Abstract: This study investigated perceptions of a group of Chinese and Indian state forestry professionals (SFPs) related to the potential benefits and challenges of developing forest-based bioenergy projects (FBPs) in their countries. A total of 110 SFPs participated in the study (55 from each country). The results showed that the SFPs widely agreed upon the potential economic and ecological benefits from developing FBPs in their countries. The economic benefits of job creation and additional income to forest departments were the two most accepted benefits by the SFPs. Two potential challenges of developing FBPs—namely, the lack of suitable technologies and the absence of supportive policies—were considered the most significant by the SFPs. Principal component analysis revealed three key dimensions (ecological, economic and social) of the SFPs’ perceptions of FBPs. The findings from the study imply that in order to become viable, the development of FBPs in these two countries must put emphasis on the sustainability aspects by addressing the environmental, economic and societal elements of FBPs. In addition, framing supportive policies, the development of technologies and building infrastructure for FBPs are needed for their successful implementation in China and India.
Challenges2014, 5(2), 334-337; doi:10.3390/challe5020334 - published 29 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: MyChEMBL is an open virtual platform which provides a free, secure, standardised and easy to use chemoinformatics environment for bioactivity data mining, machine learning, application development, learning and teaching. The main technical features of myChEMBL along with its applications and future plans are discussed here.
Challenges2014, 5(2), 324-333; doi:10.3390/challe5020324 - published 23 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: We outline in this work a mathematical description of biodiversity evolution based on a second-order differential equation (also known as the “inertial/Galilean view”). After discussing the motivations and explicit forms of the simplest “forces”, we are lead to an equation analogue to a harmonic oscillator. The known solutions for the homogeneous problem are then tentatively related to the biodiversity curves of Sepkoski and Alroy et al., suggesting mostly an inertial behavior of the time evolution of the number of genera and a quadratic behavior in some long-term evolution after extinction events. We present the Green function for the dynamical system and apply it to the description of the recovery curve after the Permo-Triassic extinction, as recently analyzed by Burgess, Bowring and Shen. Even though the agreement is not satisfactory, we point out direct connections between observed drop times after massive extinctions and mathematical constants and discuss why the failure ensues, suggesting a more complex form of the second-order mathematical description.
Challenges2014, 5(2), 296-323; doi:10.3390/challe5020296 - published 19 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: We have now confirmed the existence of > 1800 planets orbiting stars other thanthe Sun; known as extrasolar planets or exoplanets. The different methods for detectingsuch planets are sensitive to different regions of parameter space, and so, we are discoveringa wide diversity of exoplanets and exoplanetary systems. Characterizing such planets isdifficult, but we are starting to be able to determine something of their internal compositionand are beginning to be able to probe their atmospheres, the first step towards the detectionof bio-signatures and, hence, determining if a planet could be habitable or not. Here, Iwill review how we detect exoplanets, how we characterize exoplanetary systems and theexoplanets themselves, where we stand with respect to potentially habitable planets and howwe are progressing towards being able to actually determine if a planet could host life or not.
Challenges2014, 5(2), 294-295; doi:10.3390/challe5020294 - published 18 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: An Aquatic Habitability Index is proposed, based on Quantitative Habitability Theory, and considering a very general model for life. It is a primary habitability index, measuring habitability for phytoplankton in the first place. The index is applied to some case studies, such as the habitability changes in Earth due to environmental perturbations caused by asteroid impacts.