India eyeing a new monster 100GW solar-capacity goal

Earlier this week, India’s energy minister R.K. Singh suggested that the country is considering issuing a tender for 100 gigawatts of solar energy. PV Tech confirmed the report, which added that the tender could be tied to solar panel-manufacturing buildout. In 2015, India set a goal to reach 100GW of solar capacity as part of its larger aim of 175GW of renewable energy in general by 2022. This latest 100GW tender would be for a 2030 or 2035 target.

The existing goal is ambitious, so a stretch goal further into the future is even more so. The country’s current total solar capacity is just 24.4GW, according to The Economic Times. (For context, as of this month the US has about 55.9GW of installed solar capacity total.) But although the solar sector there is still small compared to the US, it’s growing quickly. Utility-scale solar capacity grew by 72 percent in the previous year, The Economic Times noted.

Johannes Urpelainen, an India-based fellow at the Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy, said that the 100GW tender wouldn’t be for one massive plant but would represent financing for small projects.

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Buzz Aldrin returns to Twitter, sues his son and former manager

All is not well in the otherworldly world of the second human to walk on the Moon.

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin has sued his family, including his son Andy Aldrin, former business manager Christina Korp, and several foundations. The suit alleges that the family has taken advantage of the 88-year-old through a de facto guardianship.

Filed on June 7 in a Florida judicial circuit court, and obtained Friday evening by Ars, the lawsuit alleges that Andy Aldrin and Korp used the former astronaut’s personal credit cards, trust accounts, artifacts, and social media accounts for their own purposes. It additionally alleges the following: that the family prevented Aldrin, who has been married three times, from marrying for a fourth time; that the family has “bullied” his romantic interests; and that the family has slandered the astronaut by saying he has dementia or Alzheimer’s.

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Selfies show worm slithered through woman’s face for 2 weeks

A 32-year-old woman who visited a rural area outside of Moscow returned home with a surprising stowaway—in her face. And it was a restless one at that, according to a short report published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

After her trip, she noticed an unusual lump on her cheek, below her left eye. Five days later it was gone, but another had formed just above her left eye. Ten days after that, a lump resurfaced on her upper lip, causing massive swelling.

To track the progress of her roving blemish, she took selfies. In reports to doctors, she said that the nodules caused some burning and itchiness but no other symptoms or problems. She also noted her recent trip and recalled being frequently bitten by mosquitoes.

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Extinct gibbon in ancient Chinese tomb hints at other lost primate species

Primates, especially gibbons and other apes, are rare finds in the Asian fossil record. Fossils from the Pleistocene and Holocene are most often preserved in caves, where live gibbons almost never spend time. But humans preserved the remains of at least one gibbon for posterity by burying it in the tomb of a Chinese noblewoman 2,300 years ago during China’s Warring States Period.

The unfortunate ape was buried with a noblewoman believed to be Lady Xia, the grandmother of Qin Shi Huang, the first Chinese emperor, who ruled from 259 to 210 BCE. Lady Xia also took a leopard, a lynx, an Asiatic black bear, a crane, and several domestic animals with her to her very ornate grave in Chang’an, now the city of Shenheyuan in Shaanxi Province. Morbid menageries are a hallmark of high-status burials from this period, but primatologist Samuel Turvey of the Zoological Society of London says archaeologists have never before seen a gibbon interred this way.

That’s interesting in its own right. By Lady Xia’s day, gibbons had become popular among the nobility as pets and symbols of the class of scholars and officials called Junzi. Thanks to the graceful way they swing through the trees, gibbons were considered noble in ancient Chinese culture. So it’s culturally significant to find a gibbon, presumably a pet, buried with the grandmother of China’s first emperor. But this particular gibbon, besides its proximity to power, may also represent a previously undiscovered—and now extinct—species.

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Huge wave in Venus’ clouds changes the length of a day

You wouldn’t expect a toy spinning top to be rotating at precisely the same rate every time you glance at it, but you probably would expect a planet to. Yet observations of Venus over the years have come up with slightly different numbers when calculating the length of a Venusian day based on its rotation.

Venus is weird enough that we have to be careful to specify what we mean by “a day.” Because Venus slowly spins clockwise as it orbits clockwise around the Sun, sunlight takes a lap around the planet faster than Venus itself does a 360. Sunrise to sunrise (metaphorically speaking, given Venus’ cloud-choked atmosphere), a day there is about 117 Earth-days long. Measurements by the Magellan spacecraft in 1990 and Venus Express in 2006 differed by about 7 minutes, though. That wasn’t slop in the measurement—it was a real change.

So why would Venus be slightly changing its rotation speed over time? The most obvious suggestion is that tidal forces from the Sun are somehow responsible. But the recent Japanese Akatsuki spacecraft spotted something strange in Venus’ clouds that shows its atmosphere may have more to do with it.

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After being pulled from a spaceflight in January, Jeanette Epps speaks up

NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps was supposed to be in space right now, as the first African-American crew member living on the International Space Station. But instead she’s on the ground doing all of the things astronauts do when they’re not in space—training, monitoring programs, working as a capcom in Mission Control, and more.

Since being pulled from her flight in January, a mission that launched about two weeks ago for a six-month tour on the space station, Epps has remained quiet in public. NASA did not specify the reasons for her removal from Expedition 56 to the space station, saying only that, “These decisions are personnel matters for which NASA doesn’t provide information.”

However, Epps did finally speak publicly this week, appearing at the Tech Open Air technology festival in Berlin on June 21, where she was interviewed by journalist Megan Gannon. The website CollectSPACE provided a transcript of the discussion.

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Ars on your lunch break, part three: Those darn robot overlords

Today we present the third and final installment of my interview with the world-renowned roboticist and AI pioneer Rodney Brooks. Please check out parts one and two if you missed them.

We start today’s installment with the very cliffhanger sentence yesterday’s installment ended with: Rodney saying “Yeah, let’s talk about deep learning.” We proceed to do just that. For anyone giddy about the glittering newness of neural networks and the deep learning systems they power, Rodney points out that this work began in 1943.

This leads to an argument similar to yesterday’s point about self-driving cars regarding the importance of knowing a technology’s full history before handicapping its future. Rodney’s basic point is that deep learning is an overnight success that required 70 years to percolate. So the next giant breakthrough could be further off than we think.

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Study: US oil and gas methane emissions have been dramatically underestimated

The US has been dramatically underestimating methane emissions from oil and gas operations, according to a new study published in Science on Thursday. The study, conducted by the Environmental Defense Fund and 15 partner universities, asserts that methane emissions from oil and gas production are likely 63 percent higher than what the Environmental Protection Agency has reported.

The discrepancy stems from the way methane is measured and monitored, the authors suggest. Methane leakages are measured at known intervals and at specific parts of equipment, without verification of the leak volume at the facility as a whole. This allows the industry to avoid counting any surprise leakage events, which the authors claim are more common than not.

The results are concerning because methane is a potent greenhouse gas that has more of a warming effect in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, part for part. On the other hand, methane is shorter lived in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, so restricting its escape can have positive short-term effects on warming.

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