From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter Eight
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved
"Global Environment 2022 APRIL-JUNE"

    This file is attached to from “Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D.” - Chapter Eight by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved.
    This link will return you to Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D.
    Or return to Global Environment 2022 January-March or continue to Global Environment 2022 July-Sept

Global Environment 2022 APRIL-JUNE

2021 World Disaster and Environmental Issues

4/1/2022 Twinkle, twinkle: Astronomers discover the farthest star yet by Marcia Dunn, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Astronomers have discovered the farthest star yet, a super-hot, super-bright giant that formed nearly 13 billion years ago at the dawn of the cosmos.
    But this luminous blue star is long gone, so massive that it almost certainly exploded into bits just a few million years after emerging.    Its swift demise makes it all the more incredible that an international team spotted it with observations by the Hubble Space Telescope.    It takes eons for light emitted from distant stars to reach us.
    'We’re seeing the star as it was about 12.8billion years ago, which puts it about 900million years after the Big Bang,' said astronomer Brian Welch, a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins University and lead author of the study appearing in Wednesday’s journal Nature.    'We definitely just got lucky.'
    He nicknamed it Earendel, an Old English name which means morning star or rising light – 'a fitting name for a star that we have observed in a time often referred to as ‘Cosmic Dawn.’'
    The previous record-holder, Icarus, also a blue supergiant star spotted by Hubble, formed 9.4 billion years ago.    That’s more than 4 billion years after the Big Bang.
    In both instances, astronomers used a technique known as gravitational lensing to magnify the minuscule starlight.    Gravity from clusters of galaxies closer to us – in the foreground – serve as a lens to magnify smaller objects in the background.    If not for that, Icarus and Earendel would not have been discernible.
    While Hubble has spied galaxies as far away as 300 million to 400 million years of the universe-forming Big Bang, their individual stars are impossible to pick out.
    'Usually, they’re all smooshed together … But here, nature has given us this one star – highly, highly magnified, magnified by factors of thousands – so that we can study it,' said NASA astrophysicist Jane Rigby, who took part in the study.    'It’s such a gift really from the universe.'
    Vinicius Placco of the National Science Foundation’s NOIRlab in Tucson, Arizona, described the findings as 'amazing work.'    He was not involved in the study.
    Placco said based on the Hubble data, Earendel may well have been among the first generation of stars born after the Big Bang.    Future observations by the newly launched James Webb Space Telescope should provide more details, he said, and 'provide us with another piece of this cosmic puzzle that is the evolution of our universe.'
    Current data indicate Earendel was more than 50 times the size of our sun and an estimated 1 million times brighter, outsizing Icarus.    Earendel’s small, yet-to-mature home galaxy looked nothing like the pretty spiral galaxies photographed elsewhere by Hubble, said Welch, but rather 'kind of an awkward-looking, clumpy object.'    Unlike Earendel, he said, this galaxy probably has survived, although in a different form after merging with other galaxies.
    'It’s like a little snapshot in amber of the past,' Rigby said.
    Earendel may have been the prominent star in a two-star, or binary, system, or even a triple- or quadruple-star system, Welch said.    There’s a slight chance it could be a black hole, although the observations gathered in 2016 and 2019 suggest otherwise, he said.
    Regardless of its company, the star lasted barely a few million years before exploding as a supernova that went unobserved as most do, Welch said.    The most distant supernova seen by astronomers to date goes back 12 billion years.
    The Webb telescope – 100 times more powerful than Hubble – should help clarify how massive and hot the star really is, and reveal more about its parent galaxy.
    By studying stars, Rigby said: 'We are literally understanding where we came from because we’re made up of some of that stardust.'
The star Earendel, indicated by arrow, and the Sunrise Arc galaxy, stretching from lower left to upper right,
optically bent due to a massive galaxy cluster between it and the Hubble Space Telescope which captured the light.
The mass of the galaxy cluster serves as a magnifying glass, allowing Earendel to be seen. NASA via AP

4/4/2022 Map of our DNA is finally complete - Scientist’s sketch in details in story of life by Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY
    Scientists are done mapping the human genome, more than two decades after the first draft was completed, researchers announced Thursday.    About 8% of genetic material had been impossible to decipher with previous technology.
    Completing the final pieces is like adding the continent of Africa to a map of the globe that lacked it, said Michael Schatz, who participated in the research and is a professor of computer science and biology at Johns Hopkins University.
    Even missing that 8%, scientists were able to get the gist of the story of human genetics, said Jonas Korlach, chief scientific officer of Pacific Biosciences, the company whose technology was used to fill the gaps.
    If genetics were a detective story, 'precisely the pages where you would find out who the murderer is were missing,' he said.
    Several teams of American researchers published six papers in the journal Science on Thursday that fill the gaps in a single human genome, compare those areas with some of our closest ape relatives and begin to explain the role of those newly described pieces.
    It will be years before there’s a concrete payoff to that additional information, researchers said, but those previously missing bits could offer insights into human development, aging and diseases such as cancer, as well as human diversity, evolution and migration patterns across prehistory.
    'In some ways, these publications might be considered the long-awaited closing ceremony' of the Human Genome Project, which began in 1985, said Dr. Eric Green, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health.
    Mapping this genetic material should help explain how humans adapted to and survived infections and plagues, how our bodies clear toxins, how individuals respond differently to drugs, what makes the brain distinctly human and what makes each of us distinct, said Evan Eichler, a geneticist at the University of Washington School of Medicine who helped lead the research.
    'In principle, this will allow us to better understand how we form as an individual organism and how we vary, not just between other humans but other species,' Eichler said.    'For me, it’s like a dream come true.'
    Earlier maps, he said, were missing entire chapters of the book of life.    Now, 'we can continuously read the book with almost no errors,' he said, 'we can get from to the final chapter.'
    DNA, the blueprint of life, consists of four base pairs of nucleotides, simplified as the letters A, C, T and G. An individual’s genome is the complete set of these sequences.
    In the initial map, researchers discovered there were about 3billion of these letter pairs in the human genome.    Sections of five chromosomes were missing, mainly areas that contained a lot of repeated genetic letters.
    The way earlier mapping technology worked, researchers sequenced short bits, then overlapped them – like piecing together a book from sentence fragments.
    In the original Human Genome Project, researchers could map about 500 pairs of letters at a time.    Newer technology, led by PacBio, can read up to about 100,000 pairs and detect repetitions.
    Reading those longer pieces, Korlach said, allows scientists to 'eavesdrop on what happens in nature.'
    Critical functions are controlled by these repeats, Eichler noted, including genes that enabled the human brain to become bigger with more folds.    The repeats are involved in the production of ribosomes, the factories that allow cells to make proteins, transforming the genetic code into action.
    Repeats play a role in the centrosomes, the pinched area in the middle of chromosomes that are involved in accurately copying genetic material, as one cell divides into two.    Problems with this process are implicated in diseases such as Down syndrome, an inherited condition in which children are born with an extra chromosome, leading to intellectual and physical challenges and a shortened lifespan.
    Repeated sequences differ among species, Korlach said.    In so-called murder hornets, for instance, 30% to 40% of the genome is made up of repeats while butterflies have hardly any repeats.
    Much remains to be explained about their role.
    'We’re more excited about what we don’t know and the opportunity for discovery,' said Karen Miga, co-chair of the research team and associate director of the UCSC Genomics Institute at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
    Developing this single genome took about four years and cost several million dollars, said Adam Phillippy, co-chair of the consortium that conducted the work and head of the NHGRI Genome Informatics Section.
    He hopes within a year to have a fuller version and to map many more human genomes, so scientists can explore human diversity.
    It’s not clear whether human variation revealed by the work causes disease, but 'the fact that there’s an entire class of variation that’s never been seen before is extremely exciting to me,' Schatz said.
    George Church, a geneticist at Harvard University who was not involved in the new work, described it as 'a huge milestone that should be celebrated.'
    But, he added, 'we probably won’t know all the great things that come from it for a while,' in the same way that it’s taken decades to see the medical benefits of the original map. 'We shouldn’t expect miracles.'
    The cost of mapping the human genome has come down to less than $1,000 and in some cases to $300, allowing it to be used in medical care.    Through its early days, the human genome is routinely used in cancer treatment, reactions to certain drugs and identifying inherited genetic diseases.
    Phillippy hopes that within a decade, doctors and patients will have regular access to their complete genome, so it can provide more routine benefits in medical care.
    'This is a milestone on that pathway,' Church said.    'We’ll get to celebrate multiple times' before that becomes reality, he said.
    Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare.
Technology has helped sequence the last 8% of the human genome.
National Human Genome Research Institute

4/6/2022 Rule would ban asbestos, a carcinogen still in use by Matthew Daly, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday proposed a rule to finally ban asbestos, a carcinogen that is still used in some chlorine bleach, brake pads and other products and kills thousands of Americans every year.
    The proposal marks a major expansion of EPA regulation under a landmark 2016 law that overhauled rules governing tens of thousands of toxic chemicals in everyday products, from household cleaners to clothing and furniture.
    The proposed rule would ban chrysotile asbestos, the only ongoing use of asbestos in the United States.    The substance is found in products such brake linings and gaskets, and is used to manufacture chlorine bleach and sodium hydroxide, also known as caustic soda.
    EPA Administrator Michael Regan called the rule an important step to protect public health and “finally put an end to the use of dangerous asbestos in the United States.”
    The proposed ban “demonstrates significant progress in our work to implement the (2016) law and take bold, long-overdue actions to protect those most vulnerable among us,” Regan said.
    The 2016 law authorized new rules for tens of thousands of toxic chemicals found in everyday products, including substances such as asbestos and trichloroethylene that for decades have been known to cause cancer yet were largely unregulated under federal law.    Known as the Frank Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act, the law was intended to clear up a hodgepodge of state rules governing chemicals and update the Toxic Substances Control Act, a 1976 law that had remained unchanged for 40 years.    The EPA banned asbestos in 1989, but the rule was largely overturned by a 1991 court decision that weakened EPA’s authority under TSCA to address risks to human health from asbestos or other existing chemicals.    The 2016 law required the EPA evaluate chemicals and put in place protections against unreasonable risks.
    At the signing ceremony for the new law, then-President Barack Obama said the U.S. chemical system under TSCA was “so complex, so burdensome that our country hasn’t even been able to uphold a ban on asbestos.    I think a lot of Americans would be shocked by all that.”
    Asbestos, once common in home insulation and other products, is banned in more than 50 countries and its use in the U.S. has been declining for decades.    The only form of asbestos known to be currently imported, processed or distributed for use in the U.S. is chrysotile asbestos, which is imported primarily from Brazil and Russia.    It is used by the chlor-alkali industry, which produces bleach, caustic soda and other products.
    Most consumer products that historically contained chrysotile asbestos have been discontinued.
    While chlorine is a commonly used disinfectant in water treatment, there are only 10 chlor-alkali plants in the U.S. that still use asbestos diaphragms to produce chlorine and sodium hydroxide.    The plants are mostly located in Louisiana and Texas.
    The EPA banned asbestos in 1989, but the rule was largely overturned by a 1991 court decision that weakened EPA’s authority under TSCA.
The proposed rule would ban chrysotile asbestos, the only
ongoing use of asbestos in the United States. PAUL SANCYA/AP

4/7/2022 Ancient footprints show children splashed in puddles 11,500 years ago by Colin Barras – New Scientist
    The delight that children find when they jump in muddy puddles has a surprisingly long history.    Fossil footprints discovered at an archaeological site in New Mexico show that a group of youngsters living at least 11,500 years ago spent a carefree few minutes engaged in some joyful splashing.    But the world was very different back then: the puddles in question had formed in the deep footprints left by a now-extinct giant ground sloth.
    The footprints were discovered at White Sands National Park, a site which is rapidly gaining a reputation for its astonishing archaeology.    Within the park there is a playa – a dried up lake bed – some 100 square kilometres in size.    The playa contains thousands of footprints left by humans, mammoths, sabre-toothed cats and other inhabitants of prehistoric North America.    Some of the footprints suggest humans had reached the Americas 23,000 years ago – about 8000 years earlier than we had thought.
    But what really sets the ancient human footprints at White Sands apart is their power to vividly show us what life was like for early Americans.    Matthew Bennett at Bournemouth University, UK, has been studying prints at the site for several years.    He and his team can measure the prints to work out things like the age of the person who made them and how fast they were walking or running.    Then they can follow the tracks and see how events such as animal hunts unfolded.    “It’s written in the tracks what happened,” says Bennett.
    In unpublished work, Bennett and his team have found one collection of prints that tell a particularly evocative tale.    It begins with a set of roughly 40-centimetre-long footprints that show a giant ground sloth – measuring perhaps 3 metres from nose to tail – lumbered across the landscape.
    Later, a group of three to five small children showed up.    The jumbled mess of footprints they left are focused around one sloth print.    The way the children’s prints deform the sloth print tells us the ground was wet, says Bennett.    It is impossible to be certain about what was going on, but Bennett says the best interpretation is that water had pooled in the sloth print to create a puddle that was perfect for splashing in – an irresistible target for children, even in prehistory.
    Kevin Hatala at Chatham University in Pennsylvania says he is excited to learn more about the prints once they appear in a formal scientific report.    “Records like this demonstrate the unique potential for footprints to record information that is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to observe or infer from other materials such as bones and stone tools,” he says.
    Kim Charlie and her sister, Bonnie Leno, have made trips to see Bennett and his colleagues at work, studying the prints.    Both are members of the Pueblo of Acoma near Albuquerque in New Mexico, one of several groups of Pueblo people who feel a spiritual connection to White Sands.
    Charlie is fascinated by the idea that giant ground sloths were so common in the world inhabited by the first humans at White Sands – who may be among the ancestors of the present-day Pueblo people.    “It’s fascinating,” says Charlie.    “And you think: jeez, were these animals friendly?
    Sign up to Our Human Story, a free monthly newsletter on the revolution in archaeology and human evolution.

4/7/2022 Wind energy firm kills 150 eagles in US, pleads guilty by Matthew Brown, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    BILLINGS, Mont. – A subsidiary of one of the largest U.S. providers of renewable energy pleaded guilty to criminal charges and was ordered to pay over $8 million in fines and restitution after at least 150 eagles were killed at its wind farms in eight states, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
    NextEra Energy subsidiary ESI Energy was also sentenced to five years’ probation after being charged with three counts of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act during a court appearance in Cheyenne, Wyoming.    The charges arose from the deaths of nine eagles at three wind farms in Wyoming and New Mexico.
    In addition to those deaths, the company acknowledged the deaths of golden and bald eagles at 50 wind farms affiliated with ESI and NextEra since 2012, prosecutors said.    Birds were killed in eight states: Wyoming, California, New Mexico, North Dakota, Colorado, Michigan, Arizona and Illinois.
    NextEra, based in Juno Beach, Florida, bills itself as the world’s largest utility company by market value.    It has more than 100 wind farms in the U.S. and Canada and also generates natural gas, nuclear and solar power Almost all of the eagles killed at the NextEra subsidiary’s facilities were struck by the blades of wind turbines, prosecutors said.    Some turbines killed multiple eagles and because the carcasses are not always found, officials said the number killed was likely higher than the 150 birds cited in court documents.
    Prosecutors said the company’s failure to take steps to protect eagles or to obtain permits to kill the birds gave it an advantage over competitors that did take such steps – even as ESI and other NextEra affiliates received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal tax credits from the wind power they produced.
    NextEra spokesperson Steven Stengel said the company didn’t seek permits because it believes the law didn’t require them for unintentional bird deaths.    The company said its guilty plea will resolve all allegations over past fatalities and allow it to move forward without a continued threat of prosecution.     The criminal case comes amid a push by President Joe Biden for more renewable energy from wind, solar and other sources to help reduce climate changing emissions.    It also follows a renewed commitment by federal wildlife officials under Biden to enforce protections for eagles and other birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.    Criminal prosecutions had been halted under former President Donald Trump for birds killed inadvertently by industry.    It’s illegal to kill or harm eagles under the act.    However, a wide range of industries – from energy firms to manufacturing companies – have lobbied for years against enforcing the law for accidental bird deaths.
    The bald eagle – the U.S. national symbol since the 1700s – saw its populations widely decimated last century due to harmful pesticides such as DDT and other problems.    Following a dramatic recovery, it was removed from protection under the Endangered Species Act in 2007.    Biologists say more than 300,000 bald eagles now occupy the U.S., not including Alaska.
    Golden eagles have not fared as well, with populations considered stable but under pressure from wind farms, collisions with vehicles, illegal shootings and poisoning from lead ammunition.
A NextEra Energy subsidiary acknowledged the deaths of golden and bald eagles
at 50 wind farms since 2012. SPENSER HEAPS/DESERET NEWS VIA AP, FILE


4/8/2022 This Tiny Particle Could Upend What We THINK We Know About the Universe by Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics
The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory’s Collider Detector is located outside Batavia, Ill. Fermilab via AP
    The W boson, one of the tiniest, most elementary particles in the known universe is causing a big ruckus in the field of particle physics.
    New findings about the particle, which is fundamental to the formation of the universe, suggest its mass may be far heavier than predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics—the theoretical “rulebook” that helps us make sense of the building blocks of matter.    If true, it could signal a monumental shift in our understanding of the universe.
    According to the Standard Model, W bosons (together with another particle, called Z bosons) are responsible for the weak nuclear force, one of the four forces that hold together all observable matter in the universe.        The other forces include gravitational force (for which there is currently no explanation in the Standard Model), electromagnetic force, and the strong nuclear force.
    Gravitational and electromagnetic forces work across large scales.    Think: the sun’s hold over distant planets, or the journey light from far-off stars makes across the universe.    Weak and strong nuclear forces, however, interact with the tiniest objects in our universe and occur only within the nuclei of atoms.
(Coincidentally, these are the forces responsible for generating radioactivity.)
    The weak nuclear force is particularly important.    It is responsible for, among other things, the process through which the sun forms helium from hydrogen, and is critical to the formation of our universe.    “If it wasn’t for this force, none of the heavy elements beyond hydrogen would form,” Ashutosh Kotwal, a physicist at Duke University and one of the leaders of the experiment, tells Popular Mechanics.    “It is crucial to our existence.”
    Scientists first predicted the W boson in the 1960s, but it wasn’t until 1983 that a team of researchers at CERN (the European Council for Nuclear Research) proved its existence.    (Both teams won Nobel Prizes for their work on the particle.)    Since then, research teams have sought to precisely identify the mass of the W boson, a critical measurement that acts as a key parameter for the rest of the Standard Model’s framework.
    An international team of more than 400 researchers—collectively known as the Collider Detector at Fermilab Collaboration—worked together to analyze almost ten years of data collected from Fermilab’s now-defunct Tevatron particle accelerator in Batavia, Illinois.    And they have found something peculiar: the W boson mass measurement they report in their new paper, published today in the journal Science, is approximately 0.1 percent heavier than previous estimates.
    The researchers were able to measure the mass of the W boson by smashing beams of protons and antiprotons together in a vacuum.    These collisions generate a slew of different particles, but rarely produce a W boson.    “We are not able to measure the W boson directly, in a sense, because it decays incredibly fast—in something like a trillionth of a trillionth of a second,” Kotwal explains.
    So, the team must analyze the remnants of the W boson, the particles it leaves behind in its wake.    But only certain combinations of leftover particles can give scientists the data they need.    In particular, Kotwal and his colleagues sought out collisions that produced two specific pairs of particles: either a muon and a neutrino, or an electron and a neutrino.    (Muons, you may know, are the much, much heavier subatomic cousins of electrons.    Neutrinos, affectionately known as ghost particles, are electrically neutral and have an impossibly small mass.    An electron is, well, an electron.)    By measuring the position and energy of these particle pairs, the team was able to determine the mass of the decayed W boson.
    It’s an incredibly difficult task, though.    Out of the roughly 450 trillion collisions that the team observed between 2002 and 2011, only about four million collisions generated enough high-quality data about the W boson.
    From this data, they estimate the new mass measurement of the W boson to be 80,433.5 ± 9.4 MeV/c2—a far-cry (in the realm of quantum mechanics, that is) from previous measurements, and from what the Standard Model suggests it should be.    It is the most precise measurement recorded yet, the team reports, roughly twice as precise as previous calculations.    David Toback, a physicist at Texas A&M University and a co-spokesperson for the 400-person team, likens it to precisely measuring the weight of an 800-pound gorilla to within one ounce.
    Now, it’s up to the scientific community to figure out exactly what these findings mean.    It could mean, for instance, that there are previously undiscovered particles waiting to be discovered, or physical interactions entirely new to science.    “It’s remarkable how resistant nature is to revealing her secrets,” Toback tells Popular Mechanics.    “It’s a wonderful chase, but it’s absolutely maddening.”
    The next step, of course, will be to perform even more experiments and get confirmation of this measurement from an independent source.    Toback is hopeful that the CMS and ATLAS experiments at CERNS’s Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland—each of which rely on the participation of thousands of scientists—will provide even more data in the near future, and, if we’re lucky, some new insight.
[other source - Fundamental particle weighs in a bit heavy by Seth Borenstein ASSOCIATED PRESS
    The grand explanation physicists use to describe how the universe works may have some major new flaws to patch after a fundamental particle was found to have more mass than scientists thought.
    'It’s not just something is wrong,' said Dave Toback, a particle physicist at Texas A& M University and a spokesperson for the U.S. government’s Fermi National Accelerator Lab, which conducted the experiments.    If replicated by other labs, 'it literally means something fundamental in our understanding of nature is wrong.'
    The physicists at the lab crashed particles together over ten years and measured the mass of 4 million W bosons.    These subatomic particles are responsible for a fundamental force at the center of atoms, and they exist for only a fraction of a second before they decay into other particles.
    'They are constantly popping in and out of existence in the quantum froth of the universe,' Toback said.
    The difference in mass from what the prevailing theory of the universe predicts is too big to be a rounding error or anything that could be easily explained away, according to the study by a team of 400 scientists from around the world published Thursday in the journal Science.
    The result is so extraordinary it must be confirmed by another experiment, scientists say.    If confirmed, it would present one of the biggest problems yet with scientists’ detailed rulebook for the cosmos, called the standard model.
    Duke University physicist Ashutosh V. Kotwal, the project leader for analysis, said it’s like discovering there’s a hidden room in your house.
    Scientists speculated that there may be an undiscovered particle that is interacting with the W boson that could explain the difference.
    Maybe dark matter, another poorly understood component of the universe, could be playing a role.    Or maybe there’s just new physics involved that they just don’t understand yet, researchers said.
    The standard model says a W boson should measure 80,357,000 electron volts, plus or minus six.
    'We found it slightly more than that.    Not that much, but it’s enough,' said Giorgio Chiarelli, another scientist for the Fermi team and research director for the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics.
    The Fermi team’s scale put the W boson at a heftier 80,433,000 electron volts, plus or minus nine.
    It doesn’t seem like a big difference, but it is a huge one in the subatomic world.
    But both the team and experts not involved in the research said such a big claim requires extra proof from a second team, which they don’t have yet.
    'It’s an incredibly delicate measurement, it requires understanding of various calibrations of various little effects,' said Claudio Campagnari, a particle physicist at the University of California Santa Barbara, who wasn’t part of the Fermi team.    'At the end of the day what we need is a confirmation by another experiment.'
    Earlier, less precise measurements of the W boson by other teams found it to be lighter than predicted, so 'maybe there is just something wonky about this experiment,' said Caltech physicist Sean M. Carroll, who wasn’t part of the research and said it is 'absolutely worth taking very seriously.']

4/10/2022 This Is the Largest Dinosaur in History by Douglas A. McIntyre
    The “age of dinosaurs,” officially known as the Mesozoic Era, lasted from 252 to 66 million years ago.    Scientists believe that period ended when an asteroid hit Earth.    This spread vaporized minerals into the air around the globe, in effect creating a lasting winter that made plant growth impossible.    Most animal life, deprived of food, was extinguished.
    Expert observations about the period, particularly about the size and type of dinosaurs, have changed over decades, particularly as new fossils are discovered.    These discoveries are so frequent now that the Smithsonian publishes “The Top Ten Dinosaur Discoveries” each and every year. To date, though, the largest dinosaur in history is the Argentinosaurus.
    Last year, a team of researchers with Naturales y Museo, Universidad de Zaragoza, and Universidad Nacional del Comahue found evidence that a so-called titanosaur discovered in Argentina in 2012 was the largest dinosaur in history.    It was named Argentinosaurus in honor of its place of discovery.
    There is some confusion as to whether “size” should be determined by weight or length, but the Argentinosaurus has it covered on both counts: It measures 131 feet in length and weighs 110 tons – 220,000 pounds.

4/10/2022 Dark matter could be a cosmic relic from extra dimensions by Robert Lea, Live science
    Dark matter, the elusive substance that accounts for the majority of the mass in the universe, may be made up of massive particles called gravitons that first popped into existence in the first moment after the Big Bang.    And these hypothetical particles might be cosmic refugees from extra dimensions, a new theory suggests.
    The researchers' calculations hint that these particles could have been created in just the right quantities to explain dark matter, which can only be "seen" through its gravitational pull-on ordinary matter.    "Massive gravitons are produced by collisions of ordinary particles in the early universe.    This process was believed to be too rare for the massive gravitons to be dark matter candidates," study co-author Giacomo Cacciapaglia, a physicist at the University of Lyon in France, told Live Science.
    But in a new study published in February in the journal Physical Review Letters, Cacciapaglia, along with Korea University physicists Haiying Cai and Seung J. Lee, found that enough of these gravitons would have been made in the early universe to account for all of the dark matter we currently detect in the universe.
    The gravitons, if they exist, would have a mass of less than 1 megaelectronvolt (MeV), so no more than twice the mass of an electron, the study found.    This mass level is well below the scale at which the Higgs boson generates mass for ordinary matter — which is key for the model to produce enough of them to account for all the dark matter in the universe. (For comparison, the lightest known particle, the neutrino, weighs less than 2 electronvolts, while a proton weighs roughly 940 MeV, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.)
    The team found these hypothetical gravitons while hunting for evidence of extra dimensions, which some physicists suspect exists alongside the observed three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension, time.
In the team's theory, when gravity propagates through extra dimensions, it materializes in our universe as massive gravitons.
    But these particles would interact only weakly with ordinary matter, and only via the force of gravity.    This description is eerily similar to what we know about dark matter, which does not interact with light yet has a gravitational influence felt everywhere in the universe.    This gravitational influence, for instance, is what prevents galaxies from flying apart.
    "The main advantage of massive gravitons as dark matter particles is that they only interact gravitationally, hence they can escape attempts to detect their presence," Cacciapaglia said.
    In contrast, other proposed dark matter candidates — such as weakly interacting massive particles, axions and neutrinos — might also be felt by their very subtle interactions with other forces and fields.
    The fact that massive gravitons barely interact via gravity with the other particles and forces in the universe offers another advantage.
    "Due to their very weak interactions, they decay so slowly that they remain stable over the lifetime of the universe," Cacciapaglia said, "For the same reason, they are slowly produced during the expansion of the universe and accumulate there until today."
    In the past, physicists thought gravitons were unlikely dark matter candidates because the processes that create them are extremely rare.    As a result, gravitons would be created at much lower rates than other particles.
    But the team found that in the picosecond (trillionth of a second) after the Big Bang, more of these gravitons would have been created than past theories suggested.    This enhancement was enough for massive gravitons to completely explain the amount of dark matter we detect in the universe, the study found.
    "The enhancement did come as a shock," Cacciapaglia said.    "We had to perform many checks to make sure that the result was correct, as it results in a paradigm shift in the way we consider massive gravitons as potential dark matter candidates."
    Because massive gravitons form below the energy scale of the Higgs boson, they are freed from uncertainties related to higher energy scales, which current particle physics doesn't describe very well.
    The team's theory connects physics studied at particle accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider with the physics of gravity.    This means that powerful particle accelerators like the Future Circular Collider at CERN, which should begin operating in 2035, could hunt for evidence of these potential dark matter particles.
    "Probably the best shot we have is at future high-precision particle colliders," Cacciapaglia said.    "This is something we are currently investigating."
    Originally published on Live Science.
    Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.

4/11/2022 State says Washington’s wolf population grew 16% last year
    SPOKANE, Wash. – Washington’s wolf population grew in 2021 for the 13th consecutive year, showing a 16% increase from the previous year, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said Saturday.    As of Dec. 31, 2021, the department said there were 206 wolves in 33 packs in Washington.    Nineteen of these were successful breeding pairs.    This is up from 178 wolves in 29 packs and 16 breeding pairs in the 2020 count.    Since 1980, gray wolves have been listed under state law as endangered throughout Washington.

4/11/2022 W. Va protesters critical of Manchin arrested - Rally called for senator to end coal industry ties by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    GRANT TOWN, W.Va. – Grassroots groups blocking the entrance to a West Virginia power plant denounced Sen. Joe Manchin’s ties to the coal industry, and several arrests were made.
    Dozens of protesters rallied Saturday outside the front gate of the coalfired Grant Town Power Plant, news outlets reported.
    The protest called on Manchin to abandon his support for fossil fuels and support green energy legislation.    The West Virginia Democrat wields considerable influence over energy policy as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
    Demonstrators also urged Manchin to support legislation to lift up families living in poverty.    The protest also focused on Manchin’s family business, which sells waste coal to the power plant about 90 miles south of Pittsburgh.
    Sam Runyon, a spokeswoman for Manchin, said in an email Sunday that the senator “has always supported the right of every West Virginian to peacefully protest as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.”
    Among the speakers Saturday were the Rev. William Barber, co-chair of the grassroots Poor People’s Campaign, which has held several rallies over the past year in West Virginia to call on Manchin to support issues such as higher wages, better voting protections and the now-expired expanded child tax credit.
    In February, Manchin declared that President Joe Biden’s roughly $2 trillion Build Back Better social and environment bill is “dead.”
    While Manchin expressed support for the original bill’s provisions bolstering renewable energy, he said he also wants to “use all the fossil industry in the cleanest, absolute possible versions that you can.”
    The measure had already passed the House.    Democrats need Manchin’s vote to prevail in the 50-50 Senate, where every Republican opposes the legislation but Vice President Kamala Harris can vote to break ties.
    Barber and others spoke in front of a sign attached to the plant’s gate that read “Manchin: Stop Burning WV’s Future For Profit.”
    “Instead of passing legislation and standing with those things that would help the climate and protect our water, he has blocked those things,” Barber said.    “At every turn, he has chosen the money and chosen greed and chosen a kind of political meanness.    When you block health care, people die.    When you mess up the climate, people die.”
    West Virginia is the nation’s second largest coal producer, behind Wyoming, and accounted for 5% of the nation’s total energy production in 2019, ranking fifth among the states, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
    But West Virginia has lost thousands of coal jobs in the past decade as companies and utilities explore using other energy sources such as natural gas, solar and wind.
    State police and sheriff’s deputies led several protesters away in handcuffs, but it wasn’t immediately known how many arrests were made or what charges those activists faced.
    WV Rising, a Morgantown-based group that organized the protest, said 16 people were arrested.    Capt. R.A. Maddy, a state police spokesman, said Sunday he had no information on the arrests.    A dispatcher at the Marion County sheriff’s office referred questions Sunday to the sheriff, who was unavailable.
    Rylee Haught, a protester from Morgantown, said she showed up to the demonstration because “I know the effects that coal has and it’s not positive anymore.    It’s a dying industry.        It’s hurting West Virginia.    It’s hurting all of America and the rest of the world at this point with global warming increasing rapidly.”
    Haught also said Manchin’s family business represents “a huge conflict of interest and it absolutely should not be allowed to happen.”
    “Instead of passing legislation and standing with those things that would help the climate and protect our water, he has blocked those things.”    The Rev. William Barber, Co-chair of the grassroots Poor People’s Campaign.
Kathy Ferguson of Institute, W.Va., participates in a protest at a coal-fired power plant Saturday in Grant Town, W.Va. Grassroots groups
blocking the entrance to the plant denounced Sen. Joe Manchin's ties to the coal industry, and several arrests were made. AP

4/12/2022 A Strange Genetic Link Between Humans And Sea Anemones Was Just Confirmed by Michelle Starr - Science Alert
    A gene linked to the development of hearing in humans has just been linked to sensory development in sea anemones, too.
© Marine Biological Laboratory/BioQuest StudiosNematostella vectensis, the starlet sea anemone.
    Called pou-iv (pow-four), the gene can be found in the tentacles of the starlet sea anemone (Nematostella vectensis), where it plays a crucial role in the animal's sense of touch.
    Cnidaria, the phylum to which sea anemones belong, is the closest relative to Bilateria, animals with bilateral symmetry such as humans, diverging from their last common ancestor that lived around 748 to 604 million years ago.
    The discovery of the gene's role in the starlet sea anemone suggests that it was present in their common ancestor and likely played a role in sensory development then, too.
    "This study is exciting because it not only opened a new field of research into how mechanosensation develops and functions in a sea anemone .. but it also informs us that the building blocks of our sense of hearing have ancient evolutionary roots dating back hundreds of millions of years into the Precambrian," said biologist Nagayasu Nakanishi of the University of Arkansas.
    In humans and other vertebrates, the sensory receptors of the auditory system are called hair cells.    These cells have bundles of finger-like organelles called stereocilia that sense mechanical stimuli; namely, the vibrations we hear as sound.    In mammals, pou-iv is required for the development of hair cells; we know this because mice that have had pou-iv knocked out are deaf.
    The starlet sea anemone has similar mechanosensory hair cells on its tentacles, used for sensing movement.    Little, however, was known about the anemone's pou-iv gene and what role, if any, it played in sensory development.
    A team of researchers led by biologist Ethan Ozment of the University of Arkansas wanted to figure out what the gene was doing.    The best way to do this is to disable the gene using the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool and observe what changes.    So, this is what the team did.
    They injected a cocktail containing Cas9 protein into fertilized starlet sea anemone eggs to cut out the pou-iv gene, and studied the developing embryos, as well as the grown, mutated anemones.
    Compared to wild-type control anemones, the mutant animals showed abnormal development of the tentacular hair cells, and showed no response to touch.    Without pou-iv, the anemones were unable to sense mechanical stimuli via their hair cells.
    In addition, knocking out pou-iv in the anemones significantly suppressed a gene very similar to the one which makes polycystin 1 that is found in vertebrates, where it is required for the sensing of fluid flow in kidneys.    Sea anemones may not have kidneys, but sensing fluid flow would be a useful ability for marine animals.
    Together, the researchers said, the results suggest that pou-iv played a role in the development of mechanosensory cells in the common ancestor between Cnidaria and Bilateria.    To trace the gene back even further, however, will require data from other phyla with earlier divergence points.
    "Our results indicate that the role for pou-iv in mechanoreceptor development is broadly conserved across Cnidaria and Bilateria," the researchers wrote in their paper.
    "How early the role of pou-iv in mechanoreceptor differentiation emerged in animal evolution remains unresolved, and requires comparative data from placozoans and sponges, which are wanting."
    The research has been published in eLife.

4/13/2022 Climate change made 2020 hurricanes rainier - Study first to survey data from an entire season by Seth Borenstein, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Climate change made the record smashing deadly 2020 Atlantic hurricane season noticeably wetter, a new study says.    And it will likely make this season rainier, too, scientists said.
    Human-caused climate change made the entire season – 30 named storms – drop 5% more rain.    During the 14 storms that reached hurricane status the rainfall was 8% heavier, according to the study in Tuesday’s Nature Communications.
    “It doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you’re near a threshold, a little bit can push you over the top,” said Lawrence Berkeley National Lab climate scientist Michael Wehner, co-author of the paper.    “The implication is that that means there was more freshwater flooding and that the damages from freshwater flooding were increased, but by how much would require a more detailed analysis.”
    While past studies have predicted climate change would make storms wetter and found individual storms, such as 2017’s Harvey, were in fact wetter because of human-caused climate change, this is the first study to look at an entire season, Wehner said.    That’s important because it removes the selection bias of just picking the worst storms, such as Harvey.
    “It’s not just the big monster ones, it’s a whole season,” Wehner said.
    It’s likely 2020 is not the only year made significantly rainier by climate change.    Warming is probably increasing the downpours in nearly all storms and most hurricane seasons, including the one that starts June 1, said study lead author Kevin Reed, an atmospheric scientist at Stony Brook University.
    And what a season 2020 was.    It broke records not only for the number of named storms, but for the number that became major storms with winds of at least 111 miles per hour – seven – and the number that made landfall in the United States.    Louisiana got hit five times.    Overall, more than 330 people were killed directly by named storms in 2020 and damage soared past $41 billion, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
    Hurricanes Laura, Sally, Isaias, Zeta, Delta, Eta and Hanna all caused more than $1 billion in damage, much of it from flooding.    Laura, for example, was 10% wetter than it would have been without climate change, a separate quick analysis shows, Reed said.
    The researchers used computer simulations – continually updated with real-time observations – to calculate how much water fell during the 30 storms and then compared them to a simulated world with no human caused climate change from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas.    The difference is what’s caused by global warming.    This scientifically accepted technique came up with the 5% and 8% figures.
    When scientists looked at just the three rainiest hours of each storm, climate change amped them up 8% compared to the mythical world without climate change.    For the storms that hit hurricane status, 11% more rain fell during the peak rainy time than would have otherwise, the study found.
Climate change is probably increasing the downpours in nearly all storms

4/13/2022 Black Holes Are Proof We’re Living in a Holographic Universe by Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics
© KTSDESIGN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY - Getty Images This is how a black hole
can exist in both two dimensions and three dimensions at the same time.
    Black holes have a complex shape.    Inside, gravity exists in three dimensions.    But black holes are also connected to outside particles and magnetic fields that only exist in two dimensions.    So how can a black hole exist in both two dimensions and three dimensions at the same time?
    Related video: Hubble telescope spots most distant star on record (Reuters) nicknamed Arrendel Old English for Morningstar, because it existed
Hubble telescope spots most distant star on record
    Scientists say there’s a mathematical phenomenon at work here, called the holographic duality theory.”    Juan Maldacena, an Argentine theoretical physicist, discovered the concept in 1997, which states that events inside a space with gravity (like a black hole) are mathematically equivalent to gravity-free events on the surface of that space that involve particles.
    In other words, the holographic duality theory could hold the secret link between particle physics—the study of tiny particles that make up all matter—and Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which states that gravity arises from the curvature of space and time.    In new research, published last month in the journal PRX Quantum, University of Michigan scientists look for support for this holographic duality theory inside of black holes.    To understand, we have to review some pretty simple math and then apply the science.

4/14/2022 23 hurt as tornadoes strike Texas by Christine Fernando and Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Large swaths of the U.S. braced for severe weather into Thursday after at least 23 people were injured late Tuesday when a tornado hit central Texas.
    The lower Mississippi Valley, the Midwest and lower Ohio Valley all faced a threat of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.
    The storms were expected to be accompanied by damaging winds and hail as large as baseballs, the weather service said.
    A tornado watch was in place for several states late Wednesday, including parts of Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee and Mississippi.
    More severe weather was forecast for Thursday along the Eastern Seaboard, the Storm Prediction Center said. The greatest risk area will be the Northeast.
    On Tuesday, 23 people were injured, including 12 who were hospitalized, after a confirmed tornado struck Salado, Texas, a rural town in Bell County, Bell County Judge David Blackburn said at a news conference.
    Blackburn said he was thankful no one died.
    “There’s not much left,” he said.    “Large trees are uprooted and overturned and stripped; buildings really reduced to rubble in many locations.    Power lines, power poles are scattered all over the place.    It’s pretty devastating.”
    Texas was still experiencing tens of thousands of power outages late Wednesday, according to power    Grapefruit-size hail also accompanied the tornado, which was part of a severe storm system stretching from Austin to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, local National Weather Service offices reported.    Hail up to 5 1/2 inches in diameter pelted the Salado area, surpassing the weather service’s hail reporting standards that include hail only up to 4 1/2 inches, according to AccuWeather.
    The weather service urged residents to seek shelter Tuesday as the tornado barreled toward the town at 30 mph with “very strong rotation.”    The weather service called the tornado “a life-threatening situation” and said hail and a “dangerous flash flood” were adding to the threat.
    On Wednesday, the weather service said it began surveying damage in Texas’ Williamson and Bell counties.
    Several other tornadoes were reported Tuesday night.    Damage was reported across several states, including Iowa, where at least two tornadoes were confirmed, according to the Des Moines Register, part of the USA TODAY Network.
    A confirmed tornado in Iowa tore through farmland near Gilmore City, AccuWeather said.
    Tornadoes accompanied by hail also hit Arkansas near Bloomer, Charleston and Scranton, AccuWeather said.    And several people were rescued in Bossier City, Louisiana, after storms toppled trees into homes, local media reports said.
    Farther to the north on Wednesday, a blizzard raged in the northern Plains.    “Travel will remain difficult to impossible, and widespread power outages and tree damage are expected,” the weather service said.    “Significant impacts to livestock are also possible.”    More than a foot of snow was reported in Bismarck, North Dakota.
    The North Dakota Capitol, schools, government offices and interstates were closed Wednesday.
Trees were down on Main Street on the north side of Kanawha, Iowa, in Hancock County,
after storms ripped through the state Tuesday evening. JEREMY PURVIS/SPECIAL TO USA TODAY NETWORK

4/14/2022 Fossil may be of dinosaur killed in asteroid strike by Saleen Martin, USA TODAY
    A small dinosaur leg discovered in southwestern North Dakota may have been ripped from the animal’s body on the same day a giant asteroid struck Earth and eventually wiped out the dinosaurs.
    The team that found the specimen says the leg belonged to a plant-eating thescelosaurus.    They also say the fossil, discovered with skin attached, probably dates back 66 million years, when the extinction-level event occurred.
    Also found were fish that breathed in impact debris once the planet was hit, a fossil turtle researchers say was pierced by a wooden stake, remains of small mammals and their burrows, skin from a horned triceratops, the embryo of a flying pterosaur inside its egg, and possibly a fragment from the asteroid.
    The findings will be featured on the BBC One program “Dinosaurs: The Final Day With Sir David Attenborough” on Friday.    It also will air in a two-hour PBS special starting at 9 p.m. May 11 (times may vary).
    According to Robert DePalma, the University of Manchester graduate student leading the dig, the project helped researchers fill in the play-by-play of the day the asteroid struck Earth.
    “It’s almost like watching it play out in the movies,” he said to BBC News.    “You look at the rock column, you look at the fossils there, and it brings you back to that day.”
    Paul Barrett of London’s Natural History Museum isn’t affiliated with the project but told BBC News there are no signs of disease or bite marks on the leg.
    “So, the best idea that we have is that this is an animal that died more or less instantaneously,” Barrett said.
    Some experts are skeptical, however.    Anthony Fiorillo, a research professor at Southern Methodist University, is an expert in taphonomy, a branch of paleontology focusing on how things become fossils.    He called the leg “beautifully preserved,” noting it is intact with fossilized soft tissue which is unusual on dinosaur fossils.
    The team has an “interesting story,” but details are lacking, Fiorillo said.
    “A corpse deteriorates, so it could be equally as viable that this animal had died and this leg, the tissue holding it in place, had deteriorated to the point where some kind of sedimentological event pulled it off the animal and buried it 100 feet away from where the rest of the corpse was,” Fiorillo said.
    Liz Freedman Fowler, an assistant professor of biological and geological sciences at Dickinson State University in North Dakota, echoed Fiorillo’s concerns.
    “You can’t really see much surface texture” on the fossil, she told USA TODAY on Tuesday.    “There’s one little patch that looks like skin, but the rest of it the photos aren’t good enough to really say.”
    Regarding the recent discovery, finding such an array of preserved fossils in the same place is unusual, Fowler said.    She’s waiting for more evidence, such as maps and 3D scans of the site.
    “We’ve heard maybe there were footprints.    We want to see that leg in the ground and how it was lying relative to the fish fossils that were there.    We’ve just seen individual pieces, but not the big picture of how they actually fit together.”
    “The best idea that we have is that this is an animal that died more or less instantaneously,” Paul Barrett, Natural History Museum, London
Robert DePalma and field assistant Kylie Ruble excavate fossil carcasses
from the Tanis deposit in North Dakota. PROVIDED BY UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS

4/14/2022 5,500 new virus species found in oceans - Water samples prompt five proposed phyla by Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY
    Though we’ve yet to explore more than 80% of the world’s oceans, a new finding is shedding light on what lurks within Earth’s water: more than 5,500 new species of viruses.
    The research, published in the peer reviewed journal Science, found so many types of RNA viruses that the team now proposes five new phyla, or divisions, of RNA viruses, as well as discovering a chain to an ancient virus.
    “We were quite surprised actually,” Matthew Sullivan, professor of microbiology at Ohio State University and lead author of the study, said in an email to USA TODAY.    “It was very exciting to find from every angle we looked that we had added likely at least five phyla to the five known phyla for RNA viruses!
    There are millions of viruses throughout the world, hundreds of which can infect humans, according to a study by the National Institute of Health in 2012.    In July, scientists discovered more than 30 ancient viruses.
    But there are two different types of viruses: DNA and RNA.
    Though we know of RNA viruses such as COVID-19, West Nile Virus and the flu, little is known about them because the only ones studied are the ones harmful to humans, animals or plants, Sullivan said.    For this project, researchers wanted to study the viruses’ diversity rather than their impact.
    To examine possible viruses, researchers analyzed 35,000 water samples taken from oceans throughout the world.    Samples included plankton, which are known to carry RNA viruses.
    To see if any were viruses, researchers used “machine learning” to compare the genes to an ancient one known as RdRp, which has evolved in the billions of years it has been on Earth.    Sullivan said RdRp acts as a “barcode gene” so researchers can assess virus diversity.    There, they found more than 44,000 genes that are coded as virus protein before researchers discovered 5,504 new marine viruses.
    The team noticed they all didn’t fit in any of the five known phylas.    So, they were put into five proposed phyla: Taraviricota, Pomiviricota, Paraxenoviricota, Wamoviricota and Arctiviricota.
    There also were trends in two of the new phyla.    Taraviricota viruses were most abundant in tropical waters at or near the equator, and Arctiviricota were common near the Arctic Ocean, the team wrote in The Conversation.
    Ahmed Zayed, a microbiology research scientist at Ohio State and coauthor of the study, said the viruses’ connection to RdRp could help scientists understand how viruses evolved, because Taraviricota appeared to be the connector to past and present.
    “RdRp is supposed to be one of the most ancient genes – it existed before there was a need for DNA,” Zayed said in a statement.
    “So we’re not just tracing the origins of viruses, but also tracing the origins of life.”
    Scientists still need analyze the viruses’ full genetic makeup to understand how they influence marine life and their ecosystems.
    Sullivan said it’s too early to tell whether the viruses are of any danger.
At this point, it is very hard to predict the hosts for RNA viruses because they are very small genomes,” he said.

4/18/2022 A 0.1% difference in a particle's mass could shake our understanding of physics by JERUSALEM POST STAFF
© (photo credit: US Department of Energy)
    Physicists are concerned after a new precise measurement of an elementary particle found that it seems to be about 0.1% heavier than it was predicted to be, shaking the model we currently use to understand the laws of physics.
    The particle, called a W boson, is a fundamental particle which is responsible for the weak force, a fundamental force that can change the make up of particles and is responsible for the processes that fuel the sun and cause particles to decay.
    Research published by the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF) collaboration in the journal Science earlier this month presented the most precise measurement of the mass of the W boson to date, analyzing 10 years of data, but there's a problem: The measurement doesn't match up with the measurement predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics, the current central theory of how particle physics works.
    The Standard Model is a highly precise system used to understand physics and each part of that system interacts.    If even one predicted measurement is slightly off from the real measurement, it could set the entire model off balance.    So if the mass of the W boson is significantly heavier than the mass predicted by the Standard Model, then physicists will need to figure out what's causing that discrepancy and what that means for the rest of the model.
    While the W boson is predicted by the Standard Model to weigh 80,357 million electron volts (MeV), the scientists at Fermilab found it to be 80,433 MeV, which would be 76 MeV or about 0.1% heavier than the prediction, or a discrepancy seven times larger than the margin of error, also known as seven-sigma.    The result is accurate to about 9 MeV.
© Provided by The Jerusalem PostDOE'S Fermi national accelerator laboratory preparing
to ship first advanced, superconducting magnet to CERN (credit: US Department of Energy)
    The gold standard usually used by physicists to determine a definitive discovery is five-sigma, but in this case other experiments have found lower measurements of the mass of the W boson meaning that more independent verification needs to be done before this can be considered definitive.
    “The number of improvements and extra checking that went into our result is enormous,” said Ashutosh V. Kotwal of Duke University, the leader of the analysis of the measurement and one of the 400 scientists in the CDF collaboration, in a press release.    “We took into account our improved understanding of our particle detector as well as advances in the theoretical and experimental understanding of the W boson’s interactions with other particles.    When we finally unveiled the result, we found that it differed from the Standard Model prediction.”
    Other measurements conducted of the W boson have recorded a discrepancy between the measured weight and the weight expected by the Standard Model as well, but some of those measurements have been a lot closer to the Standard Model.    A measurement by the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN found in 2017 that the mass of the W boson was only a hair heavier than the Standard Model's prediction, meaning that seemingly either ATLAS's experiment was off or Fermilab's is.
    According to the CDF, the measurement may mean that improvements or extensions of the Standard Model may be required.    This would be one of the first major adjustments to the Standard Model in years and has physicists excited.
    “This would be a complete change in how we see the world,” Sven Heinemeyer, a physicist at the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Madrid, told Quanta Magazine.    "The Higgs fit well into the previously known picture. This one would be a completely new area to be entered.”
    Fermilab Director Joe Lykken stressed that while this is an "intriguing result," the measurement still needs to be confirmed by another experiment before it can be interpreted fully.
    “It’s now up to the theoretical physics community and other experiments to follow up on this and shed light on this mystery,” said CDF co-spokesperson David Toback of Texas A&M University.    “If the difference between the experimental and expected value is due to some kind of new particle or subatomic interaction, which is one of the possibilities, there’s a good chance it’s something that could be discovered in future experiments.”

4/18/2022 US intelligence satellite launched from California by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. – A classified satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office was launched into space from California on Sunday.
    The NROL-85 satellite lifted off at 6:13 a.m. from Vandenberg Space Force Base aboard a two-stage SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
    It was the first mission by the NRO to reuse a SpaceX rocket booster, Vandenberg said in a statement.
    The Falcon’s first stage flew back and landed at the seaside base northwest of Los Angeles.
    The NRO only described the NROL-85 satellite as a “critical national security payload.”
    Its launch was one of three awarded by the Air Force to SpaceX in 2019 for a combined fixed price of $297 million.
    The NRO is the government agency in charge of developing, building, launching and maintaining U.S. satellites that provide intelligence data to senior policymakers, the intelligence community and the Defense Department.
NROL-85 is the first NRO mission to reuse a SpaceX rocket booster, and is the second Falcon 9 launch
procured through the National Security Space Launch contract to launch from the Western Range.

4/19/2022 Bald eagles among latest bird flu victims by Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY
    Among the latest victims of the bird flu outbreak sweeping across the country: the national bird of the United States.
    Bald eagles in 14 states died after contracting bird flu, and eagles in another two states are suspected of falling ill with the highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.    In total, 36 bald eagles have died since February.
    The Georgia Department of Natural Resources reported Thursday that three bald eagles in the state that died recently tested positive for the bird flu virus.    Others also will be tested.
    Officials said recent aerial surveys of eagle nests on Georgia’s coast revealed several failed nests, including eaglets dead or missing when they normally wouldn’t have left the nest yet.    Bob Sargent, program manager with the department’s wildlife conservation section, said nest success is down about 30% this year.
    On April 8, a bald eagle in Milwaukee was found unable to fly.    Wildlife rehabilitators with the Wisconsin Humane Society collected and cared for the bird in Milwaukee.    It was euthanized the next day after its condition deteriorated.
    Here are where bald eagles testing positive for the bird flu virus have died, and how many died in each state, according to USDA data as of Thursday:
Florida: 9, Georgia: 3, Kansas: 2, Maine: 2, Minnesota: 2, Nebraska: 1, North Carolina: 3, North Dakota: 2, Ohio: 2, Pennsylvania: 1, South Carolina: 3, South Dakota: 3, Vermont: 3, Wisconsin: 1.
    Tens of millions of domestic and wild birds have died or were euthanized as a result of the disease, which is especially deadly to domestic poultry.    It has been detected in 32 states as of Saturday, most recently Utah and Idaho.
Contributing: Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
A bald eagle soars over Haw River below Jordan Lake in Moncure, N.C., in> Three have died in the state this year due to bird flu. Gerry Broome/AP

4/20/2022 Biden launches $6B effort to bail out nuclear plants - Financially distressed operators can seek aid by Jennifer McDermott and Matthew Daly, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – The Biden administration is launching a $6 billion effort to save nuclear power plants at risk of closing, citing the need to continue nuclear energy as a carbon-free source of power that helps to combat climate change.
    A certification and bidding process opened Tuesday for a civil nuclear credit program that is intended to bail out financially distressed owners or operators of nuclear power reactors, the U.S. Department of Energy told The Associated Press.    It’s the largest federal investment in saving financially distressed nuclear reactors.
    Owners or operators of nuclear power reactors that are expected to shut down for economic reasons can apply for funding to avoid closing prematurely.    The first round of awards will prioritize reactors that have already announced plans to close.
    The second round will be opened up to more economically at-risk facilities.    The program was funded through President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure deal, which he signed into law in November.
    “U.S. nuclear power plants contribute more than half of our carbon-free electricity, and President Biden is committed to keeping these plants active to reach our clean energy goals,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.    “We’re using every tool available to get this country powered by clean energy by 2035, and that includes prioritizing our existing nuclear fleet to allow for continued emissions-free electricity generation and economic stability for the communities leading this important work.”
    A strong majority of states – about two-thirds – say nuclear, in one fashion or another, will help take the place of fossil fuels.    A dozen U.S. commercial nuclear power reactors have closed in the past decade before their licenses expired, largely due to competition from cheaper natural gas, massive operating losses due to low electricity prices and escalating costs, or the cost of major repairs.
    This has led to a rise in emissions in those regions, poorer air quality and the loss of thousands of high-paying jobs, dealing an economic blow to local communities, according to the DOE.    A quarter or more of the fleet is at risk, the DOE added.    The owners of seven currently operating reactors have already announced plans to retire them through 2025.
    Most U.S. nuclear plants were built between 1970 and 1990 and it’s costing more to operate an aging fleet.    The only nuclear plant under construction in the United States is in Georgia.    Costs have ballooned and another delay was announced in February.
    The shuttered reactors include Indian Point Energy Center in New York, Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts, Fort Calhoun Nuclear Generating Station in Nebraska and Duane Arnold Energy Center in Iowa.    Entergy cited low natural gas prices and increased operating costs as key factors in its decision to close Indian Point last year.    New York officials sought the shutdown, saying the plant 24 miles north of Manhattan posed too great a risk to millions of people who live and work nearby.
    Twenty more reactors faced closure in the last decade before states stepped in to save them, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s trade association.    Illinois is spending nearly $700 million to keep three plants open while additional renewable resources come online.
    Low electricity prices are the main cause of this trend, though federal and state policies to boost wind and solar have contributed as well, the NEI added.
    There are 55 commercial nuclear power plants with 93 nuclear reactors in 28 U.S. states.    Nuclear power already provides about 20% of electricity in the U.S., or about half the nation’s carbon free energy.
    If reactors do close before their licenses expire, fossil fuel plants will likely fill the void and emissions will increase, which would be a substantial setback, said Andrew Griffith, acting assistant secretary for nuclear energy at DOE.
    While natural gas may be cheaper, nuclear power hasn’t been given credit for its carbon-free contribution to the grid and that has caused nuclear plants to struggle financially, Griffith added.
    The Energy Department intends to accept annual applications for the civil nuclear credit program through fiscal 2031, or until the $6 billion runs out.
    Nuclear plant owners or operators can bid on credits for financial assistance to keep operating.    To qualify, plant owners or operators have to show the reactors are projected to retire for economic reasons and emissions would increase.
Entergy cited low natural gas prices and increased operating costs as key factors in its decision to
close Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant in Buchanan, N.Y., last year. SETH WENIG/AP FILE

4/21/2022 WILDFIRES IN THE U.S. - SOUTHWEST WILDFIRES FORCE EVACUATIONS - Arizona official: ‘This is a head-up for everywhere else in the state’ by Felicia Fonseca, ASSOCIATED PRESS
This Wednesday photo provided by Bill Wells shows his home on the outskirts of Flagstaff, Ariz., destroyed by a wildfire
on Tuesday. The wind-whipped wildfire has forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes and animals. BILL WELLS VIA AP

Lisa Wells stands with her dog Lily, as they wait for family in the parking lot on the outskirts of
Flagstaff, Ariz., on Wednesday. Wells and her family evacuated because of a wildfire that destroyed their home.
FELICIA FONSECA/AP “It was a miracle that people got out because we had so little time.” Lisa Wells
    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – An Arizona wildfire more than tripled in size as relentless winds pushed the flames through neighborhoods on the outskirts of a college and tourist town, keeping hundreds of residents away from their homes and destroying more than two dozen structures.
    The blaze continued its run Wednesday through dry grass and scattered Ponderosa pines around homes into volcanic cinder fields, where roots underground can combust and send small rocks flying into the air, fire officials said.    Persistent spring winds and 50-mph gusts hindered firefighters.
    “This is a heads-up for everywhere else in the state,” said fire information officer Dick Fleishman.    “If you have dry grass up next to your house, it’s time to get that cleaned up.”
    The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for Thursday, which means the wind will be conducive to rapid fire growth, said Brian Klimowski of the National Weather Service.    A strong front is moving into the area Friday.
    “This is a good news/bad news scenario,” he said.    “The good news is temperatures will be cooler, relative humidities will rise.    Bad news, the winds will be even stronger on Friday.”
    Klimowski said there will be a chance of showers on Friday.    “But beyond that, it’s going to be dry.    So, folks, we have entered our fire season.    It’s going to be a long one this year.”
    Fire managers are contending with tight resources as wildfires burn around the Southwest.    The U.S. has 16 top-level national fire management teams, and four of those are dedicated to blazes in Arizona and New Mexico – something Fleishman said is rare this early in the wildfire season.
    Hundreds of people have been evacuated because of the wildfires north of Flagstaff and south of Prescott in Arizona.     In New Mexico, the Mora County Sheriff’s Office issued mandatory evacuations for more residents as winds fueled a blaze that has burned more than 14 square miles (36 square kilometers) since Sunday.    Meanwhile, another fire was sparked Wednesday afternoon in a wooded area along the Rio Grande south of Albuquerque.
    Red flag warnings were on tap across New Mexico on Wednesday and through the rest of the week, and in portions of northern Arizona for Thursday.    Winds were expected to strengthen Thursday and Friday, said Mark Stubblefield of the National Weather Service.
    In Colorado, new wildfires prompted evacuations in Monte Vista, a city of about 4,150 people in the southern part of the state, as well as near Longmont.    Monte Vista Police Chief George Dingfelder confirmed structures have been lost.    He said investigators have “no idea” how many, and there have been no reports of injuries or people missing.    The fire’s progress was stopped and crews were putting out hot spots.    Earlier, flames and billowing smoke could be seen on a street surrounded by buildings as fire crews responded, according to video from a reporter for the Alamosa Citizen.
    “Almost immediately there were some structures that caught on fire.    We struggled at times to stay in front of this fire and stay out of the way of it because the winds and stuff were so strong,” Dingfelder said.
    He said investigators do not yet know what caused the fire, which burned about 17 acres.
    The number of acres burned in the U.S. so far this year is about 30% above the 10-year average – a figure that has gone up from 20% just earlier this month as the fire danger shifted from the southern U.S. to the Southwest, where above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation have combined with spring winds to elevate the chances for more catastrophic fires.
    On the outskirts of Flagstaff where tourists and locals revel in hiking and horseback riding trails, camping spots, and the vast expanse of cinder fields for off-road vehicle use, flames soared as high as 100 feet.    Popular national monuments including Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki were closed because of the wildfire.
    “It’s just a unique community and we’re fortunate to live here,” said Jon Stoner, who evacuated his home Tuesday.    “We feel very lucky with the views we have and the surrounding forest.”
    Some residents’ homes were burned to the ground, though Coconino County hasn’t said exactly how many.
    Officials said Tuesday evening that 766 homes and 1,000 animals had been evacuated, and about 250 structures remained threatened.
    One man who reportedly was trapped in his home by the flames was able to get out, Coconino County sheriff’s spokesman Jon Paxton said Wednesday.
    Firefighters were expected to move through neighborhoods Wednesday to cool down any smoldering spots and assess what’s most at risk.    Paxton said no injuries or deaths have been reported.
    Coconino County Sheriff Jim Driscoll said he could not commit to a time when residents will be allowed back in their homes.    Propane tanks, combustibles and other hazardous materials still pose a risk around homes, he said.    Roads might not be safe, stumps could still be smoldering and utilities haven’t been checked, he said.
    “There’s still active firefighting going on in those areas, and we need to have it safe for you to go in,” he said.
    U.S. 89, the main route between Flagstaff and far northern Arizona, and communities on the Navajo Nation, remained closed.    The fire started Sunday afternoon northeast of Flagstaff and its cause is under investigation.    The county declared an emergency after the wildfire ballooned from 100 acres Tuesday morning to over 9 square miles by evening.    It was estimated at more than 30 square miles Wednesday afternoon.
    Fire crews have yet to corral any part of it.
    The surrounding mountains were shrouded in smoke as ash rained down from the sky.    Residents reported hearing propane tanks bursting amid the flames.
    Early Tuesday, Lisa Wells saw a puff of smoke outside her window.    Before long, the smoke blackened, the wind gained strength and entire trees were being consumed by flames.    In what felt like seconds, her family moved from being ready to go to fleeing.    Wells grabbed medication, and the family got themselves, their alpacas, horses and dogs to safety.
    They drove off and pulled over in the parking lot of a tavern to process what happened – where she was standing Wednesday, her blue heeler Bandit at the end of a leash.
    “It was a miracle that people got out because we had so little time,” Wells said.
    The house they bought 15 years ago with a barn and guest quarters, the quirky one that had horizontal studs held together by tongue-and-groove boards, wasn’t standing for long.    Winds shifted and pushed flames over an open field and onto the house that Wells’ husband, Bill, had been remodeling a little at a time.
    The blaze destroyed the main house and the barn.    The only thing they’ve been able to recover from the ashes was a gray porcelain dove that Bill Wells gave his wife as a gift.    It was part of a set of collectibles.
    “It was the only thing we found so far, but it means a lot, and we will keep it,” Lisa Wells said.    “I love birds.”
    The family’s real-life birds and goats didn’t survive the fire that left a mosaic of ashes and blackened debris in the neighborhood.
Wildfires in the U.S.
    The number of acres burned in the U.S. so far this year is about 30% above the 10-year average – a figure that has gone up from 20% just earlier this month as the fire danger shifted from the southern U.S. to the Southwest.

