Sunday, December 18, 2016

google time lapse videos

black lung

A display case at NIOSH shows a normal lung and a diseased black lung from inhaling coal dust and other harmful particles while coal mining.
Howard Berkes/NPR npr

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

snowballs wash up on beach

There were snowy, icy balls everywhere.
Videos and photos from western Siberia, on the Gulf of Ob, showed an entire beach covered in snowballs that had apparently washed ashore. In one image published online by the Siberian Times, a woman sat on the frozen balls. In another, a dog ran near the balls, which had also formed what looked like a vertical mass of balls mashed together into an icy ball-wall.
The BBC reports that the balls started washing up about two weeks ago. They're strung along some 11 miles of coast and are said to range from about the size of a tennis ball up to almost 3 feet across.
Here's a video of the beach shot by someone named Valery Togo, who told the Russian news site Vesti Yamal that he lives in the nearby town of Nyda, which is on the Yamal Peninsula just above the Arctic Circle.

The BBC reports the chilled orbs that washed ashore "result from a rare environmental process where small pieces of ice form, are rolled by wind and water, and end up as giant snowballs." It adds:
"Russian TV quoted an explanation from Sergei Lisenkov, press secretary of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute:
" 'As a rule, first there is a primary natural phenomenon — sludge ice, slob ice. Then comes a combination of the effects of the wind, the lay of the coastline, and the temperature and wind conditions.'
" 'It can be such an original combination that it results in the formation of balls like these.' "
The Collins English Dictionary defines "slob ice" as "sludgy masses of floating ice" in Canadian English.
Rare and original as the ball-forming process might be, this is not the first time humans have witnessed these globular creations. In 2010, a Chicago Tribune video showed snowballs that washed up along Lake Michigan.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Hurricane Matthew Took A Big Bite Out Of Southeastern States' Beaches

Beaches in the Southeastern U.S. took a tremendous beating last month from Hurricane Matthew. The U.S. Geological Survey has found that the storm washed over and damaged 15 percent of sand dunes on Florida's Atlantic Coast, 30 percent along Georgia's coastline and 42 percent of the dunes on South Carolina beaches.
In Florida, few coastal areas were hit harder by the hurricane than the 18 miles of dunes and beaches in Flagler County. County Administrator Craig Coffey says, "What Matthew did to us essentially [was] eat about 30 feet of coastline all the way along the county, and created a bunch of breaches through that dune system."
Matthew also washed out a big chunk of coastal highway A1A in Flagler Beach. The state and county are working to have that road repaired and open within 45 days. Fixing that highway is important, Coffey says. But he is equally worried about damage to the county's beaches and dunes, which provide the community with important protection from tides, wave action and storm surge.
When Hurricane Matthew overtopped and breached Flagler County's beaches, some 800 homes were flooded. Coffey says, "We're trying to figure out how can we protect those for next hurricane season so we don't have more breaches. We literally were fighting breaches in about 10 locations." Flagler County is hoping federal money will be available to help it begin restoring the dunes, which provide protection for hundreds of coastal homes.

Photos taken before Hurricane Matthew (Sept. 6, 2014, above) and after (Oct. 13, 2016, below) show that the storm cut a new inlet between the Atlantic Ocean and the Matanzas River near St. Augustine, Fla., stripping away a 12-foot dune and carrying sand into the estuary.

Many other communities are facing similar problems. The USGS says 53 miles of dunes were damaged and overtopped in Florida. In Georgia, 32 miles of shoreline were affected. Seventy-seven miles of dunes were damaged in South Carolina.
Hilary Stockdon, a research oceanographer at USGS, says a survey of the beaches compared aerial photos taken before and after the storm. It showed extensive beach erosion all along the Southeast Atlantic coast, Stockdon says, "where waves removed sand from beaches and sharply eroded sand dunes. There were locations where houses were undermined or roads were undermined. And we also saw locations where the sand was pushed inland."
After small storms, Stockdon says, beaches and dunes can recover naturally. With major storms like Hurricane Matthew, though, sand is washed inland and bulldozed away, she says. Restoring sand dunes after those events often requires big engineering projects.
Photos taken before Hurricane Matthew (Sept. 6, 2014) and after (Oct. 14, 2016) show that the storm washed away a 16-foot sand dune, destroying boardwalks and decks and exposing a seawall at Vilano Beach, Fla.

