The Great Stink was an event in central London in July and August 1858 during which the hot weather exacerbated the smell of untreated human waste and industrial effluent that was present on the banks of the River Thames. The problem had been mounting for some years, with an ageing and inadequate sewer system that emptied directly into the Thames. The miasma from the effluent was thought to transmit contagious diseases, and three outbreaks of cholera before the Great Stink were blamed on the ongoing problems with the river.
The smell, and fears of its possible effects, prompted action from the local and national administrators who had been considering possible solutions for the problem. The authorities accepted a proposal from the civil engineer Joseph Bazalgette to move the effluent eastwards along a series of interconnecting sewers that sloped towards outfalls beyond the metropolitan area. Work on high-, mid- and low-level systems for the new Northern and Southern Outfall Sewers started at the beginning of 1859 and lasted until 1875. To aid the drainage, pumping stations were placed to lift the sewage from lower levels into higher pipes. Two of the more ornate stations, Abbey Mills in Stratford and Crossness on the Erith Marshes, are listed for protection by English Heritage. Bazalgette's plan introduced the three embankments to London in which the sewers ran—the Victoria, Chelsea and Albert Embankments.
Bazalgette's work ensured that sewage was no longer dumped onto the shores of the Thames and brought an end to the cholera outbreaks; his actions are thought to have saved more lives than the efforts of any other Victorian official. His sewer system operates into the 21st century, servicing a city that has grown to a population of over eight million. The historian Peter Ackroyd argues that Bazalgette should be considered a hero of London.
- "The Great Stink" | 2019-07-22 | 97 Upvotes 27 Comments
In ecology, r/K selection theory relates to the selection of combinations of traits in an organism that trade off between quantity and quality of offspring. The focus on either an increased quantity of offspring at the expense of individual parental investment of r-strategists, or on a reduced quantity of offspring with a corresponding increased parental investment of K-strategists, varies widely, seemingly to promote success in particular environments.
The terminology of r/K-selection was coined by the ecologists Robert MacArthur and E. O. Wilson in 1967 based on their work on island biogeography; although the concept of the evolution of life history strategies has a longer history (see e.g. plant strategies).
The theory was popular in the 1970s and 1980s, when it was used as a heuristic device, but lost importance in the early 1990s, when it was criticized by several empirical studies. A life-history paradigm has replaced the r/K selection paradigm but continues to incorporate many of its important themes.
- "R/K selection theory" | 2014-03-31 | 17 Upvotes 3 Comments
Solarpunk is a movement that encourages optimistic envisionings of the future in light of present environmental concerns, such as climate change and pollution, as well as social inequality. Solarpunk encompasses a multitude of media such as literature, art, architecture, fashion, music, and games. Solarpunk focuses on renewable energies, as well as technology as a whole, to envision a positive future for humanity; although, it also embraces less advanced ways to reduce carbon emissions, like gardening. Solarpunk is also a genre of speculative fiction; some of the most well-known examples are Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastical Stories in a Sustainable World and Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation.
Movile Cave (Romanian: Peștera Movile) is a cave near Mangalia, Constanța County, Romania discovered in 1986 by Cristian Lascu a few kilometers from the Black Sea coast. It is notable for its unique groundwater ecosystem abundant in hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide, but low in oxygen. Life in the cave has been separated from the outside for the past 5.5 million years and it is based completely on chemosynthesis rather than photosynthesis.
A hyperparasite, also known as a metaparasite is a parasite whose host, often an insect, is also a parasite, often specifically a parasitoid. Hyperparasites are found mainly among the wasp-waisted Apocrita within the Hymenoptera, and in two other insect orders, the Diptera (true flies) and Coleoptera (beetles). Seventeen families in Hymenoptera and a few species of Diptera and Coleoptera are hyperparasitic. Hyperparasitism developed from primary parasitism, which evolved in the Jurassic period in the Hymenoptera. Hyperparasitism intrigues entomologists because of its multidisciplinary relationship to evolution, ecology, behavior, biological control, taxonomy, and mathematical models.
- "Hyperparasite" | 2022-08-20 | 52 Upvotes 28 Comments
Biosphere 2 is an American Earth system science research facility located in Oracle, Arizona. Its mission is to serve as a center for research, outreach, teaching, and lifelong learning about Earth, its living systems, and its place in the universe. It is a 3.14-acre (1.27-hectare) structure originally built to be an artificial, materially closed ecological system, or vivarium. It remains the largest closed ecological system ever created.
Constructed between 1987 and 1991, Biosphere 2 was originally meant to demonstrate the viability of closed ecological systems to support and maintain human life in outer space as a substitute for Earth's biosphere. It was designed to explore the web of interactions within life systems in a structure with different areas based on various biological biomes. In addition to the several biomes and living quarters for people, there was an agricultural area and work space to study the interactions between humans, farming, technology and the rest of nature as a new kind of laboratory for the study of the global ecology. Its mission was a two-year closure experiment with a crew of eight humans ("biospherians"). Long-term it was seen as a precursor to gaining knowledge about the use of closed biospheres in space colonization. As an experimental ecological facility it allowed the study and manipulation of a mini biospheric system without harming Earth's biosphere.
Its seven biome areas were a 1,900-square-meter (20,000 sq ft) rainforest, an 850-square-meter (9,100 sq ft) ocean with a coral reef, a 450-square-meter (4,800 sq ft) mangrove wetlands, a 1,300-square-metre (14,000 sq ft) savannah grassland, a 1,400-square-meter (15,000 sq ft) fog desert, and two anthropogenic biomes: a 2,500-square-meter (27,000 sq ft) agricultural system and a human habitat with living spaces, laboratories and workshops. Below ground was an extensive part of the technical infrastructure. Heating and cooling water circulated through independent piping systems and passive solar input through the glass space frame panels covering most of the facility, and electrical power was supplied into Biosphere 2 from an onsite natural gas energy center.
Biosphere 2 was only used twice for its original intended purposes as a closed-system experiment: once from 1991 to 1993, and the second time from March to September 1994. Both attempts ran into problems including low amounts of food and oxygen, die-offs of many animals and plants included in the experiment (though this was anticipated since the project used a strategy of deliberately "species-packing" anticipating losses as the biomes developed), group dynamic tensions among the resident crew, outside politics, and a power struggle over management and direction of the project. Nevertheless, the closure experiments set world records in closed ecological systems, agricultural production, health improvements with the high nutrient and low caloric diet the crew followed, and insights into the self-organization of complex biomic systems and atmospheric dynamics. The second closure experiment achieved total food sufficiency and did not require injection of oxygen.
In June 1994, during the middle of the second experiment, the managing company, Space Biosphere Ventures, was dissolved, and the facility was left in limbo. Columbia University assumed management of the facility in 1995 and used it to run experiments until 2003. It then appeared to be in danger of being demolished to make way for housing and retail stores, but was taken over for research by the University of Arizona in 2007. The University of Arizona took full ownership of the structure in 2011.
- "Biosphere 2" | 2023-05-26 | 100 Upvotes 50 Comments