Sci/Tech

Scientists Uncover Biogeochemical Controls on Occurrence and Distribution of PACs in Coals
July 21, 2017 09:56 AM - University of Science and Technology of China

The organic matter in coal contains polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) of varying quantities in diverse soluble and insoluble forms. PACs in coal are of special interest for organic geochemical studies as they have been successfully used as biological marker compounds (biomarkers) and indicators of thermal maturity.

However, challenges exist when applying PACs in understanding the organic geochemistry of coal. For example, what are the sources of PACs in coals? How do they transform during the long-term coal-formation history? Is there any regular relationship between the PAC and macro-molecular structural changes? 

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United States' Electric Grid Remains Vulnerable to Natural Disasters, Cyber and Physical Attacks; Actions Needed to Improve Resiliency of the Power System
July 20, 2017 02:02 PM - National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

With growing risks to the nation’s electrical grid from natural disasters and as a potential target for malicious attacks, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should work closely with utility operators and other stakeholders to improve cyber and physical security and resilience, says a new congressionally mandated report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.  

The grid remains vulnerable to diverse threats that can potentially cause extensive damage and result in large-area, prolonged outages that could cost billions of dollars and cause loss of life, the report found. The committee that conducted the study and wrote the report recommended ways to make the grid more resilient through the development and demonstration of technologies and organizational strategies that minimize the likelihood that outages will happen, reduce the impacts and speed recovery if they do, all the while developing mechanisms for continual improvements based on changing threats.

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SPOTLIGHT

Elon Musk Isn't the Only One Trying to Computerize Your Brain

Cade Metz, Wired

Elon Musk wants to merge the computer with the human brain, build a “neural lace,” create a “direct cortical interface,” whatever that might look like. In recent months, the founder of Tesla, SpaceX, and OpenAI has repeatedly hinted at these ambitions, and then, earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Musk has now launched a company called Neuralink that aims to implant tiny electrodes in the brain “that may one day upload and download thoughts.”

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