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The Seven Sisters

from LiveScience

100,000-year-old story could explain why the Pleiades are called ‘Seven Sisters’

By Adam Mann

A picture of Messier 45, known as the pleiades star cluster or the Seven Sisters.
The Pleiades star cluster is also called the Seven Sisters. It may have gotten that name from the oldest story ever told. (Image credit: LazyPixel/Brunner Sébastien via Getty Images)

People both modern and ancient have long known of the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, a small collection of stars in the constellation Taurus. 

But this famous assembly could point the way to the world’s oldest story, one told by our ancestors in Africa nearly 100,000 years ago, a speculative new study has proposed. To make this case, the paper’s authors draw on similarities between Greek and Indigenous Australian myths about the constellation.  But one expert told Live Science that similarities in these myths could be pure chance, not a sign they emerged from a common origin.

Related: 12 trippy images hidden in the zodiac

The Pleiades are part of what astronomers call an open star cluster, a group of stars all born around the same time. Telescopes have identified more than 800 stars in the region, though most humans can spot only about six on a clear, dark night. 

[ click to continue reading at LiveScience ]

Posted on August 24, 2021 by Editor

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Silly Filly

from Kentucky.com

Racehorse bucks jockey, escapes Ellis Park, takes a run in traffic

BY KARLA WARD

Racehorse Bold and Bossy bucked jockey Miguel Mena before the first race at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., Saturday. Video shared on social media showed her running along a major highway.
Racehorse Bold and Bossy bucked jockey Miguel Mena before the first race at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., Saturday. Video shared on social media showed her running along a major highway. CULLEN STANLEY FACEBOOK

A racehorse bucked its rider and escaped Ellis Park Saturday afternoon, taking a run down a major highway before being captured, media outlets reported.

Video posted on Twitter showed the #4 horse racing alongside traffic on the shoulder of the road. Another video, shared on Facebook by Cullen Stanley, showed the horse running toward vehicles that appeared to be stopped on a four-lane highway.

“Horse running at me full speed on I-69 today,” he wrote. “No idea how it started or ended. Odd times we live in.”

[ click to continue reading at Kentucky.com ]

Posted on August 21, 2021 by Editor

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More From Tucson

from The Drive

Radio Transmissions From Police Helicopter’s Chase Of Bizarre Craft Over Tucson Add To Mystery

“Its abilities were pretty incredible” — FAA audio points to confusion during and after police helicopter’s encounter with strange aircraft.

BY BRETT TINGLEY AND MARC CECOTTI

In February 9, 2021, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) helicopter encountered what was described as a “highly modified drone” hovering in controlled airspace above Tucson, Arizona. A Tucson Police Department (TPD) helicopter was called in to aid the CBP aircraft in its pursuit of the small aircraft, but the drone, or whatever it was, was able to outrun both of them as it flew through military airspace, deftly maneuvered around both helicopters with bizarre agility, and ultimately disappeared into cloud cover above the altitude the helicopters could safely fly. A police report previously obtained by The War Zone showed that the TPD crew described the drone as “very sophisticated/specialized” and “able to perform like no other UAS” they had previously encountered. Now we have the actual audio from the CBP helicopter’s interactions with air traffic controllers in Tucson during the incident, as well as audio from an after-action call between the TPD crew and the air traffic control tower. 

From the conversations heard on the recordings, which The War Zone obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), it’s clear that all parties involved with the incident were baffled by the drone’s performance, noting that it appeared “super sophisticated” and possibly satellite-controlled. If you haven’t yet caught up on the Tucson mystery drone saga, be sure to read our most recent reporting.

[ click to continue reading at The Drive ]

Posted on August 20, 2021 by Editor

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Over-drawn In The West

from The Atlantic

THE WELL FIXER’S WARNING

The lesson that California never learns

By Mark Arax

Diptych of an almond tree being irrigated and Mark Angell holding a plastic bottle filled with muddy water.
An almond grove in distress near Madera, California, and a sample of water from an overdrawn well (Jim McAuley for The Atlantic)

The well fixer and I were standing at the edge of an almond orchard in the exhausted middle of California. It was late July, and so many wells on the farms of Madera County were coming up dry that he was running out of parts to fix them. In this latest round of western drought, desperate voices were calling him at six in the morning and again at midnight. They were puzzled why their pumps were coughing up sand, the water’s flow to their orchards now a trickle.

It occurred to him that these same farmers had endured at least five droughts since the mid-1970s and that drought, like the sun, was an eternal condition of California. But he also understood that their ability to shrug off nature—no one forgot the last drought faster than the farmer, Steinbeck wrote—was part of their genius. Their collective amnesia had allowed them to forge the most industrialized farm belt in the world. Whenever a new drought set down, they believed it was a force that could be conquered. build more dams, their signs along Highway 99 read, even though the dams on the San Joaquin River already numbered half a dozen. The well fixer understood their hidebound ways. He understood their stubbornness, and maybe even their delusion. Here at continent’s edge, nothing westward but the sea, we were all deluded.

