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‘Starting a New Era’: Pacific Islanders Hail UN Vote on Climate Justice | pacific islands



A group of Pacific Island students who were instrumental in promoting a UN resolution that should make it easier to hold polluting countries legally accountable for inaction on the climate crisis hailed its adoption as historic.

“Young people around the world will remember the day we were able to get the highest court of the world, the international court of justice, to speak out in the fight for climate justice,” said Solomon Yeoh, director of the Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate campaign. Change (PISFCC), originally from the Solomon Islands.

The resolution calls on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to issue an opinion clarifying countries’ obligations to address the climate crisis and the consequences they must face if they fail to act.

“I don’t want to ever show my child a picture of my island. I want my child to be able to live in the same environment and culture that I grew up in,” said Cynthia Huniui, also from the Solomon Islands, president of PISFCC. “The environment that supports us is disintegrating before our eyes.”

Frustrated by the world’s inaction on climate change, law students from eight Pacific island nations founded PISFCC in 2019 and launched their campaign to convince their leaders to take the resolution to the UN’s highest court.

Soon the appeal of law students was taken up by the Pacific countries, led by Vanuatu.

The Pacific island countries are on the risk that the rising sea will swallow some of the islands. Scientists say both extreme weather and sea levels have worsened due to climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels. The resolution asks the Court to pay special attention to the damage done to small island states.

Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau hailed the resolution as “a climate justice victory of incredible proportions.”

“Today’s historic resolution marks the beginning of a new era in multilateral climate cooperation that is more fully focused on upholding the rule of international law and an era that puts human rights and intergenerational equity at the forefront of climate decision-making,” he said. said.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he hopes the opinion, when released, will encourage countries to “take the bolder and more decisive action to combat climate change that our world so desperately needs.”

While the ICJ’s ruling won’t be binding, it will encourage states to “really go back and see what they haven’t done and what they need to do” to address the climate emergency, said Nilufer Oral, director of the International Center for International Law at the University of Singapore.

The court has other powers it can use, explained Christopher Bartlett, climate diplomacy manager for the Vanuatu government. The Court may refer to other international legal instruments, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and these have the force of law for countries that have ratified them.

“The International Court of Justice is the only legal body empowered to consider all norms of international law. While the advisory opinion itself is not binding, the laws under which the advisory opinion is issued are legally binding and immediately applicable to the states,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett said some of the questions the MC will ask include: what harm has been done to the climate? Should states be forced to do certain things? And is financial support a legal consequence of harm?

The decision is now going to court.

Countries agreed to strive limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius with an upper limit of 2 degrees Celsius back in 2015 under the Paris Agreement. The agreement invites countries to submit their plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions to the UN and regularly review and update these plans.

Clarification of these obligations for States, and other pledges to protect biodiversity and strengthening domestic policies are the main goals of the advisory opinion, said Ralph Regenvanu, Vanuatu’s climate change minister.

“We are also clear that there are significant gaps in the existing international framework,” he said, adding that the conclusion could push for stronger legal measures such as negotiating fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty or the criminalization of “activities that destroy the climate.”

Associated Press


Robots that use their legs as arms for climbing and pushing buttons



We tend to think of four-legged robots as robotic versions of dogs. And, to be honest, it’s right there in the word four-legged. But if we can just get around Latin, then there’s absolutely no reason why quadrupedal robots should limit themselves to using all four limbs as legs all the time. And in fact, most other tetrapods are just as versatile: tetrapods often use their forelimbs to interact with the outside world for purposes other than locomotion.

Roboticists from CMU and UC Berkeley training robot dogs to use their legs for manipulationand not just movement, demonstration of skills, including climbing walls, pressing buttons, and even kicking a soccer ball.

Teaching a robot to move and manipulate the same limbs at the same time can be challenging using reinforcement learning methods because you can get stuck in local minima when trying to optimize skills that are very different and (I think) sometimes conflict. So the researchers split the learning into separate manipulation and locomotion policies and trained each of them in a simulation, although that meant an extra step of bringing those separate skills together in the real world to perform useful tasks.

Successful completion of a combined locomotion and manipulation task requires high quality expert demonstration. The robot remembers what commands the human gave during the demonstration and then builds a behavior tree that it can follow by breaking down the tasks into a set of interrelated movement and manipulation subtasks that it can perform in order. It also increases the reliability of the system, because if the robot fails on any subtask, it can “rewind” its way back through the behavior tree until it returns to the success point, and then start from there.

