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The Leonid meteor shower is peaking now. How to watch the show – CNET

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A Leonid fireball captured over Sweden in 2015. 


Spaceweather.com/Andre Pooschke

Say what you will about the perils of 2020. It’s been a dazzling year for skywatchers, with bright comets and plentiful meteor showers that continue through November with the appearance of the annual Leonids, peaking this week. 

The Leonids can be traced back to the comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle and they’ve put on some real shows over the centuries in the form of intense meteor storms that produce hundreds of visible meteors per hour. 

The American Meteor Society says it’s unlikely we’ll see such a storm in our lifetimes (the most recent was in 2001), although 2030 might see a minor storm. This year, the Leonids do offer the opportunity to see around 15 meteors per hour at peak on Tuesday, Nov. 17, when the tiny sliver of a moon won’t produce much interference. The Leonids tend to be pretty bright with some persistent trains. 

To catch any Leonids, the best strategy is to venture out in the early morning pre-dawn hours as close to the showers’ respective peaks as possible. Remove yourself from light pollution if you can, dress appropriately and find a comfortable place to lay back with a clear, wide view of the sky.   

Next, relax, let your eyes adjust and just watch. It’s not necessary to focus on a particular area of the sky, but if you can spot the constellation Leo, the Leonids will appear to originate from that part of the sky and streak outward like spokes on a wheel.  Also keep an eye open for a bright Taurid fireball, as the Northern and Southern Taurids are also active

Enjoy a little fire in the sky and pass along any epic fireball photos you happen to catch on Twitter @EricCMack.

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Scientists produce diamonds in minutes at room temperature – MINING.com

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“Natural diamonds are usually formed over billions of years, about 150 kilometres deep in the Earth where there are high pressures and temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius,”  Jodie Bradby, professor at The Australian National University and one of the authors of the study, said in a media statement.

“The twist in this story is how we apply the pressure. As well as very high pressures, we allow the carbon to also experience something called ‘shear’ – which is like a twisting or sliding force. We think this allows the carbon atoms to move into place and form Lonsdaleite and regular diamond.” 

The RMIT team’s pictures showed that the regular diamonds only form in the middle of these Lonsdaleite veins under this new method. (Image courtesy of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology).

To observe and understand how this process works, the researchers used advanced electron microscopy techniques to capture solid and intact slices from the experimental samples to create snapshots of how the two types of diamonds formed.

The pictures showed that the regular diamonds only form in the middle of Lonsdaleite veins under this new method.

“Seeing these little ‘rivers’ of Lonsdaleite and regular diamond for the first time was just amazing and really helps us understand how they might form,” Dougal McCulloch, the study’s lead author and a professor at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, said. 

According to the scientists, Lonsdaleite has the potential to be used for cutting through ultra-solid materials on mining sites. As such, they said that creating more of this rare diamond is the long-term aim of their work.

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Siemens, Deutsche Bahn launch local hydrogen trains trial – The Guardian

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MUNICH (Reuters) – Siemens Mobility and Deutsche Bahn have started developing hydrogen-powered fuel cell trains and a filling station which will be trialled in 2024 with view to replace diesel engines on German local rail networks.

The prototype, to be built by Siemens, is based on electric railcar Mireo Plus which will be equipped with fuel cells to turn hydrogen and oxygen into electricity on board, and with a battery, both companies said.

Siemens mobility chief executive Michael Peter told Reuters the train combined the possibility to be fed by three sources in a modular system – either by the battery, the fuel cell or even existing overhead lines, depending on where it would run.

German railway operator Deutsche Bahn has not electrified 40% of its 33,000 kilometre (km) long network, on which it runs 1,300 fossil-fuel emitting diesel locomotives.

Rail transport must be decarbonised over the long-term under European Union and national climate targets.

“Our hydrogen trains are able to replace diesel-fuelled trains in the long term,” Peter said.

The new prototype will be fuelled within 15 minutes, have a range of 600 km and a top speed of 160 km/hour.

It will be tested between Tuebingen, Horb and Pforzheim in Baden Wuerttemberg state.

The main target market are operators of regional networks that typically re-order lots of 10 to 50 trains, Peter said.

“We see a market potential of 10,000-15,000 trains in Europe that will need to be replaced over the next 10-15 years, with 3,000 alone in Germany,” he said.

Each train will cost between five and 10 million euros ($5.9-$11.9 million), creating a market potential of 50-150 billion euros overall.

The Berlin government expects green hydrogen to become competitive with fossil fuels over the long term and to play a key role in decarbonising industry, heating and transport.

(Reporting by Joern Poltz in Munich and Vera Eckert in Frankfurt, editing by David Evans)

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The impossible choice Canada’s seniors face this winter – 95.7 News

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In today’s Big Story podcast, we want elderly Canadians, who are heightened risk from COVID-19, to be safe. For much of the past eight months, that has meant hundreds of thousands of grandparents haven’t seen their grandkids, parents haven’t seen their children, or their siblings — and for many of them, this has harmed them as much as a bout with the virus might.

We all want our elderly loved ones to be around forever, but even forgetting about COVID-19, they won’t be. And as they face another four to six months without much contact or support, many of them are wondering if they might not choose to take the risk with the time they have left.

GUEST: Christina Frangou, science and health writer

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

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