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Firefighters contain huge wildfires in Corsica and Portugal
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Firefighters managed to contain huge wildfires in Portugal and the French island of Corsica on Saturday, though hot weather meant the risk of them spreading again remained high. Almost 1,000 people were evacuated in Corsica overnight, mostly tourists staying at campsites, as 2,000 hectares (nearly 5,000 acres) of scrubland was destroyed, although no casualties were reported. A man suspected of starting five fires in Bastia, a town with a population of 40,000 in northeast Corsica, was arrested and will remain in detention at least through the weekend, officials said.
SpaceX to Send Supercomputer Into Space
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
SpaceX to Send Supercomputer Into Space
Portugal battling fresh wildfires
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Portugal was battling a new rash of forest fires ahead of a weekend of warm temperatures, as authorities warned of further blazes. Some 1,800 firefighters backed by hundreds of vehicles were trying to douse around 10 fires across the country, authorities said Friday. "Despite the relentless fires, the situation is now more stable," said civil protection agency spokeswoman Patricia Gaspar in Lisbon.
Trump on Charlottesville violence: 'To me, it's very, very sad'
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, politics
President Trump on Saturday strongly condemned the turbulence in Charlottesville, Va., where white nationalists clashed violently with counterprotesters, leaving at least one person dead.
The terrifying way our universe will end — and when
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Our universe is racing toward its destruction as we speak. The end is not going to be especially...
Too many jellyfish in the sea? Blame wind farms and gas platforms
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
If you are noticing more jellyfish in the sea on your holiday this summer, the blame may lie just over the horizon. Scientists have discovered that offshore wind farms and oil and gas platforms inadvertently provide an ideal habitat in which the gelatinous creatures can thrive. Until now, the explosion in jellyfish numbers in oceans around the world has been largely blamed on over-fishing, which wipes out their natural predators, global warming and nutrient run-off. But now it seems that man-made structures offer an enticing home for polyps – the tiny organisms which eventually grow into jellyfish. “They preferably attach to downward-facing solid surfaces and since the availability of these is scarce in nature, they can be predominantly found on man-made structures,” the team of Slovenian and Portuguese scientists report.  The phenomenon is particularly pronounced in the Adriatic, where populations of a species called moon jellyfish have boomed in recent years. Moon jellyfish – which do not have a strong enough sting to harm humans - were first detected in the Adriatic in the 1830s but their presence was a rarity. These days, huge blooms of the species appear every year. A few jellyfish are highly dangerous - even fatal - if they sting humans, including this irukandji jellyfish from Australia. Credit: AP The researchers believe the explosion in numbers is closely related to the increased number of oil and gas platforms in the Adriatic – from just a handful in 1970 to around 150 now. In a report published in Environmental Research Letters, they used computer simulations to recreate the dynamics of ocean currents and the life-cycle of moon jellyfish.  The results suggested a direct correlation between big jellyfish numbers and man-made structures such as energy platforms and wind farms. The structures “enable the formation of new populations in formerly unpopulated open waters,” the scientists found after a five-year study. Scattered across the Adriatic in deep, open water, they enable isolated populations of jellies to find each other and breed. The profusion of jellyfish was “an aspect that is usually overlooked when evaluating the ecological impact of existing and future wind farms, oil and gas platforms,” the scientists said. Too many jellyfish in the sea not only signal the deterioration of marine ecosystems; they also clog the intake pipes of shore-based power stations and desalination plants, weigh down fishing nets and – in the case of some stinging species – present a danger to humans. The research has implications for British waters, where hundreds of offshore turbines are under construction or planned. Last year, for the first time, wind farms in the UK generated more electricity than coal-powered plants. Across Europe, the power-generating capacity of offshore wind installations more than doubled in three years, from 2012 to 2015. “With the recent push towards renewable energy, the numbers (of wind farms) have skyrocketed, and that is just a fraction of what to expect in the future,” the scientists said. With more wind farms and gas platforms planned, the boom in jellyfish numbers will only continue. What is good for jellyfish is also good for other species of marine life, however. A Dutch study found that offshore wind turbines provide a sanctuary in the open ocean for creatures such as crabs, mussels and anemones. The 2011 study found that wind farms also had a much lower impact than previously thought on sea birds such as cormorants and gannets, contradicting fears that the whirring rotor blades of turbines could prove fatal to bird life. “It turns out that a wind farm provides a new natural habitat for organisms living on the sea bed such as mussels, anemones and crabs, thereby contributing to increased biodiversity," said Prof Han Lindeboom from Wageningen University. "It provides an oasis of calm in a relatively busy coastal area." There could be unexpected benefits to the burgeoning numbers of jellyfish – scientists announced last month that they had invented jellyfish crisps, which they said were healthier than traditional, deep-fried potato crisps. Researchers in Denmark discovered that by soaking jellyfish in alcohol and allowing it to evaporate, the gelatinous creatures turn into paper-thin, crunchy discs.  
