center
Statue of Libery
San Francisco's Crissy Field
The after images were created by visual artist Nickolay Lammusing sea level rise mapping data developed by Climate Central
Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland have discovered a new kind of particle called the pentaquark, they announced Tuesday.
Physicists had theorised the existence of the pentaquark since the 1960s, but had never been able to prove it until its detection by the LHCb experiment at the LHC, the world's most powerful particle smasher.
The discovery of the pentaquark comes after the LHC was used in 2012 to prove the existence of another particle, the Higgs Boson, which confers mass.
LHCb spokesman Guy Wilkinson said the pentaquark represented a way to combine quarks the sub-atomic particles that make up protons and neutrons "in a pattern that has never been observed before in over 50 years of experimental searches."
He added: "Studying its properties may allow us to understand better how ordinary matter, the protons and neutrons from which we're all made, is constituted."
The LHC cranked back up again in June after a two-year upgrade, with scientists hailing a "new era" in their quest to unravel more mysteries of the Universe.
The new tests at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern) have twice the energy levels they had during the last three-year experiment phase, when the existence of the Higgs Boson was confirmed.
Four laboratories are located along the LHC's ring-shaped tunnel around a hundred metres (109 yards) underground, where scientists analyse collisions between particles moving at close to the speed of light.
The LHCb, one of the four experiments, is focused on understanding the differences between matter and anti-matter and analysing certain quarks.
"Our understanding of the structure of matter was revolutionized in 1964 when American physicist, Murray Gell-Mann, proposed that a category of particles known as baryons, which includes protons and neutrons, are comprised of three fractionally charged objects called quarks," Cern said in a statement.
Gell-Mann, who won the Nobel Physics Prize in 1969, further proposed another category of particles, mesons, formed of "quark-antiquark" pairs.
His model allowed for the existence of other quark combinations such as pentaquarks, which are composed of four quarks and an antiquark. But no conclusive evidence for pentaquarks had been seen until now.
The LHCb experiment changed the game by allowing scientists to "look for pentaquarks from many perspectives", Cern said.
The findings have been submitted to the journal Physical Review Letters.
The next stage of the research will focus on studying how the quarks are bound together within the pentaquarks, the nuclear laboratory added.
Pluto may have been demoted from the big-planet table but on Wednesday, it was the dwarf planet's time in the spotlight.
After travelling more than 5 billion kilometres in 9.5 years, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft survived its closest encounter with Pluto, coming within 12,500 kilometres of the distant, icy world.
On Wednesday morning, a signal from the spacecraft, which is the size of a grand piano, was received on Earth, confirming the probe had whizzed passed the planet about 58,000km/h.
The last frontier: New Horizons survived its encounter with Pluto. Photo: AP
Engineers at NASA mission control at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland cheered as operations manager Alice Bowman received word that the probe had gathered detailed scientific data on a region of the solar system that has never been explored until now.
At a press conference later, the visibly overwhelmed Ms Bowman compared her anxious wait to hear from the spacecraft to the experience of waiting for a teenagerto return home after a late night out.
"You have a lot of faith in your children but they don't always do what you expect," she said.
"In this instance the spacecraft did exactly what it was supposed to do."
NASA administrator Charles Bolden took the voyage's success as an opportunity to spruik the United States' space credentials.
"We have visited every planet in our solar system. There is no other nation in the world that has the capability of doing that." Pluto's demotion to dwarf planet didn't seem to bother him.
One of the mission's goals is to uncover the mysteries of faraway worlds such as Pluto, which are relics of the material that formed the building blocks of the larger planets, including Earth.
Lewis Ball, the director of astronomy and space science at the CSIRO, said there was still a lot scientists don't know about Pluto, its moons and similar distant worlds of the Kuiper belt, a region beyond Neptune that contains as many as 10 million objects bigger than one kilometre across.
"Reaching Pluto and these most distant parts of our solar system has been a priority for space science for years because of the fact that it holds those building blocks of our solar system that have been stored in a deep freeze," said Dr Ball.
"What we're hoping is that it will give us information about the origin and evolution of the Earth and early planets in the solar system," he said.
The first images from New Horizons' closest encounter are expected on Thursday morning. It takes more than 4½ hours for data to travel one way from Pluto to Earth.
The mission's principal investigator, Alan Stern, said the science "data pass" on Wednesday evening would also include information from the probe's spectrometers and details of Pluto's moons.
"It's something we've called the New York Times data set, because we think it will be pretty interesting," he said.
Pluto has five known moons but there is a reasonable chance New Horizons will uncover more.
The head of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, John Grunsfeld, said the mission's journey of discovery was only just beginning.
"If you thought today was big, wait until tomorrow and the next day," he said.
An excited Mr Stern said: "My prediction was that we would find something wonderful, and we did. This is proof that good things really do come in small packages."