Besides, he couldn’t turn them away. His company, Madera Pumps, was his livelihood; the city of Madera was his home. He farmed his own acres of almonds near the center of town. The voices on the line weren’t simply customers. Many were lifelong friends who were true family farmers. So he was patching up their irrigation systems the best he could to get them through a last drink before the nut harvest began in mid-August. At the same time, he knew that something fundamental had changed. If he was going to keep on planting wells, pursuing a culture of extraction that had defined California since the Gold Rush, he could no longer remain silent about its peril.

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

Posted on August 18, 2021 by Editor

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The Death Of Poe

from The Daily Beast

Edgar Allan Poe’s Final Macabre Mystery: His Own Death

On Oct. 7, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 40. Alcoholism was listed as the cause of death, but what really killed him remains a mystery.

by Allison McNearney

Imagine a 19th century mystery that begins with a man slipping in and out of consciousness in a Baltimore hospital bed in clothes that are not his own. While he has periods of semi-lucidity, he is more often wracked by delirium, incoherently babbling and shouting out the name “Reynolds” to the puzzlement of all around him. After a short period of recovery, he suddenly takes a turn for the worse, says “Lord, help my poor soul!” and dies.

This is the 19th century, so the cause of death is listed as alcoholism, because how else can you explain such strange symptoms. But in reality, no one knows. Nor do they know how the man came to be found unconscious in a city he wasn’t supposed to be in wearing someone else’s clothes after having disappeared for five days.

It would be the perfect case for Sherlock Holmes or Inspector Morse or, dare we say, C. Auguste Dupin, the first detective to appear in fiction. This last investigator would be fitting as the scene is ripped from the real life and real death of his creator, Edgar Allan Poe.

On Oct. 7, 1849, Poe died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 40. His life may have been short, but it was filled with drama and turbulence—literary brilliance, scandal, tragedy, and heartbreak, some of which was due to life circumstances, some to circumstances of his own making.

Poe set the standard for what horror could achieve in fiction and invented the mystery genre. Then, in death, he embraced that Oscar Wilde quote that life imitates art with a demise that was worthy of his most eerie of gothic horrors. Nearly 170 years after he took his last breath, people are still speculating about what actually happened to Edgar Allan Poe.

[ click to continue reading at TDB ]

Posted on August 17, 2021 by Editor

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Invincible Stonehenge

from artnet

Scientists Have Conducted Tests That Reveal Stonehenge Is Made From a Nearly Indestructible Ancient Material

A rare core sample, removed years ago, contains a form of quartz that doesn’t erode or crumble.

by Sarah Cascone

The full moon sets behind Stonehenge on April 27, 2021 in Amesbury, England. Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images.
The full moon sets behind Stonehenge on April 27, 2021 in Amesbury, England. Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images.

A long lost piece of England’s Stonehenge monument is helping experts understand the mysterious prehistoric structure. Analysis of a core sample taken from one of the site’s massive slabs suggests that the stone’s geochemical composition may have made it uniquely well-equipped to stand the test of time.

Made from 99.7 percent quartz crystals, the stones are practically indestructible, according to a new study published in the journal Plos One.

“Now we’ve got a good idea why this stuff’s still standing there,” study co-author David Nash, a professor of physical geography at the University of Brighton, told Business Insider. “The stone is incredibly durable—it’s really resistant to erosion and weathering.”

[ click to continue reading at artnet ]

Posted on August 16, 2021 by Editor

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The Adolescents of NFT

from The New York Times

Teens Cash In on the NFT Art Boom

Forget mowing lawns and bagging groceries. Some Gen Z kids are finding other ways to make money this summer.


By Steven Kurutz

NFT art, “his name is victor,” by FEWOCiOUS (whose legal name is indeed Victor Langlois).
NFT art, “his name is victor,” by FEWOCiOUS (whose legal name is indeed Victor Langlois).Credit…FEWOCiOUS, via Christie’s

Last fall, Randi Hipper decided to, as she put it recently, “go in-depth with the crypto space.” After hearing about NFTs on Twitter and other social media platforms, Ms. Hipper, then a 17-year-old senior at Xaverian High School in Brooklyn, began releasing her own digital artworks — cartoonish and self-referential pieces showing her cruising in a car with a Bitcoin license plate or riding the Coney Island Wonder Wheel.

Ms. Hipper comes up with the concepts and collaborates with digital artists, including a teenage boy in India who goes by Ajay Toons, offering the works for sale through the NFT marketplace Atomic Hub. An NFT, or a nonfungible token, is a digital file created using blockchain computer code. It is bought using cryptocurrency such as Ether or Wax, and exists as a unique file unable to be duplicated, often just to be admired digitally.

