All posts by Daniel

Animals That Have Fought A Bee… And The Bee Won

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    While Flying With A Bee…

    Via: 9GAG

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    Still Has A Smile On His Face

    Via: The Meta Picture

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    He Wondered If Any Honey Was Available… Answer Is No

    Via: The Meta Picture

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    This Pup Is Not Amused

    Via: The Meta Picture

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    Cat Eats A Bee… Opps

    Via: pinterest

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    Poor Little Puppy!!

    Via: Izismile

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    Not Even Dissapointed

    Via: Tastefully Offensive

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    Still Smiling!

    Via: Izismile

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    Via: 9GAG

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    He Thinks He Won The Fight

    Via: The Meta Picture

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    Well… Someones Not A Happy Puppy

    Via: Izismile

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    Via: The Meta Picture

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Having A Dog May Add Years To Your Life, New Study Finds

No doubt the cat versus dog debate will wear on, but we have some good news for dog people. According to research recently published in Scientific Reports, owning a pooch can add years to your life. 

A team of researchers at Uppsala University tracked the health and dog ownership status of more than 3.4 million Swedes aged 40 to 80 years old for 12 years, starting in 2001. No one involved had a history of cardiovascular disease.

Everyone in Sweden must carry a unique personal identification number, all hospital visits are recorded, and dog ownership registration is mandatory, which makes it the perfect case study for this sort of experiment. As the researchers point out, however, the results can be generalized to all other countries with a similar culture towards dog ownership (including other European countries and the US).

The researchers found that dog owners were less at risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and other causes. If they owned a pure breed, that is. The results were less clear for those who owned mixed-breeds.

On average, people’s risk of death in a multi-person household was reduced by 11 percent, with their risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease decreased by 15 percent. The health benefit was even more pronounced in single-person households.

“Perhaps a dog may stand in as an important family member in the single households,” Mwenya Mubanga, lead junior author of the study and PhD student at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory at Uppsala University, explained in a statement. “The results showed that single dog owners had a 33 percent reduction in risk of death and 11 percent reduction in risk of myocardial infarction during follow-up compared to single non-owners.”

So why does owning a dog seem so good for you? The study revealed a correlational relationship between dog ownership and longer lives, but didn’t explore the reasons behind it. The researchers do, however, offer some possible explanations.

“We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation to the observed results,” Tove Fall, senior author of the study and associate professor in Epidemiology at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory at Uppsala University, said in a statement.

This is backed up by the fact that hunting dogs like terriers, retrievers, and scent hounds need more exercise. “Other explanations include an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner,” Tove added.

Tove also notes, however, some limitations of the study: “There might also be differences between owners and non-owners already before buying a dog, which could have influenced our results, such as those people choosing to get a dog tending to be more active and of better health.”

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Ancient Gas Cloud Is A Potential Relic From The First Stars That Ever Formed In Our Universe

Of the many mysteries in astronomy, one of the most excitingis the long-sought observation of Population III stars. These were the first stars that shone in the universe, butwe are yet to have observational evidence for their existence.

Although not an observation, astronomers may have now found some compelling indirect evidence of these stars. They detected a cloud of gas with only a small amount of heavy elements like carbon and oxygen, and it was observed as it was only 1.8 billion years after the Big Bang.

Heavy elements werent manufactured during the Big Bang, they were made later by stars, lead researcher Neil Crighton, from Australias Swinburne University of Technologys Center for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, said in a statement.The first stars were made from completely pristine gas, and we think they formed quite differently from stars today.

Hydrogen and Helium (with a small amount of lithium) formed in the primordial nucleosynthesis, but every other element (called metals in astronomy) was formed through nuclear fusion. From the calcium in our bones to the oxygen we breathe, most of the elements we see in the natural world were formed in the heart of ancient stars. Every generation of stars enriches the universe with heavy elements.

Population III stars were not only metal-free but they were also huge: Each star was between 10 to 100 solar masses, with other studies suggesting stars 1,000 and even 10,000 times heavier than our Sun. These stars would produce spectacular supernovae, which would spread metals throughout the cosmos.