The "something wonderful" he referred to was a remarkable "heart" feature on the surface of Pluto that dominated the most detailed images captured yet.
Microsoft's Universal Foldable Keyboard connects to all three mobile platforms, and it folds. Aside from a slightly odd quasi-ergonomic design, it's a solid product.
Who cares about a mobile keyboard? After all, I can thumb-type quite handily, I can dictate text to Windows 10 via Cortana, and I’m never too far from a physical keyboard, especially with thin-and-light ultrabooks or a Surface tablet. So why bother with Microsoft’s latest Universal Mobile Keyboard?
Because eventually, if Microsoft’s Continuum vision comes to pass, it will become your PC’s keyboard, too. And that makes evaluating it more important than you might think.
Fortunately, the Universal Mobile Keyboard can be summed up quite neatly: it’s essentially Microsoft’s very good Type Cover keyboard, but in a split-keyboard, quasi-ergonomic layout that connects to all three major mobile platforms via Bluetooth. It’s spill-resistant. And, of course, it’s foldable. I’ve confirmed this.
Using it couldn’t be easier. Simply unfold it, and it automatically turns on and connects to any devices that you have previously set up to connect to it. Microsoft claims the battery will last for three months, after which you’ll have to charge it using the included microUSB charger. The keyboard measures 11.61 inches wide by 4.9 inches high when unfolded; and 0.45 inches thin, when folded.
Ergonomic keyboards usually split down the middle to allow a user to position his or her wrists in a line drawn from the elbow straight to the tips of the fingers. In practice, that usually means that a typist has her forearms pointed slightly inward, or pigeon-toed, and an ergonomic keyboard will accommodate that.
Though Microsoft makes no claims that its Universal Folding Keyboard is ergonomic, the split keyboard features includes both “N” and “T” keys that are twice the width of the others, characteristic of an ergonomic keyboard. Yet the keys are aligned vertically, much like any other standard keyboard. The keyboard also lies perfectly flat.
There’s no getting around it: I was able to type at about half the speed I normally would using the Universal Foldable Keyboard, primarily because the split keyboard and the oddly-sized keys felt unnatural. Keep in mind, though, that I’m both a relatively lousy typist as well as someone who generally doesn’t use an ergonomic keyboard. After several hours of use, though, I still didn’t like using it.
And that’s a shame, because otherwise, Microsoft’s keyboard is very well built. I’m probably slightly biased here because it’s nearly identical to the slightly smaller Surface 3version of Microsoft’s Type Cover; I’ve used the Surface Pro 3 as a daily driver for more than a year, and become quite fond of Microsoft’s Type Cover keyboard for both machines.
Still, there are differences. The key layout doesn’t follow either the Surface 3 or the Surface Pro 3, but tucks a subset of the most common functions into the top row: volume and playback controls, search, a key to lock the phone or tablet, and a button to change the keyboard to adjust its layout to the three different mobile operating systems—Windows, Android, and “iPad /IPhone” (not iOS). Microsoft doesn’t actually label the top row of keys with function controls at all, although a Function key is indeed present on the keyboard.
The keyboard itself also includes two Bluetooth buttons, each of which can be held down to pair with a particular device, allowing you to set up the same keyboard to connect to a tablet as well as a phone, for example.
Microsoft dubs its Bluetooth keyboard a “universal” one, and the keyboard will connect to phones running Windows Phone 8, 8.1, 8.1 Update 1, Apple iOS 7 through 8.1, and Android 4.4.2 through Android 5.0.
I had no problem connecting the keyboard to either a Windows phone, and Android phone, or to phones running Microsoft’s latest version of Windows 10 Mobile. (Just be sure that when the phone asks you to enter a password on the keyboard itself that you hold down Shift to type numbers, and hit Enter.) The only device that wouldn’t connect to the keyboard was a Surface Pro 2 tablet running a pre-release version of Windows 10.
Eventually, phones with Windows 10 Mobile built in will be able to connect to an HDMI monitor through a cable (or wirelessly) via Microsoft’s Continuum vision. Mobile versions of Universal apps like Office will expand to cover the vast expanse of the desktop display, transforming the mobile phone into something more like a full-fledged Windows PC. If all goes as planned, some day you may be leaving your Windows tablet at home, swapping it out for something far less bulky.
If that day ever comes to pass, you’ll need a keyboard to accompany that phone. And that’s where the Universal Mobile Keyboard comes in.
Some might think that we’re going to be somewhat generous in awarding this keyboard the rating we did, given that I felt it was uncomfortable to use. But I tend to feel that keyboards tend to be subjective experiences; those that prefer split keyboards may love Microsoft’s device. I don’t. But there’s no denying that the keyboard is well-built, and stands on the shoulders of a keyboard I’ve used daily and quite enjoyed. From that standpoint, I’d recommend it.