Dinosaur with iridescent feathers


Click to enlargeVelizar Simeonovski, The Field Museum

❝ The discovery that dinosaurs were feathery, not leathery, means we’ve had to rethink how they might have looked – and now there’s evidence that at least one dinosaur could have been as brilliantly coloured as some of the most jewel-hued modern birds.

Caihong juji, a name that means “rainbow with the big crest” in Mandarin, was a tiny, duck-sized dinosaur from China. The fossil it left behind indicates a bony crest on its beak, and a brilliant, iridescent ruff of feathers around its neck – the earliest evidence of a colour-based display…

❝ It’s difficult to tell for certain what colour the feathers were, but the fossil was so detailed that it preserved the shape of the melanosomes, the organelles inside cells responsible for pigmentation.

And when the team compared these melanosomes to those of living birds, they most closely resembled melanosomes found in the iridescent, rainbow-hued feathers of hummingbirds.

RTFA for more on the find – and analysis. And special thanks to UrsaRodinia.

China selling off oil it no longer needs

The pace at which China exports the fuel it doesn’t want is set to jump by more than four times in 2018, according to the nation’s biggest energy producer.

That’s a harbinger of bad news for processors in the rest of Asia — from South Korea to Japan and India — who now have to contend with higher crude prices as well as the threat of the flood dragging down refining margins. Government-issued quotas to sell oil products abroad may also expand this year in order to ease a large supply glut in the domestic market, an analyst at China National Petroleum Corp. said on Tuesday.

China’s net oil-product exports — a measure that strips out imports — may climb about 31 percent to 46.8 million metric tons this year, CNPC said in its annual report released in Beijing. Shipments rose about 7 percent in 2017.

In particular, exports of diesel — also known as gasoil — are expected to soar 47 percent to 23.8 million tons in 2018 from a year earlier, according to the CNPC report.

Yup. Countries smart enough to walk away from fossil fuels, pollution, economists and politicians with fossilized brains – end up with “problems” like selling off the excess crap they no longer need or want. One of the early results from switching to renewables like wind and solar-generated electricity.

Will Complacency Be Tested in 2018?

❝ After years of post-crisis despair, the broad consensus of forecasters is now quite upbeat about prospects for the global economy in 2018. World GDP growth is viewed as increasingly strong, synchronous, and inflation-free. Exuberant financial markets could hardly ask for more…

❝ As was evident in both 2000 and 2008, it doesn’t take much for overvalued asset markets to fall sharply. That’s where [a] third mega-trend could come into play – a wrenching adjustment in the global saving mix. In this case, it’s all about China and the US – the polar extremes of the world’s saving distribution.

China is now in a mode of saving absorption; its domestic saving rate has declined from a peak of 52% in 2010 to 46% in 2016, and appears headed to 42%, or lower, over the next five years. Chinese surplus saving is increasingly being directed inward to support emerging middle-class consumers – making less available to fund needy deficit savers elsewhere in the world.

❝ By contrast, the US, the world’s neediest deficit country, with a domestic saving rate of just 17%, is opting for a fiscal stimulus. That will push total national saving even lower – notwithstanding the vacuous self-funding assurances of supply-siders. As shock absorbers, overvalued financial markets are likely to be squeezed by the arbitrage between the world’s largest surplus and deficit savers. And asset-dependent real economies won’t be too far behind.

I agree with Stephen Roach’s analyses of global economics, macro or otherwise, much of the time. He’s done the research and pursued an active living from managing his understanding of economic trends. Especially in Asia. Now, he’s back in the US – back in the US – back in the USA – trying to broaden the understanding of global economics inside a nation where a larger percentage of the population prefer to pray for guidance than to investigate, analyze and learn.

Know any politicians who’ve noticed China becoming a global innovator?

❝ China has achieved much since 1978, when Deng Xiaoping initiated the transition to a market economy. In terms of headline economic progress, the pace of China’s transformation over the past 40 years is unprecedented. The country’s GDP grew by nearly 10 percent per year on average, while reshaping global trade patterns and becoming the second-largest economy in the world. This success lifted 800 million people out of poverty, and the mortality rate of children under five years old was halved between 2006 and 2015.