This is the first cloud to show the tiny heavy element fraction expected for a cloud enriched by the first stars, said Professor John OMeara, who is presenting the results at the American Astronomical Society meetingin Florida today.

The evidence is valid but far from overwhelming. We can measure the ratio of two elements in this cloud carbon and silicon. But the value of that ratio doesnt conclusively show that it was enriched by the first stars; later enrichment by older generations of stars is also possible, added OMeara.By finding new clouds where we can detect more elements, we will be able to test for the unique pattern of abundances we expect for enrichment by the first stars.

The case of the unseen Population III stars is still unsolved, but we are getting closer to a solution every day. Next-generation telescopes should be able to directly observe them, though. In fact, the detection of Population III stars is a goal of NASA’sJames Webb Space Telescope, which will launch in 2018.

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Life Might Jump Between Planets In The TRAPPIST-1 System

A new study has further cemented the idea that TRAPPIST-1 might be our best bet for finding life outside the Solar System.

One of the most interesting things about this seven-planet system, about 40 light-years from us, is that the planets are all in very tight orbits around their star. They are as little as 600,000 kilometers (380,000 miles) from each other less than twice the distance from Earth to the Moon.

Three of the planets in the system are in the stars habitable zone, where liquid water and even life could exist. And Harvard University scientists Manasvi Lingam and Avi Loeb say microbial life could actually be transferred between these planets. Their study is available on arXiv.

Because these distances are so close, a lot more different kinds of species, microbial or otherwise, could migrate from one planet to another, Lingam told New Scientist.

The idea is based around something called panspermia. This is the theory that life can be transferred between worlds via a number of methods, including a meteorite impacting the surface and sending life-harboring debris into space.

Some have proposed that, in our own Solar System, this process may have transferred life from Mars to Earth. But panspermia is hotly contested, and we dont really have good evidence that it occurs yet.

The TRAPPIST-1 planets are relatively close to each other. NASA/JPL-Caltech

Nonetheless, Loeb and Lingam suggest that if it does happen, and just one of TRAPPIST-1s habitable planets formed life, then its possible that the other two have life too.

If panspermia (or pseudo-panspermia) is an effective mechanism, it leads to a significant boost in the probability of abiogenesis [the spontaneous appearance of life], the researchers write in their paper.

We dont know if the system is habitable yet, however. One issue is that the star these planets orbit is an ultra-cool dwarf, which is thought to unleash powerful bursts of radiation as flares. With the planets being so close to the star (20 to 100times closer than Earth is to the Sun), this could be detrimental to their chances of life.

It will depend on the age of the star, and whether the planets have always been in their current position or if they migrated inwards from further out, which is possible. In their study, though, Loeb and Lingam said we could roll the dice three times in this system compared to our own, reported Gizmodo, owing to the panspermia idea.

Theres going to be plenty more speculation about TRAPPIST-1, but we probably wont know if the planets are habitable for sure until the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) studies their atmospheres in the next few years. Until then, who knows maybe TRAPPIST-1inians relax by going on short jaunts to their neighboring planets.

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Scotland Sees Record-Smashing Numbers Of Dolphins

Step aside, Miami. In a rare bit of optimistic conservation news, Scotland is seeing record numbers of dolphins.

From May to October 2016,2,303 common dolphins, 42 bottlenose dolphins, and 94 Rissos dolphins were spotted by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. Those numbers blow away the average annual sightings over the past 14 years, which werejust 463, 14, and 12 respectively.

The survey was conducted off Scotlands west coast using teams of scientists and volunteers on board the yacht Silurian, which was previously used to film the BBCs The Blue Planet series. In 2016 alone, this specialized research yachtracked up9,260 kilometers (5,000 nautical miles) of travel across the winding coastline of Scotland.

The impressive range of species documented in our at-sea surveys last year is a powerful reminder that Scotlands west coast ocean environment is home to remarkable marine life, Alison Lomax, director of Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, said in astatement. Long-term scientific studies of this globally-important habitat and its inhabitants are crucial if we are to ensure a secure future for the Hebrides spectacular cetaceans.