“Right now, I’m trying to do one drop a week,” said Ms. Hipper, who now goes by Miss Teen Crypto and has since turned 18. “I try not to overload my feed, my collectors.”

[ click to continue reading at NYT ]

Posted on August 15, 2021 by Editor

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Finding Home

from The Atlantic

Faraway Planets Don’t Seem So Distant Anymore

Astronomers are stepping up their attempts to unravel the mysteries of exoplanets.

By Marina Koren

An illustration of planets orbiting beneath a question mark
NASA; Paul Spella / The Atlantic

One of astronomy’s most exciting discoveries began, as did many things in the 1990s, with a fax.

Didier Queloz, then an astronomer at the University of Geneva, spent the summer of ’94 sorting through data from a new piece of telescope technology that measured the subtle movements of stars. Such movements, scientists had theorized, could potentially suggest the presence of planets outside our solar system, orbiting their own suns. The gravity of a faraway planet could tug at its star, making the star wobble ever so slightly. No one had ever discovered a so-called exoplanet in this way before, so when Queloz finally did find a wobbling star, he thought it might be an instrument error. But the mysterious quiver didn’t go away. So Queloz sent a fax to his adviser, Michel Mayor, who was in Hawaii on sabbatical: “I think I found a planet.”

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

Posted on August 14, 2021 by Editor

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Agre’s Prophecy

from Washington Post via MSN

He predicted the dark side of the Internet 30 years ago. Why did no one listen?

by Reed Albergotti

In 1994 — before most Americans had an email address or Internet access or even a personal computer — Philip Agre foresaw that computers would one day facilitate the mass collection of data on everything in society.

That process would change and simplify human behavior, wrote the then-UCLA humanities professor. And because that data would be collected not by a single, powerful “big brother” government but by lots of entities for lots of different purposes, he predicted that people would willingly part with massive amounts of information about their most personal fears and desires.

“Genuinely worrisome developments can seem ‘not so bad’ simply for lacking the overt horrors of Orwell’s dystopia,” wrote Agre, who has a doctorate in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in an academic paper.

Nearly 30 years later, Agre’s paper seems eerily prescient, a startling vision of a future that has come to pass in the form of a data industrial complex that knows no borders and few laws. Data collected by disparate ad networks and mobile apps for myriad purposes is being used to sway elections or, in at least one case, to out a gay priest. But Agre didn’t stop there. He foresaw the authoritarian misuse of facial recognition technology, he predicted our inability to resist well-crafted disinformation and he foretold that artificial intelligence would be put to dark uses if not subjected to moral and philosophical inquiry.

[ click to continue reading at MSN ]

Posted on August 12, 2021 by Editor

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Lithium Landscapes

from BBC

How your phone battery creates striking alien landscapes

By Richard Fisher and Javier Hirschfeld

A wider view of Chile's brine pools. It can take more than a year to maximise the lithium concentration by this evaporation method (Credit: Ivan Alvarado/Reuters)
A wider view of Chile’s brine pools. It can take more than a year to maximise the lithium concentration by this evaporation method (Credit: Ivan Alvarado/Reuters)

Beneath the screen that you are reading this on, there could be the distilled essence of a salt plain.

Millions of years ago, volcanoes deposited minerals over vast tracts of South America. Later, water leached through the rock to form massive lakes. Cycles of evaporation and deposition followed, leaving vast plains of salt behind – infused with one of the world’s most sought-after minerals: lithium.

With the rapid rise in battery usage in electronic devices and electric cars, the demand for lithium and other constituent materials is accelerating. As BBC Future has previously reported, it is enabling mining companies to look in new places, such as the deep ocean or in previously exploited mines, and has prompted scientists to seek alternative battery technology. But our focus today is how lithium is changing the fortunes – and specifically, the landscapes – of those countries that have it in abundance.

In Bolivia and Chile, the high tonnage of lithium embedded in the salt plains has given rise to massive facilities. From the air, the evaporation pools associated with the mineral’s extraction dot the landscape like colours in a painter’s palette. In this edition of our photography series Anthropo-Scene, we explore these places, whose striking features have inspired various artistswriters and architects.

[ click to continue reading at BBC ]

Posted on August 9, 2021 by Editor

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Hidden Eden Exposed

from The New Yorker

The Lost Canyon Under Lake Powell

Drought is shrinking one of the country’s largest reservoirs, revealing a hidden Eden.

By Elizabeth Kolbert

La Gorce Arch
In 2019, La Gorce Arch could be visited by boat. It’s now a half-mile hike from Lake Powell.

