World’s Ten Most Dangerous Volcanoes Identified

The Earth is peppered with volcanoes, and for the most part, they arent dangerous. Some, however, certainly are, ranging from the known city-destroyers like Vesuvius to the civilization-enders, like Santorini. In order to raise awareness of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, an online collaboration between the University of Manchester and volcano enthusiasts has produced a list of the top ten most dangerous volcanoes those that are likely to erupt in the next 100 years and cause up to 1 million deaths each.

The top three most dangerous volcanoes are, according to the list, Iwo Jima in Japan, Apoyeque in Nicaragua, and Campi Flegrei, Italy. Their hazard potential was based on their proximity to large human populations and how destructive their eruptions could be based on their current activity and eruption history.

This isnt the first time a list like this has been composed. The Decade Volcanoes, a previous top 16 list, was put together by the International Association of Volcanology and the Chemistry of the Earths Interior (IAVCEI). Essentially, if a volcano had a history of major, destructive eruptions, and they were presently located very near to large, densely-packed human populations, then chances are its on this list. Its quite different from the University of Manchester-approved one; only one volcano makes both lists (Taal, in the Philippines).

Yellowstone caldera infamously a supervolcano,a certain harbinger of global devastation isnt on either list. It appears to erupt every 650,000 years or so; this means it is due in the next 10,000 years, long after these listed volcanoes are likely to experience a major eruption.

However, the Decade Volcanoes list is nearly twenty years old, and a huge amount of new scientific data has been published since then; in addition, our understanding of volcanology has advanced greatly. ProfessorAlbert Zijlstra, an astrophysicist at the University of Manchester, explained to IFLScience the motivation behind his contribution: This is a list that hopes to improve public awareness of volcanoes whose dangers have not been recognized. They are all poorly monitored, or the monitoring data is not being made publically available. Iwo Jima, for example, is a military site. The Decade Volcanoes are, for the most part, heavily monitored.

Image credit: Volcanoes are often monitored from space these days. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr; CC BY 2.0

By creating the new list, the authors hopeto raise awareness of those that are certainly very dangerous but arent often recognized to be so. Mount Cameroon only has one guy monitoring it and his equipment keeps getting stolen, Zijlstra added. Mount Rainier in the U.S. is on the Decade list, and its incredibly dangerous but its so well-known and monitored, so there was nothing to gain by adding it to our list.

This top ten, the ordering of which issubjective, was based on a plethora of data made available over the last 20 years, and will highlight dangerous volcanoes around the world that have, until now, remained largely unknown to the public.

The full top ten are as follows:

1 – Iwo Jima, Japan

2 – Apoyeque, Nicaragua

3 – Campi Flegrei, Italy

4 – Mount Aso, Japan

5 – Trans Mexico Volcanic Belt, Mexico

6 – Gunung Agung, Indonesia

7 – Mount Cameroon, Cameroon

8 – Taal, Philippines

9 – Mayon, Philippines

10 – Gunung Kelud, Indonesia

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/environment/worlds-ten-most-dangerous-volcanoes-identified-new-list

10 Of The Strangest Known Medical Conditions

Treemen and zombies and werewolves, oh my! These things may sound like fiction, but these nicknames are actually associated with certain rare diseases. Here are 10 of the most unusual and rare medical conditions out there:

Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, “Stone Man Syndrome”

Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) is a progressive genetic disorder that turns soft tissues into bone over time. The ACVR1 gene found in bone, muscles, tendons, and ligaments regulates growth and development of those tissues, and is normally responsible for turning cartilage into bone as children develop. However, mutations of this gene can allow ossification to go unchecked throughout a sufferer’s life, even turning skeletal muscle into bone and causing joints to fuse together.

This disorder occurs in about 1 in 2 million people, and there are currently no treatments or cures. Trauma exacerbates the condition, so attempts to remove bone surgically just results in the body producing even more bone in the area. 

