California's wildfires reached San Diego County Thursday as a blazed named the Lilac fire near Bonsall quickly grew to engulf thousands of acres. The newest fire raged through agricultural lands to the west of Interstate 15, affecting rural communities and prompting a scramble to save horses. SEE ALSO: Striking aerial photos show severity of California wildfires The Lilac fire quickly spread to cover 2,500 acres with zero containment by Thursday afternoon, prompting evacuations in several areas and affecting dozens of buildings. California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in San Diego County on Thursday night. The San Luis Rey Downs training center was hit badly, with several barns affected and some deaths among the horses, according to local reports. Locals quickly sprung to action on social media, sharing news of what was happening and aiming to coordinate rescue efforts. This afternoon, horses are being evacuated from San Luis Rey Downs training center in San Diego county, and bound for Del Mar, because of a fire in the area, trainers and Del Mar officials said. More on https://t.co/3lUqXXeB8I soon. #drf — Steve Andersen (@DRFAndersen) December 7, 2017 URGENT! Horse trailers needed! if headed 2 lilac fire with truck/trailer contact DART program leaders 1 760-267-0104 Kevin (602) 503-0922 Holly These people are dispatching trailers when they get the word from Animal Control,Cal Fire u must call/text 2 get in 2 evac areas!! — Tischa Culver (@TischaCulver) December 7, 2017 The Del Mar Racetrack threw open its doors for evacuees, and the owners encouraged people to bring bedding and food for the horses. Facebook groups were filled with posts aiming to coordinate the effort. #LilacFire The @DMFairgrounds is now open for evacuees through the Stable Gate. Call 858-755-1161. Evacuees are encouraged to bring bedding, feed & horse identification. — Del Mar Racetrack (@DelMarRacing) December 7, 2017 Del Mar’s Josh Rubenstein on housing San Luis Rey horses: “We will take every single horse we can get. We’re open to anything with four legs.” — Jeremy Balan (@BH_JBalan) December 7, 2017 A reporter for Fox 5 San Diego captured scenes of the horses fleeing. #Lilacfire our cameras just caught this group of horses fleeing from fire. Dozens are stuck in field, people scrambling to round them up. pic.twitter.com/t3QeD6VcMO — Fox 5 Sharon Chen (@sharonchenfox5) December 8, 2017 Other photos showed horses being led through smoke to safety. The latest on #LilacFire | -1000 acres-0 percent contained-5 structures destroyed, 1000 more threatenedhttps://t.co/tlfTa3mwvT pic.twitter.com/PMJAeivbjP — San Diego Union-Tribune (@sdut) December 7, 2017 Horse rescues have happened elsewhere this week. In Ojai in Ventura County, a group of volunteers organized themselves over Facebook and told photographers they'd saved some 100 horses from the nearby blaze. Horse rescuers gather near Ojai.Image: Noah Berger/AP/REX/ShutterstockCalifornia has been hit with multiple fires in multiple counties this week, stretching from Ventura in the north through LA County and Orange County right down to San Diego County. A deadly combination of strong Santa Ana winds and dry vegetation have led to the ongoing blazes. Over 200,000 people have been evacuated and the fires have affected some 9.5 million people. California's fire season has stretched later into the year than usual and local conditions are drier than normal.
UPDATE Dec. 8 11:18 p.m. PT Video posted at the San Luis Rey Downs training center to Facebook Thursday showed the confusion as dozens of horses were set free amid the smoke. Some 25 horses are believed to have been killed by the fire. WATCH: California wildfire victims returning to their destroyed homes is absolutely heart-wrenching
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When it comes to unexpected skywatching opportunities, fireballs are one of the most exciting. Pieces of various types of space debris flying through Earth's atmosphere in a blaze of glory can be an eye-catching sight, and Florida residents were treated to just such a sight in the early evening hours of Tuesday night.
According to NASA, over 60 reports of a strange flash in the dark night sky came flooding into their tip lines, and the group has since confirmed that it was indeed a fireball. According to scientists, the object was likely a tiny asteroid, about the size of a bowling ball, and they were even able to plot its eventually landing zone, though nobody will likely ever be able to find what remains of it.