The morning after I arrived in Bullfrog, I went back to the marina to meet up with Eric Balken, the executive director of the Glen Canyon Institute. The institute, whose goal is to return the canyon to its natural state, was founded in 1996. A decade later, while Balken was still a student at the University of Utah, he signed on as an intern at the group’s office, in Salt Lake City. He’s worked there ever since. Now thirty-four, he has probably seen more of Glen Canyon than anyone else under the age of ninety. The first time I spoke to him, over the phone, he offered to show me some “incredible” sights. “It’ll be hot,” he added.

Again the dock was crowded with families heading out onto Powell in houseboats. For our trip, Balken had rented a pontoon boat. His wife, Sandrine Yang, had decided to come along. So had my husband and two photographers. Once we’d loaded the boat with all our camping gear and supplies, there was only a narrow alley of floor space left.

Balken slipped on a pair of mirrored sunglasses and steered the boat out of the marina, into an arm of the lake known as Bullfrog Bay. From the mouth of the bay, we headed south, into what used to be the main channel of the Colorado. Red cliffs four, five, six hundred feet tall lined the lake on both sides.

As we sped on, the cliffs grew taller and redder. The Colorado used to carry vast amounts of sediment—hence its name, meaning “red-colored.” The river, it was said, was “too thick to drink, too thin to plow.” Now, though, when the Colorado hits the reservoir’s northern edge—a border that keeps creeping south—most of the sediment drops out, leaving the water clear. Lake Powell is an almost tropical shade of turquoise. It sparkled under the cerulean sky. Somewhere deep beneath us, the river was still flowing. But at the surface the water was slack. Yang declared the scene “stupid beautiful.”

[ click to continue reading at The New Yorker ]

Posted on August 8, 2021 by Editor

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Viewing The Earth’s Innards

from National Geographic

Rare chunks of Earth’s mantle found exposed in Maryland

The set of rocks strewn throughout Baltimore likely represent a slice of prehistoric seafloor from a now-vanished ocean.

BY MAYA WEI-HAAS

Katie Armstrong, NG Staff. Sources: “Suprasubduction zone ophiolite fragments in the central Appalachian orogen”, Geospere, 2021. C.R. Scotese, Paleogeographic land extent

Standing among patches of muddy snow on the outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland, I bent down to pick up a piece of the planet that should have been hidden miles below my feet.

On that chilly February day, I was out with a pair of geologists to see an exposed section of Earth’s mantle. While this layer of rock is usually found between the planet’s crust and core, a segment peeks out of the scrubby Maryland forest, offering scientists a rare chance to study Earth’s innards up close.

Even more intriguing, the rock’s unusual chemical makeup suggests that this piece of mantle, along with chunks of lower crust scattered around Baltimore, was once part of the seafloor of a now-vanished ocean.

Over the roughly 490 million years since their formation, these hunks of Earth were smashed by shifting tectonic plates and broiled by searing hot fluids rushing through cracks, altering both their composition and sheen. Mantle rock is generally full of sparkly green crystals of the mineral olivine, but the rock in my hand was surprisingly unremarkable to look at: mottled yellow-brown stone occasionally flecked with black.

[ click to continue reading at Nat Geo ]

Posted on August 7, 2021 by Editor

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Spelling Infidelity Explained

from Nautilus

What Misspellings Reveal About Cultural Evolution

BY HELENA MITON

Illustration by VectorMine / Shutterstock

Something about me must remind people of a blind 17th-century poet. My last name, Miton, is French, yet people outside of France invariably misspell it as “Milton”—as in the famed English author, John Milton, of the epic poem Paradise Lost.

It is not uncommon for people to misspell an unfamiliar name—yet 99 times out of 100 people misspell mine as “Milton.” That is the name that shows up on everything from my university gym card to emails from colleagues.

It might seem trivial, yet this misspelling actually illustrates a key feature of how cultural practices emerge and stabilize.

When studying culture, one of the key questions scientists ask is about continuity: Why do people do the same things, in roughly similar ways, over long periods of time? Consider how traditional food recipes, say tamales, have maintained a stable core definition over generations—corn-based dough cooked in corn husks.

[ click to continue reading at Nautilus ]

Posted on August 6, 2021 by Editor

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Masturbation Going Viral

from The U.S. Sun

Can masturbating REALLY boost your immune system and fight Covid?

by Vanessa Chalmers

WITH a deadly virus circulating the past year and a half, many people have been wondering how they can boost their immunity.

Masturbating is sometimes touted as a way to give the immune system a kickstart.

When Covid first started causing chaos in the Western world in March 2020, Google searches for “can masurbation boost immunity” went wild as people searched for ways to protect themselves.

Unfortunately, touching oneself will not be the difference between catching Covid and not, as there are many factors that influence a person’s risk of getting the disease.

But Dr Jennifer Landa, a specialist in hormone therapy, suggests that indulging in some self-love might be able to strengthen your body’s natural defence forces.