Joh-co via Wikimedia Commons

Cotard’s Delusion, “Walking Corpse Syndrome”

Cotard’s Delusion is a rare mental disorder in which a person sincerely believes he or she is missing body parts—such as the brain—or is actually dead. Sufferers tend not to eat or bathe, and they often spend time in cemeteries, wishing to be among their own kind. Well, their perceived own kind, at any rate. 

This disorder has been connected to a dysfunction in the areas of the brain responsible for recognizing and associating emotions with faces, including their own. This causes a complete emotional detachment and removes any sense of personal identity when looking at their bodies. Medications can be used to treat the condition, though electroconvulsive therapy has worked better in some cases. 

“Zombie!” by Daniel Hollister via flickr, CC BY 2.0

 

Cold Urticaria, “Cold Allergy”

With winter just around the corner for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, those who suffer from cold urticaria need to be prepared. Contact to cold air or water can trigger a histamine reaction, just like an allergy to bees or peanuts. This can cause itchy hives and swelling in the affected areas. Those who have severe conditions can experience extreme swelling of the throat and tongue, which can actually be fatal.

It isn’t clear what causes this condition, though it can be treated with common antihistamines used for those who suffer from pet or seasonal allergies.

“Cold” by RachelEllen via flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis, Lewandowsky-Lutz dysplasia, “Tree Man Syndrome”

What appears to be tree bark growing out of someone’s skin may actually be Epidermodysplasia verruciformis. Of course, it isn’t bark. These growths are actually warts that can be exacerbated by exposure to sunlight. While these warts may be benign early in life, they can become malignant later in life.

The warts are caused by a rare mutation of the EVER1/EVER2 genes. Though the function of the genes isn’t really well-understood, the mutations cause the skin to be extremely susceptible to human papillomaviruses 5 and 8, which typically don’t cause disease. While there are some treatment options available to mitigate the symptoms, there is no cure. 

Image credit: Getty Images

Xeroderma Pigmentosum, “Vampire Syndrome”

Humans need sunlight to synthesize vitamin D, but too much exposure to the Sun’s UV rays can damage the skin. Approximately 1 in 1 million people have xeroderma pigmentosum and are extremely sensitive to UV rays. These people must be completely shielded from sunlight, or will experience extreme sunburns and breakdown of the skin. If someone with the condition isn’t careful, they could easily develop skin cancer.

Xeroderma pigmentosum is caused by a rare recessive mutation of the nucleotide excision repair enzymes. Functioning normally, these enzymes correct damaged DNA that can be caused by UV rays. For those with this condition, the enzymes do not work properly and DNA damage persists and accumulates. While there are some treatments available, the best prevention from damage is merely staying completely out of sunlight, just like a vampire.

NASA/SDO

Elephantiasis 

Elephantiasis is an obstruction of lymphatic vessels which causes extreme swelling of skin and tissues, typically in the legs or testicles. This disfiguring condition can be brought about in several ways, though a mosquito-borne parasite is the most common cause. Over 40 million people have been affected by the condition. 

There are medications available to kill the parasite, so early intervention will produce the best result. There are surgical options if the elephantiasis affects the testicles, but not the limbs.

James Heilman via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

Hypertrichosis, “Werewolf Syndrome”

While many women may pluck their eyebrows to remove a few unsightly stray hairs, those who suffer from hypertrichosis have abnormal hair growth covering their bodies. Faces can be completely covered in long hair, which is why the condition has earned the nickname of “werewolf syndrome.”

Hypertrichosis can be either congenital or acquired. Those born with the condition can suffer from one of several known genetic mutations. Some who get the condition later in life acquired it as a side effect from anti-balding treatments (be careful what you wish for…), though there are some who do not have an obvious cause. Treatment options include traditional methods of hair removal, though even waxing and laser treatments typically don’t provide long-lasting results.

Darren and Brad via flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

Aquagenic urticaria, “Water Allergy”

As the majority of our body is made out of water, it seems odd that an allergy to it would even exist. Though it isn’t a true allergy because it doesn’t trigger a histamine response, there are some who develop itchy hives and welts even after mere minutes of water exposure. 

