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Getting closer…

from The Sun

Mystery object approaching us from interstellar space could be ALIEN spacecraft, top scientist admits

by Harry Pettit

That’s the shock claim made by one space scientist, who has exclusively revealed to The Sun that our incoming visitor could be piloted by hyper-intelligent beings.

Last week, scientists in Germany announced they were tracking a distant object heading in our direction.

Dubbed “C/2019 Q4”, the high-speed body appears to be on a path originating from another star system that will see it fire past Mars in October.

Despite numerous attempts to study C/2019, scientists remain clueless as to what it is. Many speculate the distant mass is a comet.

According to prominent astronomer Dr Seth Shostak, while this is the interstellar traveller’s most likely identity, we can’t say for sure it’s not a flying saucer.

[ click to continue reading at The Sun ]

Posted on September 19, 2019 by Editor

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Water, water, everywhere.

from NBC News

Strange alien world found to have water vapor and possibly rain clouds

Exoplanet K2-18 b lies in the habitable zone of its host star some 110 light-years from Earth.

By Chelsea Gohd, Space.com

This artist's impression shows the planet K2-18b, its host star and an accompanying planet in this system.
This artist’s impression shows the planet K2-18b, its host star and an accompanying planet in this system. M. Kornmesser / ESA/Hubble

In a major first, scientists have detected water vapor and possibly even liquid water clouds that rain in the atmosphere of a strange exoplanet that lies in the habitable zone of its host star about 110 light-years from Earth.

A new study focuses on K2-18 b, an exoplanet discovered in 2015, orbits a red dwarf star close enough to receive about the same amount of radiation from its star as Earth does from our sun.

Previously, scientists have discovered gas giants that have water vapor in their atmospheres, but this is the least massive planet ever to have water vapor detected in its atmosphere. This new paper even goes so far as to suggest that the planet hosts clouds that rain liquid water.

“The water vapor detection was quite clear to us relatively early on,” lead author Björn Benneke, a professor at the Institute for Research on Exoplanets at the Université de Montréal, told Space.com in an interview. So he and his colleagues developed new analysis techniques to provide evidence that clouds made up of liquid water droplets likely exist on K2-18 b. “That’s in some ways the ‘holy grail’ of studying extrasolar planets … evidence of liquid water,” he said.

[ click to continue reading at NBC News ]

Posted on September 18, 2019 by Editor

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We Shall Be Enslaved

from RT

Mind-reading AI may spell end to humanity as we know it, but not because it will enslave us – Zizek

Mind-reading AI may spell end to humanity as we know it, but not because it will enslave us – Zizek
© Getty Images / Donald Iain Smith

Technologies linking human consciousness to any sort of a cloud computing service could not just open the way for totalitarian mind control, but destroy the very essence of human relations, philosopher Slavoj Zizek says.

A computer that can read the thoughts of many people at once would make normal human life impossible, the Slovenian cultural philosopher told RT in the wake of the World Artificial Intelligence (AI) Conference in Shanghai, which saw Alibaba’s chairman Jack Ma and Tesla CEO Elon Musk clashing over the future of AI.

While the two technopreneurs engaged in a heated discussion over the possibility of humans being controlled by machines in the future, the senior researcher at the Institute for Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana shared his thoughts on the issue with RT.

Our brain being connected to a machine is not a utopia

What I am studying now is the so-called phenomenon of wired brains, a possibility of our brains being connected with strong digital machines. And that is not a utopia. In the media lab at MIT, Massachusetts, they already have simple machines like that. It is like a helmet, nothing intrusive, they put it on your head.

And then something horrible happens – I saw the video – you think certain thoughts, you do not say anything, and the machine reproduces them either in writing or with artificial voice.

[ click to continue reading at RT ]

Posted on September 17, 2019 by Editor

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Almost…

from The Express

Asteroid collision with Earth ruled out by NASA – breaks up in atmosphere above Caribbean

AN ASTEROID which came crashing into Earth and NASA had no idea it was coming reiterates the need to keep a closer eye on the sky in case a massive space rock comes hurtling towards our planet.

By SEAN MARTIN

asteroid
NASA said: “The body had been spotted only four times in just under half an hour” (Image: GETTY)

“This was roughly the equivalent of spotting something the size of a gnat from a distance of 310 miles (500 kilometres).”

Davide Farnocchia, a scientist at NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object (NEO) Studies, said: “Asteroids this size are far smaller than what we’re tasked to track.

“They’re so small, they would not survive passing through our atmosphere to cause damage to Earth’s surface.”

The problem was, NASA said, the space agency could not determine where the space rock was heading.

NASA said: “The body had been spotted only four times in just under half an hour, which was not enough information to determine where the object came from or exactly where it was headed.”