4/23/2022 Time Can Actually Flow Backward, Physicists Say by Stav Dimitropoulos, Popular Mechanics
© coffeekai - Getty Images
    Isaac Newton’s picture of a universally ticking clock more or less sums up how we understand time: the arrow of time only moves forward, cruelly robbing us of the chance to revisit our past.
    Not everyone takes that for granted though, as evidenced by Albert Einstein, whose 1905 theory of special relativity stated that time is an illusion that moves relative to an observer.    Today, physicists like Julian Barbour, who has written a book on the illusion of time, say change is real, but time is not; time is only a reflection of change.    And just last week, a team of physicists published a new paper suggesting that quantum systems can move both forward and backward in time.
    To understand why scientists previously established that time knows only one direction—forward—we need to examine the second law of thermodynamics.    It states that within a closed system, the entropy of the system (that is, the measure of disorder and randomness within the system) remains constant or increases.    If our universe is a closed loop, curled up like a ball, its entropy can never decrease, meaning the universe will never return to an earlier point.    But what if the arrow of time looked at phenomena where entropy changes are small?
    “Take the case of a gas in a vessel,” says Giulia Rubino, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Bristol, and lead author of the new paper that appears in Communications Physics.    “Let’s suppose that at the beginning, the gas occupies only half of the vessel.    Then imagine that we remove the valve that confined it within half of the vessel, so that the gas is now free to expand throughout the vessel.”
    The particles will start to move freely through the whole volume of the vessel.    Over time, the gas will occupy the whole vessel.    “In principle, there is a non-zero probability that at some point the gas will naturally return to occupy half of the vessel, only this probability gets smaller the larger the number of particles that make up the gas get,” Rubino says.    If there were only three gas particles instead of a humongous quantity of gas (comprising billions of particles), it would be possible that these few particles ended up sitting once again in the part of the vessel from where they originally started.    “The second law of thermodynamics is a statistical law,” says Rubino.    “It is true on average in a macroscopic system.    In a microscopic system, we may see the system naturally evolving toward situations of lower entropy.”
    She and her colleagues wondered about the consequences of applying this paradigm in the quantum realm.
    According to the principle of quantum superposition, individual units (for instance, of light) can exist in two states at once, both as waves and particles, manifesting as one or the other depending on what you’re testing.    Rubino’s team looked at a quantum superposition with a state that evolves both backward and forward in time.    Measurements showed that more often than not, the system ended up moving forward in time.    But for small entropy changes, the system could actually continue to evolve both forward and backward in time.
    So how do these complex physics notions translate to the actual human experience?    Is it finally time to start packing for a trip backward in time?    Hold your horses.
    “We humans are macroscopic systems.    We cannot perceive these quantum superpositions of temporal evolutions,” Rubino says.    For us, time indeed moves forward.    It might be the case that the world is slightly undecided though.    “At its most fundamental level, the world is made up of quantum systems [which can move forward and backward],” Rubino explains.    “Having a deeper understanding of how to describe time flow at the level of these elementary constituents could allow us to formulate more precise theories to describe them and, eventually, to gain a deeper understanding of the physical phenomena of the world which we inhabit.”
    Not everyone agrees that the distinction between the macroscopic and microscopic is clear though.    Ramakrishna Podila, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Clemson University in South Carolina, says that many-particle statistics versus single-particle statistics is a more accurate way to describe things.    Even a single particle has its own, unique microstates.    Podila thinks that in our quest to understand time, we are putting equations before physical reality—and missing the point.
    “Associating the arrow of time with entropy or a quantum mechanical system collapsing (as it is stated in the paper) are not formal statements, but popular methods that are easy to use,” he says.    Even that time evolves forward is not an axiom per se, but a theory that astrophysicist Arthur Eddington coined and popularized in 1927.    “That these ideas are used does not make them the truth.    When we forget the real, underlying physics [the universally accepted axioms], we come up with all sorts of crazy things,” Podila says.
    So maybe it is time (and not space) that is the final frontier, despite what the beloved Captain James T. Kirk repeated at the beginning of each Star Trek episode.    Or, perhaps spacetime, the idea that space and time fuse together into one interwoven continuum, is.    Ever since Einstein formulated his theory of relativity, we stopped perceiving space as a three-dimensional figure and time as a one-dimensional one.    “Time became the fourth element of a four-dimensional vector that describes space and time,” says Rubino.    It’s a unified, dynamic entity we are still scratching our heads over.

4/23/2022 Fierce winds fuel Southwestern fires - Gusts set to batter NM, Ariz. through weekend by Felicia Fonseca and Susan Montoya Bryan, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Firefighters work on hot spots Friday in an area of burned trees across from a building
under construction in Colorado Springs, Colo. JERILEE BENNETT/COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE VIA AP
    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Destructive Southwest fires have burned dozens of homes in northern Arizona and put numerous small villages in New Mexico in the path of danger, as wind-fueled flames chewed up wide swaths of tinder dry forest and grassland and towering plumes of smoke filled the sky.
    Firefighters working to keep more homes from burning on the edge of a mountain town in northern Arizona were helped by some snow, scattered showers and cooler temperatures early Friday, but the favorable weather did not last and more gusts were expected to batter parts of Arizona and all of New Mexico through the weekend.
    Firefighters were assigned to more than a dozen large fires across the U.S., according to the National Interagency Fire Center.    Six blazes were in New Mexico and three were in Arizona, but that didn’t include the many new starts that were reported Friday as conditions deteriorated.
    The wind howled across New Mexico on Friday, shrouding the Rio Grande Valley with dust and pushing flames through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the north.    Fire officials expected one blaze northeast of Santa Fe to overrun several communities before Saturday.
    “With the dry conditions, high temperatures, extreme winds and limited suppression ability, the fire is traveling very quickly and it is imperative that residents comply with evacuation orders,” authorities said Friday afternoon.
    Neighbors spent the night helping one another pack belongings and load horses and other animals into trailers to escape approaching flames.    The rural area is home to several hundred people, but many residences are unoccupied as families have yet to arrive for summer.
    Lena Atencio and her husband, whose family has lived in the Rociada area for five generations, got out Friday as winds kicked up.    She said people were taking the threat seriously.
    “As a community, as a whole, everybody is just pulling together to support each other and just take care of the things we need to now.    And then at that point, it’s in God’s hands,” she said as the wind howled miles away in the community of Las Vegas, where evacuees were gathering.    “We just have to wait and see what happens.”
    Fire managers’ predictions were coming true: With no air support or crews working directly on the fire lines, there was explosive growth.    Gusts reached 55-65 mph.    San Miguel County Sheriff Chris Lopez called the situation very dangerous.    Evacuation centers were set up and several roads closed.
    Another wind-whipped fire in the northeastern corner of New Mexico also was forcing evacuations while the town of Cimarron and the headquarters of the Philmont Scout Ranch, owned and operated by the Boy Scouts of America, were preparing to flee if necessary.    The scout ranch attracts thousands of summer visitors, but officials said no scouts were on the property.
    New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed emergency declarations for four counties over the fires.     In Arizona, flames had raced through rural neighborhoods outside Flagstaff just days earlier.    A break in the weather Thursday allowed helicopters to drop water on the blaze and authorities to survey the damage.
    They found 30 homes and numerous other buildings were destroyed, with sheriff’s officials saying over 100 properties were affected.
    That fire has burned close to 32 square miles and forced evacuations of 765 homes after starting last Sunday.
    Spot fires threatened to run up mountainous areas overlooking neighborhoods.    If that happens, any rainfall in the area could magnify flooding.
    Lighter winds are expected over the weekend but fire officials worried winds could shift and push the blaze back onto neighborhoods.
    “The lines have been staying really well with the way the winds are going,” said Monica Whicker, who evacuated her home Tuesday.    “We have a lot of friends on the other side of the line that are on ‘set,’ so we worry about them, too.”
    Authorities used alarms overnight Thursday to warn residents to flee evacuation areas, said sheriff’s spokesman Jon Paxton.    Howling winds muffled the alarms.
    Kelly Morgan is among neighbors at the edge of the evacuation zone who did not leave.    She and her husband have lived through wildfires before, she said, and they’re prepared if winds shift and flames race toward the home they moved into three years ago.
    “Unfortunately, it’s not something new to us … but I hate seeing it when people are affected the way they are right now,” she said.    “It’s sad.    It’s a very sad time, but as a community, we’ve really come together.”
    Wildfire has become a year-round threat in the West given changing conditions that include earlier snowmelt and rain coming later in the fall, scientist have said.    The problems have been exacerbated by decades of fire suppression and poor management along with a megadrought that studies link to human-caused climate change.
    Last winter, Colorado’s most destructive wildfire tore through two densely populated Denver suburbs, and this year’s outlook is not good.    Warmer weather and little rain are expected to put the eastern half of the state at “above average significant fire potential” before higher risk spreads statewide in June, fire officials said in their annual wildfire plan released Friday.
    Fire danger in the Denver area on Friday was the highest it had been in over a decade, according to the National Weather Service, because of unseasonable temperatures in the 80s combined with strong winds and very dry conditions.    It warned people to have a bag ready in case they needed to evacuate.
    Firefighters earlier this week stopped blazes before they grew very large although one destroyed or damaged an estimated 15 buildings in the rural community of Monte Vista.
    In Arizona, popular lakes and national monuments have closed – some because the wildfire moved directly over them.
Kylee Moberg tries to get through a roadblock on N.M. 94 to get to her friend and horses on Friday
as wind-fueled flames chewed up wide swaths of tinder dry forest and grassland and towering
plumes of smoke filled the sky in New Mexico. EDDIE MOORE/ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL VIA AP

4/23/2022 Day in Florida Keys - Hundreds watch healed green turtle be released by ASSOCIATED PRESS
Bette Zirkelbach, manager of Turtle Hospital, and hospital founder
Richie Moretti hold a green sea turtle. ANDY NEWMAN/FLORIDA KEYS NEWS BUREAU VIA AP
    MARATHON, Fla. – A rehabilitated green sea turtle was released back to the ocean in the Florida Keys on Friday to mark Earth Day.
    Several hundred onlookers watched on Marathon’s Sombrero Beach as staff from the Keys-based Turtle Hospital released “TJ Sharp,” a 65-pound juvenile sea turtle that was rescued in February.    The endangered reptile had been discovered floating offshore, unable to dive and visibly affected by fibro papillomatosis, a condition that causes cauliflower-like tumors and affects sea turtles around the world.
    TJ’s condition upon arrival at the Turtle Hospital required surgical removal of the tumors and treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics, fluids, vitamins and a nourishing diet of greens and mixed seafood.
    “Sea turtles are the oldest animal known to man – to be able to take a sea turtle, rehabilitate it and return it to its ocean home on Earth Day, it’s just an amazing day,” Turtle Hospital manager Bette Zirkelbach said.
    Zirkelbach said that although Earth Day is recognized once a year, humans can take daily steps to protect marine resources and help ensure the survival of sea turtles.
    “What people need to do to make every day Earth Day is to reduce singleuse plastics, keep trash out of our oceans and help keep our planet clean,” Zirkelbach added.
    Keys visitors and residents are commemorating Earth Day’s significance with outdoor activities throughout the weekend, including Mote Marine Laboratory’s 10th Annual Ocean Fest: A Community Celebration Saturday.

4/24/2022 Pterosaur fossil suggests feathers may have evolved long before flight by Leah Crane, New Scientist
© Provided by New Scientist
    Pterosaurs – flying reptiles that cruised the skies millions of years ago – may have had multicolored feathers.    We know that some dinosaurs, which are cousins of pterosaurs, had feathers like this, but the discovery of feathers with different colours on a pterosaur indicates that feathers may have come about 100 million years earlier than researchers previously thought, earlier even than flying vertebrates.
    Maria McNamara at University College Cork in Ireland and her colleagues found these preserved feathers on a fossilized partial pterosaur skull that was held in a private collection and was originally excavated in Brazil.    Specimens of this particular species, Tupandactylus imperator, have prominent crests on their heads; the feathers on this skull were found on either side of the crest.
    The researchers found two types of feathers: whisker-like monofilaments and more complex branching feathers.    When examined under a microscope, each type of feather contained different sorts of melanosomes, tiny pieces of cells that synthesize and store the pigment melanin.
    “The monofilaments have these elongated, sausage-shaped melanosomes, but the branched feathers have these more stubby, fat melanosomes,” says McNamara.    “The melanosome shape is really closely linked to its chemistry and thus its colour.”
    By comparing these melanosomes with those found in modern feathered animals, the researchers determined that the bristly monofilaments were probably black or dark brown, while the fluffier branched feathers were probably a lighter shade of brown.
    “The specific colours don’t really matter from an evolutionary sense; what matters is that they have these different colours,” says McNamara.    “It probably means that the ability to impart colour is something that’s really ancient and that’s tied up in the whole way that feathers were evolved.”
    Because both pterosaurs and some dinosaurs had multicolored feathers, the feathers were probably passed down from a common ancestor in the early Triassic period, around 250 million years ago, she says.
    “[This finding demonstrates that] feathers arose long before flight, and so must have been for insulation or signaling,” says Michael Benton at the University of Bristol, UK.    If the feathers were all the same colour, they might have been used only for insulation, but the finding of multiple colours indicates that they were probably used for signaling as well, perhaps for camouflage or attracting mates.
    Journal reference: Nature, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04622-3
    Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.

4/25/2022 Emergency declared in New Mexico - Wildfires burn in nearly half its counties by ASSOCIATED PRESS
Smoke from a wildfire near Cambridge, Neb. Several small towns, including Cambridge, Bartley, Indianola and Wilsonville,
in Nebraska's southwest and Macy in its northeast, were forced to temporarily evacuate. NEBRASKA STATE PATROL VIA AP
    SANTA FE, N.M. – New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed emergency declarations as 20 wildfires continued to burn Sunday in nearly half of the state’s drought-stricken 33 counties.
    One wildfire in northern New Mexico that started April 6 merged with a newer fire Saturday to form the largest blaze in the state, leading to widespread evacuations in Mora and San Miguel counties.    That fire was at 84 square miles Sunday and 12% contained.
    An uncontained wind-driven wildfire in northern New Mexico that began April 17 had charred 81 square miles of ponderosa pine, oak brush and grass by Sunday morning north of Ocate, an unincorporated community in Mora County.
    Meanwhile in Arizona, some residents forced to evacuate due to a wildfire near Flagstaff were allowed to return home Sunday morning.
Wind-driven wildfires sweeping through parts of Nebraska killed a retired fire chief and injured at least 15 firefighters, authorities said Sunday.
    The man who died Friday night was a retired Cambridge fire chief who was working with firefighters as a spotter in Red Willow County in the southwestern corner of the state.    That fire had burned more than 78 square miles in Red Willow, Furnas and Frontier counties by Sunday afternoon.
    The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency said firefighters were still working to contain that large fire Sunday, and officials didn’t have an estimate of how much of it had been.
    Alyssa Sanders, with NEMA, said 66-year-old John P. Trumble, of Arapahoe, was overcome by smoke and fire after his vehicle left the road Friday because of poor visibility from smoke and dust.    His body was found early Saturday.
    Winds and temperatures in New Mexico diminished Saturday but remained strong enough to still fan fires.    Dozens of evacuation orders remained in place.
    Fire officials were expecting the northern wildfires to slow Sunday as cloud and smoke cover moves in, allowing the forests to retain more moisture.    But they added that the interior portions of the fires could show moderate to extreme behavior, which could threaten structures in those areas.
    More than 200 structures have been charred by the wildfires thus far and an additional 900 remain threatened, Lujan Grisham said.
    Fire management officials said an exact damage count was unclear because it’s too dangerous for crews to go in and look at all the homes that have been lost.
    “We do not know the magnitude of the structure loss.    We don’t even know the areas where most homes made it through the fire, where homes haven’t been damaged or anything like that,” said operation sections chief Jayson Coil.
    Some 1,000 firefighters were battling the wildfires across New Mexico, which already has secured about $3 million in grants to help with the fires.
    Lujan Grisham said she has asked the White House for more federal resources and she’s calling for a ban of fireworks statewide.
    “We need more federal bodies for firefighting, fire mitigation, public safety support on the ground in New Mexico,” she said.    “It’s going to be a tough summer.    So that’s why we are banning fires.    And that is why on Monday I will be asking every local government to be thinking about ways to ban the sales of fireworks.”
    Wildfire has become a year-round threat in the West given changing conditions that include earlier snowmelt and rain coming later in the fall, scientists have said.    The problems have been exacerbated by decades of fire suppression and poor management and a more than 20-year megadrought that studies link to human-caused climate change.
    In Arizona, two large wildfires continued to burn Sunday 10 miles south of Prescott and 14 miles northeast of Flagstaff.

4/26/2022 UN says worse disasters yet to come - By 2030, number could grow to 160 more per year by Seth Borenstein, ASSOCIATED PRESS
A man takes pictures of the ruins of the old village of Vilar, submerged since 1954 when a
hydropower dam flooded the valley. The ruins have risen above the waters of the Zezere River due to drought,
near Pampilhosa da Serra in central Portugal, Feb. 17. By the end of January, 45% of the country was enduring
“severe” or “extreme” drought conditions, according to the national weather agency IPMA. SERGIO AZENHA/AP FILE
    A disaster-weary globe will be hit harder in the coming years by even more catastrophes colliding in an interconnected world, a United Nations report issued Monday says.
    If current trends continue the world will go from around 400 disasters per year in 2015 to an onslaught of about 560 catastrophes a year by 2030, the scientific report by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction said.    By comparison from 1970 to 2000, the world suffered just 90 to 100 medium to large scale disasters a year, the report said.
    The number of extreme heat waves in 2030 will be three times what it was in 2001 and there will be 30% more droughts, the report predicted.    It’s not just natural disasters amplified by climate change, it’s COVID-19, economic meltdowns and food shortages.    Climate change has a huge footprint in the number of disasters, report authors said.
    People have not grasped how much disasters already cost today, said Mami Mizutori, chief of the UN Office of Disaster Risk Reduction, “If we don’t get ahead of the curve it will reach a point where we cannot manage the consequences of disaster,” she said.    “We’re just in this vicious cycle.”
    That means society needs to rethink how it finances, handles and talks about the risk of disasters and what it values the most, the report said.    About 90% of the spending on disasters currently is emergency relief with only 6% on reconstruction and 4% on prevention, Mizutori said in an interview Monday.
    Not every hurricane or earthquake has to turn into a disaster, Mizutori said.    A lot of damage is avoided with planning and prevention.
    In 1990, disasters cost the world about $70 billion a year.    Now they cost more than $170 billion a year, and that’s after adjusting for inflation, according to report authors.    Nor does that include indirect costs we seldom think about that add up, Mizutori said.
    For years disaster deaths were steadily decreasing because of better warnings and prevention, Mizutori said.    But in the last five years, disaster deaths are “way more” than the previous five years, said report co-author Roger Pulwarty, a U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate and social scientist.
    That’s because both COVID-19 and climate change disasters have come to places that didn’t used to get them, like tropical cyclones hitting Mozambique, Mizutori said.    It’s also the way disasters interact with each other, compounding damage, like wildfires plus heatwaves or a war in Ukraine plus food and fuel shortages, Pulwarty said.
    Pulwarty said if society changes the way it thinks about risk and prepares for disasters, then the recent increase in yearly disaster deaths could be temporary, otherwise it’s probably “the new abnormal.”
    Disasters are hitting poorer countries harder than richer ones, with recovery costs taking a bigger chunk out of the economy in nations that can’t afford it, co-author Markus Enenkel of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative said.
    “These are the events that can wipe out hard-earned development gains, leading already vulnerable communities or entire regions into a downward spiral,” he said.
    The sheer onslaught of disasters just add up, like little illnesses attacking and weakening the body’s immune system, Pulwarty said.
    The report calls for an overhaul in how we speak about risk. For example, instead of asking about the chances of a disaster happening this year, say 5%, officials should think about the chances over a 25-year period, which makes it quite likely.    Talking about 100-year floods or chances of something happening a couple times in 100 years makes it seem distant, Mizutori said.
    “In a world of distrust and misinformation, this is a key to moving forward,” said University of South Carolina Hazards Vulnerability and Resilience Institute Co-Director Susan Cutter, who wasn’t part of the report.    “We can move forward to reduce the underlying drivers of risk: Inequality, poverty and most significantly climate change.”

4/27/2022 People who reject the theory of human evolution tend to have more bigoted attitudes by PsyPost
    Individuals who accept human evolution tend to exhibit reduced levels of prejudice compared to those who reject the scientific theory, according to new research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.    The study indicates that disbelief in evolution predicts racism and prejudice around the world and in various cultural contexts.
© PsyPostPeople who reject the theory of human evolution tend to have more bigoted attitudes
    “I have been interested in human-animal relations for a while now,” said study author Stylianos Syropoulos, a PhD candidate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
    “I did my first study on the subject back as an undergraduate student, examining how and why people expand their moral circles to include/exclude animals or humans.    Then in graduate school I joined the Psychology of Peace and Violence Program, where I became invested in research on understanding and preventing intergroup conflict and violence.”
    “Further, I recently also came across a wonderful review article by Vezzali and colleagues which suggests that some interventions to reduce conflict can be non-conflict-specific,” Syropoulos said.    “Namely, that means that they can focus on an unrelated psychological phenomenon outside the scope of the conflict, which in this case was belief in evolution.”
    To examine the relationship between the acceptance of evolution and prejudicial attitudes, the researchers first analyzed very large sets of data collected by the General Social Survey and Pew Research Center.
    For 10 years, the General Social Survey, a nationally representative survey of U.S. citizens, included measures of the belief that humans developed from earlier species of animals.    An analysis of responses from 8,963 participants found that the belief that humans evolved from animals was associated with reduced prejudice, less racist attitudes and reduced support for discriminatory behaviors.    This was true even after controlling for education level, religiosity, political beliefs, family income, and gender.
    The researchers also analyzed Pew Research Center data from 21,827 Christian individuals in 19 Eastern European countries.    Pew asked the participants whether “Humans and other living things have evolved over time” or “Humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.”    After controlling for education, importance of religion, age, and gender, the researchers found that those who denied that humans had evolved tended to exhibit reduced acceptance of outgroups, such as Roma and Catholics.
    Next, Syropoulos and his colleagues analyzed Pew Research Center data from 28,004 Muslim individuals in 25 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.    They found that disbelief in evolution was associated with decreased acceptance of Christians and with the tendency to only have Muslim friends.    Similarly, an analysis of responses from 3,562 participants in Israel found that disbelief in evolution was associated with support for preferential treatment for Jews, less support for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and greater support for the expulsion of Arabs.
    Syropoulos and his colleagues also conducted their own studies.
    An online study of 499 U.S. residents recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing platform found that disbelief in evolution was associated with hostility towards Iran, Egypt, Qatar, Turkey and Panemistan (a fictitious country).    In two additional studies, which included 509 U.S. residents recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk and 1,072 students recruited from introductory psychology courses, the researchers found that belief in human evolution and perceived similarity of self to animals were only moderately correlated, suggesting that they are “psychometrically distinguishable constructs.”
    “Our findings were consistent across cultural, religious, and national contexts, for majority and minority groups, and even towards groups that were fictional (i.e., created by the research team),” Syropoulos told PsyPost.    “These findings are correlational, meaning we cannot make a causal argument about this relationship, but importantly, this relationship was consistent, and remained significant after adjusting for key psychological variables such as ideology or religiosity.”
    “We believe this link makes sense because of theoretical work on Social Identity Theory (i.e., when people believe in evolution, they are more likely to believe that they are similar to other people, as we all have a common ancestor); Terror Management Theory (i.e., in short, people are less defensive of their cultural worldviews and more accepting of others) and Moral Expansiveness Theory (i.e., people who believe in evolution potentially expand their moral circle to include animals, as they perceive them and animals to originate from a common ancestor, which in turn leads to them valuing people from other groups a lot too).”
    The researchers noted that Darwin’s theory of evolution has been cited to perpetrate racism and other forms of prejudice, in part through the phrase, “survival of the fittest,” used to describe the process of natural selection.
    “There have been theoretical accounts that predict the opposite of what we found, so it was exciting for us to show that this actually is not the case, that the opposite is true and that belief in evolution seems to have pretty positive effects,” co-author Bernhard Leidner said in a news release.
    Despite using nationally representative data from across the world, the correlational nature of the data prevented the researchers from making causal claims about the relationship between disbelief in evolution and prejudicial attitudes.    To overcome this limitation, Syropoulos and his colleagues conducted a final study of 1,279 U.S. residents in which they attempted to experimentally manipulate belief in human evolution.
    Participants were randomly assigned to read about how humans have evolved from animals, read about evolution of currency from coins to paper bills, or read nothing before completing assessments of prejudicial attitudes.
    Reading about evolution did not directly reduce prejudice.    But the manipulation did reduce prejudice indirectly through changes in participants’ self-reported beliefs in human evolution.    “Thus, although the manipulation itself did not prove to be effective, there is evidence to suggest that for those people who were convinced by it, prejudice was reduced,” the researchers explained.
    “It’s not easy to make everyone believe in evolution, as depending on one’s education and religious background, they might reject this theory altogether,” Syropoulos told PsyPost.    “More research is required in that direction.”
    “This project was the result of a cross-national collaboration including researchers from the United States (Dr. Bernhard Leidner from UMass Amherst; Dr. Jeff Greenberg and PhD Candidate Dylan Horner from University of Arizona) and Dr. Uri Lifshin from Reichman University in Israel (who is a joint first-author on the paper).    Additional work on perceived similarity to animals is coming out soon from this collaboration which will further validate this claim,” Syropoulos added.
    The study, “Bigotry and the human-animal divide: (Dis)belief in human evolution and bigoted attitudes across different cultures,“ was authored by Stylianos Syropoulos, Uri Lifshin, Jeff Greenberg, Dylan E. Horner, and Bernhard Leidner.
[Regarding the following concepts in "The Alpha and the Omega" by Jim A. Cornwell - Volume III: that the above article does not consider what the Bible actually tells us.
4/27/2022 Roaring wildfires tear across several states - Break in weather helps crews combat flames by Margery A. Beck and Susan Montoya Bryan, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    OMAHA, Neb. – Firefighters across the country are battling multiple wildfires as tinder-dry conditions and high winds whip up flames from Arizona to Florida – including a prairie fire in rural southwestern Nebraska that has killed one person, injured at least 15 firefighters and destroyed at least six homes.
    A break in the weather in parts of the Midwest and West allowed crews to make progress Monday on some of the nearly dozen new large fires that were reported in recent days across the nation – four in New Mexico, three in Colorado and one each in Florida, Nebraska, South Dakota and Texas.
    With more than 1,350 square miles burned so far this year, officials at the National Interagency Fire Center said the amount of land singed to date is outpacing the 10-year average by about 30%.
    Hotter, drier weather has combined with a persistent drought to worsen fire danger across many parts of the West, where decades of fire suppression have resulted in overgrown and unhealthy forests and increasing development have put more communities at risk.
    In northern New Mexico, evacuations remained in place for several communities Monday and conditions were still too volatile for authorities to assess the damage caused Friday and Saturday.    The blaze has grown into the largest wildfire burning in the U.S., charring more than 88 square miles.
    Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation joined Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on a call Monday with officials from the White House and federal agencies to appeal for more federal ground resources ahead of another blast of strong fire-fueling winds expected this week.
    Thanks to lighter winds in the Midwest on Monday, firefighters made significant progress on the fire that’s burned about 70 square miles of mostly grasslands and farmland near the Nebraska-Kansas state line.    It’s now estimated to be about 47% contained.
    In Arizona, firefighters also took advantage of lighter winds to boost containment of a more than 33-square-mile blaze that has been burning outside of Flagstaff for more than a week.    Strong winds that had fueled the fire are expected to return this week.
    In Nebraska, the Road 702 Fire has destroyed at least six homes and threatened 660 others, along with 50 commercial farm buildings, said Jonathan Ashford, spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Complex Incident Management Team.
    Retired Cambridge, Nebraska, fire chief John Trumble, 66, who was helping as a fire spotter in Red Willow County, died Friday night after his truck went off the road in a blinding haze of smoke and dust.
    Trumble was the second person in a month to die while fighting a wildfire in southwest Nebraska.    Elwood Volunteer Fire Chief Darren Krull, 54, was killed in a collision with a water tanker on April 7 in Furnas County as smoke cut visibility to zero.
    Nebraska remains critically dry, said Ashford, who urged residents to use caution when doing anything that could spark a fire.
    “The last thing we need is to have another fire started that we have to then fight,” he said.
A wildfire – named the Calf Canyon Fire – burns north of Las Vegas near
the San Miguel and Mora County line Monday. EDDIE MOORE/AP

4/27/2022 Kids’ mystery liver disease: 190 cases seen by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    STOCKHOLM – European health officials said Tuesday that they have not found a link among cases of a mysterious liver disease outbreak in children.
    To date, 190 cases of the hepatitis of unknown origin have been reported, 140 of them in Europe.
    “So far there is no connection between the cases and no association to travel,” said Andrea Ammon, director at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Stockholm.
    She said the disease appears in previously healthy children, with cases reported across the European continent, in Israel and in the United States.
    Ammon said some cases have led to acute liver failure that has required a transplant.
    On Saturday, the World Health Organization said that at least one death has been reported in connection to the outbreak.    The U.N. health agency said the cases were reported in children aged between 1 month and 16 years.    WHO didn’t say in which country the death occurred.
    Experts say the cases may be linked to a virus commonly associated with colds, but research is continuing.

4/28/2022 Urgent conservation needed to keep many reptiles from extinction - More than one in five species are threatened, according to study by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Reptiles are in trouble: In fact, over 21% of reptile species are threatened with extinction worldwide, according to a first-of-its-kind global assessment of more than 10,000 species.
    The findings show that some reptiles, including many species of crocodiles and turtles, require urgent conservation efforts to prevent their extinction.
    'The results of the global reptile assessment signal the need to ramp up global efforts to conserve them,' said study co-leader Neil Cox, of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
    'Because reptiles are so diverse, they face a wide range of threats across a variety of habitats.
    'A multifaceted action plan is necessary to protect these species, with all the evolutionary history they represent.'
    The study was published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed British journal Nature.
    Study authors say the top threats to reptiles come from agriculture, logging, urban development and invasive species, although they acknowledge that the risk that climate change poses is uncertain.
    In all, of the 10,196 species assessed, they found that at least 1,829 (21%) of species were threatened with extinction (categorized as being vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered).
    Crocodiles and turtles are among the most at-risk species, with 57.9% and 50% of those assessed under threat, respectively.
    Some good news: The research revealed that efforts already underway to conserve threatened mammals, birds and amphibians are more likely than expected to also benefit many threatened reptiles.
    Study authors say that many of the risks that reptiles face are similar to those faced by those other animal groups and suggest that conservation efforts to protect these groups – including habitat restoration and controlling invasive species – may have also benefited reptiles.
    'These study results show that reptile conservation research no longer needs to be overshadowed by that of amphibians, birds and mammals.    It is concerning, though, that more than a fifth of all known reptile species are threatened,' said Mark Auliya of the Zoological Research Museum in Bonn, Germany.
    In addition to turtles and crocodiles, reptiles in the study included lizards, snakes and tuatara, the only living member of a lineage that evolved in the Triassic period 200million to 250million years ago.
    'Many reptiles, like the tuatara or pig-nosed turtle, are like living fossils, whose loss would spell the end of not just species that play unique ecosystem roles, but also many billions of years of evolutionary history,' said Mike Hoffmann, of the Zoological Society of London.    'Their future survival depends on us putting nature at the heart of all we do.'
    Another expert, Maureen Kearney, a program director at the National Science Foundation, said that 'the potential loss of one-fifth of all reptile species reminds us how much of Earth’s biodiversity is disappearing, a crisis that is threatening all species, including humans.'
A dead green sea turtle washes up in the United Arab Emirates in February.
The species is one of thousands threatened by extinction. Kamran Jebr/AP file

More than one in five species of reptiles worldwide, including the marine iguana, are threatened with extinction, according
to a comprehensive new assessment of thousands of species published Wednesday in the journal Nature. Adrian Vasquez/AP file

4/28/2022 One-fifth of reptile species face extinction - Conservation efforts for others may be helping by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Reptiles are in trouble: In fact, more than 21% of reptile species are threatened with extinction worldwide, according to a first-of-its-kind global assessment of more than 10,000 species.
    The findings show that some reptiles, including many species of crocodiles and turtles, require urgent conservation efforts to prevent their extinction.
    “The results of the global reptile assessment signal the need to ramp up global efforts to conserve them,” said study co-leader Neil Cox, of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Conservation International.
    “Because reptiles are so diverse, they face a wide range of threats across a variety of habitats."
    “A multifaceted action plan is necessary to protect these species, with all the evolutionary history they represent.”
    The study was published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed British journal Nature.
    Study authors say the top threats to reptiles come from agriculture, logging, urban development and invasive species, although they acknowledge that the risk that climate change poses is uncertain.
    In all, of the 10,196 species assessed, they found that at least 1,829 (21%) of species were threatened with extinction (categorized as being vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered).
    Crocodiles and turtles are among the most at-risk species, with 57.9% and 50% of those assessed under threat, respectively.
    Some good news: The research revealed that efforts already underway to conserve threatened mammals, birds and amphibians are more likely than expected to also benefit many threatened reptiles.
    Study authors say that many of the risks that reptiles face are similar to those faced by those other animal groups and suggest that conservation efforts to protect these groups – including habitat restoration and controlling invasive species – may also have benefited reptiles.
    “These study results show that reptile conservation research no longer needs to be overshadowed by that of amphibians, birds and mammals.    It is concerning, though, that more than a fifth of all known reptile species are threatened,” said Mark Auliya of the Zoological Research Museum in Bonn, Germany.
    In addition to turtles and crocodiles, reptiles in the study included lizards, snakes and tuatara, the only living member of a lineage that evolved in the Triassic period 200 million to 250 million years ago.
    “Many reptiles, like the tuatara or pig-nosed turtle, are like living fossils, whose loss would spell the end of not just species that play unique ecosystem roles, but also many billions of years of evolutionary history, said Mike Hoffmann, of the Zoological Society of London.    “Their future survival depends on us putting nature at the heart of all we do.”
    Another expert, Maureen Kearney, from the National Science Foundation, said that “the potential loss of one-fifth of all reptile species reminds us how much of Earth’s biodiversity is disappearing, a crisis that is threatening all species, including humans.”
Crocodiles are among the most at risk, a study says. OZGURCANKAYA/GETTY IMAGES

4/29/2022 Arkansas sues Family Dollar after 1,100 rodents found in facility by Andrew DeMillo, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas is suing Family Dollar over the discovery of more than 1,000 rodents in a distribution facility in the state that prompted the discount retail chain to recall items purchased from hundreds of stores in the South.
    The lawsuit, filed Thursday by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge in state court, accuses the chain and parent company Dollar Tree of deceiving consumers, negligence and engaging in a conspiracy that allowed the infestation at the West Memphis facility to occur.
    “This misconduct by Family Dollar Stores and Dollar Tree allowed them to maximize profits, while causing Arkansas citizens to purchase hazardous, adulterated and contaminated products,” the lawsuit said.
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced in February that it had inspected the distribution facility following a consumer complaint. Inside the building, inspectors said they found live rodents, dead rodents in “various states of decay,” rodent feces, dead birds and bird droppings.
    A Dollar Tree spokesman did not immediately return messages seeking comment Thursday.
    After fumigating the facility, more than 1,100 dead rodents were recovered, officials said.    Family Dollar issued a temporary recall and closed 404 stores in six states – Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee – so numerous products that had been at the facility could be removed from shelves.
    Family Dollar in February said it was not aware of any illnesses related to the recall.
    The products included human foods, animal foods, cosmetics, medical devices and over-the-counter medications.
    The infestation has also prompted private lawsuits in several other states that have been filed on behalf of customers.
    During the news conference, Rutledge showed reporters video that a former employee posted on social media of rats inside the facility.    In one video, the former worker is trying to feed a potato chip to a large rat sitting on a stack of boxes.
    According to the lawsuit, state and federal inspections showed Family Dollar had known of the rodent infestation at its facility since at least January 2020.
    Arkansas’ lawsuit seeks up to $10,000 for each product that was distributed over the past two years by the facility to Arkansas consumers that was affected by the infestation, under the state’s deceptive trade practices act.
    Rutledge is also seeking punitive damages and restitution for Arkansas consumers affected by the contamination.
    In her lawsuit, Rutledge also asked a state judge to suspend or revoke Family Dollar’s authorization to do business in the state.

4/29/2022 Climate change could cause mass extinction event by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Unless climate change is curbed, Earth’s oceans could see a mass extinction of marine life unlike anything the planet has seen for millions of years, according to a new study published Thursday.
    “If carbon dioxide emissions accelerate unchecked over the next century, this would lead to extreme warming, driving extinctions in the ocean rivaling the mass extinctions in Earth’s past,” study lead author Justin Penn of Princeton University told USA TODAY.    The study said that climate-driven ocean warming and oxygen depletion would be the primary reasons for the potential mass extinctions.    In addition, direct human impacts, such as habitat destruction, overfishing and coastal pollution, also threaten marine species.
    The burning of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal that power our world releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans.    As ocean temperatures increase and oxygen availability drops, marine life abundance plummets, according to the study.    The extinctions could occur in the next 100-300 years: “By 2100, in a high-emissions scenario, extinction risks could rival all human threats in the ocean as they currently stand, including overfishing and marine pollution among others,” Penn said.    “By 2300, these extinctions could rival those in the geologic past, unless trends in greenhouse gas emissions are reversed.”
    According to the study, under “business as usual” global temperature increases, marine ecosystems planetwide are likely to experience mass extinctions potentially rivaling the size and severity of the end-Permian extinction – the “Great Dying” – which occurred roughly 250 million years ago and led to the demise of more than two-thirds of marine animals.    Tropical waters would experience the greatest loss of biodiversity, while polar species are at the highest risk of extinction, the authors reported.    Even though tropical oceans are expected to lose the most species under climate change, many will likely migrate to higher latitudes and more favorable conditions to survive.    However, polar species are likely to go globally extinct, as their habitats will disappear from the planet entirely.
    To conduct the study, Penn and his Princeton colleague Curtis Deutsch combined existing physiological data on marine species with models of climate change to predict how changes in habitat conditions will affect the survival of sea animals around the globe over the next few centuries.    The news wasn’t all bad, however: The study found that reversing greenhouse gas emissions could reduce the risk of extinction by more than 70%.
    “The silver lining is that the future isn’t written in stone,” said Penn, a postdoctoral research associate in geosciences at Princeton, in a statement.    “The extinction magnitude that we found depends strongly on how much carbon dioxide (CO2) we emit moving forward.    There’s still enough time to change the trajectory of CO2 emissions and prevent the magnitude of warming that would cause this mass extinction.”    Deutsch, a professor of geosciences at Princeton, agreed, noting that “aggressive and rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are critical for avoiding a major mass extinction of ocean species.”
The loss of habitat threatens ocean species with extinction. As the ocean warms,
diverse species, like these dolphinfishes, require more oxygen. EVAN DAVIS

4/30/2022 Southwest braces for new fire danger by Susan Montoya Bryan and Scott Sonner, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Thousands of firefighters continued to slow the advance of destructive wildfires in the southwestern U.S., but officials warned they were bracing for the return Friday of the same dangerous conditions that quickly spread the wind-fueled blazes a week ago.
    At least 166 homes have been destroyed in one rural county in northeast New Mexico since the biggest fire currently burning in the U.S. started racing through small towns east and northeast of Santa Fe on April 22, the local sheriff said.
    Winds gusting up to 50 mph were forecast Friday in the drought-stricken region.    One expert said it’s a recipe for disaster in the wildlands where some timber has a fuel moisture drier than kiln-dried wood.
    “It’s a very, very dangerous fire day tomorrow,” fire behavior specialist Stewart Turner said at a briefing Thursday night on the edge of the Santa Fe National Forest in Las Vegas, New Mexico.
    “Like we saw last Friday, epic fire behavior,” Turner said.    “It’s a day that as a firefighter, we’ll write about, we’ll read studies about.    It’s going to be a big fire day.”
    A swath of the country stretching from New Mexico and Colorado to Kansas and the Texas panhandle is expected to be hit the hardest by the return of the bad firefighting weather that has generated unusually hot and fast-moving fires for this time of year, forecasters warned.
    Red flag warnings for extreme fire danger were in place Friday for nearly all of New Mexico and parts of Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.
    More than 3,000 firefighters were battling fires in Arizona and New Mexico on Friday – about half of those in northeast New Mexico, where more than 187 square miles of mostly timber and brush have been charred.
    Sheriff Chris Lopez, of New Mexico’s Miguel County, confirmed for the first time Thursday night the fire there has destroyed at least 166 homes, 108 outbuildings and three commercial buildings.    He joined authorities in neighboring Mora County in pleading with residents to pay close attention Friday to sudden changes in closures and evacuation orders.
    “Falling trees, possibly falling power lines, that’s the kind of winds we’re looking at,” Lopez said.
    In northern Arizona, authorities downgraded some some evacuation orders at a fire that has destroyed at least 30 homes near Flagstaff.    It’s now estimated to be 43% contained.    Another fire 10 miles south of the community of Prescott was 23% contained, but officials at both blazes warned of worsening conditions expected Friday.
    Elsewhere, one national wildfire management incident team continued to oversee a large prairie fire in Nebraska, where more than 200 firefighters were battling a blaze that has been burning since last week.
    About 68 square miles of mostly grasses and farmland have been blackened near Nebraska’s state line with Kansas.    Several homes were destroyed, and at least one person was killed.    That fire was 97% contained Friday.
A “super scooper” aircraft battles fires in the Santa Fe National Forest

5/1/2022 Tornado rips through Kansas by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WICHITA, Kan. – A tornado that barreled through parts of Kansas destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes and buildings, injured several people and left more than 15,000 people without power, officials said Saturday.
    In addition to wreckage from the tornado itself, three University of Oklahoma meteorology students traveling back from storm chasing in Kansas were also killed in a crash Friday evening, according to officials.    Nicholas Nair, 20, of Denton, Texas; Gavin Short, 19, of Grayslake, Illinois; and Drake Brooks, 22, of Evansville, Indiana, died in the crash shortly before 11:30 p.m. Friday, according to an Oklahoma Highway Patrol report.
    The three were in a vehicle being driven by Nair southbound on Interstate 35 when the vehicle hydroplaned and was struck by a tractor-trailer rig in Tonkawa, about 85 miles north of Oklahoma City, the report said.
    A statement released by OU said: “The university is devastated to learn of the tragic passing of three students.    Each were valued and loved members of our community.”
    More than 1,000 buildings were affected when a strong twister swept through Andover on Friday evening, according to authorities.    In the daylight Saturday, emergency crews found a more widespread path of destruction than was earlier estimated.
    “We now know that our damage path extended approximately 3 1/ 2 to 4 miles to the north of where we believed it to have ended last night,” Andover Deputy Fire Chief Mike Roosevelt said at a briefing.
    There were no reported fatalities or critical injuries from the tornado itself, despite the widespread destruction.    Officials said only a few injuries had been reported.    In Sedgwick County, three people were injured, including one woman who sustained serious injuries.
    Search and rescue operations continued Saturday with more than 200 emergency responders from 30 agencies.    Officials kept volunteers away from the damage until a secondary search of debris is done.    Andover Fire Chief Chad Russell said earlier that some neighborhood homes “were completely blown away.”    There are homes knocked completely off their foundations and entire neighborhoods wiped out, Russell said.
    City Hall, the Andover YMCA and Prairie Creek Elementary School were among buildings heavily damaged.
    Field crews from the National Weather Service worked Saturday to determine the extent and strength of the twister, said meteorologist Kevin Darmofal at the Wichita office.
    Flor and Aldo Delgado said they prayed in the basement of their Andover home as a tornado passed right above them, destroying their home and cars.
    The couple looked out of the window Friday night and saw the tornado beginning to form, so they headed to the basement.    “The lights started flickering and eventually went out, and within a minute from that the whole house started shaking and it was so loud.    We started feeling water hitting our faces, and there was just dust everywhere.    It lasted for what felt like a minute that it was right above us,” Aldo Delgado said.
    Flor Delgado said she could hear their home being torn apart as they prayed for their safety, the Wichita Eagle reported.    “In the moment I realized there is absolutely nothing we could do.    I knew my husband felt it too because he was calm and comforting me, but at one point he just starts losing it and crying.    I could hear his voice cracking as he’s praying,” she said.    Once the tornado passed, the couple made it out of the debris with only the clothes on their backs.    Their home, cars and personal items are gone.
    “We didn’t even have our wedding rings on at the time,” Flor Delgado added.    Gov. Laura Kelly declared a State of Disaster Emergency for the hardest-hit areas.    The declaration makes state resources available to help local jurisdictions with response and recovery.
    Evergy said about 15,000 customers lost power during the tornado and that work continued to restore electricity.    Any broken gas and water lines were shut off and by noon there were no known active leaks.
    In addition to the tornadoes, large hail was reported in several towns across the Plains.    Hail the size of softballs was spotted in Nebraska and Kansas, the National Weather Service reported.
A home is destroyed from a possible tornado near Andover, Kan., on Saturday. A suspected tornado that barreled through parts of Kansas has
damaged multiple buildings, injured several people and left more than 6,500 people without power. JAIME GREEN, THE WICHITA EAGLE /AP

5/2/2022 Firefighters battling NM blaze brace for more wind - Officials say evacuations possible as fire spreads by Paul Davenport, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    More than 1,000 firefighters backed by bulldozers and aircraft battled the largest active wildfire in the U.S. on Sunday after strong winds had pushed it across containment lines and closer to a small city in northern New Mexico.
    Calmer winds Saturday aided the firefighting effort after gusts accelerated the fire’s advance to a point Friday at which “we were watching the fire march about a mile every hour,” said Jayson Coil, a fire operation official.
    Ash carried 7 miles through the air had fallen on Las Vegas, New Mexico, population about 13,000, and firefighters were trying to prevent the blaze from getting closer, said Mike Johnson, a fire management team spokesperson.
    But fire managers warned of windy conditions expected in the coming days, as well as impacts from smoke, and officials urged residents to remain vigilant for further possible evacuation orders.
    Stewart Turner, a fire behavior analyst with the fire management team, warned Saturday of a “very serious week” ahead with the forecasted winds.
    More extreme fire danger was forecast for Sunday for parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado, according to the National Weather Service.
    Mapping imagery indicated the fire that has burned at least 166 homes grew in size from 103 square miles on Friday to 152 square miles by early Saturday, officials said. The fire was described as 30% contained during a briefing Saturday evening.
    Winds in northern New Mexico gusted up to 65 mph Friday before subsiding as nightfall approached.    By Saturday, aircraft that dump fire retardant and water were resuming flights to aid ground crews and bulldozers.
    The fire’s rapid growth Friday forced crews to repeatedly change positions because of threatening conditions, but they managed to immediately reengage without being forced to retreat, Coil said.    No injuries were reported.
    The fire started April 6 when a prescribed burn set by firefighters to clear out small trees and brush that can fuel fires was declared out of control.    That fire then merged with another wildfire a week ago.
    With the fire’s recent growth, estimates of people forced to evacuate largely rural areas plus a subdivision near Las Vegas doubled from 1,500 to 2,000 people to between 3,000 and 4,000, said Jesus Romero, the assistant manager for San Miguel County.
    Wildfires were also burning elsewhere in New Mexico and in Arizona.    The fires are burning unusually hot and fast for this time of year, especially in the Southwest, where experts said some timber in the region is drier than kiln-dried wood.
    In northern Arizona, firefighters neared full containment of a 30-square-mile blaze that destroyed at least 30 homes near Flagstaff and forced hundreds to evacuate.    A top-level national wildfire management team turned oversight of fighting the blaze back to local firefighting forces on Friday.
    National forests across Arizona announced they would impose fire restrictions starting Thursday that limit campfires to developed recreation sites and restrict smoking to inside vehicles or other enclosed spaces and to the recreation sites.
A wildfire burns in the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico on Friday. More extreme fire danger was in the forecast for parts of
New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado, according to the National Weather Service. ROBERT BROWMAN/THE ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL VIA AP

5/2/2022 ‘Fish lizards’ among largest ever on Earth by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY
    Long-extinct “fish lizards” first appeared in the ocean about 250 million years ago, and their fossils were found high in the Swiss Alps.
    According to a study published Thursday in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, the discovery of the marine reptile carnivores, known as ichthyosaurs, make them some the largest creatures to live on Earth – bigger than sperm whales and on par with dinosaurs – given that they weighed about 80 tons and spanned 65 feet.
    “Bigger is always better,” study coauthor and paleontologist P. Martin Sander said in a statement.    “There are distinct selective advantages to large body size.    Life will go there if it can.    There were only three animal groups that had masses greater than 10-20 metric tonnes: long-necked dinosaurs (sauropods); whales; and the giant ichthyosaurs of the Triassic.”
    The animal took the shape of a dolphin with an elongated body and small head.    Research suggests it emerged after the Permian mass extinction wiped out more than 95% of marine species.    Yet by 200 million years ago, the giant ichthyosaurs became extinct, and only smaller, dolphin-like animals lived until 90 million years ago.
    Researchers explained how an ichthyosaurs fossil was discovered at an altitude of 9,186 feet, noting that 200 million years ago the rock layers were part of a lagoon.
    “We think that the big ichthyosaurs followed schools of fish into the lagoon,” study co-author and paleontologist Heinz Furrer said in a statement.    “The fossils may also derive from strays that died there.”
The large tooth of a ichthyosaur found in the Swiss Alps. PROVIDED BY MARTIN SANDER AND HEINZ FURRER

5/3/2022 How monsters with 20-foot-long necks ruled our oceans 200 million years ago by Talker News and Mark Waghorn via SWNS
    Monsters with necks up to 20-feet-long ruled Earth's oceans 200 million years ago, thanks to their massive bodies, according to new research from the UK.
    Their size overcame the underwater drag caused by their long necks, which were advantageous for hunting.
    How plesiosaurs moved through the water has puzzled evolutionary experts for decades.
© Provided by talker3D models of aquatic tetrapods. (Dr. S. Gutarra Díaz via SWNS)
    They were long-necked predators that swam with four nearly identical flippers - a style unique in nature.
    They were around 50 ft and weighed 12 tonnes - more than twice the size of a killer whale.
    Now University of Bristol scientists have shown how their huge proportions overcame the excess drag, by combining 3D models and computer simulations.
    The legendary creatures differed dramatically from ichthyosaurs - a rival group of marine reptiles.
    The latter resembled giant dolphins - which meant they were adapted for speed with a more aerodynamic shape.
    Co-author Dr. Colin Palmer, an engineer at the University of Bristol, said: "We showed that although plesiosaurs did experience more drag than ichthyosaurs or whales of equal mass because of their unique body shape, these differences were relatively minor."
    "We found when size is taken into account, the differences between groups became much less than the shape differences."
    "We also show that the ratio of body length to diameter, which is widely used to classify these aquatic animals as more or less efficient, is not a good indicator of low drag."
    Large necks would have added extra drag - but this was compensated by the evolution of large bodies.
    Co-author Dr. Susana Gutarra Diaz said: "We created hypothetical 3D models of plesiosaurs with various lengths of necks."
    "Simulations of these models reveal past a certain point, the neck adds extra drag, which potentially would make swimming costly.    This 'optimal' neck limit lies around twice the length of the trunk of the animal."
    The study in the journal Communications Biology debunks the long-standing idea that there is an optimal body shape for low drag.
© Provided by talkerComputer simulation of flow over the 3D model of an elasmosaur/plesiosaur (S. Gutarra Díaz via SWNS)
    Tetrapods, or 'four-limbed vertebrates,' have repeatedly returned to the oceans over the last 250 million years.
    They range from streamlined modern whales over 80 feet in length to the extinct plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs - who lived side by side during the Mesozoic Era.
    Plesiosaurs with necks over 20 feet long used their enormous four flippers to 'fly' underwater - flapping like penguins.    They have no parallel among living animals.
    Palaeobiologist Dr. Gutarra Diaz explained: "To test our hypotheses, we created various 3D models and performed computer flow simulations of plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, whales, dolphins and porpoises."
    "These experiments are performed on the computer, but they are like water tank experiments."
    The plesiosaur with the biggest neck was a beast named Elasmosaurus.    It reached 23 feet long.
    Dr. Gutarra Diaz said: "We were also particularly interested in the necks of elasmosaurs and so, we created hypothetical 3D models of plesiosaurs with various lengths of necks."
    Compared to other marine reptiles, pleasiosaurs had a short tail that was only used for steering.
    Co-author Dr. Benjamin Moon, a marine reptile expert, said: "When we examined a large sample of plesiosaurs modeled on really well-preserved fossils at their real sizes, it turns out that most plesiosaurs had necks below this high-drag threshold, within which neck can get longer or shorter without increasing drag."
    "We showed that plesiosaurs with extremely long necks also had evolved very large torsos, and this compensated for the extra drag."
    They were remarkably successful - surviving for about 137 million years until being wiped out by the asteroid strike that killed off the dinosaurs.
    Co-author Dr. Tom Stubbs added: "This study shows that, in contrast with prevailing popular knowledge, very long-necked plesiosaurs were not necessarily slower swimmers than ichthyosaurs and whales, and this is in part thanks to their large bodies."
    "We found that in elasmosaurs, neck proportions changed really fast.    This confirms that long necks were advantageous for elasmosaurs in hunting, but they could not exploit this adaptation until they became large enough to offset the cost of high drag on their bodies."
    Plesiosaurus had very sharp teeth and incredibly strong jaws.    This allowed them to feed on fish of all sizes and other swimming animals - including ichthyosaurs
    Added Professor Mike Benton: "Our research suggests large aquatic animals could afford to have crazy shapes, as in the elasmosaurs."
    "But there are limits.    Body sizes cannot get indefinitely large, as there are some constraints to very large sizes as well."
    "The maximum neck lengths we observe, seem to balance benefits in hunting versus the costs of growing and maintaining such a long neck."
    "In other words, the necks of these extraordinary creatures evolved in balance with the overall body size to keep friction to a minimum."
    The post How monsters with 20-foot-long necks ruled our oceans 200 million years ago appeared first on Talker.

