2022 Audi A3 is still a year away – Roadshow

Discuss: 2022 Audi A3 is still a year away

Be respectful, keep it civil and stay on topic. We delete comments that violate our policy, which we encourage you to read. Discussion threads can be closed at any time at our discretion.

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2022 Audi A3 is still a year away – Roadshow

Discuss: 2022 Audi A3 is still a year away

Be respectful, keep it civil and stay on topic. We delete comments that violate our policy, which we encourage you to read. Discussion threads can be closed at any time at our discretion.

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NASA’s Juno spacecraft snaps first images of Ganymede’s north pole – CNET

pia23987-16

Juno captured this view of Ganymede's northern regions on Dec. 26, 2019. Annotations are added and the thick white line is 0-degrees longitude. 

NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM

Jupiter has a lot of moons but one in particular reigns supreme: Ganymede. The biggest Jovian moon is larger than both Mercury and Pluto and has its own magnetic field. It's an unusual world, with an internal ocean, incredibly thin atmosphere and an icy shell and it has fascinated astronomers since Galileo first discovered it in 1610.

Galileo's discovery was monumental, but he didn't quite have the tools at his disposal to really examine the moon. But 410 years later, NASA does. On On Dec. 26, 2019, the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) in NASA's Juno spacecraft snapped the first images of the moon's icy north pole, mapping the region for the first time.

The images show an unusual form of ice exists at the pole, a type that we don't encounter on Earth, because the magnetic field filters particles from the sun -- plasma -- toward it. Without a decent atmosphere, it's basically raining plasma down on Ganymede's ice.

"The JIRAM data show the ice at and surrounding Ganymede's north pole has been modified by the precipitation of plasma," said Alessandro Mura, a co-investigator on Juno from the National Institute for Astrophysics in Rome, in a NASA release

"It is a phenomenon that we have been able to learn about for the first time with Juno because we are able to see the north pole in its entirety."  

The plasma prevents the ice from taking on the structure we are used to seeing on Earth. When water freezes here it forms a crystalline structure -- layer upon layer of water molecules form a lattice of hexagonal rings. At Ganymede's poles, the ice takes on an amorphous form. Its molecular structure is disordered; there's no lattice, no rings. Analyzing and understanding these structures will provide further clues to the formation of Jupiter's moons and the forces at play during their evolution. 

And Juno should receive some help in the next decade. The European Space Agency will seek to explore Ganymede when it launches JUICE -- the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer spacecraft in 2022. By 2029, it will reach Jupiter and it should start performing close up science at Ganymede around 2032. NASA will explore another interesting Jupiter moon around the same time with the Europa Clipper, an orbiting spacecraft set to study a moon that could harbor microbial life

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NASA’s Juno spacecraft snaps first images of Ganymede’s north pole – CNET

pia23987-16

Juno captured this view of Ganymede's northern regions on Dec. 26, 2019. Annotations are added and the thick white line is 0-degrees longitude. 

NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM

Jupiter has a lot of moons but one in particular reigns supreme: Ganymede. The biggest Jovian moon is larger than both Mercury and Pluto and has its own magnetic field. It's an unusual world, with an internal ocean, incredibly thin atmosphere and an icy shell and it has fascinated astronomers since Galileo first discovered it in 1610.

Galileo's discovery was monumental, but he didn't quite have the tools at his disposal to really examine the moon. But 410 years later, NASA does. On On Dec. 26, 2019, the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) in NASA's Juno spacecraft snapped the first images of the moon's icy north pole, mapping the region for the first time.

The images show an unusual form of ice exists at the pole, a type that we don't encounter on Earth, because the magnetic field filters particles from the sun -- plasma -- toward it. Without a decent atmosphere, it's basically raining plasma down on Ganymede's ice.

"The JIRAM data show the ice at and surrounding Ganymede's north pole has been modified by the precipitation of plasma," said Alessandro Mura, a co-investigator on Juno from the National Institute for Astrophysics in Rome, in a NASA release

"It is a phenomenon that we have been able to learn about for the first time with Juno because we are able to see the north pole in its entirety."  