[ click to continue reading at The Express ]

Posted on September 16, 2019 by Editor

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Tesla Serta Version

from CBS Boston

‘Bizarre’ Video Shows Tesla Driver Apparently Asleep On Mass Pike

by Tiffany Chan

NEWTON (CBS) – It was a frightening scene for one witness on the Mass Pike Sunday – a Tesla driver apparently asleep at the wheel. Video posted to Twitter seems to show the car on auto-pilot, without an alert person in the driver’s seat.

“It was just so strange and baffling” said Dakota Randall, who shot the video while driving through Newton on the highway. “I thought I saw somebody asleep at the wheel, but I wasn’t sure so I did a double-take. Sure enough there was somebody with his head right between his legs.”

In the video, the driver is hunched over and seemingly fast asleep. A person in the passenger seat doesn’t look to be awake either.

Randall said he tried to wake them up by honking his horn, but it didn’t work.

[ click to continue reading CBS Boston ]

Posted on September 13, 2019 by Editor

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Decoding Space Bursts

from MSN

Mysterious radio bursts from space may soon have an explanation

by Seth Shostak

The CHIME telescope
© CHIME The CHIME telescope

Just when you think you’ve cataloged all the beasts of the cosmos, a new one howls to us from the celestial savanna. Fast radio bursts are now one of the hottest topics in astronomy. In less time than an eye blink, these mysterious objects can release enough energy to power the world for three centuries.

And the race is on to figure out what the heck they are.

Last month, a consortium of five dozen astronomers reported the discovery of eight new bursts that may lead to an answer. The objects were found with the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, or CHIME. This unusual-looking radio telescope, about the size of a football field, consists of four metal mesh cylinders — like skateboard half-pipes — that collect and focus incoming radio waves. CHIME is in a sparsely populated, mountainous region of British Columbia about 30 miles north of the U.S. border.

While CHIME is leading the pack today in discovering radio bursts, the first such burst was found a dozen years ago by a West Virginia University astronomer sitting at his desk in Morgantown. Duncan Lorimer was combing through data obtained from a radio telescope in Parkes, Australia — half a world away — when he noticed a short burp of static, the kind of signal you’d produce by firing up a transmitter and then turning it off a few milliseconds later.

[ click to continue reading at MSN ]

Posted on September 8, 2019 by Editor

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Space Chicken

from Fast Company

SpaceX is playing a game of chicken with its Starlink satellites

BY MICHAEL GROTHAUS

SpaceX is playing a game of chicken with its Starlink satellites
[Photo: Flickr user Official SpaceX Photos]

Elon Musk’s SpaceX apparently doesn’t play well with others when it comes to space traffic. As Forbes reports, on Monday the European Space Agency (ESA) said it had to perform collision avoidance maneuvers with its Aeolus Earth observation satellite when it detected that it had a 1 in 1,000 chance of hitting “Starlink 44,” one of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites.

While those odds of a collision might seem slim, they were actually 10 times higher than the threshold that requires a collision avoidance maneuver. The thing is, when the ESA realized its satellite was on a potential collision course with Starlink 44, the agency contacted SpaceX and asked it to move its satellite out of the way. But SpaceX refused to, turning the incident into a game of chicken in space.

[ click to continue reading at Fast Company ]

Posted on September 5, 2019 by Editor

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The Novacene Coming

from NBC News

Cyborgs will replace humans and remake the world, James Lovelock says

‘Our supremacy as the prime understanders of the cosmos is rapidly coming to end.’

By Corey S. Powell

Illustration of robots and human walking together in a futuristic city.
Tim Peacock / for NBC News

For tens of thousands of years, humans have reigned as our planet’s only intelligent, self-aware species. But the rise of intelligent machines means that could change soon, perhaps in our own lifetimes. Not long after that, Homo sapiens could vanish from Earth entirely.

That’s the jarring message of a new book by James Lovelock, the famed British environmentalist and futurist. “Our supremacy as the prime understanders of the cosmos is rapidly coming to end,” he says in the book, “Novacene.” “The understanders of the future will not be humans but what I choose to call ‘cyborgs’ that will have designed and built themselves.”

[ click to continue reading at NBC News ]

Posted on September 3, 2019 by Editor

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Cyborg Pole Dancing – Yea, Novacene!

from The Daily Mail

Gyrating ROBOTS debut at French pole dancing club, with the androids performing alongside human counterparts

By SOPHIE TANNO

A French nightclub has caused a stir after it exhibited pole-dancing robots donning high heels.

The gyrating robots had CCTV cameras for heads and were interspersed among their human counterparts at the Strip Club Cafe (SC-Club) in Nantes on Friday night. 

The androids moved their hips in time to the blasting music while on elevated platforms, in front of a male-dominated audience. 

