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Labeled as discuss in The Break Room, started by CraigD, Oct 19, 2020

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  1. koolishman

    koolishman Top Contributor VIP

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    Rare 'locked' letter sealed 300 years ago is finally opened virtually

    Three hundred years ago, before envelopes, passwords and security codes, writers often struggled to keep thoughts, cares and dreams expressed in their letters private.

    One popular way was to use a technique called letter locking -- intricately folding a flat sheet of paper to become its own envelope. This security strategy presented a challenge when 577 locked letters delivered to The Hague in the Netherlands between 1689 and 1706 were found in a trunk of undelivered mail.

    The letters had never reached their final recipients, and conservationists didn't want to open and damage them. Instead, a team has found a way to read one of the letters without breaking its seal or unfolding it in any way. Using a highly sensitive X-ray scanner and computer algorithms, researchers virtually unfolded the unopened letter.


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  2. koolishman

    koolishman Top Contributor VIP

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    Primates Appeared Almost Immediately After Dinosaurs Went Extinct, New Research Suggests

    A formation famous for producing T. rex fossils has now yielded the oldest evidence of primates in the fossil record, in what is being hailed a significant discovery.



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    Jawbones and an assortment of teeth found in the Hell’s Creek formation of northeastern Montana are the oldest primate fossils ever discovered, according to new research published in Royal Society Open Science.

    Dating back to around 65.9 million years ago, these animals lived a mere 105,000 to 139,000 years after the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, in which an asteroid wiped out most plant and animal species on Earth. The new paper was co-led by Gregory Wilson Mantilla from the University of Washington and Stephen Chester of Brooklyn College and the City University of New York.



     
  3. koolishman

    koolishman Top Contributor VIP

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    The human brain grew as a result of the extinction of large animals

    A new paper by Dr. Miki Ben-Dor and Prof. Ran Barkai from the Jacob M. Alkow Department of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University proposes an original unifying explanation for the physiological, behavioral and cultural evolution of the human species, from its first appearance about two million years ago, to the agricultural revolution (around 10,000 BCE).

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    According to the paper, humans developed as hunters of large animals, causing their ultimate extinction. As they adapted to hunting small, swift prey animals, humans developed higher cognitive abilities, evidenced by the most obvious evolutionary change - the growth of brain volume from 650cc to 1,500cc. To date, no unifying explanation has been proposed for the major phenomena in human prehistory. The novel theory was published in Quaternary Journal.

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    https://www.mdpi.com/2571-550X/4/1/7

     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
  4. CraigD

    CraigD Top Contributor VIP

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    Proto-primates...

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    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purgatorius


    I think someone has taken a great leap with a clickbait headline ;)
     
  5. koolishman

    koolishman Top Contributor VIP

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    The future lifespan of Earth’s oxygenated atmosphere

    The future of Earth’s oxygenated atmosphere: the lifespan of Earth’s atmosphere, with oxygen levels more than 1% of the present atmospheric level, is 1.08 ± 0.14 billion years.

    Earth’s modern atmosphere is highly oxygenated and is a remotely detectable signal of its surface biosphere. However, the lifespan of oxygen-based biosignatures in Earth’s atmosphere remains uncertain, particularly for the distant future. Here we use a combined biogeochemistry and climate model to examine the likely timescale of oxygen-rich atmospheric conditions on Earth. Using a stochastic approach, we find that the mean future lifespan of Earth’s atmosphere, with oxygen levels more than 1% of the present atmospheric level, is 1.08 ± 0.14 billion years (1σ). The model projects that a deoxygenation of the atmosphere, with atmospheric O2 dropping sharply to levels reminiscent of the Archaean Earth, will most probably be triggered before the inception of moist greenhouse conditions in Earth’s climate system and before the extensive loss of surface water from the atmosphere. We find that future deoxygenation is an inevitable consequence of increasing solar fluxes, whereas its precise timing is modulated by the exchange flux of reducing power between the mantle and the ocean–atmosphere–crust system. Our results suggest that the planetary carbonate–silicate cycle will tend to lead to terminally CO2-limited biospheres and rapid atmospheric deoxygenation, emphasizing the need for robust atmospheric biosignatures applicable to weakly oxygenated and anoxic exoplanet atmospheres and highlighting the potential importance of atmospheric organic haze during the terminal stages of planetary habitability.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
  6. koolishman

    koolishman Top Contributor VIP

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    Space plasma hurricanes discovered above North Pole - where it rains electrons

    Satellite readings reveal a space hurricane in Earth's upper atmosphere made of plasma and raining electrons instead of water.

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    Scientists say they have confirmed the existence of space hurricanes, with a 600 mile-wide mass spotted above the North Pole.

