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Daily Bulletin for 05/17/2017


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05/17/2017
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How Will We Look in One Million Years?

Jesse Emspak, Space.com

In the year 1 million, Earth’s continents will look roughly the same as they do now and the sun will still shine as it does today. But humans could be so radically different that people today wouldn’t even recognize them, according to a new series from National Geographic.Premiering today (May 15), the new National Geographic Channel series “Year Million” investigates what humans might look like far into the future. In six episodes, the show explores the possibility of merging technology with the human body, the potential to drastically extend lifespans, the effects of virtual reality, the…

Defending the Reality of Time

George Musser, Quanta Magazine

Physicists and philosophers seem to like nothing more than telling us that everything we thought about the world is wrong. They take a peculiar pleasure in exposing common sense as nonsense. But Tim Maudlin thinks our direct impressions of the world are a better guide to reality than we have been led to believe.Not that he thinks they always are. Maudlin, who is a professor at New York University and one of the world’s leading philosophers of physics, made his name studying the strange behavior of entangled quantum particles, which display behavior that is as counterintuitive as can be;…

Cannibal ‘T. Rex’ Ants Seen Live for First Time

Stephanie Pappas, Live Sci

An ant named after the fierce, carnivorous dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex has been observed alive for the first time and it failed to live up to the dinosaur’s reputation.Tyrannomyrmex rex is a timid, finicky eater, new research finds. The ants can, however, turn to cannibalism in times of need.Until now, these Asian ants were a complete mystery to science, despite being discovered more than 20 years ago. No one had ever collected more than a single specimen, and no one had ever observed a T. rex ant alive for an extended period of time. So when biologist Mark Wong stumbled across a colony of…

Vast Magnetic Field Links Milky Way to Other Galaxies

Daily Galaxy

For the first time, astronomers have detected a magnetic field associated with the Magellanic Bridge, the filament of gas stretching 75 thousand light-years between the Milky Way Galaxy’s nearest galactic neighbors: the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC, respectively). “There were hints that this magnetic field might exist, but no one had observed it until now,” says Jane Kaczmarek, at the University of Sydney, and lead author of the paper describing the finding.”Not only are entire galaxies magnetic, but the faint delicate threads joining galaxies are magnetic, too,”said Bryan…

New Models Predict Weather Four Weeks Ahead

Catherine Meyers, IS

Today, if you’re wondering whether rain will wash out your upcoming weekend camping trip, you can whip out your smartphone and check a 10- or even 15-day forecast. And if you’re hoping for a white winter, you can turn to a seasonal outlook to judge the chances for extra snowfall. But what if you want to know if the average weather will be out-of-the-ordinary in the second half of the coming month?

Flower Sellers Destroy Illegal Gene-Edited Petunias

David Malakoff, SM

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that U.S. flower distributors have begun to destroy countless petunia plants after federal scientists confirmed that they were genetically engineered (GE) to produce vivid orange, red, and purple blooms. The agency says the flowers pose no risk to the environment or to human health, but GE organisms need special permits to be sold in the United States.Distributors apparently imported or bred the flowers without realizing the plants had been GE. On 2 May, the Germany-based horticultural firm Selecta Klemm informed USDA’s Animal and…

Meteorite Beads Reveal Spread of Prehistoric Culture

Traci Watson, NN

Blackened and irregular, the prehistoric beads found in a centuries-old Illinois grave don’t look like anything special. But the latest analysis1 shows that they were fashioned from an exotic material: the shards of a meteorite that fell to Earth more than 700 kilometres from where the beads were found.The link between the Anoka meteorite, which landed in central Minnesota, and the Illinois beads confirms that 2,000 years ago, goods and ideas were moved hundreds of miles across eastern North America, says Timothy McCoy, co-author of the analysis and curator-in-charge of meteorites at…

Patient Mortality Increases for Older Doctors

Andrew Masterson, Cosmos

Are old doctors worse for your health? Quite possibly, it seems, if the results of a study published in the British Medical Journal are representative.A team of researchers led by Yusuke Tsugawa of Harvard University, in Boston, set out to measure the relationship between patient mortality and doctor age by crunching the numbers on 736,537 elderly US hospital patients and the 18,854 doctors who treated them.