[ click to continue reading at The Daily Mail ]

Posted on September 2, 2019 by Editor

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Not with a whimper…

from Greenwich Time

The many ways our world could end

by Ishaan Tharoor, The Washington Post

The man-made fires ravaging huge expanses of the Amazon rainforest have – if only for a brief moment – trained global attention on a looming calamity facing the planet. More people now understand that a series of alarming environmental developments are all linked: A spike in carbon emissions, the rapid melting of Arctic ice, the steady rise of global temperatures, the increasingly erratic and extreme storms assailing coastlines. Every day, we are living in a “dramatic climate emergency,” declared U.N. Secretary General António Guterres this week.

But it’s not just an evolving climate that poses an existential challenge to humanity. “End Times: A Brief Guide to the End of the World,” a new book by veteran science writer Bryan Walsh that published this week, is a harrowing chronicle of a range of threats that could bring about human extinction in the not-so-distant future. These include eternal dangers to the planet, such as supervolcanoes and asteroids, but also distinctly modern perils – from killer robots and artificial intelligence to civilization-ending nuclear war to weaponized bioengineered super viruses. And then, of course, there’s the inexorable toll of man-made global warming, whose effects we’re already feeling around the world.

Walsh’s book isn’t all gloom, taking us to the front lines where researchers and scientists are seeking new ways to protect humanity. 

[ click to continue reading at Greenwich Time ]

Posted on September 1, 2019 by Editor

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The Person With a Phone on Their Face

from c|net

The fantasy of being disconnected

An overactive world is hard to break away from.

by SCOTT STEIN

Scott Stein/CNET

It takes a boat ride, in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, to get me to finally feel offline. Which makes me feel pretty sad. But it reminds me of the impossible goal I keep failing to attain: staying away from screens. Or, more accurately, the internet.

It feels impossible to disconnect because I work in tech. I review phones. I wear headsets (sometimes on vacation). I have watches on my wrists. What absurdity am I discussing, me being disconnected from tech? It’s more that I’ve realized my attention being sapped away. Or my kid saying to me, hey, spend less time on the screen. Which only proves that I’ve become known as the Person With a Phone on Their Face.

I’ve tried screen-time limitations, cutting off notifications and being in the present moment like Sherry Turkle, who’s studied online behavioral psychology for years, wrote about back in 2015 in her excellent book Reclaiming Conversation. I’ve never found screen timers to work. Not for me. They feel like fitness trackers without the coaching.

What has worked? Spending a week and a half, roughly, where I go as offline as I ever can. It’s become a tradition each summer: I’ve joined my in-laws to go across the Atlantic. I’ve done this, now, six times. 

I didn’t expect to be this person who cannot unplug. And you don’t need to be this person, either. But I’ve come to realize, the more I take this trip, that I love being forced to live without the internet.

[ click to continue reading at c|net ]

Posted on August 28, 2019 by Editor

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My Little Porny

Posted on August 19, 2019 by Editor

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O Youth!

Posted on August 16, 2019 by Editor

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Plants Are Clocks

from Yahoo! News

Plants can tell time even without a brain – here’s how

Anyone who has travelled across multiple time zones and suffered jet lag will understand just how powerful our biological clocks are. In fact, every cell in the human body has its own molecular clock, which is capable of generating a daily rise and fall in the number of many proteins the body produces over a 24-hour cycle. The brain contains a master clock that keeps the rest of the body in sync, using light signals from the eyes to keep in time with environment.

Plants have similar circadian rhythms that help them tell the time of day, preparing plants for photosynthesis prior to dawn, turning on heat-protection mechanisms before the hottest part of the day, and producing nectar when pollinators are most likely to visit. And just like in humans, every cell in the plant appears to have its own clock.

[ click to continue reading at Yahoo! News ]

Posted on August 15, 2019 by Editor

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Neuralink

from The Observer

Elon Musk’s ‘Brain Chip’ Could Be Suicide of the Mind, Says Scientist

By Sissi Cao

Elon Musk
Elon Musk says merging biological intelligence and artificial intelligence is important to help human beings deal with the AI apocalypse. JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Almost exactly a month ago, Elon Musk introduced a room of engineers and curious consumers to a sci-fi-sounding invention made by his neurotechnology startup Neuralink: an implantable “brain chip” that will “merge biological intelligence with machine intelligence.”

Per Musk’s description, this chip will be installed in a person’s brain by drilling a two-millimeter hole in the skull. “The interface to the chip is wireless, so you have no wires poking out of your head,” he assured.

Musk argued that such devices will help humans deal with the so-called AI apocalypse, a scenario in which artificial intelligence outpaces human intelligence and takes control of the planet away from the human species. “Even in a benign AI scenario, we will be left behind,” Musk warned. “But with a brain-machine interface, we can actually go along for the ride. And we can have the option of merging with AI. This is extremely important.”