Amazon is issuing refunds to customers who purchased suspect solar eclipse glasses
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Amazon is refunding customer purchases for protective solar eclipse glasses that it hasn’t been able to confirm come from a reputable manufacturer, according to a safety notification from the company. Excitement has been building for the upcoming solar eclipse across the United States on August 21st, and would-be eclipse viewers have purchased protective glasses from retailers such as Amazon.com. Amazon appears to have been cracking down on these suspect glasses.
Meteors Can Be Hard To Spot But These NASA Photos Show Them Clearly
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Meteors burn up in the Earth's atmosphere leaving a stream of light behind them making for great photos.
Reward offered to catch Nevada lake invasive fish dumper
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
RENO, Nev. (AP) — Nevada game wardens who spend most their time hunting down big-game poachers are focusing on a serious threat to nature in a lake: An invasive fish species that eats all the other fish prized by anglers and then turns cannibalistic.
One step closer to using pig organs in human transplants
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Using a gene-editing tool called CRISPR, researchers edited the DNA of pigs, removing potentially harmful viruses from organs
Violent clashes erupt at ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Va.
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, politics
At least one vehicle hit a crowd of people gathered in a Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday, hours after police broke up a clash between white nationalists and counter-protesters. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency.
The foundation of Western philosophy is probably rooted in psychedelics
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
In the 1960s, intellectuals such as Aldous Huxley were fascinated by the effects of LSD, but today most professors are far too worried about respectability and tenure to investigate psychedelics themselves. Which is somewhat ironic, given that the field of Western philosophy has a huge debt to psychedelics, according to Peter Sjöstedt-H, a philosophy doctoral…
The big loser during the eclipse? Solar power.
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
When the total solar eclipse hits on Aug. 21, it's going to be quite the party. The problem? Solar panels need the sun to generate electricity.  With the sun dimmed, solar energy sources will be affected. More than 100 million solar panels are expected to be affected, which will drop output by 20 percent — or the equivalent of all the energy the city of San Francisco uses in a week.  SEE ALSO: 20 questions you're too embarrassed to ask about the solar eclipse Previous eclipses like the one that blotted out Europe in 2015 can give us a heads up on how much solar power will plummet. In Germany, which leads the world in solar power usage, output dropped from 14 gigawatts (GW) to 7 gigawatts, according to Gizmodo. Here in the states, utility-scale solar production is about 21.25 GW. It helps that the eclipse won't totally black out the sun over California and other states where the most solar energy is generated, so it won't disrupt the power grid. But it'll still mess things up. More than 1 percent of all energy used in the U.S. comes from solar, a figure that is increasing rapidly as the cost of solar panels plunge. A North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) white paper found that the eclipse is unlikely to cause any real issues with the power system, in part because the path of totality does not cut across the biggest solar generating states.  More likely it will show us how to prepare and plan for power disruptions, now and in the future. It's really California, and North Carolina to some extent, that will be the most impacted. California is the top solar generating state in the country, home to about 40 percent of the country's installed solar generating capacity, according to the Energy Information Administration. The California Independent System Operator (CAISO), which supplies energy for the state electrical grid, estimates that the eclipse will push the grid to find up to 6,000 megawatts (MW) from alternative sources — keep in mind one MW powers about 1,000 homes.  