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China confirms human to human transmission of mysterious virus

Experts in China have confirmed the human-to-human transmission of the new type of coronavirus. Credit: EFE

The planet is threatened by a new deadly virus that has appeared in China which has confirmed that the new and mysterious «coronavirus» virus can transmit from human to human.

So far, 200 people in China, in addition to Japan, Thailand and South Korea have been infected with the new strain of virus. Now, it is confirmed that it can be transmitted from person to person, causing a faster spread.

It is a respiratory virus, possibly a new coronavirus, called 2019-nCoV, as first reported in the city of Wuhan in December 2019.

The new virus is related to MERS and SARS, and to the common cold and pneumonia. In recent days, the number of infected people has increased and now three people have died.

Coronavirus: transmission from human to human

This Monday, the director of State Key Laboratory of Respiratory DiseaseZhong Nanshan said that there are also 14 medical staff members who were infected by the virus, after having contact with carriers.

Two doctors outside the Jinyintan hospital who are treating people infected with the new coronavirus in Wuhan (China). Credit: Reuters

Zhong said in a statement to South China Morning Post:

The key to controlling the spread of the disease now is to avoid the appearance of a super propagator”

Referring to “super virus spreader,” Zhong targets infected patients who quickly help spread the virus, especially among doctors.

According to initial reports, approximately 224 people were infected, however statistical analyzes reveal that the actual number of people affected both inside and outside China could be 11 times higher.

Now, Reuters inform that China has confirmed 291 cases of the new type of coronavirus.

Coronavirus: information

The new coronavirus is a mysterious disease similar to SARS, which has spread throughout China and three other Asian countries since it first appeared in Wuhan.

People in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, wearing masks to avoid a possible spread of the virus. Credit: China Daily / Reuters

China launched an alert to the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 31, 2019, in view of the various cases of pneumonia presented in the city of Wuhan.

The WHO announced on January 9 that the outbreak was caused by a previously unknown type of coronavirus. It was reported that the virus is related to the common cold and SARS.

On January 11, Chinese authorities reported the death of the first person due to the virus.

January 13 report that the virus spread outside of China, precisely in Thailand, according to WHO. The victim was a woman from China who was returning from a trip to Wuhan.

On January 20, a third death is reported due to the disease, in addition to the confirmation of contagion from person to person, which before was only believed a possibility.

Now in a new report, the number of deaths caused by the outbreak of the new type of coronavirus has increased to 6 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, according to its mayor, Zhou Xianwang.

The authorities are now in alert due to the proximity of the Chinese New Year celebrations on January 25, when hundreds of millions of Chinese are likely to travel within the country.

Photo: Tyrone Siu / Reuters

In connection with the proliferation of coronavirus, President Xi Jinping of China ordered decisive efforts to contain it. He emphasized that safety and health should be at the forefront. At the same time, increased attention should be paid to prevention, it is important and timely to publish all new information, the Chinese leader said.

Beijing also warned : officials should not forget about the painful lessons of the past and hide data on the disease. “Any person who puts the interests of politicians above the interests of the people will become a sinner of the millennium for the party and people. Anyone who deliberately delays [publicity] and hides reports of [virus] cases out of personal interests will be nailed to a pillar of shame for eternity, ”the statement of the Central Commission of the Chinese Communist Party on Political and Legal Issues said.

Earlier in China, outbreaks of SARS were recorded several times. The last serious epidemic occurred in 2002-2003, SARS coronavirus became its causative agent, and bats were a probable source of spread. The Chinese authorities initially concealed reports of an outbreak of a new infection, but it quickly spread to Hong Kong and Vietnam, and then to other countries and continents.

As a result, only in China during the epidemic, 350 people died with 5 thousand cases. In general, almost 8.5 thousand people became ill in the world then, more than 800 died.

During the SARS epidemic in China, the tourism and transport sectors, as well as retail, were severely affected: people chose to stay home so they wouldn’t get sick. As a result, domestic consumption, real estate prices and financial markets plummeted. According to estimates, what happened, reduced GDP growth in 2003 by 0.8 percent.

