Nature’s gifts to our planet are the millions of species that we know and love, and many more that remain to be discovered. Unfortunately, human beings have irrevocably upset the balance of nature and, as a result, the world is facing the greatest rate of extinction since we lost the dinosaurs more than 60 million years ago. But unlike the fate of the dinosaurs, the rapid extinction of species in our world today is the result of human activity.
The unprecedented global destruction and rapid reduction of plant and wildlife populations are directly linked to causes driven by human activity: climate change, deforestation, habitat loss, trafficking and poaching, unsustainable agriculture, pollution and pesticides to name a few. The impacts are far reaching.
If we do not act now, extinction may be humanity’s most enduring legacy.
After 10 years of planning and scientific investments totaling over $50 million, researchers released the first-ever image of a black hole. The image is a feat of modern science — experts say it’s the equivalent of taking a photo of an orange on the moon with a smartphone — and international collaboration. Over 200 scientists across the globe contributed to the project.
One of those scientists is Katie Bouman, a 29-year-old computer scientist who began working on the project when she was a graduate student at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT. Bouman’s research led to the creation of a new algorithm that allowed scientists to bring the black hole image to life, a task with a level of difficulty that cannot be overstated.
“The black hole is really, really far away from us. The one we showed a picture of is 55 million light years away. That means that image is what the black hole was like 55 million years ago,” explains Bouman. “The law of diffraction tells us that given the wavelength that we need in order to see that event horizon, which is about one millimeter, and the resolution we need to see a ring of that size, we would need to build an earth-sized telescope.”
That is where computer scientists like Bouman came in. “Obviously, we can’t build an earth-sized telescope. So instead, what we did is we built a computational earth-sized telescope,” she says. “We took telescopes that were already built around the world and were able to observe at the wavelength we needed, and we connected them together into a network that would work together.” That computational telescope is the Event Horizon Telescope, a constellation of telescopes in the South Pole, Chile, Spain, Mexico and the United States.
Got plans to lose weight, eat healthier or save more money? If these or any other New Year's resolutions are on your list, you're in good company because you are taking part in a goal-driven tradition that has emerged in different forms throughout history. People hoping to slim down or move up the corporate latter may not realize it, but they are engaging in a tradition that has ancient origins. Bronze Age people also practiced the fine art of New Year's resolutions, though their oaths were external, rather than internally focused. More than 4,000 years ago, the ancient Babylonians celebrated the New Year not in January, but in March, when the spring harvest came in. The festival, called Akitu, lasted 12 days.
An important facet of Akitu was the crowning of a new king, or reaffirmation of loyalty to the old king, should he still sit on the throne. Special rituals also affirmed humanity's covenant with the gods; as far as Babylonians were concerned, their continued worship was what kept creation humming. Centuries later, the ancient Romans had similar traditions to ring in their new year, which also originally began in March. New Year's resolutions have become a secular tradition, and most Americans who make them now focus on self-improvement. The U.S. government even maintains a website of those looking for tips on achieving some of the most popular resolutions: losing weight, volunteering more, stopping smoking, eating better, getting out of debt and saving money.
If the past is any indication, many Americans have a good chance at keeping their promises for at least part of 2019.
The climate is not only warming, it is also becoming more variable and extreme. Such unpredictable weather can weaken global food security if major crops such as wheat are not sufficiently resilient -- and if we are not properly prepared. A group of European researchers, including Professor Jørgen E. Olesen from the Department of Agroecology at Aarhus University, has found that current breeding programmes and cultivar selection practices do not provide the needed resilience to climate change.
- The current breeding programmes and cultivar selection practices do not sufficiently prepare for climatic uncertainty and variability, the authors state in a paper recently published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). - Not only that the response diversity of wheat on farmers' fields in most European countries has worsened in the past five to fifteen years, depending on country.
Researchers predict that greater variability and extremeness of local weather conditions will lead to reduced yields in wheat and increased yield variability. Needless to say, decreased yields are not conducive to food security, but higher yield variability also poses problems. It can lead to a market with greater speculation and price volatility.
This may threaten stable access to food by the poor, which in turn can enhance political instability and migration...
We have known for the past 20 years that the Universe is expanding at an ever accelerating rate. The explanation is the "dark energy" that permeates it throughout, pushing it to expand. Understanding the nature of this dark energy is one of the paramount enigmas of fundamental physics. It has long been hoped that string theory will provide the answer. According to string theory, all matter consists of tiny, vibrating "stringlike" entities. The theory also requires there to be more spatial dimensions than the three that are already part of everyday knowledge. For 15 years, there have been models in string theory that have been thought to give rise to dark energy. However, these have come in for increasingly harsh criticism, and several researchers are now asserting that none of the models proposed to date are workable.