The question now is whether China, well positioned to become the world’s innovation leader, will realize that opportunity in 2018 — or soon after

❝ Earlier this month, Apple CEO Tim Cook declared that, “China stopped being a low-labor-cost country many years ago, and that is not the reason to come to China.” The country’s manufacturing strengths now lie in its advanced production know-how and strong supply-chain networks. Understandably, China’s leadership wants to increase productivity and continue to move further up the value chain.

I suggest you read the article. Even though your representatives in Congress will (1) probably act surprised by this and (2) stamp their little feet in anger and fear – fact remains that international trade usually is a cooperative affair and the political maundering is only for that telenovela called electoral politics.

In China, Slower Growth Is Acceptable to Tackle Debt, Smog


Click to enlargeChinatopix

China can achieve a goal of doubling the size of its economy by 2020 even if annual expansion slows to 6.3 percent, according to a senior Communist Party official, signaling a greater willingness to tackle debt and pollution at the expense of growth…

In its blueprint for 2016 to 2020, China set a minimum annual growth target of 6.5 percent for the five-year period to achieve the goal of doubling gross domestic product from 2010 levels…Over the weekend, Yang Weimin, an official from the Communist Party committee overseeing economic policy, said annualized growth of 6.3 percent in 2018-2020 would do.

Based on current economic performance, the 2020 target won’t be a “huge barrier,”…China is seen growing 6.8 percent this year and 6.5 percent in 2018, according to economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg…

Yang’s remark is “a heads up on how the new thought will be implemented,” said Zhu Ning, deputy director of the National Institute of Financial Research at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

There have been times when the United States was governed and advised by technocrats, economists and, yes, even politicians who understood the value of adjusting the course of government to benefit most of the people. Not just the moneybags who could afford to belong to the Fake President’s country club.

China is Building “Sponge Cities” Facing A Critical Aspect of Climate Change

❝ China is taking the repercussions of climate change seriously. One consequence of our warming world is increasingly frequent and more severe flooding. This is especially problematic in growing, crowded cities, which has made certain regions in China more vulnerable. To combat this growing issue, the country is pursuing the development of “sponge cities.”

❝ The Sponge City Initiative, launched in 2015, invests in projects that focus on absorbing floodwater. Currently, spongy designs are being explored in 30 cities, including Shanghai, Wuhan, and Xiamen. The current aim of the initiative is that, by 2020, 80 percent of urban areas in China will re-use at least 70 percent of their rainwater…

The creation of a sponge city is not a singular, defined process. Each project is customized to its region and aims to improve upon previous techniques and overcome difficult challenges. Strategies include using permeable surfaces and green (meaning that it incorporates plant-life) infrastructure. The concept has so much potential that other cities around the world, like in Berlin, are looking to become more “spongy.”…

❝ Increased natural disasters will be a consequence of climate change that threatens all countries around the world, as illustrated by the recent hurricane and resulting flooding in Houston. …China is taking a firm stand against such flooding with this initiative, and the rest of the world might follow suit. From advanced drainage systems to roadways capable of absorbing water and creative planting, sponge cities are getting increasingly innovative in how they might be able to better fend off treacherous floodwaters.

Or we might continue with the existing style firmly grounded in conservative American politics. “Thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers” for the victims of a growing number of environmental disasters.

China’s First Space Station gets to flame out this year

❝ China’s first space station, Tiangong-1, is expected to fall to Earth sometime in late 2017. We’ve known for several months that the orbital demise of the 8-metric ton space station was only a matter of time. But Chinese space agency officials recently confirmed that they have lost telemetry with the space station and can no longer control its orbit. This means its re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere will be uncontrolled.

Despite sensational headlines…the risk is quite low that people on Earth will be in danger. Any remaining debris that doesn’t burn up in the atmosphere has a high chance of falling into an ocean, since two-thirds of Earth’s surface is covered by water…

❝ …throughout the entire history of the space age, there have been no reports of anybody in the world being injured or struck by any re-entering debris. Something of this size re-enters the atmosphere every few years, and many are uncontrolled entries…

Wu Ping, deputy director of China’s Manned Space Engineering office, said at a press conference before the launch of the Tiangong-2 space station last week that based on their calculations and analysis, most parts of the space lab will burn up during its fall through the atmosphere. She added that China has always highly valued the management of space debris, and will continue to monitor Tiangong-1, and will release a forecast of its falling and report it internationally…

❝ “Although Tiangong-1 is no longer functioning, keeping track of where it is not a problem,” said Chris Peat, who developed and maintains Heavens-Above.com, a site that provides orbital information to help people observe and track satellites orbiting the Earth.

