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Deadline set for Mat North civil servants’ relocation – The Herald

Sikhumbuzo Moyo

Bulawayo Bureau

The outstanding water and electricity connections to civil servants’ houses in Lupane will now be expedited by the Government to pave way for the relocation of all officers to Matabeleland North Province before the end of December this year.

Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution in Matabeleland North, Richard Moyo, yesterday said he expects the pending service connections to be sorted soon to allow for the smooth relocation of workers, including his office.

Most civil servants from Matabeleland North are still operating from the Mhlahlandlela Government Complex in Bulawayo, which cripples the efficiency of services while bleeding the fiscus in terms of costs.

Speaking on the sidelines of a provincial meeting of heads of Government departments in Bulawayo yesterday, the minister said it was high time civil servants deployed to his province relocated to Lupane.

“I see no reason why we should be operating from Bulawayo when running Matabeleland North. So, by the end of the year, everyone working for the province should have relocated,” he said.

“Our offices are ready; houses are ready including mine. We just need to have water and electricity connections then we are good to go hence my confidence that by December, everyone should be stationed in Lupane,” said Minister Moyo.

Earlier in his official address, Minister Moyo said the next five years were not going to be business as usual and as he challenged civil servants to hard and deliver tangible results in line with Government targets.

He said the road map has already been cut out as expressed in President Mnangagwa’s inauguration speech and charge to ministries after last week’s Cabinet appointments.

Minister Moyo said all departments must accelerate the growth of the provincial gross domestic product (GDP) by ensuring that the vulnerable communities are prioritized and ensuring that no place and no one was left behind.

Regarding ongoing development projects, he said these will be accelerated taking into account the need to meet the transformative targets towards Vision 2030.

“You are the team that has been mandated by our Constitution to be directly involved in development planning and stimulating economic development, thus, contributing immensely to provincial development under the devolution agenda,” said Minister Moyo.

“These are the responsibilities, which you have to take with professionalism and transparency. As His Excellency (President Mnangagwa) alluded to, this country belongs to the people and not to us.

“Whatever we do, let us respect the people, especially elder people because their perception of Government is based on who they meet in our respective offices,” said Minister Moyo.

He emphasised the need for unity of purpose as a driver of progress saying Matabeleland North has the potential of realising growth of infrastructure, and provincial economy, which will ultimately result in improved lifestyles for ordinary people.

Minister Moyo said the attainment of Vision 2030 required everyone to work tirelessly and implored heads of departments to effectively utilise devolution funds as they are one of the 14 pillars meant to drive the country forward.

“The utilisation of devolution funds should take into consideration community-driven expectations and national aspirations.

“Therefore, extensive and inclusive consultation should be carried out when coming up with projects to be implemented in each and every district,” he said.

“This calls for us to be proactive in our interventions especially with the manner in which we utilise the devolution funds.

“The ultimate aim is to bring services to our communities in the shortest space of time and distance. To this end, let me highlight that my office will be keenly interested in how you are using these funds.

“Periodically, reports have to be submitted to my office indicating the progress being made in all the inter-governmental funded projects as that is part of my office’s mandate, which I intend to carry out diligently,” said Minister Moyo.

For a number of decades, Matabeleland North was regarded as one of the marginalised provinces in the country where its communities have been presented as poverty-stricken with poor basic infrastructure development such as hospitals, schools, colleges, roads and universities.

However, when President Mnangagwa came into power the province has started registering commendable development bringing the once neglected province at par with others through rolling out life-changing projects such as construction of dams, bridges, schools, clinics and irrigation infrastructure, among others.

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New pathway of diatom-mediated calcification and its impact on the biological pump – EurekAlert

New pathway of diatom-mediated calcification

image: It was discovered that the photosynthesis of S. costatum can induce substantial aragonite precipitation from artificial/natural seawater under significantly lower supersaturation levels required for the precipitation of inorganic CaCO3.
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Credit: ©Science China Press

This study is led by associate professor Yiwen Pan (Institute of Ocean College, Zhejiang University). The team found that the photosynthesis of Skeletonema costatum (S. costatum), a common diatom species, can induce substantial aragonite precipitation from artificial/natural seawater under significantly lower supersaturation levels required for the precipitation of inorganic CaCO3.

Researchers have discovered that during the growth process of S. costatum, there is a significant decrease in total alkalinity (TA) and [Ca2+] in the bulk medium. The precipitated white particles were confirmed to be aragonite crystals through X-ray diffraction. Scanning electron microscope images revealed that the diatom cells were enveloped by spherical crystals with diameters ranging from 40 to 70 μm, forming aggregates of S. costatum and aragonite. Further investigations found that this extracellular calcification process is primarily driven by the combined effect of elevated extracellular CO32- concentration and the adsorption and aggregation of Ca2+ during photosynthesis. This enables S. costatum to induce substantial aragonite precipitation at significantly lower supersaturation levels than those required for inorganic CaCO3 precipitation. The team also observed TA deviation from the conservative mixing during S. costatum blooms in the East China Sea. This further supports the possibility of a new diatom-mediated calcification pathway occurring in the ocean.