The asteroid, which was caught on several security cameras and dash cams around Florida, appeared first as a bright streak on the horizon, followed by an incredibly bright flash as the object incinerated and subsequently burnt out. It's unclear what, if anything, is left of the small asteroid after its suicidal journey through the friction of Earth's atmosphere, but NASA has an idea of where the leftovers likely landed.
NASA believes the small chunk of asteroid spotted by Floridians was actually a piece of a larger asteroid which broke up over the Gulf of Mexico. Given the object's trajectory, researchers think whatever bits of rock which may have survived the journey landed in the ocean roughly 45 miles off the coast of Florida.
Fireballs — which are often small asteroids or other space debris that is too small to be detected by large telescopes — can be quite a sight, and NASA is always keeping an eye out for them. The group has a database dedicated to tracking and archiving all reported fireball sightings, along with a map of where each one was spotted.
The oldest and most distant black hole ever observed -- a celestial brute 800 million times more massive than the sun -- is providing scientists some surprises about the nature of the universe when, on a cosmic scale, it was a mere toddler. Astronomers on Wednesday said the black hole, residing at the centre of a highly luminous celestial object called a quasar, is located about 13.1 billion light years away from Earth. The quasar's light detected by the researchers dates back to about 690 million years after the Big Bang that created the universe, when the cosmos was only 5 percent of its present age.
On Dec. 6, lawmakers in Taiwan voted to rid the island of a prominent symbol of the country’s past. The law, coming 30 years after Taiwan moved toward democracy, shows how far a people will go to free themselves from a cultural legacy that may hinder progress in individual rights and equality before the law. Chiang’s harsh rule of Taiwan was based on Confucian-style autocracy, or a belief that only a natural social hierarchy with a strong ruler can bring stability.
President Trump’s efforts to restrict entry to the United States for citizens from eight countries came a few steps closer to a final resolution this week. Two federal appeals courts heard arguments on whether the latest version of the travel ban, which would effect 150 million mostly-Muslim people, should be allowed to go ahead. The week began with the Supreme Court allowing Mr. Trump’s latest proclamation – the third iteration of the travel ban – to go into effect pending the decisions from the two appeals courts.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt on Thursday defended his frequent taxpayer-funded travel and his purchase of a custom soundproof communications booth for his office, saying both were justified.
Such a technology, quite naturally, enables a wider sensor field with which to identify and track attacking missiles. The F-35’s Distributed Aperture Sensor (DAS) has performed airborne identification and target tracking of a ballistic missile in a test off the coast of Hawaii as part of ongoing development of the 5th-generation aircraft’s ability to conduct airborne ballistic missile defense missions.
Dakota Flores sees a future for her children that she never had. Most of CHIP’s funding is federal, so if Congress doesn’t reauthorize funding by the end of the year, the program will start shuttering in early 2018.
While mapping fault lines in California, scientists accidentally stumbled upon the 20 to 25 million-year-old fossilized remains of a now-extinct sea cow, a relative of the modern-day manatee and dugong. The team believe the remains may be of a previously unidentified sea cow species, and now want to run tests to confirm the discovery of this possibly previously unknown creature. The sea cow remains were found on Santa Rosa Island, the second largest of the Channel Islands off the coast of southern California about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
The Dutch government on Friday ordered poultry farmers across the country to keep their livestock indoors after an outbreak of highly contagious bird flu on a duck farm led to 16,000 birds being slaughtered. "Because it possibly involves a highly contagious variant (of bird flu), a containment order has been instituted," the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement. The measure "is being taken as a precaution to avoid further contamination" after a case of highly contagious type H5 bird flu was discovered at a farm in central Netherlands.