    Researchers led by China's Shandong University used satellite data to identify the space hurricane, finding it was not a whirling pattern of air but of plasma - ionised gas.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
  7. koolishman

    koolishman Top Contributor VIP

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    The paper says,

    The newly discovered teeth and jawbones belong to two different species: P. janisae and P. mckeeveri. Both species belong to Purgatorius, the oldest known genus associated with primates. Other members of this group include P. unio and P. ceratops, and they’re all considered plesiadapiforms—a stem group of primates that includes Purgatorius and from which all modern primates like monkeys, apes (you included), and lemurs are descended.

    P. janisae was already known to paleontologists, but P. mckeeveri is a newly described species named in honor of a family that has supported fieldwork in this area.

    Three teeth with traits not seen before in Purgatorius allowed the scientists to declare the discovery of a new species.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
  8. koolishman

    koolishman Top Contributor VIP

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  9. CraigD

    CraigD Top Contributor VIP

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    Evolution timeline graphic

    It does my head in reading about and trying to picture the evolutionary lineage on these timescales, so I'll leave this here for future reference.

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
  10. koolishman

    koolishman Top Contributor VIP

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  11. CraigD

    CraigD Top Contributor VIP

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    That reminds me, I came across this article a couple of days ago.

    Bee thought to have gone extinct spotted for first time — in nearly a century


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    In recent years, scientists have brought attention to an alarming decline among the world’s bee population. In a bit of good news, one bee that experts believed went extinct has now been spotted for the first time in nearly a century. The rare pollinator, native to Australia, was in the forests of north Queensland all along, but it is probably under increasing pressure to survive.

    The species goes by the regal name of Pharohylaeus lactiferus. Only six of these bees had ever been caught, the last of which came in 1923. Now three separate populations have been discovered feeding on flowers and plants along Australia’s east coast.

    “This is concerning because it is the only Australian species in the Pharohylaeus genus. Nothing was known of its biology,” says biologist James Dorey, of Flinders University, Adelaide, in a statement. “It is one of two species in the genus, and the only one in Australia with its sister species in Papua New Guinea. It goes by the regal name of Pharohylaeus lactiferus and I found him in far north Queensland in some remnant forest.”

    https://www.studyfinds.org/bee-thought-extinct-spotted-first-time-in-century/


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    Pharohylaeus lactiferus (Colletidae: Hylaeinae). A bee that thought to have gone extinct has been spotted for the first time... in almost a century. (Credit: Flinders University)
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2021
  12. CraigD

    CraigD Top Contributor VIP

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    [​IMG]

    Computer-generated unfolding animation of sealed letter DB-1538. (Image credit: Courtesy of the Unlocking History Research Group archive)
     
  13. CraigD

    CraigD Top Contributor VIP

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    Last edited: Mar 3, 2021
  14. CraigD

    CraigD Top Contributor VIP

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    [NASA] CineSpace Short Film Competition 2021

    [3 March 2021]

    The competition offers creators around the world a chance to share their films inspired by and using NASA imagery, enabling curiosity and fostering creative relationships at the intersection of art and science. Submissions featuring real NASA footage from 60 years of space exploration will be judged on creativity, innovation and attention to detail. As in previous years, filmmakers will compete for $26,000 in cash prizes, with awards going to the top three overall winners and winners of two special categories: Best Educational Film on Space and Science and Film That Best Depicts Unity and Inclusion in Science.

    Filmmakers of all experience levels from around the world are welcome to submit their films for consideration. The competition is inclusive of all genres, including narrative, documentary, comedy, drama, animation, experimental and others. Films will be submitted to the content creation platform Tongal. Film entries must be no more than 10 minutes and contain at least 10 percent of publicly available NASA imagery. Finalists are selected from the submissions and reviewed by Academy Award ® nominee Richard Linklater who awards the first, second, and third place prizes.

    Partner Organizations: NASA; Houston Cinema Arts Society

    Award(s): $26,000 in total prizes

    Open Date: March 1, 2021

    Close Date: July 14, 2021 at 2 p.m. CDT


    Frequency: Annual

    Find NASA video and imagery at: http://www.nasa.gov/content/download-nasa-videos-for-cinespace

    For more information, visit: cinespace.org
     
  15. koolishman

    koolishman Top Contributor VIP

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    Study: Comodo Dragon likely originated in Australia

    The unusual breeding history of the Earth's largest living lizard - the Komodo dragon - has been laid bare in a new study from The Australian National University.

    The Komodo dragon is best known for its size and hunting skills, reaching up to three metres long and preying on buffaloes, deer, and even the occasional human. But that's not all that sets it apart.

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    The new study shows despite famously making its home in Indonesia, the Komodo dragon likely originated in Australia, as predicted by earlier fossil findings
    . While here it reproduced with a different species of lizard - an ancestor of the sand monitor, a type of goanna.

    Lead author of the study, Mr Carlos Pavón Vázquez said it's the first clear evidence of this type of interbreeding, known as hybridisation, happening in wild monitor lizards.