The plasma prevents the ice from taking on the structure we are used to seeing on Earth. When water freezes here it forms a crystalline structure -- layer upon layer of water molecules form a lattice of hexagonal rings. At Ganymede's poles, the ice takes on an amorphous form. Its molecular structure is disordered; there's no lattice, no rings. Analyzing and understanding these structures will provide further clues to the formation of Jupiter's moons and the forces at play during their evolution. 

And Juno should receive some help in the next decade. The European Space Agency will seek to explore Ganymede when it launches JUICE -- the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer spacecraft in 2022. By 2029, it will reach Jupiter and it should start performing close up science at Ganymede around 2032. NASA will explore another interesting Jupiter moon around the same time with the Europa Clipper, an orbiting spacecraft set to study a moon that could harbor microbial life

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China’s Tianwen-1 mission launches to Mars – CNET

march5

The Long March 5 carrying Tianwen-1 to Mars on July 22.

CNSA

China is, it appears, headed to Mars. A Long March 5 rocket lifted off from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island, in the South China Sea through partly cloudy skies on Thursday afternoon, local time. The stark white rocket blazed a trail through the blue at 12:41 p.m. local (9:40 p.m. PT). However, China National Space Administration (CNSA), the national space agency, are yet to confirm it has reached its intended orbit and is on its way to the red planet. 

It was a little different to the live launch day coverage we've come to expect from the likes of NASA and SpaceX. No official livestreams were provided by CNSA and there was no official countdown. Instead, many avid rocket-watchers -- myself included -- were following private videos streamed to Chinese social media platforms Weibo and Douyu. 

Douyu user PhilLeaf seemed to have one of the best views of the launch, but streamers constantly battled dropouts and disconnections. A YouTube channel "LC-123" had just under 5,000 concurrent viewers approximately a minute before launch and as the rocket took off, provided excellent views.

The launch was ideal, but until CNSA confirms Tianwen-1 has made it to its initial parking orbit, there's still a chance Tianwen-1 might not make it to the red planet. Earlier flights of the Long March rocket have seen the second stage reach a parking orbit around 13 minutes after launch. Chinese state media service CCTV have reported that the mission was a success and the probe is now in its transfer orbit to Mars. We'll update this post if we hear more.

Long March 5 blasting off carrying Tianwen-1.

LC-123 YouTube stream

After coasting in its parking orbit, its thrusters will fire again and send it on its journey toward Mars. Tianwen-1, which includes an orbiter, a lander and a rover, is expected to reach the red planet in February 2021.

It's been a busy time for Mars probes. On Sunday, the UAE's Hope probe launched to Mars from Japan. On July 30, NASA is expected to launch its new rover, Perseverance. Fortunately, that one will be broadcast live on NASA TV, so we should have excellent views of the final robotic explorer to blast off this month. 

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China’s Tianwen-1 mission launches to Mars – CNET

march5

The Long March 5 carrying Tianwen-1 to Mars on July 22.

CNSA

China is, it appears, headed to Mars. A Long March 5 rocket lifted off from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island, in the South China Sea through partly cloudy skies on Thursday afternoon, local time. The stark white rocket blazed a trail through the blue at 12:41 p.m. local (9:40 p.m. PT). However, China National Space Administration (CNSA), the national space agency, are yet to confirm it has reached its intended orbit and is on its way to the red planet. 

It was a little different to the live launch day coverage we've come to expect from the likes of NASA and SpaceX. No official livestreams were provided by CNSA and there was no official countdown. Instead, many avid rocket-watchers -- myself included -- were following private videos streamed to Chinese social media platforms Weibo and Douyu. 

Douyu user PhilLeaf seemed to have one of the best views of the launch, but streamers constantly battled dropouts and disconnections. A YouTube channel "LC-123" had just under 5,000 concurrent viewers approximately a minute before launch and as the rocket took off, provided excellent views.

The launch was ideal, but until CNSA confirms Tianwen-1 has made it to its initial parking orbit, there's still a chance Tianwen-1 might not make it to the red planet. Earlier flights of the Long March rocket have seen the second stage reach a parking orbit around 13 minutes after launch. Chinese state media service CCTV have reported that the mission was a success and the probe is now in its transfer orbit to Mars. We'll update this post if we hear more.

Long March 5 blasting off carrying Tianwen-1.