5/3/2022 As wildfire nears, New Mexico residents look to flee - Blaze expected to keep growing by Cedar Attanasio and Susan Montoya Bryan, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    LAS VEGAS, N.M. – Wind-whipped flames raced across more of New Mexico’s pine-covered mountainsides on Monday, closing in on a town of 13,000 people where some residents hurried to pack their cars with belongings, others hustled to clear brush from around their homes, and police were called in to help evacuate the state’s psychiatric hospital.
    Firefighting crews battled on several fronts to keep the fire, the largest burning in the U.S., from pushing into more populated areas as it fed on the state’s drought-parched landscape.    The fire has charred more than 217 square miles and flames could be seen from the small northeastern New Mexico city of Las Vegas just a couple miles away.
    Fire officials said they were encouraged by a forecast for Tuesday of improving humidity and shifting winds.    Still the blaze is expected to keep growing, putting it on track to possibly be one of the largest and most destructive in the state’s recorded history.
    The sky above the city’s historic plaza, made famous as a backdrop in several movies and television series, was a sickly tinge of yellow and gray as thick smoke blotted out the sun.    As ash fell around them, Chris Castillo and his cousins were cutting down trees and moving logs away from a family member’s home.
    “We’re all family here.    We’re trying to make a fire line,” he said other family members were driving around with cattle trailers, waiting to help anyone who calls to move livestock.
    Wildfires have become a year-round threat in the drought-stricken West and they are moving faster and burning hotter than ever due to climate change, scientists and fire experts say.    In the last five years, California for example has experienced the eight largest wildfires in state history, while Colorado saw a destructive blaze tear through suburban neighborhoods last December.
    The fire in northern New Mexico – fanned by an extended period of hot, dry and windy conditions – ballooned in size Sunday, prompting authorities to issue new evacuation orders for the small town of Mora and other villages.     “This is a long-term event, and we don’t anticipate having ‘control’ of this fire any time soon,” fire officials said in an update Monday.
    Residents in outlying neighborhoods of the town of Las Vegas were told to be ready to leave their homes as the smoke choked the economic hub for the farming and ranching families who have lived for generations in the rural region.    Still no evacuations had been ordered within the city as of Monday evening.
    Las Vegas is also home to New Mexico Highlands University and is one of the most populated stops along Interstate 25 before the Colorado state line.
    Operations Section Chief Todd Abel said crews were busy using bulldozers to build fire lines to keep the flames from pushing into neighborhoods.
    Fire information officer Mike De Fries said crews got a bit of a break Monday afternoon as the wind diminished and helicopters were able to make water drops in key locations.    Still, flames running along the ridges above town could be seen from the discount store, an empty baseball field and other vantage points.
    The county jail, the state’s psychiatric hospital and more than 200 students from the United World College have evacuated and what businesses remained open were having a hard time finding workers as more people were forced from their homes.
    “We’re trying to house and feed people with skeleton crews.    Hundreds of people have lost their homes.    It’s an extraordinary tragedy,” said Allan Affeldt, a hotelier in Las Vegas.    He said most of his staff were evacuated from their homes and he canceled guest reservations to accommodate firefighters and emergency crews.
    The 197 patients at the Behavioral Health Institute were being sent to other facilities around the state, with some being transported in secured units and others escorted by police.
    State environmental authorities and officials in Las Vegas also were asking people to conserve water to ensure fire crews have enough to fight the blaze.
    Across New Mexico, officials and groups were collecting food, water and other supplies for the thousands of people displaced by the fires.    Offers of prayers and hope flooded social media as residents posted photos of the flames torching the tops of towering ponderosa pines near their homes.    Some of those living close to the fires described the week that the fire has raged nearby as gut wrenching.
    On the northern flank of the fire, evacuees streamed uphill Monday out of the Mora River valley over passes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.    State Rep. Roger Montoya, from the mountain hamlet of Chacon, said neighbors were putting what they couldn’t carry with them into metal containers and leaving them in irrigating fields, hoping the moisture would offer some protection.
    Officials have said the northeastern New Mexico fire has damaged or destroyed 172 homes and at least 116 structures.
    It merged last week with another blaze that was sparked in early April when a prescribed fire escaped containment after being set by land managers to clear brush and small trees in hopes of reducing the fire danger.
    Another New Mexico wildfire burning in the mountains near Los Alamos National Laboratory also prompted more evacuations over the weekend and other communities were told to get ready to evacuate if conditions worsen.
People help clear a fire line along a family member’s home near a wildfire
on the outskirts of Las Vegas, N.M., on Monday. CEDAR ATTANASIO/AP

5/6/2022 US rolls out new environment strategy - Feds to target polluters in poor, minority areas by Matthew Daly, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – Following through on a campaign promise, the Biden administration on Thursday announced a wide-ranging enforcement strategy aimed at holding industrial polluters accountable for damage done to poor and minority communities.
    The strategy includes creation of an Office of Environmental Justice within the Justice Department to focus on “fenceline communities” that have been exposed to air and water pollution from chemical plants, refineries and other industrial sites.    The plan also reinstates a dormant program that allowed fines paid by industry as part of a settlement go to river cleanup, health clinics or other programs that benefit the environment or public health.    The program was used by presidents from both parties before being eliminated in the Trump administration.
    “Although violations of our environmental laws can happen anywhere, communities of color, indigenous communities and low-income communities often bear the brunt of the harm caused by environmental crime, pollution and climate change,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a news conference.
    “And for far too long, these communities have faced barriers to accessing the justice they deserve,” he said.
    “No American should have to live, work or send their kids to school in a neighborhood that carries an unfair share of environmental hazards,” added Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta.
    President Joe Biden had promised during the 2020 campaign that he would establish an environmental justice division within the Justice Department and elevate environmental justice issues in an all-of-government approach.
    In a related development, the White House announced Thursday that advocate Jalonne White-Newsome will lead environmental justice efforts at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.    White-Newsome succeeds Cecilia Martinez, who stepped down in January.
    White-Newsome, of Michigan, is founder and CEO of Empowering a Green Environment and Economy, a consulting firm focused on climate change, public health and environmental and racial equity.
    CEQ Chair Brenda Mallory called White-Newsome “a strong and effective champion for communities that have been overburdened by pollution and subjected to decades of environmental injustice.”
    On enforcement, the strategy unveiled Thursday is intended to guide the work of employees throughout the Justice Department, including U.S. attorneys across the country who will begin a renewed focus on environmental justice issues, Garland and Gupta said.
    The new office “will prioritize meaningful and constructive engagement with the communities most affected by environmental crime and injustice,” Garland said.    “Whenever possible, these efforts will respond directly to community needs and concerns.”
    Environmental Protection Agency head Michael Regan said the “partnership” between his agency and the Justice Department “has never been stronger” and will ensure that the federal government does all it can “to protect overburdened and underserved communities across America.”
    The strategy follows a series of enforcement actions announced by Regan in January to address air pollution, unsafe drinking water and other problems afflicting minority communities in three Gulf Coast states that Regan toured in November.
    The plan includes unannounced inspections of chemical plants, refineries and other industrial sites and installation of air monitoring equipment in Louisiana’s “chemical corridor” to enhance enforcement at a series of chemical and plastics plants between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.    The region contains several hotspots where cancer risks are far above national levels.
    EPA also issued a notice to the city of Jackson, Mississippi, saying its aging and overwhelmed drinking water system violates the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.    The agency also said it was moving forward to clean up creosote contamination from a site in Houston now owned by Union Pacific Railroad.    The site has been linked to high cancer rates in the historically Black neighborhood in the city’s Fifth Ward.
    Regan has made environmental justice a priority since taking the helm at EPA in March 2021.    The weeklong “Journey to Justice” tour in November was intended to highlight areas in the American South that have long been marginalized and overburdened by pollution.
    Biden requested $1.4 million for the environmental justice office in his budget proposal.    Cynthia Ferguson, an attorney in the department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, will serve as acting director.    The office will support environmental justice investigations and litigation and work with communities across the country, the Justice Department said.
    Granta Nakayama, a former assistant EPA administrator for enforcement, hailed the new office.
    “This moves environmental justice from a slogan to a program, with metrics to measure progress,” said Nakayama, who led EPA’s enforcement office in the George W. Bush administration.    “It brings the full legal stature and muscle of the Justice Department to focus on” environmental justice.
    A rule being published in the Federal Register, meanwhile, will restore the department’s ability to use Supplemental Environmental Projects, or SEPs, as part of settlements with industrial polluters.
    The projects are intended to bring environmental and public health benefits to communities directly affected by the underlying violations.
    A 2007 settlement with Texas-based energy company Valero included a $4.25 million penalty and $232 million in pollution controls at refineries in Tennessee, Ohio and Texas.    The company was required to spend at least $1 million to enhance efforts by a health center in Port Arthur, Texas, to diagnose and treat asthma and other respiratory problems.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announces actions Thursday on environmental justice efforts. Standing with Garland
are Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, back left, and EPA administrator Michael Regan. PATRICK SEMANSKY/AP

5/6/2022 WHO: COVID-19 has killed about 15M by Maria Cheng, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    LONDON – The World Health Organization estimates that about 15 million people were killed either by coronavirus or by its impact on overwhelmed health systems in the past two years, more than double the official death toll of 6 million.    Most of the fatalities were in Southeast Asia, Europe and the Americas.
    In a report Thursday, the U.N. agency’s chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, described the figure as “sobering,” saying it should prompt countries to invest more in their capacities to quell future health emergencies.
    Scientists tasked by WHO with calculating the actual number of COVID-19 deaths between January 2020 and the end of last year estimated there were between 13.3million and 16.6million deaths that were either caused directly by the coronavirus or were somehow attributed to the pandemic’s impact on health systems, like people with cancer unable to seek treatment when hospitals were full of COVID patients.
    The figures are based on country-reported data and statistical modeling, but only about half of countries provided information.    WHO said it wasn’t yet able to break down the figures to distinguish between direct deaths from COVID-19 and others caused by the pandemic and said a future project examining death certificates would probe this?
    “This may seem like just a bean counting exercise, but having these WHO numbers is so critical to understanding how we should combat future pandemics and continue to respond to this one,” said Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious diseases specialist at the Yale School of Public Health who was not linked to the WHO research.
    For example, Ko said, South Korea’s decision to invest heavily in public health after it suffered a severe outbreak of MERS allowed it to escape COVID-19 with a per-capita death rate around one-twentieth of that of the U.S.
    Accurate numbers on COVID deaths have been elusive throughout the pandemic, as the figures are only a fraction of the devastation wrought by the virus, largely because of limited testing.    According to government figures reported to WHO and to a separate count kept by Johns Hopkins University, there have been more than 6 million reported coronavirus deaths.
    Scientists at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington guessed there were more than 18 million COVID deaths from January 2020 to December 2021 in a recent study published in the journal Lancet, and a team led by Canadian researchers estimated there were more than 3 million uncounted coronavirus deaths in India alone.
    WHO’s new analysis estimated that missed deaths in India ranged between 3.3 million and 6.5 million.
    Dr. Bharat Pankhania, a public health specialist at Britain’s University of Exeter, said the world may never get close to the true toll of COVID-19, particularly in poor countries.
    “When you have a massive outbreak where people are dying in the streets because of a lack of oxygen, bodies were abandoned or people had to be cremated quickly because of cultural beliefs, we end up never knowing just how many people died,” he explained.
Scientists estimated that 13.3 million to 16.6 million people died in 2020 and 2021
from COVID-19 or its impact on health systems. MARK SCHIEFELBEIN/AP FILE

5/6/2022 Fire crews close in around massive NM wildfire by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    LAS VEGAS, N.M. – Firefighters in New Mexico took advantage of diminished winds Thursday to build more fire lines and clear combustible brush near homes close to the fringes of the largest wildfire burning in the U.S.    They did so ahead of what is expected to be several consecutive days of hot, dry and extremely windy weather that could fan the blaze.
    “Today, the conditions were kind of moderated,” Dan Pearson, a fire behavior analyst, said during a largely hopeful evening update by the U.S. Forest Service and law enforcement officials.    “And tomorrow is going to be another good day.”
    But Pearson warned that starting Saturday, clear skies will bring more intense solar heat accompanied by 30 mph winds with days of high winds to follow.
    The fire has marched across 258 square miles of high alpine forest and grasslands at the southern tip of the Rocky Mountains, destroying dozens of homes and prompting evacuations for thousands of families, many of whom have called the Sangre de Cristo Mountains home since their Spanish ancestors first settled the area centuries ago.
    President Joe Biden approved a disaster declaration that brings new financial resources to the areas devastated by fire since early April.    The aid includes grants for temporary housing and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other relief programs for people and businesses.
    Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham traveled through northern New Mexico Wednesday and Thursday to survey the damage and chat with affected residents at a humanitarian kitchen, an evacuation shelter and an elementary school.
    The start of the conflagration has been traced in part to a preventive fire initiated by the U.S. Forest Service to reduce flammable vegetation.    The blaze escaped control, merging with another wildfire of unknown origin.
    U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández, who accompanied Lujan on a helicopter flight to view affected areas and meet with fire officials, on Thursday pressed a top Forest Service official to fully investigate the decision to start the “controlled burn” and disclose whether the agency considered the effects of climate change and a mega-drought afflicting western states.
    “What protocols or controls were in place to make sure a controlled burn does not get out of hand?    Did the U.S. Forest Service follow these protocols,” the congresswoman wrote to Forest Service Chief Randy Moore.
    Evacuations that have now lasted weeks have taken a physical and emotional toll on residents.    Classes were canceled at area schools for the week, some businesses in the small northeastern city of Las Vegas have closed due to staff shortages and some customers of the electric cooperative that serves surrounding areas have had no power for weeks.
    San Miguel County Sheriff Chris Lopez said firetrucks, a fleet of aircraft and other equipment have been brought in to the area.
    But it’s still too soon to let people return to outlying areas that burned earlier because there are pockets of unburned brush and trees that can serve as fuel for the blaze within the fire’s perimeter.
Smoke rises from a wildfire near Las Vegas, N.M., Wednesday. The blaze has destroyed dozens
of homes. President Joe Biden approved a disaster declaration that brings new financial resources to the
areas devastated by fire since early April. ROBERTO E. ROSALES/THE ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL VIA AP

5/7/2022 SpaceX returns with 4 astronauts by Marcia Dunn, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – SpaceX brought four astronauts home with a midnight splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, capping the busiest stretch yet for Elon Musk’s taxi service.
    The three U.S. astronauts and one German in the capsule were bobbing off the Florida coast, near Tampa, less than 24 hours after leaving the International Space Station.    NASA expected to have them back in Houston later in the morning.
    “That was a great ride,” said Raja Chari, the capsule commander.    As for the reintroduction to gravity, he noted: “Only one complaint.    These water bottles are super heavy.”
    NASA’s Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron, and the European Space Agency’s Matthias Maurer, were out of the capsule within an hour of splashdown, waving and giving thumbs-up as they were hustled away on rolling chaises for medical checks.     “It’s the end of a six-month mission, but I think the space dream lives on,” Maurer said.
    SpaceX brought up their U.S. and Italian replacements last week, after completing a charter trip to the station for a trio of businessmen earlier in April.
    That amounts to two crew launches and two splashdowns in barely a month.    Musk’s company has now launched 26 people into orbit in less than two years, since it started ferrying astronauts for NASA.    Eight of those 26 were space tourists.
    SpaceX’s William Gerstenmaier, a vice president, acknowledges it’s “a pretty exciting time.”     Barely five hours after splashdown, the company founded by Musk in 2002 launched a fresh batch of its own internet satellites known as Starlinks from Cape Canaveral. There were 53 of the mini flat-panel satellites in this predawn load.
    “Satellites are nice, but flying people are a little special and a little bit different, and the team here sure understands that,” he told reporters.    “There’s a sense of relief and a sense of accomplishment that you know you’ve done something good.”
    NASA is more impressed than ever, given SpaceX’s unprecedented pace.    The only problem of note in the latest flight was a mechanical nut that wiggled loose and floated away from the SpaceX capsule following Thursday’s undocking.    Officials assured everyone it would not pose a danger to the space station.
    “Look at all this work in the last month,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA’s space operations mission chief.    “I really want to personally thank SpaceX for just, wow, just performing such seamless operations on all those missions.”
    The astronauts said their mission was highlighted by the three visitors and their ex-astronaut escort who dropped by in April, opening up NASA’s side of the station to paying guests after decades of resistance.
    On the down side, they had to contend with a dangerous spike in space junk after Russia blew up a satellite in a missile test in mid-November. More than 1,500 pieces of shrapnel spread across Earth’s orbit for years to come.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft is seen shortly after it landed in the Gulf of Mexico, Friday. AUBREY GEMIGNANI/AP

5/7/2022 California prepares for potential energy shortfalls - Expected dry summer to contribute to challenge by Kathleen Ronayne, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California likely will have an energy shortfall equivalent to what it takes to power about 1.3 million homes when use is at its peak during the hot and dry summer months, state officials said Friday.
    Threats from drought, extreme heat and wildfires, plus supply chain and regulatory issues hampering the solar industry will create challenges for energy reliability this summer, the officials said.    They represented the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Energy Commission, and the California Independent System Operator, which manages the state’s energy grid.
    State models assume the state will have 1,700 fewer megawatts of power than it needs during the times of highest demand – typically early evening as the sun sets – in the hottest months when air conditioners are in full use.
    One megawatt powers about 750 to 1,000 homes in California, according to the energy commission.    Under the most extreme circumstances, the shortfall could be far worse: 5,000 megawatts, or enough to power 3.75 million homes.
    “The only thing we expect is to see new and surprising conditions, and we’re trying to be prepared for those,” said Alice Reynolds, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates major utilities such as Pacific Gas & Electric.
    Climate change is driving a megadrought in California, which this year saw the driest January through March on record. Last summer the state for the first time shut off hydropower generation at the Oroville Dam because there wasn’t enough water.    It’s up and running again, but the shutdown cost the state 600 megawatts of power, officials said.
    Large hydropower projects generated nearly 14% of the state’s electricity in 2020, according to the independent system operator.    Renewable energy sources, chiefly solar, accounted for 34.5% and nuclear power made up 10%.
    Amid expected shortfalls this summer the state – and residents – have multiple tools to avoid blackouts.    Power can be purchased from other states and residents can lower their use during peak demand, but power shortages still are possible during extreme situations, officials said.    Reynolds urged people to consider lowering their energy use by doing things like cooling their homes early in the day then turning off their air conditioners when the sun goes down.
    In August 2020, amid extreme heat, the California Independent System Operator ordered utilities to temporarily cut power to hundreds of thousands of customers.
    Mark Rothleder, senior vice president for the system operator, said the state would be more likely to experience blackouts again this year if the entire West has a heat wave at the same time. That would hinder California’s ability to buy excess power from other states. Wildfires could also hinder the state’s ability to keep the power on, he said.
    California is in the process of transitioning its grid away from power sources that emit greenhouse gases to carbon- free sources such as solar and wind power.    As old power plants prepare for retirement, including the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, the state has fewer energy options available.    By 2025, the state will lose 6,000 megawatts of power due to planned power plant shutdowns.
    Ana Matosantos, cabinet secretary for Gov. Gavin Newsom, declined to share details about what other actions the administration might take to ensure reliability, only saying Newsom was looking a “range of different actions.”    The Democratic governor recently said he was open to keeping Diablo Canyon open beyond its planned 2025 closing.
    Meanwhile, supply chain issues caused by the pandemic are slowing down the availability of equipment needed to stand up more solar power systems with batteries that can store the energy for use when the sun isn’t shining.
    The state officials also pointed to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Commerce into imports of solar panels from Southeast Asia as something with the potential to hinder California’s move toward clean energy.
    California has set a goal of getting 100% of its electricity from non-carbon sources by 2045, with certain benchmarks along the way including 60% by 2030.    Already the state sometimes exceeds that target, particularly during the day. How much power comes from renewable sources varies based on the time of day and year as well as what’s available.
    Recently the system operator said it hit a record of getting more than 99% of energy from non-carbon sources around 3 p.m., though that only lasted for a few minutes.
    Solar power by far makes up the largest share of renewable power, though it peaks during the day and drops off significantly at night when the sun goes down.
    The state is ramping up battery storage so solar power can continue to be used when its dark, but the state’s capacity is still significantly lacking.
    Pacific Gas & Electric, which serves about 16 million people in California, has added more battery storage since the 2020 power outages and is working on programs to reduce the energy load during peak demand, spokeswoman Lynsey Paolo said in a statement.    The company is conserving water in reservoirs it relies on for hydropower and telling customers how they can reduce demand, she said.    Her statement did not mention Diablo Canyon, which the utility operates.
    Southern California Edison, another major utility, is working to procure more power, complete its own battery storage project and incentivize customers to use less energy, spokesman David Song said.
    “Southern California Edison understands how much our customers depend on reliable electricity that is delivered safely, especially during the summer months when customers rely on electric service for air conditioners and fans during extended heat waves,” he said.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, tours the Edward Hyatt Power Plant at the Oroville Dam with Department
of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth, second from left, in Oroville, Calif. RICH PEDRONCELLI/AP

5/8/2022 Unprecedented gusts expected to fan N.M. fires by Cedar Attanasio and Susan Montoya Bryan, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    LAS VEGAS, N.M. – Weather conditions described as potentially historic were on tap for New Mexico on Saturday and for the next several days as more than 1,400 firefighters and a fleet of airplanes and helicopters worked feverishly to bolster lines around the largest fire burning in the U.S.
    Many families have been left homeless and thousands of residents have evacuated because of flames that have charred large swaths of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in northeastern New Mexico.
    Residents on the fringes of the shifting fire front were holding out hope that all the work done over recent days to clear brush, install sprinklers, run hose lines and use bulldozers to scrape lines will keep the fire from reaching the small city of Las Vegas and other villages to the north and south.
    'There’s uncertainty and there’s fear about how the winds are going to affect the fire from day to day,' said Elmo Baca, chairman of the Las Vegas Community Foundation.    'Once the people are evacuated out of an area, they can’t go back, so they’re just stuck worrying.'
    Las Vegas was like a ghost town earlier in the week, with restaurants and grocery stores closed, schools closed or pivoting to remote-only options, and the tourist district empty but for resting firefighters.    By Saturday, after the days of work to protect the city of 13,000, some businesses reopened as residents stayed cautious while trying to return to something resembling regular life.
    The recent work by fire crews to protect Las Vegas was 'looking really good' but continued Saturday, said Todd Abel, a fire operations official.    'We want to make sure this is all going to hold.'
    The blaze, now a month old, has blackened more than 267 square miles – an area larger than the city of Chicago.
    The April 6 start of the conflagration has been traced in part to a preventive fire initiated by the U.S. Forest Service to reduce flammable vegetation.    The blaze escaped control, merging with another wildfire of unknown origin.
    Nationwide, close to 2,000 square miles have burned this year, with 2018 being the last time this much fire had been reported across the country, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.    And predictions for the rest of the spring do not bode well for the West, where long-term drought and warmer temperatures have combined to worsen the threat of wildfire.
    Forested areas in southern New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado also saw an early start with blazes forcing evacuations and destroying homes last month.
    Another large wildfire burning in New Mexico was within 5 miles of Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of the nation’s key facilities for nuclear research and production of plutonium components for nuclear weapons.
    Crews have burned vegetation ahead of the fire to reduce its intensity and the potential for spot fires.    At the lab, water tankers, a helicopter and heavy equipment are in position and firefighters will patrol the perimeter if flames gets closer.
    Lab officials said Friday that radiological and other potentially hazardous materials are stored in containers engineered and tested to withstand extreme environments, including heat from fire.
A wildfire burns in the Jemez Mountains near Cochiti, N.M. Robert Browman/AP

5/9/2022 Swirling winds complicate fight against NM wildfires by Cedar Attanasio and Brian Melley, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    LAS VEGAS, N.M. – Fast winds fanned the flames of wildfires burning across northeast New Mexico on Sunday, grounding firefighting aircraft and complicating work for firefighters as they sought to protect more communities from danger.
    “It’s been a challenging day.    The winds have picked up; they haven’t let up,” fire spokesperson Todd Abel said Sunday evening.
    The rural area’s largest town – Las Vegas, New Mexico, population 13,000 – sits on the eastern edge of the fire area and appeared safe for now thanks to fire lines dug with bulldozers and other preparations over the past week.    But the northern and southern edges of the blaze were still proving tricky for firefighters to contain, particularly given winds as fast as 50 miles per hour, Abel said.
    The fire’s perimeter stretched more than 60 miles from Las Vegas, New Mexico, on the southeast flank to near Holbrook about 50 miles south of the Colorado line.    The National Interagency Fire Center said early Sunday that more than 20,000 structures remained threatened by the fire, which has destroyed about 300 residences over the last two weeks. The fire center said full containment wasn’t anticipated until the end of July.
    The ferocious winds were expected to continue with little break Sunday night and at least into Monday.    Strong, gusty winds are in many ways firefighters’ worst nightmare, especially in conditions so hot and dry as the crews in the Southwest have been battling since early April.
    In addition to fanning and spreading the flames, such winds ground airtankers and light planes that can drop water directly on the fire or lay down retardant ahead of its path to allow bulldozers and ground crews to dig firebreaks in places where there’s no highways or roads that can help stop the progression of the flames.
    In extreme conditions, like the ones in New Mexico, even the helicopters that typically can get up in the air – at least during the early morning hours before winds start to pick up in the afternoon – are grounded.    That means they’re unable to gather intelligence about the overnight developments critical to making new attack plans or placing new orders for firefighters, engines and more aircraft from across the region where demand grows exponentially as summer nears and the more traditional fire season begins.
    Aircraft were able to fly early Sunday but were grounded by early afternoon, Abel said.
    “It’s not good, obviously; it takes away a tool in our toolbox, but we’re not stopping,” said fire spokesperson Ryan Berlin.
    Firefighters prepared to protect homes if needed in several other rural communities along the state highway that connects Las Vegas to Taos, a small community popular for outdoor recreation activities like skiing.    Officials repeatedly urged people to evacuate if they have been told to do so.
    “It’s a dogfight out there folks,” fire spokesperson Bill Morse said Sunday evening.
    As of early Sunday, the biggest blaze northeast of Santa Fe had grown to an area more than twice the size of Philadelphia.
    Thousands of residents have been forced to flee their homes.
    For now, the city of Las Vegas appears to be safe, said Berlin.
Smoke from the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire drifts over Las Vegas, N.M., on Saturday. ROBERT BROWMAN/THE ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL VIA AP

5/10/2022 Winds impair fight against fire in NM by Cedar Attanasio and Kathleen Ronayne, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    LAS VEGAS, N.M. – Dangerous, gusty winds were expected to continue Monday across northeast New Mexico, complicating the fight against wildfires that threaten thousands of homes in mountainous rural communities.
    The region’s largest city – Las Vegas, New Mexico, home to 13,000 people – was largely safe from danger after firefighters mostly stopped a blaze there from moving east.    But the northern and southern flanks of the wildfire proved trickier to contain as wind gusts topped 50 mph.
    “It’s been a challenging day.    The winds have picked up; they haven’t let up,” fire spokesperson Todd Abel said Sunday night.
    A so-called red flag warning that indicates high fire danger due to heat, low humidity and fast winds was to remain in place through Monday night, nearly four days after it began.
    More than 1,600 firefighters were out Sunday battling the two major blazes burning northeast of Santa Fe, New Mexico.    Together they covered 275 square miles, an area more than twice the size of Philadelphia.
    Firefighters had contained nearly half of the blazes by Sunday night.
    Still, the threat was far from over, with the National Interagency Fire Center saying early Sunday that more than 20,000 structures remained threatened by the fire, which has destroyed about 300 residences over the past two weeks.
    Fast winds are in many ways firefighters’ worst nightmare, especially in conditions as hot and dry as those the crews have been battling in the Southwest since early April.
    In addition to fanning and spreading the flames, these winds keep air tankers and light planes grounded.
    That left them unable to drop water directly on the fire or lay down retardant ahead of its path to allow bulldozers and ground crews to dig firebreaks in places where there are no highways or roads to help stop the progression.
    In extreme conditions, like the ones in New Mexico, even the helicopters that can typically get up in the air – at least during the early morning hours, before winds start to pick up in the afternoon – are grounded.    That prevents them from gathering intelligence about overnight developments.    Aircraft were able to fly early Sunday but were grounded by the afternoon.
    “It’s not good, obviously; it takes away a tool in our toolbox, but we’re not stopping,” said fire spokesperson Ryan Berlin.
    Officials were concerned about winds that had whipped up more flames on the northern edge of the fire near some very small communities of several hundred people. Gusts had driven fire down into a canyon, making it difficult to access, said Dave Bales, the incident commander.
    He and other officials strongly urged people to be ready to evacuate or to leave immediately if they’ve been told to do so.
    Should the fire overwhelm a community, heavy smoke and congested roads could make it hard for people to flee and for firefighters to access the area, he said.
    “It is so thick you can’t see; you can’t drive; you can’t see the engine ahead of you,” Bales said.
A wildfire on the southern flanks of Las Vegas, N.M., has been difficult for fire crews to contain. ROBERT BROWMAN/AP

5/11/2022 Water use up in drought-ravaged Calif. by Adam Beam, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Californian’s drought is worsening and yet residents used more water in March than any month since 2015, defying pleas for conservation from Gov. Gavin Newsom and other authorities, state officials announced Tuesday.
    Water usage jumped nearly 19% in March, which was one of the driest months on record.
    Newsom last summer asked residents to voluntarily cut water use by 15%.    He encouraged people to water their yards less often, run dishwashers less and install more efficient appliances.
    The state’s conservation rate gradually increased, aided by some intense fall and early winter storms that reduced water demand.
    But the first three months of 2022 have been some of the driest ever recorded.    Water use increased slightly in January and February before exploding in March when compared to 2020 figures.
    Since July, the state has cut its overall water use by just 3.7%.
    Newsom responded to the news by pledging to spend an extra $26 million on water conservation programs, in addition to the $190 million he proposed in January.    In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced residents and businesses would have to reduce outdoor landscape watering from three days per week to two.    Irrigation makes up 35% of the city’s water use.
    A series of April storms have improved things slightly since March.    Still, most of the state’s reservoirs are well below their historic averages.
    Those reservoirs rely on melting snow to fill up for the dry summer months but the statewide snowpack was at just 27% of its historic average as of April 1.
Water usage across California jumped nearly 19% in March, which was one of the driest months
on record. Since July, the state has cut its overall water use by just 3.7%. NATHAN HOWARD/AP FILE

5/11/2022 Cost of fighting NM fires reaches $65 million so far by Susan Montoya Bryan, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Many homes near America’s largest wildfire survived the latest barrage of howling winds and erratic flames, but New Mexico’s governor said Tuesday the risk of more destruction is high and that the long-term costs of recovering from the massive blaze will soar.
    Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said during a briefing that she has not received any reports in recent days of widespread damage to homes amid the latest round of fierce winds that fanned the blaze and created challenges for firefighting crews.
    Crews have been trying to direct flames around homes in numerous small villages on the northern and southern ends of the fire – bulldozing firebreaks, putting up sprinklers, clearing trees and raking pine needles.    A force of nearly 1,800 firefighters and support personnel are assigned to the blaze, including specially trained teams.
    The cost of fighting the blaze and another smaller fire burning near Los Alamos National Laboratory has topped $65 million.
    The cost is expected to grow with wind predicted through Wednesday, and Lujan Grisham said the cost to reconstruct homes, prevent post-fire flooding and restore the forest charred by the larger fire after it is out will likely reach billions of dollars.
    “When you think about rebuilding communities, it is not an overnight process,” Lujan Grisham said.    “So we should be thinking in terms of significant resources and those resources in my view should largely be borne by the federal government given the situation.”
    The nearly 320-square-mile wildfire has burned about 300 structures, including homes, since it started last month.    Some areas remain under evacuation orders, but authorities on Monday started letting some residents on the fire’s eastern flank return home.
    A federal disaster already has been declared due to the blaze, which is partly the result of a preventative fire set in early April that escaped containment.    The flames merged with a separate fire a couple of weeks later, and as of Tuesday the jagged perimeter stretched more than 356 miles.
    The governor said anyone who didn’t believe the federal government should accept significant liability would be in for a fight.
    “It’s negligent to consider a prescribed burn in the windy season in a state that is under an extreme drought warning,” she said.
    Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation and others have called for an investigation.    While forest officials have yet to release planning documents related to the prescribed fire, they have said forecasted weather conditions were within parameters for the project.
    Meanwhile, the smaller blaze burning in the Jemez Mountains prompted officials at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where nuclear research is conducted, and the nearby town of Los Alamos to prepare for evacuations as a precaution.
    Nearly 900 people were fighting that fire, with its price tag nearing $16 million on Tuesday.
    Towering columns of smoke from both fires could be seen from miles away as the winds picked up Tuesday afternoon.
    Wind and low humidity levels continue to be big wildfire threats around the West as the National Weather Service issued red flag warnings for extreme fire danger in much of New Mexico and parts of Nevada, Arizona, Colorado and Texas.    Forecasters said New Mexico is outpacing most other recent years for the number of red flag days in April and so far this month.
    Crews also were battling smaller fires elsewhere in New Mexico and Arizona.
The nearly 320-square-mile fire in New Mexico has burned about 300 structures. PHOTOS BY CEDAR ATTANASIO/AP

A federal disaster has been declared because of the blaze, with costs topping $65 million.

5/12/2022 Study finds cleaner air leads to more Atlantic hurricanes by Seth Borenstein, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Cleaner air in United States and Europe is brewing more Atlantic hurricanes, a new U.S. government study found.
    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study links changes in regionalized air pollution across the globe to storm activity going both up and down.    A 50% decrease in pollution particles and droplets in Europe and the U.S. is linked to a 33% increase in Atlantic storm formation in the past couple decades, while the opposite is happening in the Pacific with more pollution and fewer typhoons, according to the study published in Wednesday’s Science Advances.
    NOAA hurricane scientist Hiroyuki Murakami ran numerous climate computer simulations to explain change in storm activity in different parts of the globe that can’t be explained by natural climate cycles and found a link to aerosol pollution from industry and cars – sulfur particles and droplets in the air that make it hard to breathe and see.
    Scientists had long known that aerosol pollution cools the air, at times reducing the larger effects of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuel and earlier studies mentioned it as a possibility in increase in Atlantic storms, but Murakami found it a factor around the world and a more direct link.
    Hurricanes need warm water – which is warmed by the air – for fuel and are harmed by wind shear, which changes in upper-level winds that can decapitate storm tops.    Cleaner air in the Atlantic and dirtier air in the Pacific, from pollution in China and India, mess with both of those, Murakami said.
    In the Atlantic, aerosol pollution peaked around 1980 and has been dropping steadily since.    That means the cooling that masked some of the greenhouse gas warming is going away, so sea surface temperatures are increasing even more, Murakami said.    On top of that the lack of cooling aerosols has helped push the jet stream – the river of air that moves weather from west to east on a roller-coaster like path – further north, reducing the shear that had been dampening hurricane formation.
    “That’s why the Atlantic has gone pretty much crazy since the mid-90s and why it was so quiet in the 70s and 80s,” said climate and hurricane scientist Jim Kossin of the risk firm The Climate Service.    The aerosol pollution “gave a lot of people in the 70s and 80s a break, but we’re all paying for it now.”
    There are other factors in tropical cyclone activity with La Nina and El Nino – natural fluctuations in equatorial Pacific temperatures that alter climate worldwide – being huge.    Humancaused climate change from greenhouse gases, that will grow as aerosol pollution reductions level out, is another, and their other natural long-term climatic oscillations, Murakami said.
    Climate change from greenhouse gases is expected to reduce the overall number of storms slightly, but increase the number and strength of the most intense hurricanes, make them wetter and increase storm surge flooding, Murakami, Kossin and other scientists said.
    While aerosol cooling is maybe half to one-third smaller than the warming from greenhouse gases, it is about twice as effective in reducing tropical cyclone intensity compared to warming increasing it, said Columbia University climate scientist Adam Sobel, who wasn’t part of the study.    As aerosol pollution stays at low levels in the Atlantic and greenhouse gas emissions grow, climate change’s impact on storms will increase in the future and become more prominent, Murakami said.
This satellite image provided by the NOAA shows five tropical storms churning in the Atlantic basin
on Sept. 14, 2020. The storms, from left, are Hurricane Sally over the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Paulette
over Bermuda, the remnants of Tropical Storm Rene, and Tropical Storms Teddy and Vicky. NOAA VIA AP

5/12/2022 Fed utility’s plans collide with Biden’s goals by Jonathan Mattise, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The nation’s largest public utility plans to shut down a massive coal-fired power plant, but wants to replace it with natural gas.    That would put the federal Tennessee Valley Authority out of step with President Joe Biden’s administration goal of a carbon-pollution-free energy sector by 2035.
    Officials with the utility argue the natural gas move would help pave a path toward more renewable sources and away from coal, while continuing to keep rates low and the electric grid reliable.    But environmental groups warn the agency could squander the chance to get away from carbon-producing fossil fuels that drive climate change.
    The impending decision for the Cumberland Fossil Plant in Tennessee was a focal point at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s board meeting Wednesday, where CEO Jeff Lyash argued the agency is attempting a balancing act.    TVA has set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2035, compared to 2005 levels.
    Scientists, meanwhile, have warned that failing to meet Biden’s 2035 target will only lead to more intense and more frequent extreme weather events, as well as droughts, floods and wildfires.    Teams of meteorologists across the world have predicted there is nearly a 50-50 chance that Earth will temporarily hit a global warming temperature threshold international agreements are trying to prevent within the next five years.
    In an interview with The Associated Press, Lyash reasoned that electricity use could as much as double by 2050, due in part to a shift to electric-based technology aimed at carbon emissions, including more electric vehicles – a technology the independent federal utility has focused on in recent years.
    TVA is spearheading plans for proposed charging sites across its region and has set a goal of 200,000 electric vehicles in its area by 2028.    It is laying out a large-scale transition to electric for its own workforce fleet and has teamed up on economic recruitment efforts that led Ford to choose Tennessee for its electric truck facility in a package deal also bringing a partner company’s battery plant.
    Lyash has said TVA will not be able to meet the 100% reduction goal without technological advances in energy storage, carbon capture and small modular nuclear reactors, instead aiming for 80%.    The utility has its own aspirational goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
    “That’s what we know we can execute and deliver, without raising prices and impacting reliability,” Lyash said during the meeting at Young Harris College in Georgia.    “It doesn’t change our aspiration of achieving net zero and of going farther faster.    But we have to be transparent and honest: Going farther faster will take research, development and the deployment of technologies that we don’t have at a commercially competitive price.”
    Environmental advocates have said a switch to gas at the Cumberland plant – one of five coal plants left in TVA’s power system, which ranges from nuclear to hydroelectric generation – would leave it producing climate-warming greenhouse gases for decades.
    “In order to fight climate change and better serve its 10 million customers, TVA must scrap its gas plans and should instead use this opportunity to become a national leader in the clean energy transition by investing in renewable energy options – like solar power, wind power, and battery storage – that are affordable, effective, and available right now,” said Eric Hilt of the Southern Environmental Law Center, who added that prices of those renewable sources are dropping.
For many residents of northern middle Tennessee, all roads have led to the
Cumberland Fossil Plant for generations. TONY CENTONZE/FOR THE LEAF-CHRONICLE

5/12/2022 Coastal Fire In Calif. Torches Mansions, Forces Evacuations In Orange County by OAN NEWSROOM
A firefighter works to put out a structure burning during a wildfire
Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in Laguna Niguel, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)
    A fast-moving brush fire driven by coastal winds in Southern California prompted the evacuations of more than 900 homes.    On Thursday, fire officials in Orange County confirmed the ‘Coastal Fire’ scorched multi-million dollar homes in Laguna Niguel and surrounding areas.
    The blaze started Wednesday afternoon and has destroyed at least 20 homes.    On top of that, one firefighter was injured and is being treated at a local hospital.    Meanwhile, hundreds of people were forced to flee their homes with little time to get any of their belongings.
    “It’s not looking good, every house is on fire on one side of the street and then it jumped across the street and started burning other houses,” said Lynn Morey, an Orange County resident who evacuated her home.    “And our house could be on fire.    I don’t know.”
    On Thursday morning, Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the Golden State has secured a Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) from FEMA.    The Office of the Governor noted, this will “help ensure the availability of vital resources to suppress the Coastal Fire in Orange County.”
    The Coastal Fire has burned nearly 200 acres with zero containment.    According to the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, it’s working closely with CAL FIRE personnel in actively responding to the fire, along with other federal, state and local agencies, to swiftly address emergency management.

5/13/2022 Heat wave makes May seem like summer by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    The calendar says May, but the weather says July.
    Record-high temperatures will be challenged across a 2,000-mile-long stretch of the U.S. this week thanks to an early-season heat wave.
    The scorching heat already in place for several days in Texas will be coming to the Midwest and the northeastern U.S. and part of southeastern Canada, AccuWeather said.
    “Highs near 100 degrees in the south-central states, the 90s in parts of the Midwest and the 80s in portions of the Northeast will challenge record highs set as far back as the late 1800s in some cases,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.
    In fact, temperatures into the 90s were expected from eastern portions of the Plains into the lower and mid-Missouri and Mississippi Valleys under a strengthening warm upper ridge, the National Weather Service said.
    Afternoon temperatures into the 80s were forecast to expand into the interior section of New England and possibly reach the 90s by Friday, the Weather Service predicted.
    The heat will sizzle in major Texas cities such as Dallas and Houston.    The Midwestern hubs of Chicago and St. Louis also will roast, AccuWeather said.    Along with the heat will be summerlike humidity, a sharp change from recent chilly weather in the Midwest, said.
    “So, take it easy and remember basic heat safety,” said.    “Minimize your time outdoors in the hottest part of the day.    Drink plenty of liquids.    Check on those who may not have air conditioning, including the elderly.”
    The heat wave will end in the northcentral U.S. by the weekend, forecasters said.    Cooler temperatures will engulf the Midwest over the weekend, putting an end to this early-season hot stretch in that region, meteorologist Jonathan Erdman said.    But Texas will endure record heat through the weekend, he said.

5/13/2022 Astronomers capture 1st image of Milky Way’s huge black hole by Seth Borenstein, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – The world’s first image of the chaotic supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy doesn’t portray a voracious cosmic destroyer but what astronomers Thursday called a “gentle giant” on a near-starvation diet.
    Astronomers believe nearly all galaxies, including our own, have these giant black holes at their bustling and crowded center, where light and matter cannot escape, making it extremely hard to get images of them.    Light gets bent and twisted around by gravity as it gets sucked into the abyss along with superheated gas and dust.
    The colorized image unveiled Thursday is from an international consortium behind the Event Horizon Telescope, a collection of eight synchronized radio telescopes around the world.    Getting a good image was a challenge; previous efforts found the black hole too jumpy.
    “It burbled and gurgled as we looked at it,” the University of Arizona’s Feryal Ozel said.
    She described it as a “gentle giant” while announcing the breakthrough along with other astronomers involved in the project.    The picture also confirms Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity: The black hole is precisely the size that Einstein’s equations dictate.    It is about the size of the orbit of Mercury around our sun.
    Black holes gobble up galactic material but Ozel said this one is “eating very little.”    It’s the equivalent to a person eating a single grain of rice over millions of years, another astronomer said.
    “Pictures of black holes are the hardest thing to think about,” said astronomer Andrea Ghez of the University of California, Los Angeles.    She wasn’t part of the telescope team but earned a Nobel Prize for the discovery of the Milky Way’s black hole in the 1990s.
    She said the image of “my baby” is exactly how it should be – an eerie looking orange-red ring with utter blackness in the middle.
    Scientists had expected the Milky Way’s black hole to be more violent, especially since the only other image from another galaxy shows a far bigger and more active black hole.
    “It is the cowardly lion of black holes,” said project scientist Geoffrey C. Bower of Taiwan’s Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
    Because the black hole “is on a starvation diet” so little material is falling into the center, and that allows astronomers to gaze deeper, Bower said.
    The Milky Way black hole is called Sagittarius A*.    It’s near the border of the Sagittarius and Scorpius constellations and is 4 million times more massive than our sun.    Bower said it is probably more typical of what’s at the center of most galaxies, “just sitting there doing very little.”
    It is incredibly hot, trillions of dehands grees, Ozel said.
    The same telescope group released the first black hole image in 2019.    The picture was from a galaxy 53 million light-years away that is 1,500 times bigger than the one in our galaxy.    The Milky Way black hole is much closer, about 27,000 light-years away.    A light year is 5.9 trillion miles.
    To get the picture, the eight telescopes had to coordinate so closely “in a process similar to everyone shaking with everyone else in the room,” said astronomer Vincent Fish of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
    Astronomers worked with data collected in 2017 to get the new images.    The next step is a movie of one of those two black holes, maybe both, Fish said.
    The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education.    The AP is solely responsible for all content.
The Milky Way black hole is called Sagittarius A*, near the border of the Sagittarius and Scorpius constellations.
It is 4 million times more massive than our sun. EVENT HORIZON TELESCOPE COLLABORATION VIA AP

Professor of Astronomy and Physics Feryal Ozel speaks during a news conference to announce the first image of
a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

5/13/2022 NASA Scientists Grow Plants In Lunar Soil For First Time In History by OAN NEWSROOM
For the first time, scientists have used lunar soil collected by long-ago moonwalkers to
grow plants, with results promising enough that NASA and others already are envisioning
hothouses on the moon for the next generation of lunar explorers. (Tyler Jones/UF/IFAS via AP)
    For the first time in NASA history, scientists are able to successfully grow plants in lunar soil collected by Apollo astronauts.
    Researchers announced they’ve grown flowering weeds in 12 small containers of soil, which were brought back by astronauts from the Apollo missions of 1969 and 1972.
    They saw sprouts after two days, surprising officials who originally were unsure if life could exist in the harsh lunar soil that contained a number of sharp particles and lacked organic material.
    “The fact that anything grew means that we have a really good starting point,” said Sharmila Bhattacharya, NASA’s program scientist for space biology.    “Now the question is how do we optimize and improve.”
    The success of this experiment paved the way for NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to create a environment to sustain long-term life on the Moon’s surface.

5/14/2022 Milky Way vs M87: Event Horizon Telescope photos show 2 very different monster black holes by Meghan Bartels, Space
© Provided by Space
    Three years ago, scientists used a telescope the size of Earth to produce the first-ever image of a black hole.    Now, they've done it again — this time, closer to home, and of a very different invisible behemoth.
    The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) has now produced images of two supermassive black holes: the one in the center of a galaxy called M87 and the one at the center of our own galaxy, the Milky Way.    In the process, the hundreds of scientists involved in the endeavor have gotten their first glimpses of two objects with surprisingly little in common.
    "The two images appear very similar to us when we gaze at them in the sky," Feryal Özel, an astrophysicist at the University of Arizona and a member of EHT's science council, said during a news conference held by the National Science Foundation on Thursday (May 12) to unveil the new image of Sagittarius A* in the Milky Way.    "But the two black holes couldn't have been more different from each other in practically every other way." Sagittarius A* in photos: The Milky Way's monster black hole discovery in images
    In particular, the two black holes differ in how difficult it is to image material moving around its boundary, or event horizon. (That material, which glows as it is consumed, is what lights up the fuzzy rings the EHT has labored to produce, since black holes themselves don't emit any light.)
    Sensibly, the EHT tackled the less challenging target first.    That's the monster hiding within M87, also known as M87*.    This black hole is farther away from Earth, of course, but it's also much larger, and material moves around its event horizon at a more leisurely pace.
    "Material swirls around M87* over the course of many days," Vincent Fish, an astrophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Haystack Observatory and a member of EHT's science council, said during the news conference.    "It sits still for its photograph."
    The Milky Way's supermassive black hole, dubbed Sagittarius A*, is less cooperative.    "It takes only a few minutes for material to move around close to the horizon of Sagittarius A* because it is much smaller," Fish added.    "It changes quickly, so we had to collect our data quickly."
    And the challenge of Sagittarius A* was evident as scientists analyzed the data the EHT gathered as well.    Katie Bouman, a computer scientist at the California Institute of Technology and co-lead of the EHT Imaging Working Group, said during the news conference that when the independent imaging teams that formed to analyze the M87* results compared their first takes at an image, they were more or less the same.
    Not so for the second black hole.    "Imaging Sagittarius A* was a bit of a messier story than imaging M87*," Bouman said.    This time, the imaging groups were reluctant to produce an initial image because there was so much less consensus among team members.
    Although the material surrounding Sagittarius A* is moving around the event horizon inconveniently fast, our supermassive black hole nonetheless offers a much tamer environment near its surface than M87* does.    The turbulence in this region is determined by the black hole's appetite, which varies despite the popular conception that all black holes guzzle with the suction of a cosmic vacuum cleaner.
    "If Sagittarius A* were a person, it would consume a single grain of rice every million years," Michael Johnson, an astrophysicist at the Harvard/Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and member of the EHT science council, said during the news conference.    "Only a trickle of material is actually making it all the way to the black hole."
    Growing at that slow a pace, Sagittarius A* is quite the dainty eater.    "Because of that, its environment is relatively gentle," Özel said.    "When we say that, of course, the temperatures and magnetic field strengths are still quite high, and the motion of gas around it is still turbulent."
    But while Sagittarius A* was the more difficult target for EHT scientists to study, it was also an important challenge to tackle, the scientists said.    "Sagittarius A* is giving us a view into the much more standard state of black holes: quiet and quiescent," Johnson said.    "M87 was exciting because it was extraordinary.    Sagittarius A* is exciting because it's common."
    Yet despite all the differences, at a glance, the new portrait of Sagittarius A* might even be mistaken for the iconic image released in 2019.
    "When we look at the heart of each black hole, we find a bright ring surrounding the black hole shadow," Özel said.    "These two images look similar because they are the consequence of fundamental forces of gravity."
    That's physics, although it's still tempting to have fun with the similarity.    "Space-time, the fabric of the universe, wraps around black holes in exactly the same way, regardless of their mass or what surrounds them," Özel said.    "It seems that black holes like doughnuts."
    Email Meghan Bartels at or follow her on Twitter @meghanbartels.    Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

5/15/2022 $230M settlement reached over 2015 California oil spill by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    LOS ANGELES – The owner of an oil pipeline that spewed thousands of barrels of crude oil onto Southern California beaches in 2015 has agreed to pay $230 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by fishermen and property owners, court documents show.
    Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline agreed to pay $184 million to fishermen and fish processors and $46 million to coastal property owners in the settlement reached Friday, according to court documents.
    The company didn’t admit liability in the agreement, which follows seven years of legal wrangling.    The agreement still must undergo a public comment period and needs federal court approval.    A hearing on the matter is scheduled for June 10.
    “This settlement should serve as a reminder that pollution just can’t be a cost of doing business, and that corporations will be held accountable for environmental damage they cause,” said Matthew Preusch, one of the attorneys who represented the plaintiffs.
    Plains All American Pipeline officials didn’t immediately return a message Saturday from The Associated Press seeking comment.
    On May 19, 2015, oil gushed from a corroded pipeline north of Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, northwest of Los Angeles, spreading along the coasts of Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.
    It was the worst California coastal oil spill since 1969 and it blackened popular beaches for miles, killing or fouling hundred of seabirds, seals and other wildlife and hurting tourism and fishing.
    A federal investigation said 123,000 gallons spilled, but other estimates by experts in liquids mechanics were as high as 630,000 gallons.
    Federal inspectors found that Plains had made several preventable errors, failed to quickly detect the pipeline rupture and responded too slowly as oil flowed toward the ocean.
    Plains operators working from a Texas control room more than 1,000 miles away had turned off an alarm that would have signaled a leak and, unaware a spill had occurred, restarted the hemorrhaging line after it had shut down, which only made matters worse, inspectors found.
    Plains apologized for the spill and paid for the cleanup.    The company’s 2017 annual report estimated costs from the spill at $335 million, not including lost revenue.    The company also revised its plans for dealing with onshore pipeline spills.
    In 2020, Plains agreed to pay $60 million to the federal government to settle allegations that it violated safety laws.    It also agreed to bring its nationwide pipeline system into compliance with federal safety laws.
    The spill crippled the local oil business because the pipeline was used to transport crude to refineries from seven offshore rigs, including three owned by Exxon Mobil, that have been idle since the spill.    Plains has applied for permission to build a new pipeline but it is facing an uphill battle.
    The emerging debate is playing out amid the global climate crisis and as California moves toward banning gas-powered vehicles and oil drilling, while record gas prices have left consumers with sticker shock at the pumps.
    A complex environmental review of the pipeline plan is not expected until October.