[ click to continue reading at The Observer ]

Posted on August 14, 2019 by Editor

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Home Movies, sigh…

Posted on August 13, 2019 by Editor

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FRBs IRT

from c|net

Mysterious deep-space signals can now be picked up in real time

Artificial intelligence has been able to tune in to the odd energy known as Fast Radio Bursts and observe them as they reach Earth.

by ERIC MACK

frb-capture-molongo
An artist’s impression of the fast radio burst detected at the Molonglo Radio Telescope.
James Josephides/Swinburne

Over the past dozen years, scientists have been finding enigmatic, fleeting signals called fast radio bursts, or FRBs, by poring over previous observations for the bright blips that come from the other side of the cosmos. Now, for the first time, the powerful flashes of radio waves have been picked up the moment they arrive at Earth.

Doctoral student Wael Farah at Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology developed an automated system that uses machine learning to capture FRBs in real time. The very first FRB was detected in 2007 within observations from 2001, and most other detections have also been made by reviewing data after the fact.

Exactly what FRBs are and where they come from remains one of the newest and most intriguing mysteries in space science. What we know is that they originate from very powerful sources on the other side of the universe — we’re talking billions of light years from us — and last just milliseconds. Only a handful of FRBs so far have been observed to repeat themselves, a characteristic that makes them easier to trace to a source galaxy. 

Farah said part of his motivation for studying FRBs is that they can be used to study the darker parts of the cosmos between galaxies that are otherwise almost impossible to see.

[ click to continue reading at c|net ]

Posted on August 5, 2019 by Editor

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Ball Juice

from USA Today

These scientists may have solved MLB’s ‘juiced’ baseball problem

by Josh Peter

PULLMAN, Wash. — In cardboard boxes and plastic bins.

On shelving units and tabletops.

Even suspended in midair, as if by magic.

In the sprawling Sports Science Laboratory at Washington State University, baseballs are everywhere. In flight, too, when they’re fired out of air cannons at up to 90 mph.

“We have balls coming from all over the place,’’ Lloyd Smith told USA TODAY Sports, and he plucked one off a table in the lab where he was sitting last week.

Smith is a 55-year-old professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering who oversees the baseball madness inside the lab he started in 2003. For almost two years, he has been working for Major League Baseball to figure out if and why “juiced baseballs” have triggered a surge in home runs.

The mystery appears to be over.

[ click to continue reading at USAT ]

Posted on August 2, 2019 by Editor

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The Deadliest Killer Ever

from The New York Times

The Mosquitoes Are Coming for Us 

They are our apex predator, the deadliest hunters of human beings on the planet.

By Timothy C. Winegard

Credit: Armando Veve

It has been one of the most aggravating sounds on earth for more than 100 million years — the humming buzz of a mosquito.

She gently lands on your ankle and inserts two serrated mandible cutting blades and saws into your skin, while two other retractors open a passage for the proboscis. With this straw she sucks your blood, while a sixth needle pumps in saliva that contains an anticoagulant that prevents that blood from clotting. This shortens her feeding time, lessening the likelihood that you splat her across your ankle.

The female mosquito needs your blood to grow her eggs. Please don’t feel singled out. She bites everyone. There is no truth to the myths that mosquitoes prefer women over men or blondes and redheads over those with darker hair. She does, however, play favorites. Type O blood seems to be the vintage of choice. Stinky feet emit a bacterium that woos famished females, as do perfumes. As a parting gift, she leaves behind an itchy bump (an allergic reaction to her saliva) and potentially something far worse: infection with one of several deadly diseases, including malaria, Zika, West Nile, dengue and yellow fever.

Mosquitoes are our apex predator, the deadliest hunter of human beings on the planet. A swarming army of 100 trillion or more mosquitoes patrols nearly every inch of the globe, killing about 700,000 people annually. Researchers suggest that mosquitoes may have killed nearly half of the 108 billion humans who have ever lived across our 200,000-year or more existence.

Flying solo, the mosquito does not directly harm anyone. It is the diseases she transmits that cause an endless barrage of death. Yet without her, these pathogens could not be vectored to humans. Without her, human history would be completely unrecognizable.

The mosquito and her diseases have accompanied traders, travelers, soldiers and settlers (and their captive African slaves) around the world and have been far more lethal than any manufactured weapons or inventions.

[ click to continue reading at NYT ]

Posted on July 28, 2019 by Editor

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Cruise Clownpocalypse

from The Mirror

Clown ‘starts violent brawl on cruise ship as passengers use plates for weapons’

Families feared for their lives as chaos erupted on the P&O Britannia cruise following a boozy patriotic party where large amounts of alcohol were consumed

ByLatifa Yedroudj

A passenger dressed in a clown outfit sparked a massive brawl on a P&O cruise which left several staff members injured, according to reports.

The huge fight broke out on board a P&O Britannia cruise with families running to hide as passengers reportedly used plates as weapons.

Emergency services were called to the ship’s 16th floor restaurant at 2am on Friday morning.