While no doubt positive news, experts dont yet know the reason behind this cetacean boom. Scotland might not be known for dolphins, but their waters are known to hold at least 24 of the worlds estimated 92 cetacean species. Like many marine environments aroundthe world, its also succumbing to the pressures of human activity, such as climate change, pollution, noise, and destruction of habitat.

The reasons for the high number of sightings of these charismatic dolphin species and the broader effects on the marine environment and other species remain unclear, added Dr Lauren Hartny-Mills, science officer of Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust.But the intriguing findings highlight the importance of on-going monitoring and research to strengthen our understanding of what is taking place in Hebridean waters, and to ensure well-informed conservation action.

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January 2016 Was The Hottest On Record

The world cant seem to catch a break. Its not been long since it was announced that 2015 was the hottest year on record, and it looks likely that the mercury will continue to climb. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) have just crunched the sums and found that the January just passed was the warmest globally since records began. Not only that, but it was the hottest month by the largest margin, beating the global average by 1.13C (2.03F), according to NASA.

This makes January the ninthaddition to the string of hottest months on record that began back in May last year, and was 0.3C (0.48F) warmer than last year’s. The massive ramp up in the warming of the planet has been attributed in part to a particularly strong El Nio that has persisted off the east coast of the Americas over the past few months. The weather system has been blamed for the drought thathas hit Australia, the massive forest fires seen across Indonesia, as well as severe droughts and flooding that have left almost 100 million people facing food shortages in both South Africa and South America.

The temperature departures from average by latitude, clearly showing that the Arctic, at the highest latitude, is warming faster than other parts of the world. NASA

This current El Nio seems to have finally passed its peakaccording to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), yet NOAA is yet to call it. This doesnt mean that were on the home straight, however.The WMO warns that the world will still face enormous humanitarian difficulties for months to come,asdue to the sizethe weather system reached, the impacts are still being felt in all corners of the globe. It is currently too early to confirm whether it has been the largest El Nio ever recorded, but the WMO does note that it is at least comparable to the current record holder of 1997-98.

This continuous warming of the planet is already having an impact on the environment. The Arctic is being particularly hard hit, with the sea ice shrinking to a new record low for January. According to the NOAA, the warming of the Arctic is off the chart, as they recorded temperatures at least 5.6C (9F) warmer than average over much of Alaska. The ice covered an area of 13.5 million square kilometers (5.3 million square miles) last month, which is around 1 million square kilometers (402,000 square miles) less than the last 30-year average for this time of year. Thats an area the size of both Texas and New Mexico, combined.

With carbon emissions not looking likely to be significantly cut any time soon, the climate is simply going to continue to warm, and with it the setting of new global temperature records is likely to become more and more of a common event.

Photo Gallery

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A Cargo Spacecraft Has Been Doing Some Pretty Cool Things In Orbit

When cargo spacecraft leave the International Space Station (ISS), they are usually sent to burn up in Earths atmosphere with a bunch of waste on board (apart from SpaceXs Dragon, which comes back to Earth).

But things have been a bit different this past week for one spacecraft, Orbital ATKs Cygnus. This unmanned vehicle has been used to transport cargo to the ISS in the past, before being sent to burn up in the atmosphere.

In June this yearhowever, before the spacecraft burned up, it performed a unique experiment called Saffire-I, where it tested out how fire spreads in the microgravity environment of Earth orbit. Such an experiment would not be possible on the ISS, due to crew safety reasons.

And this experiment was repeated on Monday, November 21, when the Saffire-II experiment was carried out inside the Cygnus OA-5 spacecraft named SS Alan Poindexter after the late NASA astronaut after it had left the ISS.

Above, a video from the Saffire-II experiment. NASA

Thats not all this spacecraft was up to though. After the Saffireexperiment, it was moved to an orbit of about 500 kilometers (310 miles), about 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the ISS. This is the highest orbit ever achieved by a Cygnus spacecraft.

Here, the vehicle released four small satellites known as CubeSats for a company called Spire Global. At this increased height, the satellites will survive for two years before they burn up in the atmosphere. If they had been released from the ISS, they would have lasted just nine months. This is also the first time a cargo spacecraft has deployed satellites above the ISS.

