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Wed, 04 Aug 2021
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Science & Technology


Common insecticide is harmful to bees in 'any amount' - study

leafcutter bee
© David Rankin/UCR
An alfalfa leafcutter bee, the type used by UC Riverside scientists to study the effects of pesticide and water levels.
A new UC Riverside study shows that a type of insecticide made for commercial plant nurseries is harmful to a typical bee even when applied well below the label rate.

The study was published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Chemically similar to nicotine, neonicotinoids are insecticides that protect against plant-consuming insects like aphids, but seriously harm beneficial insects, like bees. They are widely used by commercial growers.

Comment: Fortunately for humans, nicotine delivered via tobacco smoking can actually be extremely beneficial.

Comment: Mainstream agricultural practices destroy soil health and in turn the ability that plants have to fight off predators. That we have to use pesticides at all shows how little we know about life on our planet and our inability to produce and manage abundance:


Giraffes have complex social systems says study

Scientists at the University of Bristol have discovered evidence that giraffes are a highly socially complex species.
© Zoe Muller
A mother Rothschild's giraffe tending to her baby. The photo was taken in Soysambu Conservancy, in the Rift Valley region of Kenya. Giraffes are attentive mothers to their offspring, and all female adults in a group are invested in each others' offspring.
Traditionally, giraffes were thought to have little or no social structure, and only fleeting, weak relationships. However in the last ten years, research has shown that giraffe social organisation is much more advanced than once thought.

In a paper published in today in the journal Mammal Review, Zoe Muller, of Bristol's School of Biological Sciences, has demonstrated that giraffes spend up to 30% of their lives in a post-reproductive state. This is comparable to other species with highly complex social structures and cooperative care, such as elephants and killer-whales which spend 23% and 35% of their lives in a post-reproductive state respectively. In these species, it has been demonstrated that the presence of post-menopausal females offers survival benefits for related offspring. In mammals - and -ncluding humans - this is known as the 'Grandmother hypothesis' which suggests that females live long past menopause so that they can help raise successive generations of offspring, thereby ensuring the preservation of their genes. Researchers propose that the presence of post-reproductive adult female giraffes could also function in the same way, and supports the author's assertion that giraffes are likely to engage in cooperative parenting, along matrilines, and contribute to the shared parental care of related kin.

Better Earth

Sudden ocean oxygen spike coincided with Permian extinction, anoxia then followed

© Stephen Bilenky / National High Magnetic Field Laboratory
Rock samples are purified to test for thallium isotopes at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.
Two hundred fifty-two million years ago, much of life on planet Earth was dying.

In an event that marked the end of the Permian period, more than 96 percent of the planet's marine species and 70 percent of its terrestrial life suddenly went extinct. It was the largest extinction in Earth's history.

Now Florida State University researchers have found that the extinction coincided with a sudden spike and subsequent drop in the ocean's oxygen content. Their findings were published in Nature Geoscience.

Comment: See also:

Comet 2

Why is this weird, metallic, flashing star hurtling out of the Milky Way?

cassiopea nova
© Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain
About 2,000 light-years away from Earth, there is a star catapulting toward the edge of the Milky Way. This particular star, known as LP 40−365, is one of a unique breed of fast-moving stars — remnant pieces of massive white dwarf stars — that have survived in chunks after a gigantic stellar explosion.

"This star is moving so fast that it's almost certainly leaving the galaxy...[it's] moving almost two million miles an hour," says JJ Hermes, Boston University College of Arts & Sciences assistant professor of astronomy. But why is this flying object speeding out of the Milky Way? Because it's a piece of shrapnel from a past explosion — a cosmic event known as a supernova — that's still being propelled forward.

"To have gone through partial detonation and still survive is very cool and unique, and it's only in the last few years that we've started to think this kind of star could exist," says Odelia Putterman, a former BU student who has worked in Hermes' lab.

Comment: Note that Plasma scientists conclude that our Sun is no a 'nuclear reactor' and instead, as Pierre Lescaudron explains in his book Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection:
From the observations listed above, it seems that celestial bodies are electrically powered by external electric sources in a cascading fashion. The intergalactic void powers the galaxies, aligns them and makes them spin. In turn, the galaxies align the stars, power them and make them spin. Finally the stars power the planets and make them spin.

If this hypothesis is correct, it means that stars - including our sun - do not 'run out of fuel' in the way that the mainstream solar hypotheses suggest.

So for our solar system, the Sun powers the planets - including Earth - and makes them spin. Notice also that all planets are located on the same plane (the plane of the ecliptic) in the same way most stars are located on the galactic plane.

In sum, the very same process seems to repeat at all different scales, like a fractal. A greater entity electrically powers a smaller one, while the latter powers an even smaller one. At every scale, we notice the presence of Birkeland currents crossing the space plasma, surrounding celestial bodies (galaxies, stars, and planets) and directing this aligning, orbiting and spinning cosmic ballet.
Star LP 40-365 is not the only space object observed to be periodically dimming and brightening recently, although the reasons for those linked below may, or may not, be the same:


Eternal change for no energy: A time crystal is finally made real

google time crystal
© Google
The cryostat used to hold Google’s quantum processors.
Like a perpetual motion machine, a time crystal forever cycles between states without consuming energy. Physicists claim to have built this new phase of matter inside a quantum computer.