Edison @SCE working with @California_ISO to plan for partial ☀️#SolarEclipse2017 on Monday, August 21.https://t.co/QqGC4tdxQ0 pic.twitter.com/ElxjYWekXL — Haig Kartounian (@SCE_HaigK) August 10, 2017 But along with state energy agencies and utilities, the ISO has been prepping for the eclipse and the loss of solar power for more than a year. In a release about the solar event, CAISO wrote, "While the ISO has enough energy supply to make up for lost solar production during the eclipse, consumers should always use energy wisely." That's where programmable thermostats like Nest are gearing up to help take on the energy disruption. In an effort to keep our power grid from resorting to "dirty" energy from coal, nuclear, natural gas and fossil fuels, the Google-owned company is asking its customers to cut back on its energy usage during the eclipse.  Project Eclipse will offer an opt-in campaign. Ben Bixby, head of energy partnerships at Nest, is realistic about the relatively small loss of solar energy from the eclipse. "There’s no real danger of apocalypse," he said in an interview. Bixby anticipates Nest users' reduced energy use will "make a meaningful difference on the grid on this particular day." For eclipse day, Nest users can voluntarily join the energy-saving effort, similar to the company's ongoing Rush Hour Rewards program that launched in 2013 that pays customers for cutting back on energy at peak times. On the device, an eclipse image will appear and ask if users want to participate in the special solar eclipse rush hour. Energy savers won't be paid this time, however. Here's what customers will see to participate in Project Eclipse.Image: nestThe entire California Public Utilities Commission is collecting pledges from residents to "do your thing for the sun." That means finding ways to reduce electricity usage the day of the eclipse. The state utility, like Nest, wants to burn fewer fossil fuels while the state's solar energy production dips.  Some suggestions include replacing lightbulbs with LEDs, turning off lights, unplugging electronics and appliances, and turning up the thermostat 2 to 5 degrees. Easy stuff, but not always obvious. A state resolution calls for lower energy use during the eclipse — especially during the West Coast portion starting around 9 a.m. PT. Thanks @Holden4Assembly for resolution encouraging lowering #electricity use during the #greatsolareclipse! https://t.co/tBuAd2lFVG pic.twitter.com/RtxwBkSb7n — California PUC (@californiapuc) July 21, 2017 The last eclipse to cross the entire U.S. was in 1918, so our energy demands and technology look a bit different these days. We don't have a lot of experience with the sun out of commission for a few hours in the middle of the day with our current power grids and supply systems.  Phil Mihlmester, an energy expert and executive vice president of the global energy consulting group ICF, called the upcoming eclipse "a test case" to see how power suppliers handle the change in resources. Based on a model looking at the electrical grid, ICF found the solar energy reduction might also be costly, especially in solar-heavy states like California.  How well are your #solar assets performing? We guide you through measuring effectiveness of these systems. https://t.co/sLC1f3Fp1h #energy pic.twitter.com/glTvcRqOsf — ICF Energy (@ICFEnergy) July 14, 2017 The ICF analysis found the average energy price for ratepayers just on eclipse day might go up 7 percent in the Golden State. At the eclipse's peak, that cost could go up as much as 18 percent. The average homeowner won't notice the small blip in cost for one day, but the energy industry will.  "It’s not so much the total loss and needing to make up for lost solar power," Mihlmester explained. It's more ramping up gas energy supplies to compensate for solar energy going down. In California alone gas turbines will need to be fired up to release up to 30 MW per minute to make up the difference. So unplugging everything could really do something to offset that gas need. "It's always helpful," Mihlmester said. "Energy efficiency and steps taken by consumers clearly have an effect." With all this energy saving and practice, we should be more than set for the next eclipse in 2024.  WATCH: Airbnb is giving away an epic experience to watch the solar eclipse
How Washing Your Hair Could Help You Survive a Nuclear Blast
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
When taking a post-blast decontamination shower, skip the conditioner. Like most people confronted with the possibility that a nuclear weapon or dirty bomb could release radioactive fallout somewhere near me, I've become obsessed with how to best wash my hair after such a disaster. Escalating rhetoric between the US president and North Korea has caused many people to wonder how they could survive a nuclear blast.