LC-123 YouTube stream

After coasting in its parking orbit, its thrusters will fire again and send it on its journey toward Mars. Tianwen-1, which includes an orbiter, a lander and a rover, is expected to reach the red planet in February 2021.

It's been a busy time for Mars probes. On Sunday, the UAE's Hope probe launched to Mars from Japan. On July 30, NASA is expected to launch its new rover, Perseverance. Fortunately, that one will be broadcast live on NASA TV, so we should have excellent views of the final robotic explorer to blast off this month. 

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Twitter says attackers accessed inbox of 36 accounts in widespread hack – CNET

twitter-9998
James Martin/CNET

A week after hackers hijacked the Twitter accounts of high-profile users including former US President Barack Obama and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the social media company revealed Wednesday that attackers managed to gain access to the direct messages of 36 of those accounts.

The social media company also said the Twitter inbox of one elected official in the Netherlands had been accessed, but that there was "no indication that any other former or current elected official had their DMs accessed." It's unclear whether the attackers were able to compose and send messages to other users, in addition to being able to view direct messages. 

The Twitter accounts of 130 users were targeted as part of a bitcoin scam last Wednesday, when hackers posted tweets soliciting donations via bitcoin after taking control of those accounts. The accounts targeted included dozens of internationally famous figures spanning politics, tech, and entertainment. 

Although Twitter has run into problems with cryptocurrency scams in the past, the scale of this hack appears unprecedented, drawing international scrutiny to the security vulnerabilities of one of the world's most popular social media platforms. Twitter declined a request for a full list of the targeted accounts, citing its ongoing investigation. 

screenshot-2020-07-23-at-1-15-22-pm.png

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted this in the aftermath of July's sprawling hack.

Screenshot by Sareena Dayaram/CNET

"Everyone is asking me to give back, and now is the time," read a tweet from Gates' account, which promised to double all payments to a Bitcoin address for the next 30 minutes.

A tweet from Tesla CEO, Elon Musk said, "I'm feeling generous because of Covid-19," Musk's tweet said. "I'll double any BTC payment sent to my BTC address for the next hour. Good luck, and stay safe out there!" 

All tweets were subsequently deleted, and verified Twitter accounts, those with a blue checkmark, were temporarily silenced as part of the company's initial responses to the hack. Still, the brazen hack along with Twitter's response have sparked fresh concerns from cybersecurity experts that social media platforms, which have become an increasingly important source of news and information, are unable to keep their operations secure.

On Friday, Twitter disclosed that 45 accounts had tweets sent out by attackers and eight non verified accounts had data downloaded from them. Obama, Gates, Musk and other VIP users such as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and rapper Kanye West, who had their accounts compromised, all have verified Twitter accounts. When users download their Twitter data, it includes photos, videos, an address book and other information, and even direct messages, which means hackers have been privy to a total 44 Twitter inboxes.

Twitter believes that the attackers were able to circumvent security protections after they "successfully manipulated a small number of employees and used their credentials to access Twitter's internal systems." The company did not disclose if the employees were tricked into handing over these credentials or were bribed.

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Meet the sturddlefish, a new fish hybrid accidentally created by scientists – CNET

fishcopy4

Here are two examples of the sturddlefish hybrid of the Russian sturgeon and American paddlefish.

Attila Mozsar/Genes

The American paddlefish and Russian sturgeon were never fated to mate. But when scientists accidentally bred a new hybrid of the two, the sturddlefish was born

Most people know the Russian sturgeon for its eggs, which are sold as high-end caviar. The American paddlefish has a long snout, and can only be found in half of the US. Both species are referred to as "fossil fish" because of their ancient lineage and slow evolution. 

Unfortunately, both sturgeon and paddlefish are critically endangered, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Because both fish species are in danger of dying out, scientists are understandably curious if sturgeon and paddlefish can be bred in captivity.

Using gynogenesis (a method of asexual reproduction that requires the presence of sperm without the contribution of their DNA for completion), the researchers accidentally used paddlefish sperm to fertilize the sturgeon eggs. Remarkably, the hybridization worked.

Hybridized fish hatched from the eggs, and the researchers separated them into two groups. Some of the sturddlefish that had twice as much maternal DNA looked more like sturgeon than paddlefish. The second group, which had the same amount of maternal and paternal DNA, looked like an equal mix of the two species. 