Hundreds of years of chess knowledge was learned and then surpassed by Google DeepMind’s artificial intelligence algorithm in just four hours, it has emerged. The astonishing programme AlphaZero quickly mastered the ancient game, before coming up with completely new strategies, which are now being analysed by grandmasters. The algorithm is so extraordinary because it learns from scratch. It has only been programmed with the rules of chess and must work out how to win simply from playing multiple games against itself. When IBM’s supercomputer Deep Blue beat Gary Kasparov in 1997, it was because it had been programmed with the best moves. But AlphaZero has learned completely on its own. Gary Kasparov playing against Deep Blue Credit: Rex Features The English grandmaster Simon Williams, who runs the GingerGM site, said that the achievement was ‘one for the history books.’ “On the 6th of December, 2017, AlphaZero took over the chess world,” he said. “AlphaZero and DeepMind then went on to dominate chess, eventually solving the game and finally enslaving the human race as pets.” David Kramaley, who runs chess education site Chessable, added : “We now know who our new overlord is. “The games AlphaZero played show it can calculate some incredibly creative positional bombs, the depth of which are far beyond anything humans or chess computers have come up with. “It will no doubt revolutionise the game, but think about how this could be applied outside chess. This algorithm could run cities, continents, universes.” Chinese Go player Ke Jie competes against Google's artificial intelligence (AI) program, AlphaGo Credit: Rex Features Jon Ludvig Hammer, the Norwegian grandmaster, described AlphaZero’s strategy as ‘insane attacking chess’ which was coupled with ‘profound’ positional play. The DeepMind team eventually want to use the algorithm to solve big health problems. They believe that the programme could come up with cures for major illness in a matter of days or weeks, which would have taken humans hundreds of years to find. The company has already begun using AlphaZero to study protein folding and has promised it will soon publish new findings. Misfolded proteins are responsible for many devastating diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cystic fibrosis. The latest achievement was published online on the site arXiv.
A 7-year-old boy missing the part of the brain responsible for vision can somehow still see, scientists in Australia have found. The boy, known as "BI," was born with a rare metabolic disorder that caused him to lose use of his visual cortex, which usually processes electrical signals from the eyes. A group of researchers have studied the child, and presented his case at the Australasian Neuroscience Society in Sydney this week.
Narwhals, nicknamed the "unicorns of the sea" because of their signature head tusks, exhibit an "alarming" response to human-caused stress that may lead to brain damage, researchers said Thursday. When fearful, narwhals hold their breath while trying to swim away fast and deep, allowing their heart rates to drop from 60 beats per minute to three or four. During escape dives, narwhals needed 97 percent of their oxygen supply and often exceeded their aerobic dive limit, or "depletion of oxygen stores in the muscles, lungs, and blood, followed by anaerobic metabolism," said the study in the journal Science.
Genes linked to homosexuality have been discovered by scientists in the biggest ever study into the genetic basis for sexual orientation. For the first time, researchers looked at the complete genome - a person’s entire DNA code - for more than 1,000 gay men and compared it to genetic data from a similar number of heterosexual males. They discovered that DNA was different for gay and straight men around the genes SLITRK5 and SLITRK6. SLITRK6 is an important gene for brain development, and is particularly active in a region of the brain which includes the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is crucial for producing the hormones which control sex drive, and previous studies have shown parts of it are up to 34 per cent larger in gay men. The researchers, from North Shore University Health System’s Research Institute, in Illinois, US, also discovered differences in the TSHR gene, which is linked to the thyroid, another area which has previously been associated with sexual orientation. “Because sexuality is an essential part of human life – for individuals and society – it is important to understand the development and expression of human sexual orientation,” said lead author Dr Alan Sanders. “The goal of this study was to search for genetic underpinnings of male sexual orientation, and thus ultimately increase our knowledge of biological mechanisms underlying sexual orientation. “What we have accomplished is a first step for genome wide study on the trait, and we hope that subsequent larger studies will further illuminate its genetic contributions.” The genes were linked to regions of the brain previously linked to sexuality, and the thyroid Participants in the study were rated for sexual orientation based on their self-reported sexual identity and sexual feelings. Men were asked to provide DNA by blood or saliva samples that were then genotyped and analysed. Although previous studies have pointed to a genetic predisposition for homosexuality, it is the first time researchers have studied the entire genome of individuals and