This particular robot (Unitree Go1 with Intel RealSense for perception) manages to balance itself against a wall, press a wheelchair access button nearly a meter high, and then exit through an open door, which is pretty impressive. More broadly, this is a useful step towards helping non-humanoid robots operate in a human-optimized environment, which may be more important than it sounds. It is certainly possible to change our environment to be more robot-friendly, and we see this in places like hospitals (and some hotels) where robots can directly control elevators. This greatly simplifies the movement of robots, but in some cases it is annoying enough that it is more practical (if not necessarily easier) just create a button pushing robot. It might be argued that the best middle ground here is to simply build a public infrastructure in the first place, making sure that neither robots nor humans have to rely on a particular manipulation technique to control anything. But until we do, skills like this will be critical for useful legged robots.

Legs as a manipulator: quadrupedal dexterity goes beyond locomotionwritten by Shuksin Cheng, Ashish Kumar and Deepak Patak of Carnegie Mellon University and UC Berkeley will be presented next month on IKRA 2023 In London.

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Centuries of stargazing left Jesuit names inscribed in heaven



Centuries after the Holy See silenced Roman Catholic astronomers for questioning the Earth’s central position in space, Jesuit astronomers from the Vatican’s interior observatory are increasingly writing their names in heaven.

The Vatican, ruled by Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope in history, recently announced that three more Jesuit scientists from a Jesuit-run observatory have named asteroids after themselves as part of a new batch that included a 16th-century pope who commissioned the Gregorian and Tuscan calendars. a pastry chef whose hobby is the vault of heaven.

Jesuits, although not as many as stars, over 30 asteroids assigned to them since space rocks began to be officially named in 1801. This “should not be surprising given the often scientific nature of this community,” said astronomer Don Yeomans, who worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. ., and is now part of the group that officially approves the names given to asteroids.

The three astral Jesuits named last month are Rev. Robert Janusz, a Polish priest and physicist who measures light from star clusters (565184 Janusz); Rev. William R. Stoger (1943-2014), American clergyman (551878 Stoger); and Rev. Johann Georg Hagen (1847–1930), an Austrian American who, according to Johannhagen’s title 562971, “devised some ingenious experiments at the Vatican to demonstrate the rotation of the earth, directly confirming the theories of Copernicus and Galileo.”

All three work or have worked at the Specola Vaticana, or Vatican Observatory, near the papal gardens at Castel Gandolfo, a short drive from Rome. The observatory is a descendant of centuries of Vatican-sponsored stellar research and is the only Vatican body dedicated to scientific research.

The history of the observatory, which has been staffed by Jesuits since the 1930s, is a return to the notion that the Roman Catholic Church has always sought to stand in the way of scientific progress, an idea perpetuated by high-profile cases such as Galileo and Giordano Bruno at the hands of the Inquisition in the Renaissance.

“There are institutions like the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that tell the Vatican what’s going on in the world of science, but we’re actually doing the science,” Brat said. Guy Consolmagnoasteroid award winner (4597 Consolmagno) and director observatory, whose website slogan is “science inspires faith”. In a 2017 interview with The New York Times, Brother Consolmagno said part of the observatory’s mission was to “show the world that the church stands for science.”

It is significant that the former director of the observatory, the Jesuit astrophysicist Reverend George W. Coyne, who died in 2020, played a significant role in getting the Vatican to change its position and officially admit in 1992 that Galileo could be right.

“What the Bible is not,” Father Coyne told The New York Times Magazine in 1994, “is a science textbook. Scripture is made up of myth, poetry, history. But it’s just not teaching science.”

Specola’s roots go back to Pope Gregory XIII, who built an observatory known as the Tower of the Winds inside the Vatican so that astronomers could study the reform of the Julian calendar, which was in use until 1582. Gregory aka Ugo Boncompagni (1502-1585), who was an important early Jesuit patron and now has an asteroid named after him, 560794 Ugoboncompagni.

Among the astronomers working on the reformed calendar was the Jesuit Christopher Clavius ​​(1538–1612) — the asteroid 20237 Clavius ​​— who lived at the College of Rome, a school in the Italian capital founded in 1551 by Saint Ignatius of Loyola. , founder of the order.