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

SNL Trump vs. Clinton debate

Washing clothes releases thousands of microplastic particles into environment

More than 700,000 microscopic fibres could be released into waste water during each use of a domestic washing machine, with many of them likely to pass through sewage treatment and into the environment, according to new research.
A study by Plymouth University examined the mass, abundance and size of fibres present in waste effluent following washes of synthetic fabrics at standard temperatures of 30˚C and 40˚C.
It found hundreds of thousands of tiny synthetic particles could be released in each wash, confirming earlier work at Plymouth University that the washing of clothes is a major source of microscopic fibres within the aquatic environment.
The research, published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, was led by PhD student Imogen Napper in conjunction with Professor Richard Thompson, who is a leading international expert on microplastics and marine debris having worked in the field for more than 20 years.
For the study, a series of polyester, acrylic and polyester-cotton items were washed at 30˚C and 40˚C using various combinations of detergent and fabric conditioner. Fibres were then extracted from the waste effluent and examined using an electron microscope to determine the typical size and any differences in mass and abundance among treatments.
The research found that laundering an average washing load of 6kg could release an estimated 137,951 fibres from polyester-cotton blend fabric, 496,030 fibres from polyester and 728,789 from acrylic. The polyester-cotton blend was consistently found to shed fewer fibres than both the other fabric types, regardless of the differing treatments, however the addition of bio-detergents or conditioners tended to release more fibres.
Professor Thompson, who leads the International Marine Litter Research Unit at Plymouth University, recently gave both written and oral evidence to the microplastics inquiry held by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, which led to recommendations for a ban on the use of microbeads in cosmetics. read more

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Filipino Fisherman Reveals 75-Pound Pearl He Kept Hidden For A Decade

A fisherman in the Philippines might have discovered the largest natural pearl ever found — and then kept it hidden under his bed for 10 years.
The pearl's existence was revealed by Aileen Cynthia Maggay-Amurao, a tourism officer in Puerto Princesa, on the island of Palawan.
She says the fisherman is one of her relatives and that he discovered it in a giant clam and kept it as a good-luck charm.
When he was moving out of his home, he decided to give the pearl to Maggay-Amurao for safekeeping instead of transporting it with him — "since it's quite heavy," she told The Guardian.
In fact, the pearl weighs in at 34 kilograms, Maggay-Amurao says — or approximately 75 pounds.
It's more than 2 feet long and 1 foot wide, CNN reports.
That would make it far and away the largest natural pearl ever found in a giant clam. The current world record is held by another pearl found off the coast of Palawan — "The Pearl of Allah" or "Pearl of Lao Tzu," which was discovered in the '30s and cost a diver's life to retrieve.
That pearl, which the Guardian says was valued at $93 million in 2003, weighs 14 pounds — a fraction of the size of the newly revealed pearl.
The 75-pound pearl is now on display in the city hall of Puerto Princesa; the local government has dubbed it the "Pearl of Puerto."
Maggay-Amurao, who says she persuaded her relative to display the pearl instead of hiding it, has called for gemologists to visit Puerto Princesa to examine the pearl for authenticity and an estimate of its value.
A spokesman for the Puerto Princesa government says the fisherman who found the pearl hasn't signed it over to the city, Agence France-Presse reports. "It remains his property," the spokesman says, confirming that the man could be in for an extraordinary windfall.
For the record, a 75-pound pearl would be 170,000 carats. npr

When People Ate People, A Strange Disease Emerged

Most of the world didn't know anyone lived in the highlands of Papua New Guinea until the 1930s, when Australian gold prospectors surveying the area realized there were about a million people there.
When researchers made their way to those villages in the 1950s, they found something disturbing. Among a tribe of about 11,000 people called the Fore, up to 200 people a year had been dying of an inexplicable illness. They called the disease kuru, which means "shivering" or "trembling."
Once symptoms set in, it was a swift demise. First, they'd have trouble walking, a sign that they were about to lose control over their limbs. They'd also lose control over their emotions, which is why people called it the "laughing death." Within a year, they couldn't get up off the floor, feed themselves or control their bodily functions.
Many locals were convinced it was the result of sorcery. The disease primarily hit adult women and children younger than 8 years old. In some villages, there were almost no young women left.
"They were obsessed with trying to save themselves because they knew demographically that they were on the brink of extinction," says Shirley Lindenbaum, a medical anthropologist with the City University of New York.
But what was causing it? That answer eluded researchers for years. After ruling out an exhaustive list of contaminants, they thought it must be genetic. So in 1961, Lindenbaum traveled from village to village mapping family trees so researchers could settle the issue.
But Lindenbaum, who continues to write about the epidemic, knew it couldn't be genetic, because it affected women and children in the same social groups, but not in the same genetic groups. She also knew that it had started in villages in the north around the turn of the century, and then moved south over the decades.
Lindenbaum had a hunch about what was going on, and she turned out to be right. It had to do with funerals. Specifically, it had to do with eating dead bodies at funerals.
In many villages, when a person died, they would be cooked and consumed. It was an act of love and grief.
As one medical researcher described, "If the body was buried it was eaten by worms; if it was placed on a platform it was eaten by maggots; the Fore believed it was much better that the body was eaten by people who loved the deceased than by worms and insects."
Women removed the brain, mixed it with ferns, and cooked it in tubes of bamboo. They fire-roasted and ate everything except the gall bladder. It was primarily adult women who did so, says Lindenbaum, because their bodies were thought to be capable of housing and taming the dangerous spirit that would accompany a dead body.
"So, the women took on the role of consuming the dead body and giving it a safe place inside their own body — taming it, for a period of time, during this dangerous period of mortuary ceremonies," says Lindenbaum.
But women would occasionally pass pieces of the feast to children. "Snacks," says Lindenbaum. "They ate what their mothers gave them," she says, until the boys hit a certain age and went off to live with the men. "Then, they were told not to touch that stuff."
Finally, after urging from researchers like Lindenbaum, biologists came around to the idea that the strange disease stemmed from eating dead people. The case was closed after a group at the U.S. National Institutes of Health injected infected human brain into chimpanzees, and watched symptoms of kuru develop in the animals months later. The group, which won a Nobel Prize for the findings, dubbed it a "slow virus."
But it wasn't a virus — or a bacterium, fungus, or parasite. It was an entirely new infectious agent, one that had no genetic material, could survive being boiled, and wasn't even alive.
As another group would find years later, it was just a twisted protein, capable of performing the microscopic equivalent of a Jedi mind trick, compelling normal proteins on the surface of nerve cells in the brain to contort just like them. The so-called "prions," or "proteinaceous infectious particles," would eventually misfold enough proteins to kill pockets of nerve cells in the brain, leaving the cerebellum riddled with holes, like a sponge.
The process was so odd that some compared it to Dr. Jekyll's transformation to Mr. Hyde: "the same entity but in two manifestations — a 'kind', innocuous one and a 'vicious', lethal one." npr