so is the most comprehensive assessment of the genetic basis of sexuality ever undertaken. However British experts said more work was needed before it was possible to identify ‘gay genes’ because the genetic differences could point to other traits shared by the homosexual respondents. For example the variations may simply predispose people to be more open or candid about their lives. British experts warned that the gene differences may simply be linked to social traits, such as being more open, and more willing to take part in a survey about their sexual orientation Credit: Andrew Fox Prof Robin Lovell-Badge, Group Leader at The Francis Crick Institute, said: “The topic of this paper is important if we are to learn more about the influence of genes on aspects of our behaviour, but this is one that is notoriously difficult to study. “Even if a gene variant does show some correlation with sexual orientation, this does not mean that the gene is in any way responsible for being gay – it just means it has some association with a trait that is more likely to found in the relatively few people involved as subjects in the study. “This could be better social awareness or being brave enough to acknowledge that they are in a minority.” Gil McVean, Professor of Statistical Genetics at the University of Oxford, also added: “Sexuality is likely influenced by many different factors, including environment, experience and, likely, some aspects of innate biological variation. “I can see no major implications of this work or how it could be useful in the future. “The genetic effects are far too weak to be of any predictive or diagnostic value. All biology – including the origins of sexuality – is interesting at some level, but I see no direct applications of such research.” The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Firefighters on Thursday battled raging wildfires across southern California that have forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes, including residents on the outskirts of Los Angeles, America's second-largest city. Tim Lohman of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office said an unidentified body had been found overnight. More than 4,000 firefighters and dozens of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters have been deployed to combat the fires in Los Angeles County and Ventura County, fire officials said.
According to NASA, orbital debris, or “space junk,” is any object that’s no longer useful circling the earth. It can include spent rocket stages, retired satellites or fragments of debris from previous space missions. In an interview with NASA’s Office of Safety and Mission Assurance, Nick Johnson, former NASA chief scientist studying orbital debris, said, “It turns out that particles as small as 5 millimeters can be catastrophic to a spacecraft if it’s in the wrong location.
With the killing of deposed dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, the warring sides in Yemen have lost their main exit strategy and interlocuter, with experts warning that the parties must be brought to the negotiation table before the conflict spirals further out of control. Days before his death, Mr. Saleh, who ruled Yemen for more than three decades, appeared to offer Saudi leaders and their allies a glimmer of hope that they could wind down their costly and much criticized war in Yemen without looking defeated in front of their publics. Mr. Saleh indicated on Dec. 2 that he was formally breaking ties with the Iran-supported, Shiite Houthi rebels with whom he had most recently been allied, and instead was ready for dialogue with the Saudi-led coalition.
Nearly half of humans believe in alien life and want to make contact, a survey in 24 countries has found, in what researchers said helps to explain the lasting popularity of the "Star Wars" franchise 40 years after the first movie was screened.
New archaeological evidence has undermined elements of the so-called "Out of Africa" theory, the widely supported model that maps the migration of the earliest humans from Africa. Scientists now believe humans departed Africa as early as 120,000 years ago—60,000 years earlier than previously thought. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, in Jena, Germany, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa, used cutting-edge DNA analysis to date ancient human bones found in Asia.
Jerusalem has a special status in Israeli life and politics, and with few exceptions, parties from across the political spectrum agreed that it was time for America to recognize their country’s capital. But President Trump’s decision highlighted differences with mainstream Jewish groups in America.
On the morning of Dec. 6, Laura Lenk woke to the sound of sirens. As fire trucks whizzed by early that morning, Ms. Lenk thought there must have been an accident on the nearby 405 freeway. Recommended: Climate change: Is your opinion informed by science?
Scientists have always known that Earth has a long history of withstanding celestial violence, but now they think that very same ordeal explains why our planet is as large as it is. As if that wasn't traumatic enough for a young planet, for hundreds of millions of years after the moon formed, Earth was bombarded by what scientists call planetesimals, nicknamed the "building blocks" of planets. Collisions with tiny planets and large moons would have flung material away from Earth but also helped grow the planet.