5/15/2022 New Mexico governor seeks more US aid to help wildfire response by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    SANTA FE, N.M. – New Mexico’s governor is asking for additional federal assistance to respond to wildfires burning across the state’s north, including one that is the second-largest in the state’s history and that officials estimate has destroyed hundreds of homes.
    Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Friday in a letter to President Joe Biden that New Mexico needs more help than is being provided under the president’s recent disaster declaration.
    The needed response, including immediate funding for debris removal and “a full range of emergency protective measures,” exceeds the state’s capabilities and the federal government should bear 100% of the costs because one part of the fire was ignited by windblown embers from a prescribed burn on the Santa Fe National Forest, the governor said.
    That fire has since merged with another blaze and grown to 437 square miles.    The 5-week-old combined fire for a time threatened the small New Mexico city of Las Vegas before being stopped just outside town in the past week.    Fire crews continue to work to keep the fire from multiple rural communities.
    Officials said Saturday that weather conditions still included unhelpful high temperatures and low humidity, but that less smoke had allowed firefighting aircraft to take to the skies for a second straight day to battle the blaze.
    Wildfires have broken out this spring across multiple states in the western U.S., including California, Colorado and Arizona.     Predictions for the rest of the spring do not bode well for the West, with drought and warmer weather brought on by climate change worsening wildfire danger.
    Nationwide, more than 2,000 square miles have burned so far this year – the most at this point since 2018, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
    In Colorado, a fire burning southwest of Colorado Springs grew to 1.5 square miles overnight and is 10% contained, officials from the Teller County Sheriff’s Office said Saturday morning.
    The blaze, now known as the High Park Fire, broke out Thursday near the former mining town of Cripple Creek. The cause of the fire remains unknown.
    By Thursday evening at least 120 people from 40 residences evacuated the area, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook.
    Officials say the fire could continue to grow as wind gusts are expected to reach as high as 35 mph.    Winds are expected to die down around 2 p.m. which could help firefighting efforts.
    In New Mexico, the largest wildfire has a 500-mile perimeter, longer than the distance between San Francisco and San Diego, and was just 27% contained.    Another fire to the west near Los Alamos has burned 71 square miles and was 23% contained.     Nearly 3,000 firefighters and other personnel are fighting the two fires.
    Fire officials said the largest fire has destroyed at least 473 structures, including homes and other buildings.    Lujan Grisham’s office on Friday provided an updated estimate that 262 homes had been destroyed but stressed that authorities have been unable to safely enter many burned areas to assess damage.
    In other development, New Mexican House Republican leaders on Friday called for the state to join a federal investigation into the handling of the prescribed burn that started the worst blaze.
    “It is our sincerest belief that the people of northern New Mexico deserve an impartial and detailed investigation conducted by parties other than those employed by the federal government,” the GOP lawmakers said in a letter to Lujan Grisham, a Democrat.
A haze of wildfire smoke hangs over the Upper Rio Grande valley behind
the mesa-top city of Los Alamos, New Mexico. MORGAN LEE/AP

5/16/2022 Labor shortage hits wildfire suppression - Officials brace for another busy fire season by Zach Urness, Salem Statesman Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
Brentt Call, left, and Mike Poulos, with Utah Taskforce One, take a break on the
Bootleg Fire east of Klamath Falls. Ore., last year. CHRIS PIETSCH/USA TODAY NETWORK
    SALEM, Ore. – The U.S. government committed a record-setting amount of money to fighting wildfires this year during what promises to be a busy season, but it’s unclear whether enough firefighters will be available amid a nationwide labor crunch.    Fire season is off to a busy start as drought fuels danger from the Great Plains to Northern California.    Federal officials are scrambling to hire roughly 16,900 fire personnel, including helitack crews that are flown to wildfires.
    A letter from 28 members of Congress called on the two federal agencies that fight wildfires – the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior – to create a special pay rate for federal firefighters “to avert critical staffing shortages in the wildland firefighting workforce.”
    The two agencies have a combined budget of $4.7 billion.    They have 1,549 fire engines and more than 310 helicopters, air tankers and airplanes that can drop water or watch forests for smoke.
    Without adequate staffing, many of those fire engines could sit idle, the letter said, noting that “last year, fire officials were unable to fill an unprecedented 1,800 requests for wildland firefighting crews and more than 1,900 requests for fire engines.”
    Overall, the number of firefighters and resources should be slightly up from last year.    Both agencies can draw from funding for a couple of hundred additional firefighters and $100 million in disaster funds to avoid raiding their budgets during expensive fire seasons.
    The amount the federal government spends on wildfire suppression has steadily risen over decades as wildfires became larger and more intense, reaching a record-setting $4.38 billion in 2021.    A year ago, monster infernos such as California’s Dixie and Caldor fires burned more than a million acres, destroyed towns and more than 2,300 structures and cost $900 million and thousands of firefighters to suppress.
    And in addition to federal firefighters, many states are upping the number of wildland firefighters they employ.
Concern about hiring firefighters
    The reality of hiring firefighters has proved challenging in the tight labor market.
    “This is an urgent threat to natural resources, public safety, and taxpayer dollars, as the federal government pays a premium to contract and borrow firefighting resources from state and local authorities when federal resources are unavailable,” the letter from lawmakers said.
    In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 4, Forest Service Chief Randy Moore said the agency hired about 10,200 firefighters, out of its goal of 11,300.    Some areas reached only 50% of their staffing goals.
    “We are making offers, and there’s a lot of declinations in those offers,” Moore said.    “There’s a lot of competition in the labor market for these skills.    Because when you have county, state and private firefighters often sometimes [making] double the salaries the Forest Service firefighters are making, it’s very hard to compete with that.”
    Firefighters with the Forest Service earn about $38,000 per year, while their counterparts who work for private or state firefighting agencies make closer to $70,000 to $80,000, acting Forest Service chief Vicki Christiansen said at a hearing last year.    Entry-level firefighters make as little as $15 per hour.
    Forest Service officials declined to say exactly where the shortfalls in hiring were, but the statistics drew concern from Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.
    “Fifty percent sounds a little scary when you’re thinking about the fires that we’ll be facing in our various states,” Merkley said at the hearing.
    He was confident that “the agency is making steady progress in hiring more firefighters and is working to have the firefighting resources they need as wildfire season gets underway,” he said in an email to the Salem Statesman Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network.
    The Department of the Interior, which plans to hire 5,600 fire personnel, said it had hired 4,100, but it was typical not to reach full staffing until summer.
    The letter said years of low pay and other issues “hollowed out the federal wildland firefighting workforce.”
An end to ‘fire borrowing’
    The money available to federal agencies to fight wildfires has grown since a bill in 2018 established the ability for agencies to access a “disaster/reserve” fund that grew to $2.45 billion this year, up from $2.35 billion a year ago.
    In 2018, Congress passed legislation that allowed the agencies to tap disaster funds when suppression costs exceeded their budget.
    The Forest Service and Interior Department said the legislation helped eliminate the practice of “fire borrowing,” in which the agencies raided from recreation, engineering and even fire prevention programs to pay for the soaring costs of fighting wildfires.
    If either agency uses up its fire suppression budget, it can go to the emergency fund.    It can pay for additional contract firefighters, large fire camps or whatever else might be needed.
    “Since 2018, the Forest Service and Interior are no longer forced to raid prevention funds to fight fires,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who helped write the legislation.    “Oregonians know all too well the devastation of today’s wildfires.    When it comes to saving lives and property from destruction, prevention and suppression must go hand in hand.”
    The forecast of the coming season paints a picture of high wildfire danger in the Southwest before the above-normal risk shifts to Northern California by June, the middle of the county by July and much of the West Coast by August.
    This year already has been active: Arizona’s Tunnel Fire burned 30 homes, and wildfires in New Mexico forced the evacuation of thousands.
    In California, a wildfire ignited Wednesday along the coastal bluffs in Laguna Niguel.    At least 20 homes were burned in the area.
    “I’d say we’re preparing for another long year,” said Jessica Gardetto, a National Interagency Fire Center spokeswoman in Boise and a former wildland firefighter.    “Almost the entire central swath of the country comes into the (high danger) zone, so if we have a lot of activity there, and then if we have the type of fires we’ve seen across the West recently, that could be a real strain on resources.”
    During the height of the 2021 wildfire season, which was more active than normal, crews across the West reported being short-staffed as resources were shifted to areas where the danger to communities was highest.
    “Last year, we did get stretched pretty thin on resources,” Forest Service spokesman Brian Reublinger said.    “But it’s pretty normal that fires will exchange resources and things when one fire has a greater need over another, especially in a busy year.”     Much of the risk is spurred by the megadrought west of the Mississippi River.    Seventy-five percent of the High Plains is experiencing at least moderate drought while 77% of the West is mired in severe drought, despite improvements during a wet and cool April, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
    Long-term forecasts indicate a hot and dry summer across the USA – potentially fueling quick-spreading fires.
    The fire season looks a bit better than a year ago – which set records for destruction and cost – but not much, Gardetto said.    “At this point, all we can do is plan for the worst and hope for the best,” she said.
BY THE NUMBERS - U.S. wildfire suppression budget
5/16/2022 Sea turtles busy nesting on beaches in Georgia, S. Carolina
    BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Rare loggerhead sea turtles are busy digging nests and laying eggs on beaches in Georgia and South Carolina.    Wildlife officials in both states have reported finding dozens of nests since May 1, considered the unofficial start of the sea turtle nesting season.    Loggerhead sea turtles, which grow to weigh as much as 375 pounds, are protected under federal law as a threatened species.    Each spring and summer, female turtles crawl from the Atlantic Ocean to lay their eggs on beaches from North Carolina to Florida.

5/17/2022 Some Of First Images of the New Milky Way Black Hole

    Congress dives into UFOs, but no signs of extraterrestrials by NOMAAN MERCHANT, Associated Press
    In the image above I enlarged the image below and this is the only thing they can show to claim it as a UAP and how can they claim it is one.

© Provided by Associated Press
    WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress held its first hearing in half a century Tuesday on unidentified flying objects.    And no, there is still no government confirmation of extraterrestrial life.
    Testifying before a House Intelligence subcommittee, Pentagon officials did not disclose additional information from their ongoing investigation of hundreds of unexplained sightings in the sky.    But they said they had picked a director for a new task force to coordinate data collection efforts on what the government has officially labeled “unidentified aerial phenomena.”
© Provided by Associated PressA video of a UAP is paused for display during a hearing of the House Intelligence,
Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee hearing on "Unidentified
Aerial Phenomena," on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    Ronald Moultrie, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, said the Pentagon was also trying to destigmatize the issue and encourage pilots and other military personnel to report anything unusual they see.
    “We want to know what's out there as much as you want to know what's out there,” Moultrie told lawmakers, adding that he was a fan of science fiction himself.    “We get the questions not just from you.    We get it from family and we get them night and day.”
    Lawmakers from both parties say UFOs are a national security concern.    Sightings of what appear to be aircraft flying without discernible means of propulsion have been reported near military bases and coastlines, raising the prospect that witnesses have spotted undiscovered or secret Chinese or Russian technology.
© Provided by Associated Press Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray speaks in front of a video display of a UAP
during a hearing of the House Intelligence, Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee
hearing on "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena," on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    But the sightings are usually fleeting. Some appear for no more than an instant on camera — and then sometimes end up distorted by the camera lens.    The U.S. government is believed to hold additional technical information on the sightings that it has not disclosed publicly.
© Provided by Associated Press Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray speaks during a hearing of the House Intelligence,
Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee hearing on "Unidentified
Aerial Phenomena," on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    An interim report released by intelligence officials last year counted 144 sightings of aircraft or other devices apparently flying at mysterious speeds or trajectories.    In all but one of the sightings investigated, there was too little information for investigators to even broadly characterize the nature of the incident.
    A top Pentagon official on Tuesday briefly demonstrated the challenge.    Scott Bray, deputy director of naval intelligence, stood next to a television to show a short video taken from an F-18 military plane.    The video shows a blue sky with passing clouds.    In a single frame — which it took several minutes for staff in the room to queue up — there is an image of one balloon-like shape.
    “As you can see, finding UAP is harder than you may think," Bray said, using the acronym for “unidentified aerial phenomena.”
    Rep. André Carson, an Indiana Democrat who chaired the hearing, called on investigators to show they “are willing to follow the facts where they lead.”
    Rep. Rick Crawford, an Arkansas Republican, noted that the investigations were not “about finding alien spacecraft but about delivering dominant intelligence."
    “The inability to understand objects in our sensitive operating areas is tantamount to intelligence failure that we certainly want to avoid,” he said.

© Provided by Associated Press Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray, left, and Under Secretary of Defense
for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie, speak during a hearing of the House Intelligence, Counterterrorism,
Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee hearing on "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena,"
on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

© Provided by Associated PressDeputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray speaks in front of a video display of a UAP
during a hearing of the House Intelligence, Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee
hearing on "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena," on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

© Provided by Associated Press Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray, left, and Under Secretary of Defense
for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie speak during a hearing of the House Intelligence, Counterterrorism,
Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee hearing on "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena,"
on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

© Provided by Associated Press Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie speaks during a
hearing of the House Intelligence, Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee hearing on
"Unidentified Aerial Phenomena," on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

5/18/2022 Congress Holds First UFO Hearing In Half A Century by OAN NEWSROOM
    Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie, right, and Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray speak with a UAP on a screen, during a hearing of the House Intelligence, Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee hearing on “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena,” on Capitol Hill, May 17, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
    Congress held it’s first public hearing on UFOs in more than 50 years as the Pentagon released some declassified photos and videos.    On Tuesday, top Pentagon officials said the number of UAPs, or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, reported by pilots and service members had grown to about 400 incidents. This is up from 143 from just a year ago.

    Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security, Ronald S. Moultrie said transparency was important.    He also said the goal was to find out what’s out there, in addition to keeping US military and bases safe.
    “We know that our service members have encountered unidentified aerial phenomenon,” Moultrie stated.    “And because UAPs pose potential flight safety and general security risks, we are committed to a focused effort to determine their origins.”
    Other Pentagon officials stressed, the UAPs found do not appear to be of extraterrestrial origin.

5/19/2022 Prehistoric dolphin species discovered in landlocked Switzerland by CBSNews
    Previously unknown species of dolphin swam the oceans 20 million years ago, including in waters that covered Switzerland, today a landlocked country at the heart of Europe, researchers said Tuesday.
    Back then, Switzerland was part of an island landscape, with its low-lying parts covered in ocean teeming with fish, sharks and dolphins, and with mussels and sea urchins lining the seabed.
    After examining around 300 fossils of whales and dolphins found in Switzerland and dating from this period, researchers from Zurich University's paleontological institute discovered two previously unknown species, the university said in a statement.
    Combing through fragments of teeth, vertebrae and bones found in layers of marine sediment, known as the Upper Marine Molasse, the researchers sought out the less commonly found bones from the inner ear, since they allow species to be classified.
    "We managed to identify two families of dolphins previously unknown in Switzerland," paleontologist Gabriel Aguirre said in the statement.
    Using micro-computed tomography, a 3D imaging technique, the researchers were able to reconstruct the softer organs around the hard ear bones, creating 3D models of the ears.
    "This helped us better analyze the dolphins' hearing ability," Aguirre said.
    In the study, published on the PeerJ scientific publishing website, the researchers determined that the extinct animals are related to the sperm whales and ocean dolphins living today.
    This marks the second disclosure of a paleontological discovery of marine animals in Switzerland in recent weeks.
    Last month, Reuters reported that scientists announced the discovery of whale-sized marine reptiles called ichthyosaurs on top of three mountains in the Swiss Alps.

5/19/2022 At Least 6 Injured In Fire At Wis. Construction Facility by OAN NEWSROOM
This May 5, 2022 photo provided by the in the Sparta Area Fire District in Wisconsin shows
a house fire that killed four people in Little Falls, Wis. Authorities say four people have died
in a house fire in small town in east central Wisconsin. (Sparta Area Fire District via AP)
    A massive fire at a construction facility in Wisconsin left at least six people injured.    Reports say the blaze started Thursday morning following a series of explosions at Summerset Marine Construction in Waukesha County, southwest of Milwaukee.
    “About 100 firefighters responded to the scene after the explosion and fire was reported to dispatchers about 7:30 a.m.,” said Western Fire District Assistant Chief Matt Haerter.
    The injured included three civilians and three firefighters.    One civilian and a fire fighter were hospitalized, while the other victims were treated at the scene.
    According to Haerter, part of the building collapsed which made it difficult for firefighters to get to the source of the blaze.    24 people were in the building when the fire broke out and all including the injured were outside by the time firefighters arrived.
    Schools and business in the area were evacuated and residents near the facility were told to “shelter in place

5/20/2022 Monkeypox, usually found in Africa, now in US, Europe by Maria Cheng, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    LONDON – European and American health authorities have identified a number of monkeypox cases in recent days, mostly in young men. It’s a surprising outbreak of a disease that rarely appears outside Africa.
    Health officials around the world are keeping watch for more cases because, for the first time, the disease appears to be spreading among people who didn’t travel to Africa.    They stressed, however, the risk to the general population is low.
What is monkeypox?
    Monkeypox is a virus that originates in wild animals such as rodents and primates, and occasionally jumps to people.
    Most human cases have been in central and west Africa, where the disease is endemic.
    The illness was first identified by scientists in 1958 when there were two outbreaks of a “pox-like” disease in research monkeys – thus the name monkeypox.    The first known human infection was in 1970, in a 9-year-old boy in a remote part of Congo.
What are the symptoms and how is it treated?
    Monkeypox belongs to the same virus family as smallpox but causes milder symptoms.
    Most patients only experience fever, body aches, chills and fatigue.    People with more serious illness might develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.
    The incubation period is from about five days to three weeks.
    Most people recover within about two to four weeks without needing to be hospitalized.
    Monkeypox can be fatal for up to 1 in 10 people and is thought to be more severe in children.
    People exposed to the virus are often given one of several smallpox vaccines, which have been shown to be effective against monkeypox.    Anti-viral drugs are also being developed.
    On Thursday, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control recommended all suspected cases be isolated and that high-risk contacts be offered the smallpox vaccine.
What’s different about these cases?
    It’s the first time monkeypox appears to be spreading among people who didn’t travel to Africa.    Most of the cases involve men who have had sex with men.
    In Europe, infections have been reported in Britain, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.    Britain’s Health Security Agency said its cases are not all connected, suggesting that there are multiple chains of transmission happening.
    The infections in Portugal were picked up at a sexual health clinic, where the men sought help for lesions on their genitals.
    On Wednesday, U.S. officials reported a case of monkeypox in a man who had recently traveled to Canada, where authorities are investigating suspected infections in the Montreal area.

5/20/2022 Breakthrough in Fusion Energy as Fundamental Law Revised: 'Very Good News' by Ed Browne, Newsweek
© vitacopS/Getty
    Physicists at a European nuclear fusion lab have worked out a way to obtain more energy from fusion reactors than previously thought, surpassing a limit that existing reactors had been adhering to.
    Nuclear fusion is the process by which two atoms join together, producing a heavier element from two lighter ones.    When this happens, energy is released.
    Nuclear fusion happens all the time inside the sun, where hydrogen atoms combine under intense heat and pressure to form helium atoms.    This releases even more energy which keeps the whole process going.
    The idea of nuclear fusion power here on Earth is essentially to recreate this process, using the heat given off by the reaction to turn water into steam which can then power a turbine generator.
    Recreating fusion on Earth has been one of the biggest challenges in modern science and promises a future of clean, easily sustainable power.    Every so often scientists make little breakthroughs in research, though a reactor has yet to prove viable for electricity generation.
    At the forefront of fusion research are machines called tokamaks, which heat hydrogen gas to extremely high temperatures to create a hydrogen plasma—a gas where electrons are stripped away from their atoms—in which fusion can occur.
    The purpose of tokamaks is to keep this plasma flowing in a circle so that the fusion reaction can keep going.    Two other things also need to be carefully controlled: temperature and the density of the fuel.
    This week, scientists at the European research group École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have found a way to significantly increase the limits of this hydrogen fuel density—known as the Greenwald limit—beyond what was previously considered possible.    It means that reactors should be able to produce even more energy.
    "Since the early days of fusion, we've known that if you try to increase the fuel density, at some point there would be what we call a 'disruption'—basically you totally lose the confinement [of the plasma], and plasma goes wherever," said Paolo Ricci, a professor at the Swiss Plasma Center, in an EPFL press release.    "So, in the eighties, people were trying to come up with some kind of law that could predict the maximum density of hydrogen that you can put inside a tokamak."
    An EPFL team decided to revisit this limit, using supercomputers to model the fusion plasma.    They found that the more fuel was added in, the cooler the plasma got.    This meant the flow was more easily disrupted.
    Using what they learned, Ricci and colleagues managed to work out a new equation for a new fuel limit inside a tokamak that was higher than before.    Inside Europe's ITER tokamak, the limit can actually be nearly doubled.
    The step forward means it will be possible to add more fuel density without limiting the output, Ricci said, adding: "And that is very good news."
    Among those hoping for a nuclear fusion future is Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who was asked for his thoughts on the future of nuclear power in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) threat on Reddit on Wednesday.
    He wrote: "There is nuclear fission.    If it can solve the cost, safety and waste concerns it can make a massive contribution to solving climate change.    I am biased because I have been investing over a billion in this starting over a decade ago."
    "Also promising is nuclear fusion.    It is less clear if we will succeed but it has less safety and waste issues if it works."
    "So, I am hopeful nuclear will improve and be a huge help for climate."

5/20/2022 NASA: Mysterious new Hubble data on the universe is ‘something weird’ by Joshua Hawkins, BGR
© Provided by BGR
    The nearly 30-year-old Hubble Space telescope continues to deliver outstanding data to astronomers.    Now, NASA says that data Hubble has been gathering over the years could challenge what we thought we knew about our universe’s expansion rate.
    Hubble keeps throwing wrenches in what we know about the universe’s expansion rate
© Provided by BGRup close view of hubble telescope
    Since its launch in 1990, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has been making history.    Named after Edwin P. Hubble, NASA’s iconic spacecraft was designed to explore the universe. Part of its mission has been focused on learning more about our universe’s expansion rate.
    Over the years, astronomers have used telescopes like Hubble to try to learn more about how quickly our universe is expanding.    It’s been an ongoing mission and one that Hubble has unlocked key information about.    However, the data Hubble has captured continues to challenge what we know about how fast the universe is expanding.
    NASA says that there appears to be a key discrepancy in the universe’s rate of expansion around us compared to observations of the early universe right after the Big Bang.
    It is an interesting dilemma, and it has scientists a bit baffled.    As such, NASA has summed it up mostly as “something weird” going on in the universe.
How fast is the universe expanding?
© Provided by BGRgalaxies
    That’s really what NASA is trying to figure out.    If we can understand the universe’s expansion rate, it will allow us to more properly understand how some celestial objects evolve and come to be.    As such, part of Hubble’s mission has been creating milepost markers of the universe’s expansion.
    To date, the 30-year-old space telescope has created 40 milepost markers.    This, NASA says, allows for the most precise measure of how fast space has expanded since the Big Bang.
    The hunt for this measurement really began in the 1920s, with Edwin P. Hubble and Georges Lemaître.    With it, astronomers could more precisely determine a timeline of the universe’s growth.     This would allow us to properly measure how long the universe has existed.    But getting that answer appears to be a bit more complex than scientists suspected.    Especially with these new results.     Hubble’s data shows that the universe’s expansion rate is around 73 kilometers per second per megaparsec.    However, models predicted it would be approximately 67.5 kilometers per second per megaparsec.
    It isn’t a massive difference at face value.    However, it may continue to confound scientists for some time.

5/20/2022 Maddow Blog | At UFO hearing, Republican rep asks about ‘glowing red orb’ by Steve Benen, MSNBC
    As a rule, prominent politicians in the United States tend not to say much about UFOs.    Officials have plenty of terrestrial challenges to focus on, and don’t want to appear foolish by turning their attention to other-worldly concerns.
    With this in mind, Congress did something unusual this week: It held its first public UFO hearing in more than 50 years.    In fact, a House Intelligence Committee panel heard directly from Scott Bray, the deputy director of naval intelligence, and Ronald Moultrie, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence and security.
    As Dana Milbank noted soon after in a column, the subcommittee and its witnesses “did their best to keep things rational.”    There were references to unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), for example, instead of unidentified flying objects.
    Milbank added that the panel “emphasized that such things are real, if not exactly evidence of space invaders,” and stressed “that they have nothing ‘that would suggest it’s anything non-terrestrial in origin,’ and they cautioned against conspiracy theories.”
    The line of questioning from one subcommittee member, however, stood out as especially notable.    Politico took note of the inquiries of Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin.
    In case this isn’t obvious, it’s important to emphasize that these questions and answers were taken quite seriously during the hearing.    Gallagher seemed entirely sincere, for example, about the Pentagon examining a 1967 “incident” that “allegedly occurred at Malmstrom Air Force Base, in which 10 of our nuclear ICBMs were rendered inoperable.    At the same time, a glowing red orb was observed overhead.”
    Politico’s report noted that government documents “made public in the ensuing years also suggest that a technical malfunction, however rare, could have been responsible.”
    Nevertheless, the GOP congressman told the witnesses, “I would like you to look into it.”    They said they would.
    Gallagher also inquired about an unverified 2002 document known as the “Wilson-Davis memo.”    As Milbank’s column described it is "a document of dubious provenance that purports to reveal information about government UFO programs.”
    Bray and Moultrie said they were unaware of the memo, so the Wisconsin Republican entered it into the official record.    Milbank added, “As a result, the hearing record now includes mentions of: an alien ‘cabal,’ ‘crashed UFOs/alien bodies,’ autopsies of alien bodies in Roswell, N.M., alien-derived technologies and, yes, alien abductions,” Politico also noted:
    Whether it’ll be another five decades before Congress holds another such hearing remains to be seen.

5/21/2022 Scientists baffled by US, European monkeypox - Smallpox relative may be sexually transmitted by Maria Cheng, ASSOCIATED PRESS
The hands of a monkeypox case patient display the appearance of the
characteristic rash during its recuperative stage. CDC VIA AP
    LONDON – Scientists who have monitored numerous outbreaks of monkeypox in Africa say they are baffled by the disease’s recent spread in Europe and North America.
    Cases of the smallpox-related disease have previously been seen only among people with links to Central and West Africa.    But in the past week, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the U.S., Sweden and Canada all reported infections, mostly in young men who hadn’t previously traveled to Africa.
    France, Germany, Belgium and Australia confirmed their first cases of monkeypox on Friday.
    “I’m stunned by this. Every day I wake up and there are more countries infected,” said Oyewale Tomori, a virologist who formerly headed the Nigerian Academy of Science and who sits on several World Health Organization advisory boards.
    “This is not the kind of spread we’ve seen in West Africa, so there may be something new happening in the West,” he said.
    Monkeypox typically causes fever, chills, a rash and lesions on the face or genitals.    WHO estimates the disease is fatal for up to one in 10 people, but smallpox vaccines are protective and some antiviral drugs are also being developed.
    One of the theories British health officials are exploring is whether the disease is being sexually transmitted.    Health officials have asked doctors and nurses to be on alert for potential cases, but said the risk to the general population is low.
    Nigeria reports about 3,000 monkeypox cases a year, WHO said.    Outbreaks are usually in rural areas, where people have close contact with infected rats and squirrels, Tomori said. He said many cases are likely missed.
    Tomori hoped the appearance of monkeypox cases across Europe and other countries would further scientific understanding of the disease.
    The WHO’s lead on emergency response, Dr. Ibrahima Soce Fall, acknowledged this week that there were still “so many unknowns in terms of the dynamics of transmission, the clinical features (and) the epidemiology.”
    On Friday, Britain’s Health Security Agency reported 11 new monkeypox cases, saying that “a notable proportion” of the most recent infections in the U.K. and Europe have been in young men with no history of travel to Africa who were gay, bisexual or had sex with men.
    Authorities in Spain and Portugal also said their cases were in young men who mostly had sex with other men and said those cases were picked up when the men turned up with lesions at sexual health clinics.
    Experts have stressed they do not know if the disease is being spread through sex or other close contact related to sex.
    Nigeria hasn’t seen sexual transmission, Tomori said, but he noted that viruses that hadn’t initially been known to transmit via sex, like Ebola, were later proven to do so after bigger epidemics showed different patterns of spread.
    The same could be true of monkeypox, Tomori said.

5/21/2022 Energy secretary focuses on waste at nuclear plant by Jennifer McDermott, ASSOCIATED PRESS
U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, right, and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney
tour the Millstone Nuclear Power Station. Jennifer McDermott/AP
    WATERFORD, Conn. – The U.S. energy secretary visited a nuclear power plant in Connecticut on Friday at the invitation of the local congressional member as they both work to change how spent nuclear fuel is stored nationwide to solve a decades long stalemate.
    Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney toured the Millstone Nuclear Power Station in Waterford, Connecticut.    Spent fuel that was meant to be stored temporarily at current and former nuclear plant sites nationwide is piling up.    Some of it dates to the 1980s.
    There’s renewed momentum to figure out a storage site, or sites, to free up the land where the waste is currently being stored and move it away from population centers, fault lines and flood plains.    The Biden administration and many state officials view nuclear energy as essential to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and staving off the worst effects of a warming planet.
    To responsibly use nuclear power, Courtney said, 'We have to move on this issue.'
    The Energy Department is working to develop a process to ask communities if they’re interested in storing spent nuclear fuel on an interim basis, both to make nuclear power a more sustainable option and figure out what to do with the waste.
    Granholm has said it’s the best way to finally solve the issue.    A plan to build a national storage facility northwest of Las     Vegas at Yucca Mountain has been mothballed because of staunch opposition from most Nevada residents and officials.
    There’s roughly 89,000 metric tons of used commercial fuel at nearly 80 sites in 35 U.S. states, according to the Nuclear     Energy Institute, the industry’s trade association.    At 20 of the sites, there’s no longer an operating reactor, the institute said.
    All of that spent fuel, in storage containers, could theoretically fit into a large distribution warehouse for a big box store, said Rod McCullum, the institute’s senior director of decommissioning and used fuel.    It could be much more efficiently managed if it was consolidated, he added.
    Millstone seals its spent nuclear fuel in massive stainless-steel canisters on what used to be a parking lot and keeps it in pools that cool it.    There’s room for 135 casks.    Fifty-two casks have been installed, of which 47 are full, according to plant owner Dominion Energy.
    Courtney’s district also includes the site of the former Connecticut Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Haddam Neck.    Connecticut Yankee closed in 1996.    Spent fuel is still stored on valuable waterfront real estate.
    'The frustration in Waterford and Haddam Neck, it has been off the charts,' Courtney said.    'People feel, you know, this was not the deal when these plants were built.'
    Courtney is part of a bipartisan congressional caucus working to change how spent nuclear fuel is stored.    Its members believe the current system is not sustainable, particularly for sites that could be redeveloped.    Many are along the coastline, in flood plains – the worst geology for spent fuel to be stranded, Courtney said.
    Millstone is one of only two commercial nuclear power plants operating in New England.

5/22/2022 New York City resident tests positive for monkeypox virus
    ALBANY, N.Y. – A New York City resident has tested positive for the virus that causes monkeypox, a rare virus rarely seen outside of Africa that can cause flu-like symptoms, state health officials announced late Friday.    The unidentified patient is isolating and treating the case as positive while awaiting final confirmation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.    Officials will try to determine how the patient was infected.    City epidemiologists have begun reaching people who may have been in contact with the person.

5/22/2022 German weather service says storm generated 3 tornadoes
    BERLIN – The German Weather Service confirmed three tornadoes in the country Friday in North Rhine-Westphalia – in Paderborn, in nearby Lippstadt, and on the edge of the town of Hoexter, news agency dpa reported.    Police in Paderborn said that 43 people were injured there, 30 of whom were taken to hospitals.    The storm loosened roof tiles, brought down scaffolding, overturned cars and sent tree branches crashing into windows.    Authorities in Bavaria said 14 people were injured at Lake Brombach, south of Nuremberg.

5/22/2022 2 killed in northern Michigan tornado by John Flesher and Ed White, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Theresa Haske sorts through debris from what was her garage after a
tornado tore through Gaylord, Mich., on Friday evening. JOHN RUSSELL/AP
    GAYLORD, Mich. – A rare northern Michigan tornado tore through a small community on Friday, killing at least two people and injuring more than 40 others, authorities reported, as crews searched a mobile home park that was virtually destroyed by the rare weather event.
    Michigan State Police confirmed the death of the first victim Friday night. That person has not been identified.
    The second victim, reported Saturday, is a person in their 70s who lived in the Nottingham mobile home park, which was among the first sites hit by the tornado Friday, said state police Lt. Derrick Carroll.
    “There have been trailers picked up and turned over on top of each other.    Just a very large debris field,” said Chris Martin, Otsego County fire chief.    “Crews are in there right now doing a secondary search with heavy equipment.”
    He said there’s “probably 95% destruction in there.”    The tornado struck Gaylord, a city of about 4,200 people, roughly 230 miles northwest of Detroit, on Friday afternoon.
    “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” Mayor Todd Sharrard said.    “I’m numb.”
    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for the county, making further state resources available.
    Gaylord Police Chief Frank Claeys said the immediate moments after the tornado were tough for first responders.
    “We were searching in places where we knew the occupants.    We were calling them out by name,” Claeys said.    “It’s a lot more personal when our officers know the people who live in those homes.”
    Video posted online showed a dark funnel cloud materialize out of a cloud as nervous drivers looked on or slowly drove away, uncertain of its path.
    Other video showed extensive damage along the city’s Main Street.    One building appeared to be largely collapsed and a Goodwill store was badly damaged.    A collapsed utility pole lay on the side of the road, and debris, including what appeared to be electrical wires and parts of a Marathon gas station, was scattered all along the street.
    The Red Cross set up a shelter at a church.
    Mike Klepadlo, who owns the car repair shop Alter-Start North, said he and his workers took cover in a bathroom.
    “I’m lucky I’m alive.    It blew the back off the building,” he said.    “Twenty feet of the back wall is gone.    The whole roof is missing.    At least half the building is still here.    It’s bad.”
    Extreme spring winds are uncommon in the area because the Great Lakes suck energy out of storms, especially early in the season when the lakes are very cold, said Jim Keysor, a Gaylord-based meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
    The last time Gaylord had a severe wind storm was in 1998, when straight-line winds reached 100 mph, Keysor said.    He said the conditions that spawned Friday’s twister included a cold front moving in from Wisconsin and hitting hot and humid air over Gaylord, with the added ingredient of turning winds in the lower part of the atmosphere.

5/22/2022 Planned burns suspended amid extreme fire threats - Forest service criticized for prescribed burn that escaped containment by Susan Montoya Bryan, ASSOCIATED PRESS
A firefighter attempts to tamp down the Golden Fire, which burned 25 acres
just south of Camptonville, Calif., on Friday. ELIAS FUNEZ/THE UNION VIA AP
    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – U.S. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore cited extreme fire danger and unfavorable weather conditions Friday in announcing a suspension of all planned fire burning operations to clear brush and small trees on all national forest lands while his agency conducts a review of protocols and practices ahead of planned operations this fall.
    His decision came as federal forecasters warned that expanding drought conditions coupled with hot and dry weather, extreme wind and unstable atmospheric conditions have led to explosive fire behavior in the southwestern U.S.    The fires that are set on purpose are called prescribed burns or fires.
    “Our primary goal in engaging prescribed fires and wildfires is to ensure the safety of the communities involved.    Our employees who are engaging in prescribed fire operations are part of these communities across the nation,” Moore said in a statement.
    He said they “deserve the very best tools and science supporting them as we continue to navigate toward reducing the risk of severe wildfires in the future.”
    The U.S. Forest Service has faced heavy criticism for a prescribed fire in New Mexico that escaped its containment lines in April and joined with another blaze to form what is now the largest fire burning nationally.
    Moore said that in 99.84% of cases, prescribed fires go as planned and are a valuable tool for reducing the threat of extreme fires by removing dead and downed trees and other vegetation that serves as fuel in overgrown forests.
    New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who praised the temporary suspension of intentionally set fires, said it’s clear that well-managed prescribed burns can help reduce wildfire risks.
    But “it is critical that federal agencies update and modernize these practices in response to a changing climate, as what used to be considered extreme conditions are now much more common,” she said in a statement.
    “The situation unfolding in New Mexico right now demonstrates without a doubt the grave consequences of neglecting to do so,” she said.
    Wildfires have broken out this spring in multiple states in the western U.S., where climate change and an enduring drought are fanning the frequency and intensity of forest and grassland fires.    The number of square miles burned so far this year is far above the 10-year national average.
    Nationally, nearly 6,000 wildland firefighters were battling 16 uncontained large fires that had charred over a half-million acres of dry forest and grassland, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
    A California fire that started Friday in a building and spread to vegetation in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada about 80 miles north of Sacramento forced evacuations and closed a state highway.
    In Texas, firefighters made progress against a wildfire near Abilene that destroyed at least 27 structures.    Evacuations were lifted.

5/22/2022 African scientists baffled by monkeypox cases in Europe, US by Maria Cheng, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    LONDON – Scientists who have monitored numerous outbreaks of monkeypox in Africa say they are baffled by the disease’s recent spread in Europe and North America.
    Cases of the smallpox-related disease have previously been seen only among people with links to central and West Africa.    But in the past week, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, U.S., Sweden and Canada all reported infections, mostly in young men who hadn’t previously traveled to Africa.
    There are about 80 confirmed cases worldwide and 50 more suspected ones, the World Health Organization said.    France, Germany, Belgium and Australia reported their first cases Friday.
    “I’m stunned by this.    Every day I wake up and there are more countries infected,” said Oyewale Tomori, a virologist who formerly headed the Nigerian Academy of Science and who sits on several WHO advisory boards.
    “This is not the kind of spread we’ve seen in West Africa, so there may be something new happening in the West,” he said.
    To date, no one has died in the outbreak.    Monkeypox typically causes fever, chills, rash and lesions on the face or genitals.    WHO estimates the disease is fatal for up to one in 10 people, but smallpox vaccines are protective and antiviral drugs are being developed.
    British health officials are exploring whether the disease is being sexually transmitted.    Health officials have asked doctors and nurses to be on alert for potential cases, but said the risk to the general population is low.    The European Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommended all suspected cases be isolated and that high-risk contacts be offered smallpox vaccine.
    Nigeria reports about 3,000 monkeypox cases a year, WHO said.    Outbreaks are usually in rural areas, when people have close contact with infected rats and squirrels, Tomori said. He said many cases are likely missed.
    Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, head of the country’s Center for Disease Control, said none of the Nigerian contacts of the British patients have developed symptoms and that investigations were ongoing. WHO’s Europe director, Dr. Hans CDC VIA AP
    Kluge, described the outbreak as “atypical,” saying the disease’s appearance in so many countries across the continent suggested that “transmission has been ongoing for some time.”    He said most of the European cases are mild.
    On Friday, Britain’s Health Security Agency reported 11 new monkeypox cases, saying “a notable proportion” of the infections in the U.K. and Europe have been in young men with no history of travel to Africa and who were gay, bisexual or had sex with men.
    Authorities in Spain and Portugal also said their cases were in young men who mostly had sex with other men and said those cases were picked up when the men turned up with lesions at sexual health clinics.    Experts have stressed they do not know if the disease is being spread through sex or other close contact related to sex.
    Nigeria hasn’t seen sexual transmission, Tomori said, but he noted that viruses that hadn’t initially been known to transmit via sex, like Ebola, were later proven to do so after bigger epidemics showed different patterns of spread.
    The same could be true of monkeypox, Tomori said.
    In Germany, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said the government was confident the outbreak could be contained.    He said the virus was being sequenced to see if there were any genetic changes that might have made it more infectious.
    Rolf Gustafson, an infectious diseases professor, told Swedish broadcaster SVT that it was “i>very difficult” to imagine the situation might worsen.
    “We will certainly find some further cases in Sweden, but I do not think there will be an epidemic in any way,” Gustafson said.    “There is nothing to suggest that at present.”
    Scientists said that while it’s possible the outbreak’s first patient caught the disease while in Africa, what’s happening now is exceptional.
    “We’ve never seen anything like what’s happening in Europe,” said Christian Happi, director of the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases.    “We haven’t seen anything to say that the transmission patterns of monkeypox have been changing in Africa.    So, if something different is happening in Europe, then Europe needs to investigate that.”
    Happi also pointed out that the suspension of smallpox vaccination campaigns after the disease was eradicated in 1980 might inadvertently be helping monkeypox spread.    Smallpox vaccines also protect against monkeypox, but mass immunization was stopped decades ago.
    “Aside from people in west and Central Africa who may have some immunity to monkeypox from past exposure, not having any smallpox vaccination means nobody has any kind of immunity to monkeypox,” Happi said.
    Shabir Mahdi, a professor of vaccinology at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, said a detailed investigation of the outbreak in Europe, including determining who the first patients were, was now critical.
    “We need to really understand how this first started and why the virus is now gaining traction,” he said.    “In Africa, there have been very controlled and infrequent outbreaks of monkeypox.    If that’s now changing, we really need to understand why.”
This electron microscope image of a monkeypox virion was obtained from a sample
associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. CYNTHIA S. GOLDSMITH, RUSSELL REGNER/

5/22/2022 2 dead; northern Michigan town cleans up after rare tornado hits by Ed White, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Roofs and walls on a busy business stretch were turned to tangled rubble. Mobile homes were destroyed.    Tornadoes are so uncommon in northern Michigan that Gaylord doesn’t have a siren system to warn people about hazardous weather.    The town of 4,200 turned to cleanup Saturday, a day after a tornado with 140mph winds pummeled Gaylord, killing two people, injuring more than 40 and shocking residents who are more familiar with snowstorms than spring windstorms.
    A utility reported much progress in restoring electricity, though thousands still lacked power.    Some roads remained clogged with downed poles and other wreckage.
    “We have a lot of debris to clear,” said state police Lt. Derrick Carroll.
    Two people in their 70s who lived at the Nottingham Forest mobile home park died, state police said.    It was among the first sites hit by the tornado, which was rated an EF3 by the National Weather Service on a scale of 0-5.
    “There have been trailers picked up and turned over on top of each other.    Just a very large debris field,” said Chris Martin, Otsego County fire chief.    Martin said crews used heavy equipment to conduct a secondary search of the area.
    He said there’s “probably 95% destruction in there.”    Gaylord, about 230 miles northwest of Detroit, is a popular destination for skiers and snowmobilers in the winter and golfers in the summer.    It doesn’t have tornado sirens, though anyone with a mobile phone got a “code red” warning from the weather service about 10 minutes before the tornado hit, Carroll said.
    Video posted online showed a dark funnel cloud approaching as anxious drivers looked on or slowly drove away on area roads.
    “Everyone in Michigan is going to wrap our arms around those families and everyone who is working together to recover here,” Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said during a visit.
    Betty Wisniewski, 87, avoided injury even though the tornado significantly damaged her house, said son Steve Wisniewski, who lives next door.
    “Luckily she was OK – rosary in hand,” he said from a ladder while attaching plastic to his windows.    “She was praying. Pretty amazing.”
    Gaylord Police Chief Frank Claeys said the immediate moments after the tornado were tough for first responders.
    “We were searching in places where we knew the occupants.    We were calling them out by name,” Claeys said.    “It’s a lot more personal when our officers know the people who live in those homes.”
    John Boris of the weather service post in Gaylord said the tornado passed through the community in about three minutes but was on the ground in the region for 26 minutes – a “fairly long” time.
    “We don’t get a whole lot of tornadoes,” said Boris, a science and operations officer.    “In the state of Michigan, in general, we typically average about 15 or so (a year) and more of those are downstate than they are up to the north.    It’s pretty unusual.”
    Indeed, the last notable windstorm was in 1998 when 100 mph straightline winds raked Gaylord.
    Boris said warm, 80-degree air earlier Friday and strong winds moving east across Lake Michigan were key conditions producing the tornado.
    A link to climate change probably doesn’t fit, he said.
    “It’s very difficult to attribute something very specific like this to a largescale signal like that,” Boris said.    “If we had these more frequently, that may be a signal.”

5/23/2022 In a Wild Twist, Physicists Have Revived an Alternative Theory of Gravity by Jacinta Bowler, ScientistAlert
    Out in the dark depths of space, our models of the Universe get messy.    A new study looking at the ultra-diffuse dwarf galaxy AGC 114905 has revived a controversial theory (or more accurately a hypothesis) of gravity, and given us more questions than answers about what's making our galaxies tick.
© Mancera Pina et al., MNRAS, 2021Radio image of the neutral hydrogen gas in the galaxy AGC 114905.
    It all starts with dark matter – or in this case, no dark matter.    Although most cosmologists agree there's something out there called 'dark matter', causing spiral galaxies to rotate faster than they should, even dark matter doesn't answer all the questions we need it to.
    So, it's not a bad idea to look at some alternative options.    You know, just in case we are never able to find the stuff.
    One alternative hypothesis to dark matter is called Modified Newtonian dynamics (MOND) or Milgromian dynamics framework. This hypothesis – first published in 1983 by physicist Mordehai Milgrom – suggests that we don't need dark matter to fill in the Universe's gravity gaps, if we calculate the gravitational forces experienced by stars in outer galactic regions in a different manner to how Newtonian laws suggest.
    To test this idea, which involves working with proportionality to the star's radius or centripetal acceleration, we need to be looking at the speeds of galaxies – specifically weird ones like ultra-diffuse galaxies.
    These very faint, ugly ducklings of the galaxy world have a habit of not acting like a galaxy should.    For example, some ultra-diffuse galaxies seem to be made almost entirely of dark matter, whilst others are almost completely dark matter-less.
    This is where AGC 114905 comes in.    This ultra-diffuse dwarf galaxy around 250 million light years away had recently been looked at in detail in a paper published in 2021 investigating how fast it spins.
    But this team found that the galaxy's spin was extremely slow – slow enough that not only did they not need dark matter to confirm the models, but the rotation curve of the galaxy also cast huge doubt on the MOND framework.    It doesn't fit with either hypothesis.
    "The very low reported rotation speed of this galaxy is inconsistent with both MOND and the standard approach with dark matter," says University of St Andrews physicist and one of the researchers of the new paper, Hongsheng Zhao.
    "But only MOND is able to get around this apparent contradiction."
    The new paper has 'un-debunked' the 2021 finding, suggesting that the issue isn't with MOND, but instead with the inclination of the galaxy itself.
    When we look at galaxies far away in the depths of space, it can sometimes be hard to confirm which angle we're seeing.    The original team found that AGC 114905 looked elliptical, suggesting that we're looking at the galaxy from an angle.
    But using simulations, researchers now suggest the galaxy could appear elliptical even when it's facing us straight on. A change in the angle of the galaxy to us would also change how fast the galaxy is rotating, making all the MOND math add up after all.
    "Our simulations show that the inclination of AGC 114905 might be significantly less than reported, which would mean the galaxy is actually rotating much faster than people think, in line with MOND expectations," says lead author of the new paper, physicist Indranil Banik, also from the University of St Andrews.
    Now, this is still an open question.    We don't know whether this new paper, or the 2021 paper is going to be crowned victorious – or at least most correct.
    In the meantime, if this new finding holds, it seems that the MOND framework might live on for another day.    As wild as MOND might be, with dark matter still elusive, and many other questions still to be answered, we need all the options we can get.
    The research has been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

5/23/2022 Pox cases a growing concern for Biden by Josh Boak and Chris Megerian, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    PYEONGTAEK, South Korea – President Joe Biden said Sunday that recent cases of monkeypox that have been identified in Europe and the United States were something “to be concerned about.”    In his first public comments on the disease, Biden said: “It is a concern in that if it were to spread, it would be consequential.”
    Biden was asked about the disease as he spoke to reporters at Osan Air Base in South Korea, where he visited U.S. troops before taking off for Japan to continue his first trip to Asia as president.
    “They haven’t told me the level of exposure yet, but it is something that everybody should be concerned about,” Biden said.    He added that work was underway to determine what vaccine might be effective.
    Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, told reporters aboard the flight to Tokyo that the United States has a supply of “vaccine that is relevant to treating monkeypox.”
    “We have vaccine available to be deployed for that purpose,” he said.
    Monkeypox is rarely identified outside Africa, but as of Friday, there were 80 confirmed cases worldwide, including at least two in the United States, as well as another 50 suspected ones.
    People usually recover from monkeypox within two to four weeks without needing to be hospitalized, but the disease occasionally is deadly.

5/23/2022 Israel reports first case of monkeypox, suspects others
    TEL AVIV, Israel – Israeli authorities said they have detected the country’s first case of monkeypox in a man who returned from abroad and are looking into other suspected cases.    Israel’s Health Ministry said late Saturday the man was in a Tel Aviv hospital in good condition.    It called on anyone returning from abroad with fever and lesions to see a doctor.    Israel’s case appeared to be the first identified in the Middle East.    The World Health Organization has identified about 80 cases globally and roughly 50 more suspected cases.

5/24/2024 Climate change turns up South Asia heat by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
People sleep in the shade of a tree in Lucknow in the central Indian state of Uttar Pradesh
last month. Severe heat swept north and western parts of India. RAJESH KUMAR SINGH/AP
    This spring’s punishing heat wave in India and Pakistan, which has caused widespread human suffering and affected global wheat supplies, was about 30 times more likely to happen because of human-caused climate change, according an analysis Monday.
    The heat wave has caused at least 90 deaths across India and Pakistan and triggered an extreme glacial lake outburst flood in northern Pakistan and forest fires in India.
    Temperatures soared above 110 degrees; some areas hit as high as 115 degrees.
    “High temperatures are common in India and Pakistan, but what made this unusual was that it started so early and lasted so long,” said study co-author Krishna AchutaRao of the Centre for Atmospheric Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi.
    “Across much of both countries, people had little relief for weeks on end, with the costs particularly high for hundreds of millions of outdoor workers."
    “We know this will happen more often as temperatures rise, and we need to be better prepared for it,” AchutaRao said.
    The region is known for high heat in the spring and early summer, and May is typically the hottest month of the year.    This heat wave raised temperatures 8 to 15 degrees above normal across much of India, NASA’s Earth Observatory reported.
    March 2022 was the hottest March India has recorded since record-keeping began 120 years ago.    The capital region of Delhi recorded its second- hottest April in 72 years, according to the Times of India.
    According to the study, prepared by the World Weather Attribution group, the heat reduced India’s wheat crop yields, causing the government to reverse a plan to supplement the global wheat supply affected by the war in Ukraine.
    In India, a shortage of coal led to power outages that limited access to cooling, compounding health impacts and forcing millions of people to limit activity to the early morning and evening.
    “In countries where we have the data, heat waves are the deadliest extreme weather events,” said study co-author Friederike Otto, a senior lecturer in climate science at the Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute, which studies climate change.    “At the same time, they are the type of extremes most strongly increasing in a warming world.    As long as greenhouse gas emissions continue, events like these will become an increasingly common disaster.”
    Worldwide, heat waves have been made more likely and more intense by climate change, the study said.
    To quantify the effect of climate change on the high heat in India and Pakistan, scientists analyzed weather data and computer simulations to compare the climate as it is, after about 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit of global warming since the late 1800s, with the climate of the past, following peer-reviewed methods.
    Because of climate change, scientists determined, the probability of such a heat wave has increased by a factor of about 30.
    The results are conservative: An analysis published last week by the United Kingdom’s Meteorological Office said that a heat wave in 2010 was probably made 100 times more likely by climate change, and such scorching temperatures are likely to reoccur every three years.
    “Heat waves also have the potential to increase risk of forest fires and even droughts,” said study co-author Arpita Mondal of the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai.    “Thousands of people in this region, who, to begin with, contributed very little to global warming, are now bearing the brunt of it and will continue to do so if emissions are not significantly cut globally."
    “This is a sign of things to come,” Mondal said.
Contributing: Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

5/24/2022 Brazilian president trumpets energy plan - Carbon market criticized for being thin on details by Fabiano Maisonnave, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has signed a decree that he says will create a national carbon market to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.    Brazil ranks sixth in the world for climate pollution, according to Climate Watch.
    “In this still new green economy market, Brazil emerges as a powerhouse,” Bolsonaro said to a crowd of businesspeople during a government-sponsored Global Carbon Market Congress Thursday night in Rio de Janeiro that was webcast but closed to the press.
    But critics say the measure is too vague and fails to address the biggest climate issue in Brazil – explosive deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.
    Bolsonaro’s decree states that unnamed economic sectors can register their carbon footprints in a new registry and then present an emission reduction curve within 180 days.    This deadline can be extended for another 180 days.
    “The measure is ineffectual.    It establishes a registry system but fails to set deadlines,” said Gustavo Pinheiro, an advisory board member at Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero.    “It is a voluntary regulation, as it does not generate any obligation.”
    Bolsonaro’s announcement also sidesteps a different carbon market proposal backed by some of Brazil’s industries that had been making its way through Congress.
    In an actual cap and trade market system, governments set a maximum amount of pollution that companies can release.    Companies that beat their target generate credits they can sell.    Companies that fail their targets have to pay money to buy credits or allowances.    In a voluntary market, companies agree to lower their pollution without being forced to and commit to purchase credits if they fail.
    Almost half of Brazil’s climate pollution comes from deforestation, according to an annual study from the Brazilian the nonprofit network Climate Observatory.    The destruction is so vast that the eastern Amazon has ceased to be a carbon sink, or absorber, and has converted into a carbon source, according to a 2021 study published in Nature.
    Bolsonaro’s announcement was met with skepticism among participants at the global carbon market congress.
    “We believe Brazil has to bring deforestation back down to have any chance of meeting its broader commitments under the Paris Accord,” said Graham Stock, a strategist for BlueBay Asset Management.
    Brazil has committed to the world to reduce its carbon dioxide pollution by 43% from 2005 levels by 2030.    Instead, Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 grew by 9.5%, while worldwide, they dropped by almost 7%, according to Climate Observatory.

5/24/2022 Monkeypox Outbreak: Here We Go Again? by OAN NEWSROOM
This 1997 image provided by the CDC during an investigation into an outbreak of monkeypox, which took place in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), formerly Zaire, and depicts the dorsal surfaces of the hands of a monkeypox case
patient, who was displaying the appearance of the characteristic rash during its recuperative stage. (CDC via AP)
    New York City confirmed it’s first case of Monkeypox on Friday. Officials say the patient is being quarantined as their investigation continues.    This marks the second confirmed case in the U.S. after another man was found in Boston earlier in the week.
    Monkeypox causes flu-like symptoms before the characteristic rash develops.    The virus is spread through close contact with people, animals or material infected with the virus.    It enters the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract, the eyes, nose and mouth.
    “We’ve seen a few cases in Europe over the last five years, just in travelers,” said Dr. Rosamund Lewis, who runs the WHO’s smallpox research.    “This is the first time we’re seeing cases across many countries at the same time in people who have not traveled to the endemic regions in Africa.”
    The outbreak has quickly advanced across Europe and North America over the last week and is expected to be far more widespread as more doctors look for the signs and symptoms. The CDC has put medical professionals on alert and is warning those with higher risk factors, particularly men who have sex with other men, to be vigilant.
    “Many diseases can be spread through sexual contact.    You could get a cough or a cold through sexual contact,” said WHO advisor Andy Seale.    “It doesn’t mean that it’s a sexually transmitted disease.”
    Seale’s agreed many of the people infected in the current outbreak identify as gay or bisexual, but “this is a virus that could affect anyone.”    Monkeypox is taking over the global conversation and has left many questioning the validity of the virus’s actual threat.
    PCR tests are used to identify the infection.

5/25/2022 Californians could see mandatory water cuts by Kathleen Ronayne, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Water drips from a faucet near boat docks sitting on dry land at the
Browns Ravine Cove area of Folsom Lake in Folsom, Calif. Josh Edelson/AP
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California Gov. Gavin Newsom threatened Monday to impose mandatory water restrictions if residents don’t use less on their own as a drought drags on and the hotter summer months approach.
    Newsom raised that possibility in a meeting with representatives from major water agencies, including those that supply Los Angeles, San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area, his office said in a press release.    The Democratic governor has avoided issuing sweeping, mandatory cuts in water use and instead favored an approach that gives local water agencies power to set rules for water use.
    January through March typically is when most of California’s annual rain and snow falls, but this year those months were the driest in at least a century.    Despite calls for conservation, the state’s water use went up dramatically in March – 19% compared to the same month in 2020 – and now Newsom is considering changing his approach.
    'Every water agency across the state needs to take more aggressive actions to communicate about the drought emergency and implement conservation measures,' Newsom said in a statement.
    California is in its third year of drought and virtually all areas of the state are classified as either in severe or extreme drought.
    Newsom last summer called on Californians to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15% by doing things like taking five-minute showers and avoiding baths, only running the washing machine and dishwasher with full loads and limiting water use for cleaning outdoor areas.    But residents have fallen far short of the goal.
    How soon Newsom could impose mandatory restrictions if conservation doesn’t improve wasn’t clear.    He plans to meet with the water agencies again in two months, his office said.    Spokesperson Erin Mellon said the administration would reassess conservation progress in just 'a few weeks.'    She didn’t offer a metric the administration would use to measure.
    Newsom has already moved to force more conservation from local water districts.    He directed the State Water Resources Control Board to consider a ban on watering of decorative turf, such as grass in office parks, and to force local agencies to step up their conservation efforts.
    After the last drought, the state started requiring cities and other water districts to submit drought response plans that detail six levels of conservation based on how much water is available.    Newsom has asked the board to require those districts move into 'Level 2' of their plans, which assumes a 20% water shortage.
    Each district can set its own rules for 'Level 2,' and they often include things like further limiting water use for outdoor purposes and paying people to install more efficient appliances or landscaping that needs less water.    They must include a communication plan to urge local residents to use less water.
    Last week while touring a water recycling plant in Los Angeles County, Newsom spoke about the need to better communicate the need for water conservation with the state’s 39 million people.    He’s included $100 million in his budget for drought messaging.

5/25/2022 Hurricane season expected to be heavy by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
A satellite image shows Hurricane Helene churning over the Atlantic Ocean in 2006. The National
Hurricane Center ran out of names for Atlantic storms in the past two years. HO, AFP/Getty Images
    Federal forecasters expect yet another busy Atlantic hurricane season in 2022: As many as 10 hurricanes could form, meteorologists said Tuesday.
    The season begins June1 and runs through Nov.30.    An average season typically spawns seven hurricanes and peaks in August and September.    If predictions hold true, it will be a record seventh consecutive year of above-normal activity.
    'It’s really a strange thing that we’ve had six consecutive seasons be so active,' University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said.
    Overall, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said 14 to 21 named storms will develop.    These numbers includes tropical storms, which contain wind speeds of 39 mph or higher.    Storms become hurricanes when winds reach 74 mph.
    Of the predicted hurricanes, three to six could be major hurricanes, packing wind speeds of 111 mph or higher.
    The National Hurricane Center ran out of names for Atlantic storms in the past two years; there were a record-setting 30 named storms in 2020 and 21 last year.    In the past five years there have been more Category 4 and 5 hurricane landfalls in the United States than in the previous 50 years combined.
    The predicted active season is a result of several climate factors, including the ongoing La Niña that is likely to persist throughout the hurricane season, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds and an enhanced west African monsoon.
    El Niño, a natural warming of ocean water in the tropical Pacific Ocean, tends to suppress Atlantic hurricane activity.    Its opposite, La Niña, a cooling of that same water, usually boosts the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic.
    Forecasts include storms that spin up in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.
    Forecasters also released their prediction for the eastern Pacific basin, where 10 to 17 named storms are forecast.    An average season produces 15 named storms.
Contributing: Associated Press

5/25/2022 Report: EU sees steep rise in pesticides by Samuel Petrequin, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    BRUSSELS – The contamination of fruits and vegetables produced in the European Union by the most toxic pesticides has substantially increased over the past decade, according to new research published Tuesday.
    The study by the Pesticide Action Network Europe group said European citizens have been exposed to a “dramatic rise” in both the frequency and intensity of residues of pesticides.
    The EU has strict rules concerning pesticides and previously said it wants to halve their use by 2030 as part of its goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by mid-century.
    Contrary to data from the EU’s executive branch showing a 12% reduction of the more dangerous pesticides in 2019 compared to 2015-2017, the “Forbidden Fruit” report claims their use actually increased by 8.8%.
    Some of the pesticides have been linked to the risk of developing cancers, heart problems and other serious illnesses.
    “Laws are being ignored and consumers are being exposed to a rising tide of chemical exposure,” researchers said.