Scientist Attila Mozsár from the Research Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Hungary, in addition to the other scientists responsible for the new fish hybrid, revealed their findings in a study published in the scientific journal Genes this month.

The study marked the first successful hybridization between these two species -- Russian sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii) and American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) -- and between members of the Acipenseridae and Polyodontidae families.

"We never wanted to play around with hybridization," Mozsár told The New York Times. "It was absolutely unintentional." 

While the sturddlefish offer a fascinating look into the hybridization of two species that weren't necessarily meant to mate, don't expect an influx of sturddlefish to invade waters anytime soon. 

Most human-made hybrids like these sturddlefish are sterile and can't reproduce in the wild. So for now, these sturddlefish are a mere scientific oddity. 

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Meet the sturddlefish, a new fish hybrid accidentally created by scientists – CNET

fishcopy4

Here are two examples of the sturddlefish hybrid of the Russian sturgeon and American paddlefish.

Attila Mozsar/Genes

The American paddlefish and Russian sturgeon were never fated to mate. But when scientists accidentally bred a new hybrid of the two, the sturddlefish was born

Most people know the Russian sturgeon for its eggs, which are sold as high-end caviar. The American paddlefish has a long snout, and can only be found in half of the US. Both species are referred to as "fossil fish" because of their ancient lineage and slow evolution. 

Unfortunately, both sturgeon and paddlefish are critically endangered, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Because both fish species are in danger of dying out, scientists are understandably curious if sturgeon and paddlefish can be bred in captivity.

Using gynogenesis (a method of asexual reproduction that requires the presence of sperm without the contribution of their DNA for completion), the researchers accidentally used paddlefish sperm to fertilize the sturgeon eggs. Remarkably, the hybridization worked.

Hybridized fish hatched from the eggs, and the researchers separated them into two groups. Some of the sturddlefish that had twice as much maternal DNA looked more like sturgeon than paddlefish. The second group, which had the same amount of maternal and paternal DNA, looked like an equal mix of the two species. 

Scientist Attila Mozsár from the Research Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Hungary, in addition to the other scientists responsible for the new fish hybrid, revealed their findings in a study published in the scientific journal Genes this month.

The study marked the first successful hybridization between these two species -- Russian sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii) and American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) -- and between members of the Acipenseridae and Polyodontidae families.

"We never wanted to play around with hybridization," Mozsár told The New York Times. "It was absolutely unintentional." 

While the sturddlefish offer a fascinating look into the hybridization of two species that weren't necessarily meant to mate, don't expect an influx of sturddlefish to invade waters anytime soon. 

Most human-made hybrids like these sturddlefish are sterile and can't reproduce in the wild. So for now, these sturddlefish are a mere scientific oddity. 

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Inside Venice’s 50-year fight against deadly floods – CNET

Libreria Acqua Alta is Instagram famous. More than 30,000 people have tagged themselves visiting the enchanting bookstore, but unlike other popular buildings in Venice, Libreria Acqua Alta isn't a church or canalside palazzo. It's quintessentially Venice in another way: It's designed to outsmart the floods that have plagued the city for centuries.

Inside you'll find books on Venetian cuisine stacked within bathtubs. English and Italian fiction titles are wedged beside each other, packed tightly in a gondola stretching from one side of the cramped shop to the other. They aren't just there to add atmosphere. When the Italian city floods, as it does dozens of times a year, the bathtubs and gondola float, safeguarding the books inside. 

Libreria Acqua Alta gets its name from this phenomenon: Acqua Alta, which means "high water," refers to the high tides from the Adriatic Sea that blow into the Venetian Lagoon. These floods have been a fact of life for Venice since the fifth century, but due to rising sea levels caused by climate change, they now pose a destructive threat. 

There were 34 instances of acqua alta between 2014 and 2018 that exceeded 110 centimeters (43 inches), enough to flood chunks of the city and cause chronic damage to its infrastructure. There were just 30 such events between 1875 and 1951.

The city's residents, historic buildings and irreplaceable art are at risk. Some contend Venice itself will be unlivable by the end of the century. Several solutions have been proposed, such as pumping water or liquid cement under Venice to raise the city, as well as further fortifying the lagoon's natural defenses.