WATCH: Bacteria Invade Antibiotics And Transform Into Superbugs

If you've ever wanted to watch a superbug evolve before your very eyes, you're in luck. Researchers filmed an experiment that created bacteria a thousand times more drug-resistant than their ancestors. In the time-lapse video, a white bacterial colony creeps across an enormous black petri dish plated with vertical bands of successively higher doses of antibiotic.
The colony pauses when it hits the first band of antibiotic, creating a stark border between the white colony and the black petri dish. Then the bacteria start to edge their way into the toxic soup. More dots appear and they start growing, racing to the next, stronger band of antibiotic. The bacteria are evolving. After almost two weeks of real time have passed, they've become resistant to the strongest antibiotic and completely taken over the kitchen-table-sized petri dish.
We know dangerous bacteria are getting stronger all the time and that it's our fault because of our excessive and indiscriminate use of antibiotics. Each year, 23,000 people in the U.S. die as a result of superbug infections. But we typically don't get to see superbugs created.
For most people, evolution is just conceptual, says Tami Lieberman, an evolutionary microbiologist at MIT. She and her Ph.D. adviser, Roy Kishony at Harvard Medical School, wanted something that would make the evolution of superbugs seem more concrete. "The goal was to see evolution, not to abstract it," she says.
Their video and report were published Thursday in the journal Science.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

prophets of rage

looks like we're going

Sunday, July 17, 2016

On the Seasonal Occurrence and Abundance of the Zika Virus Vector Mosquito Aedes Aegypti in the Contiguous United States

13 Questions to Ask Before Getting Married

When it comes to marriage, what you don’t know really can hurt you.

Whether because of shyness, lack of interest or a desire to preserve romantic mystery, many couples do not ask each other the difficult questions that can help build the foundation for a stable marriage, according to relationship experts.

In addition to wanting someone with whom they can raise children and build a secure life, those considering marriage now expect their spouses to be both best friend and confidant. These romantic-comedy expectations, in part thanks to Hollywood, can be difficult to live up to.

Sure, there are plenty of questions couples can ask of each other early in the relationship to help ensure a good fit, but let’s face it: most don’t.

“If you don’t deal with an issue before marriage, you deal with it while you’re married,” said Robert Scuka, the executive director of the National Institute of Relationship Enhancement. It can be hard to keep secrets decade after decade, and reticence before the wedding can lead to disappointments down the line.