The College of Rome produced several generations of astronomers, including Giovanni Battista Riccioli (1598-1671) – asteroid 122632 Riccioli – who published a map of the Moon in 1647 and codified some of the lunar nomenclatures that are still in use today. When Neil Armstrong said, “Houston, Tranquility Base is here. The Eagle Has Landed” during the Apollo 11 lunar mission in 1969, “Calm” was a reference to the Sea of ​​Tranquility, or Sea of ​​Tranquility, which Riccioli named.

Asteroid 4705 Secchi is named after the Jesuit priest Angelo Secchi (1818-1878), who was a pioneer of astronomical spectroscopy and was director of the Roman College Observatory from 1848 until his death.

Mount Graham International Observatory, Arizona, where the Vatican operates the telescope in collaboration with the University of Arizona.Credit…Joe McNally/Getty Images

The current Vatican Observatory astronomers primarily divide their time between Castel Gandolfo and Mount Graham, Arizona, where the Vatican operates the telescope. in partnership with the University of Arizona.

Rev. Jean-Baptiste Kikwaya Eluo, who works at the observatory, said that the scientist and believer is changing the way a person observes the world. He said that his scientific vocation was supported by his superiors in the Jesuit order. (An asteroid is also named after him: 23443 Kikvaya.)

As Jesuits, “because we sincerely believe that God is the one who put everything there, it puts us in a completely different relationship to what we are seeing,” Father Kikwai said in a Zoom talk from Arizona.

The names of asteroids, also known as minor planets or minor solar system bodies, are controlled a group of professional astronomers, member of the International Astronomical Union. The group is given a list of suggested names and citations each month, but not all asteroids are tagged; only about 3.8 percent of the 620,000 numbered asteroids have been named. specific recommendations.

Traditionally, the names favored mythological figures from Greece or Rome (the first four were named Ceres, Pallas, Juno, and Vesta), but later inspiration was drawn from other cultures. Ryugufor example, a magical underwater palace in Japanese folklore, and Bennu was named after an ancient Egyptian bird deity (chosen from thousands of records in a “Name this asteroid!” contest). There is also Apophiswho in Egyptian mythology is the enemy of the sun god Ra.

Over the intervening decades, more prosaic attributions have emerged, mostly to scientists, astronomers, or high-profile figures. In recent years, the names of asteroids have also been inspired by the winners and top performers of school science and engineering fairs. (New York Times science writer Carl Zimmer also has an asteroid: 212073 Karlzimmer.)

There are restrictions. “Pet names are not welcome,” the guide notes, and historical figures associated with “the slave trade, genocide, or eugenics” are unacceptable. There is also a restriction on military and political figures – they must have died at least 100 years ago to be considered.

However, the discovery of the process has raised questions about the naming of asteroids by students whose future has not yet been completed.

Take the case of the representative of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who an asteroid named after her (23238 Ocasio-Cortez) after her school project won a prize at an international science and technology fair. “This is true,” she tweeted in 2018.

Despite Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s subsequent career, the asteroid will retain her name; there is no retroactive complaint. “We don’t,” said Gareth Williams, secretary of the naming group called the Working Group on Small Body Nomenclature.

The group also tends to “strongly disapprove” the naming of asteroids after religious figures. Williams said. But the current generation of Jesuit astronomers “was named not because they were Jesuits, but because they were astronomers. They just happened to be Jesuits,” the doctor said. Williams noted.

Many names of asteroids have their own history. In the latest batch, asteroid 44715 was named Paolovezzosi, after Paolo Vezzosi, an amateur astronomer and pastry chef from the Italian city of Montelupo Fiorentino in Tuscany. Mr. Vezzosi is quoted as “serving delicious cakes” at offsite events.

He was appointed by Maura Tombelli, president of the astronomical group that funded and built public observatory in Montelupo Fiorentino. Ms. Tombelli has discovered 200 asteroids over decades of stargazing (asteroid 9904 is named after her by Mauratombelli).

According to Ms. Tombelli, the appointment of Mr. Vezzosi was a way of thanking him for helping to launch the observatory.

“We had nothing more to give, only my stones in the sky,” she said.

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Coffee consumption reduces risk of type 2 diabetes, new study suggests



The scientists studied the role of classical and new diabetes biomarkers with anti-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory activity in relation between habitual coffee consumption and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

“Coffee consumption lowers type 2 diabetes risk, new study suggests” first appeared on Sci.News: Breaking Science News.

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