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Methane emissions from fracking vastly underestimated by EPA - study

fracking
© AFP Photo / David McNew
The Environmental Protection Agency is under fire for underestimating the amount of methane gas emitted during natural gas operations, including fracking, thanks to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The study has 13 co-authors from several academic and research institutions, and used an aircraft to identify large sources of methane and quantify emission rates in southwestern Pennsylvania in June 2012. The authors discovered that emissions rates per second were 1,000 times higher than those estimated by the EPA for the same time period.

"Methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States from human activities," the EPA website states. Carbon dioxide is the most prevalent, but it is not as damaging of a greenhouse gas as methane. "Pound for pound, the comparative impact of [methane] on climate change is over 20 times greater than [carbon dioxide] over a 100-year period."
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Study: Even casual pot use causes brain abnormalities

© Shutterstock
Even casual use of marijuana can cause significant abnormalities in two areas of the brain that regulate emotion and motivation, according to a new study.

The findings, published Wednesday in the Journal of Neuroscience, challenge the idea that casual pot smoking is relatively harmless, researchers said.

The study, which was conducted by Northwestern Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School and funded in part by anti-drug government agencies, found major abnormalities directly related to the amount of weed smoked each week.

"Some of these people only used marijuana to get high once or twice a week," said the study's co-author, Dr. Hans Breiter. "People think a little recreational use shouldn't cause a problem, if someone is doing OK with work or school. Our data directly says this is not the case."
Fireball 4

Earth has experienced many more large-scale asteroid impacts over the past decade than previously thought

Chelyabinsk Meteorite
© Universe Today
The bolide that impacted the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk in Feb. 2013 detonated with the equivalent of 530 kilotons of TNT, injuring over 1,200 people.
This Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, three former NASA astronauts will present new evidence that our planet has experienced many more large-scale asteroid impacts over the past decade than previously thought... three to ten times more, in fact. A new visualization of data from a nuclear weapons warning network, to be unveiled by B612 Foundation CEO Ed Lu during the evening event at Seattle's Museum of Flight, shows that "the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a 'city-killer' sized asteroid is blind luck."

Since 2001, 26 atomic-bomb-scale explosions have occurred in remote locations around the world, far from populated areas, made evident by a nuclear weapons test warning network. In a recent press release B612 Foundation CEO Ed Lu states:
"This network has detected 26 multi-kiloton explosions since 2001, all of which are due to asteroid impacts. It shows that asteroid impacts are NOT rare - but actually 3-10 times more common than we previously thought. The fact that none of these asteroid impacts shown in the video was detected in advance is proof that the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a 'city-killer' sized asteroid is blind luck. The goal of the B612 Sentinel mission is to find and track asteroids decades before they hit Earth, allowing us to easily deflect them."
The B612 Foundation is partnered with Ball Aerospace to build the Sentinel Infrared Space Telescope Mission.
Chalkboard

Cosmic bloom? Early blossom for cherry tree after space trip

© AFP/Chujo-Hime-Seigan-Zakura Preservation Society
Cherry tree in bloom, grown from a cherry pit that spent time onboard the International Space Station (ISS), at the Ganjoji temple in Gifu city, central Japan.
A four-year-old cherry tree grown from a pit that orbited the Earth for eight months aboard the ISS has burst into blossom in Japan far earlier than usual with very interesting flowers, a riddle that is perplexing local scientists.

The 'extraterrestrial' cherry tree was expected to blossom in six years, in 2018, as normally it takes at least 10 years for similar sorts of tree to bear their first buds.

However, in April the 'space cherry tree', already grown to around 4 meters tall, suddenly produced nine flowers, reported local media. The blooms' form was also unusual as each had only five petals, while on the parent tree from which it was taken there were about 30 petals.
Network

South Korea has the fastest internet service, U.S. runs dismal 26th worldwide

WLAN, Internet
© Deymos Photo/Shutterstock
Which county has the world's fastest Internet service? How about South Korea. That's according to a new study from content delivery service Pando Networks that sampled some 35 petabytes of data from 27 million downloads and 224 countries. The service found that South Korea is top in the world in terms of download speed, averaging 17.62 Mbps.

Romania has the second fastest Internet speeds on the planet, clocking in at 15.27 Mbps, and a trio of Eastern European countries round out the top five, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Latvia. The United States musters a very pedestrian 4.93 Mbps - good for 26th in the world - while China, home to the world's largest Internet population, manages a dismal 1.96 Mbps.
Flashlight

Glow in the dark road unveiled in the Netherlands

glow in the dark road
© AFP/Getty
These "glowing lines" could replace street lights or be used in areas where there are none.
Glow in the dark road markings have been unveiled on a 500m stretch of highway in the Netherlands.