A Sonic Attack in Cuba? How an Acoustic Weapon Might Work
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
A supersecret sonic weapon being used to attack diplomats in a foreign country may sound like the start of a sci-fi novel, but that's exactly what several U.S. diplomats in Cuba may have been exposed to, the U.S. State Department recently announced. The physical symptoms, which the State Department would not confirm, but which some news reports have suggested included hearing loss, got so bad that some of these officials had to be recalled from their duties in Havana. "Some U.S. government personnel who were working at our embassy in Havana, Cuba, on official duties — so they were there working on behalf of the U.S. embassy there — they've reported some incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms," Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said in a news briefing Aug. 9.
Online matchmaker aims to save Dutch farms with no heirs
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Standing in his rubber boots in his fields surrounded by his beloved Red Holstein cows, Dutch farmer Gerard Hartveld has an air of resignation as he contemplates the future. Hartveld says he is a dairy farmer in "his heart" and soul.
Why a total solar eclipse is a life
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
This year, of course, they’ll be joining millions of people in the United States to see the total solar eclipse on August 21. “There are insufficient superlatives in the English language, or any language for that matter, to adequately describe the experience of a total solar eclipse,” one told us. How many total solar eclipses have you seen?
Marijuana's Popularity Among US Adults Continues to Grow. Here's Why
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Marijuana's popularity among American adults is on the rise — and use of the recreational drug is expected to continue to increase, according to several surveys. Forty-five percent of adults in the U.S. have used marijuana at least once in their lives, according to a Gallup poll released in mid-July — the all-time highest percentage in the 48-year history of Gallup asking Americans this question. Meanwhile, data from two large national surveys done by the federal government also finds increasing rates of marijuana use among adults.
The One Food The Royal Family Won't Eat
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, health
Because the royals actually can’t have it all.
Destiny 2: The Story So Far
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Here's everything you need to know about Destiny's story to prepare for Destiny 2.
Drinking Green Tea Reduces Side Effects Of American Diet
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Drinking green tea can reduce the negative health effects of a Western diet, from weight gain to poor brain function.
US biotech Spark hires UK team as cure for inherited blindness edges closer
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
US biotech Spark Therapeutics has set up a UK office as it targets a rapid launch of its under-review gene therapy for a form of inherited blindness. The Nasdaq-listed firm, which has a market cap of $2.4bn (£1.8bn), is at the forefront of the emerging global field of gene therapies for serious and rare diseases. Their blindness treatment has found success in clinical trials, improving the sight of children with a rare disease known as Leber congenital amaurosis whose vision would otherwise have worsened or been lost over time. There is currently no available treatment for the condition. Scientists have identified 200 genes where mutations lead to genetic blindness, affecting hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. It is hoped Spark’s gene therapy approach can ultimately be applied to find cures for almost all of these diseases. The condition Spark’s treatment addresses arises from the mutation of just one of the 200 genes, known as RPE65. It affects up to 6,000 people worldwide. The treatment works by injecting a normal functioning copy of the affected gene into the back of both of the patient’s eyes. In clinical trials children who were unable to navigate an obstacle course in low light made big improvements just a year later after receiving the therapy. You hear the children talk about being able to do things you and I don’t have to think about on a daily basis. It’s incredibly gratifyingJeff Marazzo, Spark Spark’s treatment has been submitted for approval with US and EU drug regulators. A decision is expected in the US first, where it would be the country’s first available gene therapy. In Europe it is set to be the third to launch, and the first to address inherited blindness. A verdict is expected in the US next January and in the EU later in the year. Jeff Marazzo, Spark chief executive, told The Daily Telegraph the firm was engaged in “pre-launch activity in Europe” and had hired a commercial and medical diagnostic team based in Paddington, west London. Commenting on the firm’s clinical successes to date, Mr Marazzo said: “You hear the children talk about being able to do things you and I don’t have to think about on a daily basis. It’s incredibly gratifying”. The company is already trialing a gene therapy for a second type of inherited blindness, where men in their second or third decade of life experience a deteriorating field of vision reducing down to a pinhole.