This condition is quite rare, and the cause isn’t well known. Some have speculated that the water itself isn’t the cause, but rather specific chemicals or impurities that are ubiquitous within water. However, even purified water can trigger a reaction among some. The most common treatment is topical application of capsaicin, which is used to relieve pain.

“Water Texture” by Ian Britton via flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

Alien Hand Syndrome

The phrase, “the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing” is actually literally true for some people. The condition involves a rogue hand that acts independently, grasping objects or moving in a way contrary to what the individual wishes to do. 

Sometimes, a rare side effect to brain injuries or surgical severing of the corpus callosum is the inability to control the actions of one hand. There is no cure for this condition, though the symptoms can be managed by making sure the hand is actively engaged in activity. 

“Day 13. Alien Hand Syndrome” by Egidio Levendale via flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Foreign Accent Syndrome

Accents can reveal a lot of information about where someone is from, and nearly everyone has tried to speak with an accent foreign to their native region. However, some people develop a condition that causes them to uncontrollably speak in a foreign accent, even if they have never visited that area before. Often, several types of accents can be used at different times, or may even be blended together. 

This rare disorder typically comes about as a side effect following stroke or other brain injury. The person with the condition not only changes the tone of voice, but will also change tongue placement during speech. The only treatment for this condition is extensive speech therapy to retrain the brain to speak in a certain way.

“Bastille Day London 2012 – 03” by Garry Knight via flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

 

 

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/10-strangest-known-medical-conditions

Supercomputer Network Employed To Shed Light On The Dark Universe

Researchers from the University of Manchester in the UK have employed an advanced network of supercomputers to look at mysterious components of the universe known as dark energy and dark matter.

The team used GridPP, the British part of a European network that was used in the discovery of the Higgs boson, to run image processing and a machine learning algorithm. The goal was to quantify the cosmic shear, also known as weak gravitational lensing, an apparent distortionin the shape of galaxies due to foreground dark matter bending their light.

GridPP was fed images from the Dark Energy Survey, which is mapping hundreds of millions of galaxies and looking for patterns in the cosmic structure. This study is a precursor to more intensive work thatwill be possible to do with the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) currently under construction in Chile.

Our overall aim is to tackle the mystery of the dark universe and this pilot project has been hugely significant, Professor Sarah Bridle said in a statement. When the LSST is fully operating researchers will face a galactic data deluge and our work will prepare us for the analytical challenge ahead.

This computational approach, nicknamed IM3SHAPE, will have to deal with the 200 Petabyte (200 billion Megabytes) of data from the LSST when it becomes operational in 2023. It can produce shear analysis on vast images with an unprecedented speed.

The cosmic shear is nothing like the beautiful arcs seen in strong gravitational lenses. It is a small distortion and it would go unnoticed on a single galaxy. But if many background galaxies appear to all be distorted in the same way, it tell us theres something we cannot see in front of them.

That something is what we call dark matter, a mysterious substance that only interacts with gravity and not with the other forces. Dark matter explains why galaxies have certain shapes and, although other theories have been proposed, it remains the most robust explanation.

But when cosmic shear is estimated in 3D, it can also be used to find out the properties of the other mysterious component of the universe: dark energy. The universe is expanding at an accelerated rate and the cause of it seems to be dark energy. We dont know much more than that, but these studies will hopefully bring forth a better understanding of the dark universe.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/supercomputer-network-employed-to-shed-light-on-the-dark-universe/

Astronomers Have Discovered The Smallest Asteroid We Know Of, And It’s Only Slightly Bigger Than A Person

Asteroids can vary in size from a few tens of meters across to several kilometers. But this latest discovery pales in comparison, being the smallest we’ve ever found.

Measuring a paltry 2meters (6 feet) across, just slightly bigger than an average person, the asteroid iscalled 2015 TC25. In October 2015,it flew past our planet at a distance of just 128,000 kilometers (80,000 miles), just a third of the distance to the Moon. And as it did so, an array of telescopes were able to get as much data on it as possible.