The small satellites will form part of a larger constellation of satellites operated by Spire, bringing the total up to 16. These satellites are being used to track ships around the world and monitor weather.

Spire, NanoRacks, NASA and Orbital worked closely to make this unique opportunity a reality and it highlights yet another commercial application of the ISS that is beneficial to the satellite industry, Spire said in a statement. Spire is incredibly pleased to have been a part of this historic joint effort between industry and government.

Thisis all a good example of how scientists are making use of Earth orbit at the moment. More than ever, companies big and small are getting a chance to perform science never possible before.

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NASA Is Moving Its Dawn Spacecraft Into A Higher Orbit Around Ceres

Earlier this year, some of us were left somewhat disappointed by the news that NASAs Dawn spacecraft would remain in orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres, rather than heading to an exciting new third destination.

With that proposal rejected, scientists are now making the most of the current situation, which is still exciting in its own right. Dawn will be orbiting Ceres as it moves closer to the Sun, possibly changing its surface as it heats up, giving us a new insight into this interesting world.

Now, after spending eight months in a low-altitude orbit just 385 kilometers (240 miles) above the surface, Dawn will be moved up to a higher orbit of 1,460 kilometers (910 miles). It will begin the maneuvers to reach this orbit tomorrow.

Moving to a higher orbit will allow the spacecraft to remain in operation for longer, as itll need to use less fuel to work against the gravity of Ceres. The direction of its orbit around Ceres will also be changed slightly, giving Dawn a different vantage point of the surface.

“Most spacecraft wouldn’t be able to change their orbital altitude so easily, said Marc Rayman, chief engineer and mission director for Dawn, in a statement. But thanks to Dawn’s uniquely capable ion propulsion system, we can maneuver the ship to get the greatest scientific return from the mission.

Dawn, thanks to its ion engine, is the only spacecraft in history to orbit two separate bodies other than Earth. It arrived at its first target, the protoplanet Vesta in the asteroid belt, in July 2011, before arriving at Ceres in March 2015.

Its primary mission ended on June 30 this year, whenthere had been a proposal on the table to send Dawn to an unprecedented third destination, flying past an asteroid in the asteroid belt called Adeona. Alas, that was not to be but hopefully theres still some exciting science in store at Ceres, where Dawn will spend the rest of its days.

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Early Giant Galaxy Seen Gorging On Intergalactic Gas

The largest galaxies in the universe got to their size by cannibalizing other galaxies over many billions of years, but in the early universe, the largest galaxies have long been thought to have formed by devouring intergalactic gas.

The evidence for the different behavior has been limited but now an international team of astronomers has discovered an ancient protocluster feeding from a giant, dense cloud of cold gas. The new object, called the Spiderweb Galaxy, is located 10 billion light-years away and is actually made of several protogalaxies surrounded by 100 billion solar masses’ worth of gas.

The research by an international team of astronomers was published in Science and combined the observations of the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA), which studied the extent of the gas, and the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), which discovered that two-thirds of the gas is between the protogalaxies.

“This is a huge system, with this molecular gas spanning three times the size of our own Milky Way Galaxy,” said co-author Preshanth Jagannathan of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), in a statement. “It appears that this whole system eventually will collapse into a single, gigantic galaxy.”

The radio telescopes looked at carbon monoxide present in the cloud and discovered that it had an extremely cold temperature of about -200C (-328F). These two facts are crucial for our understanding of galaxy evolution.

Carbon and oxygen werent formed in the Big Bang, so they must have been produced by stars in these types of galaxies and then ejected from them. But the ejection mechanism usually warms up the gas to a very high temperature, while this gas is really cold.

The gas falls onto the central protogalaxy, which increases in size and will eventually merge with the other protogalaxies.

“This is different from what we see in the nearby Universe, where galaxies in clusters grow by cannibalizing other galaxies. In this cluster, a giant galaxy is growing by feeding on the soup of cold gas in which it is submerged,” said Bjorn Emonts of the Center for Astrobiology in Spain, who led the team.

This discovery of protogalaxy behavior confirms what simulations have indicated already, that theres a lot more going on in the early universe than we understand.

This research provides a new tantalizing new look at the lives of galaxies when they began to form.

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