Should curiosity get the best of you – and you have moderately capable optics handy – I’d suggest staying in touch with Chris Peat’s Heavens-Above.com site and keep an eye on the critter yourself.

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

Father Drives 20,000 Miles From Nanjing, China to Seattle to Drop His Daughter Off at College

❝ After 108 days on the road, globetrotting father-daughter pair Huang Haitao and Huang Xinyi have finally arrived at their final destination: orientation.

Back in May, the duo set out on the ultimate adventure, road-tripping from their home in Nanjing in Eastern China to Xinyi’s college of choice, Seattle University…

❝ The decision to drive (flying over the Atlantic) the 18,642 miles from their home to her college came after Haitao promised to personally take his daughter to school if she were accepted into an American university. According to the Yangtze Evening News, the pair traveled through 26 countries, making stops in Russia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece, Albania, Switzerland, Austria, and many other new destinations. Once they reached the U.K., they boarded a plane to the U.S., shipping their car by boat overseas, and eventually picking up the road trip again on American soil. They drove along the historic Route 66 to Los Angeles before heading north to Seattle…

❝ For Xinyi’s father, the road trip was an important experience to share with his daughter before sending her off into adulthood.

“After she goes to college, there won’t really be many opportunities in future for me to spend so much time with her,” Mashable translated from the Yangtze Evening News. “She’ll have her own life, so the least I can do is send her onto the next chapter of her life.”

My kind of dad.

China plans for an end to gasoline and diesel-powered cars


Volvo plans on selling a million electrified cars by 2025

China, the world’s biggest car market, plans to ban the production and sale of diesel and petrol cars and vans….The country’s vice minister of industry said it had started “relevant research” but that it had not yet decided when the ban would come into force…

China made 28 million cars last year, almost a third of the global total

Chinese-owned carmaker Volvo said in July that all its new car models would have an electric motor from 2019…Geely, Volvo’s Chinese owner, aims to sell one million electric cars by 2025…and has announced plans to go electric across the board.

Other global car firms including Renault-Nissan, Ford and General Motors are all working to develop electric cars in China.

Automakers are jostling for a slice of the growing Chinese market ahead of the introduction of new rules designed to fight pollution.

China wants electric battery cars and plug-in hybrids to account for at least one-fifth of its vehicle sales by 2025.

The proposals would require 8% of automakers’ sales to be battery electric or plug-in hybrids by next year, rising to 12% in 2020.

Trump and the Republican Party are debating whether or not they want cars sold in the USA to be all fossil fuel-burners or coal-burners.

Waymark: First Object Teleported from Earth to Orbit

❝ Last year, a Long March 2D rocket took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert carrying a satellite called Micius, named after an ancient Chinese philosopher who died in 391 B.C. The rocket placed Micius in a Sun-synchronous orbit so that it passes over the same point on Earth at the same time each day.

Micius is a highly sensitive photon receiver that can detect the quantum states of single photons fired from the ground. That’s important because it should allow scientists to test the technological building blocks for various quantum feats such as entanglement, cryptography, and teleportation.

❝ 10th July, the Micius team announced the results of its first experiments. The team created the first satellite-to-ground quantum network, in the process smashing the record for the longest distance over which entanglement has been measured. And they’ve used this quantum network to teleport the first object from the ground to orbit.

❝ Teleportation has become a standard operation in quantum optics labs around the world. The technique relies on the strange phenomenon of entanglement. This occurs when two quantum objects, such as photons, form at the same instant and point in space and so share the same existence. In technical terms, they are described by the same wave function.

The curious thing about entanglement is that this shared existence continues even when the photons are separated by vast distances. So a measurement on one immediately influences the state of the other, regardless of the distance between them.

This is the first time that any object has been teleported from Earth to orbit, and it smashes the record for the longest distance for entanglement.

Emphasis added. RTFA.