Venice's Libreria Acqua Alta suffered flooding in November 2019.

NurPhoto/Getty

Instead, the Italian government is thinking on a grander scale. It's spent the past 17 years building MOSE, a multibillion-euro infrastructure project revolving around 78 remote-controlled gates that would rise when necessary to block high tides from entering the Venetian Lagoon. 

On July 10, all 78 gates were raised for the first time during a public demonstration, but the government is still anxious to reassure Venice's citizens that the plan, which won't be fully functional until the close of 2021, will work. Beset by corruption and delays, MOSE itself has become a problem. Critics say that the gates won't be as effective as the government envisions and that they'll have to be raised so frequently that Venice's sewage will be trapped in the Lagoon, killing off its ecosystem. 

"This is the death of Venice," said Fabrizio Antonioli, a geologist at ENEA, a public sustainable development firm. 

If everything had gone to plan, the MOSE gates would have been ready in 2011. But nine years later, and 4 billion euros over the original 1.6 billion ($1.8 billion) euro budget, MOSE might never rise to the challenge of saving Venice. 

The biggest acqua alta in history came in 1966, reaching 1.94 meters.

Getty

Climate catastrophe

Resting at the northern end of the Adriatic Sea atop 118 islands that are linked by bridges and separated by canals, Venice is defined by water. After centuries of Venice ruling portions of the Mediterranean Sea as a maritime power, the city's iconic canals now attract around 20 million tourists a year. Yet the water that protected its first settlers from invasions has become the city's most troubling liability. A high tide and a strong wind from the sea, blowing the Adriatic's water into the shallow lagoon, is all that's needed to flood Venice's lower districts.

Robert Rodriguez/CNET

Like Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice is designed to work with flooding. Electrical junction boxes are kept where even the highest of tides can't reach. Elevated wooden walkways, or "duckboards," are set up quickly to connect buildings when sidewalks are submerged. Gondolas are designed so that their heads can be removed (and later reattached) to ensure safe passage under bridges as water levels rise. But last year one large acqua alta arrived so quickly the city had no time to react. 

"It started out of the blue," recalls Diana Zamda, an employee at Libreria Acqua Alta. "I've never seen anything like that." All it took was "40 or 50 minutes" for a normal day in Venice to transition into chaos.

Zamda is describing Nov. 12, 2019, when Venice was ravaged by catastrophic floods. Water rose as high as 1.87 meters (6.1 feet), half a meter more than expected, causing an estimated $1.1 billion in damage. Historic buildings were deluged, hotels were shut and two people were killed. And Libreria Acqua Alta's defenses were overwhelmed, with hundreds of books damaged or lost. 

St. Mark's Square, the tourist and historical centerpiece of the city.

NurPhoto/Getty

Only one flood in the city's recorded history was more destructive than 2019's, back in 1966. A 1.94-meter acqua alta, known as the Acqua Granda, ravaged the city. Thousands of citizens were forced to evacuate their homes, an estimated 75% of shops were damaged and $3 billion in artwork was lost.

Since then, Venice's inundations have skyrocketed with no sign of abating. St. Mark's Square, the city's historical and tourist centerpiece, flooded less than 10 times a year in the first decade of the 20th century. In each of the past five years, it's flooded 60 times

One of Venice's lower points, St. Mark's Square now floods around 60 times a year.

NurPhoto/Getty

Venice's floods aren't caused by climate change, but global warming is a major factor. Just as climate change provokes bushfires in Australia by worsening preexisting conditions like drought and dry soil, it magnifies Venice's inherent vulnerability to floods through rising sea levels -- from 2.5 millimeters a year in the 20th century to around 6 millimeters a year in recent decades

Venice's method of water-level measurement evinces the extent to which climate change has magnified the issue. Base level, zero centimeters, refers to the water level of 1872, when the first tide gauge was installed. When officials note that the city begins to flood as sea levels reach 80 centimeters, they mean 80 centimeters above the 1872 level. But the sea level has risen by around 30 centimeters, or 12 inches, in the 150 years since. With this raised sea level, the new unofficial average, tides only need to rise 50 centimeters before parts of the city begin to flood. 