    "This study proves hybridisation can have a long-lasting effect. In this case it happened millions of years ago, but the signs are still there in the sand monitors. They have more in common with the Komodo dragon than you'd expect," Mr Pavón Vázquez said.
     
  16. CraigD

    CraigD Top Contributor VIP

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    I've been charged by a large goanna (smaller cousin of the comodo) that I estimate was over two meters in length.

    I'm not sure if he was actually attacking me or thought I was a tree. The trick is to move about so they realise that you are not a tree. They can do some fearful damage if they do manage to mount you as they have very very large razor-sharp claws for climbing trees.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goanna
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2021
  17. CraigD

    CraigD Top Contributor VIP

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    A Cephalopod Has Passed a Cognitive Test Designed For Human Children

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    A new test of cephalopod smarts has reinforced how important it is for us humans to not underestimate animal intelligence.

    Cuttlefish have been put to a new version of the marshmallow test, and the results appear to demonstrate that there's more going on in their strange little brains than we knew.

    Their ability to learn and adapt, the researchers said, could have evolved to give cuttlefish an edge in the cutthroat eat-or-be-eaten marine world they live in.

    The marshmallow test, or Stanford marshmallow experiment, is pretty straightforward. A child is placed in a room with a marshmallow. They are told if they can manage not to eat the marshmallow for 15 minutes, they'll get a second marshmallow, and be allowed to eat both.

    This ability to delay gratification demonstrates cognitive abilities such as future planning, and it was originally conducted to study how human cognition develops; specifically, at what age a human is smart enough to delay gratification if it means a better outcome later.

    Because it's so simple, it can be adjusted for animals. Obviously you can't tell an animal they'll get a better reward if they wait, but you can train them to understand that better food is coming if they don't eat the food in front of them straight away.

    Some primates can delay gratification, along with dogs, albeit inconsistently. Corvids, too, have passed the marshmallow test.

    https://www.sciencealert.com/cuttlefish-can-pass-a-cognitive-test-designed-for-children
     
  18. CraigD

    CraigD Top Contributor VIP

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    EMERGENCY FLIGHT TERMINATION SYSTEM FOR SN10 IS IN PLACE; STARSHIP TEST FLIGHT IMMINENT

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    On Feb. 28, workers installed the flight termination system, or FTS, on Starship SN10 in what has proven to be the key event in the testing campaign that separates the preflight testing phase from the flight attempt phase.

    Hopefully SN10 will stick the landing without need for the use of this safety system, but it is a critical component which helps to safeguard the residents of the area against a potentially out of control experimental rocket. As of right now, SpaceX is targeting sometime today, March 3, for their high-altitude flight test for the vehicle.

    https://www.spaceflightinsider.com/...10-is-in-place-starship-test-flight-imminent/



    Here is a live feed. Fingers crossed it will fly in the next few hours

     
  19. CraigD

    CraigD Top Contributor VIP

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    Artemis: We Are Focused
    •Mar 3, 2021

    The latest promotional video for NASA's Artemis Program.



    Deep space exploration begins on American factory floors. The launch of Artemis I will bring together the world’s most powerful rocket, NASA’s Space Launch System and the Orion Spacecraft, to prepare us to land the first woman and the next man on the lunar surface.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2021
  20. CraigD

    CraigD Top Contributor VIP

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    Success!

    I also enjoyed the post-landing Rapid Unplanned Disassembly (RUD) ;)

    SpaceX Starship prototype rocket [SN10] explodes after successful landing in high-altitude flight test

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    • SpaceX’s latest Starship prototype landed for the first time after a high-altitude flight test but then exploded a few minutes after as it stood on the concrete pad.
    • The cause of the explosion, or whether it was intentional, was not immediately clear.
    • The company test flew Starship rocket Serial Number 10, or SN10, on a flight to about 32,800 feet altitude before returning to land on a concrete pad a few minutes later.
    https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/03/spa...rocket-after-a-high-altitude-flight-test.html


     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2021
  21. CraigD

    CraigD Top Contributor VIP

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    6 new PSVR games are on the way: here’s everything you need to know

    Virtual reality check

    Sony recently announced a successor to its PSVR headset that will "enable the ultimate entertainment experience with dramatic leaps in performance and interactivity". But that doesn’t mean it’s giving up on the aging PS4 peripheral just yet.

    Sony said it was “delighted by the enthusiasm we saw from the community” around the recent announcement of its next-generation VR system, which we believe will be called PSVR 2.

    PSVR games on the way, and rolled out the announcements every 30 minutes as part of its PS VR Spotlight event on March 3.