“Masturbation can produce the right environment for a strengthened immune system,” she said, according to Men’s Health.

[ click to continue reading at The U.S. Sun ]

Posted on August 1, 2021 by Editor

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Jet Pack Is Back!

from The Sun

LAX ‘Jet Pack guy’ spotted AGAIN flying 15 miles from Los Angeles airport at 5,000 feet as FAA and FBI investigates

by Catherina Gioino

A man in a possible jet pack was seen flying about 5,000ft in the air, similar to a sighting from last year like in this photoCredit: Instagram / @slingpilotacademy

A MAN on a possible jet pack was spotted flying 15 miles from Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday – nearly a year since a spate of previous sightings sparked panic.

The man – who has been dubbed “jet pack guy” – was seen by a Boeing 747 pilot looking similar to Marvel action star Iron Man as he soared at 5,000ft.

“A Boeing 747 pilot reported seeing an object that might have resembled a jet pack 15 miles east of LAX at 5,000ft altitude,” the Federal Aviation Administration told CBS.

“Out of an abundance of caution, air traffic controllers alerted other pilots in the vicinity.”

[ click to continue reading at The Sun ]

Posted on July 29, 2021 by Editor

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Interior People

Posted on July 24, 2021 by Editor

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Not A Good Year

from AP

US life expectancy in 2020 saw biggest drop since WWII

By MIKE STOBBE

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. life expectancy fell by a year and a half in 2020, the largest one-year decline since World War II, public health officials said Wednesday. The decrease for both Black Americans and Hispanic Americans was even worse: three years.

The drop spelled out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic, which health officials said is responsible for close to 74% of the overall life expectancy decline. More than 3.3 million Americans died last year, far more than any other year in U.S. history, with COVID-19 accounting for about 11% of those deaths.

Black life expectancy has not fallen so much in one year since the mid-1930s, during the Great Depression. Health officials have not tracked Hispanic life expectancy for nearly as long, but the 2020 decline was the largest recorded one-year drop.

The abrupt fall is “basically catastrophic,” said Mark Hayward, a University of Texas sociology professor who studies changes in U.S. mortality.

[ click to continue reading at AP ]

Posted on July 21, 2021 by Editor

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Taco No

from CBS News

Taco Bell’s menu hit by nationwide shortages of ingredients

BY KATE GIBSON

The menu at Taco Bell may be a bit limited these days, with the quick-service restaurant chain warning customers that it might not be able to fulfill their current appetite hankerings. 

In an apology offered in an orange banner atop its website, Taco Bell declared: “Sorry if we can’t feed your current crave. Due to national ingredient shortages and delivery delays, we may be out of some items.” 

Those who frequent Taco Bell turned to social media to share their culinary disappointment. 

“Taco Bell has a ‘district-wide shortage of hot sauce…times are tough,” tweeted one patron. “For anyone craving Taco Bell tonight, I’ll save you the drive, they don’t have chicken or beef, national shortage or something. I just ate black beans in a hard shell,” complained another in a separate tweet.

[ click to continue reading at CBS ]

Posted on July 20, 2021 by Editor

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‘Big Ass Steamroller’ Cool

from VICE

Police Destroy 1,069 Bitcoin Miners With Big Ass Steamroller In Malaysia

Malaysian authorities did not mess around when they broke up a cryptocurrency mining farm and charged the operators with stealing electricity.

By Andrew Hayward

As Bitcoin’s price surged this spring to a new all-time high, the spotlight shining on its controversial mining process only got brighter. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and many other cryptocurrencies use an energy-intensive “proof-of-work” process that makes computers on its decentralized network compete to solve complex mathematical equations to verify a batch of transactions; this makes the network less susceptible to certain attacks, and earns miners crypto rewards.

Given the competitive element in the quest for valuable cryptocurrency, powerful mining rigs—essentially, PCs purpose-built to maximize mining rewards—are the preferred tool of serious crypto miners. They are expensive, and persistent demand and manufacturing delays can mean months-long waits for rigs to be delivered. This week, police in Malaysia crushed 1,069 of them with a steamroller.

[ click to continue reading at VICE ]

Posted on July 16, 2021 by Editor

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Eels

Posted on July 15, 2021 by Editor

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It’s coming…

from VICE

MIT Predicted in 1972 That Society Will Collapse This Century. New Research Shows We’re on Schedule.

A 1972 MIT study predicted that rapid economic growth would lead to societal collapse in the mid 21st century. A new paper shows we’re unfortunately right on schedule.

By Nafeez Ahmed

IMAGE: GETTY 

A remarkable new study by a director at one of the largest accounting firms in the world has found that a famous, decades-old warning from MIT about the risk of industrial civilization collapsing appears to be accurate based on new empirical data. 

