In ocean’s twilight zone, Maldivian aquanauts witness incredible scenes
Scientist Shafiya Naeem – the current Director General of Maldives Marine Research Institute is all about marine life. She worked at the Ministry of Fisheries since 2000 and researched marine life from 150 meters below. But one thing she never got the chance to do was travel to the deep sea.
On Sunday, September 11, Shafiya finally made it, entering history books with the deep descent into the twilight zone as part of an international science mission, among the first people from the world’s lowest-lying nation to make the journey.
In the expedition which is a joint initiative by UK-based Nekton and the Maldivian government, Shafiya along with research assistant colleague Farah Amjad led an all-female crew of aquanauts on the maiden dive of the Nekton Maldives Mission.
As part of the expedition, they will map, sample, and gather data on ocean health which can inform policymakers both in the Maldives and beyond, as the climate crisis deepens.
Nekton stated that there are almost no images of Maldivian waters below 30 meters, hence travelling to that depth itself was historical.
Speaking to Sun after the dive, Shafiya said that she was incredibly proud of getting this opportunity. She added that more than a self-accomplishment, she sees this as a boost to the knowledge of Maldives and Maldivian waters.
“Being a Maldivian, I am very proud to be one of the people to take part [in such an expedition]. To be able to see areas never seen before in Maldives is just the beginning of a bigger task.”
Shafiya noted that discussions with Nekton on researching deeper waters of Maldives began in 2019. She further said that gathering information on marine life was important for tourism as well.
“While the Maldivian waters are soon deep, we don’t actually know what lives there. We don’t know the connection between surface and deeper waters. Isn’t it important to know what lies in different parts of the ocean, even in managing resorts now?”
In the dive, the researchers explored 250 meters below surface level along the east coast of Laamu Atoll.
Shafiya revealed that they were able to see soft corals and sea urchins from this depth.
Yesterday @ShafiyaNaeem and Farah Amjad, made waves by being the first Maldivians to descend below scuba depth all the way down to 250m just off the coast of #Laamu in the #Maldives. Here's some of the highlights of their dive! #NektonMaldives2022 pic.twitter.com/YkInDkER2J
— Nekton (@nektonmission) September 12, 2022
The aquanauts kept the submersible at 150 and 60 meters and gathered information. She stated that at those levels they were able to see schools of various fishes.
While there are a total of 40 partners in the expedition, this includes 16 Maldivians. Moreover, there are 10 Maldivian marine scientists on the team that will be descending underwater.
The research will conclude on October 7, and in that duration the scientists will travel from Laamu atoll to the southernmost regions, working on gathering samples from different areas.
Participants hope to get a look at 1,000 meters below the Maldivian waters as well.
Speaking further on their process, Shafiya detailed that once all the work underwater is completed, they will be analyzing all the samples. She added that Maldivian scientists will be part of this as well.
All the data gathered from this research will be shared with Maldives and used to understand the conditions of the Maldivian waters, as well as for conservation work.
Shafiya expressed hope that the information they will gather would enable them to understand the steps to take in maintaining the marine life of Maldives.
“Looking at it that way, for me rather than this being a personal thing, it is an opportunity to gain important information for Maldives, that would increase the capabilities of Maldivians.”
Source: Nafaahath Ibrahim, Sun.mv
U.S. FDA rejects Elon Musk’s Neuralink to test brain chips in humans
Elon Musk once said his brain implant company, Neuralink, will make the paralyzed walk, the blind see and eventually turn people into cyborgs, however, the firm is still struggling to get clinical-trial approval to achieve such a goal.
On at least four occasions since 2019, Musk has predicted that his medical device company, Neuralink, would soon start human trials of a revolutionary brain implant to treat intractable conditions such as paralysis and blindness.
Yet the company, founded in 2016, didn’t seek permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) until early 2022, and the agency rejected the application, Reuters reported citing seven current and former employees.
In explaining the decision to Neuralink, the agency outlined dozens of issues the company must address before human testing, a critical milestone on the path to final product approval, the staffers said.
The agency’s major safety concerns involved the device’s lithium battery; the potential for the implant’s tiny wires to migrate to other areas of the brain; and questions over whether, and how the device can be removed without damaging brain tissue, the employees said.
A year after the rejection, Neuralink is still working through the agency’s concerns. Three staffers said they were skeptical the company could quickly resolve the issues, despite Musk’s latest prediction at a November 30 presentation that the company would secure FDA human-trial approval this spring.
Such FDA rejections do not mean a company will ultimately fail to gain the agency’s human-testing approval. But the agency’s pushback signals substantial concerns, according to more than a dozen experts, in FDA device-approval processes.
