We all know that regardless of where you live, the weather is often unpredictable. A comfy 60 degree winter day in the Midwest; chilly and breezy on a late spring day in the pacific coast. To some of us, the prevalence of unusual weather is simply the work of Mother Nature. Others are more convinced that our reckless treatment of the earth has made global warming that much more of a reality. The natural level of discomfort that results from the thought of global warming is reinforced by numerous reports claiming inevitable environmental doom. A recent article in the Nature Magazine went as far as predicting that over the next fifty years, well over one million species will cease to exist due to global warming.
As Brussels gears up to discuss binding energy efficiency targets for 2030 this week, two whistleblowers told EurActiv that the EU should learn from their experiences in implementing the 2006 energy services directive (ESD), which aimed to cut energy consumption.
‘Malcolm’, a former senior officer for a north European EU state's national energy agency, said that inconvenient energy savings measures were routinely skipped over when they were not legally enforceable.
“You just checked the directive article by article to see what the requirements were for member states,” he told EurActiv. “Is it a binding requirement? ‘Ok, we need to do something’. Is it non-binding? ‘Ok, perhaps the policy we already have fits with that part of the directive.’”
“That’s what we do,” he told EurActiv. “At least that’s what was done by my government. When the member states and Commission agreed on binding targets there was more budget available, a larger team, and more of an effort made.”
The EU has agreed three climate goals for 20% improvements in the continent’s CO2 emissions, renewables and energy efficiency by 2020. But energy efficiency is the only one that is not compulsory.
Millions of players log in to Activision Blizzard’s servers every day to compete in Call of Duty matches, but Activision wants more. There’s a certain segment of the audience that it is still looking to capture, some of the highest-skilled, most devoted shooter players in the world: Professional gamers who support themselves (and sometimes get filthy rich) playing in big-money tournaments. So the gaming publisher has added features to Black Ops II aimed at making a spectator sport out of Call of Duty. Players can “shoutcast,” or broadcast their matches to viewers via YouTube livestreaming directly from their game consoles.
It’s a start, but experts in the field of “e-sports” say that Black Ops II may still be unfit for duty as a pro game.
The addition of shoutcasting to Black Ops is an indicator that e-sports isn’t just about the competitors, it’s about the fans. Hundreds of thousands of players subscribe to e-sports commentators on YouTube to watch livestreamed matches, and they pack sports arenas around the world to watch the finals of major game tournaments. Then they practice every day in the hopes of becoming the Michael Jordan of videogames. With e-sports being especially popular in Europe and Asia, reaching these fans might be a way for Call of Duty to become a truly worldwide phenomenon.
But pro gamers have a fundamental problem with Call of Duty, and unfortunately, that problem is exactly the aspect of the series that causes Activision to make such obscene amounts of money off the franchise in the first place. Like clockwork, it releases a new Call of Duty on the second Tuesday of every November. To pull this off, the titles are developed by two different developers that switch off years. And every year, millions of players abandon the game they’ve been playing for the last 12 months and shift en masse to the new one on launch day.
The new games can bring all kinds of changes. Guns fire differently. The physics of the world have been tweaked. This makes it challenging and fun for casual players, but it’s a nightmare scenario for pros. The most important thing for professionals is to be able to practice and play the same game, with the same rules, for years and years to hone their skills. (Imagine if they completely changed the rules of Major League Baseball every year, using different balls, spacing the bases further apart, adding a fourth outfielder.)
“A new game release nearly every year is the biggest problem for a game’s healthy competitive community,” says Rod “Slasher” Breslau, co-host of a web show about professional gaming called “Live on Three.”
Pro gamers do play first-person shooters. But at all of the biggest tournaments, with the most money on the line — DreamHack in Sweden, the World Cyber Games in Korea — they play Counter-Strike. And the version they play is 1.6, released back in 2003. At the recent e-Sports Cup at Tokyo Game Show in September, they gave out $15,000 in prizes for 1.6. Maker Valve has released new versions of Counter-Strike over the years but the top players have stubbornly stuck with the ancient 1.6.
The amateur players at home love Call of Duty for reasons that aren’t compatible with the competitive gaming scene, says Marcus “djWHEAT” Graham, Breslau’s co-host on “Live on Three.”
“I like Call of Duty because I can get 50-kill streaks and airstrikes and tornadoes or whatever,” Graham says, “but that doesn’t necessarily make the game fit for the competitive scene.”
When pros play Call of Duty, Graham says, they tend to focus on the slower, more tactical modes without all of the glitz and glitter of kill streaks and perks. “Search and Destroy,” a mode which challenges two teams of players to disarm or defend a bomb, is a go-to favorite for many serious players.
Yevgeny Salinder, an 11-year old Russian boy, is the one who discovered the massive remains of the mammoth in August.
The mammoth, estimated to be at its 16 year when it died measured 2 meters and weighed 1,000 pounds, was excavated from the Siberian permafrost last month.
”It is the mammoth of the century,” said Professor Alexei Tikhonov of the Zoological Museum in St Petersburg.
According to a Russian scientist, the well-preserved mammoth could be attacked by another mammoth or an Ice Age man. It was best preserved remains of a mature mammoth but its DNA was already damaged and would be difficult to use for cloning.
The International Mammoth Committee working to recover and protect ancient remains: “We had to use both traditional instruments such as axes, picks, shovels as well as such devices as this ‘steamer’ which allowed us to thaw a thin layer of permafrost. Then we cleaned it off, and then we melted more of it. It took us a week to complete this task.”
A group of researchers from different countries have visited the site in September and they were surprised to see that the remains were not only made up of bones but in fact, complete with hair, one tusk and soft tissues.
“We can see that this animal was very well adapted to the northern environment, accumulating massive amounts of fat. This animal likely died during the summer period as we can’t see much of its undercoat, but it had already accumulated a sufficient amount of fat,” said Aleksey Tikhonov from the Russian Academy of Sciences .
Principal analysis on the creature’s remains has disproved that the big humps on mammoths depicted in cave paintings in European countries were not actually extension of their bone structure but great reserves of fat that helped them manipulate their body temperature during long winter seasons.
The mammoth, named as Zhenya after the 11-year old boy, is set to be the main exhibit in the Taimyr Regional Museum and will be transferred to the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Mars Curiosity rover is scheduled for a stopover to scrutinize the pyramid-shaped rock on the planet’s surface.The rock, measuring around 16 inches at the base and 10 inches high is chosen for analysis due to its unusual shape, was named “Jake” in memory of Jet Propulsion Lab engineer-mathematician Jacob Matijevic who died several days after the spacecraft’s landing on Mars.
The science team from JPL will have Curiosity stop for a couple of days for its first “contact science” by analysing and photographing the rock using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) and Alpha Particle Xray Spectrometer (APXS).
Curiosity is on a 2-year mission to probe living conditions in Mars and gain insights into its geologic history. Its goal is to reach the base of Mount Sharp in the midst of Gale Crater, around 7 miles away from its current position, by early 2013.