As the world looks forward to a rebound in economic growth following the devastation wrought by the pandemic, the research raises urgent questions about the risks of attempting to simply return to the pre-pandemic ‘normal.’

In 1972, a team of MIT scientists got together to study the risks of civilizational collapse. Their system dynamics model published by the Club of Rome identified impending ‘limits to growth’ (LtG) that meant industrial civilization was on track to collapse sometime within the 21st century, due to overexploitation of planetary resources.

The controversial MIT analysis generated heated debate, and was widely derided at the time by pundits who misrepresented its findings and methods. But the analysis has now received stunning vindication from a study written by a senior director at professional services giant KPMG, one of the ‘Big Four’ accounting firms as measured by global revenue.

[ click to continue reading at VICE ]

Posted on July 14, 2021 by Editor

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Eternal Pregnancy

Posted on July 10, 2021 by Editor

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Mushroom Boom

from Nautilus

Psychedelics Open a New Window on the Mechanisms of Perception

Hallucinatory drugs may allow our brains to let go of prior beliefs.

BY ANIL ANANTHASWAMY

Anathaswamy_BREAKER-1
John Smithson / Public Domain

verything became imbued with a sense of vitality and life and vividness. If I picked up a pebble from the beach, it would move. It would glisten and gleam and sparkle and be absolutely captivating,” says neuroscientist Anil Seth. “Somebody looking at me would see me staring at a stone for hours.”

Or what seemed like hours to Seth. A researcher at the United Kingdom’s University of Sussex, he studies how the brain helps us perceive the world within and without, and is intrigued by what psychedelics such as LSD can tell us about how the brain creates these perceptions. So, a few years ago, he decided to try some, in controlled doses and with trusted people by his side. He had a notebook to keep track of his experiences. “I didn’t write very much in the notebook,” he says, laughing.

Instead, while on LSD, he reveled in a sense of well-being and marveled at the “fluidity of time and space.” He found himself staring at clouds and seeing them change into faces of people he was thinking of. If his attention drifted, the clouds morphed into animals.

[ click to continue reading at Nautilus ]

Posted on July 8, 2021 by Editor

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Mo’ Ransom

from WIRED

A New Kind of Ransomware Tsunami Hits Hundreds of Companies

An apparent supply chain attack exploited Kaseya’s IT management software to encrypt a “monumental” number of victims all at once.

by BRIAN BARRETT

100 prism
The impact has already been severe and will only get worse given the nature of the targets. PHOTOGRAPH: RL PHOTOGRAPHY/GETTY IMAGES

IT WAS PROBABLY inevitable that the two dominant cybersecurity threats of the day— supply chain attacks and ransomware—would combine to wreak havoc. That’s precisely what happened Friday afternoon, as the notorious REvil criminal group successfully encrypted the files of hundreds of businesses in one swoop, apparently thanks to compromised IT management software. And that’s only the very beginning.

The situation is still developing and certain details—most important, how the attackers infiltrated the software in the first place—remain unknown. But the impact has already been severe and will only get worse given the nature of the targets. The software in question, Kaseya VSA, is popular among so-called managed service providers, which provide IT infrastructure for companies that would rather outsource that sort of thing than run it themselves. Which means that if you successfully hack an MSP, you suddenly have access to its customers. It’s the difference between cracking safe-deposit boxes one at a time and stealing the bank manager’s skeleton key.

[ click to continue reading at WIRED ]

Posted on July 2, 2021 by Editor

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Cosmic Cannibals

from NPR

When A City-Size Star Becomes A Black Hole’s Lunch, The Universe Roils

by NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE

An artistic image of what happens when a monstrous black hole collides with — and gulps down — a neutron star the size of a large city. Carl Knox/OzGrav/Swinburne

A black hole swallowing a neutron star — a star more massive than our sun but only about the size of a city — has been observed for the first time ever.

Each of these space monsters is among the most extreme and mysterious phenomena in the universe. The new find, described Tuesday in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, shows how the very fabric of the universe gets roiled when the two come together.

Researchers found not just one, but two black holes making snacks of neutron stars. Their noshing happened about 1 billion years ago but was so intense that it shook space-time and sent out ripples that only recently hit the Earth, triggering giant detectors built to sense these waves.

[ click to continue reading at NPR ]

Posted on June 29, 2021 by Editor

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Lightning Caldwell

from AccuWeather

A lightning strike fueled baseball’s most electrifying performance

By Mark Puleo

Ray Caldwell pitching for the New York Yankees. (Library of Congress)

Nearly 20,000 different men have called themselves Major League Baseball players since the inception of the league, and the vast majority have been entirely forgotten in the immensity of the sport’s history.

Ray Caldwell’s career was heading in that direction. Despite having a page full of unique anecdotes, alcohol abuse and off-the-field troubles had his career on the path toward obscurity.