The irregularly shaped asteroid was described in a paper published in The Astronomical Journal.

“This is the first time we have optical, infrared and radar data on such a small asteroid, which is essentially a meteoroid,” lead author Vishnu Reddy from the University of Arizona said in a statement.”You can think of it as a meteorite floating in space that hasn’t hit the atmosphere and made it to the ground yet .”

Radar imaging of asteroid 2015 TC25

Studying these small objects is important, because some of them make their way to the surface of Earth. By studying them in space, we can essentially look at them before and after they enter our atmosphere. For reference, the Chelyabinsk meteor that exploded over Russia in 2013 was less than 20 meters (65 feet) in diameter.

2015 TC25 was especially of interest because it was found to be extremely bright. According to observations by the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility and Arecibo Planetary Radar, it reflects 60 percent of sunlight that falls upon it.

That puts it in a rare class of asteroids known as aubrites, which have an abundance of very bright minerals such as silicates. Only one in every 1,000 meteorites that makes its way to Earth is thought to be an aubrite.

This asteroid was also one of the five smallest to have its rotation rate measured, which came in at one spin every133 seconds.

As for where its come from, well, thats not clear at the moment. But Reddy said he thought it may have been chipped off a larger asteroid in the asteroid belt between Earth and Mars, called 44 Nysa, when another asteroid hit it.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/astronomers-have-discovered-the-smallest-asteroid-we-know-of-and-its-only-slightly-bigger-than-a-person/

Pluto’s New Moon: 5 Fun Facts

Pluto-s-new-moon-5-fun-facts-ccf34a4c9b

Scientists announced the discovery of a new moon around Pluto on July 11, bringing the dwarf planet’s number of known satellites to five.

Researchers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope spotted the newfound Pluto moon. The instrument has also found three other Pluto satellites — P4 last year, and Nix and Hydra in 2005. (The dwarf planet’s other known moon, Charon, was discovered in 1978 at the United States Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station in Arizona.)

Here are a few fun facts about the new moon:

1. Its Name is a Mouthful

The fifth Pluto moon has been provisionally named S/2012 (134340) 1, but it’s unlikely anyone other than astronomers will ever call it that. The satellite also currently goes by the less clunky moniker P5, though that won’t last forever.

The International Astronomical Union oversees the naming of celestial bodies, and its guidelines stipulate that objects in Pluto’s neighborhood receive mythological names associated with the underworld. Pluto, Charon, Nix and Hydra already meet this requirement; P4 and P5 will someday, too.

It’s a Tiny Satellite

P5 is nothing like our own moon, a giant orb massive enough to be rounded into a sphere by its own gravity. Rather, researchers think P5 is irregularly shaped, with a diameter between 6 and 15 miles.

P5 is thus likely the smallest of Pluto’s known satellites. Charon measures 648 miles across, Nix and Hydra range between 20 and 70 miles wide, and P4 is thought to be 8 to 21 miles across. [The Moons of Pluto Revealed (Photos)]

For comparison, Earth’s moon is roughly 2,150 miles wide.

3. It’s Not Too Far From Pluto

P5 zips around Pluto at an average distance of 29,000 miles, placing it outside the orbit of Charon but inside the orbits of Nix, Hydra and P4. The orbits of all five known Pluto moons are roughly coplanar, researchers said.

Earth’s moon, on the other hand, circles our planet from about 239,000 miles away.

4. P5 Makes Spacecraft Operators Nervous

P5’s discovery is exciting for researchers who study the outer solar system, but it’s likely causing some of them a bit of anxiety as well.

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is headed to Pluto for a 2015 flyby of the dwarf planet. The detection of P5, and P4 last year, show that the Pluto system is more crowded than scientists had thought. So New Horizons may have to watch its step, since a collision with a particle as small as a BB could take the fast-moving spacecraft out.

