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In ocean’s twilight zone, Maldivian aquanauts witness incredible scenes

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Scientist Shafiya Naeem – the current Director General of Maldives Marine Research Institute is all about marine life. She worked at the Ministry of Fisheries since 2000 and researched marine life from 150 meters below. But one thing she never got the chance to do was travel to the deep sea.

On Sunday, September 11, Shafiya finally made it, entering history books with the deep descent into the twilight zone as part of an international science mission, among the first people from the world’s lowest-lying nation to make the journey.

In the expedition which is a joint initiative by UK-based Nekton and the Maldivian government, Shafiya along with research assistant colleague Farah Amjad led an all-female crew of aquanauts on the maiden dive of the Nekton Maldives Mission.

As part of the expedition, they will map, sample, and gather data on ocean health which can inform policymakers both in the Maldives and beyond, as the climate crisis deepens.

During the descend on September 11, 2022, the scientists explored 250 meters below surface level along the east coast of Laamu Atoll. (Photo / Nekton)

Nekton stated that there are almost no images of Maldivian waters below 30 meters, hence travelling to that depth itself was historical.

Speaking to Sun after the dive, Shafiya said that she was incredibly proud of getting this opportunity. She added that more than a self-accomplishment, she sees this as a boost to the knowledge of Maldives and Maldivian waters.

“Being a Maldivian, I am very proud to be one of the people to take part [in such an expedition]. To be able to see areas never seen before in Maldives is just the beginning of a bigger task.”

Shafiya noted that discussions with Nekton on researching deeper waters of Maldives began in 2019. She further said that gathering information on marine life was important for tourism as well.

“While the Maldivian waters are soon deep, we don’t actually know what lives there. We don’t know the connection between surface and deeper waters. Isn’t it important to know what lies in different parts of the ocean, even in managing resorts now?”

In the dive, the researchers explored 250 meters below surface level along the east coast of Laamu Atoll.

Shafiya revealed that they were able to see soft corals and sea urchins from this depth.

The aquanauts kept the submersible at 150 and 60 meters and gathered information. She stated that at those levels they were able to see schools of various fishes.

While there are a total of 40 partners in the expedition, this includes 16 Maldivians. Moreover, there are 10 Maldivian marine scientists on the team that will be descending underwater.

The research will conclude on October 7, and in that duration the scientists will travel from Laamu atoll to the southernmost regions, working on gathering samples from different areas.

Participants hope to get a look at 1,000 meters below the Maldivian waters as well.

Speaking further on their process, Shafiya detailed that once all the work underwater is completed, they will be analyzing all the samples. She added that Maldivian scientists will be part of this as well.

All the data gathered from this research will be shared with Maldives and used to understand the conditions of the Maldivian waters, as well as for conservation work.

Shafiya expressed hope that the information they will gather would enable them to understand the steps to take in maintaining the marine life of Maldives.

“Looking at it that way, for me rather than this being a personal thing, it is an opportunity to gain important information for Maldives, that would increase the capabilities of Maldivians.”

Source: Nafaahath Ibrahim, Sun.mv

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3 scientists awarded 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics for work in quantum mechanics

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The 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded jointly to Alain Aspect, John F. Clauser and Anton Zeilinger, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced on Tuesday.

The prize was awarded to the three scientists “for experiments with entangled photons, establishing the violation of Bell inequalities and pioneering quantum information science,” the Nobel Committee said in a statement.

Aspect, born in 1947 in France’s Agen, is a professor at Paris-Saclay University. Clauser, 80, is a research physicist at J.F. Clauser and Associates in the United States. Zeilinger, 77, serves as a professor at the University of Vienna.

The laureates’ development of experimental tools has “laid the foundation for a new era of quantum technology,” the committee said, adding that the ability to “manipulate and manage quantum states and all their layers of properties gives us access to tools with unexpected potential.”

“The 2022 #NobelPrize laureates in physics have conducted groundbreaking experiments using entangled quantum states, where two particles behave like a single unit even when they are separated,” the committee tweeted.

“The results have cleared the way for new technology based upon quantum information.”

The three will share a prize of 10 million Swedish kronor ($901,500), which they will receive from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of scientist Alfred Nobel who created the prizes in his last will and testament.

 

Source: CGTN

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China starts selecting 4th batch of astronauts

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China started the selection process of the fourth batch of astronauts to join later manned space missions, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA).

Between 12 and 14 candidates will be chosen, including seven or eight pilots. Engineers will also be selected as well as two payload experts.

The pilots will be selected among active pilots of China’s armed forces. The engineers will be picked from researchers and technicians in aerospace or related industries. And the payload experts will be drafted among those also researching space science.

The posts of payload experts are also open to applicants from Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions for the first time.

The CMSA will carry out the selection procedure which is expected to last about 18 months.

Currently the Astronaut Center of China is training the third batch of 18 astronauts before they are certified for space missions.

China has 21 astronauts in total from the first and the second generations. 14 of them have taken part in nine missions, including the latest Shenzhou-14 mission.

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Diligent female chemist steeps in scientific innovation

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Yu Jihong, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, showed a thin “card” with high flexibility. It may be hard to imagine that it is a new type of lithium(Li)-air battery.

Yu, 55, a professor of chemistry at Jilin University in Changchun, northeast China’s Jilin Province, developed this flexible zeolite electrolyte solid-state Li-air battery, only 0.33 mm in thickness, together with her team members in 2021.

Their work has shown huge application potentials in flexible electronics and automobile power systems.

The Li-air battery is one of the breakthroughs made by Yu’s team, amid their continuous efforts to develop zeolite-based materials for more than three decades.

Zeolites are materials for molecular sieving, widely used in industrial catalysis and ion-exchange, according to Yu, a delegate to the upcoming 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

Traditional studies of zeolites hit a bottleneck in the 1990s, but Yu persevered and dedicated herself to the rational synthesis of zeolites, a challenging research direction, despite others’ discouragement.

The efforts have borne fruit. Yu’s team pioneered the pathway toward rational design and zeolites synthesis. One of their major discoveries helps boost the efficiency and green development of zeolites synthesis.

These successes come with Yu’s diligence. Rushing back and forth, Yu is busy giving lessons, revising papers, and participating in academic conferences.

Yu sets an example of innovation and scientific research for her students. Her untiring efforts dedicated to teaching have nurtured more than 70 Ph.D. students.

Having won various of domestic and international awards, Yu still describes herself as “an ordinary teacher, an ordinary scientific worker, and a Party member.”

Yu said that she will continue to devote herself to scientific and technological innovation, making new contributions for the country.

 

Source: Xinhua

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