5/26/2022 Infrastructure plan: $33M to clean up hundreds of oil wells by Janet McConnaughey, ASSOCIATED PRESS
An abandoned oil drilling project is seen in the Allegheny National Forest. The Interior Department says 20 wells in the
forest are among “high priority” orphan wells that will be cleaned up. ANDREW RUSH/PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE VIA AP FILE
    NEW ORLEANS – About $33 million of the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan recently signed into law by President Joe Biden will go toward cleaning up 277 of an estimated 15,000 abandoned oil and gas wells on federal land, the nation’s interior secretary said Wednesday.
    “Millions of Americans live within one mile of an abandoned oil or gas well,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said, adding during a news conference that the wells pose a danger to people, “particularly in communities of color and rural communities.”
    “With tens of thousands of known orphaned wells across the country there is a significant amount of work to be done,” so the program will provide many jobs that pay well, Haaland said.
    There are an estimated 15,000 abandoned wells on federal land – and states have indicated that they would need more than $8 billion to clean up 130,000 other orphaned wells, said Laura Daniel-Davis, principal deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals.
    Those figures could be low – the Environmental Protection Agency has estimated the national total at 3.2 million.    Daniel-Davis said money to help “nail down” state inventories is included in $1.1 billion announced in January as available to states under the infrastructure law.    “This is the first installment” of $250 million provided through the infrastructure law for cleaning up orphaned wells and well sites on federal public lands, national parks, national wildlife refuges and national forests, Daniel-Davis said.
    The next will probably be announced during the fiscal year which starts Oct. 1, she said.
    Including wells on federal land, the bill will provide $4.7 billion to clean up orphaned oil and gas wells, said Mitch Landrieu, Biden’s infrastructure coordinator.
    “States are now finally counting them,” he said.
    Wells covered by Wednesday’s announcement are considered high-priority because pollution threatens human health and safety, the climate and wildlife.    Several wells, particularly in Pennsylvania and Louisiana, are “near disadvantaged groups,” Daniel-Davis said.
    Some 163 wells are in Louisiana, in five wildlife refuges and the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve’s Barataria unit.    Sixty-eight are in the Darbonne National Wildlife Refuge and 59 in the Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge.
    There are 24 each in Kentucky, in the Daniel Boone National Forest, and in Oklahoma, in the Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge.    Another 20 are in Texas, 18 in the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania and 14 in Bureau of Land Management lands in Utah.    In addition, the government will inventory and assess wells in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Utah.
    Ten wells are in California, three in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio and one in the Gauley River National Recreation Area in West Virginia.
    Contractors will measure methane before and after cleanup, Haaland said.
    Louisiana has about 4,600 orphaned wells, defined in state law as those with owners that have either gone out of business or have ignored state clean-up orders, said Patrick Courreges, spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources.
    He said environmentalists often count those which have been plugged for at least five years as abandoned.    As of last fall, he said, there were 9,352 such wells, owned by 447 companies.
    Louisiana has been plugging 120 to 200 abandoned wells a year for the past five or six years, he said.
[The only problem is the statement “considered high-priority because pollution threatens human health and safety, the climate and wildlife” does not say why unused oil wells are dangerous..]

5/26/2022 1 Dead, At Least 19 Infected In Bronx Legionnaires Outbreak by OAN NEWSROOM
FILE – Nancy Rose, who contracted COVID-19 in 2021 and continues to exhibit long-haul symptoms including brain fog and memory
difficulties, pauses while organizing her desk space, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, in Port Jefferson, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
    New York City’s Health Department confirmed one person has died of Legionnaires Disease and cases are on the rise, including several patients who have been hospitalized.
    “We are saddened to hear about the death of a person who contracted Legionnaires,” Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said.    “Health Department staff are working to ensure that buildings in the cluster area are treated and conditions remediated quickly.”
    According to the CDC, Legionnaires Disease is not spread from person to person, but people can get infected when they breathe in Legionella bacteria.    This bacterium mainly comes from contaminated cooling systems, spas, humidifiers or air conditioning.
    Leaders in the Bronx said they are working to inform as many people as they can about the outbreak.    Authorities have identified several cooling towers in the Highbridge neighborhood of the Bronx, which contain the Legionella bacteria.    The towers have since been disinfected.
    “While most people exposed to the bacteria do not get sick, Legionnaires disease can cause severe illness or be fatal for those at higher risk, including people with pre-existing chronic health issues,” Vasan stated.    “That’s why it’s crucial that you seek health care as soon as you experience flu-like symptoms.”
    The illness has similar symptoms to coronavirus.    Residents are being advised to get tested for COVID and evaluated for the disease.    Health officials have said the disease causes severe illness and can be fatal.
    In the meantime, experts have advised people seek health care immediately if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms.

5/27/2022 Hubble telescope discovered a new galaxy with mysterious surroundings by Joshua Hawkins, BGR
© Provided by BGR
    Most elliptical galaxies can usually be found within galaxy clusters.    However, a new picture of galaxy NGC 474 captured by Hubble shows an interesting image.    Instead of being surrounded by galaxy clusters, NGC 474 is in relatively empty space. Further, the galaxy is surrounded by shells.
    NASA says could be the result of NGC 474 absorbing smaller galaxies.    Many believe this could have happened billions of years ago.    Ultimately, though, nobody is completely sure how these tidal-like shells formed around the galaxy.
    Check out this galaxy surrounded by shells
© Provided by BGRgalaxy surrounded by shells
    NASA’s Hubble space telescope has discovered some fantastic things.    For starters, its nearly 30-years’ worth of observations have taught us a lot about how the universe expanded.    Additionally, the telescope recently captured an image of two galaxies locked in a dance.    Now, though, a new photo gives us a great look at a galaxy surrounded by shells.
    The galaxy in question is NGC 474, and it’s an elliptical galaxy.    Hubble recently captured an image of the galaxy up close, revealing more about its size.    Scientists estimate the galaxy to be 2.5 times larger than our own Milky Way galaxy.    But, as I noted above, this size isn’t the only interesting feature.
    That’s because several layered shells surround the galaxy.    Scientists aren’t exactly sure what caused the shells. However, they believe that it could have been caused by galactic mergers.    Such a merger could possibly have created the different layered shells.    NASA says it would be similar to how a pebble dropped into a pond might create ripples across the water.
    Studying NGC 474
© Provided by BGRup close view of hubble telescope
    As I noted above, NGC 474 is located in mostly empty space.    Overall, it’s roughly 100 million light-years away from the Earth.    It also measures approximately 250,000 light-years across.
    Because of its interesting features, scientists have studied the tidal shells that surround the galaxy.    Multiple studies have come out about how the shells formed, though the general consensus still seems to be that NGC 474 absorbed another galaxy billions of years ago.    What makes this galaxy surrounded by shells even more intriguing, though, is that it’s moving away from the Sun.
    Scientists believe that the galaxy is moving away at a rate of 2412 kilometers a second thanks to dark energy.    As such, it may continue to get further and further away from the Sun.    Astronomers also discovered a supernova within the galaxy.    They named it SN 2017fgc upon its discovery in 2017.

5/27/2022 5 Dead After Pa. House Explosion by OAN NEWSROOM
A person view the aftermath of a deadly explosion in a residential
neighborhood in Pottstown, Pa., Friday, May 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
    Fire crews responded to reports of a home explosion in Pottstown, Pennsylvania on Thursday night.    The explosion, which occurred after 8 p.m. on Hale Street near Butler Avenue.    The blast killed five and injured two others.
    Authorities said the injured individuals are in critical but stable condition.    Witnesses in the area describe hearing an extremely loud sound, which shook the neighborhood.
    “I was crying earlier because I was sad that they died,” said neighbor Shane Rome Lawrence.    “It’s crazy because nothing really happens in Pottstown.”
    Neighbors said they frequently smelled gas in the area.    Officials observed a propane tank on the scene that was not destroyed.    They are working to find out what it was being used for.    Schools in the area have been closed as emergency personnel investigates.
    “Right now we are unable to provide additional information on the victims," said Pottstown Borough Manager Justin Keller.    “The family notification process is ongoing.”
    The Red Cross has offered help at Pottstown High School to residents who are affected by the explosion.

5/28/2022 WHO: Nearly 200 cases of monkeypox by Maria Cheng, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    LONDON – The World Health Organization says nearly 200 cases of monkeypox have been reported in more than 20 countries not usually known to have outbreaks of the unusual disease, but described the epidemic as “containable” and proposed creating a stockpile to equitably share the limited vaccines and drugs available worldwide.
    During a public briefing on Friday, the U.N. health agency said there are still many unanswered questions about what triggered the unprecedented outbreak of monkeypox outside of Africa, but there is no evidence that any genetic changes in the virus are responsible.
    “The first sequencing of the virus shows that the strain is not different from the strains we can find in endemic countries and (this outbreak) is probably due more to a change in human behavior,” said Dr. Sylvie Briand, WHO’s director of pandemic and epidemic diseases.
    Earlier this week, a top adviser to WHO said the outbreak in Europe, U.S., Israel, Australia and beyond was likely linked to sex at two recent raves in Spain and Belgium.    That marks a significant departure from the disease’s typical pattern of spread in central and western Africa, where people are mainly infected by animals like wild rodents and primates, and outbreaks haven’t spilled across borders.
    Although WHO said nearly 200 monkeypox cases have been reported, that seemed a likely undercount.    On Friday, Spanish authorities said the number of cases there had risen to 98, including one woman, whose infection is “directly related” to a chain of transmission that had been previously limited to men, according to officials in the Madrid region.
    U.K. officials added 16 more cases to their monkeypox tally, making Britain’s total 106.    And Portugal said its caseload jumped to 74 cases on Friday.
    Doctors in Britain, Spain, Portugal, Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere have noted that the majority of infections to date have been in gay and bisexual men, or men who have sex with men.    The disease is no more likely to affect people because of their sexual orientation, and scientists warn the virus could infect others if transmission isn’t curbed.
    WHO’s Briand said that based on how past outbreaks of the disease in Africa have evolved, the current situation appeared “containable.”
    Still, she said WHO expected to see more cases reported in the future, noting “we don’t know if we are just seeing the peak of the iceberg, if there are many more cases that are undetected in communities,” she said.
    As countries including Britain, Germany, Canada and the U.S. evaluate how smallpox vaccines might be used to curb the outbreak, WHO said its expert group was assessing the evidence and would provide guidance soon.
    Dr. Rosamund Lewis, head of WHO’s smallpox department, said that “there is no need for mass vaccination,” explaining that monkeypox does not spread easily and typically requires skin-to-skin contact for transmission.    No vaccines have been specifically developed against monkeypox, but WHO estimates that smallpox vaccines are about 85% effective.
The World Health Organization said Friday the monkeypox cases reported in more than 20 countries are places not
usually known to have outbreaks of the unusual disease. CYNTHIA S. GOLDSMITH, RUSSELL REGNER/CDC VIA AP, FILE

5/28/2022 Feds: Prescribed burns initiated massive NM wildfire by Morgan Lee and Cedar Attanacio, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Firefighter Tyler Freeman works to keep a burning log from rolling down a slope as he and his co-workers focused on hot spots
from a wildfire in the Carson National Forest west of Chacon, N.M., Monday. EDDIE MOORE/THE ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL VIA AP
    SANTA FE, N.M. – Two fires that merged to create the largest wildfire in New Mexico history have both been traced to prescribed burns set by U.S. Forest managers as preventative measures, federal investigators announced Friday.     The findings could hold implications for the future use of prescribed fire to limit the buildup of dry vegetation amid a U.S. Forest Service moratorium on the practice.    They also could affect complex deliberations concerning emergency aid and liability for a fire that has spread across 486 square miles and destroyed hundreds of structures.
    The two fires joined in April to form the massive blaze at the southern tip of the Rocky Mountains, in the Sangre de Cristo range.
    One of the fires was previously traced to April 6, when a prescribed burn, set by firefighters to clear out small trees and brush that can fuel wildfires, was declared out of control.
    On Friday, investigators said they had tracked the source of the second fire to the remnants of a prescribed winter fire that lay dormant through several snowstorms only to flare up again last month.
    Investigators said the prescribed “pile burn” was initiated in January at Gallinas Canyon in the Santa Fe National Forest outside Las Vegas, New Mexico, and concluded in the final days of that month.
    Fire was reported again in the same vicinity on April 9 and escaped control 10 days later amid dry, hot and windy conditions, Forest Service investigators found.
    Scientist and forest managers are racing to develop new tools to forecast the behavior of prescribed fires amid climate change and an enduring drought in the American West.    Prescribed fires are aimed at limiting the accumulation of timber and underbrush that, if left unattended, can fuel extremely hot and destructive wildfires.
    Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in a statement called the investigation results a “first step toward the federal government taking full responsibility” for the New Mexico wildfire.    She highlighted her pending request to President Joe Biden to direct the Federal Emergency Management Administration to pay for 100% of costs related to a broad range of recovery efforts.
    Forest Service Chief Randy Moore last week announced a 90-day pause and review of protocols for prescribed fires that limit the buildup of flammable vegetation that can lead to extremely hot and uncontrollable wildfire.    He did not specifically link the review to fires in New Mexico.
    “It will also ensure the prescribed burn program nationwide is anchored in the most contemporary science, policies, practices and decision-making processes, and that employees, partners and communities have the support they need to continue using this critical tool to confront the wildfire crisis,” the agency said in a statement Friday.
    So-called pile burns can often include wildland debris collected over months or even years.    Forest managers cut back trees and gather debris into mounds, preferring to burn forest fuels in the winter when prescribes burns are easier to control.
    In January, Santa Fe National Forest workers started burning through a series of piles across an area of 0.6 square miles, after advising the public of possible smoke hazards.

5/29/2022 Southwest fire warnings issued - Largest active wildfire burning in NM by Paul Davenport, ASSOCIATED PRESS
A sunset is seen through plumes of wildfire smoke in Las Vegas, N.M., on May 7. The largest fire in New Mexico history has burned
491 square miles of forest in rugged terrain east of Santa Fe since being started in April by two planned burns. CEDAR ATTANASIO/AP
    Warnings of critical fire conditions blanketed much of the U.S. Southwest on Saturday, as crews in northern New Mexico worked to stop the growth of the nation’s largest active wildfire.
    The 7-week-old fire, the largest in New Mexico history, has burned 491 square miles of forest in rugged terrain east of Santa Fe since being started in April by two planned burns.
    Crews were patrolling partially burned areas and clearing and cutting containment lines, including primary ones near the fire as bulldozers scraped backup lines farther away.
    The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings of critical fire conditions for parts of Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.
    Those conditions are a combination of strong wind, low relative humidity and dry vegetation.
    The return of drier and warmer weather with stronger winds posed a threat of increased fire activity over the Memorial Day weekend, prompting officials to urge the public to secure vehicle chains and to be careful with possible fire sources.
    “The last thing we need right now is another ignition,” said Jayson Coil, an operations section chief.
    Forecasts called for wind gusts up to 50 mph, with critical fire conditions continuing into Monday, followed by more favorable weather later in the coming week, said Bruno Rodriguez, the fire management team’s meteorologist.
    The strong winds could fan flames and cause the fire to jump containment lines and race forward, said John Chest, a fire operations manager.
    “Imagine traveling in your car and the fire can outpace you.    That’s the kind of extreme fire behavior that we’re talking about,” Chest said.
    Nearly 3,000 firefighters and other personnel were assigned to the fire, which was contained around 48% of its perimeter.
    Initial estimates say the fire has destroyed at least 330 homes but state officials expect the number of homes and other structures that have burned to rise to more than 1,000 as more assessments are done.
    Elsewhere, 150 firefighters battled a wind-driven fire that burned 9 square miles of grass, brush and salt cedar about 14 miles southwest of Parker, Arizona. Winds up to 30 mph forced the California blaze to jump the Colorado River into Arizona on Saturday afternoon.
    The fire forced the evacuation of a recreational vehicle park after starting Thursday and was 44% contained, officials said.
    The cause of the fire was under investigation.

5/29/2022 Dinosaurs' Last Ancient Breaths May Finally Answer a Long-Standing Mystery by Tessa Koumoundouros, Science Alert
    Scientists have found a new way to tell whether dinosaurs were hot- or cold-blooded.
© J. Wiemann Illustration of Plesiosaurus, Stegosaurus, Diplodocus, Allosaurus, and modern hummingbird.
    This question has long eluded paleontologists, leading to many heated debates where they even accused each other of acting more like politicians than scientists.
    Early dinosaur researchers initially assumed these animals were slow, lumbering, and cold-blooded like the modern reptiles they seemed to resemble – their closest reptilian relatives that exist today being crocodilians.
    More recently, however, there have been hints that this is not the case.
    From metabolic clues in eggshells to the warm-blooded trait of being able to withstand frigid polar conditions, there are growing signs that dinosaurs may have been warm-blooded animals.
    Some of them are, after all, direct ancestors of the hot-running birds that have the highest metabolism known today.
    Others argued that maybe dinosaurs were neither ectotherms (cold-blooded) nor endotherms (warm-blooded) and that there could be a third option.    Mesotherms, like today's turtles, do burn internal energy to regulate their body temperature like endotherms, but not to the same level and consistency as mammals and birds do.
    A new method developed by Yale University molecular paleobiologist Jasmina Wiemann now allows researchers to calculate the metabolic rates of dinosaurs using their fossils.
    "Metabolism is how effectively we convert the oxygen that we breathe into chemical energy that fuels our body," explains Wiemann.    That conversion process makes side products that interact with our bodies' proteins, sugars, and lipids to form chemically stable waste.    Animals that are warm-blooded need a higher metabolism to fuel themselves.
    It's hard to rely on previous attempts to get metabolic indicators from the knowledge of what temperatures trace minerals in the bones form at because we don't yet understand how the fossilization process alters these minerals.    But the stability of the breathing waste product allows it to be fossilized reliably.
    Using the femurs of 55 different animals, including dinosaurs, pterosaurs, plesiosaurs, modern birds, mammals, and lizards, the researchers hunted for signs of this telltale molecular waste.
    By comparing the amounts of breathing waste found in the bones across these different still-living species, Wiemann and colleagues were able to work out a scale of waste to metabolic rate.    Then, they used this to calculate the metabolism of the extinct animals.
    "This is really exciting for us as paleontologists – the question of whether dinosaurs were warm- or cold-blooded is one of the oldest questions in paleontology, and now we think we have a consensus, that most dinosaurs were warm-blooded," says Wiemann.
    Some, like the lizard-hipped saurischians – which include Triceratops and Stegosaurus – had metabolic rates similar to the cold-blooded reptiles we know today. But many of the other groups ran hot.
    Even pterosaurs were warm-blooded, suggesting that endothermy was present in their ornithodiran ancestors before pterosaurs split from their dinosaur relatives.    It seems birds' high endothermy is a very ancient trait.
    These results rule out the hypothesis that birds and mammals possibly survived the late cretaceous mass extinction event due to their warm-blooded nature.    Many of their contemporary dinosaurs who were wiped out also shared this trait.
    "Having a high metabolic rate has generally been suggested as one of the key advantages when it comes to surviving mass extinctions and successfully radiating afterwards," says Wiemann.
    "We are living in the sixth mass extinction, so it is important for us to understand how modern and extinct animals physiologically responded to previous climate change and environmental perturbations, so that the past can inform biodiversity conservation in the present and inform our future actions."     Their research was published in Nature.

5/30/2022 Agatha heads for Mexican towns - Hurricane expected to strike tourist beaches by ASSOCIATED PRESS
This satellite image shows Hurricane Agatha, center, off the Pacific coast of Mexico on Sunday at 11:20 a.m. EDT.
In early evening Sunday, the recently formed hurricane had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph. NOAA VIA AP
    MEXICO CITY – The first hurricane of the season formed off Mexico’s southern Pacific coast Sunday and rapidly gained power ahead of an expected strike along a stretch of tourist beaches and fishing towns as a major storm.
    Agatha could make landfall as a Category 3 hurricane Monday afternoon or evening in the area near Puerto Escondido and Puerto Angel in the southern state of Oaxaca – a region that includes the laid-back tourist resorts of Huatulco, Mazunte and Zipolite.
    In early evening Sunday, the recently formed hurricane had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph – just 1 mph under the threshold for a Category 3, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.    It was centered about 160 miles southwest of Puerto Angel and heading to the northeast at 5 mph.
    The center said Agatha could have winds of 120 mph when it makes landfall.
    A hurricane warning was in effect between the port of Salina Cruz and the Lagunas de Chacahua.
    The civil defense office in Oaxaca said the hurricane’s outer bands were already hitting the coast.    The office published photos of fishermen hauling their boats up on beaches to protect them from the storm.
    Municipal authorities in Huatulco ordered “the absolute closure” of all the resort’s beaches and its famous “seven bays,” many of which are reachable only by boat.    They also closed local schools and began setting up emergency storm shelters.
    To the east in Zipolite, long known for its clothing-optional beach and bohemian vibe, personnel at the small Casa Kalmar hotel gathered up outdoor furniture and put-up wooden storm shutters to prevent strong winds from blowing out glass windows and doors.
    “The biggest worry here is the wind,” hotel manager Silvia Ranfagni said.
    With only one guest – and plenty of cancellations due to the hurricane – Ranfagni planned to ride out Agatha at the property, which is three or four blocks from the beach.
    “I’m going to shut myself in here with my animals,” she said, referring to her dog and cats.    The government’s Mexican Turtle Center – a former slaughterhouse turned conservation center in Mazunte – announced it was closed to visitors until further notice because of the hurricane.
    The U.S. National Hurricane Center warned of dangerous coastal flooding as well as large and destructive waves near where Agatha makes landfall.
    The storm was expected to drop 10 to 16 inches of rain on parts of Oaxaca state, with isolated maximums of 20 inches, posing the threat of flash floods and mudslides.
    Because the storm’s current path would carry it over the narrow waist of Mexico’s isthmus, the hurricane center said there was a chance the storm’s remnants could reemerge over the Gulf of Mexico.
    In northern Guatemala, a woman and her six children died Saturday when a landslide hit their home, but the accident did not appear to be related to Agatha.

5/30/2022 Gavin Newsom Tests Positive For COVID-19 by OAN NEWSROOM
FILE – Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary, California Health and Human Services, left, inoculates
California Gov. Gavin Newsom with the new one-dose Janssen COVID-19 vaccine by Johnson & Johnson at the
Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles, Thursday, April 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
    California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) tested positive for COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated.    Newsom was diagnosed a day after he met with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden.    Arden tested positive for COVID in May.    The governor’s office said her delegation has been notified.
    His office released a statement on Saturday, after Newsom exhibited mild symptoms.    They stated that he received Pfizer’s Paxlovoid pill.    It is not known how he contracted the virus, after he obtained his second booster shot.
    “The governor received a prescription for the antiviral that has been proven effective against COVID-19,” they said.    “He will begin his 5-day regimen immediately.”
    Last September, 2 of Newsom’s 4 children tested positive for COVID-19.    Both the governor, his wife and their 2 other children tested negative for the virus at the time.
    Other public officials recently tested positive for the virus, including Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) on Wednesday and Vice President Kamala Harris in April.
    The governor will be working remotely until June 2 and until he tests negative.

5/31/2022 Pacific’s 1st hurricane lashes Mexico’s coast by ASSOCIATED PRESS
Hurricane Agatha will be the strongest hurricane on record to make landfall in May in the eastern Pacific,
said Jeff Masters, meteorologist with Yale Climate Connections and the founder of Weather Underground. NOAA via AP
    MEXICO CITY – Bands of rain and gusty winds lashed Mexico’s southern Pacific coast Monday as the first hurricane of the eastern Pacific season advanced slowly toward a stretch of tourist beaches and fishing towns.
    Ominous gray skies and blowing sand cleared beaches in the popular destinations of Puerto Escondido, Puerto Angel and Huatulco.
    Near Puerto Angel, gusts of wind, heavy rain and big waves began lashing the beach town of Zipolite, long known for its clothing-optional beach and bohemian vibe.
    'There is a lot of rain and sudden gusts of strong wind,' said Silvia Ranfagni, the manager of Zipolite’s Casa Kalmar hotel.    'The ocean is really stirred up, and it’s raining a lot,' said Ranfagni, who has decided to ride out Agatha at the property.
    National emergency officials said they had assembled a task force of more than 9,300 people for the area and more than 200 shelters were opened as forecasters warned of dangerous storm surge and flooding from heavy rains.
    After forming on Sunday, Agatha quickly gained power, and it was predicted to make landfall as a strong Category 2 hurricane Monday afternoon or evening, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
    Agatha will be the strongest hurricane on record to make landfall in May in the eastern Pacific, said Jeff Masters, meteorologist with Yale Climate Connections and the founder of Weather Underground.
    He said the region’s hurricanes typically get their start from tropical waves coming off the coast of Africa.
    'Since the African monsoon typically does not start producing tropical waves until early-or mid-May, there simply aren’t enough initial disturbances to get many eastern Pacific hurricanes in May,' Masters wrote in an email.    'In addition, May water temperatures are cooler than they are at the peak of the season, and wind shear is typically higher.'
    Late Monday morning, Agatha accelerated slightly, as it moved toward the area near Puerto Escondido and Puerto Angel in the southern state of Oaxaca.    The region includes the laid-back tourist resorts of Huatulco, Mazunte and Zipolite.

5/31/2022 WHO: Monkeypox won’t be pandemic by Maria Cheng, ASSOCIATED PRESS
The WHO’s Dr. Rosamund Lewis said there are still unknowns about monkeypox,
    LONDON – The World Health Organization’s top monkeypox expert said she doesn’t expect the hundreds of cases reported to date to turn into another pandemic, but acknowledged there are still many unknowns about the disease, including how exactly it’s spreading and whether the suspension of mass smallpox immunization decades ago may somehow be speeding its transmission.
    In a public session on Monday, the WHO’s Dr. Rosamund Lewis said it was critical to emphasize that the vast majority of cases being seen in dozens of countries globally are in gay or bisexual men who have sex with men, so that scientists can further study the issue and for those at risk to be careful.
    “It’s very important to describe this because it appears to be an increase in a mode of transmission that may have been under-recognized in the past,” said Lewis, the WHO’s technical lead on monkeypox.
    “At the moment, we are not concerned about a global pandemic,” she said.    “We are concerned that individuals may acquire this infection through high-risk exposure if they don’t have the information they need to protect themselves.”
    She warned that anyone is at potential risk of the disease, regardless of their sexual orientation.    Other experts have pointed out that it may be accidental that the disease was first picked up in gay and bisexual men, saying it could quickly spill over into other groups if it is not curbed.    To date, the WHO said 23 countries that haven’t previously had monkeypox have now reported more than 250 cases.
    Lewis said it’s unknown whether monkeypox is being transmitted by sex or just the close contact between people engaging in sexual activity and described the threat to the general population as “low.”    Monkeypox is known to spread when there is close physical contact with an infected person or such a person’s clothing or bed sheets.
    She also warned that among the current cases, there is a higher proportion of people with fewer lesions that are more concentrated in the genital region and sometimes nearly impossible to see.
    Last week, a top adviser to the WHO said the outbreak in Europe, U.S., Israel, Australia and beyond was likely linked to sex at two recent raves in Spain and Belgium.    That marks a significant departure from the disease’s typical pattern of spread in central and western Africa, where people are mainly infected by animals like wild rodents and primates, and epidemics haven’t crossed borders.
    Most monkeypox patients experience only fever, body aches, chills and fatigue.    People with more serious illness may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.    No deaths have been reported in the current outbreak beyond Africa.
    The WHO’s Lewis also said that while previous cases of monkeypox in central and western Africa have been relatively contained, it was not clear if people could spread monkeypox without symptoms or if the disease might be airborne, like measles or COVID-19.

5/31/2022 Monkeypox kills 9 in Congo; first death of year recorded in Nigeria by Chinedu Asadu and Jean-Yves Kamale, ASSOCIATED PRESS
The WHO’s Dr. Rosamund Lewis said there are still unknowns about monkeypox. CYNTHIA S. GOLDSMITH, RUSSELL REGNER/CDC VIA AP FILE
    ABUJA, Nigeria – Nine people have died of monkeypox in Congo in 2022 while Nigeria has recorded its first death from the disease this year, the countries’ health authorities said, even as at least 20 countries continue to grapple with sudden outbreaks not seen in years.
    Dr. Aime Alongo, chief of the Sankuru health division in Congo, said Monday that 465 cases of the disease have been confirmed in the nation, making it one of the worst-hit in West and Central Africa, where the disease is endemic.
    The persistence of the disease in Congo is due to the consumption of dead monkeys and rodents, Dr. Alongo said.
    “The residents enter the forest, pick up the corpses of monkeys, bats and rodents which are the reservoirs of monkeypox,” the official added, urging those with monkeypox symptoms to visit a health center to isolate themselves.
    Nigeria, meanwhile, recorded its first death from monkeypox this year in a patient with underlying medical conditions, the diseases control agency said Sunday.
    The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention announced that in 2022 it has confirmed 21 out of 66 suspected cases of the disease, which is usually endemic in Nigeria and other parts of West and Central Africa.
    “The death was reported in a 40-year-old patient who had underlying co-morbidity and was on immunosuppressive medications,” the Nigeria CDC said.
    Nigeria has not had an outbreak of monkeypox since September 2017 but it continues to report sporadic cases.    At least 247 have been confirmed in 22 of its 36 states since then with 3.6% fatality rate, the disease control agency said.
    A spike in monkeypox cases reported in Europe and the U.S. has generated concerns among those countries, many of whom have not recorded a single case of the disease in years.
    Over 250 cases of the disease have been reported in more than 20 countries not usually known to have outbreaks, the World Health Organization said.
    Monkeypox has not previously triggered widespread outbreaks beyond Africa, where it is endemic.

5/31/2022 Regulators tie hepatitis cases to strawberries by Dee-Ann Durbin, ASSOCIATED PRESS
U.S. and Canadian regulators are investigating a hepatitis A outbreak that may be linked to fresh organic strawberries. AP FILE
    U.S. and Canadian regulators are investigating a hepatitis outbreak that may be linked to fresh organic strawberries.
    In a joint weekend statement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Public Health Agency of Canada said illnesses in Minnesota, California and Canada occurred after people consumed FreshKampo and H-E-B brand strawberries.
    The agencies said the strawberries were purchased between March 5 and April 25.
    They were sold at various U.S. retailers, including Aldi, Kroger, Safeway, Walmart and Trader Joe’s.    In Canada, the affected strawberries were sold between March 5-9 at Co-op stores in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
    The potentially affected strawberries are past their shelf life, but health officials say consumers who purchased them and froze them to eat later should throw them away.
    There have been 17 illnesses and 12 hospitalizations reported in the U.S., the FDA said.    Ten cases and four hospitalizations have been reported in Canada.
    Mexico-based FreshKampo, which grew the strawberries, said in a statement Sunday that it is working with regulators to determine how the problem occurred.    FreshKampo said the label on the containers of potentially affected strawberries would have said “Product of Mexico” or “Distributed by Meridien Foods.”
    In a statement on its website, Texas grocer H-E-B said it has not received or sold organic strawberries from the supplier in question since April 16.
    H-E-B said anyone who still has the strawberries should throw them away or return them to the store where they were purchased.
    Hepatitis A is a virus that can cause liver disease and, in rare cases, liver failure and death.    Illness usually occurs within 15 to 50 days after eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
    Symptoms include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and jaundice.
    Consumers who ate the potentially affected berries in the last two weeks and have not been vaccinated against hepatitis A should immediately consult with a physician, the FDA said.

© Provided by Associated Press Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray, left, and
Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie, speak during a hearing of the
House Intelligence, Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee hearing on
"Unidentified Aerial Phenomena," on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
5/31/2022 Have we already been visited by aliens? US Congress discusses UFO evidence by – The Daily Digest
©Provided by The Daily Digest
A triangular object that flashes and disappears
    One of the images that Scott W. Bray showed and that was captured by a night vision camera of the US Naval Air Systems Command was that of a triangular object that flies over the sky of the United States and stops for a moment.    The object, as explained by Bray, did not appear to have any propulsion system, and eventually flashed and then disappeared.    Image: Naval Air System Command.
[These people in Congress are so dumb if they think that one image is a total UFO, the image above is one of the 3 lights on the bottom of the triangular UFO seen in the images below .].
    This image above has been seen by many persons since 1961 and myself also in my backyard when I was 10 years old and the triangular above is the same one here on a triangular device and the image to the right even has a light in the center also but very dim, but you can clearly see the triangle of lights.
    This tells you that these Democrat controlled Congress hearings are just another entity covering up the truth.

5/31/2022 NASA Officially Joining The Hunt For UFOs? by James Brizuela – Giant Freakin
© Provided by Giant Freakin
    The world is certainly changing, and the biggest change comes in the form of Congress realizing that UFOs are now real.    A historic meeting of Congress was held recently where it had been stated that UFOs, now known as UAPs (unidentified aerial phenomenon), are officially recognized by the U.S. Government.    This could be due to the countless videos that have been shared online by higher-ranking military officials who have all but stated what they saw was a UAP.    Now it appears as if NASA will help find UFOs.
    The highest-ranking space exploration government agency should have been the first on the job, but NASA finding UFOs along with the U.S. Government is also a huge step in the right direction.    This means that science is collectively backing the idea that we might not be the only intelligent life in the ever-expanding universe.    A spokesperson for NASA commented on this partnership.    According to the spokesperson, “[NASA is] evaluating how to provide our expertise in space-based Earth observations to improve understanding of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs).”    There has been a growing interest in this subject, and it has been covered by news outlets across the world.    Below is a video of three occasions in which military personnel witnessed a UAP:
    NASA helping to find UFOs is huge, but the government agency has also denied that they are setting up their own facility to study UAPs.    When it comes to keeping secrets about aliens and UFOs, there is always something outright denying their existence.    So naturally, denying an office to study UAPs exists might be what they have been told to say.    However, with Congress taking on an active approach to this subject, there are likely fewer people denying the existence of otherworldly life.    The meeting that took place at Congress was also the first of its kind in over 50 years.    As they say, “the truth is out there.”
    There have been many documentaries about UFOs, and the idea of alien abductions has been a running joke for decades on end.    However, this is the first time that UAPs are being recognized and admitted by higher-ranking officials in the government.    NASA will now hunt UFOs as well.    Hunt might be a bit of an exaggerated term, but they are certainly going to help in studying these events.    That should say something regarding the seriousness that is now being attached to the subject of studying these unexplained aircraft.
    A Navy official also stated earlier this month that there are now over 400 UAP sightings.    These have all likely been captured by military personnel of all kinds. This is likely why the idea of these aircraft is now being taken seriously.    NASA tracking UFOs will be a joint effort between itself and The Department of Defense UAP task force.    Congress has tasked this agency with determining the threats that these aircraft could potentially pose.
    NASA and UFOs should have been synonymous from the beginning.    However, it has taken a long time for the government to take these sightings seriously. UFO sightings have long been joked about for decades, but now with current technology, no one can deny the eerie aerial phenomenon that is constantly being captured.

6/1/2022 Hurricane Agatha kills 10, leaves 20 missing in south Mexico by José María Álvarez, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    SAN ISIDRO DEL PALMAR, Mexico – Hurricane Agatha caused flooding and mudslides that killed at least 10 people and left 20 missing, the governor of the southern state of Oaxaca said Tuesday.
    Gov. Alejando Murat said rivers overflowed their banks and swept away people in homes, while other victims were buried under mud and rocks.
    “There were fundamentally two reasons” for the deaths, Murat told local media.
    “There were rivers that overflowed, and on the other hand, and the most serious part, were landslides.”
    Murat said the deaths appeared to be concentrated in a number of small towns in the mountains, just inland from the coast. But he said there were also reports of three children missing near the resort of Huatulco.
    Agatha made history as the strongest hurricane ever recorded to come ashore in May during the eastern Pacific hurricane season.
    It made landfall Monday afternoon on a sparsely populated stretch of small beach towns and fishing villages in Oaxaca.
    It was a strong Category 2 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph, but it quickly lost power moving inland over the mountainous interior.    Remnants of Agatha were moving northeast Tuesday into Veracruz state.
    Murat said power had been restored to some communities near the coast, but that some bridges had been washed out and mudslides blocked a number of highways.
    San Isidro del Palmar, only a couple miles inland from the coast, was swamped by the Tonameca river that flows through town.
    Residents waded through neck-deep water to salvage what items they could from their homes, walking gingerly with piles of clothing atop their heads and religious figures in their arms.
    Argeo Aquino, who has lived in the town his whole life, said he could recall only two other occasions when he saw such flooding.
    “The houses are totally flooded, so they are getting everything out,” Aquino said Monday.    “There are stores, houses.    More than anything else, we have to try to save all the good material, because everything else is going to be washed away.”
    The Tonameca’s brown waters reached the windows of parked cars and the minibuses used for local transportation.
    Nearby, heavy rain and high winds lashed the beach town of Zipolite, known for its clothing-optional beach and bohemian vibe.    The wind howled for about six hours on Monday, said Silvia Ranfagni, manager of the Casa Kalmar hotel in Zipolite.
    “The sound of the wind was really loud, high-pitched,” said Ranfagni.    “It started at 1 p.m. when the telephone coverage went out and it didn’t calm down until 7:30.    A lot of trees were down, roads washed out.    A lot of metal and thatched roofs were blown off.”

6/2/2022 CDC Probes 10 Possible US Monkeypox Cases This Week by OAN NEWSROOM
This 1997 image provided by the CDC during an investigation into an outbreak of monkeypox, which took place in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (DRC), formerly Zaire, and depicts the dorsal surfaces of the hands of a monkeypox case patient,
who was displaying the appearance of the characteristic rash during its recuperative stage. (CDC via AP)
    The CDC is investigating a suspected case of monkeypox in Georgia along with two new cases in New York City.    On Wednesday, the Georgia Department of Health said it’s looking into the Peach State’s first possible case of monkeypox in a man with a history of international travel.
    In addition to that case, the New York Health Department reported two more people tested positive for the virus. New York City confirmed it’s first case of monkeypox last month.    According to officials, the patient was quarantined as they conducted an investigation.
    Earlier this week, the CDC had reported 10 cases of monkeypox across the US.    The World Health Organization warned the ongoing spread of monkeypox could go undetected for weeks as it reported more than 550 cases worldwide.
    Monkeypox causes flu-like symptoms before the characteristic rash develops.    The virus is spread through close contact with people, animals or material infected with the virus.    It enters the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract, the eyes, nose and mouth.
    “We’ve seen a few cases in Europe over the last five years, just in travelers,” said Dr. Rosamund Lewis, who runs the WHO’s smallpox research.    “This is the first time we’re seeing cases across many countries at the same time in people who have not traveled to the endemic regions in Africa.”
    The outbreak quickly advanced across Europe and North America.    It’s expected to be far more widespread as more doctors look for the signs and symptoms.    The CDC has put medical professionals on alert and is warning those with higher risk factors, particularly men who have sex with other men, to be vigilant.
    “Many diseases can be spread through sexual contact,” said WHO advisor Andy Seale.    “You could get a cough or a cold through sexual contact.    It doesn’t mean that it’s a sexually transmitted disease.”
    Seale’s agreed many of the people infected in the current outbreak identify as gay or bisexual, but asserted “this is a virus that could affect anyone.”    Monkeypox is taking over the global conversation and has left many questioning the validity of the virus’s actual threat.    PCR tests are used to identify the infection.

6/4/2022 Ancient City Unearthed in Iraq After Extreme Drought Dries up Tigris River, Archeologists Say by Abigail Adams - People
© Provided by People
    Archeologists say a 3,400-year-old city was uncovered in Iraq after extreme drought conditions led to decreased water levels along the Tigris River.
    German and Kurdish archeologists recently scoured the site at Kemune in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq after it appeared in the waters of the Mosul reservoir early in 2022, according to a press release shared Monday by Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen in Germany.
    The Bronze Age city — which "could be" the ancient city of Zakhiku, per the release — surfaced earlier this year after "large amounts of water" were drawn from the reservoir "to prevent crops from drying out," beginning in December 2021.
    Due to "the unforeseen event" archaeologists were "under sudden pressure to excavate and document" what they could of the ruins "as quickly as possible before it was resubmerged," the release stated — and what they found was magnificent.
© Provided by People Universities of Freiburg and Tübingen, KAO
    Archeologists uncovered various major sites during excavations between January and February, including "a massive fortification with [a] wall and towers, a monumental, multi-story storage building and an industrial complex," the university said in its release.
    The lost city, which is believed to have existed from 1550 to 1350 B.C., previously served as an "extensive urban complex" within the Mittani Empire.
    Also among the group's interesting findings were five ceramic vessels with "an archive of over 100 cuneiform tablets," experts said.    Some of the clay tablets were said to still be sealed into their clay envelopes.
    "It is close to a miracle that cuneiform tablets made of unfired clay survived so many decades under water," said Dr. Peter Pfälzner, a professor at University of Tübingen.
© Provided by People Universities of Freiburg and Tübingen, KAO
    Pfälzner and fellow German archaeologist Dr. Ivana Puljiz, a junior professor at University of Freiburg, linked up with Dr. Hasan Ahmed Qasim, chairman of the Kurdistan Archaeology Organization, to complete the project alongside the Directorate of Antiquities and Heritage in Duhok of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq.
    "The huge magazine building is of particular importance because enormous quantities of goods must have been stored in it, probably brought from all over the region," Puljiz said in Monday's release.
    Additionally, researchers said they were "stunned" to learn of "the well-preserved state of the walls," which occasionally reached "a height of several meters" despite being submerged under water "for more than 40 years."
    "This good preservation is due to the fact that the city was destroyed in an earthquake around 1350 BC, during which the collapsing upper parts of the walls buried the buildings," the university added.
© Provided by People Universities of Freiburg and Tübingen, KAO
    Now, the ancient city is "completely submerged" underwater once again.    Before the water levels rose, the German and Kurdish research team "completely covered" the excavated buildings "with tight-fitting plastic sheeting" and gravel fill to prevent water from causing additional damage to the site, they said.
    The work was done "as part of an extensive conservation project funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation," per Monday's release.
© Provided by People Universities of Freiburg and Tübingen, KAO
    Researchers are looking forward to learning more from the artifacts they uncovered, especially the clay tablets, which they hope "will provide important information about the end of the Mittani-period city and the beginning of Assyrian rule in the region."
    Until recently, the city was "submerged decades ago without any prior archaeological investigations," according to the university.
    However, this isn't the first time German and Kurdish archaeologists have worked on the site.    In 2018, researchers conducted a similar campaign in which "several other large buildings were uncovered," as well as a palace.

6/5/2022 See how many UFO sightings have occurred in Tennessee by Stacker – Knoxville WVLT-TV
© Provided by Knoxville WVLT-TV
    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - UFO sightings date back to biblical times.
    In the Bible’s Book of Ezekiel, a mysterious ship is described as appearing from the sky in Chaldea (modern-day Kuwait).    Strange sightings were recorded around Rome in 218 B.C.    A wave of mysterious apparitions showed up in fourth-century China when a “moon boat” was documented floating over the country once every 12 years.    A smattering of other, unfamiliar objects in the sky were noted in Germany in 1561, Hull, England, in 1801, and multiple times during World War II when Allied pilots used the term “foo fighters” to describe the odd circles of light pilots noticed flanking their planes during combat.
    The term “UFO,” short for “unidentified flying object,” was coined in 1953 by the United States Air Force as a bucket term for unexplained sightings like these.    Stateside sightings were hardly restricted to military flyover zones, however.    The first recorded UFO sighting dates to 1639 when, long before the era of planes and satellites, John Winthrop wrote in his diary about a large, strange light in the sky that shot back and forth.    By the time he and the other men on his boat got their wits about them, their vessel was a mile from where it had been when they first spotted the light.
    Since its founding in 1974, the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) has documented around 90,000 UFO sightings, with almost 95% of those sightings supposedly easily explained away as military tests, weather balloons, or other terrestrial activity.    Using data from NUFORC’s 24/7 hotline, which has been around since 1974, Stacker compiled a ranking of the states with the most reported UFO sightings.    NUFORC’s dataset includes reports dating back to 1400.
    For each state, we’ve also included details of famous UFO sightings in that state. Of note is that almost three-quarters of all UFO sighting reports in the United States occur between 4 p.m. and midnight, and tend to peak between 9 and 10 p.m.    Food for thought next time you’re out scoping for alien life.    Keep reading to see how many UFO sightings your state has had.
Tennessee by the numbers
- UFO sightings: 1,556
    Five separate witnesses from the Tennessee towns of Knoxville, Cleveland, Kingston, Coalfield, and Murfreesboro made a report on March 29, 2019, to the National UFO Reporting Center.    Reports claimed a fireball and various lights passed over the sky over the course of about 10 seconds.    In 2018, Tennessee was ranked among the top six states for UFO sightings in “UFO Cases of Interest: 2018 Edition.”
    The first documented image of a UFO was captured in 1870 on the summit of Mount Washington in New Hampshire.    More sightings were reported at Mount Rainier in Washington in 1947, and of course several in Roswell, New Mexico.    Since then, countless numbers of unusual shapes in the sky—and their supposed inhabitants—have been exhaustively reported without sufficient explanations beyond the possible existence of extraterrestrial life.
    Related video: Video of possible UFO sightings shown to Congress importantly, the video was taken through night vision goggles.
    Video of possible UFO sightings shown to Congress
    A surge in eyewitness accounts begot even more sightings along with attempts to protect against invasions and abductions.    More than 40,000 Americans bought into alien protection insurance, which offers customers monetary relief should a loved one get carted away by little green men.    One Roper Poll in 1991 suggests that around 4 million Americans believe they’ve been abducted by aliens.
    The longstanding, official position of the U.S. government has been that claims of alien life stem from hoaxes or mistaking other objects like weather balloons for UFOs or alien life.    A highly anticipated U.S. intelligence report on UFOs, due to Congress on June 25, is unlikely to change that position: Leaks ahead of its release suggest the official ruling will be that no evidence of alien life has been found—but conveniently can’t be ruled out.
    Keep reading to find out which states have had the most and fewest UFO sightings.
States with the most UFO sightings
#1. California: 10,333 sightings
#2. Florida: 5,826 sightings
#3. Washington: 4,351 sightings
States with the fewest UFO sightings
#1. Washington, D.C.: 87 sightings
#2. North Dakota: 192 sightings
#3. Wyoming: 266 sightings
    Copyright 2022 WVLT. All rights reserved.

6/5/2022 Carbon dioxide levels in air spike past milestone - Experts: Numbers show severe climate change by Seth Borenstein, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has shot past a key milestone – more than 50% higher than pre-industrial times – and is at levels not seen since millions of years ago when Earth was a hothouse ocean-inundated planet, federal scientists announced Friday.
    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said its long-time monitoring station at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, averaged 421 parts per million of carbon dioxide for the month of May, which is when the crucial greenhouse gas hits its yearly high.    Before the industrial revolution in the late 19th century carbon dioxide levels were at 280 parts per million, scientists said, so humans have significantly changed the atmosphere.    Some activists and scientists want a level of 350 parts per million.    Industrial carbon dioxide emissions come from the burning of coal, oil and gas.
    Levels of the gas continue to rise, when they need to be falling, scientists say.    This year’s carbon dioxide level is nearly 1.9 ppm more than a year ago, a slightly bigger jump than from May 2020 to May 2021.
    'The world is trying to reduce emissions, and you just don’t see it.    In other words, if you’re measuring the atmosphere, you’re not seeing anything happening right now in terms of change,' said NOAA climate scientist Pieter Tans, who tracks global greenhouse gas emissions for the agency.
    Outside scientists said the numbers show a severe climate change problem.
    'Watching these incremental but persistent increases in CO2 year-to-year is much like watching a train barrel down the track towards you in slow motion.    It’s terrifying,' said University of Wisconsin-Madison climate scientist Andrea Dutton.    'If we stay on the track with a plan to jump out of the way at the last minute, we may die of heat stroke out on the tracks before it even gets to us.'
    University of Illinois climate scientist Donald Wuebbles said without cuts in carbon pollution 'we will see ever more damaging levels of climate change, more heat waves, more flooding, more droughts, more large storms and higher sea levels.'
    The slowdown from the pandemic did cut global carbon emissions in 2020, but they rebounded.    Both changes were small compared to how much carbon dioxide is pumped into the atmosphere each year, especially since carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere hundreds to a thousand years, Tans said.
    The world puts about 10billion metric tons of carbon in the air each year, much of it gets drawn down by oceans and plants.
    NOAA said carbon dioxide levels are now about the same as 4.1million to 4.5 million years ago in the Pliocene era, when temperatures were 7 degrees hotter and sea levels were 16 to 82 feet higher than now. South Florida, for example, was completely under water.

6/5/2022 Heavy rains, flooding hit Florida - Storms leave vehicles stranded in Miami by Brendan Farrington, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Parts of South Florida were experiencing road flooding from heavy rain and wind Saturday as a storm system that battered Mexico moved across the state.
    Officials in Miami warned drivers about road conditions as many cars were stuck on flooded streets.
    “This is a dangerous and life-threatening situation.    Traveling during these conditions is not recommended.    It’s better to wait.    Turn around, don’t drown,” the city of Miami tweeted.
    The city was towing stranded vehicles from flooder roadways.
    Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said the storm tested the system of drainage pumps the city has recently installed as climate change has increasingly made flooding an issue in the low-lying area.
    “We moved the water off pretty quickly, but in some areas, obviously, it was really challenging,” Gelber said.    “There were some problems getting through on some streets, one of the main arteries was unpassable, but by and large water is dissipating.”
    The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm once known as Agatha in the Pacific Ocean will be known as Alex in the Atlantic Ocean basin, if it reaches tropical storm status.
    As of 8 p.m. Saturday, the storm was centered about 105 miles northeast of Fort Pierce, Fla.    It was moving northeast at 18 mph.    A tropical storm warning that had been in effect for the state’s east coast was discontinued.    A tropical storm warning remained in effect for the northwestern Bahamas.    A tropical storm watch was in effect for Bermuda.    Maximum sustained winds were clocked near 40 mph with higher gusts.
    The storm was expected to reach tropical storm strength off Florida’s eastern coast Saturday night and strengthen through Monday as it moves away from Florida and into the Atlantic Ocean.
    In Cuba, the storm killed three people, damaged dozens of homes in Havana and cut off electricity in some areas, according to authorities.    Heavy rainfall continued Saturday, but was diminishing as the weather system moved away from the island.
    Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said most government services, such as bus routes and trains, planned to operate as normal over the weekend.    Canal levels in South Florida have been lowered to minimize flooding from heavy rains.     The Atlantic hurricane season officially began Tuesday. This is an unusually early start to the storm season but not unprecedented for Florida.
    The National Hurricane Center predicts that rainfall up to 10 inches is possible in South Florida, including the Florida Keys.    The storm is not expected to produce huge winds or major storm surge.    But local flooding is likely.
Mileidy Erazo, 6, holds her dog Canelo as he swims in floodwater near her apartment
in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami on Saturday. DANIEL A. VARELA/MIAMI HERALD VIA AP

Rainfall from Tropical Storm Alex covers the floor of the Raw Juce store, one of the businesses
flooded Saturday in the Brickell area near downtown Miami. PEDRO PORTAL/MIAMI HERALD VIA AP

6/6/2022 Breast cancer drug could extend life by Carla K. Johnson ASSOCIATED PRESS
About half of late-stage breast cancer patients may be eligible for Enhertu. DAIICHI SANKYO/ASTRAZENECA VIA AP
    For the first time, a drug targeting a protein that drives breast cancer growth has been shown to work against tumors with very low levels of the protein.
    It’s not a cure. But this latest gain for targeted cancer therapy could open new treatment possibilities to thousands of patients with advanced breast cancer.
    Until now, breast cancers have been categorized as either HER2-positive – the cancer cells have more of the protein than normal – or HER2-negative.    Doctors reporting the advance Sunday said it will make “HER2-low” a new category for guiding breast cancer treatment.
    About half of patients with late-stage breast cancer formerly categorized as HER2-negative may actually be HER2low and eligible for the drug.
    The drug is Enhertu, an antibodychemotherapy combo given by IV.    It finds and blocks the HER2 protein on cancer cells, while also unloading a powerful cancer-killing chemical inside those cells.    It belongs to a relatively new class of drugs called antibody-drug conjugates.
    The drug was already approved for HER2-positive breast cancer, and in April the Food and Drug Administration granted it breakthrough status for this new group of patients.
    In the new study, the drug lengthened the time patients lived without their cancer progressing and improved survival compared with patients given standard chemotherapy.
    The study compared Enhertu to standard chemo in about 500 patients with HER2-low breast cancer that had spread or could not be treated with surgery.    The drug stopped the progress of cancer for about 10 months compared with about 5 1 /2 months in the group getting regular care.    The drug improved survival by about six months (from 17.5 months to 23.9 months).
    “It’s a practice-changing study,” said Dr. Sylvia Adams, who directs breast cancer care at NYU Langone Health.    “It addresses a major unmet need for patients who have metastatic breast cancer.”
    Now, it will be important to define the HER2 gray area to make sure the right patients receive the treatment and then to monitor them closely, experts said.
    The drug, which costs about $14,000 a month, can have severe complications.    Three patients in the study died of a lung disease that’s a known hazard of the drug. Doctors need to make sure patients report breathing problems right away so the drug can be stopped and patients treated with steroids.
    The findings were featured Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago and published by the New England Journal of Medicine.
    Patients take the drug until they can no longer tolerate it.
    “A lot of people, including a lot of patients, will not have heard of HER2low breast cancer before,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Shanu Modi of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
    “We finally have a HER2-targeted drug that for the first time can target that low level of HER2 expression,” Modi said.    “This drug actually helps to define HER2-low breast cancer.    It makes it, for the first time, a targetable population.”

6/6/2022 Nasa launching 'priority' mission to investigate strange domes on the moon by Metro Science Reporter - Metro
    Nasa is to launch a ‘priority’ mission to explore mysterious domes on the moon.
© Provided by Metro The Gruithuisen Domes on the lunar surface. (Credits: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State Uni/SWNS)
    The space agency announced a rover will visit the Gruithuisen Domes, a geological feature that has long baffled scientists.
    These domes are suspected to have been formed by a sticky magma rich in silica, similar in composition to granite.
    On Earth, however, formations like these need oceans of liquid water and plate tectonics to form, but without these key ingredients on the moon, lunar scientists have been left to wonder how they formed and evolved over time.
    The Lunar Vulkan Imaging and Spectroscopy Explorer (Lunar-VISE) investigation, slated for 2025, will consist of a suite of five instruments, two of which will be mounted on a stationary lander and three mounted on a mobile rover to be provided as a service by a Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative vendor.
    Over the course of ten Earth days (one lunar day), the Lunar-VISE will explore the summit of one of the Gruithuisen Domes.
    By analyzing the lunar regolith at the top of one of these domes, the data collected and returned by Lunar-VISE’s instruments will help scientists answer fundamental open questions regarding how these formations came to be.
    Announced on June 2, as part of a ‘Priority Artemis Science’ mission, the data also will help inform future robotic and human missions to the moon.
© Provided by Metro Nasa wants to solve the lunar mystery as a
priority (Photo by Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
    Nasa’s Caroline Capone said: ‘We’ve got a lunar mystery on our hands! The Gruithuisen Domes are a geologic enigma.
    ‘Based on early telescopic and spacecraft observations, these domes have long been suspected to be formed by a magma rich in silica, similar in composition to granite.    The real mystery is how such silicic magmas could form on the moon.
    ‘In order to truly understand these puzzling features, we need to visit the domes, explore them from the ground, and analyse rock samples. Luckily, Nasa is planning to do just that!
© Provided by Metro The domes may have been formed by
a magma rich in silica, similar in composition to granite (Credits: Getty)
    ‘Hopefully, in just a couple of years we will better understand this lunar mystery!’
    Adding to the growing list of commercial deliveries slated to explore more of the moon than ever before under Artemis, Nasa has also selected a second investigation: The Lunar Explorer Instrument for space biology Applications (LEIA) science suite is a small CubeSat-based device.
    LEIA will provide biological research on the moon – which cannot be simulated or replicated with high fidelity on the Earth or International Space Station – by delivering the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to the lunar surface and studying its response to radiation and lunar gravity.
    ‘The two selected studies will address important scientific questions related to the moon’ said Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator for exploration in Nasa’s Science Mission Directorate.
© Provided by Metro Apollo 17 Mission Commander Eugene A. Cernan standing near the
lunar rover and a US flag during a spacewalk on the moon in 1972. (Credits: Nasa)
    ‘The first will study geologic processes of early planetary bodies that are preserved on the moon, by investigating a rare form of lunar volcanism.    The second will study the effects of the moon’s low gravity and radiation environment on yeast, a model organism used to understand DNA damage response and repair.’