In their article, the scientists propose a new model with dark energy and our Universe riding on an expanding bubble in an extra dimension. The whole Universe is accommodated on the edge of this expanding bubble. All existing matter in the Universe corresponds to the ends of strings that extend out into the extra dimension. The researchers also show that expanding bubbles of this kind can come into existence within the framework of string theory. It is conceivable that there are more bubbles than ours, corresponding to other universes.
The Uppsala scientists' model provides a new, different picture of the creation and future fate of the Universe, while it may also pave the way for methods of testing string theory.
Mini-sub explorers in the Bermuda Triangle have found something very interesting and very mysterious. The discovery happened as part of research for the Discovery Channel‘s docu-series Cooper’s Treasure, but apparently, it could be much more than the producers bargained for. According to explorer Darrell Miklos, his team has located what he believes is nothing less than physical evidence of an ancient extraterrestrial visit to Earth. The late NASA astronaut Gordon Cooper made several maps of the Caribbean pointing to possible shipwrecks. Now Cooper’s associate, Miklos, is exploring sites identified by Cooper, and that project is the basis of the Discovery Channel series. The series has completed one season, but the new season will offer what could be a history-making find.
Miklos told the British newspaper the Daily Mail that, “I was trying to identify shipwreck material based on one of the anomaly readings on Gordon’s charts when I noticed something that stuck out, that shocked me.” What he thought could be an ancient shipwreck turned out to be a huge USO (unidentified submerged object) with 15,300-ft.-long obtrusions jutting from its sides. “It was a formation unlike anything I’ve ever seen related to shipwreck material; it was too big for that.” In one photo, a horizontal cylinder structure juts out from a large dome feature at the center of the site. Geophysicists on the team report that the heavy coral covering these structures appears to be more than 5,000 years old.
Certainly millions of viewers will be eagerly awaiting further details, hopefully forthcoming in future episodes of Cooper’s Treasure. Of course, the presence of lost technology beneath the waters of the Caribbean could point in directions other than interplanetary or interstellar space.
The ancient—and lost—civilization of Atlantis, populated by humans from Earth, for instance, is believed by many to have once—before the end of the last ice age—ruled the region now dubbed the Bermuda Triangle.
Though few seem to know it, there’s been an ancient pyramid that’s been hiding underneath a mountain in Indonesia for centuries. It’s known as Gunung Padang and one researcher has reason to believe that this may be the oldest pyramid still standing on Earth. ScienceAlert reported that new research presented at the AGU (American Geophysical Union) 2018 Fall Meeting in Washington, D.C. proposed that the site of the world’s oldest known pyramid-like structure is actually at the Gunung Padang megalithic site, located in the West Java Province of Indonesia.
The evolution of modern man has long been one of the greatest mysteries of time. When did “modern” humans first appear? When did they make the first art? When did they build the first temples? When were the first true cities constructed? And what was it that inspired these developments? These questions form a huge puzzle but the puzzle’s pieces continue to change. For example, what archaeological site across the world is accepted as the “first city?” What specific caves contain the “first art?” Nearly every year archaeologists announce the discovery of older building complexes and older art. Despite this problem, a series of recent developments may have provided us with a startling answer.
In his book, The Cygnus Mystery (2007), famed British science writer Andrew Collins may well have uncovered the key-missing element of the mystery of evolution. His first clues were found at archaeological sites but the ending of his quest came in space science and genetics. Collins begins by presenting a remarkable wealth of information from excavated ruins and ancient beliefs about the origin and destiny of the soul. Both the ruins and religious beliefs of these ancient peoples consistently focused on a specific northern constellation of the night sky—Cygnus— one of the stars of which served as the North Pole star in 17,000 BP. As Collins was completing the book, he discovered a startling fact about this specific area of the sky. Ongoing research by NASA showed that Cygnus was the source of the highest energy cosmic rays ever to strike the earth. Furthermore, many scientists, including Carl Sagan, have asserted that cosmic rays provided the spark for human evolution.
Cygnus’ importance in the ancient world appears to be more than simple veneration of the north. It was depicted in ancient cave art and was consistently seen as the portal to the sky world. In his book, Collins relates how and why he believes the ancients came to be aware that Cygnus was somehow very important to humanity. But the fact that numerous ancient ritual sites align to Cygnus, thousands of years after Deneb ceased to be the pole star, shows that Cygnus retained its importance.
Somehow, the ancients seemed to know that something from Cygnus had a direct effect on them.
Only one star can be the most mysterious star in the Universe. And KIC 8462852 has that distinct for several reasons. The strange fluctuations in this star’s light are what caused Yale astronomer Tabetha (Tabby) Boyajian, who first noticed the star, to call KIC 8462852…”the most mysterious star in the universe.” KIC 8462852 sits about 1,480 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus and has unusual fluctuations in the light coming from the otherwise ordinary F-type star (slightly larger and hotter than the sun). These fluctuations sometimes consisted of dozens of uneven, unnatural-looking dips that appeared over a 100-day period indicating that a large number of irregularly shaped objects had passed across the face of the star and temporarily blocked some of the light coming from it. These fluctuations have led scientists to postulate causes ranging from comet dust – as Boyajian suggest – to fantastic alien megastructures.