Local human activity is exacerbating the city's water woes, too. A post-World War II plot to industrialize a nearby town led to excessive pumping of Venice's groundwater from the '50s to the '70s, causing the city to sink 12 centimeters and positioning it even more precariously. (And due to tectonic activity, the city continues to sink a few millimeters each year.)

"Flooding of Venice has occurred many times during its history," wrote Caroline Fletcher and Tom Spencer in their 2005 book on Venice, but "the last 50 years represents an unprecedented period of frequent and intense events."

Duckboards are kept on hand for quick construction so citizens can go about their day during mild floods, which occur dozens of times a year.

NurPhoto/Getty

Venice's government has been actively combating flood conditions since 1966's Acqua Granda. In the years that followed, explains Carl Amos, Southampton University's professor emeritus of earth and ocean sciences, the local government bolstered the city's defenses. Canals were dried out so the city's foundations could be fortified, walkways were raised to withstand higher tides, and salt marshes and mudflats in the Venetian Lagoon were cultivated to block incoming ocean water.

"A lot of the work was done by the municipality of Venice. It was all local," says Amos, who's been studying Venice for over 25 years. He said these renovations, though not spectacular, were effective. Unfortunately, many remedies can be enacted only up to a point. You can raise pavement but not doorways, for example, so further elevating walkways would mean citizens crouching through doors. (One of the more commonly proposed alternatives to MOSE is to continue working on the Lagoon's mudflats and salt marshes.)

In the 1980s, Italy's national government decided it would fix Venice's water problems once and for all. It conceived a project called MOSE, short for Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico (Electromechanical Experimental Module), and Italian for Moses. It may be named after a biblical figure, but now, almost 40 years later, few are convinced MOSE is the answer to Venice's prayers. 

MOSE woes

The idea sounds plausible. MOSE's 78 mobile gates would be constructed along the three inlets that connect the Adriatic Sea to the Venetian Lagoon. Like London's Thames Barrier or the Maeslantkering protecting Rotterdam from the North Sea, the gates will be remotely erected when tides rise, blocking water from entering the Lagoon and saving Venice from heavy floods. The gates are then remotely retracted once the sea level lowers.

A simple plan, but a gargantuan project. Consorzio Venezia Nuova, the body set up to manage the scheme, had to build something that could protect Venice from floods without endangering its ecosystem or creating a large structure that would blight its beauty. That meant, unlike the Thames Barrier or the Maeslantkering, the gates would have to live underwater.

The MOSE gates are the three entrances to the Venetian Lagoon.

Robert Rodriguez/CNET

"MOSE is the only solution to this impossible problem," argues Giovanni Cecconi, an engineer who worked on MOSE for 28 years. 

The first feasibility study for mobile dams as a solution to Venice's floods was submitted in 1971, with legislation passing on the proposal two years later. Politicians and engineers argued over and modified the project for 30 years before construction began in 2003. At that time, its cost was estimated to reach 1.6 billion euros over an eight-year construction period.

That forecast proved to be extravagantly optimistic. Nine years after the scheduled completion date, work on MOSE continues. In 2014 the updated cost was €5.5 billion, 343% over the original budget. Now some estimate MOSE's true building costs to be around 8 billion euros. The current estimate is for the gates to be operational in late 2021. This cuts a chunk out of MOSE's planned lifespan. 

"It was supposed to be finished in 2011," says Jane da Mosto, an environmental scientist and co-founder of We Are Here Venice, an NGO dedicated to the city's preservation. She notes that Italy's government designed MOSE to last for a century. "We've already lost 10 years of the so-called 100 years operating time," she sighs.

Tardiness is far from MOSE's only issue. While deployed, the gates would block ships from reaching and leaving ports, a vital part of the city's economy. More importantly, they would trap sewage, which flows out from the city into the Adriatic Sea, in the Venetian Lagoon.

Due to these side effects, MOSE is only intended for "very intense high tides," the official categorization of those that reach 110 centimeters. These cause the most deleterious floods, but are rare enough, occurring only a handful of times a year, for MOSE to not seriously harm the lagoon's ecosystem.

