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Visual artists’ Brazilian dream needs push – The Herald

Kundai Marunya

Arts Correspondent

A group of visual artists who are travelling to Brazil for a cultural exchange programme this week are appealing for funds to cover travel costs.

The group of four artists and one media personnel travelling under the banner of Hillock Arts Foundation, an organisation that teaches art in underprivileged communities, were scheduled to leave the country last Thursday for two weeks, but had to postpone to this week to raise at least US$6 000 for return air fares.

The artists are travelling at the invitation of Instituto ReggArte, a collective of artists and professionals that organises social events and cultural campaigns to collect food, clothes and toys to help underprivileged communities.

The institution has a reach of around 170 families which they also assist with cultural activities and occupational therapy.

In an invitation letter seen by Herald Arts, Instituto ReggArte cultural producer Nair Omena da Costa said her organisation will not be assisting the artists with travel expenses.

“Our work aims to promote the visibility of artists with disabilities and as we survive on donations from partners we will not be able to support the expenses regarding this cultural exchange,” wrote da Costa.

“It will be of great value for us to have you here and we kindly ask you to find a sponsor to provide the necessary costs for your stay.”

Hillock Arts Foundation founder and president Raphael Jamu said they received assistance from the Brazilian Ambassador, but still fell short of travel funds.

“The Ambassador of Brazil to Zimbabwe His Excellency Vilmar R Coutinho Jr has been very helpful,” said Jamu.

“He assisted us with courtesy visas and went out of his way to fund part of the trip, showing his commitment towards cultural exchange between Zimbabwe and Brazil.

“We are, however, still falling short of finances to cover the trip, especially air fares, and we are appealing to well-wishers for assistance.”

Hillock recently held an exhibition to raise funds but failed to make any money as most went towards expenses of putting together the show.

Jamu said they had many pledges that went unfulfilled.

“We had been promised funds by different sources, but we have not yet received anything, thus postponing our travel by a week, hoping something will pun out,” he said.

“Since postponing, we have approached different corporates and Government officials, and we pray and hope the funds will be raised.

“We are even willing to be offered work in exchange for the funds.”

Jamu is a renowned artist who has done portraits for top Government officials, including President Mnangagwa, the First Lady, Minister of Sports, Arts and Recreation Dr Kirsty Coventry, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Dr John Mangudya, the late South African revolutionary icon Nelson Mandela and Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, among others.

Travelling with Jamu are Lydia Molai, a young artist who majors in landscape and portraits, Winston Thulani Mudumo, who has an amazing talent for painting and jewellery and Message Pikitayi, an educator who also doubles as the foundation’s administrator.

Jamu said the opportunity was too big to miss.“We are at a time we need to improve our global participation, not only as artists but as Zimbabwe, and representing Zimbabwe in Brazil, one of the world’s fastest rising economies is a great opportunity we really can’t afford to miss,” he said.

Hillock Arts Foundation’s visit to Brazil comes soon after Ambassador Coutinho Jr pronounced cultural exchange as one of the key point he will work towards during his stay in Zimbabwe.

“For the past 12 months I have made several important contacts in this country from which I hope, several bilateral exchanges will be developed in several areas including agriculture, mining, trade and investments, renewable energies and cultural and education exchanges,” he said during a recent celebration of his country’s 201st National day celebration.

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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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