“We’re finding more and more, so our concern about hazards is going up,” New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., told SPACE.com.

Stern and others are pointing Hubble at the Pluto system to get a better handle on those hazards, and the inventory they produce should help minimize New Horizons’ risks, researchers said.

5. It May be Shrapnel From a Huge Collision

At roughly 1,430 miles across, Pluto is considerably smaller than Earth’s moon. So researchers are intrigued by its complex collection of satellites.

Scientists currently think that all five of Pluto’s known moons are relics of a massive collision between the dwarf planet and another large object in the Kuiper Belt — the ring of icy bodies beyond Neptune’s orbit — long ago.

Image courtesy of NASA, ESA and M. Showalter (SETI Institute)

This article originally published at Space.com
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/11/pluto-p5-new-moon/

Our Brains Are Naturally Prejudiced Against Minorities, Study Finds

Holding prejudiced views and believing in social stereotypes are not particularly endearing qualities, but a new study has found that the human brain may have a natural tendency to pigeonhole groups of people, particularly when these groups are associated with negative characteristics. Appearing in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, the research provides a chilling indication of just how influential the media can be in reinforcing the neural mechanisms behind this kind of racial and ethnic profiling.

A team of scientists from British and Australian universities created a fictional universe, populated by groups with names like the Hezlatts, the Kitils, the Trithans, and the Grallacks. Some of these clans were designated as evil while others were inherently good.

The study authors then showed a series of news headlines to a group of participants that helped to establish the moral nature of each of these groups. For example, subjects were told that a member of one group consoled a friend whose grandfather had passed away, while a representative of another kicked a cat in the street.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan participants brains as they took part in the experiment, the researchers noted that a brain region called the anterior temporal pole became active as they developed a sense of prejudice against certain groups.

Negative stereotypes are mediated by a brain region called the anterior temporal lobe.M-SUR/Shutterstock

When reading statements about bad-natured groups, activity in this part of the brain increased, although when reading headlines regarding groups that they perceived as morally upright, no activity was seen in this region. The team therefore conclude that the strength of activity in this part of the brain indicates a persons level of prejudice something that is backed up by previous studies that show that the anterior temporal pole stores knowledge of a socioemotional nature.

To shake things up a little, the researchers presented participants with some statements that contradicted the stereotypes that had been established. For instance, subjects were occasionally told that a member of an evil group had done something kind, or that a member of a decent group had transgressed.

These anomalies were processed by the brains prefrontal cortex, which the study authors say is responsible for detecting errors in the world around us. However, this effect was always larger in response to a bad group doing something good than vice versa, indicating that the brain is more surprised by things that challenge our negative stereotypes than those that challenge positive ones.

Such findings suggest that prejudice may be a more inherent human trait than many of us like or admit. Furthermore, by constantly portraying certain groups of people in an unfavorable light, the media has the power to hijack our mental machinery and cause negative stereotypes to become entrenched within our consciousness.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/brain/our-brains-naturally-prejudiced-against-minorities/

Test Confirms There’s a Huge Hot Bubble Of Gas Caused By A Supernova In Our Galaxy

Human eyes can’t see x-rays, but if you look up with an x-ray detector, you’ll see that the whole sky glows brightly with light in this part of the spectrum. This soft glow is called the diffuse x-ray background, and its origin has been controversial since its discovery 50 years ago. Does the soft X-ray emission come from outside our solar system, from a hot bubble of gas? Or does the emission come from within our solar system, due to solar wind colliding with gas?

Both! According to a study published in Nature this week, the x-ray background is dominated by what’s called the “local hot bubble” — about 1 million degrees hot — with up to 40 percent of the emission originating from within the solar system. “We now know that the emission comes from both sources, but is dominated by the local hot bubble,” Massimiliano Galeazzi from the University of Miami says in a news release

Interstellar bubbles are likely created by stellar winds and material cast outward by supernova explosions. These form large cavities in the material that fills the space between the galaxy’s stars (remember, space itself is not empty). If a second supernova occurs within the cavity carved out by the material, then hot, x-ray emitting gas could fill the bubble. 