    Read on for a round up of all the standout titles that fans of virtual reality won’t want to miss.

    https://www.techradar.com/au/news/s...-on-the-way-heres-everything-you-need-to-know

    Escape reality

    While many believed Sony might leave VR behind, it’s clear that the company is fully committed to bringing virtual reality to the masses. PSVR 2 will certainly be a more tempting proposition to newcomers and PS5 owners if it already has an established lineup of games at the time of release, and quality of life improvements such as only having one wire and a dedicated VR controller will only help its appeal.
     
  22. CraigD

    CraigD Top Contributor VIP

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    Human alteration of global surface water storage variability

    Abstract:

    Knowing the extent of human influence on the global hydrological cycle is essential for the sustainability of freshwater resources on Earth. However, a lack of water level observations for the world’s ponds, lakes and reservoirs has limited the quantification of human-managed (reservoir) changes in surface water storage compared to its natural variability. The global storage variability in surface water bodies and the extent to which it is altered by humans therefore remain unknown.

    Here we show that 57 per cent of the Earth’s seasonal surface water storage variability occurs in human-managed reservoirs.

    Using measurements from NASA’s ICESat-2 satellite laser altimeter, which was launched in late 2018, we assemble an extensive global water level dataset that quantifies water level variability for 227,386 water bodies from October 2018 to July 2020. We find that seasonal variability in human-managed reservoirs averages 0.86 metres, whereas natural water bodies vary by only 0.22 metres. Natural variability in surface water storage is greatest in tropical basins, whereas human-managed variability is greatest in the Middle East, southern Africa and the western USA. Strong regional patterns are also found, with human influence driving 67 per cent of surface water storage variability south of 45 degrees north and nearly 100 per cent in certain arid and semi-arid regions.

    As economic development, population growth and climate change continue to pressure global water resources, our approach provides a useful baseline from which ICESat-2 and future satellite missions will be able to track human modifications to the global hydrologic cycle.

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03262-3
     
  23. Cannuck

    Cannuck 420 friendly VIP

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    THE SIXTH MASS EXTINCTION

    Since life appeared on Earth, there have been several mass extinctions in which many species were wiped out because of catastrophic climate change, volcanic activity, the impact of an asteroid or other reasons we have not yet discovered.

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    The plants and animals which currently live on Earth have continued to evolve over the 65 million years since the last mass extinction. But many scientists consider the huge reduction in biodiversity since the emergence of humans is now on the scale of another mass extinction. This is known as the Anthropocene extinction or sixth mass extinction.

    https://populationmatters.org/biodiversity
     
  24. CraigD

    CraigD Top Contributor VIP

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    Watch a Super-Elusive Moonflower Cactus Bloom in This Gorgeous, Rare Time Lapse

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    The Amazon moonflower (Selenicereus wittii) has one of the most elusive blooms in the plant kingdom. Each year, for just one night, this rare and unusual cactus opens its sepals to the night sky, releasing a gorgeous white flower and a sweet, jasmine-like fragrance into the swampy rainforest air.

    By morning, it's gone.




    Around the world, only about 13 of these strange plants have been successfully cultivated by horticulturists, and in the United Kingdom, after five years of careful nurturing, experts at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden (CUBG) have caught the ephemeral flowering event on camera.

    "It's very rare to have this plant in our collection and we believe this is the first time the Moonflower has flowered in the UK," says horticulturalist and glasshouse supervisor Alex Summers from CUBG.

    https://www.sciencealert.com/new-time-lapse-shows-a-rare-moonflower-cactus-blooming-in-all-its-glory
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2021
  25. CraigD

    CraigD Top Contributor VIP

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    It's interesting that we have almost wiped out the large mammals and apex predators that inhabit our domain, except for the most ancient like crocodiles and sharks that rule their own domain. On the other hand, smaller apex predators like household cats and dogs have flourished by our side. Essentially, we have destroyed anything that is a threat to us, while protecting our food sources and pets.


    I read a fantastic book 30-years ago by the late Douglas Adams titled Last Chance to See.

    Perhaps a bit dated now, but it made me aware as a youngster of where we were heading.

    A few good quotes from the book and series in the typical Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine wry style:

    “We are not an endangered species ourselves yet, but this is not for lack of trying.”

    “The fastest extinction in New Zealand – possibly in the entire world – was the Stephen’s Island wren, which lived on tiny Stephen’s Island, in Cook Strait. It was discovered in 1894, when a new lighthouse keeper arrived on the island for the first time. One of his cats caught a bird he didn’t recognise, so he sent the little body to a friend in Wellington, who happened to be a professional ornithologist. By the time the excited friend sent news back that it was a species new to science, the cat had caught another fifteen. And that was it – there were none left. Stephen’s Island wren officially became extinct later the same year. The cat had eaten the first and last of the species, and all the others in between. Its owner, the lighthouse keeper, was the only person ever to have seen one alive.”

    “according to figures published by the New York City Health Department, for every person around the world bitten by a shark, 25 people are actually bitten by New Yorkers.”
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2021

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