Paramedics tended to the injured staff who tried to control the massive fight that erupted between passengers.

The guests allegedly threw plates and furniture at each other and there was “blood everywhere”, a witness said.

The fight broke out following a “patriotic” black-tie event on board the cruise ship on Thursday evening with “large amounts of alcohol consumed”, reporter Richard Gaisford said on Twitter .

According to a witness at the scene, passengers were upset after one guest dressed up as a clown despite the ship’s no fancy dress code.

[ click to continue reading at The Mirror ]

Posted on July 27, 2019 by Editor

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Uranium Super Snake Yeah!

from The Independent

Radioactive uranium, whiskey and rattlesnake found in stolen car pulled over by police

Stephen Jennings, 40, told officers he was trying to create a ‘super snake’

by Emma Snaith

Stephen Jennings, 40, was  found with a rattlesnake, uranium, a gun and an open bottle of whiskey in a stolen car
Stephen Jennings, 40, was found with a rattlesnake, uranium, a gun and an open bottle of whiskey in a stolen car ( Logan County, Oklahoma Sheriff’s Office/AP )

A pair of alleged car thieves were found with radioactive uranium, whiskey and a rattlesnake in their vehicle when they were pulled over in a routine traffic stop, police said.

They were initially stopped after police noticed their vehicle’s licence plate had expired, but officers soon noticed the timber rattlesnake in a box on the backseat.

Mr Jennings, 40, then told police he had a gun in the vehicle and police discovered that the car was stolen.

“So now he’s got a rattlesnake, a stolen vehicle, firearm, and somebody under arrest,” Guthrie Police Sergeant Anthony Gibbs told local broadcaster KFOR-TV.

After a further search of the car, police found an open bottle of Kentucky Deluxe whiskey and a container of “yellowish powder” that was labelled “Uranium”.

Mr Jennings told officers  he was trying to create a “super snake” after the uranium was discovered, ABC reported.

[ click to continue reading at The Independent ]

Posted on July 19, 2019 by Editor

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Mysterious Mars Methane

from The Atlantic

A Startling Spike on Mars

Methane gas is a potential indicator of life on the red planet, but it’s proving difficult to track.

by MARINA KOREN

If humans ever discover life on Mars, this is how it might start: with a breaking-news alert heralding a startling development well beyond Earth.

On a recent Saturday afternoon, The New York Times sent a bulletin: “Mars is belching a large amount of methane gas. It’s a sign of possible life on the red planet.”

NASA quickly published a press release acknowledging the detection, which, the Times had reported, marked the largest amount of methane ever registered by the Curiosity rover, a NASA mission that touched down on the red planet in 2012. But after that, the agency went quiet. The news had come from an email between scientists on the Curiosity team that had been leaked to the Times. It wasn’t supposed to be known, at least not yet. And there’s no room for nuance in a breaking-news alert.

Like the Times, NASA provided an important caveat: Many things can produce methane on Mars. Alien life is on that list, but other sources are far more likely.

After decades of exploration, spacecraft haven’t found any evidence of life on the surface of Mars. But some scientists say it may lurk beneath the surface, in the form of tiny organisms. And that’s why methane is so noteworthy. On Earth, microbes pump the natural gas into the planet’s atmosphere. Perhaps a similar arrangement exists on Mars.

Methane doesn’t last forever in the Martian atmosphere, however. Exposure to the sun’s radiation, combined with reactions with other gases, breaks down the gas molecules within a few centuries. This chemistry is what makes the spike that Curiosity found so intriguing. If methane is present in the Martian atmosphere right now, it must have been released fairly recently. Detectable quantities might be a sign that something is alive on Mars, capable of replenishing the supply.

Or not. Natural interactions between rock and water can also produce the gas. The methane might have been forged deep beneath the Martian surface—where reservoirs of ancient water chafe against sediment—escaping into the atmosphere through a narrow crack in the ground. The whiff Curiosity caught might have been billions of years old.

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

Posted on July 14, 2019 by Editor

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No Comment

from CBS Chicago

Mom Charged After Driving With Kids Inside Inflatable Pool On Roof

Credit: Dixon Police Department

CHICAGO (CBS)– A Dixon mom was arrested after she was found driving while her kids sat inside an inflatable pool on top of her car.

According to the Dixon Police Department, officers were alerted and later observed an Audi Q5 driving west on Illinois Route 2 shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday, with a “blue inflatable pool on the roof with two juveniles inside of the pool.”

Officers made contact with the driver, who said she had her daughters ride inside of the empty pool to “hold it down on their drive home.”

[ click to continue reading at CBS Chicago ]

Posted on July 10, 2019 by Editor

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They’re Real

from The Wall Street Journal

The Asteroid Peril Isn’t Science Fiction

Even if we managed to spot a small but dangerous asteroid heading for Earth, we currently have no means to stop it

Gordon L. Dillow

In May, a group of international scientists assembled near Washington, D.C., to tackle an alarming problem: what to do about an asteroid hurtling toward Earth.

