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Thu, 22 Aug 2019
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Mars

What might a Marsquake look like?

mars marte
© CC0/pixbay
Southern California got all shook up after a set of recent quakes. But Earth isn't the only place that experiences quakes: Both the Moon and Mars have them as well. NASA sent the first seismometer to the Moon 50 years ago, during the Apollo 11 mission; the agency's InSight lander brought the first seismometer to Mars in late 2018, and it's called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS).

Provided by the French space agency, Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES), the seismometer detected its first marsquake on April 6, 2019. The InSight mission's Marsquake Service, which monitors the data from SEIS, is led by Swiss research university ETH Zurich.

Quakes look and feel different depending on the material their seismic waves pass through. In a new video, scientists at ETH demonstrate this by using data from the Apollo-era seismometers on the Moon, two of the first quakes detected on Mars by SEIS and quakes recorded here on Earth.

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Info

Japanese study disproved the common belief that sightings of rare deep-sea fish are signs of an imminent earthquake

Deep-Sea Omen

In Japan, the appearance of deep-sea fish in shallow waters has long thought to foretell of an impending earthquake. One of the earliest references to the phenomenon is in the Shokoku rijindan, a selection of strange tales published in 1743. However, with no hard research on the subject, it was not known if the belief was fact or merely legend.
An Oarfish
© Niigata Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries
An oarfish.
However, in June a research team from Tokai University's Institute of Oceanic Research and Development and the University of Shizuoka released results of a study that proved the association between deep sea fish and earthquakes as nothing more than superstition.

The group scoured records for sightings of eight deep-dwelling species like the oarfish and ribbon fish that are widely held to be portents of impending temblors. It identified 336 cases between November 1928 and March 2011 of deep-sea fish washing ashore or getting caught in nets.

The team then looked for evidence of earthquakes of magnitude 6.0 and above within a 100- kilometer radius of areas where fish had been sighted, but were only able to find one case, a tremor off Chūetsu in Niigata Prefecture on July 16, 2007. Based on the data, researchers concluded that no quantifiable relationship between sightings of deep-sea fish and earthquakes existed.

Orihara Yoshiaki, an assistant professor at the Tōkai University Institute of Oceanic Research who led the study, explained the motivation behind the project.

Microscope 1

Parasitic plants steal genes from host plants to make them better parasites

dodder plant
© simona / Adobe Stock
Dodder plant
Some parasitic plants steal genetic material from their host plants and use the stolen genes to more effectively siphon off the host's nutrients. A new study led by researchers at Penn State and Virginia Tech reveals that the parasitic plant dodder has stolen a large amount of genetic material from its hosts, including over 100 functional genes. These stolen genes contribute to dodder's ability to latch onto and steal nutrients from the host and even to send genetic weapons back into the host. The new study appears July 22, 2019, in the journal Nature Plants.

"Horizontal gene transfer, the movement of genetic material from one organism into the genome of another species, is very common in microbes and is a major way that bacteria can acquire antibiotic resistance," said Claude dePamphilis, professor of biology at Penn State and senior author of the study. "We don't see many examples of horizontal gene transfer in complex organisms like plants, and when we do see it, the transferred genetic material isn't generally used. In this study, we present the most dramatic case known of functional horizontal gene transfer ever found in complex organisms."

Fish

Newly discovered pocket-sized shark squirts glowing clouds from glands

pocket shark
© Mark Grace/National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service Southeast Fisheries Science Center via AP, File
FILE - A 5.5-inch long rare pocket shark. A pocket-sized pocket shark found in the Gulf of Mexico has turned out to be a new species, and one that squirts little glowing clouds into the ocean.
A pocket-sized pocket shark found in the Gulf of Mexico has turned out to be a new species.

And the mysterious pouches that it's named for, up near its front fins? Scientists say they squirt little glowing clouds into the ocean.

Researchers from around the Gulf and in New York have named the species the American pocket shark, or Mollisquama (mah-lihs-KWAH-muh) mississippiensis (MISS-ih-sip-ee-EHN-sis).

It's only the third out of more than 500 known shark species that may squirt luminous liquid, said R. Dean Grubbs, a Florida State University scientist who was not involved in the research. He said the other two are the previously known pocket shark and the taillight shark , which has a similar gland near its tail.

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Info

The 1,000th California condor has hatched in a victory for the species that nearly went extinct

A rare and endangered California condor flies through Marble Gorge, east of Grand Canyon National Park March 22, 2007 west of Page, Arizona.
© David McNew
A rare and endangered California condor flies through Marble Gorge, east of Grand Canyon National Park March 22, 2007 west of Page, Arizona.
The California condor once tip-toed dangerously close to extinction, with only 22 left in the wild in 1982.

Now, the rebounding species is marking a millenary milestone.

In a victory for conservation, wildlife officials recently announced that the 1,000th California condor chick has hatched more than 30 years after efforts began to recover the critically endangered species.

The chick hatched in May at Zion National Park in southwest Utah, park officials said earlier in July.