With the onset of the current epidemic, some Chinese companies have announced the return of money to those who wish to cancel their reservations for holidays in Wuhan. At the same time, the value of shares of companies associated with the tourism sector began to decline, and investors began to sell shares of manufacturers of alcoholic beverages. According to Chen Shi, fund manager for Shanghai Jade Stone Investment Management, the spread of the virus can indeed lead to people changing their vacation plans. “At the moment, it’s not easy to calculate how negative the consequences will be. Investors tend to react too sharply, ”he added.

Whatever the consequences, one thing is clear: China remains the epicenter of the emergence of new dangerous infections even 60 years after the Asian flu pandemic (claimed the lives of two million people) and almost two decades after the SARS epidemic. Yes, the country has established control over the sale of exotic animals and infectious diseases have been successfully identified. However, traditional markets where you can buy almost anything from birds to snakes remain popular and potentially pose a serious threat.

Now, both the authorities in China and the World Health Organization (WHO) are monitoring the development of the situation to prevent further spread of the virus. However, experts cannot anticipate how a larger-scale epidemic could occur, because it is too early to know.

Source: Time / South China Morning Post / Science Alert

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Planet Earth

By supporting India in a border conflict, Moscow pissed Beijing off which in turn declared Vladivostok its city

China, which is already trying to change the status quo through de facto control in East Ladakh, has now begun a territorial dispute with Russia.

According to the Chinese resource WION , after Russian officials published a video dedicated to the celebration of the 160th anniversary of the founding of Vladivostok on Weibo, Chinese officials quickly corrected their partners, reminding them that Vladivostok was the territory of China in the 19th century.

This is a tweet from the Russian Embassy in China, where Chinese officials write:

“The history of Vladivostok began in 1860, when Russia built a military port there. Previously, this city was called Haishenvai. It has always been Chinese territory before Russia annexed it through the unjust Beijing Treaty.

It should be noted that in addition to India, China is now also involved in a territorial dispute with Japan and is invading its sea territory. 

Moscow pissed Beijing off

According to Asia Times Financial, it seems that China is very upset that its “ally” Putin is selling fighter jets to India, the contract for the supply of which was signed with the Minister of Defense of India, who attended the Victory Day parade last week.

President Xi Jinping did not go well in 2020, and here, in addition, he received a sharp reminder of real politics when Russia expressed support for India in connection with its border conflict with China. And although Russia, India and China are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, relations between Moscow and Delhi have deeper roots than the recent warming of relations with President Putin Xi Jinping.

Therefore, despite the growing interdependence between Russia and China, when it comes to energy, weapons and other transactions, including negotiations to create a digital currency system, Moscow has confirmed that it supports India’s position in the Sino-Indian border dispute. To slightly sweeten the pill, Moscow expressed support for China’s new national security law in Hong Kong, but it had little effect on Beijing. 

This decision of Russia has great commercial motives, as well as, possibly, historical geostrategic ties. India buys about 60% of its weapons from Russia. Moscow and Delhi have had strong diplomatic relations since the Cold War. Both countries signed the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation for a Strategic Partnership in 1971. This was a departure from India’s previous position, which during the Cold War followed a non-aligned policy.

A week after the deadly clash on the Indian-Chinese border, Indian Defense Minister Rajnat Singh visited Moscow to take part in the 75th Victory Day parade on Red Square, which marked the victory of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany in World War II. Singh said that India is going to buy as much military equipment as possible from Russia. 

According to Indian media reports, the Minister of Defense bought 33 fighters in one package: 21 MiG-29 and 12 Su-30 MKI, and also ordered the modernization of another 59 aircraft. The total amount of orders amounted to almost 2.4 billion dollars. India also approved a deal to supply the Russian S-400 missile system, which cost $ 5.4 billion. Although the contract was signed back in 2018, India was in no hurry to fulfill it, fearing US sanctions. 

In addition, according to Chinese media reports, India also bought 600 of the latest air-to-air missiles and cruise missiles in an unknown quantity. At the same time, Russia announced that it could provide India with even more weapons in a short time.

This move by Moscow infuriated Beijing, which is not surprising: on the eve, China asked Russia not to respond to India’s requests for weapons systems, but Moscow ignored this request.

Professor Harsh Pant from Royal Imperial College London said in an interview with Live Mint that “With this step, Russia wanted to show its independence from China, because, after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, only China recognized the legality of this step, declaring itself an older brother in exchange “.