Astronomers at a mountaintop observatory in Hawaii had spotted an 800-foot-wide asteroid, dubbed 2019 PDC, when it was 35 million miles away. By asteroid standards, it was relatively small—not even close to the six-mile-wide piece of space rock believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Still, this asteroid was traveling at 31,000 miles an hour…

[ click to continue reading at WSJ ]

Posted on July 5, 2019 by Editor

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Tortillapocalypse

from Food and Wine

Taco Bell Confirms ‘Tortillapocalypse’ Is Real, Recommends Gorditas Instead

Many locations around the country are running out of tortillas used for burritos and quesadillas.

By Mike Pomranz

Image from FranchiseTimes.com

Taco Bell has mastered the art of stretching their menu by creating new items out of existing components. A “Double Decker Taco” is just a hard taco wrapped in a soft taco. A “Quesarito” is just a burrito with a quesadilla shell. And so on and so forth. But there a potential pitfall to that strategy: If one major ingredient runs out, a large chunk of the menu can collapse like a house of cards. And sadly, Taco Bell is apparently facing a major shortage of a real doozy: their ten-inch tortillas. Welcome to the “Tortillapocalypse.”

Though Taco Bell has been playing down the shortage in its official statements, the problem — to some extent at least — is nearly nationwide. The company told People, “While some Taco Bell restaurants are experiencing supplier shortages, we are working diligently to replenish the supply of our tortillas (used for products like quesadillas and burritos) in those restaurants and encourage fans to try any of our other delicious menu items like the Power Menu Bowl or Cheesy Gordita Crunch in the meantime.”

[ click to continue reading at Food and Wine ]

Posted on July 3, 2019 by Editor

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New Mineral Goldmine

from WIRED

NEW ANALYSIS TECHNIQUES UNEARTH A TROVE OF UNUSUAL MINERALS

by SOPHIA CHEN 

Nataliyamalikite was discovered in Kamchatka’s Avacha Volcano, which emits sulfurous vapor that’s high in thallium. YURI SMITYUK/GETTY IMAGES

THE LANDSCAPE OF Kamchatka Peninsula steams with sulfurous vapor, its 29 active volcanoes forming a hazy backdrop for the region’s herds of reindeer and rivers of salmon. One of the most geologically active places in the world, Kamchatka juts out from the eastern coast of Russia to resemble a larger version of Florida. A process almost like alchemy occurs here: Like a set of roiling cauldrons, Kamchatka’s volcanoes mix unusual combinations of atomic elements to forge minerals that are unlike anything anywhere else in the world.

And in the past few years, researchers have discovered several new minerals on Kamchatka. “They pop up by accident,” says Joël Brugger, a geologist at Monash University in Australia, who helped discover a new mineral on the peninsula called nataliyamalikite in 2017. “You just have to keep your eyes open.” Researchers don’t set out to make these discoveries, usually. Instead, they stumble upon new minerals during their studies of broader geologic processes that might, for example, cause rare metals to collect in unusually large concentrations in a specific volcano.

These finds are part of a current boom in mineral discoveries across the planet. On average, geologists and mineral collectors have reported more than 100 new minerals per year since 2009, according to a database affiliated with the International Mineralogical Association. “Given the level of exploration over the last hundred years, you might think that we were running out of minerals to describe,” says Brugger, who has participated in the discovery of 23 new minerals himself. “But the number of discoveries is increasing.” To qualify as new minerals, these materials must be never-before-seen natural combinations of one or more elements in solid form, arranged in a repeating structure. Mined diamond and quartz are both minerals, whereas opal, which does not have a repeating crystal structure, and synthetic gemstones, which aren’t natural, are not. Of the 5,477 known minerals, more than 1,000 were discovered in just the past 10 years.

[ click to continue reading at WIRED ]

Posted on July 1, 2019 by Editor

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Eta Carinae

from CNN

A mysterious fast radio burst was traced to a galaxy 3.6 billion light-years away

By Ashley Strickland

For the first time, a single burst of cosmic radio waves has been traced to its point of origin: in this case, a galaxy about 3.6 billion light-years from Earth. 

These radio bursts are only millisecond-long radio flashes, and such rapid bursts themselves aren’t rare in space. But finding out where they came from is incredibly difficult.

People love to believe that they’re from an advanced extraterrestrial civilization, and this hypothesis hasn’t been ruled out entirely by researchers at Breakthrough Listen, a scientific research program dedicated to finding evidence of intelligent life in the universe.

Astronomers were able to pin down the source of a repeating fast radio burst in 2017. But single radio bursts are harder to pinpoint because they don’t reoccur.