“I don’t think a guy like Ray Caldwell could exist anymore in Major League Baseball,” Randy Anderson, president of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, told AccuWeather. “He’s a real throwback to when times were much different.”

Ray Caldwell is a name that could win you a few dollars at trivia night. He was the inaugural pitcher to start games at the grand opening of both Fenway Park and Ebbetts Field, he tossed the 91st no-hitter in baseball history, was one of the final 17 pitchers to legally be allowed to throw a spitball and even roomed with Babe Ruth when he played in Boston.

[ click to continue reading at AccuWeather ]

Posted on June 25, 2021 by Editor

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Artificial Rembrandt

from NYT via DNYUZ

Rembrandt’s Damaged Masterpiece Is Whole Again, With A.I.’s Help

Rembrandt’s Damaged Masterpiece Is Whole Again, With A.I.’s Help

AMSTERDAM — Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” has been a national icon in the Netherlands ever since it was painted in 1642, but even that didn’t protect it.

In 1715, the monumental canvas was cut down on all four sides to fit onto a wall between two doors in Amsterdam’s Town Hall. The snipped pieces were lost. Since the 19th century, the trimmed painting has been housed in the Rijksmuseum, where it is displayed as the museum’s centerpiece, at the focal point of its Gallery of Honor.

Now, from Wednesday — for the first time in more than three centuries — it will be possible for the public to see the painting “nearly as it was intended,” said the museum’s director, Taco Dibbits.

Using new high-tech methods, including scanning technologies and artificial intelligence, the museum has reconstructed those severed parts and hung them next to the original, to give an idea of “The Night Watch” as Rembrandt intended it.

The cutdown painting is about 15 feet wide by 13 feet high. About two feet from the left of the canvas was shaved off, and another nine inches from the top. Lesser damage was done to the bottom, which lost about five inches, and the right side, which lost three.

Temporarily restoring these parts will give visitors a glimpse of what had been lost: three figures on the left-hand side (two men and a boy) and, more important, a feel for Rembrandt’s meticulous construction in the work’s composition. With the missing pieces, the original dynamism of the masterpiece is stirred back to life.

[ click to continue reading at DNYUZ ]

Posted on June 24, 2021 by Editor

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29 Peeping Planets

from The Guardian

Scientists identify 29 planets where aliens could observe Earth

Astronomers estimate 29 habitable planets are positioned to see Earth transit and intercept human broadcasts

by Ian Sample Science editor

space
The scientists identified 1,715 star systems where alien observers could have discovered Earth in the past 5,000 years by watching it ‘transit’ across the face of the sun. Photograph: c/o Cornell

For centuries, Earthlings have gazed at the heavens and wondered about life among the stars. But as humans hunted for little green men, the extraterrestrials might have been watching us back.

In new research, astronomers have drawn up a shortlist of nearby star systems where any inquisitive inhabitants on orbiting planets would be well placed to spot life on Earth.

The scientists identified 1,715 star systems in our cosmic neighbourhood where alien observers could have discovered Earth in the past 5,000 years by watching it “transit” across the face of the sun.

Among those in the right position to observe an Earth transit, 46 star systems are close enough for their planets to intercept a clear signal of human existence – the radio and TV broadcasts which started about 100 years ago.

The researchers estimate that 29 potentially habitable planets are well positioned to witness an Earth transit, and eavesdrop on human radio and television transmissions, allowing any observers to infer perhaps a modicum of intelligence. Whether the broadcasts would compel an advanced civilisation to make contact is a moot point.

[ click to continue reading at The Guardian ]

Posted on June 23, 2021 by Editor

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Der Stonehenge

from The Daily Beast

The Cruel and Twisted Discoveries at Germany’s Stonehenge

by Candida Moss


Getty

When you think of Stonehenge what do you think of? England? Druids? Partygoers celebrating the solstice? A unique piece of ancient heritage? Chances are that you don’t think of Germany. As it turns out, however, Saxony-Anhalt has its own Early Bronze Age wooden henge—Ringheiligtum Pömmelter—and recent excavations have added more detail to its dark, distinctive history.

The reason that you might not have heard of Ringheiligtum Pömmelter is that it was only discovered in 1991. The monument, which is located near the village of Pömmelte, in the district of Salzlandkreis, was discovered when aerial photography of the region revealed the outline of the structure. Like Wiltshire’s Stonehenge, it is concentric and is made up of seven rings of raised banks, ditches, and palisades in which wooden posts were positioned. If you visit the 380-feet-wide circle today you can see the attractive reconstructed monument. The painted wooden posts erected at the site give tourists a sense of what it was like in its heyday.