Or at least, they were rare enough. There's another problem the project's designers didn't anticipate: A woeful underestimation of sea level rise means the gates will be deployed far more frequently than originally planned. The engineers accounted for a 20 centimeter rise over MOSE's 100-year lifespan, according to da Mosto. A 2019 report by the International Panel on Climate Change says a 60 centimeter rise is more likely.

"MOSE must be used not two or three times a year [as officials thought]" says ENEA's Antonioli, "but for example 25, 30 times a year." Others estimate the gates will eventually have to be deployed hundreds of times a year.

This would ruin the city's ecosystem. Sewage from Venice would be trapped inside the lagoon for extended periods of time, causing heavy algae growth. This algae would suck in all the oxygen, killing everything else. 

"If you go around the lagoon, there is a vibrant fishing community, a clam industry, a fishery, there are fish farms south of Venice," Amos explained. "You're looking at [hundreds of millions of euros] a year in value in the fisheries. ... All of that is likely to be in danger."

Experts have other gripes, too. Lower areas like St. Mark's Square can flood with tides as low as 80 centimeters, for instance, meaning MOSE will mostly leave it vulnerable by design. Similarly, parts of Venice flood from below due to antiquated piping methods, another problem MOSE won't solve.

Concept art that shows how each gate erects from its underwater lodging.

Consorzio Venezia Nuova

Cecconi acknowledges the complication of a rising sea level, but says this doesn't reduce MOSE's necessity. He concedes that MOSE may not last for its 100 intended years, but says the system will be more valuable to Venice during its years of operation, since it'll be needed more frequently than anticipated. He's not a stalwart defender of the project, but rejects those who suppose that MOSE is designed to fix all of Venice's problems.

"If you are oversimplistic and you just say 'this final solution is going to last forever or it will fail,' oh yes, it will fail," he says. "It has never been said that this is the final solution. This is insurance to gain time for another solution. This is the meaning of adaptation."

However, early tests of some of the project's gates reveal a more deflating concern. MOSE may not even operate as intended -- at least, not without exorbitant maintenance costs. Several distorted hinges at the base of gates were found during June 2019 trials near Lido, one of the islands of the Venetian Lagoon. They had mostly been corroded by salt, according to La Nuova Venezia. More rusting and salt corrosion was discovered in May.

"If you distort the hinges, then clearly they will not rise properly," explains Amos. "Essentially, they're rendered useless."

Consorzio Venezia Nuova did not reply to multiple requests for comment. Alessandro Soru, MOSE's current project manager, last year told the Wall Street Journal: "It's a long process that takes tweaking, and based on the tests we have done there is absolutely no indication that MOSE won't work." 

Giuseppe Conte, Italy's prime minister, watches the MOSE gates rise on July 10.

Anadolu Agency/Getty

Watergate scandal

With doubt mounting over MOSE, the consortium sought some vindication on July 10. In a ceremony attended by Giuseppe Conte, Italy's prime minister, all 78 MOSE gates were lifted in a public test designed to demonstrate the system's competence. Consorzio Venezia Nuova had previously tested sections of MOSE, but never before had the entire set of gates been raised simultaneously. 

With the disclaimer that weather conditions will be far more violent when MOSE is needed -- winds were four times as strong during last November's Acqua Alta -- the demo went off without a hitch. Yet even the prime minister was cautious about being too optimistic.

"We must all hope it works," Conte said to reporters, after acknowledging the project's history of "corruption and malfeasance." 

MOSE's bad reputation is not just a matter of poor planning, but venality too. In 2014, MOSE became the center of a huge corruption case. Consorzio Venezia Nuova is accused of funneling money away from the project and using it to bribe dozens of politicians and officials in exchange for supporting the increasingly scrutinized project.

Venice's mayor, Giorgio Orsoni, was accused of misusing funds embezzled from MOSE to finance party activities. In June 2014, he was placed under house arrest and forced to step down, but not before blaming his Democratic Party, saying it advised him to accept the funds and claiming other mayors before him had done so too. Giovanni Mazzacurati, head of the Consorzio until 2013, was charged with bribing politicians, reaching a plea deal before dying at 87 last year

July 10's ceremony got the attention of many citizens who are against MOSE. The project has seen large-scale protests on several occasions. 