The single radio burst, dubbed FRB 180924, was discovered by the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder radio telescope, or ASKAP, in Western Australia.

[ click to continue reading at CNN ]

Posted on June 27, 2019 by Editor

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Alien Human Anthropologist Aliens

from GAIA

Professor: UFOs, Aliens Are Human Anthropologists From Future

By: Gaia Staff 

In a recent experiment, scientists reversed the arrow of time for a split second, simulating the possibility of time travel using quantum particles called qubits. The experiment was a far cry from achieving time travel anytime in the near future, but if it provides even a modicum of possibility it would support Dr. Michael P. Masters’ theory that UFOs and aliens might just be future anthropologists traveling back in time to study their ancestors — us.

Masters completed his Ph.D. in Anthropology at the Ohio State University and is currently a professor of biological anthropology at Montana Tech. His resume also cites coursework in astrobiology, astronomy, and physics – needless to say, he has some pretty relevant credentials.

In his book Identified Flying Objects: A Multidisciplinary Scientific Approach to the UFO Phenomenon, Masters explores the evolution of humans in relation to our hominin ancestors, and our likely progression as a species moving forward. Based on the trajectory of our physical, intellectual, and technological development, he says he believes the common trope of the hairless, large-headed, technologically advanced alien is likely where evolution is leading us.

Humans have evolved to become (relatively) hairless creatures compared to our ancestors and many anthropologists believe we’ll eventually lose it entirely as it doesn’t really serve much of a function anymore, save aesthetics. Add to that the fact that our skull size has doubled and tripled to support a larger brain compared to the smaller cranium of ancestors like Homo erectus and Australopithecus, respectively.

“The phenomenon may be our own distant descendants coming back through time to study us in their own evolutionary past,” Masters told a local television station in his home state of Montana. “The extra-tempestrials are ubiquitously reported as being bipedal, upright-walking, five fingers on each hand and foot, bi-lateral symmetry, that they have two eyes, a mouth, a nose, and they can communicate with us in our own languages.”

[ click to continue reading at GAIA ]

Posted on June 19, 2019 by Editor

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Dogs Are Manipulating Us

from France 24

Masters of manipulation: the evolution of ‘puppy dog eyes’

Ever wondered how dogs learned to use their “puppy eyes” to bend us to their will?

It turns out our pet pooches have evolved human-like eyebrow muscles, which let them make the sad faces that melt our hearts, according to a new study published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

It involved dissecting the cadavers of domestic dogs and comparing them to those of wild wolves, our best friends’ ancestors, whom they branched off from around 33,000 years ago (don’t worry, no animals were killed for the research).

A separate part of the study saw scientists videotaping two-minute interactions between dogs and a human stranger, then repeating the experiment with wolves, to closely track how much they used a specific muscle around the eye that produced an inner eyebrow raise.

The researchers found two muscles around the eye were routinely present and well formed in the domestic dogs, but not the wolves, and only dogs produced high-intensity eyebrow movements as they gazed at the human.

“It makes the eye look larger, which is similar to human infants,” Professor Anne Burrows of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, who was one of the co-authors, told AFP. “It triggers a nurturing response in people.”

[ click to continue reading at France 24 ]

Posted on June 18, 2019 by Editor

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Pissing On Montauk

from The New York Times

The Legend of the Ridiculously Long Montauk Bathroom Line

It was a quirky rite of passage, until the queues at Surf Lodge spilled onto the street and its septic system leaked into a pond.

By Alyson Krueger

The new bathrooms await the summer people.
The new bathrooms await the summer people.
Credit Johnny Milano for The New York Times

Last summer, on a typical weekend at Surf Lodge in Montauk, Jaden Smith performed Saturday night while the surfer Evan Valiere cheered him on and Tiffany Trump and Naomi Biden posed for photos — with each other. The next day, the rapper Lupe Fiasco would draw almost 400 people at a packed, outdoor performance; some guests showed up on kayaks to watch from nearby Fort Pond. It was so crowded that the guest list ceased to make a difference. 

“Last year it was politician year, all the kids,” said Alan Rish, a spokesman for Surf Lodge. “Malia Obama comes every year over the Fourth of July for her birthday.”

The Surf Lodge, a casual-chic hotel and lounge known for free concerts and its outdoor deck, attracts celebrities like Rosario Dawson and Jon Bon Jovi, as well as local fishermen and weekenders.

But in recent years, Surf Lodge has also been known for something else: Its ridiculously long bathroom lines. The queues for the four tiny women’s stalls were the stuff of local legend, curving into the lobby and at times out the main entrance, creating fire hazards. V.I.P.s with security details would have to notify a staff member in order to be escorted to a “secret bathroom” (which a lot of people seemed to know about) in the manager’s office.

“So much of my daily job involved people needing to pee,” said Jonny Lennon, a bouncer who has been with Surf Lodge since it opened 11 years ago.