Herbal Chemicals Create Unexpected Contraceptive

Beth Mole, Ars Tech

For the final stretch of their fertilization journey, sperm rev up their whip-like tails to ludicrous egg-boring speed. But amid chemicals from old herbal remedies, sperm may be left feebly treading water a few strokes from the finish line.Two steroid-like chemicals from plants used in traditional medicines can power-down sperms’ tail engines to prevent the propelling power needed to penetrate their target, Berkeley researchers report in PNAS. The chemicals work by blocking the activation of a calcium ion channel in the sperm, which charge up their tails for final turbo thrusts. Normally,…

Cute Animals Conceal Surprising Ferociousness

Richard Gray, BBC Earth

With fluffy faces, a timid demeanour and diminutive size, some animals look about as far from being dangerous as it is possible to imagine.Some seem almost helpless in the face of predators. Others, encumbered with clumsy appendages, appear almost too ridiculous to be much of a threat.Yet despite their cute, silly or feeble appearance, evolution has gifted a handful of animals with special abilities that make them a force to be reckoned with. These are nature’s secret ninjas.

Solar and Batteries Double Cost of Electricity

Science 2.0

Solar power is all the rage, at least for government officials who don’t understand physics but do spend a lot of time with environmental (and solar panel) lobbyists.Even in a small country like Belgium, solar can’t even meet half of energy needs. In order for it to meet energy needs would require batteries, and that means doubling the cost for the public. If it were implemented in a large country like America, the cost would be astronomical, and that’s without adding new transmission lines equivalent to every paved road in the U.S.

Earth’s Giant Internal ‘Lava Lamp’ May Flip Poles

Paula Koelemeijer, LS

If you could travel back in time 41,000 years to the last ice age, your compass would point south instead of north. That’s because for a period of a few hundred years, the Earth’s magnetic field was reversed. These reversals have happpened repeatedly over the planet’s history, sometimes lasting hundreds of thousands of years. We know this from the way it affects the formation of magnetic minerals, that we can now study on the Earth’s surface.

Alarmist CO2 Headlines Create Confusion

Tom Yulsman, Discover

Back in late April, there was a spate of hyperventilating headlines and news reports about the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.This one in particular, from Think Progress, should have made its author so light-headed that she passed out…

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity Still Doesn’t Exist

Ross Pomeroy, RCScience

Three years ago, I reported on a relatively unheralded nutrition study. Although the research had been missed or passed over by the mainstream press, I had a feeling this study would attract widespread attention. Unlike most other nutrition studies, this one was exceedingly rigorous. Moreover, its findings ran counter to prevailing wisdom and market trends.

The Glitch That Nearly Killed Curiosity

Mike Wall, Space.com

The Mars rover Curiosity’s groundbreaking mission came within an hour of ending just six months after touchdown, according to a report that aired last night (May 14) on the TV news show “60 Minutes.” In February 2013, a memory problem with Curiosity’s main computer, also known as the pilot, forced mission team members to switch to the identical backup computer, or co-pilot. The swap worked, and the car-size robot resumed full science operations a few weeks later.

Who Was the First Cassini to Explore Saturn?

Tom Siegfried, Science News

As the Cassini spacecraft plunges toward its death on Saturn, the world’s knowledge of the famous ringed planet continues to accumulate. Thanks to years of observations by the versatile probe, astronomers now know Saturn as intimately as macaroni knows cheese. But still hardly anyone outside the world of astronomy knows anything about Cassini and I don’t mean the spacecraft, but the guy it was named for.Gian Domenico Cassini was an Italian astronomer, born in Perinaldo in 1625, around the time that Galileo was battling the church over Copernicus’ revelation that the Earth orbits the sun….

Ebola Vaccine Could Be Tested in New Outbreak

Amy Maxmen, Nature

An outbreak of the Ebola virus has emerged in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the World Health Organization (WHO) said on 12 May. Congolese authorities have reported nine suspected cases of Ebola infection in the past three weeks; the WHO has confirmed one, and tests are pending on others. Now health officials are considering whether to deploy an experimental Ebola vaccine against the outbreak, for the first time since the WHO gave it preliminary approval in April.The aid group Mdecins Sans Frontires (MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders) is discussing a potential…

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