In a preprint posted online Thursday night, researchers at Google in collaboration with physicists at Stanford, Princeton and other universities say that they have used Google's quantum computer to demonstrate a genuine "time crystal." In addition, a separate research group claimed earlier this month to have created a time crystal in a diamond.

A novel phase of matter that physicists have strived to realize for many years, a time crystal is an object whose parts move in a regular, repeating cycle, sustaining this constant change without burning any energy.

Comment: SlashGear features a simpler, entertaining explanation for time crystals, while damping down some of the hype engendered by the name:

Comet 2

New Comet C/2021 O3 (PANSTARRS)

CBET xxxx & MPEC 2021-P05, issued on 2021, August 01, announce the discovery of a new comet (magnitude ~20) on CCD images taken on July 26.5 UT with the Pan-STARRS1 1.8-m Ritchey-Chretien reflector at Haleakala. The new comet has been designated C/2021 O3 (PANSTARRS).

Stacking of 15 unfiltered exposures, 240 seconds each, obtained remotely on 2021, July 30.3 from X02 (Telescope Live, Chile) through a 0.61-m f/6.5 astrograph + CCD, shows that this object is a comet with a compact coma about 8" arcsecond in diameter (Observers E. Guido, M. Rocchetto, E. Bryssinck, M. Fulle, G. Milani, C. Nassef, G. Savini, A. Valvasori).

Our confirmation image (click on the images for a bigger version; made with TYCHO software by D. Parrott)

Comet C/2021 O3 (PANSTARRS)
© Remanzacco Blogspot


Strange intersecting sand dunes pictured on Mars

mars dune polygon
In our exploration of Mars, we've seen some strange but naturally occurring shapes. Polygons - a shape with at least three straight sides and angles, typically with five or more - have been seen in several different Martian landscapes, and scientists say these shapes are of great interest because they often indicate the presence of shallow ice, or that water formerly was present in these areas.

For example, the Phoenix lander saw polygon shapes on the ground in the Mars arctic region, and these shapes were produced by seasonal expansion and contraction of ground ice. The HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has found large polygon-shaped ridges, and networks of giant polygonal troughs created by ancient lakes that have evaporated.

But HiRISE (the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) has also seen these odd shapes within dry, dusty sand dunes. In our lead image, these polygon-shaped sand dunes have an almost honeycomb-like appearance.

Comment: See also:

Microscope 1

Through the thin-film glass, researchers spot a new liquid phase

Water Droplet
© Wikipedia
Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes a new type of liquid in thin films, which forms a high-density glass. Results generated in this study, conducted by researchers in Penn's Department of Chemistry, demonstrate how these glasses and other similar materials can be fabricated to be denser and more stable, providing a framework for developing new applications and devices through better design.

Glass is typically created through solidification, or falling out of equilibrium, of a liquid when it is cooled to a temperature where its motion arrests. The structure of a glass closely resembles the liquid phase, but its properties are similar to solids, akin to a crystal.

Glasses that are made into ultrathin, nanometer-scale films are widely used in applications such as OLED displays and optical fibers. But when these types of glasses are made into thin films, even at cold temperatures they behave more like a liquid, and the resulting material can be prone to droplet formation or crystallization, which limits the size of the smallest features that are possible.


Astronomers discover two TNO-like bodies in the asteroid belt

The pair, named 203 Pompeja and 269 Justitia, bear a resemblance to objects located in the outer solar system.
Asteroid Belt

They're red, they're reasonably big, and they have no business being in the main asteroid belt, but their discovery confirms the complex conditions in place when the solar system was still forming.

New research published in the The Astrophysical Journal Letters details the discovery of two extremely red main-belt asteroids. Named 203 Pompeja and 269 Justitia, the asteroids have a redder spectral signature than any other asteroid in the main belt, that highly populated band of asteroids situated between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The new paper was led by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronomer Sunao Hasegawa.

Importantly, these red asteroids resemble trans-Neptunian objects, that is, objects located farther away than Neptune, the most distant planet from the Sun (with no disrespect to dwarf planet Pluto). This could mean that 203 Pompeja and 269 Justitia formed way out there in the Kuiper Belt and then drifted inward when the solar system was still young. If confirmed, the new finding shows how chaotic the conditions were back then and that materials from different parts of the solar system would sometimes mix together.

The purpose of the study was to document the distribution and composition of large asteroids in the main belt. Large asteroids, especially those larger than 60 miles (100 km) in width, are likely survivors of the solar system's early days. By studying these objects, the scientists were hoping to catch a glimpse of what the conditions were like some 4 billion years ago.


A blood test for your body clock?

Body Clock
© IFL Science
What time is your body clock set on?

The answer, mounting research suggests, can influence everything from your predisposition to diabetes, heart disease and depression to the optimal time for you to take medication. But unlike routine blood tests for cholesterol and hormone levels, there's no easy way to precisely measure a person's individual circadian rhythm.

At least not yet.

New CU Boulder research, published in the Journal of Biological Rhythms, suggests that day could come in the not-too-distant future. The study found it's possible to determine the timing of a person's internal circadian or biological clock by analyzing a combination of molecules in a single blood draw.

"If we can understand each individual person's circadian clock, we can potentially prescribe the optimal time of day for them to be eating or exercising or taking medication," said senior author Christopher Depner, who conducted the study while an assistant professor of integrative physiology at CU Boulder. "From a personalized medicine perspective, it could be groundbreaking."