The paint contains a "photo-luminising" powder that charges up in the daytime and slowly releases a green glow at night, doing away with the need for streetlights.

Interactive artist Daan Roosegaarde teamed up with Dutch civil engineering firm Heijmans to work on the idea.

The technology is being tested with an official launch due later this month.

It is the first time "glowing lines" technology has been piloted on the road and can be seen on the N329 in Oss, approximately 100km south east of Amsterdam.

Once the paint has absorbed daylight it can glow for up to eight hours in the dark.
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Not everyone needs probiotics, suggests study of hunter-gatherer guts

Probiotics
© Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology
Gut response. These Hadza women have different gut bacteria than Hadza men, probably because they eat a lot of high-fiber tuberous root vegetables.
After taking an antibiotic or catching an intestinal bug, many of us belt down probiotic drinks to restore the "natural balance" of organisms in our intestines. Probiotics are one of the fastest growing products in the food industry, now added to yogurts, drinks, and baby food. Yet, not everyone needs them to stay healthy. A new study of the gut bacteria of hunter-gatherers in Africa has found that they completely lack a bacterium that is a key ingredient in most probiotic foods and considered healthy. What's more, the Hadza don't suffer from colon cancer, colitis, Crohn's, or other diseases of the colon that are found in humans eating modern diets in Western nations.

The new study is the first to report on the gut bacteria of hunter-gatherers, who hunt and forage for most of their foods, just as our ancestors did before the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago. Until now, studies of gut bacteria have focused on people who live in industrialized nations, many of whom eat diets high in sugar, salt, and fat. These diets have shifted the type of bacteria in our guts, known as the microbiome. Gut bacteria respond rapidly to changes in their host's diet, and humans who live in rural areas and eat fewer processed foods have more diverse microbiomes. Conversely, researchers also have found an association between less diversity in the microbiome and diseases of the colon, such as Crohn's disease and colon cancer.
Laptop

Will changing your password protect you from Heartbleed?


The bug means hackers can eavesdrop and leave no trace in server logs. The flaw was introduced in OpenSSL in December 2011, and was 'in the wild' until Monday, when a new version fixing the flaw was released
  • Affected sites include Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Tumblr and Netflix
  • These sites have fixed the flaw and users should change their passwords
  • However, this leaves a number of websites still vulnerable to attack
  • Security firms are urging users to only change passwords on sites that have confirmed they are safe
  • Updating passwords on vulnerable sites still leaves details at risk
  • The problem was found in the widely-used OpenSSL software
  • Sites including Amazon.com, Twitter and PayPal were never affected
Tech companies are facing increased pressure to do more to reassure their users about the Heartbleed bug.

Affected sites, including Google and Facebook, have fixed the problem, but its users are complaining they're still being left in the dark as to what it means for their personal data.

Meanwhile, there are still thousands of websites who are yet to fix the problem, or officially announce the fix - leaving their users in limbo.
Syringe

Former Merck doctor: Gardasil will be the biggest scandal in medical history


Dr. Bernard Dalbergue
The former Merck doctor, French Dr. Bernard Dalbergue, was interviewed for the magazine Principe de Santé (Health Principles) in April this year, and in that interview he talks about his experiences in the pharmaceutical industry. After some tough years as a doctor in a hospital, Dr. Bernard Dalbergue quickly became seduced by the convenience of work in the pharmaceutical industry. Less yelling, pain and death. The latest fashion, fancy cars, money and embezzlement became part of his new life instead. Right up until his conscience, after 20 years in the pharmaceutical laboratories, woke him up and he wrote all his experiences in a book.

Le Gardasil sera le plus grand scandale de tous les temps

In the interview Dr. Bernard Dalbergue talks about his surprise at how Marcia Angell, former head of the respected New England Journal of Medicine, left her job because she believed that the pharmaceutical industry manipulated the clinical research and controlled all the information that got to public attention. She, like many others, claimed that scientific studies that on the surface was described as objective and independent, was actually written by the pharmaceutical industry.

Comment: Gardasil: Medical torture and child abuse by Big Pharma

Blue Planet

Scientists discover noctilucent cloud intensity is precursor to changes in global weather patterns

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