6/7/2022 UK reports 73 more monkeypox infections by Maria Cheng, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    LONDON – British health officials reported 73 more monkeypox cases on Monday, raising the total to more than 300 across the country.    To date, the U.K. has the biggest identified outbreak of the disease beyond Africa, with the vast majority of infections in gay and bisexual men.
    Health officials warn that anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, is potentially at risk of catching monkeypox if that person is in close contact with a patient or a patient’s clothing or bedsheets.
    On Sunday, the World Health Organization said more than two dozen countries that haven’t previously identified monkeypox cases reported 780 cases, a more than 200% jump in cases since late May. No deaths outside of Africa have been identified.
    The U.N. health agency said most cases in Europe and elsewhere have been spotted in sexual health clinics and “have involved mainly, but not exclusively, men who have sex with men.”
    So far this year, there have been more than 1,400 monkeypox cases and 63 deaths in four countries where the disease is endemic – Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo and Nigeria – according to the Africa Centers for Disease     Control and Prevention. Genetic sequencing of the virus has not yet shown any direct link to the outbreak outside Africa.
    Last month, a leading adviser to WHO said the outbreak in Europe and beyond was likely spread by sex at two recent raves in Spain and Belgium.

6/7/2022 Newest Artificial Intelligence Has Created Its Own Secret Language? by James Brizuela – Giant Freakin Robot
© Provided by Giant Freakin Robot
    Here we are, with another year full of unnecessary artificial intelligence advancements.    Apparently, no one in this field has seen any of The Terminator films at all.    Despite our completely normal fear of a robot takeover, A.I. programs have now been able to create their own language when speaking to one another and projecting images of things they see in the world.    This new language was discovered by scientists in California, as a new A.I. program called DALL-E 2 has been creating images based on text prompts.    You can see this new language below:
    From the above images provided by DALL-E 2, the artificial intelligence program has created a bunch of jumbled text to identify birds, and insects and then blend them together to see birds eating insects.    While this might not sound threatening in any way, it’s also a program that is creating a way to identify real-life objects on its own.    When tasked with showing “two farmers talking about vegetables, with subtitles” the program showed the image with a bunch of nonsensical text.    However, it did identify the vegetables from a previous image that had been presented to the program.
    Related video: How artificial intelligence is taking over our decision-making solely on computer algorithms from Netflix or recommendations to How artificial intelligence is taking over our decision-making

    Scientists are attempting to claim that it’s not a secret language, as in if this artificial intelligence program is going to be able to communicate with other programs.    However, it is starting to develop its own vocabulary to correctly identify images that it had previously been shown.    That might alleviate some of the concern, but if a program can identify threats via its vocabulary, things might get a little scary.    Scientists have already created robots that can lift heavy items, jump high, not be knocked over, and identify people through a thick forest.    Adding a “language” program to that might see these robots identify humans a lot quicker. We know what these scientists are up to.
    What is more interesting about this artificial intelligence program creating its own language or vocabulary, is that the random gibberish text is not all that random. DALL-E 2 had been shown plenty of language data that didn’t just involve English, which made the images that the program identified with the text more accurate.    Based on a word that the program produced, “Apoploe,” was used to create images of birds.    Though this looks to be nonsense, the Latin word “Apodidae” refers to a genus of birds.    So, this program was basically able to easily identify birds in some fashion.    That is astounding when you think about it.
    Though there are concerns that this artificial intelligence can be deemed “unsafe” scientists have assured everyone that DALL-E 2 is being used to test the practicality of learning systems.    Apparently, if a program can be used to identify language parameters, then that learning system might be usable for children or those who are learning a new language, for instance.    This “language” that the program has created is more about producing images from text instead of accurately identifying them every time.    The program cannot say “no” or “I don’t know what you mean” so it produces an image based on the text it is given no matter what.    We still think the robot uprising is going to happen.
    The post Newest Artificial Intelligence Has Created Its Own Secret Language? appeared first on GIANT FREAKIN ROBOT.

6/8/2022 A New Mystery Signal Is Repeating From a Distant Galaxy, And It's a Weird One by Michelle Starr – ScienceAlert
    A newly discovered source of repeating fast radio bursts has deepened the mystery of what, precisely, could be producing these powerful outbursts.
© Pitris/iStock/Getty Images PlusArtist's impression of a highly magnetized neutron star.
    The source, first detected in 2019 and named FRB 190520B, seems to be frequently spitting out millisecond bursts of powerful radio waves.
    This has allowed astronomers to perform analyses that reveal information about where it comes from in the Universe, and the space around it.    Those analyses suggest that there is probably more than one mechanism in the big wide cosmos capable of producing these strange outbursts.
Fast radio bursts (FRBs), as the name suggests, are very fast bursts of radiation (lasting only milliseconds in duration) that flare brightly in radio wavelengths.
    Most of them come from other galaxies (only one source has been detected in the Milky Way), and they're extremely bright, discharging as much energy in an instant as 500 million Suns.
    Most of these outbursts have only been detected once: They come out of nowhere, burst once, then we never see them again.    This makes them largely impossible to predict, and very difficult to trace and study.
    But a few sources (well, three now) have been detected repeating, and they offer a tantalizing opportunity to understand what's going on.    Maybe.
    The FRB detected in the Milky Way came from a type of dead star called a magnetar, which suggests that at least some FRBs are caused by magnetar eruptions.    But there are still a lot of unknowns.
    "Are those that repeat different from those that don't?" says astrophysicist Kshitij Aggarwal from West Virginia University.
    The discovery signal from FRB 190520B arrived at Earth in May of 2019, detected by the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) in China, and found in the data in November of that year.
    Follow-up observations of the location in the sky revealed that the source was repeating.
    More observations were conducted using the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, revealing a fascinating set of characteristics.    The signals were coming from the outskirts of a very old dwarf galaxy, nearly 4 billion light-years away.
    Between radio bursts, the source seems to be beaming out weaker radio emission.    This suggests that the fast radio bursts are coming from a compact persistent radio source, the nature of which is unknown.
    If you're a fast radio burst aficionado, this might sound familiar.    That's because those characteristics are shared with another famous repeating fast radio burst, FRB 121102.
    This was the first FRB ever traced to a source, the outskirts of a very old dwarf galaxy 3 billion light-years away.    And it, too, is associated with a compact persistent radio source.
    "Now we have two like this, and that brings up some important questions," says astronomer Casey Law of Caltech.
    We don't, for example, know whether one-off FRBs are repeating at energies too low for us to detect.    But scientists have thought for some time that there may be at least two different mechanisms for producing the bursts, and the discovery of FRB 190520B is consistent with this idea.
    This could either mean that the different bursts are emitted by different objects, or emitted by the same kind of object in different stages of its evolution.
    Magnetars are a type of neutron star – the collapsed, ultra-dense core of a massive star after it has gone supernova and died – but they also feature an extremely powerful magnetic field. It's possible that normal neutron stars and magnetars emit FRBs in different ways.
    Further analysis suggests that another feature of fast radio bursts may not be as useful for measuring the Universe as astronomers may have thought.
    This feature is called the dispersion measure, and it has to do with how light is scattered by tenuous gas in the space between us and the source.    Higher-frequency waves travel more efficiently than those of lower frequency, and this can be used as a guide to measure distance.
    For FRB 190520B, the dispersion measure suggests that the source is 8 to 9.5 billion light-years away.    Independent measurements of the distance, however, show that the galaxy is not that far.
    "This means that there is a lot of material near the FRB that would confuse any attempt to use it to measure the gas between galaxies," Aggarwal says.    "If that's the case with others, then we can't count on using FRBs as cosmic yardsticks."
    On the other hand, this suggests that the persistent radio source emitting the FRBs resides in a very complex plasma environment, consistent with the characteristics of a recent super-luminous supernova.    This suggests that whatever the source is, it formed very recently – a 'newborn' FRB source.
    "We further postulate that FRB 121102 and FRB 190520B represent the initial stage of an evolving FRB population," says astronomer Di Li of the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in China, who led the research.
    "A coherent picture of the origin and evolution of FRBs is likely to emerge in just a few years."
    The research has been published in Nature.

6/8/2022 New Cancer Drug Could Be Available Within A Year by OAN NEWSROOM
In this photo a health care is pictured in Orange, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
    Cancer researchers have seen substantial progress in their quest to eradicate the disease.    A recent clinical trial consisting of 14 rectal cancer patients found they were in complete remission with zero side effects after taking Dostarlimab.
    In fact, these positive results all occurred without the use of chemotherapy.    While the trial was done on rectal cancer patients, researchers believe it could be a potential treatment for many forms of cancer.
    “When we give immunotherapy, it really just revs up the immune system so that it sees the cancer and gets rid of it, but what’s so remarkable here is that it completely eliminated the cancer,” explained Dr. Andrea Cercek, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.    “The tumors just vanished in all 14 consecutive patients.    Normally when this was used in rectal cancer in patients with advanced disease, that happens in about 10 percent of patients and here it’s 100 percent.”
    Researchers described the results as unprecedented and have said they will have to repeat the trial in a larger capacity before they label the drug as a potential cure.

6/10/2022 Air Force Unveils First F-35 Aggressors Dedicated To Chinese Threats by Jamie Hunter – The Drive
© 57th Wing
    The U.S. Air Force formally re-established the 65th Aggressor Squadron (AGRS) on June 9 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.    The unit will exclusively fly the F-35A Lightning II and dedicate its work to replicating the advanced airpower capabilities that are emerging from China.    The first two aircraft to be assigned to the unit have been revealed in a new bespoke aggressor paint scheme that makes use of existing radar-absorbent coatings.
    “Due to the growing threat posed by PRC [People’s Republic of China] fifth- and sixth-gen fighter development, we must use a portion of our daily fifth-generation aircraft today at Langley, Elmendorf, Hill, Eielson, and now Nellis, to replicate adversary fifth-generation capabilities,” said Air Combat Command commander Gen. Mark Kelly.
    “Precisely because we have this credible threat, when we do replicate a fifth-gen adversary, it has to be done professionally.    That's the aggressors.”
    Lt. Col. Brandon Nauta, 65 AGRS commander, during the unit's activation ceremony at Nellis Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Josey Blades)
    “Nellis has reached a turning point.    We are focusing on the higher-end threats, higher-end missions,” Col. Scott Mills, commander of the 57th Operations Group, exclusively told The War Zone.    “Aggressors themselves represent a huge conglomeration of subject matter experts that focus mostly on Russia and China.    The 65th will focus on China, and we’re talking about doctrine, their training, and their capabilities, so that when [the 65th AGRS is] flying, we are actually modeling the pacing challenge as closely as we can.    Using the F-35 as an aggressor allows pilots to train against low-observable threats similar to what adversaries are developing.”
© Provided by The DriveAir Force Unveils First F-35 Aggressors Dedicated To Chinese Threats
    The 65th AGRS will be equipped with early-production F-35As, the first of which – revealed at Nellis on June 9 in its new aggressor scheme – was initially delivered to the resident 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES) in 2013.
    “There’s been discussion over taking F-35s and putting them into an aggressor unit, but the fact is we have some older [build] Lot F-35s that will never be combat coded – we will take those assets, decrease some of their capability, and make them a perfect representation of Chinese threats,” explained Mills.
    The 65th AGRS will support the USAF Weapons School at Nellis with respect to the fifth-generation adversary training, as well as being a vital new element of the aggressor force assigned to Exercise Red Flag.    "With the cadre of people that we have coming here [to join the 65th AGRS], we have some high-time F-35 pilots who will understand exactly how to perform the aircraft and exactly how to best emulate those threats that are out there,” Mills commented.
A 65th Aggressor Squadron F-15C is chased by an F-22 Raptor in 2010. Jamie Hunter
    The 65th AGRS flew F-15C/Ds from Nellis from 2005 until it was deactivated in 2014 as a result of sequestration budget cuts.    The 64th AGRS has continued to operate F-16s at Nellis, supplemented by contract aggressors from Draken International, which helped to cover a massive shortfall in threat replicating assets at the Nevada base.    However, earlier this year, Air Combat Command (ACC) elected to end Draken’s activities at Nellis.    “We made the decision that we had to focus on that high-end capability,” Col. Mills explains.    “The decision was made to focus on the high-end fight at Nellis; the only aircraft capable of replicating a peer adversary is the F-35.”
    Lt. Gen. David Nahom, the deputy chief of staff for plans and programs, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 17 that contract ADAIR companies are not able to provide a worthwhile aggressor capability for training at Nellis or at the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC) in Alaska, so ACC has instead focused on creating an in-house F-35 aggressor force.    Air Force Magazine reported that Nahom said: “What we’re finding, these contracts aren’t very effective at Nellis at the high-end training environment.    What they provide is not giving us what we need.”
© Provided by The DriveAir Force Unveils First F-35 Aggressors Dedicated To Chinese Threats
    Nellis and Eielson AFB in Alaska are the only two bases in the Air Force to feature in-house aggressor squadrons – both currently with F-16C/Ds.    The reactivation of the 65th AGRS will boost that organic capacity with the addition of F-35s.    Meanwhile, the contract ADAIR will continue to service the USAF Formal Training Units (FTUs), which require a less sophisticated threat.
A Draken International Mirage F1 at Nellis AFB in May. Jamie Hunter
    ACC shortlisted seven companies for a combined total of $6.4 billion of potential contract aggressor support work on October 18, 2019.    At that time, ACC envisioned contracting adversary air work at 12 bases, including 40,000 hours of air-to-air and 10,000 hours of close air support work.    Separate to the Nellis contract, Draken International, Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC), and Tactical Air Support (TacAir) were awarded five-year contracts in July 2020 worth up to $433.6 million to provide 5,418 annual sorties at five FTU bases.
    Draken’s most recent Nellis contract was awarded in 2018 at a value of $280 million, and it ended on June 4, 2022, without an expected one-year extension.    The Weapons School, Red Flag, and the resident flight-test community jointly demand over 9,000 aggressor sorties annually.    The abrupt removal of the capacity provided by the Draken’s Mirage F1s, L-159 Honey Badgers, and A-4 Skyhawks will undoubtedly mean a shortfall in aggressor forces in the immediate future as the 65th AGRS spools up.
One of the 64th Aggressor Squadron's Block 42 F-16Cs, nicknamed Wraith. Jamie Hunter
    This high demand for Red Air at Nellis has been partly accommodated by an increase in the number of F-16s assigned to the 64th AGRS.    It currently operates a mix of old Block 25 and 32 F-16Cs, which have now been supplemented by Block 42 examples that have been reassigned from the recently-deactivated 24th Tactical Air Support Squadron (TASS), which taught Forward Airborne Controller-Airborne (FAC-A) skills at Nellis.    These Block 42 F-16s will likely fall in line with current USAF F-16 upgrade plans, including retrofitting the Northrop Grumman APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, which will help to give the Nellis aggressors a further increase in capability.
    However, the oldest Block 25 F-16s are becoming increasingly difficult to support and will therefore likely be retired soon.
    Inside Nellis Week is coming to The War Zone with unprecedented in-depth features and video reports from across the front line of USAF air combat training and the 57th Wing's varied units and capabilities:
    “The 64th AGRS is still an extremely relevant adversary,” Col. Mills commented.    “Upgrades are in the pipeline to make them the most credible fourth-generation threat we can.”    Further explaining the need to re-establish the 65th AGRS at Nellis, Mills said: “Across the air force today we have F-35 pilots pretending to be red air.    That’s happening at lots of our F-35 bases.    We need a place where F-35 and other fifth-gen pilots can come and train against a fifth-gen adversary.    That adversary knows the exact capabilities, knows exactly how to model these threats, and understands the blue air [friendly forces] gameplan just as well.”
© Provided by The DriveAir Force Unveils First F-35 Aggressors Dedicated To Chinese Threats
An aggressor F-16C takes-off from Nellis AFB. Jamie Hunter
    Col. Mills calls the standup of the 65th AGRS “one of the most critical things to happen to Nellis in a very long time” in terms of the ability to look ahead and meet future threats.    “People coming to Red Flag, or students at the Weapons School, will experience something like they’ve ever seen when it comes to the 65th AGRS,” he said.
© Provided by The DriveAir Force Unveils First F-35 Aggressors Dedicated To Chinese Threats
    For the first time during Red Flag-Nellis 21-3, the 57th Operations Group introduced dedicated F-35 aggressors to expand upon the F-16s assigned to the 64th AGRS. “Working in concert with the 64th AGRS, the F-35 aggressors dismantled significant components of the blue air gameplan and ensured that our combat forces had to work hard for every win,” said Col. Mills.    “One of the visiting commanders immediately called for enhanced academics, because they were losing across the board.    As soon as that learning occurred, we saw the Blue Air tactics and techniques get remarkably better — that’s what we need.”
    The removal of contracted ADAIR at Nellis and the insertion of the F-35 under the 65th AGRS represents a dramatic u-turn in ACC’s approach to the Air Force’s in-house aggressor forces needed for high-end training.    The disbandment of the F-15 aggressors in 2014 was a significant downgrade of the USAF’s professional Red Air offering, which now looks set to be rectified as the first dedicated F-35 aggressors enter the fight.
© Provided by The DriveAir Force Unveils First F-35 Aggressors Dedicated To Chinese Threats
    Contact the editor:

6/10/2022 Scientists discovered a never-before-seen particle and it could be dark matter by Joshua Hawkins - BGR
© Provided by BGR
    Scientists have discovered a new, mysterious particle. Of course, making new discoveries is exciting.    But, perhaps the most exciting thing about this particle is that it could be a candidate for dark matter.
    Incredibly, the never-before-seen particle was discovered using an experiment small enough to fit on a kitchen counter.
This mysterious particle could be a candidate for dark matter
© Provided by BGRa mysterious new particle could help us understand
dark matter which plays a part in neutron stars, galaxies, and our entire universe
    “When my student showed me the data I thought she must be wrong,” Boston College professor and lead researcher Kenneth Burch told Live Science.    “It’s not every day you find a new particle sitting on your tabletop.”
    The mysterious particle is a cousin of the Higgs boson particle, which is responsible for granting other particles their mass.     Scientists named the new particle axial Higgs boson.    We first detected the Higgs boson particle in 2012, using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
    Unlike the Higgs boson particle, which required the massive LHC to discover it, the axial Higgs boson was discovered using a small experiment.    In fact, the experiment was tiny enough to fit on a small kitchen countertop.
    Part of what sets the axial Higgs boson apart from the Higgs boson is its magnetic moment.    This is essentially the ability to create a magnetic field due to a magnetic strength or orientation.
    Additionally, unlike the Higgs boson, the new, mysterious particle arose when quantum materials at room temperature mimicked a very specific set of oscillations.    The researchers were then able to observe the particle using the scattering of light.
    The researchers published a paper on their findings in the journal Nature.    Some of these findings include the fact that the axial Higgs boson features a collective behavior of electrons unlike any state we’ve ever seen before in nature.
The mystery of dark matter
© Provided by BGR85 percent of our universe's mass is made of dark matter, that includes galaxies like this
    As I mentioned above, the discovery of a new particle is exciting.    But the most intriguing thing about this mysterious particle is scientists think it could be a candidate for dark matter.    Dark matter has been one of the longest-running mysteries about our universe, and everything in it.    Scientists believe that dark matter accounts for 85 percent of the total mass of the universe.
    However, we’ve only ever observed dark matter through the use of gravity.    As such, there is little we know about this mysterious element.    Previously physicists had predicted an axial Higgs mode that could explain dark matter.    But this is the first time we’ve observed anything of the sort. And that makes this discovery even more intriguing.
    Of course, proving and explaining dark matter using the mysterious particle isn’t going to be easy.    To fully explain it, we need a theory consistent with existing particle experiments, physicists say.    But that theory also needs to be consistent with explaining the production of new particles that have not yet been seen.
    It’s a slippery slope.    But hopefully, researchers can continue to dig into it, and we’ll learn more about this mysterious particle and the part it plays sometime in the future.

6/11/2022 New Mexico residents sue for information on massive wildfire by ASSOCIATED PRESS
A flare-up near Cleveland, N.M., just down New Mexico State Road 518 from Mora darkens the sky where firefighters
in May were battling the Hermit’s Peak and Calf Canyon fire for weeks. JIM WEBER/SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN VIA AP, FILE
    SANTA FE, N.M. – Dozens of residents in a small New Mexico community impacted by massive wildfires that merged in April are suing the U.S. Forest Service over what they called a failure to provide information about the government’s role in starting the blazes.
    The Forest Service has acknowledged that two prescribed burns it set to clear out brush and small trees that can serve as wildfire fuel sparked two blazes that came together as the largest in New Mexico’s recorded history and the biggest burning in the U.S. right now.
    The wildfire has charred 500 square miles in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range, which sits at the southern edge of the Rocky Mountains. Several hundred homes have been destroyed.
    The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque on behalf of 50 Mora County residents, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
    It asks the court to declare that the Forest Service improperly withheld planning documents for the burns, agreements or contracts with anyone who helped carry out the burns and information on the rules and regulations that govern the prescribed burns.
    Without the information, the lawsuit alleges, the residents “cannot determine the Forest Service’s responsibility – other than media accounts – for starting the fire.”
    The Forest Service told the Santa Fe New Mexican that it does not comment on pending litigation.
    The agency has said unexpected, erratic winds during one prescribed burn carried embers outside the targeted area.    The other wildfire emerged from a burn set on a pile of dead vegetation in January that smoldered for weeks, even under snow.
    The agency has put a hold on prescribed burns nationwide pending its own investigation.
    President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit New Mexico on Saturday for a briefing about the wildfires and recovery efforts.
    Another wildfire in southwestern New Mexico has burned 466 square miles, prompting New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to declare an emergency for Sierra County on Friday.
    The declaration came as the fire grew to become the second largest wildfire in state history.    The governor’s office said it’s now burning beyond the boundaries of the Gila National Forest, affecting communities and requiring evacuations.
    In northern New Mexico, Mora County residents said they requested documents from the Forest Service on May 4 about the fire in northern New Mexico, but that the agency failed to respond within 20 working days as required under the law.    The lawsuit also seeks attorneys’ fees.    Herman Lujan, 80, his brother and nephew are among the Mora County residents who are suing.
    Lujan’s home was spared, but he said he has 30 hungry cattle that he might have to sell because they can’t graze in a burned pasture his family has used for generations.
    “Everything burned,” he said.    “Timber, everything.    I even had an old dozer up there to make ponds for the cows, and everything burned.”

6/11/2022 Battling the blaze - Massive tundra wildfire in southwest Alaska threatens Native villages by Mark Thiessen, ASSOCIATE PRESSS
The east side of a wildfire is seen near St. Mary’s, Alaska, on Thursday. The largest documented wildfire ever burning
through tundra in southwest Alaska is consuming dry grass, alder and willow bushes as gusts of up to 30 mph are
pushing the fire in the general direction of the villages of St. Mary’s and Pitkas Point. BLM ALASKA FIRE SERVICE VIA AP
    ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The largest documented wildfire burning through tundra in southwest Alaska was within miles of two Alaska Native villages, prompting officials Friday to urge residents to prepare for possible evacuation.
    This came a day after dozens of elders and residents with health concerns voluntarily evacuated because of smoke from the nearby fire.
    Officials on Friday put the communities of St. Mary’s and Pitkas Point into “ready” status, meaning residents should gather important items they would want to have with them if they have to evacuate, said U.S. Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service spokesperson Beth Ipsen by text.    That would be followed by “set,” or getting a go-bag ready and leaving if the “go” order is given.
    The fire is consuming dry grass, alder and willow bushes on the largely treeless tundra as gusts of up to 30 mph are pushing the fire in the general direction of St. Mary’s and Pitkas Point, Yup’ik subsistence communities with a combined population of about 700 people and about 10 miles apart.
    There are about 65 firefighters battling the blaze, with about 40 more expected later Friday, Ipsen earlier said by phone.
    The fire had not grown much since Thursday and was still estimated at 78 squares miles.    The northerly winds pushed the fire to within 5 miles of St. Mary’s, officials said in a late Friday update.
    Ipsen said she was not aware of any structures that have been lost.
    Crews cleared brush and other fuel from a swath of land in the path of the flames, and air tankers dropped retardant between the line and St. Mary’s as another buffer.
    Other aircraft had been dropping water on the fire until another fire broke out north of a nearby community, Mountain Village.
    Climate change has played a role in this historic fire, said Rick Thoman, a climate specialist with the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ International Arctic Research Center.
    He said based on records from the Alaska Fire Service dating back to the 1940s, this is the largest documented wildfire in the lower Yukon River valley.    There are much bigger fires recorded just 50 or 60 miles north of St. Mary’s, but those burned in boreal forests.
    The area where the tundra fire is burning, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, lost its snowpack early this year, leaving grass and other vegetation longer to dry out.
    Coupled with the warmest period on record in the region recently, it provided for the perfect storm for this fire that was started by lightning on May 31.
    “Climate change didn’t cause the thunderstorm that sparked that fire, but it increased the likelihood that the ambient conditions would be receptive,” he said.
    The southwest Alaska hub community of Bethel, about 100 miles southeast of St. Mary’s, is the closest long-term weather station.
    For the period covering the last week of May and the first week of June, Bethel had its warmest temperatures on record this year, 9 degrees above its normal 48 degrees, Thoman said.
    About 80 village elders and others with health concerns were relocated to the Alaska National Guard Armory in Bethel on Thursday, said Jeremy Zidek, spokesperson for the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
    Two companies that provide commuter air service in roadless western Alaska flew the passengers to Bethel.    One of those was Yute Commuter Services, which provided 12 flights out of St. Mary’s on its planes that seat six, said Andrew Flagg, the company’s station manager in Bethel.
    On Friday, he said they were asked to deliver drinking water to the community so it could be given to the firefighters.
    St. Mary’s and Pitkas Point, which is at the confluence of the Andreafsky and Yukon rivers, are located about 450 miles west of Anchorage.

6/11/2022 Bird flu arrives in Southwest after millions of birds die
    PHOENIX – Arizona officials have confirmed the first cases in the Southwest of a bird flu that has led to the deaths of 37 million birds from commercial farms in the central and eastern U.S.    The disease was spotted after tests by federal wildlife officials in three wild cormorants that had been found dead in a park in the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, Arizona Game and Fish officials announced this week.    The disease has not yet been found in any domestic birds or in commercial operations, the agency said.

6/11/2022 Astronomers caught a potent radio burst blasting at us from a dwarf galaxy 3 billion light-years away by Eva Botkin-Kowacki – Popular Science
    Emanating from deep in space, massive explosions show up in astronomers’ data as a quick surge of radio waves.    Fast radio bursts (FRBs), as they’re called, can carry as much energy in a single pulse as our sun emits in 100 years.    But, because the bursts often last just a few thousandths of a second, radio astronomers typically have insufficient context to make sense of these dramatic cosmic events or determine where exactly the flashes originated.    As such, FRBs have been one of astronomy’s great mysteries.
© Deposit Photos The world's largest radio telescope, FAST, while under construction. The giant observatory sensed a repeating FRB.
    Scientists don’t know a lot about what causes these violent eruptions of radio waves.    Some theorists posit that the explosions emanate from the collision of extremely dense objects like black holes or neutron stars.    Others suggest FRBs come from the collapse of distant stars.
    Now, astronomers are accruing the evidence they need to put the pieces of the FRB puzzle together–a newly spotted burst has two key attributes that might help astronomers take a more sustained look at these enigmatic explosions.
    The latest FRB detection comes from the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) in Guizhou, China.    But this explosion was more than just one flash in astronomers’ data. It repeats at regular intervals, so researchers were able to locate it in follow-up observations at telescopes around the world.    Described in a paper published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, FRB 20190520B is also associated with a persistent source of radio emissions between those bursts.    The source sits at the edge of a dwarf galaxy roughly 3 billion light-years from Earth.
    To make sense of FRBs, researchers have been searching for events like this one—that repeat.    “The key question for everybody is its origin story,” says study author Di Li, the chief scientist of the FAST telescope who leads the radio division of the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.    “We really want to know what kind of astronomical object or what kind of physics may produce such a bright thing.”
    The vast majority of FRBs that astronomers have detected since they were first discovered in 2007 have been distinct, individual events.    Of more than 500 bursts that have been spotted, only about 5 percent repeat.
    The majority that don’t repeat pose an added challenge for follow-up study.    “Although they are very bright, they are a one-off event,” Li says.    “By the time you dig it out of the data, it could be the next day or even the next month.    And then you just cannot go back…you cannot catch this cosmic explosion in the act.”
    A single-time event is intriguing.    But repetition is where researchers begin to puzzle out patterns for a deeper understanding of phenomena.
    That’s why the latest FSB discovery offers a chance for researchers to put together the pieces of this bursting puzzle.    This is only the second time that a repeating FSB has been detected with a persistent source of weaker radio waves between the pulses, following one that was initially spotted in 2012.    Other repeaters have been detected since then, but no others have been associated with a persistent radio source, which offers astronomers more texture to study.
    “The first only poses more questions.    It’s the second, and third, and fourth that help us get the answers to that question,” says Navin Sridhar, an astrophysics PhD candidate at Columbia University who studies FRBs and conducts simulations to determine the physics of such phenomena.    He was not involved in the new study.    “These are an extremely new class of events, and every single additional source and data point is just golden.”
    Scientists are trying to sort out what engine drives these violent explosions–and just how many different things might cause FRBs.    Part of that endeavor is identifying where in the cosmos the bursts originate, but researchers are also grouping the phenomena into different classes.    Right now, they’re largely separated into repeaters and non-repeaters. The association of the persistent radio emission adds another wrinkle.
[Related: Astronomers spot repeating radio burst patterns from deep space]
    With this new detection, “we can say confidently that [the FRB discovered in 2012] is not an outlier,” Sridhar says.    But the parallel FRBs might represent an entire, distinct category of explosions.    “So we cannot really put all FRBs into one basket and say, ‘Okay, all FRBs behave this way.’ This indicates the birth of a new class of FRBs.”
    Perhaps there might be another explanation, Li suggests. These two repeaters might be younger FRBs, he says. The idea centers around what you would expect to see right after an explosion. The debris doesn’t immediately dissipate. It takes a little while for that material to expand out into the cosmos. If astronomers spot the bursts early on, that denser cloud of ejecta could be the source of those persistent radio emissions. That would also explain why it’s so active, Li says.     Although the new FRB detection has key similarities to the first repeating FRB detected in 2012, it is not precisely the same, Sridhar says.    Furthermore, he says, that theory about these bursts being particularly young relies on assumptions about what is driving them.    If a magnetar (a neutron star with an extremely strong magnetic field) is responsible, he says, that would make sense.    But if the source was, say, a class of blackhole binaries that accrete matter from nearby stars, it could also reveal this radio signature–and it would get stronger over time.
    “We really need to know what the environment of a FRB is in order to pin down the engine that is powering it,” Sridhar says.
    After all, explosions of radio waves aren’t rare.    Scientists have calculated that hundreds of FRBs occur every day in the universe that are detectable on Earth.    But researchers are only just beginning to scratch the surface in understanding this enigmatic phenomenon.    And FRBs aren’t the only cosmic mystery.
    “We live in this very dynamic universe,” Li says.    “We keep finding these weird, sometimes hard to understand, mysterious things.    There are way more things in the universe that are unknown than what has already been known.”

6/11/2022 Ancient Swiss Army knife indicates how early humans communicated – study by JERUSALEM POST STAFF
© (photo credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY)
    Australian archaeologists have found that a newly found tool, dubbed the "stone Swiss Army knife of prehistory," was made the same way in great numbers across long distances and several distinctly different areas in southern Africa. This shows early humans were sharing information and communicating with one another.
    The study published in Scientific Reports, found the artefacts produced in enormous numbers across southern Africa roughly 65 thousand years ago were made to a similar shape.
    The team of international scientists, led by University of Sydney archaeologist, Dr Amy Way and Australian Museum, have revealed that early humans across southern Africa made a particular type of stone tool.
    “People have walked out of Africa for hundreds of thousands of years, and we have evidence for early Homo sapiens in Greece and the Levant from around 200 thousand years ago.    But these earlier exits were overprinted by the big exit around 60 thousand years ago, which involved the ancestors of all modern people who live outside of Africa today,” Dr Way, from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sydney and the Australian Museum explained.
    A multi-purpose blade, resembling a Swiss army knife of sorts, that was used as a hunting tool, such as barbs in hand thrown spears and possibly bow and arrows, for cutting wood, plants, bone, skin, feathers and flesh.    This means populations must have been in contact with each other, the researchers said.
© Provided by The Jerusalem Post Ancient Swiss Army knife indicates how early humans communicated - study
    “Why was this exodus so successful where the earlier excursions were not?    The main theory is that social networks were stronger then.    This analysis shows for the first time that these social connections were in place in southern Africa just before the big exodus,” Dr Way added.
    The main theory is that social networks were stronger then.    This analysis shows for the first time that these social connections were in place in southern Africa just before the big exodus
Dr. Amy Way
    “While the making of the stone tool was not particularly difficult, the hafting of the stone to the handle through the use of glue and adhesives was, which highlights that they were sharing and communicating complex information with each other,” Dr de la Peña, who studies the cultural behaviour of the early Homo sapiens, at Cambridge University said.
    Early humans relied on cooperation and social networking, and this research provides some of the earliest dated observation of this behavior, Chief Scientist at the Australian Museum, Professor Kristofer Helgen explained.
    “Examining why early human populations were successful is critical to understanding our evolutionary path.    This research provides new insights into our understanding of those social networks and how they contributed to the expansion of modern humans across Eurasia,” Professor Helgen said.
    Examining why early human populations were successful is critical to understanding our evolutionary path
Prof. Kristofer Helgen

6/12/2022 Supreme Court climate case could have broad impact by John Fritze, USA TODAY
In one of the most significant climate cases to reach the Supreme Court in years, the justices
will soon decide whether the EPA can regulate carbon emissions from power plants. Matt Brown/AP
    WASHINGTON – Fifteen years ago, a divided Supreme Court ruled the federal government had the power to regulate carbon dioxide from car emissions – a decision hailed by environmentalists as a landmark victory to curb climate change.
    But as the high court prepares to decide another major climate case in the coming days and resolve a controversy over water pollution this fall, the mood among environmental groups is more gloomy – and the sense of foreboding, experts said, is likely justified.
    That’s not only because the Supreme Court is more conservative than it has been in decades – and perhaps more willing to reconsider precedent – but also because environmental rules are caught up in a broader fight over whether federal agencies can regulate businesses without explicit approval from Congress.
    The answer to that question will have sweeping implications for President Joe Biden’s administration beyond the Environmental Protection Agency if Republicans capture control of Congress this year.    Presidents of both parties often turn to agency regulations when they’re unable to move their agenda through Congress – even though those policies frequently run into trouble in court.
    'Environmentalists are holding their breath to see just how bad it will be,' said Robert Percival, director of the environmental law program at the University of Maryland.
    'It seems likely that they’re going to be making major cutbacks in the EPA’s authority.'
    In one of the most significant climate cases to reach the high court in years, the justices will soon decide whether the EPA can regulate carbon emissions from power plants.    Nineteen states, led by West Virginia, challenged climate regulations approved by the Obama administration and later abandoned by President Donald Trump.
    The debate over how much leeway federal agencies have to regulate isn’t limited to the environment.    Recent Supreme Court decisions striking down a nationwide eviction moratorium – a policy crafted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic – and blocking a mandate that employers create vaccine-or-testing programs raised the same issues.
    In the eviction case, the Trump and Biden administrations relied on a 1944 public health law that lets officials 'make and enforce such regulations' as they deem 'necessary to prevent the ... spread of communicable diseases.'    But the law, the court said, doesn’t say anything specifically about halting evictions during a pandemic.
    'It strains credulity to believe' Congress meant to give the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 'the sweeping authority' it used to impose the moratorium; a majority of the court ruled in August.    'We expect Congress to speak clearly when authorizing an agency to exercise powers of ‘vast economic and political significance.’'
    President Barack Obama’s EPA required states to reduce emissions by shifting power plants away from coal.    The Supreme Court blocked enforcement of those rules in 2016 and Trump repealed them a year later, prompting a new round of lawsuits.    Although the court’s three liberal justices signaled support for the EPA during oral arguments in February, the court’s six-member conservative bloc was harder to read.

6/13/2022 A PEEK AT ANCIENT EGYPT’S MOST UNEXPECTED DISCOVERIES by Gur Tirosh, Entertainment - This article was originally published on our sister site Fiveo
    Built around 2550 BC, when Pharaoh Khufu was the Pharaoh of Egypt, the Great Pyramid ranks as the world’s largest and biggest cultural structure.    According to scientific research that has been carried out over the years, it took 20,000 people 20 years to build the Great Pyramid.
    Source: Tumblr
    The feat of building a pyramid as great as this in the manner described above might seem unbelievable.    However, this is because we are considering it from the perspective of a more advanced time.    Building the Pyramid is very possible for ancient Egyptians, only that it will take as long as it did because they were using bricks and woods.

What Led to the Creation Of Wheels?
    It has been said that the first Pyramid in Egypt was built around 4,700 years ago.    This was during the era of the Third Dynasty, and humans haven’t invented the wheel system. The lack of this invention meant that they assembled these pyramids all by themselves.
    Source: Pinterest
    Owing to the fact that the pyramids were made with bulky stones such as granite and limestone, it was impossible to transport them from one place to another using wooden equipment and tools.
Who Constructed the Pyramids?
    The closest scientific predictions of how the Pyramid was built are that ropes and ramps played a significant role in the assemblage of the structures by the Egyptians.    When mathematical principles were devised, it was revealed that Ancient Egyptians would have to lay down a new block every 150 seconds to be able to build the Pyramid in 20 years.
    Source: Tumblr
    It has not been proved how exactly the ancient Egyptians built the enormous pyramids.    Still, scientists believe that the complex task of constructing the pyramids was completed using a technology that is even more advanced than ours.
What the Pyramids Used to Look Like?
    Compared to what they are now, which is a mixture of sand covered in dust, the pyramids used to look way different and even better back in the day.    They used to be shiny under the desert sun as their surface layers were covered with shiny stones and bricks.
    Source: Pinterest
    It is only unfortunate that in 1303 AD, an earthquake happened in Egypt that loosened the shiny stones covering the pyramids.    Seeing this, the ancient Egyptians took off the shiny stones and constructed some other structures with them.
How Many Sides does the Pyramid Have?
    The above question is important because the Great Pyramid is nothing like the usual Pyramid that is known to most people.    A regular pyramid is a geometric structure with four sides; the Great Pyramid is slightly different.    When examined critically, the Great Pyramid has eight sides, and the best way to discover this is by flying over the Pyramid with an airplane.
    Source: Tumblr
    Some archeologists are of the opinion that this Pyramid was built this way to stop the stones from shifting.    Some others argued that the Pyramid had eight sides as a result of erosion on it.    None of these claims have been established with facts, but the wind couldn’t have caused them.
Proof of Advanced Tools
    Scientists have said over the years that the ancient Egyptians had more advanced tools than we do.    A piece of evidence to support this claim was found in Khufu’s Sarcophagus.    Khufu was the mastermind behind the construction of the Pyramid.    Tools that were strong enough to drill holes into granite blocks were discovered in his sarcophagus.
    Source: Pinterest
    It is only logical to conclude that the stone was brought to the place before.    The sarcophagus stood out from other stones inside the Pyramid because it had holes in it that must have been drilled by humans.    Owing to the fact that the stone is granite, the strong stone couldn’t have been drilled by anything other than an advanced tool.
The Maze Under the Pyramid:
    Information about the maze underneath the Pyramid has been made public for years; however, the questions as to how it got there and where it leads remain unanswered.    The labyrinth was made with limestone, and popular archeological materials were found within it. Despite years of research, archaeologists are yet to find the end of the maze.
    Photo by Edwin Remsberg/VWPics/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
Some people have argued that this is not the case, and scientists are only hiding their discoveries from the public. Whether this is true or not, all we know is that the underground maze of the Great Pyramid stretches 55 miles of south Cairo underneath Hawara. A Secret Chamber: Many things had been discovered in the Great pyramids, and the most recent is the secret chamber there. The discovery of this mysterious chamber was only possible with the help of super technological imaging that records fragment particles deep within the rocks. This technology is similar to X-ray imaging, but it is more advanced.
    Source: Pinterest
    The images from these machines were not clear and were of low quality, so scientists are not sure whether it is a single chamber or a lot of series.    It is also uncertain what purpose the chamber is meant to serve and whether there are some things hidden inside it that could affect our perspective on the modern world.
On the Verge of New Discoveries:
    Archeologists have theorized over the years that some type of energy might be emitting from the pyramids, although this remains unfounded by evidence.    After discovering the secret chamber, scientists became somewhat convinced that the Pyramid receives electromagnetic energy from the sun.
    Photo by Patrick CHAPUIS/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images
    Things got more interesting when it was discovered that a lot more energy could be found in the chamber where the remains of Pharaoh Khufu and his wife rested.
Things that were Discovered Inside the Chambers
    A precious statue was found in the chambers of the Pyramid by scientists on August 1st, 2018.    This was during a restoration project, and it marked the most recent discovery made by archeologists in the pyramids.    The statue was found in the Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara, and it was the statue of Osiris, the Egyptian god of the underworld.    This discovery was surprising because of where they were found.
    Source: Pinterest
    The Osiris is a very notable Egyptian god, and one would not expect that its statue will be found between an unknown crack of a wall.    No one could answer the reason why the statue was placed there too.
Mysterious Boxes in the Tunnels
    One of the archeologists involved in the Pyramid research, Brien Forrester, made one of the most startling discoveries inside the tunnels.    He found 20 rock boxes built from Aswan granite.    These boxes were cut with remarkable accuracy, which lends further credibility to claims that the civilization that built the pyramids were far more advanced than we knew.
    Source: Reddit
    What is more interesting is that each of these boxes weighs 100 tons.    Some speculate that the boxes were burial sites for prized animals and livestock, but these claims cannot be proved.    Further speculation persists that the boxes contain some type of energy.    But authorities have solidly debunked the claims.    The purpose of these boxes are a source of mystery and remain open to speculation.
Some Chambers Generate Heat:
    Is this an intentional function of their construction or just an accidental consequence of it?    We are not sure; what we are certain of is that some chambers in the Great Pyramid do generate heat while others remain cool.    Experts offer the opinion that this could be a result of ancient heat generator technology.
    Source: Facebook
    The heating chambers were located at the top of the Pyramid.    Because of this, there is speculation that the heat could result from sun rays on the chambers.    We are unsure which is true as every chamber seems to contain its mystery.    Perhaps the answer is in other chambers.
More Mysteries: Were the Great Pyramids Tombs or Power Plants?
    Popular accounts refer to the Great Pyramids as the resting place of Egyptian Kings and Pharaohs.    Recent discoveries reveal that the Pyramids might be more than the final resting place for the dead.    Some conspiracy theorists assert that ancient Egypt had access to electricity, and the pyramids were giant power plants.
    Photo by Andia/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
    The proof is found in the pyramids themselves.    Some etchings show ancient Egyptians holding torches that appear to be powered by an electric source.    Water flowing through the underground tunnels can also create an electric current.    Additional scientific evidence reveals that the shafts in the pyramids were crafted from slightly radioactive granite; this ionizes the air and creates an environment comparable to a conductive insulating cable.
Built with Air Shafts:
    While still on the subject of incredible discoveries, no one knows why the Great Pyramid is the only Pyramid that is built with airshafts.    These air shafts were designed to align with the stars, which is a whole new mystery.    What is more incredible is how the ancient Egyptians cut such precise shafts without advanced tools? And where did they get the knowledge to place them in alignment with the stars? More mysteries.
Source: Flickr
    In determining the reason for the shaft design, some reference ancient Egyptians’ reverence for the afterlife.    They reason that the star alignment shafts have to do with sending the dead to the afterlife.    More radical conspiracy theorists suppose that the shafts were used to signal aliens.
The Great Pyramid Doors
    If you think you have heard it all, the entrance doors to the pyramids are estimated to weigh an incredible 20 tons, and you could push them open with one shove.    Of course, the mind rebels at the thought of a human being able to open a 20-ton door with only a single push.    But this is a testament to the incredible construction.
    Source: Pinterest
    These doors were constructed with such precise balance that it would be possible for you to open them in one shove.    The doors were first discovered in the 1800s during the Great Pyramid exploration, and it took very little effort to open them.    This begs the question, how did this ancient civilization create such perfectly balanced doors with no advanced technology?
What is in the Big Void?
    Another intriguing discovery made in the Great Pyramid is a mysterious chamber with no apparent use.    This chamber is called the big void.    The chamber is called the big void because it is a large empty room, and it is not connected with any passages inside the Great Pyramid.    This makes you wonder why the big void was built and why it was isolated from other chambers.    Some speculate that it is to keep something in or prevent people from entering.
    Source: Reddit
    Scientists believe the chamber was built as a sort of support to the Pyramid; that is, to relieve some of the weight and prevent the Grand Gallery from closing in.    Tourists can access the Grand Gallery if they hunch down through a long tunnel.    The big void is almost equal to the Grand Gallery and sits directly above the Grand Gallery.
    Lined Up with the Stars:
    Ancient Egyptians spent a lot of time studying the constellations and attempting to read the skies; we see some justification for that here.    It would seem that ancient Egyptians enjoyed aligning their construction with outer space.    The shafts were not the only piece of construction that were aligned with the stars; all three Pyramids of Giza were also aligned with outer space.
    Photo by holgs
    The Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure pyramids perfectly aligned with the famous Orion’s Belt stars.    The pyramids were aligned with Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka.    What makes this discovery puzzling is that the Orion’s Belt wasn’t discovered until 2,000 years after constructing the pyramids.    How did ancient Egyptians manage to accurately measure the placement of stars and build their pyramids to align with these constellations?
Are Pyramids Connected with the Sun?
    There are various speculations as to who built the pyramids and for what reason.    Some believe the pyramids were built by aliens and were supposed to be a beacon to other aliens.    Some also believe that it was built by a more advanced human civilization.    Others subscribe to the notion that the pyramids were used as power plants in ancient Egypt.    If these explanations don’t sound plausible, there’s alternative speculation, which is more interesting.
Source: Channel 4
    Some cultural experts speculate that the pyramids were built to help the dead King ascend to Sun Ra, the God of the Sun.    This explanation clarifies why the pyramids are in perfect alignment with the stars.    And also why tombs are usually filled with objects that could aid the dead King in the afterlife.
Better Precision than the Royal Observatory:
    It is possible that ancient Egyptians were more advanced than we knew.    Do you know how old Egyptians one-upped modern technology in discovering Orion’s Belt 2,000 years earlier?    It has been discovered that the pyramid chambers also point north with much greater precision than the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.
    Photo by Edwin Remsberg/VWPics/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
    The accuracy of this feat is incredible as it points to the use of advanced technology and strategies.    And we are not speaking about pointing towards the random or general direction of North, rather the specific direction towards magnetic North.    The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, founded in 1675, sets the general time to GTC (Greenwich Mean Time or Prime Meridian Time).
    Setting up the Royal Observatory alone took several centuries; what technologies and strategies were ancient Egyptians working with to discover the north centuries earlier and with better precision?
Evidence of Mathematical Constants
    Again, there is enough evidence to prove that ancient Egyptians had foreknowledge of mathematical constants on late modern discoveries.    If you subtract the length of the Great Pyramid from its height, the result you get is 314.16 – 100 times Pi.        If you then add the two sides together in meters, the result also equals 100 times Phi.    This is known as the Golden Number used in architecture, art, and theology.
    Photo by Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
    This discovery is baffling because Pi was not established as a mathematical constant until 1793, centuries after ancient     Egyptians had discovered it. It is important to note that ancient Egyptians used cubits to take measurements, and one cubit is equal to 0.536 meters.    This means the circumference of a circle that has the diameter of a single cubit equals Pi.    This is proof that ancient Egyptians were capable of and already doing complex mathematical calculations before we even conceived them.
Structures Around the Pyramids:
    Necropolis, have you heard of the term before?    Necropolis translates into the City of the Dead; it describes the Pyramid’s immediate surroundings or structures.    Today, the pyramids stand alone in a desert area, but that was not always the case, as would be later discovered.    In their heyday, the pyramids were surrounded by many structures and had people taking care of them.    Even today, and despite being surrounded by the Necropolis, the pyramids are still important town structures.
    Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images
    Other structures surrounding the pyramids included temples for honoring the dead rulers and religious buildings dedicated to relevant gods.    The priests and staff who worked in the temples and looked after the dead kings after death also lived close to the pyramids.    And, of course, the Great Sphinx of Giza was also situated near the pyramids.
Who Built the Great Sphinx?
    Like the mystery surrounding the pyramids, no one knows who constructed the Sphinx and why it was built.    The Sphinx is subject to a lot of speculations, and conspiracy theorists never stop inventing new stories.    Two theories examine the question of who was behind the construction of the Sphinx.    The first theory credits the creation of the Sphinx to Khafre, who also built the second-largest Pyramid.    If this theory is true, then the Sphinx was built around 2500 BCE.
    Photo by Grant Faint
    But some archeologists and scholars determine the Sphinx be of an older time, even older than Khafre himself.    On this basis, the second theory credits the building of the Sphinx to Khufu, who was Khafre’s father and also the mastermind behind the construction of the Great Pyramid.
17 New Pyramids in Giza
    As if the Great Sphinx was not enough, Giza is about to be the site of 17 new pyramids.    Archeologists and scientists, using satellite technology, have uncovered 17 new pyramids around Giza.    The satellite, which was used to detect hidden structures underneath the Earth’s surface, also led to the discovery of over 1,000 burial sites hidden in the earth.

    Photo by DigitalGlobe/Getty Images
    Already, crews are on the ground studying and examining two of the newly unearthed pyramids.    Even though new pyramids are still being discovered and studied, the oldest one remains the Pyramid of Djoser.
The Pyramid of Djoser
    The Pyramid of Djoser is the oldest of all pyramids and is believed to have been constructed in the 27th century BC.    This Pyramid is situated in an enclosed courtyard and is surrounded by numerous ritual embellishments and temples.    Unlike the Great Pyramid, this is covered by burial sites, graves, and temples for honoring the dead.    The body of the Pyramid has also endured a lot of damage as weather conditions have severely corroded it.
    Photo by Stefan Lippmann/Oneworld Picture/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
    The Pyramid of Djoser also features a smaller pyramid structure known as the mudbrick structure.    This feature comprises multiple complexes and is unique as it is not present in the structure of other pyramids.    A similar concept to other pyramids is a burial chamber, but no body was found in the chamber when the Pyramid was discovered.    However, there are indications that the Pyramid may have been King Djoser’s tomb.
A Structure Taller than the Pyramid of Giza
    The Pyramid of Giza was the tallest building in the world for a total of 3,871 years.    A taller structure was not built until the Lincoln Cathedral in London in 1311 — about 4,000 years after.    It is, however, incredible that ancient Egyptians completed the Pyramid of Giza in 20 years, but it took over 200 years for England to finish the construction of the Lincoln Cathedral.
    Photo by English Heritage/Heritage Images/Getty Images
    A look at both structures will convince you that the Pyramid of Giza is still the tallest of the two.    That was because the Cathedral’s central spire collapsed in 1594, and it was never reconstructed after that.    This essentially means the Lincoln Cathedral was the tallest building in the world for a total of 238 years.    Its importance lies not in the record it set but in the one it broke.
The Last Man Standing:
    Of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World, the Great Pyramid is the only one still standing.    The Statue of Zeus was destroyed by an earthquake, the same as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.    The majestic Temple of Artemis was wrecked and sacked by a Christian mob in 401 CE, and the Colossus of Rhodes was torn down in 654 CE.    None of these structures could withstand the full brunt of nature’s wrath like the Great Pyramid and other pyramids.
    Photo by Reza/Getty Images
    The Great Pyramid was built between 2584 – 2561 BCE.    This ancient structure had the same natural enemies that the other 7 Ancient Wonders of the World had.    The only difference is that throughout the centuries, whenever inclement and harsh weather conditions tested it, the Pyramid endured it and came out on top.
On the West Embankment:
Due to certain biases, the ancient Egyptians built their pyramids on the same side of the river Nile — on the west dam.    The pyramids were also all facing the sun as it was believed that the sun was the home of the dead.    An alternative reason for building pyramids on the west dam is due to fear of grave robbers.    Egyptian kings feared being robbed after death, so they took all their wealth to the grave or tomb.
    Photo by Fred Ihrt/LightRocket/Getty Images
    The belief that the pyramids were a safe place to store wealth after death was soon debunked as the wealth only made pyramids a convenient target for grave robbers.    The pyramids were designed so that only those who knew their way around the secret passages could reach the burial chambers.    But this was not enough to deter grave robbers who still managed to navigate their way around the treasure trove.
Little Afterlife Statues:
    Ancient Egyptians had many customs and traditions; perhaps one of the most important is their belief in the afterlife.    This is why they bury their dead with things they believe will be useful to them after death.    These things include gold, jewelry, clothes, and even food.
    Source: Pinterest
    Another thing that Egyptians tried to take to the afterlife were little afterlife statues.    It is believed that these statues will come to life in the afterlife and take care of all the needs of the dead King.    One particular tomb had over 400 of these little statues in it.
A Failed Attempt at Destroying the Pyramids
    In the 12th century, Al-Aziz, a Kurdish ruler, aspired to demolish the legacy of the ancient Egyptians.    Al-Aziz’s reason for wanting to demolish the pyramids was uncertain, but he went along to implement his plan to destroy the giant structures.    He soon found out that any attempt to destroy the pyramids will cost as much as it took to erect them in the first place.    He abandoned his mission not long after.
    Photo by Jason Larkin/Getty Images
    That was not all; before giving up on this dream, Al-Aziz managed to leave his mark on Menkaure’s Pyramid.    He left a large slash on one side of the Pyramid; the slash is still visible today.    That more damage was not done to the pyramids is a testament to the amount of thought and preparation that went into making them sturdy and unyielding.
Aligned With the Stars, Seen From the Moon:
    Scientists estimate that the Pyramids could potentially be seen from the moon due to their reflective surfaces.    The pyramids can also be seen in all their glory by people residing in the hills and mountains of neighboring Israel.
    Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images
    Another name given to the pyramids by the ancient Egyptians is “Ikhet,” which means Glorious Light.    We would probably never know how brightly the pyramids shine because harsh weather conditions have degraded most surfaces.
Temperature Control Inside the Pyramids:
    Do you know that although certain parts of the Pyramid generate heat, the structure itself never goes above a comparatively cold temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit?    Official temperature readings reveal that the most common temperature in a pyramid is 68 degrees Fahrenheit.    How this is possible is not certain, but we know that while the pyramids themselves are a marvel, they house some intriguing mysteries.
    Photo by Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images
    The pyramids also have a ventilation system that is made of airshafts.    In case of heat, these shafts are opened to let in cool air and cause a drop in temperature.    However, what is incredible is that no matter the temperature outside, the temperature inside the Pyramid is always at 68 degrees Fahrenheit.    This marvelous feat of engineering was achieved without advanced technology.
Did Slaves Build the Pyramids?
    Contrary to popular belief, the pyramids were not built with slave labor but by paid workers.    Studies reveal that the pyramids were designed and built by paid workers who spent hours working on the structure.    The pyramids could only have been built by a specialized labor force — people who had studied architecture and building.    These people were paid and appreciated for their skills.
    Photo by A. & E. Frankl/ullstein bild/Getty Images
    In 2010, archeologists discovered the tombs of paid workers as conclusive evidence that those who worked on the pyramids were not slave workers.    These people had their bodies preserved in the sand and were buried with food items explains that they were not poor slaves.
The First Pyramids
    Pyramids are geometrical shapes with four sides and a pointed tip that points towards the sky.    But not all pyramids have four sides or a pointed tip.    The earliest pyramids had flat surfaces and did not resemble typical pyramids with triangular sides.    However, like other Pyramids, they were also used as tombs.
    Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images
    The Pyramid of Djoser is the oldest in Egypt, and it also has a flat top.    Irrespective of the shape, side, or top of the pyramids, they all contained burial chambers.    Flat-top pyramids are known as Mastabas.
The Tombs of the People:
    Mastabas are flat-top pyramids; these pyramids have their burial chambers hidden underground.    It is not Pharaohs or Kings that are buried in these small tombs but their loyal servants.    These servants were not important or wealthy enough to warrant their pyramids, but they were laid to rest in the flat-top Mastabas.
    Photo by Print Collector/Getty Images
    The Egyptian belief influenced this practice in the afterlife.    They believe that their buried subjects will serve and tend them in the next world.    There was also the belief that these souls will guide the soul of the king to the afterlife.
The Brain Behind the First Pyramid
    If you have seen the acclaimed movie “The Mummy,” then you are familiar with Imhotep.    Imhotep was a real-life person; he was the brain behind the construction of the first Pyramid.    He was also Djoser’s chief minister. Imhotep designed and supervised the building of the first Pyramid from the laying of the first block to the finishing of its pointing tip.
    Photo by Photo 12/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
    Imhotep was one of the finest architects of his time.    Due to his achievements and contribution to constructing the first Pyramid, Djoser commissioned a statue to present Imhotep’s name in the King’s court.
The Egyptian Afterlife:
    We have already established the pyramids as the vehicle that guides the king’s and pharaoh’s souls into the afterlife.    The afterlife is one of the most important aspects of Egyptian culture; they believe there is life after death.    And the afterlife is like you returning home after a long journey.
Photo by Historica Graphica Collection/Heritage Images/Getty Images
    The Egyptians also believe that life after death is free from all hardships and suffering of any kind.    When burying their dead, Egyptians bury them with precious items and things they believe will be useful to the dead or missed by the dead.    They do all these to ensure that the dead are comfortable in the afterlife.    This is why Pharaohs take all their wealth with them to the grave.