Report: How the U.S. seeks to maintain its technological hegemony
The U.S., the world’s leading technology superpower, has been wielding monopoly power and taking suppression measures in high-tech fields to maintain its technological hegemony, said a report released on Monday.
Most recently, the U.S. has been lobbying its allies, including the Netherlands and Japan, to further restrict export of microchips and related equipment and technology to China.
ASML, the world’s top supplier of chip-making machines based in the Netherlands, has already been banned from selling its most advanced chip-making equipment to China since 2019, because of curbs imposed by the Dutch government under pressure from the U.S.
The company warned last week that “the drive for technological sovereignty” could lead to “long-term changes in global trade, competition and technology supply chains,” which could adversely affect its business and growth prospects.
This is only the latest move by the U.S. to further strangle China’s chip industry.
Last year, the Biden Administration proposed the so-called “Chip 4 Alliance,” which includes four of the world’s top producers of semiconductors: the U.S., Japan, Korea and China’s Taiwan region. It is widely seen as Washington’s effort to contain Beijing in the cutting-edge sector.
How the U.S. suppressed Japan’s chip industry
Actually, China has not the only country targeted by the U.S. in the semiconductor sector.
In the 1980s, Japan, one of the U.S.’s closest allies, once produced about half of the world’s semiconductors. In the year 1990, six of the world’s top ten semiconductor manufacturers were Japanese companies.
In order to contain Japan’s semiconductor industry, the U.S. launched the “301” investigation, threatened to label Japan as conducting unfair trade, and imposed retaliatory tariffs, forcing Japan to sign the U.S.-Japan Semiconductor Agreement.
As a result, Japanese semiconductor enterprises were almost completely driven out of global competition, and their market share dropped from 50 percent to 10 percent.
In the same time, with the support of the U.S. government, a large number of U.S. semiconductor enterprises took the opportunity and grabbed larger market share.
U.S. put over 1,000 Chinese firms on sanction list
Now, facing competition from Chinese tech companies, the U.S. has been overstretching the concept of national security and mobilizing state power to suppress and sanction Chinese companies, like telecom giant Huawei – a leading company in 5G technologies.
Over the past years, the U.S. has restricted the entry of Huawei products into the American market, cut off its supply of chips and operating systems, and also coerced other countries to ban Huawei from undertaking local 5G network construction.
It even talked Canada into unwarrantedly detaining Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou for nearly three years.
As a matter of fact, the U.S. has fabricated a slew of excuses to clamp down on China’s high-tech enterprises with global competitiveness, and has put more than 1,000 Chinese enterprises on its sanction lists.
The U.S. has also been abusing its technological hegemony and carrying out widespread cyber-attacks and eavesdropping, the report pointed out.
The world’s No.1 superpower, with the most advanced technologies, has long been notorious as an “empire of hackers,” blamed for its rampant acts of cyber theft around the world.
And U.S. surveillance is indiscriminate. All can be targets of its surveillance, be they rivals or allies, even leaders of allied countries such as former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and several French Presidents.
Cyber surveillance and attacks launched by the U.S. such as “Prism,” “Dirtbox,” “Irritant Horn” and “Telescreen Operation” are all proof that the U.S. is closely monitoring its allies and partners.
Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, a website that has exposed U.S. surveillance programs, said that “do not expect a global surveillance superpower to act with honor or respect. There is only one rule: there are no rules.”
Chinese researchers develop amphibious ‘flying fish’ drone
Researchers have developed a prototype of a quadrotor that can both fly in the air and swim underwater, making it suitable for a wide range of applications.
Dubbed TJ-FlyingFish, the aerial-aquatic quadrotor weighs 1.63 kg with a wheelbase of 380 mm.
It adopts special designs in the propulsion and thruster configuration to cope with different fluid properties of water and air, making it capable of hovering in the air for six minutes or swimming underwater for about 40 minutes.
“For propulsion, the operating range is switched for the different mediums by the dual-speed propulsion unit, providing sufficient thrust and also ensuring output efficiency. For thruster configuration, thrust vectoring is realized by the rotation of the propulsion unit around the mount arm, thus enhancing the underwater maneuverability,” said the researchers.
The quadrotor is equipped with a cross-domain positioning and navigation system consisting of GPS, inertial measurement unit, depthmeter and mini Doppler velocity log, which enables autonomous control during its amphibious journey.
TJ-FlyingFish was jointly developed by a team of scientists from the Shanghai Research Institute for Intelligent Autonomous Systems under the Tongji University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Possible applications include resource exploration, search and rescue missions, and engineering inspections.
Source(s): Xinhua, CGTN
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