This breakthrough finding has profound implications for our understanding of oceanic carbon cycling. Diatoms are the most important primary producers and organic carbon transporters in the ocean. The newly discovered diatom-mediated extracellular calcification pathway may establish a novel connection between the particle inorganic carbon pump and the organic carbon pump. On one hand, the release of CO2 during the extracellular calcification process is considered as “counter carbonate pump.” However, in the diatom-mediated extracellular calcification process, due to the maintenance of high pH in the water, the released CO2 may be more readily absorbed by algae, rather than being released into the atmosphere. On the other hand, the calcification, through the formation of aggregates of diatoms and aragonite, enhances the efficiency of organic carbon sinking and increases the transport capacity of the biological carbon pump.

This study not only changes our understanding of carbon cycling in marine ecosystems but also provides new perspectives for the ocean carbon cycle research.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

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Tetris® 99 – 35th MAXIMUS CUP Gameplay Trailer – Nintendo Switch – Nintendo of America

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New insights into the atmosphere and star of an exoplanet – Science Daily

Astronomers led by a team at Université de Montréal has made important progress in understanding the intriguing TRAPPIST-1 exoplanetary system, which was first discovered in 2016 amid speculation it could someday provide a place for humans to live.

Not only does the new research shed light on the nature of TRAPPIST-1 b, the exoplanet orbiting closest to the system’s star, it has also shown the importance of parent stars when studying exoplanets.

Published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, the findings by astronomers at UdeM’s Trottier Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx) and colleagues in Canada, the U.K. and U.S. shed light on the complex interplay between stellar activity and exoplanet characteristics.

Captured the attention

TRAPPIST-1, a star much smaller and cooler than our sun located approximately 40 light-years away from Earth, has captured the attention of scientists and space enthusiasts alike since the discovery of its seven Earth-sized exoplanets seven years ago. These worlds, tightly packed around their star with three of them within its habitable zone, have fueled hopes of finding potentially habitable environments beyond our solar system.

Led by iREx doctoral student Olivia Lim, the researchers employed the powerful James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to observe TRAPPIST-1 b. Their observations were collected as part of the largest Canadian-led General Observers (GO) program during the JWST’s first year of operations. (This program also included observations of three other planets in the system, TRAPPIST-1 c, g and h.) TRAPPIST-1 b was observed during two transits — the moment when the planet passes in front of its star — using the Canadian-made NIRISS instrument aboard the JWST.

“These are the very first spectroscopic observations of any TRAPPIST-1 planet obtained by the JWST, and we’ve been waiting for them for years” said Lim, the GO program’s principal Investigator.


She and her colleagues used the technique of transmission spectroscopy to peer deeper into the distant world. By analysing the central star’s light after it has passed through the exoplanet’s atmosphere during a transit, astronomers can see the unique fingerprint left behind by the molecules and atoms found within that atmosphere.

‘Just a small subset’

“This is just a small subset of many more observations of this unique planetary system yet to come and to be analysed,” adds René Doyon, Principal Investigator of the NIRISS instrument and co-author on the study. “These first observations highlight the power of NIRISS and the JWST in general to probe the thin atmospheres around rocky planets.”

The astronomers’ key finding was just how significant stellar activity and contamination are when trying to determine the nature of an exoplanet. Stellar contamination refers to the influence of the star’s own features, such as dark spots and bright faculae, on the measurements of the exoplanet’s atmosphere.

The team found compelling evidence that stellar contamination plays a crucial role in shaping the transmission spectra of TRAPPIST-1 b and, likely, the other planets in the system. The central star’s activity can create “ghost signals” that may fool the observer into thinking they have detected a particular molecule in the exoplanet’s atmosphere.

This result underscores the importance of considering stellar contamination when planning future observations of all exoplanetary systems, the sceintists say. This is especially true for systems like TRAPPIST-1, since the system is centred around a red dwarf star which can be particularly active with starspots and frequent flare events.


“In addition to the contamination from stellar spots and faculae, we saw a stellar flare, an unpredictable event during which the star looks brighter for several minutes or hours,” said Lim. “This flare affected our measurement of the amount of light blocked by the planet. Such signatures of stellar activity are difficult to model but we need to account for them to ensure that we interpret the data correctly.”

A range of models explored

Based on their collected JWST observations, Lim and her team explored a range of atmospheric models for TRAPPIST-1 b, examining various possible compositions and scenarios.

They found they could confidently rule out the existence of cloud-free, hydrogen-rich atmospheres — in other words, there appears to be no clear, extended atmosphere around TRAPPIST-1 b. However, the data could not confidently exclude thinner atmospheres, such as those composed of pure water, carbon dioxide, or methane, nor an atmosphere similar to that of Titan, a moon of Saturn and the only moon in the Solar System with its own atmosphere.

These results are generally consistent with previous (photometric, and not spectroscopic) JWST observations of TRAPPIST-1 b with the MIRI instrument. The new study also proves that Canada’s NIRISS instrument is a highly performing, sensitive tool able to probe for atmospheres on Earth-sized exoplanets at impressive levels.

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