The latest studies of Tabby’s star have proved even more baffling: KIC 8462852 has been gradually dimming over the last century, a strikingly short period of time on an astronomical scale.
Archeologists have recently discovered the remains of a group of large ancient buildings at the bottom of Fuxian Lake in Yunnan Province, China. Also found were placed stones with carvings that can be classified as mysterious. These findings question previous assumptions by experts. According to Chinese newspaper outlets, recorded in historical documents was a city named Yuyuan. Yuyuan was founded in the Fuxian Lake demographic during the Western Han Dynasty from 206 BC to 24 AD. Yuyuan disappeared from the historical record during the Sui and Tang Dynasty from 589 AD to 907 AD. Urban legend claims the city sank to the bottom of Fuxian Lake.
These recent findings suggest otherwise since the remains of the buildings were made of stone. Yuyuan buildings were found to be mostly built with wood. Through Sonar surveys, it was revealed that the architecture found at the bottom of Fuxian Lake covered around 2.4 square kilometers. This constitutes a large city that was never documented in history. Also found at the bottom were the remains of a pyramid thought to be more complex than the famous Egyptian pyramids. One of the many stones found has gathered some special attention. On the top right section of the stone is a small circle that was carved with seven radial lines surrounding it. This carving resembles the sun. A smaller circle is carved on the left side of the same stone, but with only four radial lines.
These types of carvings are considered rare by experts and are estimated to be over 1,800 years old. No such similar carvings are known in that time frame.
The icy and rocky worlds around giant planets make up some of the most potentially habitable regions of Earth's solar system. So far, only one potential moon has been found orbiting a planet around a distant star, but given the wealth of moons orbiting planets around Earth's sun, it seems likely that more exomoons may remain unseen. New research suggests that planets orbiting pairs of stars, as depicted by the well-known "Star Wars" world Tatooine, could hold on to their moons, creating sites for life to evolve. Double-star systems can create a challenge in stability that their single-star cousins avoid, however. In both types of systems, the stars move around slightly, potentially disturbing any orbiting planets and their moons. When two stars are dancing together, it increases the odds that the stars will knock away a planet, as well as its moon. While the exomoons of planets that orbit a single star is awell-studied phenomenon less work has been done for exomoons in binary systems.
Telescopes such as NASA's recently launched Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the upcoming European CHEOPS and PLATO spacecraft may be good for hunting down exomoons.
A mysterious cigar-shaped object spotted tumbling through our solar system last year may have been an alien spacecraft sent to investigate Earth, astronomers from Harvard University have suggested. The object, nicknamed 'Oumuamua, meaning "a messenger that reaches out from the distant past" in Hawaiian, was discovered in October 2017 by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii. Since its discovery, scientists have been at odds to explain its unusual features and precise origins, with researchers first calling it a comet and then an asteroid before finally deeming it the first of its kind: a new class of "interstellar objects." A new paper by researchers at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics raises the possibility that the elongated dark-red object, which is 10 times as long as it is wide and traveling at speeds of 196,000 mph, might have an "artificial origin."
"Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization," they wrote in the paper. The theory is based on the object's "excess acceleration," or its unexpected boost in speed as it traveled through and ultimately out of our solar system in January.
If its the same species that we've encountered on the way here then I would say that Earth has about 12-15 years before they arrive. We'll offer our assistance if needed.
"Why do you insist the universe is not a conscious intelligence, when it gives birth to conscious intelligences?", questioned the Roman philosopher Cicero. Over two-thousand years later scientist Dr. Robert Lanza responds to Cicero's philosophical query with a groundbreaking book Beyond Biocentrism: Rethinking Time, Space, Consciousness, and the Illusion of Death. Biocentrism is a new theory that upends everything we might assume about ourselves and the world around us. The most basic assumption Dr. Lanza's biocentric theory challenges is our fundamental understanding of the "way things are."
"Biologists describe the origin of life as a random occurrence in a dead universe, but have no real understanding of how life began or why the universe appears to have been exquisitely designed for its emergence."
Science tells us that our universe all began with a sudden explosion -- a big bang -- about 13.8 billion years ago. Dr. Lanza writes:"In this model, the universe was presented as a kind of self-operating machine. It was composed of crazy stuff, meaning atoms of hydrogen and other elements that had no innate intelligence. Nor did any sort of external intelligence rule. Rather, unseen forces such as gravity and electromagnetism, acting according to the random laws of chance, produced everything we observe... As for how consciousness could arise in the first place, no one even has guesses. We cannot fathom how lumps of carbon, drops of water, or atoms of insensate hydrogen ever came together and acquired a sense of smell. The issue is apparently too baffling to raise at all."