The following questions, intimate and sometimes awkward, are designed to spark honest discussions and possibly give couples a chance to spill secrets before it’s too late. nytimes
  1. Did your family throw plates, calmly discuss issues or silently shut down when disagreements arose?
2. Will we have children, and if we do, will you change diapers?
3. Will our experiences with our exes help or hinder us?
4. How important is religion? How will we celebrate religious holidays, if at all?
5. Is my debt your debt? Would you be willing to bail me out?
6. What’s the most you would be willing to spend on a car, a couch, shoes?
7. Can you deal with my doing things without you?
8. Do we like each other’s parents?
9. How important is sex to you?
10. How far should we take flirting with other people? Is watching pornography O.K.?
11. Do you know all the ways I say “I love you”?
12. What do you admire about me, and what are your pet peeves?
13. How do you see us 10 years from now?

guid to eating etiquette abroad

effectiveness of mosquito repellents

U.N.'s Project Everyone- Tell me What you Want

The U.N.'s Project Everyone — a group founded by filmmaker Richard "Love Actually" Curtis — has put out a video with the original recording but a new girl power emphasis. In the video, British girl group M.O, Canadian YouTube star Taylor Hatala, Nigerian-British singer Seyi Shay and Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez lip sync and dance to the song against backdrops with signs calling for "equal pay" and an end to violence against women.

The video is part of the Global Goals campaign, a U.N. initiative to promote the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. npr

Silicon Valley's Bloody Plant Burger Smells, Tastes And Sizzles Like Meat

This summer, diners in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles will get their hands on a hamburger that has been five years in the making.
The burger looks, tastes and smells like beef — except it's made entirely from plants. It sizzles on the grill and even browns and oozes fat when it cooks. It's the brainchild of former Stanford biochemist Patrick Brown and his research team at Northern California-based Impossible Foods.
The startup's goal is like many in Silicon Valley — to create a product that will change the world.
"The demand for meat is going through the roof, and the world is not going to be able to satisfy that using animals — there's just not enough space, not enough water," says Brown, Impossible Foods' founder and CEO.
Global meat production is expected to increase by 612,000 tons, or 1 percent, this year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
So Impossible Foods has developed a burger that it says is less resource-intensive, healthier and will eventually be cheaper to produce than red meat.
It's not the only faux meat company selling bloody plant patties. Last month, Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat made headlines when it released the Beyond Burger, its pea protein burger that sizzles like real meat and "bleeds" beet juice. The burgers quickly sold out after debuting at a Whole Foods in Boulder, Colo.
Beyond Meat's investors include Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Gates is also backing Impossible Foods. So is billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and Google Ventures. All told, the company has raised some $182 million in seed funding. Last year, Impossible Foods turned down Google's offer to buy the company for $200 million to $300 million.
The Impossible Burger is more than just peas and carrots smashed together: It's the result of some pretty high-tech research.
Brown's team analyzes meat at a molecular level to determine what makes a burger taste, smell and cook the way it does. He wants his burgers to be squishy while raw, then firm up and brown on the grill. He believes everything from an animal's fat tissue to muscle cells can be replicated using plant compounds.
Before starting the company, Brown had a hunch that a certain ingredient made meat taste different than other foods. "I had a very strong suspicion early on that heme would be the magic ingredient for flavor," said Brown.
Heme is an iron-containing molecule in blood that carries oxygen. It's heme that makes your blood red and makes meat look pink and taste slightly metallic.
It's highly concentrated in red meat, but it can also be found in plants. And that was the trick to giving Brown's meat-free burgers that blood-pink look when raw and meaty taste once cooked.
Brown could have extracted heme from legumes like soybeans, which contain leghemoglobin in nodules on their roots. Except, that would have been expensive and time consuming, and unearthing the plants would release carbon into the atmosphere.
So, he decided to use yeast instead. By taking the soybean gene that encodes the heme protein and transferring it to yeast, the company has been able to produce vast quantities of the bloodlike compound. Each vat of frothy red liquid in the lab holds enough heme to make about 20,000 quarter-pound Impossible Burgers. "We have to be able to produce this on a gigantic scale," says Brown.
"Ultimately, we want it to be practical to produce enough of our product to match what's currently consumed in the U.S. or the world. Well, that's a lot of heme," he says.
Because Impossible Foods isn't targeting vegetarians; it wants to woo carnivores. Brown thinks meat lovers would opt for veggie patties more often if they had an option that really replicated the burger-eating experience. So he's trying to pin down what accounts for the mouthfeel of beef.
To replicate fat, researchers mix flecks of coconut oil into ground "plant meat" made from textured wheat protein and potato protein. The potato protein provides a firm exterior when the meat is seared. And the coconut oil stays solid until it hits the frying pan, where it begins to melt, just like beef fat.
The burger has more protein, less fat and fewer calories than a patty that's 80 percent lean meat and 20 percent fat. And because it's plant-based, this "meat" has no cholesterol.
The taste is unreal. When I tried a mini burger slathered in vegan mayo, mashed avocado, caramelized onions and Dijon prepared by San Francisco chef Traci Des Jardin at the company's headquarters in Redwood City, I was floored. The flavor was slightly less potent than meat, but if I didn't already know this burger was made from plants, I wouldn't have guessed it. The texture as I chewed was just like ground beef. I tried to get my hands on Beyond Meat's Beyond Burger for a comparison, but so far it's only available in Boulder.

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