Your goldfish is way more hardcore than you could possibly imagine
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
If you're like most people, you've probably cared for a gold fish at least once in your life. Maybe you won it at a county fair or bought it for a dollar from the pet shop, but regardless of how you came to be responsible for the tiny finned creature, you probably didn't think of it as a marvel of the evolutionary process. A new study led by Catherine Fagernes of the University of Oslo in Norway will change your perspective in a hurry, because that hearty little fish you forgot to feed for days at a time has perfected the art of survival in a way you could never have guessed. The carp family — of which goldfish are a member — regularly inhabit ponds and lakes that completely freeze over in the winter. This is an issue that many fish must deal with, typically by slowing down their movement dramatically and continuing to pull oxygen out of the water by passing it over their gills, but carp have developed a particularly robust backup system for dealing with oxygen depletion. Most animals, including humans, require oxygen as part of the metabolic process. Without it, our bodies simply cannot meet the demands of our own cells, and the byproducts of the systems that keep us alive build up to deadly levels, at which point the whole machine breaks down. Crucian carp and goldfish have developed an anaerobic metabolic — that is, oxygen independent — fallback process. Instead of producing lethal levels of lactic acid like a human body would, the fish are equipped with enzymes that allow them to produce ethanol, which they then release. This allows them to remain alive in conditions that would claim the lives of most other species of fish. It may not keep them from going belly-up if you take a vacation and forget to have a friend feed them, but that lowly little goldfish on your countertop is one heck of a survival specialist.
Dear Google Memo Writer: The Problem’s Not Biology—It’s Guys Like You
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
An open letter from the founder of GoldieBlox.
13 Million
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
It's been nicknamed Alesi
Intelligent Life In The Universe Might Already Be Extinct
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
If Earth and humans are completely typical in the universe, then all of the intelligent aliens may have already gone extinct.
Your future organ donor might be a pig, study suggests
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Scientists have taken a major step toward enabling pig to human organ transplantation by using a novel gene editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9.  Researchers at Harvard University and the nearby biotech startup eGenesis used  CRISPR-Cas9, a new gene-editing method that replaces unwanted segments of DNA with "desirable" ones, to allow pig embryos to develop without harboring pig viruses that are harmful to humans. The new research is detailed in a study published in the journal Science on Thursday. In it, the scientists show how they were able to generate 37 designer pigs without active porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs) that can be transmitted to humans and are potentially deadly.  SEE ALSO: Breaking Down CRISPR, the Controversial Gene-Editing Tech The study further increases hope that xenotransplantation — the use of animal organs for human transplant — could one day be used to assist with a shortage of crucial human organs like hearts, livers, and lungs.  "This is the first publication to report on PERV-free pig production," Luhan Yang, co-founder and chief scientific officer at eGenesis, said in a press release.  "This research represents an important advance in addressing safety concerns about cross-species viral transmission," Yang said. "Our team will further engineer the PERV-free pig strain to deliver safe and effective xenotransplantation." Though the method sounds promising, given its  potential to provide organs while eliminating the risk of humans catching potentially deadly animal viruses, there are still many other hurdles facing such transplantation.  Before these kinds of transplants are allowed, other genetic changes may need to be made to pigs, and regulators will require tests using lab primates prior to using genetically engineered organs in humans. Therefore, the first pig to human organ transplantation could still be years away. “It’s an elegant tour de force of genetic engineering, so my hat is off to them,” A. Joseph Tector, of the University of Alabama, Birmingham, who has also made genetically modified pigs aimed at producing transplantable organs, told Stat News.  “But if you want to move xenotransplantation to the hospital, there are many more things you’ll have to do.” WATCH: Engineers genetically modified a dragonfly to carry a tiny solar-powered backpack
Readers write: Nuclear options, heartbreaking but illuminating, adults’ guidance
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, world
Regarding the July 5 article “North Korea missile test: How big a technological breakthrough?” (CSMonitor.com): Rather than impose tougher sanctions on North Korea, perhaps the United States should undergo a complete nuclear disarmament. North Korea’s efforts to become a nuclear state are their way of “keeping up with the Joneses.” They want to show the world that they are just as good as everyone else. As long as the US remains a nuclear state, it should not have jurisdiction to cherry-pick those nations allowed to have nuclear weapons.