In this model the universe is regarded as objective -- existing independent of any observer -- made of matter, ruled by mechanistic laws. Consciousness -- or the observer -- is simply a part of the matter-based universe. But this model not only fails to fully address the conundrum of consciousness. It also fails to answer other puzzling questions: what was there before the Big Bang? Why does the universe seem exquisitely designed for the emergence of life? Why is there something instead of nothing? This is where Dr. Lanza's biocentric theory of the universe comes in, to show us the inherent flaw in the standard explanation for origins of the universe.
Dr. Lanza says the problem is we have everything upside down. He takes the common assumption that the universe led to the creation of life and argues that it's the other way around: that life is not a byproduct of the universe, but its very source.
Or put another way, consciousness is what gives rise to our sense of there being an "out there" when, in fact, the world we experience around us is actually created in our consciousness.
World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is the seventh expansion pack for the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft, following Legion. I still play other MMO's like Star Wars: The Old Republic and FF14 but this is by far my favorite one!
"A Type I designation is a given to species who have been able to harness all the energy that is available from a neighboring star, gathering and storing it to meet the energy demands of a growing population." --Nikolai Kardashev
Your electric bill could end up being obsolete if one company succeeds at harnessing the energy of superhot plasma with a mega-reactor that could change how everything plugs in and lights up. Tokamak Energy, a UK-based nuclear fusion company, is on a mission to develop a clean energy source that is Earth’s “star in a jar” answer to the nuclear fusion processes that keep orbs like our sun glowing. Their new ST40 reactor just heated a hydrogen plasma to a temperature that out-scorches even the core of the sun—27 million degrees Fahrenheit. Tokamak believes that the success of this test is a major leap toward global plasma energy that could make burning carbon a thing of the past.
“We are taking significant steps towards achieving fusion energy and doing so with the agility of a private venture, driven by the goal of achieving something that will have huge benefits worldwide,” said Tokamak Energy CEO John Carling. “Our aim is to make fusion energy a commercial reality by 2030.” ST40 is a tokamak fusion reactor, which was first developed in Soviet Russia during the ‘60s. Nuclear fusion will not only power all of Earth someday but also blast off rockets and keep them airborne, eliminating the need for massive amounts of fuel that increase payload weight and launch costs while leaving clouds of exhaust in their wake. Thrust engines powered by this technology will likely rely on tokamak reactors (which have had the most success in experiments) to propel them through space.
NASA is funding the development of fusion reactor rockets by Princeton Satellite Systems, which could make missions that are now too expensive and otherwise prohibitive a reality in the future.
The scientific evidence is clear and irrefutable — human activity is causing our planet to warm at an alarmingly high rate. Not only is this warming climate trend happening right now, it could have serious outcomes on our food supply, lead to mass migration and conflict, and without being alarmist, it may very well threaten the future survival of the human race. It’s time for the “is it real or not?” debate to end. Action needs to be taken right now, not tomorrow. What you can do:
We encourage you to know and add your voice to the issues that are shaping the climate debate as well as emerging, evidence-based data that directly relates to changes in our climate.
Consider climate issues on local, national and global levels, and vote for candidates who will advocate for climate-related legislation and policy improvements. The right climate legislation has the power to move mountains.
Pledge to separate your investments from exposure to fossil fuel assets and increase your stake in clean energy companies. Join a movement of millions of individuals from dozens of countries representing trillions in assets who are avoiding the investment risks of climate change and lightening their carbon footprints. When it comes to climate change, money talks.
Hold yourself accountable
Take a personal inventory of your own personal impact on the planet. With greater awareness comes significant change.
Reduce. Reduce. Reduce.
Make a concerted effort to reduce greenhouse gases in your daily life — at home, in the office or on the road. Eat less meat. Go solar. Change the lightbulbs in your home. All of these are an act of green. Record them here.
From using water efficiently and driving a more fuel efficient vehicle to getting involved in the Earth Day movement, there are so many ways to stand up and act for your planet. You’d be surprised at how much positive change a single person can effect.
Figures from the scientific community and beyond came together to mark the passing of famed physicist Stephen Hawking, who died at age 76 on Wednesday, the same day as Albert Einstein's birthday, also known as "Pi day." The academic, author and noted scientist brought his complex theories to a wide audience through his bestselling book, "A Brief History of Time."
"He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years," his three children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said in a joint statement. "His courage and persistence, with his brilliance and humor, inspired people across the world. He once said, 'It would not be much of a universe if it wasn't home to the people you love.' We will miss him forever."
I'm really happy that Gary Oldman won the Oscar for best actor for his role in Darkest Hour. He's a very talented actor and appeared in some of my favorite movies; Bram Stoker's Dracula and Léon: The Professional.