6/14/2022 Western wildfires force evacuations - Crews from California to NM battling blazes by Felicia Fonseca, ASSOCIATED PRESS
A wildfire burns Monday near Wrightwood, Calif., which has about 4,500 residents and is under an evacuation warning.
Nationally, more than 6,200 firefighters were battling nearly three dozen uncontained fires. RINGO H.W. CHIU/AP
    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Western U.S. on Monday marked another day of hot, dry and windy weather as crews from California to New Mexico battled wildfires that had forced hundreds of people to leave their homes.
    Roughly 2,500 homes have been evacuated because of two wildfires burning on the outskirts of Flagstaff in northern Arizona, officials said at an afternoon briefing.    “We all have felt the pain of watching our beautiful mountain burn.    We acknowledged what an incredibly difficult time this is for those who have been evacuated and for those whose homes have been threatened,” Coconino County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Patrice Horstman said.
    The wildfire prompted the county to declare an emergency.    It’s been fueled by high winds that have grounded aircraft as an option for firefighting.    Crews are planning on being able to use aircraft Tuesday as winds moderate, authorities said.    Current conditions have also kept fire managers from being able to better map it by air but the fire is estimated to be 8 square miles.
    Crews were expecting wind gusts up to 50 mph as they battled the blaze that has burned through parts of the footprint left by another springtime fire that destroyed over two dozen homes as well as parts of other fire scars.
    So far, one home and a secondary structure have been lost in the fire first reported Sunday, Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Bret Axlund said.
    The Arizona Snowbowl ski resort closed as a precaution because of the wildfire – the second to hit this year.
    “It’s literally like déjà vu,” said Coconino County sheriff’s spokesman Jon Paxton.    “We are in the same exact spot doing the same exact thing as we were a month and a half ago. People are tired.”
    Two other smaller wildfires northeast of the blaze were also burning Monday.
    Wildfires broke out early this spring in multiple states in the Western U.S., where climate change and an enduring drought are fanning the frequency and intensity of forest and grassland fires.
    The number of square miles burned so far this year is more than double the 10-year national average, and states like New Mexico already have set records with devastating blazes that destroyed hundreds of homes while causing environmental damage that is expected to affect water supplies.
    Nationally, more than 6,200 wildland firefighters were battling nearly three dozen uncontained fires that had charred over 1 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
    Even in Alaska, forecasters have warned that many southwestern fires have grown exceptionally over the last week, which is unusual for that area.    Southwest Alaska normally experiences shorter periods of high fire danger because intermittent rain can provide relief, but since mid-May the region has been hot and windy, helping to dry out vegetation.
    Favorable weather Monday helped slow the progression of a tundra wildfire just over 3 miles away from an Alaska Native village.    Moderate temperatures and a shift in the wind that had been driving the fire toward St. Mary’s will allow firefighters to directly attack the flames and increase protections for the Yup’ik community.
    The lightning-sparked fire is estimated at about 193 square miles.
    In California, evacuations were ordered for about 300 remote homes near a wildfire that flared up over the weekend in forest land northeast of Los Angeles near the Pacific Crest Trail in the San Gabriel Mountains.
    The blaze saw renewed growth Sunday afternoon and by midday Monday had scorched about 1.5 square miles of pine trees and dry brush, fire spokesperson Dana Dierkes said.
    “The fuel is very dry, so it acts like a ladder, carrying flames from the bottom of the trees to the very top,” Dierkes said.
    Aside from mandatory evacuations for some, the remainder of the mountain town of Wrightwood, with about 4,500 residents, was under an evacuation warning. Several roads also were closed. The fire was 18% contained.
    Five people were rescued from a dangerous area after a wildfire broke out Monday near Dulzura in San Diego County near the Mexican border and spread to nearly 600 acres, authorities said.    Two of those rescued were taken to a hospital but there was no immediate word on how they were injured or their conditions, fire officials said.
    Fire conditions were elevated because of warm and dry weekend weather across Southern California.    Monday was expected to be cooler, but another heat wave was expected at midweek, the National Weather Service said.
    In Northern California, a 50-mile stretch of State Route 70 was closed indefinitely on Monday after mud, boulders and dead trees inundated lanes during flash floods along a wildfire burn scar.
    The causes of the latest California fires were under investigation.
    U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officers cited a 57-year-old camper for lighting toilet paper on fire and placing it under a rock Saturday near the origin of the Arizona wildfire.    The fire was reported a day later.    Court documents show the man told authorities he tried to put the fire out with his sleeping bag, but his attorney said in federal court Monday that doesn’t mean his client was responsible for sparking the blaze.
    Strong winds sent embers across U.S. Route 89, the main route to the turnoff for the Grand Canyon’s east rim entrance, through the Navajo Nation and up into Utah. Many people commute between the reservation and Flagstaff for work.
    Smoke from the fire near Flagstaff caused hazy skies in Colorado on Monday, obscuring views of the Rocky Mountains from Denver and other cities along the state’s Front Range.
    The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings for high fire danger in central and southern parts of Colorado as well as parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
    Winds were expected to ease after Monday, the weather service said.

6/14/2022 Yellowstone floods wipe out roads, bridges - Visitors being forced to evacuate parts of park by ASSOCIATED PRESS
The bridge to Tom Miner Basin off of Highway 89 south of Livingston, Mont., has been washed out as major flooding washed away roads
and set off mudslides in Yellowstone National Park in Montana on Monday. LARRY MAYER/THE BILLINGS GAZETTE VIA AP
    HELENA, Mont. – Massive floodwaters ravaged Yellowstone National Park and nearby communities Monday, washing out roads and bridges, cutting off electricity and forcing visitors to evacuate parts of the iconic park at the height of summer tourist season.
    All entrances to Yellowstone were closed due to the deluge, caused by heavy rains and melting snowpack, while park officials ushered tourists out of the most affected areas.    There were no immediate reports of injuries.
    Some of the worst damage happened in the northern part of the park and Yellowstone’s gateway communities in southern Montana.    National Park Service photos of northern Yellowstone showed a landslide, a bridge washed out over a creek, and roads badly undercut by churning floodwaters of the Gardner and Lamar rivers.
    The flooding cut off road access to Gardiner, Montana, a town of about 900 people near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Gardner rivers, just outside Yellowstone’s North Entrance.
    At a cabin in Gardiner, Parker Manning of Terra Haute, Indiana, got an up-close view of the water rising and the river bank sloughing off in the raging Yellowstone River floodwaters just outside his door.
    “We started seeing entire trees floating down the river, debris,” Manning told The Associated Press.    “Saw one crazy single kayaker coming down through, which was kind of insane.”
    The Yellowstone River at Corwin Springs crested at 13.88 feet Monday, higher than the previous record of 11.5 feet set in 1918, according the National Weather Service.
    Floodwaters inundated a street in Red Lodge, a Montana town of 2,100 that’s a popular jumping-off point for a scenic, winding route into the Yellowstone high country.    Twenty-five miles to the northeast, in Joliet, Kristan Apodaca wiped away tears as she stood across the street from a washed-out bridge, The Billings Gazette reported.
    The log cabin that belonged to her grandmother, who died in March, flooded, as did the park where Apodaca’s husband proposed.
    “I am sixth-generation.    This is our home,” she said.    “That bridge I literally drove yesterday.    My mom drove it at 3 a.m. before it was washed out.”
    Yellowstone officials were evacuating the northern part of the park, where roads may remain impassable for a substantial length of time, park Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a statement.
    But the flooding affected the rest of the park, too, with park officials warning of yet higher flooding and potential problems with water supplies and wastewater systems at developed areas.
    “We will not know timing of the park’s reopening until flood waters subside and we’re able to assess the damage throughout the park,” Sholly said in the statement.
    The park’s gates will be closed at least through Wednesday, officials said.
    The rains hit right as summer tourist season was ramping up.    June, at the onset of an annual wave of over 3 million visitors that doesn’t abate until fall, is one of Yellowstone’s busiest months.
    Remnants of winter – in the form of snow still melting off and rushing off the mountains – made for an especially bad time to get heavy rain.
    Yellowstone got 2.5 inches of rain Saturday, Sunday and into Monday.    The Beartooth Mountains northeast of Yellowstone got as much as 4 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
    “It’s a lot of rain, but the flooding wouldn’t have been anything like this if we didn’t have so much snow,” said Cory Mottice, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Billings, Montana.    “This is flooding that we’ve just never seen in our lifetimes before.”
    The rain will likely abate while cooler temperatures lessen snowmelt in coming days, Mottice said.
    In south-central Montana, flooding on the Stillwater River stranded 68 people at a campground.    Stillwater County Emergency Services agencies and crews with the Stillwater Mine rescued people Monday from the Woodbine Campground by raft.    Some roads in the area are closed due to flooding and residents have been evacuated.
    “We will be assessing the loss of homes and structures when the waters recede,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
    The flooding happened while other parts of the U.S. burned in hot and dry weather. More than 100 million were being warned to stay indoors as a heat wave settles over states stretching through parts of the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes and east to the Carolinas.
    Scientists say climate change is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme events such as storms, droughts, floods and wildfires, though single weather events usually cannot be directly linked to climate change without extensive study.

6/14/2022 UK reports 104 new cases of monkeypox by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    LONDON – British health officials have detected another 104 cases of monkeypox in England in what has become the biggest outbreak beyond Africa of the normally rare disease.
    The U.K.’s Health Security Agency said Monday there were now 470 cases of monkeypox across the country, with the vast majority in gay or bisexual men.    Scientists warn that anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, is susceptible to catching monkeypox if they are in close, physical contact with an infected person or their clothing or bed sheets.
    According to U.K. data, 99% of the cases so far have been in men and most are in London.
    In May, a leading adviser to the World Health Organization said the monkeypox outbreak in Europe and beyond was likely spread by sex at two recent raves in Spain and Belgium.
    Last week, WHO said 1,285 cases of monkeypox had been reported from 28 countries where monkeypox was not known to be endemic.    No deaths have been reported outside of Africa.    After the U.K., the biggest numbers of cases have been reported in Spain, Germany and Canada.

6/14/2022 Why A Google Engineer Is Saying That AI Sytems Are Actually Alive by Joseph Farago – Tell Me Best
    AI is drifting dangerously towards uncanny valley territory.    With more technology advancing to impressive, more autonomous AI, it’s no wonder people are starting to get nervous.    Intelligent technology is now being produced at Google, to the dismay of one of the core engineers.    The engineer was put on leave after breaking confidentiality agreements about a specific chatbot he thought was completely conscious.
© Provided by Tell Me - A Google Engineer Is Saying That AI Sytems Are Actually Alive
    Google is in the middle of developing an AI chatbot system, which is a type of device many companies use that provides real-time help without an actual customer service representative.    Blake Lemoine, an engineer for Google’s Responsible AI organization, looked into the program to see if its LaMDA model outputs hate speech or discriminatory language.    After researching the bot, Lemoine started to worry about its unprecedented sentience.    His discoveries became so concerning that he broke confidential policies to disclose his findings on the Google chatbot.
    Lemoine tested the chatbot by asking it philosophical questions regarding ethics and AI.    The responses were so human-like that Lemoine wrote a report to give to Google executives about his findings.    The report was titled “Is LamDA Sentient?” which contained entire transcripts of Lemoine’s conversations with the chatbot.    One of the critical pieces of evidence Lemoine found was the Google AI arguing that it was sentient due to it having feelings, emotions, and subjective thought.
Google engineer disagrees.    Me Blakely Myon, a senior software
    Unfortunately for Lemoine, his fear and concern regarding AI have gotten him into hot water.    Google believes that his investigation into the chatbot, and his further public release of the transcripts, have broken confidentiality policies agreed upon by Lemoine and the tech company.    Once Lemoine was put on leave, he released the transcript to Medium and allegedly invited a lawyer to help represent the AI system he wanted to interrogate.    Many of the details regarding the case aren’t disclosed, but what’s for sure is that Google wanted Lemoine’s chatbot examination to stop.
    A spokesperson for Google reacted to Lemoine’s statement and denounced that LamDA, the AI system, had any semblance of human-like sentience.    After investigating the chatbot with ethicists and engineers, the spokesperson stated that the “evidence does not support his claims.”    In fact, those studying the technology found much evidence to contract Lemoine’s statement about the AI’s apparent sentience.    The chatbot is designed to answer questions as humanly as possible, so disguising itself as a conscious being means that Google engineers are doing their job.
    The spokesperson continued denouncing Lemoine’s findings by reiterating the LamDA’s conversational function.    The bot is designed to “imitate the types of exchanges” one would have with the customer service rep, made with the ability to riff off of many different subject matters.    As outstanding as the LamDA bot is, its capabilities of handling complex conversations are a testament to its brilliant engineers, not its unproven sentience.    Google believes Lemoine is improperly anthropomorphizing the bot without proving that LamDA has any actual consciousness.    There is a possibility that AI will be sentient in the future, but that indeed hasn’t happened yet.    For now, Google is denouncing Lemaine’s claims with the remaining possibility of him returning to the company.

6/14/2022 ‘Pipeline Fire’ Swells To 20K Acres In Ariz. by OAN NEWSROOM
People evacuate their home as the Pipeline Fire burns in the mountains above Flagstaff, Ariz., Sunday,
June 12, 2022. The fire has forced the evacuation of several hundred homes. (Jake Bacon/Arizona Daily Sun via AP)
    A wind-driven wildfire forces hundreds of evacuations near Flagstaff, Arizona. According to reports Tuesday, the Pipeline Fire sparked Sunday and has scorched 20,000 acres.     Two additional fires, the Haywire Fire and Double Fire, are straining firefighting efforts in the region.    Officials said strong winds are fueling the flames and helping them spread.    Flagstaff declared a state of emergency, activating additional state and federal resources.
    The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office arrested Mathew Riser, a homeless man camping in the area, for violating the forest’s fire ban.    Riser was reportedly burning used toilet paper, but has not yet been charged for directly causing the Pipeline Fire.    He’s due in federal court on Thursday.
    Meanwhile, a Red Cross evacuation center has been established and will be operating out of Singaua Middle School.    Shelter will be provided for residents who have evacuated.    Fire officials are urging citizens to use caution when traveling and to stay up-to-date with developments.

6/15/2022 WHO experts to discuss monkeypox by Jamey Keaten, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    GENEVA – The World Health Organization will convene an emergency committee of experts to determine if the expanding monkeypox outbreak that has mysteriously spread outside Africa should be considered a global health emergency.
    WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Tuesday he decided to convene the emergency committee on June 23 because the virus has shown “unusual” recent behavior by spreading in countries well beyond parts of Africa, where it is endemic.
    “We believe that it needs also some coordinated response because of the geographic spread,” he told reporters.
    Declaring monkeypox to be an international health emergency would give it the same designation as the COVID- 19 pandemic and mean that WHO considers the normally rare disease a continuing threat to countries globally.
    The meeting of outside experts could also help improve understanding and knowledge about the virus, Tedros said, as WHO released new guidelines about vaccinating against monkeypox.

6/15/2022 The James Webb Space Telescope is finally ready to do science – and it’s seeing the universe more clearly than even its own engineers hoped for by Marcia Rieke, Regents Professor of Astronomy, University of Arizona – The Conversation
© NASA/ST ScI via Flickr
    NASA is scheduled to release the first images taken by the James Webb Space Telescope on July 12, 2022.    They’ll mark the beginning of the next era in astronomy as Webb – the largest space telescope ever built – begins collecting scientific data that will help answer questions about the earliest moments of the universe and allow astronomers to study exoplanets in greater detail than ever before.    But it has taken nearly eight months of travel, setup, testing and calibration to make sure this most valuable of telescopes is ready for prime time.    Marcia Rieke, an astronomer at the University of Arizona and the scientist in charge of one of Webb’s four cameras, explains what she and her colleagues have been doing to get this telescope up and running.
1. What’s happened since the telescope launched?
    After the successful launch of the James Webb Space Telescope on Dec. 25, 2021, the team began the long process of moving the telescope into its final orbital position, unfolding the telescope and – as everything cooled – calibrating the cameras and sensors onboard.
    The launch went as smoothly as a rocket launch can go.    One of the first things my colleagues at NASA noticed was that the telescope had more remaining fuel onboard than predicted to make future adjustments to its orbit. This will allow Webb to operate for much longer than the mission’s initial 10-year goal.
    The first task during Webb’s monthlong journey to its final location in orbit was to unfold the telescope.    This went along without any hitches, starting with the white-knuckle deployment of the sun shield that helps cool the telescope, followed by the alignment of the mirrors and the turning on of sensors.
    Once the sun shield was open, our team began monitoring the temperatures of the four cameras and spectrometers onboard, waiting for them to reach temperatures low enough so that we could start testing each of the 17 different modes in which the instruments can operate.
2. What did you test first?
    The cameras on Webb cooled just as the engineers predicted, and the first instrument the team turned on was the Near Infrared Camera – or NIRCam.    NIRCam is designed to study the faint infrared light produced by the oldest stars or galaxies in the universe.    But before it could do that, NIRCam had to help align the 18 individual segments of Webb’s mirror.
    Once NIRCam cooled to minus 280 F, it was cold enough to start detecting light reflecting off of Webb’s mirror segments and produce the telescope’s first images.    The NIRCam team was ecstatic when the first light image arrived.    We were in business!
    These images showed that the mirror segments were all pointing at a relatively small area of the sky, and the alignment was much better than the worst-case scenarios we had planned for.     Webb’s Fine Guidance Sensor also went into operation at this time.    This sensor helps keep the telescope pointing steadily at a target – much like image stabilization in consumer digital cameras.    Using the star HD84800 as a reference point, my colleagues on the NIRCam team helped dial in the alignment of the mirror segments until it was virtually perfect, far better than the minimum required for a successful mission.
James Webb Space Telescope
3. What sensors came alive next?
    As the mirror alignment wrapped up on March 11, the Near Infrared Spectrograph – NIRSpec – and the Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph – NIRISS – finished cooling and joined the party.
    NIRSpec is designed to measure the strength of different wavelengths of light coming from a target.    This information can reveal the composition and temperature of distant stars and galaxies.    NIRSpec does this by looking at its target object through a slit that keeps other light out.
    NIRSpec has multiple slits that allow it to look at 100 objects at once.    Team members began by testing the multiple targets mode, commanding the slits to open and close, and they confirmed that the slits were responding correctly to commands.    Future steps will measure exactly where the slits are pointing and check that multiple targets can be observed simultaneously.
    NIRISS is a slitless spectrograph that will also break light into its different wavelengths, but it is better at observing all the objects in a field, not just ones on slits.    It has several modes, including two that are designed specifically for studying exoplanets particularly close to their parent stars.
    So far, the instrument checks and calibrations have been proceeding smoothly, and the results show that both NIRSpec and NIRISS will deliver even better data than engineers predicted before launch.
4. What was the last instrument to turn on?
    The final instrument to boot up on Webb was the Mid-Infrared Instrument, or MIRI.    MIRI is designed to take photos of distant or newly formed galaxies as well as faint, small objects like asteroids.    This sensor detects the longest wavelengths of Webb’s instruments and must be kept at minus 449 F – just 11 degrees F above absolute zero.    If it were any warmer, the detectors would pick up only the heat from the instrument itself, not the interesting objects out in space.    MIRI has its own cooling system, which needed extra time to become fully operational before the instrument could be turned on.
    Radio astronomers have found hints that there are galaxies completely hidden by dust and undetectable by telescopes like Hubble that captures wavelengths of light similar to those visible to the human eye.    The extremely cold temperatures allow MIRI to be incredibly sensitive to light in the mid-infrared range which can pass through dust more easily.    When this sensitivity is combined with Webb’s large mirror, it allows MIRI to penetrate these dust clouds and reveal the stars and structures in such galaxies for the first time.
5. What’s next for Webb?
    As of June 15, 2022, all of Webb’s instruments are on and have taken their first images.    Additionally, four imaging modes, three time series modes and three spectroscopic modes have been tested and certified, leaving just three to go.
    On July 12, NASA plans to release a suite of teaser observations that illustrate Webb’s capabilities.    These will show the beauty of Webb imagery and also give astronomers a real taste of the quality of data they will receive.
    After July 12, the James Webb Space Telescope will start working full time on its science mission.    The detailed schedule for the coming year hasn’t yet been released, but astronomers across the world are eagerly waiting to get the first data back from the most powerful space telescope ever built.
    This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts.

6/16/2022 Monkeypox Grows In MA, WHO Considers Declaring International Emergency by Haley Cornell, Matt Troutman - Patch
    MASSACHUSETTS — Tuesday afternoon the Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed a fourth case of monkeypox in the state.
© Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP This electron microscope image made available
by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions
(left) and spherical immature virions (right) obtained from a sample of human skin.
    The particular patient is an adult male who is in isolation, health officials said. Testing was initially completed last Monday at the State Public Health Laboratory in Jamaica Plain and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be handling the remainder of the testing.     On Sunday, health officials confirmed two more cases of monkeypox in Massachusetts, as more than 50 have now been confirmed across the country and 14 cases have been confirmed in New York alone.     "Most of these people have had mild cases, have not been hospitalized, and have recovered on their own," the update states.    But even mild monkeypox illness can yield itchy and painful sores, health officials noted.
    The CDC and DPH workers are currently looking to identify anyone who could have come into contact with the patient while he was infectious and didn't know it.
    "While we are in this current outbreak, and even though monkeypox remains rare, people are encouraged to be mindful of their health," Department of Public Health State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown said in a statement.    "If you have any symptoms, and especially if you have a rash, it is best to avoid prolonged physical contact with anyone until you are well."
    Monkeypox typically spreads by skin-to-skin contact or contact with contaminated clothing or bedding.    It's rarely fatal, but patients remain in isolation for safety.
    Monkeypox is an infection that has been confirmed in 1,600 people in 39 countries this year, and suspected in 1,500 more, said World Health Organization officials this week.
    An emergency WHO committee on June 23 will debate what next steps should be taken as the virus shows "unusual" behavior, the Associated Press reported.    They're seriously considering whether to declare it an international health emergency, the same designation as the COVID-19 pandemic.
    "We believe that it needs also some coordinated response because of the geographic spread," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
    The first case of monkeypox was detected in Massachusetts on May 18, and the latest U.S. data shows that there have been nearly 65 cases since.
    The article Monkeypox Grows In MA, WHO Considers Declaring International Emergency appeared first on Boston Patch.

6/17/2022 Gateway towns become dead ends - Flooding in Yellowstone to have lasting effects by Matthew Brown and Brian Melley, ASSOCIATED PRESS
A road ends where floodwaters washed away a house in Gardiner, Mont., Thursday. Yellowstone National Park officials
are hopeful that next week they can reopen the southern half of the park. But the north end could stay closed
for months after sections of major roads were washed away or buried. PHOTOS BY DAVID GOLDMAN/AP
    RED LODGE, Mont. – This gateway town to Yellowstone National Park has become a dead end, a casualty of the severe flooding that tore through one of America’s most beloved natural attractions and swept away roads, bridges and homes.
    The unprecedented flood has closed the entire park and forced the evacuation of 10,000 visitors.    And towns like Red Lodge that lead to Yellowstone’s northern entrances and rely on tourists passing through could suffer all summer.
    Officials have said the park’s southern part, which features Old Faithful, could reopen as soon as next week.    But the north end, which includes Tower Fall and the bears and wolves of Lamar Valley, could stay closed for months after sections of major roads inside Yellowstone were washed away or buried in rockfall.    Roads leading to the park also have widespread damage that could take months to repair.
    Red Lodge is facing a double disaster: It will have to clean up the damage done by the deluge to parts of town and also figure out how to survive without the summer business that normally sustains it for the rest of the year.
    “Winters are hard in Red Lodge,” Chris Prindiville said as he hosed mud from the sidewalk outside his shuttered cafe, which had no fresh water or gas for his stoves.    “You have to make your money in the summer so you can make it when the bills keep coming and the visitors have stopped.”
    At least 88 people were rescued by the Montana National Guard over the past few days from campsites and small towns, and hundreds of homes, including nearly 150 in Red Lodge, were damaged by muddy waters.    One large house that was home to six park employees in the town of Gardiner was ripped from its foundation and floated 5 miles downstream before sinking.    No deaths or serious injuries have been reported.
    Red Lodge was under a boil-water advisory, and trucks supplied drinking water to half of the town that was without it.    Portable toilets were strategically placed for those who couldn’t flush at home.
    The Yodeler Motel, once home to Finnish coal miners, faced its first shutdown since it began operating as a lodge in 1964.    Owner Mac Dean said he is going to have to gut the lower level, where 13 rooms flooded in chest-high waters.
    “Rock Creek seemed to take in its own course,” he said.    “It just jumped the bank and it came right down Main Street and it hit us.”
    Dean had been counting on a busy summer tied to the park’s 150th anniversary.    The Yodeler had the most bookings in the 13 years Dean and his wife have owned the business.    Now he’s hoping to get some help, possibly from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
    “The damage is catastrophic,” he said.    “If we don’t get some assistance, we’re not gonna make it.”
A house sits in Rock Creek after floodwaters washed away a road and a bridge
in Red Lodge, Mont., this week. Red Lodge was under a boil-water advisory.

6/17/2022 Warm, dry, breezy weather to challenge fire crews battling blazes in Arizona by Felicia Fonseca, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Hot shot crew members keep an eye on a wildfire in northern Arizona on Wednesday. RACHEL GIBBONS/ARIZONA DAILY SUN VIA AP
    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Fire crews battling a pair of wildfires in northern Arizona were expecting some growth Thursday because of warm, dry and breezy conditions, but rain that could help quell the blazes is on its way.
    Both blazes were moving through grass, brush and pine trees on the northern outskirts of Flagstaff, a mountainous city that’s home to Northern Arizona University.    It’s also a popular respite from the sweltering heat in the low deserts, including Phoenix.
    The larger fire has burned more than 38 square miles, destroying one home and another structure.    It was 27% contained Thursday, down slightly from a day earlier because of burnout operations, fire information officer Mike Reichling said.
    The blaze has overlapped some of the footprint of a wildfire that started on Easter Sunday and destroyed 30 homes and other structures while consuming about 30 square miles of forest, chaparral and grassland.
    A smaller fire in northern Arizona has burned more than 8 square miles and was 11% contained.
    Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday declared a state of emergency because of the fires and allocated $200,000 to the state emergency management department to help respond and recover from the blazes.    This allows the state forester and other agencies to provide other assistance as needed and provide disaster relief.
    “For a community still recovering from the path of the Tunnel Fire in April, this new blaze is a reminder for all Arizonans to be vigilant and safe this wildfire season,” Ducey said.
    The forecast in the Flagstaff area calls for a chance of showers and thunderstorms starting Friday and throughout the weekend, which could help suppress the wildfires.

6/17/2022 Heat stress blamed in Kan. cattle deaths by Roxana Hegeman, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    BELLE PLAINE, Kan. – Thousands of cattle in feedlots in southwestern Kansas have died of heat stress due to soaring temperatures, high humidity and little wind in recent days, industry officials said.
    The final toll remains unclear, but as of Thursday at least 2,000 heat-related deaths had been reported to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the state agency that assists in disposing of carcasses.
    Last week, temperatures were in the 70s and 80s, but on Saturday they spiked higher than 100 degrees, said Scarlett Hagins, spokeswoman for the Kansas Livestock Association.
    “And it was that sudden change that didn’t allow the cattle to acclimate that caused the heat stress issues in them,” she said.

6/18/2022 China’s 'alien' signal almost certainly came from humans, project researcher says by Ben Turner – Live Science
© Provided by Live Science
    Chinese scientists' claims that their "Sky Eye" telescope could have picked up signals from intelligent aliens have been met with skepticism by an American colleague.
    Dan Werthimer, a Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) researcher at the University of Berkeley, California and a coauthor on the research project which first spotted the signals, told Live Science that the narrow-band radio signals he and his fellow researchers found "are from [human] radio interference, and not from extraterrestrials."
    Natural sources don't typically produce narrow-band radio signals.    Scientists picked up three of these signals, seemingly from space, in 2019 and 2022 using the largest radio telescope in the world — the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), nicknamed "Sky Eye," which was performing a preliminary scan of exoplanets in preparation for an upcoming five-year-long sky survey.
    The news of the signals' possible alien origins first appeared in a report published Tuesday (June 14) in the official newspaper of China's Ministry of Science and Technology, which contained a claim that the team had discovered "several cases of possible technological traces and extraterrestrial civilizations from outside the Earth."
    One FAST official who was not directly involved in the research also said that an extraterrestrial origin for the signals was "likely."
    The claims quickly went viral, spreading across Chinese state media and the Chinese social media platform Weibo before being reported by the international press and Live Science.    But Werthimer says that, while the signals are certainly artificial, they're almost definitely from humans and not aliens.
    "The big problem, and the problem in this particular case, is that we're looking for signals from extraterrestrials, but what we find is a zillion signals from terrestrials," Werthimer told Live Science.    "They're very weak signals, but the cryogenic receivers on the telescopes are super sensitive and can pick up signals from cell phones,     television, radar and satellites — and there are more and more satellites in the sky every day.    If you're kind of new in the game, and you don't know all these different ways that interference can get into your data and corrupt it, it's pretty easy to get excited."
    In spite of this excitement, Werthimer's Chinese collaborators were nonetheless cautious to hedge the more sensational remarks, emphasizing the ultimate likelihood that the signals originated on Earth.
    "These are several narrow-band electromagnetic signals different from the past, and the team is currently working on further investigation," Zhang Tongjie, head scientist at the China Extraterrestrial Civilization Research Group at Beijing Normal University, said in the report.    "The possibility that the suspicious signal is some kind of radio interference is also very high, and it needs to be further confirmed and ruled out.    This may be a long process."
    The recent false alarm is one of several instances in which alien-hunting scientists have been misled by noise from human activity.    In 2019, astronomers spotted a signal beamed to Earth from Proxima Centauri — the nearest star system to our sun (sitting roughly 4.2 light-years away) and home to at least one potentially habitable planet.    The signal was a narrow-band radio wave typically associated with human-made objects, which led scientists to entertain the thrilling possibility that it came from alien technology.    Studies released two years later, however, suggested that the signal was most likely produced by malfunctioning human equipment, Live Science previously reported.    Similarly, another famous set of signals once supposed to have come from aliens, detected between 2011 and 2014, turned out to have actually been made by scientists microwaving their lunches.
    "A lot of very sophisticated astronomers looked at that and we couldn't figure out what it was for a long time," Werthimer said, referring to the microwave lunch incidents.    "Finally, somebody figured out they were happening at lunchtime."
    Radio interference is a big problem for a telescope like FAST precisely because of its scale and sensitivity.    The 1,600-foot-diameter (500 meters) dish is powerful enough to detect radio devices like those on Earth operating many light-years away, and the data it captures contains just under 40 billion observations per second. In this setup, picking up a false positive is a lot like flipping a coin to get twenty heads in a row, Werthimer told the publication Futurism — it may seem like a remarkable outcome on its own, but not when the coin has been flipped trillions of times or more.
    And the less history a given research team has with a particular radio telescope, the more likely it is that they won't spot a subtle interference effect.    According to Werthimer, the FAST telescope's receiver can look at 19 different places in the sky at once.    Scientists are used to ruling out interference if it shows up in all 19, but if the interference only appears in one (as it did with all three of the supposedly "alien" signatures detected in this case) even experienced researchers can be led astray.
    With the ever-increasing numbers of satellites orbiting above our heads, Werhimer says this problem will only get worse.
    "100 years ago, we didn't really know how to do SETI.    100 years from now, I don't think we'll be able to do it from the ground," Werthimer said.    "This may be a unique window in our history as Earthlings where we can do pretty good SETI searches, where not all of the possible radio bands are corrupted by our own signals."
    The possibility also remains that if aliens are sending us, or unintentionally leaking, signals across the vast expanse of the cosmos, they may not be encoded in radio waves, but in ways that we haven't yet developed the technology to understand.
    "It wouldn't surprise me if we were on the wrong track.    If you look at the history of SETI, the original ideas proposed around 200 years ago were things like 'let's build some big fires on Earth'; 'let's have some big mirrors that reflect sunlight to the Martians' or 'let's build some mile-long right-angled triangles to show aliens we know about Pythagorean Theorem,' and now we look back and say those guys were idiots," Werthimer said.    "So, what's to say that 200 years from now people won't look back at us and ask why we didn't use tachyons or subspace communication? But you've got to do what you know how to do."
    Despite the dispiriting likelihood that these signals have an Earthbound source, SETI astronomers are still fairly confident that we're not alone in the universe.    And that one day, we may dig up something real amid all of our own back chatter.
    "I think it'd be very strange if we're the only ones.    If you look at the numbers, there's a trillion planets in the galaxy — five times more planets than there are stars.    A lot of them are little dinky planets like Earth.    Many of them have liquid water, so intelligent life, while not as common as bacterial life, could still be fairly common," Werthimer said.    "Maybe they don't want to interfere with primitive civilizations like us that are still killing each other.    Maybe they have us in a big zoo to look at.    Or maybe they got a little tired of technology and growth and they're more interested in music and poetry."
    Live Science reached out to Zhang Tongjie for comment but had not heard back at the time of publication.
    Originally published on Live Science.

6/18/2022 If aliens are calling, let it go to voicemail by Bryan Walsh –
© Qu Honglun/China News Service via Getty Images
    Humans have invented a rogue’s gallery of nightmarish fictional aliens over the decades: acid-blooded xenomorphs who want to eat us and lay their eggs in our chest cavities; Twilight Zone Kanamits who want to fatten us up like cows and eat us; those lizard creatures in the 1980s miniseries V who want to harvest us for food. (You may be sensing a theme here.)
    But the most frightening vision isn’t an alien being at all — it’s a computer program.
    In the 1961 sci-fi drama A for Andromeda, written by the British cosmologist Fred Hoyle, a group of scientists running a radio telescope receive a signal originating from the Andromeda Nebula in outer space.    They realize the message contains blueprints for the development of a highly advanced computer that generates a living organism called Andromeda.
    Andromeda is quickly co-opted by the military for its technological skills, but the scientists discover that its true purpose — and that of the computer and the original signal from space — is to subjugate humanity and prepare the way for alien colonization.
    No one gets eaten in A for Andromeda, but it’s chilling precisely because it outlines a scenario that some scientists believe could represent a real existential threat from outer space, one that takes advantage of the very curiosity that leads us to look to the stars.    If highly advanced aliens really wanted to conquer Earth, the most effective way likely wouldn’t be through fleets of warships crossing the stellar vastness.    It would be through information that could be sent far faster.    Call it “cosmic malware.” Phoning ET
    To discuss the possibility of alien life seriously is to embark upon an uncharted sea of hypotheses.
    Personally, I fall on the Agent Scully end of the alien believer spectrum.    The revelation of intelligent extraterrestrials would be an extraordinary event, and as SETI pioneer Carl Sagan himself once said, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
    Intelligent extraterrestrials who also want to hack our planet would be even more extraordinary.    But this scenario became a bit easier to envision this week.
    On Wednesday, a story published in China’s state-backed Science and Technology Daily reported that the country’s giant Sky Eye radio telescope had picked up unusual signals from space.    According to the piece, which cited the head of an extraterrestrial civilization search team that was launched in China in 2020, narrowband electromagnetic signals detected by the telescope differed from previous signals, and were in the process of being investigated.
    The story was apparently deleted from the internet for unknown reasons, though not before it was picked up by other outlets.    At this point it’s difficult to know what, if anything, to make of the story or its disappearance.    It wouldn’t be the first time an extraterrestrial search team found a signal that appeared notable, only to dismiss it after further research.    But the news is a reminder that there is little in the way of clear agreement about how the world should handle an authenticated message from an apparent alien civilization, or whether it can even be done safely.
Times in history when scientists got it wrong
    Everybody makes mistakes. Sometimes you leave the lights on at home, other times you might say, "Thanks, you too," when your server wishes you a good meal.    On other occasions, however, mistakes can have earth-shattering consequences and can be perpetuated for centuries.
    Numerous mistakes of that magnitude have been made in science.    The greatest minds in history were still only as good as the information and instruments available to them.    Who are we to blame ancient astronomers for believing the earth was the center of the universe, or that the universe only stretched as far as the eye could see?    Thankfully, humanity continues to learn from its mistakes, but it's always good to remind ourselves of some of the more consequential blunders.
    For all the recent interest in UFO sightings — including NASA’s surprising announcement last week that it would launch a study team to investigate what it calls “unidentified aerial phenomena” — the chance that aliens would be physically visiting Earth is vanishingly small.    The reason is simple: Space is big.    Like, really, really, really big. And the idea that after decades of searching for ET with no success, there could be alien civilizations capable of crossing interstellar distances and showing up on our planetary doorstep beggars belief.
    But transmitting gigabytes of data across those vast interstellar distances would be comparatively easy.
    After all, human beings have been doing a variation of that for decades through what is known as active messaging.
    In 1974, the astronomer Frank Drake used the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico to blast 168 seconds of two-tone sound toward the star system M13.    It sounded like noise, but any aliens listening might have noticed a clear, repetitive structure indicating its origin was non-natural — precisely the kind of signal that radio telescopes like China’s Sky Eye are listening for here on Earth.
    Such active messaging efforts were controversial from the start.    Beyond the debate about who exactly should get to decide on behalf of the Earth when we try to say “hello” to aliens and what that message should be, transmitting our existence and location to unknown denizens of the cosmos could be inherently dangerous.
    “For all we know,” wrote then-Astronomer Royal Martin Ryle shortly after the Arecibo message, “any creatures out there might be malevolent — and hungry.”
    Those concerns haven’t put an end to efforts to actively signal to alien civilizations that are “very likely to be older and more technologically advanced than we are,” as Sigal Samuel wrote in a 2019 story about a crowdsourced contest to update the Arecibo message.    But we shouldn’t be so sure that simply listening quietly for messages from space is a safer method of extraterrestrial discovery.
Cosmic malware
    In a 2012 paper, the Russian transhumanist Alexey Turchin described what he called “global catastrophic risks of finding an extraterrestrial AI message” during the search for intelligent life.    The scenario unfolds similarly to the plot of A for Andromeda.    An alien civilization creates a signal beacon in space of clearly non-natural origin that draws our attention.    A nearby radio transmitter sends a message containing instructions for how to build an impossibly advanced computer that could create an alien AI.
    The result is a phishing attempt on a cosmic scale.    Just like a malware attack that takes over a user’s computer, the advanced alien AI could quickly take over the Earth’s infrastructure — and us with it.    (Others in the broader existential risk community have raised similar concerns that hostile aliens could target us with malicious information.)
    What can we do to protect ourselves? Well, we could simply choose not to build the alien computer.    But Turchin assumes that the message would also contain “bait” in the form of promises that the computer could, for example, solve our biggest existential challenges or provide unlimited power to those who control it.
    Geopolitics would play a role as well.    Just as international competition has led nations in the past to embrace dangerous technologies — like nuclear weapons — out of fear that their adversaries would do so first, the same could happen again in the event of a message from space.    How confident would policymakers in Washington be that China would safely handle such a signal if it received one first — or vice versa?
    As existential risks go, cosmic malware doesn’t compare to out-of-control climate change or engineered pandemics.    Someone or something would have to be out there to send that malicious message, and the more exoplanets we discover that could plausibly support life, the odder it is that we have yet to see any concrete evidence of that life.
    One day in 1950, at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the physicist Enrico Fermi posed a question to his lunch companions.    Given the vast size and age of the universe, which should have allowed plenty of room and time for alien life to arise, why haven’t we seen them?    In other words: “Where is everybody?
    Scientists have posited dozens of answers to his question, which became known as the “Fermi paradox.”    But perhaps the right answer is the simplest one: No one’s home.    It would be a lonely answer, but at least it would be a safe one.

6/18/2022 Firefighter Killed, 5 Injured After Building Collapses In Philly by OAN NEWSROOM
This photo provided by the Philadelphia Fire Dept., emergency personnel respond to the scene of a building that
caught fire then collapsed early Saturday, June 18, 2022 in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Fire Department said
“several” firefighters and a city inspector became trapped when a building collapsed during a fire response early
Saturday, with more than one person still under the rubble hours later. (Philadelphia Fire Dept. via AP)
    A firefighter was killed after a building collapsed in Philadelphia. Officials said teams were inside a three-story restaurant and residential building on Saturday, when it collapsed after the fire had been put out.
    Lieutenant Sean Williamson, 51, was killed after being trapped in the rubble.    Four other firefighters and an inspector also needed rescue and all were transported to the hospital for their injuries.    Two firefighters and the L&I worker have been released from Temple University Hospital.    Two firefighters remain hospitalized in critical but stable condition.
    “The Philadelphia Fire Department is grieving with the family, friends, and community for all those affected by this tragedy,” said Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam K. Thiel.    “It is not possible to express in words what we feel at this time.”
    Dozens of firefighters could be seen anxiously waiting for the rescue to unfold.    While it’s clear the building suffered damage from the blaze, it’s unclear what caused it’s downfall.    Williamson was a 27-year Veteran who was recently assigned to Ladder 18 in Hunting Park.
    “You can’t predict this,” First Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy voiced.    “This was just a catastrophic accident that really hurt our department.”
    He leaves behind his mother and son.

6/19/2022 Republican Drive to Tilt Courts Against Climate Action Reaches a Crucial Moment by Coral Davenport – The New York Times
© Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times
    WASHINGTON — Within days, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court is expected to hand down a decision that could severely limit the federal government’s authority to reduce carbon dioxide from power plants — pollution that is dangerously heating the planet.
    But it’s only a start.
    The case, West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, is the product of a coordinated, multiyear strategy by Republican attorneys general, conservative legal activists and their funders, several with ties to the oil and coal industries, to use the judicial system to rewrite environmental law, weakening the executive branch’s ability to tackle global warming.
    Sign up for The Morning newsletter from The New York Times Coming up through the federal courts are more climate cases, some featuring novel legal arguments, each carefully selected for its potential to block the government’s ability to regulate industries and businesses that produce greenhouse gases.
    “The West Virginia vs. E.P.A. case is unusual, but it’s emblematic of the bigger picture.    A.G.s are willing to use these unusual strategies more,” said Paul Nolette, a professor of political science at Marquette University who has studied state attorneys general.    “And the strategies are becoming more and more sophisticated.”
© Shuran Huang for The New York Times Limitations on action in the United States against
global warming could doom global efforts to avert the worst climate disruptions.
    The plaintiffs want to hem in what they call the administrative state, the E.P.A. and other federal agencies that set rules and regulations that affect the American economy.    That should be the role of Congress, which is more accountable to voters, said Jeff Landry, the Louisiana attorney general and one of the leaders of the Republican group bringing the lawsuits.
    But Congress has barely addressed the issue of climate change. Instead, for decades it has delegated authority to the agencies because it lacks the expertise possessed by the specialists who write complicated rules and regulations and who can respond quickly to changing science, particularly when Capitol Hill is gridlocked.
    West Virginia v. E.P.A., No. 20–1530 on the court docket, is also notable for the tangle of connections between the plaintiffs and the Supreme Court justices who will decide their case.    The Republican plaintiffs share many of the same donors behind efforts to nominate and confirm five of the Republicans on the bench — John G. Roberts, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
© Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times Senator Mitch McConnell led a Republican
effort to deny President Barack Obama the opportunity to appoint federal judges.
    “It’s a pincer move,” said Lisa Graves, executive director of the progressive watchdog group True North Research and a former senior Justice Department official.    They are teeing up the attorneys to bring the litigation before the same judges that they handpicked.”
    The pattern is repeated in other climate cases filed by the Republican attorneys general and now advancing through the lower courts: The plaintiffs are supported by the same network of conservative donors who helped former President Donald J. Trump place more than 200 federal judges, many now in position to rule on the climate cases in the coming year.
    At least two of the cases feature an unusual approach that demonstrates the aggressive nature of the legal campaign.    In those suits, the plaintiffs are challenging regulations or policies that don’t yet exist.    They want to pre-empt efforts by President Biden to deliver on his promise to pivot the country away from fossil fuels, while at the same time aiming to prevent a future president from trying anything similar.
© Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press Leonard A. Leo, once an informal adviser to Mr. Trump on judicial
nominees, is the former executive vice president of the conservative legal group the Federalist Society.
The Stakes for Climate
    Victory for the plaintiffs in these cases would mean the federal government could not dramatically restrict tailpipe emissions because of vehicles’ impact on climate, even though transportation is the country’s largest source of greenhouse gases.
    The government also would not be able to force electric utilities to replace fossil fuel-fired power plants, the second-largest source of planet warming pollution, with wind and solar power.
    And the executive branch could not consider the economic costs of climate change when evaluating whether to approve a new oil pipeline or similar project or environmental rule.
© Samuel Corus for The New York Times Some Federalist Society donors include Koch Industries, which has fought climate
action; the Sarah Scaife Foundation, created by the heirs to the Mellon oil, aluminum and banking fortune; and Chevron.
    Those limitations on climate action in the United States, which has pumped more planet-warming gases into the atmosphere than any other nation, would quite likely doom the world’s goal of cutting enough emissions to keep the planet from heating up more than an average of 1.5 degrees Celsius compared with the preindustrial age.    That is the threshold beyond which scientists say the likelihood of catastrophic hurricanes, drought, heat waves and wildfires significantly increases.    The Earth has already warmed an average of 1.1 degrees Celsius.
    “If the Supreme Court uses this as an opportunity to really squash E.P.A.’s ability to regulate on climate change, it will seriously impede U.S. progress toward solving the problem,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University.
    The ultimate goal of the Republican activists, people involved in the effort say, is to overturn the legal doctrine by which Congress has delegated authority to federal agencies to regulate the environment, health care, workplace safety, telecommunications, the financial sector and more.
    Known as the “Chevron deference,” after a 1984 Supreme Court ruling, that doctrine holds that courts must defer to reasonable interpretations of ambiguous statutes by federal agencies on the theory that agencies have more expertise than judges and are more accountable to voters.    “Judges are not experts in the field and are not part of either political branch of the government,” Associate Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his opinion for a unanimous court.
    But many conservatives say the decision violates the separation of powers by allowing executive branch officials rather than judges to say what the law is.    In one of his most famous opinions as an appeals court judge, Associate Justice Gorsuch wrote that Chevron allowed “executive bureaucracies to swallow huge amounts of core judicial and legislative power.”
    The constitutional dispute is not necessarily political, because the Chevron deference applies to agency actions in both Republican and Democratic administrations.    But conservative hostility to the doctrine may be partly rooted in distrust of entrenched bureaucracies and certain kinds of expertise.
    The month after Mr. Trump took office, his chief strategist at the time, Stephen K. Bannon, summed up one of their top objectives as the “deconstruction of the administrative state.”
    The Chevron deference has long been a target of conservatives, according to Michael McKenna, a Republican energy lobbyist who worked in the Trump White House.    “The originalist crew has been steadily moving toward significantly rewriting Chevron for years,” he wrote in an email.    “They are about to be rewarded with a substantial and material victory.”
Filling the Bench
    The roots of that victory were planted in 2015, when Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, became the Senate majority leader and led his party in a sustained campaign to deny President Barack Obama the opportunity to appoint federal judges.
    He refused to confirm nominees, waiting for a Republican administration to fill the courts with judges who shared his belief in minimal government regulation.    He was also motivated by the dying coal industry in Kentucky, which could be wiped out by new E.P.A. rules aimed at slowing pollution from fossil fuels.
    “Fighting the E.P.A. is ‘Mom and apple pie’ in Kentucky,” said Neil Chatterjee, Mr. McConnell’s former energy policy aide.
    Mr. McConnell’s effort ensured that Mr. Trump inherited not just an open Supreme Court seat but 107 additional judicial vacancies.
Then in stepped Leonard A. Leo.
    At the time, Mr. Leo was executive vice president of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal group that helped secure the appointments of Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justice Alito to the Supreme Court and that has served as the ideological and tactical engine behind efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade.
    Some of the many donors to the Federalist Society include Koch Industries, which has fought climate action; the Sarah Scaife Foundation, created by the heirs to the Mellon oil, aluminum and banking fortune; and Chevron, the oil giant and plaintiff in the case that created the Chevron deference.
    Mr. Leo worked with Donald F. McGahn II, Mr. Trump’s White House counsel and another longtime Federalist Society member, to vet and recommend judicial candidates to the president.
    Mr. McGahn was forthright about his criteria. Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2018, Mr. McGahn was asked about the White House focus on undoing Chevron.    “Well, it’s not a coincidence,” he said.    “It’s part of a larger, larger plan, I suppose.”
    “There is a coherent plan here where, actually, the judicial selection and the deregulatory efforts are really the flip side of the same coin,” Mr. McGahn added.
    Mr. Leo also helped steer the Judicial Crisis Network, a nonprofit advocacy group that ran campaigns to help Associate Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Coney Barrett reach the Supreme Court, and to install dozens of other like-minded judges on lower courts.
    In total, Mr. Trump appointed three Supreme Court justices, 54 appeals court judges, and 174 district court judges.    By comparison, Mr. Biden has, to date, appointed 68 federal judges.
Tangled Connections
    In 2020, Mr. Leo stepped down as head of the Federalist Society to run CRC Advisors, a right-wing political strategy firm.    In that role, he has operated at the center of a constellation of advocacy groups and undisclosed donors that share a similar goal: Use the courts to advance conservative and libertarian causes.
    One of CRC Advisors’ biggest clients is the Republican Attorneys General Association.    Another is the Concord Fund, the advocacy group that is the latest incarnation of the Judicial Crisis Network.    The fund is also the largest financial backer, by far, of the Republican Attorneys General Association.
    Since 2014, the Judicial Crisis Network, now the Concord Fund, has poured more than $17 million into the campaigns of the Republican attorneys general.    In the current electoral cycle, the Concord Fund has contributed $3.5 million, several times more than the next biggest donor, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with $800,000.
    The identities of the fund’s donors are hidden from the public; the fund is not legally required to disclose them.
    Relationships between untraceable money, politicians and the judiciary are not unusual.    Like its Republican counterpart, the Democratic Attorneys General Association is a political action committee that raises money to help members win elections.    The attorneys general in both parties pursue cases that are aligned with the interests of their donors and constituencies.    During the Trump administration, Democratic attorneys general repeatedly, and often successfully, fought dozens of Mr. Trump’s policies, particularly his weakening of environmental rules.
    But legal experts say that the Republican attorneys general and their allies have taken such strategies to a new level, in their funding and their tactics.
    “They’ve created out of whole cloth a new approach to litigating environmental regulations, and they’ve found sympathetic judges,” said Richard Revesz, a professor of environmental law at New York University.
    Mr. Leo and Mr. McGahn and did not respond to requests for interviews.    Mr. McConnell declined an interview request.
    Neomi Rao, 49, is typical of the judges given lifetime appointments by Mr. Trump with support from Mr. Leo and his network.    Following discussions with Mr. McGahn, Ms. Rao was nominated in 2018 to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit after he was elevated to the Supreme Court.
    The D.C. Circuit Court is considered the second-most powerful court in the country because it hears challenges to federal environmental, health, and safety regulations.
    Ms. Rao had never served as a judge and had never tried a case.    But she had impeccable conservative credentials and a dislike of government regulation.
    A member of the Federalist Society since 1996, Ms. Rao had clerked for Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and worked in the George W. Bush administration.    She taught at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School and founded the Center for the Study of the Administrative State, which gathers critics of federal regulation.    She told Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, that she had consulted with Mr. Leo before founding the center and later met with representatives of the Koch Foundation.
    In 2017, she was tapped by Mr. Trump to run the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, an obscure but powerful office through which proposed federal regulations must pass.    From that perch, she oversaw an aggressive regulatory rollback, including the weakening or elimination of more than 100 environmental rules.
    Ms. Rao’s office sometimes pushed the Trump team to go even further.    When Mr. Trump's first E.P.A. chief proposed to weaken regulation of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that leaks from oil and gas wells, Ms. Rao’s office suggested loosening the rule even further, allowing more pollution into the atmosphere.
    At least two climate cases are pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which has eight judges appointed by Democratic presidents, nine judges chosen by Republicans, including three Trump appointees, and one vacancy.
    Another Trump appointee on that bench is Justin Walker, a former protégé of Mr. McConnell’s and a fellow Kentuckian who wrote a 2021 dissenting opinion in the West Virginia v. E.P.A. case in which he argued that the agency lacked the authority to regulate pollution that causes climate change.
    The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has seven judges appointed by Democratic presidents and 19 chosen by Republicans, including six Trump appointees.    It’s where the Republican attorneys general have filed a challenge to the government’s ability to consider the economic cost of climate change when making environmental decisions.
    On that bench is Andrew Oldham, a Trump pick who was once deputy attorney general of Texas.    In that role, he worked on the West Virginia vs. E.P.A. climate case, and said in a 2016 speech that climate regulation and the E.P.A. itself are “just utterly and fundamentally illegitimate.”
    To the same panel, Mr. Trump appointed Don Willett, a former fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative research organization that has received substantial funding from Charles and David Koch and aims to “explain the forgotten moral case for fossil fuels” by arguing that they shield the poor from higher energy costs.
    Judges Rao, Walker, Oldham and Willett did not respond to requests for interviews.
A New Legal Approach
    Of the 27 Republican attorneys general, a core group from fossil fuel states is leading the coordinated legal challenges: Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia, Daniel Cameron of Kentucky, Todd Rokita of Indiana, Ken Paxton of Texas and Mr. Landry from Louisiana.
    They meet regularly among themselves and with the oil, gas and coal industries, Mr. Landry said in an interview.    “It would be great if we could see an overturning of Chevron,” he said.
    The West Virginia case is largely concerned with a line of attack related to Chevron, also rooted in arguments about the separation of powers, which holds that Congress should use plain and direct language if it is to authorize sweeping actions by administrative agencies that could transform the economy.
    “What we’re looking to do is to make sure that the right people under our constitutional system make the correct decisions,” Mr. Morrisey, who argued the West Virginia v. E.P.A. case before the Supreme Court, said during a public appearance in Washington in February.    “These agencies, these federal agencies, don’t have the ability to act solely on their own without getting a clear statement from Congress. Delegation matters.”
    Lined up behind the West Virginia power plant suit is another case in the D.C. Circuit Court brought by 15 attorneys general challenging a 2021 federal rule designed to cut auto pollution by compelling automakers to sell more electric vehicles.
    Mr. Paxton of Texas calls the auto pollution rule a “war against fossil fuels” that will harm “the livelihoods of hard-working Texans.”
    Should that challenge succeed, more than a dozen Democratic-governed states are expected to impose tougher state-level auto pollution standards.    But the Republican attorneys general have already filed a suit in the D.C. Circuit court seeking to block states’ authority to do that.
    Another case pending in two different circuit courts challenges the way the federal government calculates the real-life cost of climate change.    If the attorneys general succeed in blocking the use of that metric, they could strip the federal government of its legal defense for almost any future climate policy.
    That case has been filed by 10 attorneys general in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.    The same case has been filed by 13 attorneys general in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, North and South Dakota and Minnesota.
    “The A.G.s have a big advantage here, where they can forum-shop and choose the most favorable venues for their litigation,” Mr. Nolette said.    “And they can break up into a multistate coalition, to do more arguments in front of more judges.    That increases their odds for success.”
    While no single case is aimed at overturning Chevron, a string of victories would essentially hollow it out.
    Sally Katzen, co-director of the Legislative and Regulatory Process Clinic at New York University School of Law, said that a Supreme Court victory this month for the Republican attorneys general and their allies would just be a taste of what’s to come.
    “The Federalist Society has put a lot of time and energy into this, and a lot of intellectual power,” said Ms. Katzen, former head of the White House office of regulatory affairs in the Clinton administration.    “All that effort has paid off. But I don’t think this is the culmination of their agenda.    I think it’s just the beginning.”
    Kitty Bennett and Adam Liptak contributed reporting.

6/19/2022 Reaffirmed anomaly could lead to innovations in standard model physics by TZVI JOFFRE – The Jerusalem Post
© (photo credit: Konstantin Malanchev/Wikimedia Commons)
    An anomaly first observed in neutrino experiments in the 1990s has been reaffirmed by a new experiment and could point to a new, unconfirmed elementary particle or the need for a new interpretation of the standard model, which we use to understand the laws of physics.
    Neutrinos are the most abundant fundamental particles that have mass in the universe and have been detected from many sources, including the sun and cosmic-ray interactions.    And they are among the least understood particles in the standard model of particle physics.
    Neutrinos come in three "flavors" – electron, muon and tau – and oscillate between these flavors as they travel.    However, in the 90s, scientists detected a gap in the timing between the oscillations at the Soviet-American Gallium Experiment (SAGE) in which the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico took part.
    This anomaly has led scientists to theorize that a fourth flavor – the sterile neutrino – could exist or that the standard model could need revising, even though many other neutrino experiments have mysteriously failed to replicate the anomalous results.
    The newest instance of the anomaly was observed at the Baksan Experiment on Sterile Transitions (BEST) in Russia's Caucasus Mountains, where 26 irradiated disks of chromium 51 were used to irradiate an inner and outer tank of gallium, a soft, silvery metal used to detect neutrinos.    The neutrinos hitting the gallium produce germanium 71, which scientists can then use to determine the number of direct collisions with neutrinos while in their electron flavor.
© Provided by The Jerusalem Post Main hall of Gallium–Germanium Neutrino Telescope (GGNT)
at Baksan Neutrino Observatory (BNO) (credit: Konstantin Malanchev/Wikimedia Commons)
    In the latest experiment, the measured rate of germanium 71 production was 20%-24% lower than expected based on theoretical modeling.
    The gap could be explained by the existence of sterile neutrinos, which could be an important part of dark matter, although this requires further research
    Another explanation for the anomaly is that the theoretical model the physicists are using for the experiment could be flawed, meaning the model will need to be reconsidered.
    "This definitely reaffirms the anomaly we’ve seen in previous experiments.    But what this means is not obvious."
Steve Elliott, member of Los Alamos’ Physics division
    “The results are very exciting,” Steve Elliott, lead analyst of one of the teams evaluating the data and a member of Los Alamos’ Physics division, said in a press statement.    “This definitely reaffirms the anomaly we’ve seen in previous experiments – but what this means is not obvious.    There are now conflicting results about sterile neutrinos.    If the results indicate that fundamental nuclear or atomic physics are misunderstood, that would be very interesting, too.”
    The results of the experiment were recently published in the peer-reviewed journals Physical Review Letters and Physical Review C.
    While the Los Alamos experiment found a deficit of electron neutrinos, some other experiments have actually found an excess of them, which may also point to the existence of sterile neutrinos.    Both the Liquid Scintillator Neutrino Detector (LSND) experiment at Los Alamos and Fermilab's MiniBooNE experiment have found this excess.
    In the MiniBooNE experiment, researchers detected 2,437 interactions between antineutrinos and electron neutrinos, about 460 more than expected.
    The reaffirmation of the anomaly comes just months after researchers at the ForwArd Search ExpeRiment (FASER) at CERN have detected neutrino candidates in the first such detection in a particle accelerator, publishing a paper on the breakthrough in the peer-reviewed journal Physical Review D.
    Collider neutrinos are produced at high energies, at which neutrino interactions have not been well studied.    Being able to detect and study such neutrinos could shed light on the particles, as it would allow scientists to study the them under highly controlled conditions.