Impact of elections, Support investigation, Training high
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, world
“[W]hy do the elections in Kenya matter not just to Kenyans but to the rest of the African continent and the world?” writes Hamza Mohamed. “Nairobi is East Africa’s economic hub, and the country is the second-largest economy in the region.... The port in Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa serves neighboring landlocked countries.... If elections disrupt this transport corridor ... the price of everyday goods, such as rice and cooking oil, could rise significantly.... Kenya is home to several UN and humanitarian agencies that oversee relief efforts in the region.
Demeter Fragrance Giveaway
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, health
Enter to win Grass Cologne Spray by Demeter Fragrance!
Charming Charlie Giveaway
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, health
Enter to win a Charming Charlie Football Infinity Scarf!
Evolution gave this ancient beast a weird face because it kept ramming into stuff
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Moschops capensis was a weird looking animal. When it roamed the Earth some 260 million years ago its goofy stance and wide body would have caught your eye from a distance, and that's even before you noticed its almost comical face. Scientists have been working hard to determine why its tiny brain was protected by such a thick, flat, elongated skull, and new research seems to point to the answer: Maschops capensis really, really loved slamming its head into stuff. The prehistoric mammal, whose fossils have been discovered in both South Africa and Russia, was the subject of a new research effort led by Julien Benoit of the University of the Witwatersrand. Using fossils found over a century ago, the scientists used modern scanning technology to get a better look inside the ancient creature's fossilized skull. What they discovered was an incredibly thick cranial roof, which the team believes is the result of evolution catering to the animal's penchant for head-butting. "This natural helmet could reach up to 15 centimetres of massive bone, the equivalent of a tank armour," Benoit writes in The Conversation. "Our hypothesis is that the helmet was protecting the brain and sense organs against the brutal shocks of direct head-to-head combat between males to find mates and to defend territory." The result of that evolutionary progress was an animal with a firm stance, goofy face, and a skull built for hitting things. It wouldn't have been a pleasant creature to run into if you happened to be roaming around South Africa hundreds of millions of years ago, but it might have been worth a chuckle.
Jurors explain guilty verdict in Molly Martens Corbett murder case: Part 5
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Jurors say the evidence, testimony and crime scene photos convinced them on the prosecution's case.
Former FBI agent, daughter charged with the murder of her husband: Part 3
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Prosecutors believe that the father and daughter didn't act in self-defense when Jason Corbett was killed.
Total Solar Eclipse 2017: How to Take Photos of the Sun During Totality
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
A total solar eclipse will pass across the U.S. on August 21, plunging those in the path of totality into darkness for around two minutes. This will be the first time a total solar eclipse has moved from coast to coast in 99 years, giving many amateur and professional photographers an opportunity to capture the event on camera. To take a photo of the eclipse with a digital camera, you will need to buy a solar filter that reduces the sun’s brightness.
Total Solar Eclipse 2017: Where to Watch
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
This is the first total solar eclipse in almost a century.
How to avoid buying counterfeit solar eclipse glasses
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Experts are urging Americans watching the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse to buy smart when purchasing the necessary protective eyewear. With counterfeit eclipse glasses hitting the market, NASA and the American Astronomical Society (AAS) suggest that consumers purchase off their long list of verified products to ensure safe viewing. Retired NASA astrophysicist and photographer Fred Espenak told ABC News that he has heard rumors of counterfeit glasses being sold online.