There were also environmental concerns. The few overused bathrooms relied on an old septic system that hadn’t been renovated since the 1940s. “Nitrogen from waste was leaking into the pond,” said Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, deputy supervisor of East Hampton, referring to Fort Pond, the 181-acre body of water behind the lodge where the concertgoers on kayaks sometimes congregate.

[ click to continue reading at NYT ]

Posted on June 16, 2019 by Editor

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F†cking Bees

from KQED

What Started the Biggest Fire in California History? Yellowjackets, and a Man With a Hammer

By Dan Brekke

Teenage resident of Clearlake Oaks fought to save his home as the Ranch Fire advanced through the area on Aug. 4, 2018, a week after it started on a ranch near the Mendocino County community of Potter Valley.   (Noah Berger/AFP-Getty Images)

What did it take to start the biggest wildland fire in California history? A rancher attempting a simple chore, a nest of angry yellowjackets and some very bad luck.

Cal Fire reported Thursday that its investigation of the Ranch Fire, which started last July 27 near Clear Lake and eventually burned a sprawling expanse of forest and grassland 13 times the size of San Francisco, was touched off by an unidentified man trying to hammer a metal stake into the ground.

The agency’s report says investigators determined that the hammering threw off sparks or hot fragments that ignited a small patch of dry grass that was 2 to 3 feet tall. The blaze surged uphill despite the panicked efforts of the man who told arriving investigators he had started it.

The man called firefighters to his property just off Highway 20, northeast of Clear Lake and south of the Mendocino County community of Potter Valley, and told them the fire began with what sounded like a straightforward ranch job.

The previous winter, a 50- to 60-foot length of fabric that was suspended over several water tanks as a sunshade blew down in a storm. The rancher’s daughter had complained last July that water in the tanks was too hot for livestock to drink, the man told investigators. So late on the morning of July 27, he drove up the hill from his home with tools and supplies to reinstall the sunshade.

The rancher told Cal Fire that when he picked up the fabric, he disturbed a yellowjackets’ nest underground and was confronted with a swarm of the stinging insects. Since he’s allergic to bees, he said, he backed off for about an hour to let the yellowjackets calm down.

When he returned, he brought a claw hammer and a metal stake that he intended to use to plug the small hole leading to the yellowjackets’ nest.

[ click to continue reading at KQED ]

Posted on June 9, 2019 by Editor

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New Missing Link Found

from The Sun

‘Missing link’ in human evolution found after 30,000-year-old remains are dug up – rewriting history of first American settlers

By Charlotte Edwards

 Native American ancestors crossed over a now submerged land bridge called the Bering Strait from Siberia to North America
Native American ancestors crossed over a now submerged land bridge called the Bering Strait from Siberia to North America

NEWLY discovered ancient teeth dating back 31,000 years are evidence of a new ethnic group in human history – and could change everything we know about the first American settlers.

Living in extreme arctic conditions in Siberia during the last Ice Age, the previously-undiscovered group is being hailed by scientists as a “missing link in evolution”.

The ancient people have been named as ‘Ancient North Siberians’ and the new study suggests that they would have survived in harsh conditions by hunting woolly mammoths, woolly rhinoceroses and bison.

They were discovered thanks to DNA analysis of two ancient milk teeth, found buried deep at the Yana Rhinoceros Horn archaeological site in Russia.

Professor Eske Willerslev, who led the study, said: “The Yana site 31,000 years ago was an Arctic steppe – more rich in plant diversity than today and dominated by varies forbs and grasses, there were very few trees if any. The animal life was very different than today.

“It was more like what we know from the African savanna with mammoth, woolly rhino, horses, bison, wolves and lions. The Ancient North Siberians were hunting these particularly rhino and mammoth.”

[ click to continue reading at The Sun ]

Posted on June 7, 2019 by Editor

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Can you turn up the heat, darling?

from Metro

The sun has ‘reached solar minimum’ and its surface is ominously calm

by Jasper Hamill

This recent Nasa image shows the face of the sun looking blanker than usual

This solar slowdown often causes temporary cooling in Earth’s atmosphere.

Climate change deniers often hail this cooling as evidence that the heating of our world is about to go into reverse.

Sadly, this is very unlikely to be true because the sun follows an 11-year cycle, meaning it will simply spring back to life in the coming years.

However, once activity ramps up, the sun will be rocked by an increased number of gigantic ‘monster’ explosions, Nasa warned last week.

Eruptions from the face of our star are called ‘prominences’ and cause vast amounts of superhot gas to shoot into space, often forming beautiful loops on the solar surface.

During the solar minimum, the number of flares and sunspots is dramatically reduced.

When the sun leaps back from its minimum after roughly 11 years, we’re likely to see more and more ferocious explosions on the sun.

[ click to continue reading at Metro ]

Posted on June 5, 2019 by Editor

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