Stefano Mazzola/Awakening/GETTY

"The engineering and the construction and the materials used are very worrying," explains da Mosto, "but even worse than all of that is how the whole project has, and is being, managed."

Cecconi blames many of the project's delays on "the bottleneck of bureaucracy." Since the corruption scandal in 2014, work on the project has become glacial. The Italian government tasked a commission with running the consortium, a turnover which lost a year of construction. In 2018 the consortium's commissioner said MOSE was 93% completed, up just 8% from the reported completion rate in 2013.

"There's a big lobby by Venetians against this whole project," says Amos. "Not only is it siphoning money from other projects around Italy, but it means that there's not enough money left for doing the day-to-day business within Venice. At some stages, there wasn't even enough money for garbage disposal."

Critics charge that MOSE is more about politics than problem solving, a stigma predating its construction. Cecconi notes that, even in the 90s, the project was a "political flag" for people who were for or against it. This has poisoned discussion.

"There are two parties, they don't speak to each other. One that says MOSE is big business, useful only to the people that invented it at the detriment of the citizens. The other is the party of doing, [who say] MOSE will be the final solution for the city. Both of them are wrong."

The lagoon that saved Venice's first settlers from invasions could now be its undoing.

Kent German/CNET

Opposed by environmental groups, Italy's influential national green party and the Venice City Council (one of several bureaus related to the project), MOSE had been mired in political quagmire for nearly two decades -- since the Consorzio Venezia Nuova was tasked with safeguarding Venice in 1984 -- before the first brick was laid in 2003. The gridlock was broken by Silvio Berlusconi who, after becoming prime minister in 2001, enacted an infrastructure law that enabled him to sidestep the bureaucracy that slows down important national projects. 

Amos describes MOSE as a Berlusconi "vanity project" and says that the prime minister was aware of the red flags but insisted it be built "come hell or high water." The project has never been universally popular: As Berlusconi inaugurated construction with a ceremony in 2003, environmentalists on small boats attempted to disrupt the festivities. A hydrologist brought to Venice to evaluate MOSE was asked in 2003 by CBS (CNET and CBS have the same parent company, ViacomCBS) whether he thought the scheme would work. "I don't think so," he answered. "I don't think you're going to march forward, not an inch."

Even after construction began in 2003, there was a significant push to shelve the project. In April 2005, after an anti-MOSE mayor came into power, Venice's city council ordered police to halt construction, and environmentalists began protesting with renewed zest. But Berlusconi rejected the mayor's request to pause the project. "The last doubts have vanished," he said at the time. "MOSE will be made."

Berlusconi's office was reached for comment but did not respond.

Silvio Berlusconi (second from right in the front) returns to Venice after 2019's floods, demanding MOSE be completed.

Filippo Monteforte/Getty

Da Mosto says there's more than enough blame to go around. "All the governments that came after [Berlusconi's] could have done something to change it," she says. "You can change these huge infrastructure projects, or stop them or reverse them if you get new information and realize it's the wrong thing to be doing."

The flooding problem will only get more urgent in the next few decades. Over 5,500 square kilometers of land, including Venice, will be underwater by 2100 if climate change isn't halted, according to a 2017 study led by ENEA's Antonioli. (Cecconi disputes the methodology of the study, which looked at abandoned millstone quarries across the Mediterranean coast to ascertain sea level rise over the last millennium and extrapolate expected sea level rise over the next century.) Unlike most other coastal cities, Venice's woes will get global attention. But there's still a risk that it'll take too long for MOSE to be proven an empty solution. 

"Until people wake up to the fact that MOSE isn't going to solve Venice's problem, other options are not going to be taken seriously," says Amos. "But to really be able to demonstrate [that MOSE isn't going to work] will take another 20 or 30 years, by which time it's going to be too late for Venice."

Prime Minister Conte hinted that MOSE, or part of it, could be used later this year if it looks like the city will be ravaged by an aqua alta as vicious as last year's. "We are all anxiously waiting," he said, "we all hope it will achieve its function." 

Libreria Acqua Alta's Diane Zamda is among the residents of Venice to have lost faith, especially after the bookstore's submersion in November. "I don't think MOSE will be a solution," she sighs.

Zamda says she hopes to never see a flood that monstrous again. The odds are against her.

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