Scientists discover two potentially habitable 'super
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Two potentially habitable "super-Earths" orbit a star just 12 light years away that is our nearest sun-like neighbour, scientists have discovered. The worlds at the edges of Tau Ceti's "habitable zone" belong to a solar system of four rocky planets similar in size to Earth. British-led astronomers speculate that the system might be a potential candidate for future interstellar colonisation. But life on the new outposts may be far from peaceful. There is evidence of a massive debris disc circling the star, increasing the chances of the planets being pounded by asteroids and comets. A key aspect of the discovery was the detection of exoplanets with masses as low as 1.7 times the Earth's, making them the smallest worlds ever spotted around a sun-like star. The scientists used the "wobble" method of planet finding that measures the influence of gravitational interaction on a star. As a planet orbits, it causes its parent star to wobble by a tiny degree. Astronomers can see the signature of this effect in the star's light. Two potentially habitable "super-Earths" have been discovered.  Credit: PA Lead researcher Dr Fabo Feng, from the University of Hertfordshire, said: "We're getting tantalisingly close to observing the correct limits required for detecting Earth-like planets. "Our detection of such weak wobbles is a milestone in the search for Earth analogues and the understanding of the Earth's habitability through comparison with these." Sun-like stars hold out the best hope of finding planets beyond the solar system that host life. Tau Ceti, a favourite destination of science fiction writers, is very similar to the sun both in size and brightness. Like the sun, it has a "habitable zone", a narrow region around it where conditions are favourable for Earth-like life. Within the habitable, or "Goldilocks" zone, temperatures are not too hot or too cold but just right for surface water to exist as a liquid. A habitable zone planet could have oceans, lakes and rivers. Space tourism: 10 ways you can leave planet Earth Neither of Tau Ceti's "super-Earths" lie in the centre of its habitable zone. One orbits on the inner border and the other on the outer. The Earth is situated halfway between the middle of the sun's habitable zone and its inner boundary. The astronomers analysed starlight wavelength data obtained from the European Southern Observatory in Chile and the Keck observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Their findings are to be published in the Astronomical Journal. Co-author Dr Mikko Tuomi, also from the University of Hertfordshire, said improved techniques were making it easier to distinguish between light signals caused by the presence of planets and stellar activity. Two Tau Ceti signals previously identified in 2013 were now known not to have a planetary origin. "But no matter how we look at the star, there seems to be at least four rocky planets orbiting it," Dr Tuomi said. "We're slowly learning to tell the difference between wobbles caused by planets and those caused by stellar active surface. "This enabled us to verify the existence of the two outer, potentially habitable, planets in the system." Life on the Solar System
The True Meaning of the Great American Eclipse
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
It's a gift to our divided nation
California official sues EPA over records on administrator
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California's attorney general sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday for failing to provide records he contends could show conflicts of interest by Administrator Scott Pruitt.
This Week in Pioneering
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Mach’s “Pioneering” franchise covers the latest in scientific breakthroughs. This week: the first successful human embryo editing experiment in the U.S and animating sneakers that let you explore your artistic side.
China uses a quantum satellite to transmit potentially unhackable info for the first time ever
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
The implications could be huge for cybersecurity and make it more difficult for governments to hack into communications.
Australia vitamin 'breakthrough' to cut miscarriages, birth defects
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Taking a common vitamin supplement could significantly reduce the number of miscarriages and birth defects worldwide, Australian scientists said Thursday, in what they described as a major breakthrough in pregnancy research. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that deficiency in a key molecule among pregnant women stopped embryos and babies' organs from developing correctly in the womb, but could be treated by taking the dietary supplement vitamin B3, also known as niacin.
Friday Night Inc. Announces Dr. Torres Advisor and Genetics Update
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
VANCOUVER, BC / ACCESSWIRE / August 11, 2017 / Friday Night Inc. (Friday Night) (CSE: TGIF) (FWB: 1QF) (OTC PINK: VPGDF) is pleased to announce that the Company has appointed Dr. Anthony R. Torres, MD ...
A large wildfire has been burning in Greenland for more than a week, and wait, what?!?