As a result, many Chinese news agencies began to flog over Russia. So the Jiabao Business newspaper  noted that Putin has lifted Russia from its knees for 20 years, but so far Russia’s GDP is equivalent to only one Guangdong province. “What happened to Russia?” – asks Jiabao Business.

The IMF report “Prospects for the Development of the World Economy” recently predicted that Russian GDP will fall by 6.6% this year, so by the end of 2020, Guangdong will even surpass Russia in terms of GDP. 

Why does Russia want to sell weapons? According to the latest data, Russian oil reserves are in eighth place in the world, amounting to 80,000 million barrels. Rich oil resources brought Russia a steady stream of profits, but the recent fall in oil prices, for which Moscow was partially responsible, hit the country hard. Russia, which lives earning money lying on the couch, has completely turned into a typical commodity country.

The country’s second problem is unthinkable corruption, and even Putin admits that the efficiency of industrial production in Russia is lower than that of Western countries. Therefore Jiabao Business further recommends, before meddling in other people’s border disputes, Moscow is necessary to modernize its industrial structure, punish bribe takers and improve international relations.

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Planet Earth

Giant mountains discovered inside the Earth

Studying the boundary between the Earth’s core and mantle, geophysicists have found that it is not as smooth as previously thought. Surfaces separating the inner layers also have a complex relief. It turns out that our planet is not at all like a set of spheres nested into each other, as is customary to portray it.

Reading the waves. Earth’s crust

The deep bowels of geophysics are judged by seismic waves generated by earthquakes. There are longitudinal P-waves – when elastic mechanical vibrations occur along the propagation direction and transverse S-waves – the vibrations in them are perpendicular.At the boundary of layers with different densities, the wave velocity changes dramatically. In the transition from a solid crust to a more plastic upper mantle, it increases. This border is called the surface of Mokhorovichich. The lower mantle is harder than the upper. The outer core, in which transverse seismic waves do not propagate, is liquid, and the inner core is again solid, but slightly plastic.

While the network of seismographs was rare, the sections between the inner shells with a certain degree of conventionality were depicted as spheres. As the data accumulated, it became clear that each of these boundaries is a complex surface with its relief and internal “mountains” even higher than on the Earth’s surface, and the “troughs” are deeper. From the top of Everest to the bottom of the Mariana Trench about 20 kilometers, and, for example, the differences of the border of Mokhorovichich, dividing the crust and upper mantle, reach 40 kilometers. And all this at a depth of five to 70 kilometers.

This was proved by scientists from China and the United States . They analyzed the results of observations of hundreds of seismic stations obtained from the same events: the earthquakes in Bolivia of 1994 and the Sea of ​​Okhotsk in 2008 and 2012, as well as archival records of seismographs of the National Center for Information on Earthquakes of the US Geological Survey.

The authors of the study found that for the boundary between the upper and lower mantle, located at a depth of about 660-670 kilometers, the data of the various stations almost completely coincide. That is, she has a stable relief, which she even managed to map. Signal processing of the Bolivian earthquake made it possible to literally create a “topographic map” of the surface of the lower mantle for an entire region in Southeast Asia .

The most dynamic area. Mantle and core

When talking about the dynamics of the Earth, they usually mean large-scale surface processes associated with the movement of lithospheric plates. In the zones of mid-ocean ridges and rifts, the lithosphere moves apart, and in subduction zones on the outskirts of the continents, oceanic plates sink under the continental.

But no less dynamic processes and surface movements occur inside the Earth – only their reflection. First of all, we are talking about mantle convection, which arises due to the temperature difference in the bowels and on the surface of the planet. 

Upward flows of convection cells stretch the lithosphere, downward flows drag it into the mantle. Moreover, in the upper parts of the cells, the substance flows in a horizontal plane and these flows cause lithospheric plates to move.The most dynamic region of the Earth is located on the border of the core and mantle, at a depth of about 2900 kilometers.

It is believed that its heterogeneity affects many geological processes, in particular, the oscillation of the axis of rotation of the Earth and the characteristics of the geomagnetic field. In addition, convection itself is a consequence of what happens in the D ”layer at the boundary with the core.On its surface, scientists discovered arrays of unusually dense, hot rocks – zones of abnormally low seismic wave velocities (ULVZ – Ultra-low velocity zones). They stretch for hundreds of kilometers, and their “height” – tens of kilometers.Above them are hot spots with volcanoes: Hawaiian, Marquesas, Galapagos Islands and the Samoa archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, Canary Islands and Azores , Iceland in the Atlantic, Kerguelen archipelago in the Indian, Afar volcanism zone in the Great African Rift.

