Engineers constructing a new railroad across the vast, high-altitude Tibetan Plateau are using a surprisingly simple idea to fortify shifting frozen soils affected by climate warming, according to a University of Colorado at Boulder permafrost expert.
"The Qinghai-Xizang railroad is the most ambitious construction project in a permafrost region since the Trans-Alaska Pipeline," said CU-Boulder and National Snow and Ice Data Center researcher Tingjun Zhang. Zhang is working closely on the project with scientists at the Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute in Lanzhou, China. "This is the first time engineers are primarily using crushed rock to insulate and fortify a structure against permafrost," he said.
Zhang will discuss the railroad project and the effects of widespread warming and thawing of frozen soils across the northern hemisphere at a press briefing in San Francisco Dec. 13 as part of the American Geophysical Unions annual meeting. He will lead a panel of permafrost and climate experts from universities in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. "If current observations are indicative of long-term trends, we can anticipate major changes in permafrost conditions during the next century," Zhang said. "Permafrost is thawing in many regions, and it is significantly influencing landscapes and ecosystems."
Tingjun Zhang | EurekAlert!
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Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
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The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
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