[ click to continue reading at TDB ]

Posted on June 21, 2021 by Editor

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SpaceXcedrin

from The Observer

SpaceX’s Starship Worksite in Texas Is a Constant Headache for Regulators

By Sissi Cao

Space enthusiasts look at a prototype of SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft at the company’s Texas launch facility on September 28, 2019 in Boca Chica near Brownsville, Texas. Loren Elliott/Getty Images

SpaceX’s busy rocket testing activities in the remote beach town of Boca Chica in South Texas are increasingly becoming a headache for local residents and governments.

Last week, the Elon Musk-led rocket company received a notice from a county district attorney warning the company that it could be violating several state laws by closing public roads for extended periods of time and hiring unlicensed security guards to ward local residents off the closed area.

In the letter, first reported by Texas local television station KRGV, Cameron County district attorney Luis Saenz alleged that members of his staff, while attempting to access a public road near SpaceX’s test facilities to carry out an investigation on June 9, were “approached, stopped and detained” by a company security guard who they later found was not licensed by the Texas Department of Public Safety per state law.

[ click to continue reading at The Observer ]

Posted on June 17, 2021 by Editor

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Go Blue!

from Quanta Magazine

How Animals Color Themselves With Nanoscale Structures

Animals sculpt the optical properties of their tissues at the nanoscale to give themselves “structural colors.” New work is piecing together how they do it.

by Viviane Callier

A pair of photographs showing a blue morpho butterfly and a close-up detail of its blue wing.
The stunning blue iridescence of the blue morpho butterfly results from the way that structures in its wing scales diffract and reflect blue light while absorbing other parts of the spectrum.

Peacocks, panther chameleons, scarlet macaws, clown fish, toucans, blue-ringed octopuses and so many more: The animal kingdom has countless denizens with extraordinarily colorful beauty. But in many cases, scientists know much more about how the animals use their colors than how they make them. New work continues to reveal those secrets, which often depend on the fantastically precise self-assembly of minuscule features in and on the feathers, scales, hair and skin — a fact that makes the answers intensely interesting to soft matter physicists and engineers in the photonics industry.

Many of the colors seen in nature, particularly in the plant kingdom, are produced by pigments, which reflect a portion of the light spectrum while absorbing the rest. Green pigments like chlorophyll reflect the green part of the spectrum but absorb the longer red and yellow wavelengths as well as the shorter blue ones. Which specific wavelengths get reflected or absorbed depends on the pigment’s molecular makeup and the exact distances between the atoms in its molecular structures.

[ click to continue reading at Quanta ]

Posted on June 16, 2021 by Editor

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Bitcoin vs. The Volcano

from The Independent via Yahoo! News

El Salvador to use energy from volcanoes for bitcoin mining

by Vishwam Sankaran

El Salvador’s president Nayib Bukele, accompanied by US Ambassador to El Salvador Ronald Johnson (out of frame), speaks during a joint press conference at Rosales Hospital in San Salvador  (AFP via Getty Images)
El Salvador’s president Nayib Bukele, accompanied by US Ambassador to El Salvador Ronald Johnson (out of frame), speaks during a joint press conference at Rosales Hospital in San Salvador (AFP via Getty Images)

Hours after becoming the first nation to authorise bitcoin as a legal tender, El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele instructed a state-owned geothermal electric company to plan to use geothermal energy from the country’s volcanoes for mining for the cryptocurrency.

“I’ve just instructed the president of @LaGeoSV (our state-owned geothermal electric company), to put up a plan to offer facilities for bitcoin mining with very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable, 0 emissions energy from our volcanos,” Bukele posted on Twitter.

The Bitcoin law was approved by a “supermajority” gaining 62 out of 84 possible votes within the Central American country’s congress.

[ click to continue reading at Yahoo! ]

Posted on June 12, 2021 by Editor

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Serial Seducers

from The New York Post

Woman reveals dark hobby of seducing infamous serial killers by mail

By Dana Kennedy

Barbara Dickstein (center) and late husband befriended killers through letters.
Barbara Dickstein (center) and late husband befriended killers through letters. NY Post composite; Stephen Yang

A couple in Yonkers had a dark hobby for decades: seducing serial killers by mail.

For more than 20 years, at least 100 of the country’s most ­vicious serial and celebrity murderers — including John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Richard Ramirez, “Son of Sam” ­David Berkowitz, Charles Manson, ­Arthur Shawcross, Edmund Kemper, Karla Faye Tucker, Robert John Bardo and Gerard Schaefer, among others — ­eagerly corresponded with Barbara and Richie Dickstein.

To “hook” the criminals, Barbara and Richie wrote letters pretending to be whatever turned on the killers — like when she sent photos of a local stripper and pretended it was her to tantalize Ramirez.

“If you look at most of these serial killers’ childhoods, they never had any love. I think they thought that with us, ‘Here’s someone willing to show me love and I’ll try it with them,’ ” Barbara told The Post.

[ click to continue reading at NYP ]

Posted on June 7, 2021 by Editor

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