Using the new machine learning algorithm, American scientists at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland at College Park together with their Israeli colleagues from Tel Aviv University performed a parallel analysis of seven thousand seismograms covering hundreds of earthquakes from 1990 to 2018, and for the first time compiled a detailed section map the core and mantle of the Pacific region, on which all ULVZ zones were applied.It turned out that ULVZ are only separate protrusions within the larger, low-shear-velocity provinces (LLSVP) provinces, which are also called superplumes. Their branches penetrate up into the mantle for thousands of kilometers. Now scientists distinguish two such provinces – African and Pacific.

Superplumes (provinces with a low shear rate) at the boundary of the core and mantle look like they look from the North (a) and South (b) poles. The center shows the core of the Earth with the projection onto it of the contours of the continents; outer contour - conditional border of the lower mantle
© Sanne Cottaar, Vedran Lekic / Geophysical Journal International, 2016Superplumes (provinces with a low shear rate) at the boundary of the core and mantle look like they look from the North (a) and South (b) poles. The center shows the core of the Earth with the projection onto it of the contours of the continents; outer contour – conditional border of the lower mantle

The circulation of matter in the mantle

Australian scientists from the University of Curtin suggested that the periods when all the land of the Earth united into single supercontinents – Pangea, Rodinia, Colombia and others, coincided with activity in the deep LLSVP provinces. They built a dynamic model linking the evolution of superplumes to the assembly and decay of supercontinent. According to this model, LLSVP arrays are formed from lithospheric plates, which, as it turned out, sinking, does not dissolve in the mantle, as previously thought, but descend to the very boundary of the core. Here they melt, and giant drops of preheated matter – mantle plumes – coming off from LLSVP, float to the surface, giving rise to a new geodynamic cycle. The lithosphere rises above the plumes, forming a dome, and then cracks and diverges.

Inside the core

Researchers from the US and China have analyzed how seismic waves passing through the boundary between the outer and inner core change. For this, we used signals from doublets – repeated earthquakes with the same epicenter.

It turned out that these changes have a certain periodicity, which can be explained by two mechanisms: either the inner core rotates by about 0.05-0.1 degrees per year, or high “mountains” and deep “canyons” appear on its surface. So, a dynamically changing relief can also be at the deepest boundary between the earth’s shells.

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Planet Earth

The Earth’s magnetic field has been quiet lately. Until now!

The Earth’s magnetic field has been quiet lately. Very quiet. The sun is in a deep minimum of activity, which may be the deepest solar minimum in a century. 

Geomagnetic storms simply do not exist. But on June 23, something unusual was recorded. The Earth’s magnetic field swung back and forth by about 1/3 of a degree.

“That’s why I was so surprised on June 23 when my instruments detected a magnetic anomaly,” said Stuart Green, who works with a research-class magnetometer in his home in Preston, UK. 

“For more than 30 minutes, the local magnetic field oscillated like a sine wave.”

Green quickly checked the solar wind data from the NOAA DSCOVR satellite. 

“There was nothing – no surge in solar wind speed or other factors that could explain this disturbance,” he says.

He was not the only one to notice this. In the Lofoten Islands of Norway, Rob Stams found a similar anomaly on his magnetometer. 

“It was amazing,” says Stams. “Our magnetic field swung back and forth by about 1/3 of a degree.” I also discovered ground currents with the same 10 minute period.”

Space physicists call this phenomenon “pulsation.” Imagine that you are blowing on a piece of paper, making it flutter from your breath. Solar wind can have a similar effect on magnetic fields. During the extreme silence of the solar minimum, such waves can be “heard” like a pin falling in a quiet room.

The Earth’s magnetic field was so quiet on June 23 that this ripple was heard all over the world. The INTERMAGNET global network of magnetic observatories recorded wave activity simultaneously from Hawaii to China and the Arctic Circle and even in Antarctica.

PC waves are classified into 5 types depending on their period. The 10-minute wave June 23 falls into the Pc5 category. Slow Pc5 waves were associated with the loss of particles from Van Allen’s radiation belts. Energy electrons beat these waves down into the Earth’s atmosphere, where they scatter.

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