1/19/2022 1 Rescued In Oregon Boat Fire by OAN NEWSROOM
This image provided by New Hampshire State Police shows a yacht burning on the
Piscataqua River in New Castle, N.H., Saturday, June 18, 2022. (New Hampshire State Police via AP)
    One person was rescued after a fishing boat in Oregon caught fire.    The Coast Guard reported Saturday, a 42-foot commercial fishing vessel caught on fire near Manzanita Beach.    Authorities said, the captain on board the boat was rescued from the water by a good Samaritan and had no medical concerns.
    The boat owner tried to put out the fire with extinguishers, but it spread quickly.    Within about five minutes his boat was fully engulfed with flames.    The Coast Guard maintained a 1000-yard safety zone around the boat while it burned for hours.
    The boat was a fiberglass-hulled commercial salmon trawler.    BM1 Aaron Harris said that the fire reportedly started in the boat’s “stack,” which is not uncommon.
    Coast Guard Officials noted, the captain was very lucky there was another boat nearby to assist him, otherwise he would of been forced to enter the water and wait for help.

6/19/2022 2 Dead, 10 Rescued In Miami Boat Crash Off Key Biscayne by OAN NEWSROOM
In this image provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, a Coast Guard Station Miami Beach small boat crew inspects a
boat that was part of a collision near Key Biscayne, Fla., late Friday, June 17, 2022. (U.S. Coast Guard via AP)
    Ten people were rescued and two were killed following a boat collision in Miami.    The Coast Guard reported Saturday, the two bodies were recovered from the water near Biscayne Bay.
    A rescue swimmer assisted one critically injured person, whom was transferred to Jackson Memorial Medical Center for care. Nine other survivors were sent to Mercy Hospital for treatment.
    “One had taken in water and there were 11 patients that we needed to treat and asses,” Coast Guard Grad Sector Miami Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Tuxhorn said.    “10 of those patients were transferred to area hospitals, two in critical condition. One minor, one adult and there was also another minor that was transferred to the hospital.”
    Authorities said the incident happened when one of the boats t-boned the other.    Tuxhorn voiced that the Coast Guard and local responders worked exhaustively on the search and rescue.
    “On behalf of the Coast Guard and our partner agencies, we’d like to offer our sincerest condolences to the families and friends who lost their loved ones,” he voiced.    “The Coast Guard and our local partner agencies quickly responded and exhaustively worked together on this search and rescue case.”
    The collision is under investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

6/20/2022 Greenland polar bears offer hope against climate change threat by Dinah Voyles Pulver, USA TODAY
Polar bears deal with changing climate conditions in Greenland. PROVIDED BY THOMAS W. JOHANSEN/NASA OCEANS MELTING GREENLAND
    A group of polar bears clinging to existence along a remote region of Greenland’s southeastern coast has adapted to life in a perilous zone where thawing glaciers meet melting sea ice and the warming sea.
    Whether these bears can continue to survive in their rapidly changing world remains unknown, but scientists who studied them said the polar bears may offer lessons in resilience.
    Unlike other polar bears, these bears hunt on both sea ice and freshwater ice, finding refuge in a mix of two icy habitats, the scientists announced Thursday in a paper published in the journal Science.    Researchers found the bears’ genetics, hunting and other behaviors make them distinct from other polar bear populations around the Arctic, including one to the north on the Greenland coast.
    The six-year study was led by Kristin Laidre, an Arctic marine mammal researcher at the University of Washington, in collaboration with the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources and other international collaborators.
    Polar bears generally hunt on sea ice, which is rapidly diminishing as the Arctic warms at twice the rate of the rest of the Earth.
    “We’re headed for an ice-free Arctic in the summertime,” Laidre said.    “What does that mean for polar bears?    Where are the places that polar bears will be able to hang on?
    The remote coast of southeastern Greenland might be one example, but she said more research is needed.
    She and her collaborators talked with Indigenous people in the region about the bears’ movements and learned the bears experienced “big climate changes, in sea ice, storms and glaciers,” she said.    They studied genetic samples collected from bears over 34 years by the Indigenous hunters and other researchers.
    For three years in a row, over a few weeks each March and April, the researchers conducted dangerous fieldwork.    Traveling mostly by helicopter, swooping low in perilous locations and landing on thinning ice, scientists watched as the bears and cubs hunted seals.
    Under permits issued by the Greenland government, they felled bears briefly with tranquilizer darts to grab measurements and samples of hair and blood.    If conditions were too dangerous or they were low on fuel, they’d shoot a remote biopsy dart into the bear’s rump, which would grab a quick genetic sample before popping off.    Satellite collars were placed on female bears to monitor their movements.
    The few hundred bears in the region use sea ice for the roughly 100 days when it’s available, Laidre said.    That’s too short a period for the bears, so when the sea ice thaws, the bears supplement their diets hunting on freshwater ice in areas where it mixes with the thawing sea ice along the region’s coastal fjords.
    The freshwater ice slowly moves off the continent’s ice sheet to the coast in the form of glaciers, which calve off icebergs when the glaciers reach the ocean, she said.    “There is a whole landscape of that freshwater glacial ice, that’s like floating and found at the fronts of glaciers, and it can be many kilometers wide and long.”
    Called a glacial melange, the habitat is found in only two locations, Laidre said: Greenland and Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean.
    Additional warming is projected to lead to declines in polar bears, she said.    This research might shed light on the kind of habitat where small numbers of bears might be able to hang on.
    The bears in southeast Greenland are the most genetically isolated of the roughly 26,000 polar bears on the planet, the study found.    The government of Greenland and the International Union for Conservation of Nature will decide whether the bears are a separate population from the 19 others around the Arctic.
    They live in an environment where they’re penned in on all sides, Laidre said.    “To the west is the Greenland ice sheet, to the east is open ocean all the way into the north.    Along the coast, running south is a fast current.”
    Though the glacial melange provides a buffer to sea ice loss in the region, it’s unclear how long that will last because of the rapid change on the ice sheet, she said.    The width of the sea ice is declining, and the speed of the southward flowing current has increased over the past 10 years.
    If a bear steps onto an ice floe, it can be quickly swept out of the area, she said.

6/22/2022 Earthquake in Afghanistan Kills at Least 255 Near Khost, Officials Say by Safiullah Padshah and Mike Ives – The New York Times
    KABUL, Afghanistan — A 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck southeastern Afghanistan overnight, killing 255 people, the country’s state-run Bakhtar news agency said on Wednesday.
© Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times Khost, a provincial capital in
southeastern Afghanistan, in 2018. The city was struck by a powerful earthquake Wednesday.
    The quake struck about 28 miles southwest of the city of Khost, a provincial capital in the country’s southeast, the United States Geological Survey said.    The quake struck early Wednesday morning at a depth of about six miles, the agency said.
    Raees Hozaifa, the director of information and culture in the eastern province of Paktika, said the earthquake had affected several provinces, and that death toll in Paktika alone was at least 250 people.
    “We have 250 bodies, around 150 wounded,” he said, adding that more than 100 homes had been destroyed across four districts of the province. A rescue effort was underway, he said.
    The quake struck about 300 miles north-northeast of the site of a deadly 6.4-magnitude earthquake in Pakistan in 2008, the U.S.G.S. said.
    The earthquake on Wednesday was felt in Kabul, the Afghan capital, and across the northern part of neighboring Pakistan, according to a map that the European Mediterranean Seismological Center posted on its website.    The U.S.G.S. said that a second, 4.5 magnitude quake struck about 30 miles southwest of Khost about an hour later.
    For civilians in Afghanistan, earthquakes are yet another risk in a country traumatized by decades of war.
    In January, two earthquakes struck a remote, mountainous area of western Afghanistan, killing at least 27 people and destroying hundreds of homes, officials said at the time.
    This is a developing story.
    Safiullah Padshah reported from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Mike Ives from Seoul.

6/23/2022 Afghan quake kills 1,000, among worst in decades - Governments wary of sending aid to Taliban by Ebrahim Noroozi, ASSOCIATED PRESS
The disaster hits as millions face increasing hunger and poverty after
the cutoff of international financing to the Taliban. BAKHTAR NEWS AGENCY VIA AP
    KABUL, Afghanistan – A powerful earthquake struck a rural, mountainous region of eastern Afghanistan early Wednesday, killing 1,000 people and injuring 1,500 more in one of the country’s deadliest quakes in decades, the state-run news agency reported. Officials warned that the already grim toll may still rise.
    Information from the remote area near the Pakistani border remained scarce, but early footage from villages tucked among the mountains showed residents picking through rubble of collapsed stone and mudbrick houses.
    The disaster posed a major test for Afghanistan’s Taliban government, which seized power nearly 10 months ago as the U.S. and its NATO allies prepared to pull out of the country and has been largely shunned by the world community since. Rescuers rushed to the area by helicopter, but the response is likely to be complicated since many international aid agencies left Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover.    Moreover, most governments are wary of dealing directly with the Taliban, a reluctance that could slow the deployment of emergency aid and teams typically sent after such natural disasters.
    In a rare move, the Taliban’s reclusive supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzadah, who almost never appears in public, called for “the international community and all humanitarian organizations to help the Afghan people affected by this great tragedy and to spare no effort to help the affected people.”
    The disaster hits when Afghanistan is deep in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with millions facing increasing hunger and poverty after the cutoff of international financing to the Taliban.    That has prompted a massive aid program, but to avoid putting money in the Taliban’s hands, the world has funneled funding through the U.N. and other humanitarian agencies – a system that may be too slow for an emergency response to the quake.
    What’s more, reaching rural areas even in the best circumstances remains difficult in Afghanistan, a landlocked nation just smaller than Texas with rutted mountain roadways that may now have sustained significant damage.
    The 6.1 magnitude quake had its epicenter in Paktika province, according to neighboring Pakistan’s Meteorological Department.
    In most places in the world, an earthquake of that strength wouldn’t inflict such extensive devastation, said Robert Sanders, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.    But a quake’s death toll more often comes down to geography, building quality and population density.
    “Because of the mountainous area, there are rockslides and landslides that we won’t know about until later reporting.    Older buildings are likely to crumble and fail,” he said.
    The “response is on its way,” the U.N. resident coordinator in Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarov, tweeted.
    That may prove difficult given the renewed international isolation of Afghanistan under the Taliban.
    “The fear is that the victims will increase further, also because many people could be trapped under collapsed buildings,” said Stefano Sozza, country director for Emergency in Afghanistan.    “This latest tragedy cannot but worsen further the condition of fragility and economic and social difficulties which Afghanistan has experienced for months.”

6/23/2022 US boosts monkeypox testing, 142 cases confirmed by Zeke Miller, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – The Biden administration has started shipping monkeypox tests to commercial laboratories, in a bid to speed diagnoses for suspected infections for the virus that has already infected at least 142 people in the U.S.
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sending tests to labs, including Aegis Science, Labcorp, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and Sonic Healthcare, which it said would significant expand the nation’s health system’s capacity to test for monkeypox.    Previously, testing has largely been confined to public health labs, which combined have a capacity of about 8,000 tests per week.
    “All Americans should be concerned about monkeypox cases,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra in a statement.    “Thankfully we have right now the tools to fight and treat cases in America. By dramatically expanding the number of testing locations throughout the country, we are making it possible for anyone who needs to be tested to do so.”
    The disease first causes flu-like symptoms before progressing to a rash on the face and body and is commonly found in parts of central and west Africa.    But this year, 1,880 infections have been reported in more than 30 countries where monkeypox isn’t typically found.
    Most of those cases have been found in Europe.    As of June 21, the CDC has confirmed 142 monkeypox infections in the U.S.
The Biden administration is shipping testing kits for monkeypox to commercial labs. CDC VIA AP FILE

6/24/2022 AFGHANS BURY DEAD, DIG FOR SURVIVORS OF EARTHQUAKE - Taliban-led government struggles to provide aid by Ebrahim Noroozi, ASSOCIATED PRESS
A child walks out from the gate of a house damaged by an earthquake
in the Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan. AHMAD SAHEL ARMAN/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
    GAYAN, Afghanistan – Villagers rushed to bury the dead Thursday and dug by hand through the rubble of their homes in search of survivors of a powerful earthquake in eastern Afghanistan that state media reported killed 1,000 people.
    Residents appeared to be largely on their own to deal with the aftermath as their new Taliban-led government and the international aid community struggled to bring in help.
    Under a leaden sky in Paktika province, the epicenter of Wednesday’s earthquake where hundreds of homes have been destroyed, men dug several long trenches on a mountainside overlooking their village.    They prayed over around 100 bodies wrapped in blankets and then buried them.
    In villages across the Gayan district, toured by Associated Press journalists for hours Thursday, families who spent the previous rainy night out in the open lifted pieces of timber of collapsed roofs and pulled away stones by hand, looking for missing loved ones.    Taliban fighters circulated in vehicles in the area, but only a few were seen helping dig through rubble.
    There was little sign of heavy equipment – only one bulldozer was spotted being transported. Ambulances circulated, but little other help to the living was evident.
    Many international aid agencies withdrew from Afghanistan when the Taliban seized power nearly 10 months ago.    Those that remain are scrambling to get medical supplies, food and tents to the remote quake-struck area, using shoddy mountain roads made worse by damage and rains.
    “We ask from the Islamic Emirate and the whole country to come forward and help us,” said a survivor who gave his name as Hakimullah.    “We are with nothing and have nothing, not even a tent to live in.”
    The scenes underscored how the magnitude 6 quake has struck a country that was already nearly on its knees from multiple humanitarian crises.
    The quake took the lives of 1,000 people, according to the state-run Bakhtar News Agency, which also reported an estimated 1,500 more were injured.    In the first independent count, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said about 770 people had been killed in Paktika and neighboring Khost province.
    It’s not clear how the totals were arrived at, given the difficulties of accessing and communicating with the affected villages.    Either grim toll would make the quake Afghanistan’s deadliest in two decades, and officials continued to warn the number could still rise.
    Since the Taliban took over in August amid the U.S and NATO withdrawal, the world pulled back financing and development aid that had been keeping the country afloat.    The economy collapsed, leaving millions unable to afford food; many medical facilities shut down, making treatment harder to find.    Nearly half the population of 38 million faces crisis levels of food insecurity.
    Many aid and development agencies also left after the Taliban seizure of power.    The U.N. and remaining agencies said they were moving blankets, food, tents, and medical teams to the area.
    But they are overstretched, and U.N. agencies are facing a $3 billion funding shortfall for Afghanistan this year.    That means there will be difficult decisions about who gets aid, said Peter Kessler, a spokesman for the United Nations’ refugee agency.    Local medical centers, already struggling to deal with malnutrition cases, were now overwhelmed with people injured by the quake, said Adnan Junaid, the International Rescue Committee vice president for Asia.
    “The toll this disaster will have on the local communities … is catastrophic, and the impact the earthquake will have on the already stretched humanitarian response in Afghanistan is a grave cause for concern,” Junaid said.
    The Defense Ministry, which leads the Taliban emergency effort, said it sent 22 helicopter flights on Wednesday transporting wounded and taking supplies, along with several more Thursday.
    Still, the Taliban’s resources have been gutted by the economic crisis.    Made up of insurgents who fought for 20 years against the U.S. and NATO, the Taliban have also struggled to make the transition to governing.
    On Wednesday, a U.N. official said the government had not requested that the world body mobilize international search-and-rescue teams or obtain equipment from neighboring countries, despite a rare plea from the Taliban’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzadah, for help from the world.
    Trucks of food and other necessities arrived from Pakistan, and planes full of humanitarian aid landed from Iran and Qatar, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid wrote on Twitter.    Pakistan also opened several nearby border crossings to allow those affected by the disaster to cross, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sherif said in a call with the Taliban Prime Minister Mullah Hasan Akhund.
    Obtaining more direct international help may be more difficult: Many countries, including the U.S., funnel humanitarian aid to Afghanistan through the U.N. and other organizations to avoid putting money in the Taliban’s hands, wary of dealing with the group, which has issued a flurry of repressive edicts curtailing the rights of women and girls and the press.
    Germany, Norway and several other countries announced they were sending aid for the quake, but underscored that they would work only through U.N. agencies, not with the Taliban.
    In a news bulletin Thursday, Afghanistan state television made a point to acknowledge that President Joe Biden offered condolences over the earthquake and had promised aid.    Biden on Wednesday ordered the U.S. international aid agency and its partners to “assess” options for helping the victims, a White House statement said.
    In Paktika province, the quake shook a region of deep poverty, where residents scrape out a living in the few fertile areas among the rough mountains.    Roads are so difficult that some villages in the Gayan District took a full day to reach from Kabul, though it is only 110 miles away.    A 6-year-old boy in Gayan wept as he said his parents, two sisters and a brother were dead.    He had fled the ruins of his own home and took refuge with neighbors.
    Although modern buildings withstand magnitude 6 earthquakes elsewhere, Afghanistan’s mud-brick homes and landslide-prone mountains make such quakes more dangerous.
    One man, Rahim Jan, stood inside the few standing mud-brick walls of his home with the toppled roof timbers all around him.
    “It is destroyed completely, all my belongings are gone,” he said.    “I have lost 12 members of my family in this house.”
    “The toll this disaster will have on the local communities … is catastrophic, and the impact the earthquake will have on the already stretched humanitarian response in Afghanistan is a grave cause for concern.”
    Adnan Junaid, International Rescue Committee vice president for Asia.
Afghans stand among destruction after an earthquake struck in the Gayan village of the Paktika province. EBRAHIM NOOROOZI/AP

Afghans stand by the bodies of relatives killed in an earthquake
in the Gayan village of the Paktika province. EBRAHIM NOOROOZI/AP

6/25/2022 Persistent heat breaks records in US, abroad - 30 million Americans under NWS advisories by Seth Borenstein, ASSOCIATED PRESS
A beach in Barcelona, Spain, is crowded on June 19. Like much of the rest of
the Northern Hemisphere, Europe is coping with a heat wave. EMILIO MORENATTI/AP FILE
    From the normally chilly Russian Arctic to the traditionally sweltering American South, big swaths of the Northern Hemisphere continued to sizzle with extreme heat as the start of summer more resembled the dog days of August, with parts of China and Japan setting all-time heat records Friday.
    In the United States, a heat dome of triple-digit temperatures, in many places combined with high humidity, oscillated from west to east.    On Thursday, at least 15 states hit 100 degrees, according to the National Weather Service, which held 30 million Americans under some kind of heat advisory.
    The extreme discomfort of Thursday came after 12 states broke the 100-degree mark on Wednesday and 21 records were tied or broken.    Since June 15, at least 113 automated weather stations have tied or broken hot-temperature records.    Scientists say this early baking has all the hallmarks of climate change.
    In China’s northern Henan province Friday, Xuchang hit 107.8 degrees and Dengfeng hit 106.9 degrees for their hottest days on record, according to global extreme weather tracker Maximiliano Herrera.    And in Japan Friday, Tokamachi and Tsunan set all-time heat records while several cities broke monthly marks, he said.
    “It’s easy to look at these figures and forget the immense misery they represent. People who can’t afford air conditioning and people who work outdoors have only one option, to suffer,” said Texas A& M climate scientist Andrew Dessler, who was in College Station, where the temperature tied a record at 102 degrees Thursday.    “Those of us with air conditioning may not physically suffer, but we are prisoners of the indoors.”
    In Macon, Georgia, the temperature swept from 64 degrees to 105 in just nine hours Wednesday.    Then on Thursday the temperature peaked at 104, a record for the day.    Even Minneapolis hit 100 on Monday.
    Probably only the Pacific Northwest and Northeast have been spared the heat wave, said National Weather Service meteorologist Marc Chenard at the Weather Prediction Center.    On Thursday, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, South Carolina, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota, Colorado, Nevada and California all hit at least 100.    Houston; Dallas; Austin, Texas; New Orleans; and Orlando, Florida, all tied high record marks on Thursday.
    “It’s persistent,” Chenard said.    “It’s been over a week, and it’s going to continue in some aspects.”
    It’s not just the U.S. The Russian city of Norilsk, above the Arctic Circle, hit 89.6 degrees Thursday for its hottest June day on record and tied for its hottest day in any month on record, according to Herrera.
    Saragt in Turkmenistan rose to 114.6 degrees, but Herrera said in the next days it could get even worse.
    Herrera said tracking heat records is so overwhelming that he doesn’t have time to eat or sleep.
    A European heat wave has also caused problems with fires in Germany and Spain.
    Northern Illinois University meteorology professor Victor Gensini said this early heat wave is “very consistent with what we’d expect in a continually warming world.”

6/25/2022 Turkey wildfire largely under control, Erdogan says
    ANKARA, Turkey – A wind-stoked wildfire that has been raging near a popular resort in southwestern Turkey has been largely brought under control, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday.    The blaze erupted Tuesday in the Bordubet region, near Marmaris on the Aegean Sea coast, and spread rapidly, blackening swaths of pine forest and driving hundreds of people from their homes.    Speaking to reporters after an inspection of the area, Erdogan said an estimated nearly 9,900 acres of forest was affected by the fire.

6/26/2022 Monkeypox outbreak growing across UK by ASSOCIATED PRESS
In a technical briefing, Britain’s Health Security Agency said its data show monkeypox is spreading,
mainly among men who are gay or bisexual. Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP
    LONDON – British officials said the monkeypox outbreak in the U.K. is growing across the country, mainly among men who are gay or bisexual, or other men who have sex with men.    They urged those with new or multiple sex partners to be vigilant for the symptoms of monkeypox.
    In a technical briefing released on Friday, Britain’s Health Security Agency said their data show monkeypox is spreading in 'defined sexual networks of gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men.'
    Officials said there were no signs suggesting sustained spread beyond those populations.
    Of the 810 monkeypox cases in the U.K. to date, five are in women.    Among patients who completed a detailed survey, 96% of those infected were men who were gay, bisexual or had sex with other men.    Among the nearly 50 countries reporting monkeypox cases globally, Britain has the biggest outbreak beyond Africa.
    'If you are concerned that you may have monkeypox, don’t go to events, meet with friends or have sexual contact,' said Dr. Meera Chand, director of clinical and emerging infections at Britain’s Health Security Agency.    Doctors say people who have unexpected skin lesions or rashes that could be monkeypox should seek help at a sexual health clinic and avoid close contact with others until they have consulted a physician.
    She said that anyone who was in close, physical contact with someone who had monkeypox was at risk of catching the disease, regardless of their sexual orientation.
    'To assist with our contact tracing, we encourage everyone to ensure they exchange contact details with sexual partners, to help us limit further transmission where cases occur,' Chand said.
    The Health Security Agency said there were 'a relatively high number of cases reported travelling to Gran Canaria in early May,' suggesting they were infected there before returning to Britain.
    Globally, about 50 countries have reported more than 3,300 cases.

6/26/2022 WHO panel: Monkeypox not a global emergency ‘at this stage’ by Maria Cheng, ASSOCIATED PRESS
A WHO emergency committee acknowledged that monkeypox has been neglected for years. CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL
    LONDON – The World Health Organization said the escalating monkeypox outbreak in more than 50 countries should be closely monitored but does not warrant being declared a global health emergency.
    In a statement Saturday, a WHO emergency committee said many aspects of the outbreak were “unusual” and acknowledged that monkeypox – which is endemic in some African countries – has been neglected for years.
    “While a few members expressed differing views, the committee resolved by consensus to advise the WHO director-general that at this stage the outbreak should be determined to not constitute” a global health emergency, WHO said in a statement.
    WHO nevertheless pointed to the “emergency nature” of the outbreak and said controlling its spread requires an “intense” response.
    The committee said the outbreak should be “closely monitored and reviewed after a few weeks.”    But it would recommend a re-assessment before then if certain new developments emerge – such as cases among sex workers; spread to other countries or within countries that have already had cases; increased severity of cases; or an increasing rate of spread.
    WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus convened the emergency committee on Thursday after expressing concern about the epidemic of monkeypox in countries that haven’t previously reported the disease.
    “What makes the current outbreak especially concerning is the rapid, continuing spread into new countries and regions and the risk of further, sustained transmission into vulnerable populations including people that are immunocompromised, pregnant women and children,” the WHO chief said.
    Monkeypox has sickened people for decades in central and west Africa, but until last month, the disease had not been known to cause significant outbreaks in multiple countries at the same time and involving people with no travel links to the continent.
    Declaring a global health emergency means that a health crisis is an “extraordinary” event requiring a globally managed response and that a disease is at high risk of spilling across borders.    WHO previously made similar declarations for diseases including COVID-19, Ebola in Congo and West Africa, Zika in Brazil and the ongoing effort to wipe out polio.
    The emergency declaration mostly serves as a plea to draw more global resources and attention to an outbreak.    Past announcements have had mixed impact, given that WHO is largely powerless when trying to convince countries to act.
    WHO said this week it has confirmed more than 3,200 monkeypox infections in about 40 countries that haven’t previously reported the disease.    The vast majority of cases are in men who are gay, bisexual or have sex with other men and more than 80% of the cases are in Europe.
    A leading WHO adviser said last month the spike in cases in Europe was likely tied to sexual activity by men at two raves in Spain and Belgium, speculating that its appearance in the gay and bisexual community was a “random event.”    British officials have said most cases in the U.K. involve men who reported having sex with other men in venues such as saunas and sex clubs.
    Scientists warn that anyone in close, physical contact with someone infected with monkeypox or their clothing or bedsheets is at risk of catching the disease, regardless of their sexual orientation.
    People with monkeypox often experience symptoms like fever, body aches and a rash; most recover within weeks without needing medical care.
    Monkeypox in Africa mostly affects people who come into contact with infected wild animals, like rodents or primates.    There has been about 1,500 reported cases of monkeypox, including 70 deaths, in Congo, Cameroon and the Central African Republic.
    To date, scientists haven’t found any mutations in the monkeypox virus that suggest it’s more transmissible or lethal, although the number of changes detected show the virus has likely been spreading undetected for years.
    The version of the disease transmitting beyond Africa typically has a fatality rate of less than 1%, while the version seen in Africa can kill up to 10% of people affected.
    WHO is also creating a vaccine sharing mechanism for monkeypox, which could see vaccines go to rich countries like Britain, which currently has the biggest outbreak beyond Africa.
    Some experts warned that could entrench the deep inequities seen between rich and poor countries during the coronavirus pandemic.

6/26/2022 The Enormous Black Hole At The Heart Of Our Galaxy Is Flickering – Why It Matters by Georgina Torbet - SlashGear
    At the heart of our galaxy lies a monstrous black hole named Sagittarius A*.    Almost all galaxies have such supermassive black holes at their centers, and our particular black hole had its moment of fame in May 2022 when the Event Horizon Telescope project managed to take an image of it as part of an international cooperation.    This image doesn't actually show the black hole itself, which is invisible as it absorbs light.    Instead, the image shows the gas around the black hole, which knocks together around the black hole's event horizon and gets hot, therefore giving off energy that can be seen by telescopes.
© EHT Collaboration First image of our black hole
    The glow of the gas around this black hole isn't steady, however.    In fact, it flickers, and scientists are investigating this flicker to learn more about the black hole's structure.    As detailed in a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, researchers used this flicker to build up the most accurate model of Sagittarius A* so far (via Institute of Advanced Studies).    They were able to learn about how gas moves around and into the black hole, finding that rather than eating away at nearby gas swirling around the black hole, much of the material being ingested is traveling from a significant distance away.    "Black holes are the gatekeepers of their own secrets," said lead researcher Lena Murchikova.    "In order to better understand these mysterious objects, we are dependent on direct observation and high-resolution modeling."
Hubble Measures Potential Isolated Black Hole Roaming Galaxy
    The recent paper combines the expertise of three experts who have worked on research into different aspects of Sagittarius A*.    By combining large-scale observations of how nearby stars are affected by the gravity of the black hole with more detailed models of what happens to the gas close to them, they could see that the traditional understanding of black holes wasn't correct.    "For a long time, we thought that we could largely disregard where the gas around the black hole came from," Murchikova said.    "Typical models imagine an artificial ring of gas, roughly donut-shaped, at some large distance from the black hole.    We found that such models produce patterns of flickering inconsistent with observations."
    In order to explain the flickering they did see, the experts had to allow for the gas that falls into the black hole to have come from nearby stars and not just from the gas orbiting close to it.    The stars near the center of the galaxy give off this gas, which is then drawn toward the black hole and eventually past the event horizon.    "When we study flickering, we can see changes in the amount of light emitted by the black hole second by second, making thousands of measurements over the course of a single night," co-author Chris White said.
    "However, this does not tell us how the gas is arranged in space as a large-scale image would.    By combining these two types of observations, it is possible to mitigate the limitations of each, thereby obtaining the most authentic picture."

6/27/2022 Candle company plans to expand - December tornado leveled Mayfield factory by Lucas Aulbach, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
Emergency response workers dig through the rubble of the Mayfield Consumer Products
candle factory in Mayfield Dec. 11, 2021. Tornadoes and severe weather caused catastrophic damage
across multiple states. A total of 80 people were killed across Kentucky. TIMOTHY D. EASLEY/AP
    Mayfield Consumer Products, the company that owns a candle manufacturing plant where eight people were killed during a devastating Kentucky tornado outbreak last December, will play a big role in the community’s future, according to Gov. Andy Beshear.
    In a Thursday announcement, Beshear said the Mayfield-based company will invest $33.3 million over the next five years as part of an expansion at the local Hickory Industrial Park, with plans to employ more than 500 people.
    “This reinvestment by Mayfield Consumer Products is good news for Graves County and the surrounding region as they work to rebuild and recover from the deadliest tornadoes in our state’s history,” Beshear said in a release, which included statements of support from local leaders such as Graves County Judge-Executive Jesse Perry and Mayfield Mayor Kathy O’Nan.
    The company is building a $2.3 million 40,000-square-foot expansion and has plans to put $31 million toward an additional 63,000-square-foot expansion, which will result in a 300,000-square-foot facility in the Western Kentucky town.    The project should be completed by 2023, according to the release.
    In a statement, company founder Mary Propes said members of Mayfield Consumer Products’ leadership team “deeply love this community and its citizens.”
    “This community has a bright future, and we are committed to being a big part of that progress,” Propes said.
    The tornado that ripped through Mayfield Dec. 10 was one of four that hit Kentucky in the overnight hours. A total of 80 people were killed across the state.
    Graves County, where Mayfield is located, was hit hardest.    Two-dozen residents were killed by the tornado, which leveled much of the town’s downtown area.
    Eight of those deaths occurred at a candle production plant owned and operated by Mayfield Consumer Products, and the company has faced criticism — and legal action — over how officials operated while the storm was moving into the area from the west.
    More than 100 employees were on-site at the time of the storm, and dozens were trapped in the wreckage after the tornado destroyed the facility.    Eight people who were working at the Mayfield Consumer Products plant sued the company after the storm, accusing leadership of “flagrant indifference” over worker safety on the night of the tornado.
    The lawsuit at one point said the company refused to allow workers to leave the facility even as the tornado approached under threat of termination, a claim Mayfield Consumer Products has denied.    In January, the company said it planned to lay off 250 employees who could not be transferred to a second Mayfield Consumer Products facility, though a spokesman said the plant was “committed to the rehiring of everyone and to meeting or exceeding the employment levels it had prior to the tornado.”
    At a press conference Thursday, meanwhile, Beshear also said the Team West Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund, which was started by the state following the storm to help those who had been impacted, will put up $3.25 million through the Graves County Grain Assistance Program to assist local farmers that had lost business in the aftermath of the tornado.
    Lucas Aulbach can be reached at, 502-582-4649 or on Twitter @LucasAulbach     “This reinvestment by Mayfield Consumer Products is good news for Graves County and the surrounding region.”
Gov. Andy Beshear

6/27/2022 'Rogue black holes' might be neither 'rogue' nor 'black holes' by Eva Botkin-Kowacki – Popular Science
    When a star 20 times as massive as our sun dies, it can explode in a supernova and squeeze back down into a dense black hole (with gravity's help).    But that explosion is never perfectly symmetrical, so sometimes, the resulting black holes goes hurtling off into space.    These wandering objects are often called “rogue black holes” because they float around freely, untethered by other celestial bodies.
© NASA/ESA and G. Bacon (STScI) Hubble data from the Milky Way and other galaxies
is helping astronomers get to the bottom of an otherwise invisible mystery.
    But that name might be a “misnomer,” according to Jessica Lu, associate professor of astronomy at the University of California Berkeley.    She prefers the term “i>free-floating/i>” to describe these black holes.    “Rogue,” she says, implies that the nomads are rare or unusual—or up to no good.
    That's certainly not the case.    Astronomers estimate that there are as many as 100 million such black holes that roam around our galaxy.    But because they’re solitary, they're extremely difficult to find. Until recently, these so-called rogue black holes were only known through theory and calculations.
    “They are ghosts, so to speak,” says Lu, who has made it her mission to find the Milky Way's free-floating black holes.
    Earlier this year, two teams of space researchers separately revealed detections of what just might be one of these roaming black holes.    One of those teams was led by Casey Lam, a graduate student in Lu’s lab.    The other was led by Kailash C. Sahu, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute.    Both teams posted their papers on a free open-access journal without expert review.
    The scientists will get more data from the Hubble Space Telescope in October that Lu says should help “resolve the mystery of whether this is a black hole or a neutron star.”    “There’s still a lot of uncertainty about how stars die and the ghost remnants that they leave behind,” she notes.    When stars much more massive than our sun run out of nuclear fuel, they’re thought to collapse into either a black hole or a neutron star.    “But we don’t know exactly which ones die and turn into neutron stars or die and turn into black holes,” adds Lu.    “We don’t know when a black hole is born and a star dies, is there a violent supernova explosion?    Or does it directly collapse into a black hole and maybe just give a little burp?
    With star stuff making up everything we know in the world, understanding the afterlife of stars is key to understanding how we, ourselves, came to be.
How to spot a black hole on the loose
    Black holes are inherently invisible. They trap all light that they encounter, therefore there’s nothing for the human eye to perceive.    So, astronomers have to get creative to detect these dense, dark objects.
        Typically, they look for anomalies in gas, dust, stars, and other material that might be caused by the intensely strong gravity of a black hole. If a black hole is tearing material away from another celestial body, the resulting disk of debris that surrounds the black hole can be brightly visible.    (That’s how astronomers took the first direct image of one in 2019 and an image of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way earlier this year.)
    But if a black hole is not inflicting chaos with its gravitational force, there’s hardly anything to detect.    That’s often the case with these moving black holes. So, astronomers like Lu use another technique called astrometric or gravitational microlensing.
    “What we do is we wait for the chance alignment of one of these free-floating black holes and a background star,” Lu explains.    “When the two align, the light from the background star is warped by the gravity of the black hole [in front of it].    It shows up as a brightening of the star [in the astronomical data].    It also makes it take a little jaunt in the sky, a little wobble, so to speak.”b     The background star doesn’t actually move—rather, it appears to shift off its course when the black hole or another compact object passes in front of it.    That’s because the gravity of the black hole warps the fabric of spacetime, according to Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, which alters the starlight.
    The odds that a roaming black hole could pass through our celestial neighborhood and disrupt life on Earth are “astronomically small.”
    Astronomers use microlensing to study all kinds of temporary phenomena in the universe, from supernovae to exoplanets transiting around their stars.    But it’s tricky to do with ground-based telescopes, as the Earth’s atmosphere can blur the images.
    “In astrometry, you’re trying to measure the position of something very precisely, and you need very sharp images,” Lu explains.    So astronomers rely on telescopes in space, like Hubble, and a couple of ground-based instruments that have sophisticated systems to adapt for the atmospheric interference.    “There are really only three facilities in the world that can make this astrometric measurement,” Lu says.    “We’re working right at the cutting edge of what our technology can do today.”
    The first rogue black hole?
    It was that brightening, or a “gravitational lensing event” as Lu calls it, that both her and Sahu's teams spotted in data from the Hubble Space Telescope in 2011.    Something, they surmised, must be passing in front of that star.
    Figuring out what caused the wobble and change of intensity in a star’s light requires two measurements: brightness and position.    Astronomers observe that same spot in the sky over time to see how the light changes as the object passes in front of the star.    This gives them the data they need to calculate the mass of that object, which in turn determines whether it’s a black hole or a neutron star.
    “We know the thing that’s doing the lensing is heavy.    We know it’s heavier than your typical star.    And we know that it’s dark,” Lu notes.    “But we’re still a little uncertain about exactly how heavy and exactly how dark.”    If it’s only a little bit heavy, say, one and a half times the mass of our sun, it might actually be a neutron star.    But if it’s three to 10 times as massive as our sun, then it would be a black hole, Lu explains.
    As the two teams gathered data from 2011 to 2017, their analyses revealed distinctly different masses for that compact object.    Sahu’s team determined that the roaming object has a mass seven times that of our sun, which would put it squarely in black hole territory.    But Lam and Lu’s team calculated it to be less massive, somewhere between 1.6 and 4.4 solar masses, which spans both possibilities.
    The astronomers can’t be sure which calculation is correct until they get a chance to know just how bright the background star is normally and its position in the sky when something isn’t passing in front of it.    They weren’t focused on that star before noticing its uncharacteristic brightness and wobble, so they’re just now getting the chance to make those baseline observations as the lensing effect has faded, Lu explains.    Those observations will come from new Hubble data in the fall.
    What they do know is that the object in question is in the Carina-Sagittarius spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy, and is currently about 5,000 light years away from Earth.    This detection also suggests that the nearest roaming black hole to could be less than 100 light years away, Lu says.    But that’s not reason for concern.
    “Black holes are a drain.    If you get close enough, they will consume you,” Lu points out.    “But you have to get very close, much closer than I think we typically picture.” The boundary around a black hole marking the line where light can still escape its gravity, called the event horizon, typically has a radius of under 20 miles.
    The odds that a roaming black hole could pass through our celestial neighborhood and disrupt life on Earth are “astronomically small,” Lu says.    “That’s the size of a city.    So a black hole could pass by the solar system and we’d hardly notice.”
    But she’s not ruling it out.    “I’m a scientist,” she says.    “I can’t say no chance.”
    Regardless of whether the first teams detected a roaming black hole or a neutron star, Lu says, “the real revolution that these two papers are showing is that we can now find these black holes using a combination of brightness and position measurements.”    This opens the door to discoveries of more light-capturing nomads, especially as new telescopes come online, including the Vera C. Rubin Observatory currently under construction in Chile and the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope scheduled to launch later this decade.
    The way Lu sees it, “the next chapter of black hole studies in our galaxy has already begun.”

6/28/2022 UN chief: Selfishness delaying oceans deal by Barry Hatton, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Visitors watch sharks and other fish swimming at the Oceanarium in Lisbon, Portugal,
on Monday. The United Nations is hoping its Oceans Conference, which began Monday in Lisbon,
will bring fresh momentum to the protracted efforts for a global ocean agreement. ANA BRIGIDA/AP
    LISBON, Portugal – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says “egoism” on the part of some countries has been holding up a global agreement on protecting the world’s oceans.
    He said Monday that some countries – which he did not identify – won’t accept that the world’s oceans belong to everyone.
    “International waters are ours,” Guterres said, referring to all the planet’s inhabitants.
    The U.N. chief was with senior officials and scientists from more than 120 countries attending a five-day U.N. Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal.    Also present were activists frustrated by the failure to come up with international rules that might ensure ocean sustainability. Guterres said people should put pressure on their political leaders to act.
    The U.N. is hoping the conference that got underway Monday will bring fresh momentum to the protracted efforts for a global ocean agreement.
    No comprehensive legal framework covers the high seas.    Oceans cover some 70% of the earth’s surface and provide food and livelihoods for billions of people. Some activists refer to them as the largest unregulated area on the planet.
    The conference is set to adopt a declaration that, though not binding on its signatories, could help implement and facilitate the protection and conservation of oceans and their resources, according to the U.N. But still beyond reach is a vital new international agreement on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction, also known as the Treaty of the High Seas.
    That treaty is being negotiated within the framework of the United Convention on the Law of the Sea, which is the main international agreement governing human maritime activities.
    After 10 years of talks, however, including a fourth round of negotiations three months ago, a deal is still not within sight.    A fifth round is scheduled for August in New York.
    “The world’s largest ecosystem ... is still unprotected and is dying as we watch,” the activist group Ocean Rebellion said.    Guterres said “significant progress” has been made toward a deal on a high seas treaty and that the world stands at “a crucial moment” for the future of the oceans.
    “We need to make people put pressure on those who decide,” Guterres said, appealing for people to make themselves heard.
    Threats to the oceans include global warming, pollution, acidification and other problems, the U.N. says. Potentially harmful deep-sea mining also lacks rules.
    Activists plan demonstrations in the Atlantic port city during the event.
    The conference is also expected to reaffirm and build upon some 62 commitments made by governments at the previous summit in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2018, from protecting small island states with ocean-based economies to sustainable fishing and combating warming waters.
    Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations.    The AP is solely responsible for all content.

6/28/2022 Ancient fossils in the 'Cradle of Humankind' are more than 1 million years older than previously thought by (Paola Rosa-Aquino) – Business Insider
© Mark Edward Harris The Sterkfontein Caves contain more remains from Australopithecus than anywhere else on Earth.
They're part of a major fossil site in South Africa known as the "Cradle of Humankind." Mark Edward Harris
  • Scientists say early human ancestors, whose remains are in a South African cave, lived about 3.7 million years ago.
  • Researchers relied on "burial dating," a method that uses space particles to date early human fossils.
  • The fossils' updated age makes them several hundred thousand years older than the human ancestor "Lucy."
    In 1936, archeologists began unearthing a trove of early human fossils in a South African cave.    Now, researchers say most of those ancient bones date back 3.7 million years, which makes them more than 1 million years older than previously thought.
    In a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an international team of researchers turned to an innovative dating technique.    They used space particles to analyze bones in the Sterkfontein Caves, part of a major fossil site in northern South Africa known as the "Cradle of Humankind."
    The Sterkfontein Caves contain more remains from Australopithecus — a family of early hominins that eventually gave rise to Homo sapiens — than anywhere else on Earth, according to Darryl Granger, a geology professor at Purdue University and lead researcher of the study.    "There are hundreds of them," he told Insider.
    But it's hard to accurately date the Australopithecus remains, in part because the cave has multiple layers, as well as animal fossils on the same site, which might be from different eras than the fossils next to them.
    To gauge the ages of the hominid skeletal remains, Granger and his team used a technique known as "cosmogenic nuclide dating," or burial dating, which involves examining the rocks that encased the ancient bones.    It works like this: When energetic particles from space, or cosmic rays, hit rocks, they produce elements like aluminum and beryllium that build up and decay at a known rate.
    "We're able to take a rock that was exposed to cosmic rays, and if it falls into a cave, it's shielded from more radiation," Granger told Insider, adding, "It's called burial dating because, really, what we're doing is dating when the rock was buried."
    Granger used the same method in 2015 to estimate that one set of Australopithecus remains found in the Sterkfontein Caves, nicknamed Little Foot, was about 3.4 to 3.7 million years old. The new study suggests that in addition to Little Foot, all Australopithecus remains on the site are between 3.4 and 3.7 million years old, rather than roughly 2 million years old, as scientists previously thought.
© Mark Edward Harris The excavation site at the Sterkfontein Caves
where "Little Foot" was discovered in 1994. Mark Edward Harris
    The remains' shifting age puts the species within roughly the same time frame that the famous human ancestor "Lucy" — which belonged to the species Australopithecus afarensis — roamed what's now Ethiopia, 3.2 million years ago.    According to Granger, that refutes the theory that the Sterkfontein individuals descended from Australopithecus afarensis.    "There must be an older common ancestor somewhere," Granger added.
    Granger hopes the team's findings, and the burial dating method used, could help better chronicle human evolution.    He hopes follow-up studies will tease out how the Sterkfontein remains compare to those found in different South African fossil sites, and beyond, he added.
    Because of burial dating, he said, "We're able to make much better measurements than we could before on several human evolution sites around the world."

6/29/2022 What Scientists Think The Universe Was Like Before The Big Bang by Rebecca Beamer - Grunge
    The Big Bang is generally considered by physicists to be the starting point of our universe.    In a flash of intense heat and light, the beginning of everything that has ever existed in the universe came into being.    But is it possible that something could have existed before the Big Bang?    After all, something couldn't have come from nothing, right?    It turns out the answer is a bit complicated.
© Vadim Sadovski/Shutterstock Light spiraling in space
    Currently, scientists don't know what the universe was like at any point before one second after the Big Bang (via Live Science).    At that point, things were cooled enough that quarks and electrons, the building blocks of all matter, came to be.    According to the European Council for Nuclear Research, just a few minutes later, protons and neutrons combined, creating the nuclei of the first atoms.    From that point, the universe continued to expand rapidly, eventually leading to the creation of the first stars and galaxies.    The moments that happened before all of this, however, are still a mystery to physicists.    There are several theories that have been suggested over the years to try and explain what may have happened before the Big Bang, although none have been proven -- yet.
Theoretical Physicists Believe Our Universe Could End In A Big Crunch
© Triff/Shutterstock Artist concept of a blue star
    Before we figure out what happened before the beginning, it is important to know how physicists think it will end.    One theory for how our universe will end is known as the Big Crunch.    This theory, based on Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, states that our universe's current expansion will eventually slow to a halt.    When this happens, the universe will fall in on itself due to gravity (via Universe Today).    This will cause all matter to smash together in an event that is essentially the opposite of the Big Bang.
    While the Big Crunch isn't the only theory for how the universe will end, it just might be the key to figuring out what might have taken place before the Big Bang.    Some scientists have theorized that if the Big Crunch were to occur, it is possible that all that matter being smashed into one place could create enough energy to trigger a second Big Bang, restarting the universe from scratch (via    If it's possible for the Big Crunch to take place in the future, whose to say one hasn't already occurred and we are currently existing in the second, third, fourth, or even millionth generation of our universe?    What if our universe is just constantly bouncing back and forth between the next Big Bang and Big Crunch?
The Multiverse Theory May Provide Alternative Answers
© vchal/Shutterstock Multiple Earths next to each other
    The idea that we are bouncing back and forth between bangs and crunches is not the only theory that could explain what took place before the Big Bang.    For example, theoretical physicist Sean Carroll at the California Institute of Technology and his colleague Jennifer Chen have created their own theory for what may have occurred before our universe.    Their paper on the subject, published in 2004, suggested that our universe could have been created as a result of a piece of space-time splitting from a parent universe (via Cornell University).
    According to Carroll, this theory works similarly to how radioactive particles decay. Just as a radioactive particle sends out alpha and beta particles as it decays, a parent universe could do the same thing, but sending out Big Bangs that create new universes instead of particles (via Live Science).    He believes this process could happen indefinitely, with universes continually creating parallel universes eternally.    The idea that we are living in a multiverse has been played around with by others before, but Carroll and Chen's research has helped to lay the foundation of how the multiverse could actually exist.
Steven Hawking Believed That Events Before The Big Bang Are Unmeasurable
© Paolo Gallo/Shutterstock Infinite clock in Roman numerals
    Generally speaking, most physicists don't look much into what happened before the Big Bang.    Why?    Because for most research, it doesn't really matter.    While it is certainly possible that something existed before the Big Bang, it most likely wasn't as interesting as we might think.    According to Live Science, it is possible that all that existed before the Big Bang was just dense, hot material that randomly exploded into our universe, but there isn't much we can do with that.    For physicists like the late Steven Hawking, studying the moments immediately after the Big Bang are much more important for understanding physics.
    According to Hawking, time did not exist before the Big Bang, so there wasn't a before.    This can be a hard topic for people to grasp, as we normally think of the progression of time as an important part of how events play out.    Simply put, there wasn't a progression of time until the Big Bang.    As Hawking put it in a 2018 "Star Talk" interview, "since events before the Big Bang have no observational consequences, one may as well cut them out of the theory and say that time began at the Big Bang" (via the Daily Mail).
Experimental Evidence May Help Us Understand The First Second Of The Big Bang>
© Elena11/Shutterstock Gravitational waves in space
    Unfortunately for the field of physics, there isn't much we can do right now to discover what happened in the milliseconds immediately following the Big Bang.    This is because our current technology only lets us see so far back into the early universe.    Our universe is currently around 13.8 billion years old (via New Scientist).    Even with impressive current technology, the furthest the Hubble Space Telescope has been able to see is an object 12.9 billion light years away.    According to NASA, the object, nicknamed Earendel, was seen by Hubble as it looked when the universe was only 7% of its current age.
    The good news is, the detection of gravitational waves in 2015 may be able to pave the way in helping physicists study how the universe may have acted in the moments following the Big Bang.    The author of the 2015 study, Stephen Feeney, believes that his findings could help answer questions about the early universe as quickly as within the next few years (via Live Science).    These answers could be crucial in discovering how the Big Bang came to be in the first place.
New Technology Could Reveal More Information About The Early Universe
© Dima Zel/Shutterstock James Webb Space Telescope in space
    In addition to new discoveries like gravitational waves, newer technology will also be able to help scientists get a better idea of how things may have worked during the first moments of our universe. While the Hubble telescope was recently able to see 12.9 billion light years away, newer space telescopes, like the James Webb Space Telescope, will be able to see even further away.    According to NASA, Webb will be able to see as far back as just 100 million to 250 million years after the Big Bang.
    While the James Webb Space Telescope is about to send us back its first photos any day now, it may take several years before we can expect to see it make any major discoveries regarding the Big Bang.    In the meantime, theoretical physicists will continue to study the complex math surrounding those crucial first moments in order to better our understanding of how our universe was created, and what may have been around before it.

6/29/2022 ORNL trying to open door to parallel universe by Camruinn Morgan-Rumsey – Knoxville WVLT-TV
    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Scientists at Oak Ridge National Labs are trying to discover parallel universes. Now, after several years of searching, they have revealed what they’ve found so far.
© Provided by Knoxville WVLT-TV Photo courtesy of ORNL
    The team of physicists have been searching for evidence of a “right-handed version of our left-handed universe.”    Specifically, scientists said they are looking for a “mirror neutron” by sending neutrons - one of the particles that makes up atoms - into a tube with a blocked end, then seeing if any make it to the other side.
    ORNL researchers are comparing what they are looking for to Stranger Things’ “upside down.”
    “So, the question I get the most is, were we successful in opening the portal?    And unfortunately, no, we did not find any evidence of parallel universes or new interactions with the neutron and the Dark Sector,” scientist Leah Broussard said.
    The search isn’t over, however.    Scientists said they have “more sensitive” experiments planned, so we may learn more in the years to come.
Copyright 2022 WVLT. All rights reserved.

6/30/2022 Fossils in the Cradle of Humankind site reignite debate on origins of humans by Rhoda Kwan – NBC News
    Fossils of early human ancestors found in a South African cave system may be 1 million years older than first thought, according to a study published Monday.
    The findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal suggest that they are between 3.4 million to 3.6 million years old — older than Ethiopia’s renowned Lucy or Dinkinesh fossil that was discovered in 1974 and dated back to 3.2 million years.
    The ancient hominin fossils were discovered in the Sterkfontein Caves, 30 miles northwest of Johannesburg, that form part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Cradle of Humankind.    Hominins include humans and our ancestral relatives, but not the other great apes.
    “Because Sterkfontein has the largest concentration of Australopithecus fossils from an individual site in Africa, it has been a critical part of the research and debates on our ancestry,” professor Kathleen Kuman, who was part of the research team led by Purdue University, told NBC News on Wednesday.
    Kuman, a professor emeritus at the University of the Witwatersrand, added that the new dates “show that these South African hominid fossils were largely contemporary with species in East Africa such as Australopithecus afarensis and are unlikely to be their descendants, better revealing the more complex nature of how species evolved in the past.”
    Lucy or Dinkinesh and her species, Australopithecus africanus, hail back to about 3.9 million years old, according to a news release by Purdue University.    It added that the research team used new technology developed at the university to date the South African fossils, which scientists had previously theorized were between 2 million and 2.5 million years old.
    So, the debate on the origins of modern humans has been reignited by this study.
    “The new dates now help us to place such evolutionary developments more accurately in time,” Kuman said.
    Study lead Darryl Granger’s team used accelerator mass spectrometry to measure radioactive nuclides in the rocks, as well as geologic mapping to help date the Australopithecus-bearing sediments at Sterkfontein, Purdue University said in the news release.
Fossil of 'megaraptor' with bladelike claws discovered in Argentina
    While the Sterkfontein cave system has preserved a long history of hominin occupation in the area, dating the fossils can be difficult as rocks and bones tumbled to the bottom of a deep hole in the ground, it said.
    In East Africa, dating fossils is easier because researchers can use layers of ash from volcanoes to estimate how old they are, it added.
    “What our data does is resolve these controversies.    It shows that these fossils are old — much older than we originally thought,” Granger said in a statement.

6/30/2022 A Recent Fossil Discovery Could Prove Humans Have Been Around For Longer Than We Thought by Matt Reigle - Grunge
    Researchers in South Africa recently made a major discovery that could potentially alter the previously understood timeline of human existence. According to BBC News, the discovery was that new tests performed on some recovered specimens have revealed that they are much older than previously thought.
© Valente Romero/Shutterstock Hominid skull
    Fossils of the early human ancestor Australopithecus africanus recovered from Sterkfontein Caves near Johannesberg, South Africa were thought to have dated back to 2.6 million years ago.    However, according to CNN, new testing on the sediments in which the specimens were found has been found to be closer to 3.4 million to 3.7 million years.
    This is a substantial difference that changed the time frame that species like Australopithecus africanus were thought to have been in existence and now seems to indicate that they overlapped with other species Australopithecus afarensi, species of which the famous fossil Lucy is part of.    Until now, it was thought that Australopithecus africanus had been a descendant of Australopithecus afarensi, but this new information has called that assumption into question.
The New Testing Laid Dating Controversies To Rest
© SAPhotog/Shutterstock Sterkfontein Caves excavation site
    According to CNN, the Sterkfontein Caves have been the site where hundreds of Australopithecus fossils have been recovered since the site was discovered in 1936.    Since then, major fossil discoveries including an almost completely intact female skull known as Mrs. Ples, and an almost complete skeleton known as Little Foot were both found there (via BBC News).    However, there has been disagreement in the anthropological community about the true age of these fossils.
New type of ancient human found in Israel
    "Sterkfontein has more Australopithecus fossils than anywhere else in the world," Darryl Granger, professor of Earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences in Purdue University's College of Science, said.    "But it's hard to get a good date on them.    People have looked at the animal fossils found near them and compared the ages of cave features like flowstones and gotten a range of different dates.    What our data does is resolve these controversies.    It shows that these fossils are old -- much older than we originally thought."
How Did Researchers Come To This Conclusion?
© Dave Einsel/Getty Images Australopithecus afarensis
    The sediments around where the fossils were found, as well as the fossils themselves, were tested and found to fall into the 3.4 million-to 3.6 million-year-old range.    The dating process used cosmogenic nuclides, rare radioactive particles that are produced inside of minerals by cosmic rays, per CNN.    This was significant because it placed these Australopithecus fossils closer to the end of the Australopithecus era than the beginning of it, as previously thought.
    "What our age shows is that this cannot be true, because they are virtually the same age," Granger said in a statement.    "There must be an older common ancestor.    It also gives much more time for the South African species to evolve, and reopens discussion about the role of the South African species into later hominins such as Paranthropus."
    This isn't the first time Granger has used this method to make a breakthrough discovery.    In 2014, Granger discovered that dating could be done by measuring small amounts of aluminum-25 — a cosmogenic nuclides — with great accuracy.    This allowed researchers to determine dates for sites where this had previously been exceedingly difficult.

    Please return to see the rest of 2022.

    This page created on 4/1/2022, and updated on 4/30/2022, 5/31/2022 and 6/30/2022.

Please close this window when done, or select the previous tab or back button to return to previous page.
Or return to the Table of Contents - Chapter Eight or
Or return to the Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D.
2011-2022 ????? Unknown future of the Sixth group of Twelve years
Or return to Global Environment 2022 January-March or continue to Global Environment 2022 July-Sept