Eye 1

'Anonymous' data might not be so anonymous, study shows

phone
We've all done it: When signing up for an account online, we've clicked "I agree" to have our data sold to third parties. It will be anonymized, we're assured, and only a small percentage of data will be made available to others.

But how secure can we be that our personal data can't be traced back to us? That's the central question that a team of researchers at Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium and Imperial College London sought to answer.

The conclusion is — "not very."

Using machine learning, the researchers developed a system to estimate the likelihood that a specific person could be re-identified from an anonymized data set containing demographic characteristics. The researchers' model suggests that over 99% of Americans could be correctly re-identified from any dataset using 15 demographic attributes, including age, gender and marital status.

Butterfly

Bird embryos communicate with each other from inside unhatched eggs

eggs
© (Duarte Frade/iNaturalist, CC-BY)
Yellow-legged gull eggs.
Unhatched bird embryos can not only hear the warning calls of adult birds - they can communicate that information to their unhatched brothers and sisters sharing the same nest, remaining safely tucked away in their shells until it is safe to hatch.

It is a finding that reveals how birds can adapt to their environment even before birth, since, unlike placental mammals, their physiology can no longer be influenced by changes in their mother's body after the egg is laid.

In particular, a team of researchers exposed unhatched yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis) eggs to cues that indicated high predation risk. Not only did the unhatched embryos communicate these cues to unexposed nestmates, they emerged from their eggs exhibiting much more cautious behaviour than the control group.

Comment: Isn't the intelligence of nature amazing? Also check out SOTT radio's:


Fireball 2

Glass 'pearls' point to meteorite strike near Florida 2 million years ago

clam glass
© Mike Meyer/Meteoritics and Planetary Science
A pair of microtektites found inside ancient clam shells.
Since their discovery 13 years ago, scientists have puzzled over the origin of tiny glass beads found inside ancient clam shells. New evidence suggests they're microtektites — a byproduct of meteorite impacts — marking the first time these celestial remnants have been found hiding in old clam shells.

Ancient clam shells uncovered at a Sarasota County quarry in Florida are the unexpected repositories of microtektites, according to new research published in Meteoritics and Planetary Science. The research is still incomplete, but the discovery points to a previously unknown meteorite strike (or strikes) off the coast of Florida some 2 million to 3 million years ago.

"This is the first report of microtektites in Florida and one of only a few findings of space debris found in the state," Mike Meyer, lead author of the new study and a researcher at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, told Gizmodo. "These spheres may also help us date the shell beds they were found in as we don't have a precise age for them."

Comment: Spherules have also been found at many other sites providing evidence that impact events have occurred much more recently than that noted above:


Telescope

Astronomers have found a rare kilometer-wide asteroid with the shortest year known

The orbit of asteroid 2019 LF6

The orbit of asteroid 2019 LF6 (white) falls entirely within the orbit of Earth (blue).
A massive asteroid has eluded astronomers because of its unusual orbit -- until now.

Astronomers have spotted 2019 LF6, which is about a kilometer wide and boasts the shortest "year" of any known asteroid, circling the sun about every 151 days, according to the California Institute of Technology.

This rare rocky body is one of only 20 known Atira asteroids, those whose orbits fall entirely within that of the Earth.

"You don't find kilometer-size asteroids very often these days," said Quanzhi Ye, a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech who discovered 2019 LF6 via the Zwicky Transient Facility, a camera at the school's Palomar Observatory that scans the sky for objects. "Thirty years ago, people started organizing methodical asteroid searches, finding larger objects first, but now that most of them have been found, the bigger ones are rare birds."

It's difficult to spot the asteroids because astronomers only have about 20 to 30 minutes before or after sunset to find them, Ye said.

"LF6 is very unusual both in orbit and in size -- its unique orbit explains why such a large asteroid eluded several decades of careful searches," Ye said.

Toys

Stuff no one asked for: P&G launching 'smart diapers' with help from Google

lumi smart diapers
© Courtesy of P&G
The Lumi by Pampers monitoring system, which P&G claims is the world’s first all-in-one connected care system, will be available for purchase this fall.
Procter & Gamble Co. worked with a subsidiary of Google to develop a baby monitoring system that alerts parents via a smartphone app if a Pampers diaper needs changing.

The app also will enable parents to keep an eye on a baby via a Logitech video camera installed in a nursery, according to the Cincinnati-based maker of consumer goods (NYSE: PG).

The high-definition, wide-angle monitor includes night vision and two-way audio. It also tracks room temperature and humidity.

Comment: From Robert F. Kennedy Jr.:

It's unsurprising that a company like Google, very well-versed in spying on people for the purpose of hoovering up personal data, would help with the development of every helicopter parent's dream product - an efficient way of knowing your infant's every last act down to it's simple bodily functions. Apparently, despite millennia of child rearing, humans have been missing out on vital information about their infants that only digital diapers can provide. It's the product you didn't know you desperately needed!

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