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
If shrubbery and peatlands catch on fire on a sparsely populated island that's synonymous with snow and ice, will anyone notice?  The answer, thanks to satellite monitoring, is an unequivocal "yes." During the past several days, scientists have been keeping close tabs on an unusually large wildfire in southwest Greenland, about 90 miles northeast of the town of Sisimiut. This is one of at least two fires currently burning in Greenland. SEE ALSO: Nuclear war with North Korea 'would be suicidal', climate experts warn While fires are not unheard of along the ice-free edges of the island, the large one near Sisimiut is noteworthy for its size and duration, scientists say. Wildfires in Greenland are outpacing past years in terms of the number of satellite-detected incidents.  The current fire is the largest wildfire spotted in Greenland since a NASA satellite instrument was turned on in 2002.  The Greenland fire evolution since July 29 as captured by @ESA_EO 's #sentinel2 pic.twitter.com/Iuk9blyui9 — Stef Lhermitte (@StefLhermitte) August 9, 2017 While most of Greenland is covered by snow and ice, the edges of the island are covered by grasses, shrubs, mosses, and other vegetation that, when sufficiently dry, can burn.  According to NASA, satellites first detected evidence of the fire on July 31, 2017. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument and the Suomi NPP satellite's instruments collected daily images of smoke streaming from the fire over the next week.  An analysis from Stef Lhermitte of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands suggests that NASA's MODIS instrument has spotted more wildfire activity in Greenland in 2017 than it has during any other year since the sensor began collecting data in 2000.  The fire may be burning through peat, which would make it particularly destructive, since peatlands store large amounts of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane.  #DEIMOS2 fresh image depicts unusual #wildfire raging right now in #Greenland #EmergencyServices pic.twitter.com/p200SWhmPn — DEIMOS IMAGING (@deimosimaging) August 9, 2017 It is not clear what triggered the fire, though it may have been human-caused since hunting and fishing are popular at this time of year. Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute, said the fire is occurring in an area "popular with hunters."  "I spoke to a Greenlandic journalist today who had spoken to the fire service, they have apparently also suggested the two [fires] currently burning are most likely human-caused fires," Mottram said in an email.  She also suspects it's a peat fire, saying: "I have not been to this area, but it seems very likely it is a peatland area given other locations I’ve visited."  The area where the large fire is burning has been drier than average this year, with much less precipitation than usual in July, for example.  To wrap up: wildfires have occurred in the past over Greenland but 2017 is exceptional in number of active fire detections by MODIS pic.twitter.com/2HGaVieTEe — Stef Lhermitte (@StefLhermitte) August 7, 2017 Mottram hesitated to blame the fire on any climate change trends, though the Arctic is warming rapidly thanks to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.  "It’s an arid area – and these low rainfall periods happen," she said. "We can say that the mean temperatures in Greenland have been increasing though, based on observations." Jason Box, a climate scientist who also closely studies the Greenland Ice Sheet, said the ongoing fires "are not abnormal," but that the increase in shrubbery in the Arctic is a climate change-related trend that provides more fuel for fires to burn.  #Greenland #wildfire  on 8 August - 3 #Sentinel2 data combinations: 1. natural colours, 2. highlighting the flames, 3. showing burnt areas. pic.twitter.com/6SepBduxDg — ESA EarthObservation (@ESA_EO) August 10, 2017 Box said that studies have shown that there could be a "sharp increase in fire probability with increasing summer temperature," and that fire frequency is expected to increase as global warming continues. Scientists are currently deployed across the Greenland ice sheet during the field campaign season, trying to get a better handle on how much of the ice sheet is going to melt, and how quickly, since this will help determine the fate of coastal cities worldwide from sea level rise.  Interestingly, this summer has been unusually cold for a large part of Greenland. At the Summit Station on top of the ice sheet, a record low temperature for July was set on the 4th, when the temperature dipped to minus-30 degrees Celsius, or minus-22 degrees Fahrenheit. Then on July 28, the temperature climbed to 1.9 degrees Celsius, or 35 degrees Fahrenheit.  The wildfire near Sisimiut began during that period of mild weather, illustrating the link between temperatures and wildfire.  WATCH: Summer 2017 feels like it's on steroids – and it's only going to get worse
Portugal fires rage as scorching temperatures return
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Over 2,600 firefighters battled 62 wildfires raging across Portugal on Thursday, officials said, as the return of scorching heat put an end to the respite after a spate of blazes. Weather conditions will be "especially favourable for wildfires" until Sunday, with strong winds and temperatures of up to 39 degrees Celsius (102 Fahrenheit) forecast, civil protection agency spokeswoman Patricia Gaspar told a news conference. Morocco sent a water-dropping plane and neighbouring Spain sent two to help firefighters battle the flames, she added.
Scott expedition cake found near South Pole 'almost' edible
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
A 100-year-old fruit cake has been found in the oldest building in Antarctica and those who discovered it think it looks fresh. The cake is believed to date to Robert Falcon Scott's Terra Nova Expedition between 1910 and 1913. Although the tin containing the cake was rusted and falling apart, the cake inside "looked and smelt (almost) edible" according to the Antarctic Heritage Trust.