However, x-ray emission also occurs when the solar wind (a stream of charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere) collides with interplanetary neutral gas. When the particles of the solar wind collide with neutral hydrogen or helium, an electron is captured, emitting x-rays. This process is called the solar wind charge exchange.

The team refurbished an X-ray detector from the 1970s, mounted it onto a modern NASA suborbital sounding rocket, and named it the “Diffuse X-ray emission from the Local Galaxy” (DXL). The sounding rocket launched from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on December 12, 2012, with the mission to separate and quantify the x-ray emission from the two suspected sources. It reached an altitude of 258 kilometers and stayed above Earth’s atmosphere for five minutes — enough time to get a good look at the x-ray background.

Specifically, the study measured the diffuse X-ray emission at low energy, what’s known as the 1/4 keV band. “At that low energy, the light gets absorbed by the neutral gas in our galaxy, so the fact that we observe it means that the source must be ‘local,’ possibly within a few hundred light-years from Earth,” Galeazzi explains. Until now, it’s been unclear whether it comes from within few astronomical units from Earth or from hundreds of light-years from Earth. “This is like traveling at night and seeing a light, not knowing if the light comes from 10 yards or 1,000 miles away,” he adds.

The solar wind charge exchange, they found, contributed about 40 percent of the x-rays. “The rest must come from the local bubble,” Galeazzi tells LiveScience. “What is important is that we now know that within the galaxy, these bubbles exist, and they contribute to the structure of our local region in the galaxy.”

Images: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (top) & University of Miami (middle)

Photo Gallery

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/test-confirms-theres-huge-hot-bubble-gas-caused-supernova-our-galaxy

17 Cats That Might Have Had Too Much Catnip

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    Via: The Meta Picture


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    I Think….. I haz had too much catnip


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Read more: http://cheezburger.com/2529541/17-cats-that-might-have-had-too-much-catnip

Owners Get Creative To Stop Their Chubby Cat Meatball, From Stealing Food

Meatball the chubby feline, has a love/hate relationship with food. Something we all may have…So what’s the big problem exactly?

  • So what is it?

    Via: Metro

    Well, Meatball loves food so much, he’s willing to risk his own relationship with his own kitten children! How? By stealing their food!

    Tsk, tsk, tsk

    But, things weren’t always this way. Back in his younger bachelor days, he and his partner Mochi were quite trim. That is until kittens Pepper and Nugget came into the picture.


  • How did it start?

    Via: Metro

    When Pepper and Nugget were old enough to eat solid food, Meatball noticed their bowls, than saw his, then decided that as the elder and well father… he should get more. 

    So he started to steal from his children’s bowls. (Obviously after devouring his bowl.) Meatball’s owners started to suspect something when Meatball started to well… pile on the weight.


  • Like father like son

    Via: Metro

    Koon Wah built little partitions to separate the cats during mealtimes, meaning they can’t see each other’s bowls or sneakily nick food from whoever’s nearby.

    What’s worse… Pepper started to follow his dad’s lead!! We all look up to our parents, so when Pepper saw what his dad was doing, he did the same to Nugget. Leaving Nugget deprived of snacks 🙁

    Luckily, their owners, Daphine and Koon Wah, noticed what was happening and sprung into action. 


  • The solution

    Via: Metro

    Koon was able to build little partitions to separate the cats during their mealtimes. This way all the cats aren’t able to see what the other is getting. They also can’t steal the others food. 


  • Say Cheese!

    Via: Metro

    The couple saw how successful the first prototype was (even though it was made from cardboard) and decided to build a more stable one, from wood and fabric. Each cat now has their own private spot. 

    Daphnie told The Dodo that Meatball and Pepper ‘are still a little overweight’, but clearly the cats are on track for a healthier, happier lifestyle.

Read more: http://cheezburger.com/2760453/owners-get-creative-to-stop-their-chubby-cat-meatball-from-stealing-food