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Wed, 26 Jul 2017
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Fireball 5

88 pound meteor strikes the moon causing a massive explosion

© Getty
The moon was struck by a meteor creating an explosion visible with the naked eye.
A METEOR with the explosive power of TEN cruise missiles has struck the Moon - sparking a massive explosion visible with the naked eye.

And terrifyingly the 56,000 mph collision - captured by NASA scientists highlighting the catastrophic danger planet earth faces from similar meteors - was caused by a space rock weighing no more than 88 lbs (40 kilos).

Despite the meteor's tiny proportions - about the size of a small boulder and the weight of an average 10-year-old boy - the impact damage was colossal and the explosion shone with the brightness of a magnitude 4 star.


Study reports temperature adjustments account for 'nearly all of the warming' in climate data

© NASA/Shutterstock/Martin Capek
Having a hot one, are we?
A new study found adjustments made to global surface temperature readings by scientists in recent years
"are totally inconsistent with published and credible U.S. and other temperature data. Thus, it is impossible to conclude from the three published [global average surface temperature (GAST)] data sets that recent years have been the warmest ever - despite current claims of record setting warming," according to a study published June 27 by two scientists and a veteran statistician.
The peer-reviewed study tried to validate current surface temperature datasets managed by NASA, NOAA and the UK's Met Office, all of which make adjustments to raw thermometer readings. Skeptics of man-made global warming have criticized the adjustments.

Climate scientists often apply adjustments to surface temperature thermometers to account for "biases" in the data. The new study doesn't question the adjustments themselves but notes nearly all of them increase the warming trend.

Basically, "cyclical pattern in the earlier reported data has very nearly been 'adjusted' out" of temperature readings taken from weather stations, buoys, ships and other sources.

In fact, almost all the surface temperature warming adjustments cool past temperatures and warm more current records, increasing the warming trend, according to the study's authors.

Comment: Are we surprised? One would think 'science' is one of the most mutable disciplines that welcomes course-correction to isolate the truth of a process. Nah. Nope. Nada.


Solar minimum: The sun is getting quieter, displaying some weird behavior

The sun is about to enter a period of quiet, known as a solar minimum. This cycle happens every 11 years and is characterized of decreased activity—when sunspots fade away and produce fewer solar flares. With this latest period of inactivity approaching, scientists have been monitoring the sun to better understand some of the unusual activity observed over recent years.

In a study published in May the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, a team of scientists from the U.S., U.K. and Denmark analyzed 31 years' worth of data from the Birmingham Solar Oscillations Network (BiSON)—a group of six ground-based telescopes that provide constant monitoring of the sun's oscillations.

In the study, Yvonne Elsworth and colleagues studied the sound waves from the sun over the last three solar minimums to see how they have changed during different periods of activity. Elsworth will present the findings at the National Astronomy Meeting at the University of Hull, U.K., on Tuesday.
"The sun is very much like a musical instrument except that its typical notes are at a very low frequency—some 100,000 times lower than middle C," she said in a statement. "Studying these sound waves, using a technique called helioseismology, enables us to find out what's going on throughout the Sun's interior."


New study shows that music boosts brain cell connectivity and communication

Using music to learn a physical task significantly develops an important part of the brain, according to a study.

People who practised a basic movement to music showed "increased structural connectivity" between the regions of the brain that process sound and control movement, the University of Edinburgh research shows.

The findings - published in the medical journal Brain & Cognition - showed that brain wiring enables cells to communicate with each other.

Experts say the study could have positive implications for future research into rehabilitation for patients who have lost some degree of movement control.

Comment: And on that note, enjoy:

Ice Cube

European ice sheet collapse caused chaos

© H.Patton/CAGE
Based on the latest reconstruction of the famous ice age river system, Fleuve Manche, the scientists have calculated that its catchment area was similar to that of the Mississippi.
Scientists have reconstructed in detail the collapse of the Eurasian ice sheet at the end of the last ice age. The big melt wreaked havoc across the European continent, driving home the original Brexit 10,000 years ago.

© H.Patton/CAGE
The Eurasian ice sheet was an enormous conveyor of ice that covered most of northern Europe some 23,000 years ago. Its extent was such that a skier could have traversed 4,500 km continuously across its expanse from the far southwestern isles in Britain to Franz Josef Land in the Siberian Arctic. Its existence had a massive and extremely hostile impact on Europe at the time.

This ice sheet alone lowered the global sea level by over 20 meters. As it melted and collapsed, it caused severe flooding across the continent, led to dramatic sea level rise, and diverted mega-rivers that raged on the continent. A new model investigating the retreat of this ice sheet and its many impacts has just been published in Quaternary Science Reviews.


Walking speed gives clues to declining cognition

The connection between slowed walking speed and declining mental acuity appears to arise in the right hippocampus, a finger-shaped region buried deep in the brain that is important to memory and spatial orientation, according to research from the University of Pittsburgh.

The findings suggest that older patients may benefit if their doctors regularly measure their walking speed and watch for changes over time, which could be early signs of cognitive decline and warrant referral to a specialist for diagnostic testing.
"Prevention and early treatment may hold the key to reducing the global burden of dementia, but the current screening approaches are too invasive and costly to be widely used. Our study required only a stopwatch, tape, and an 18-foot-long hallway, along with about five minutes of time once every year or so,"
says lead author Andrea Rosso, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh.


Male fish showing feminized behavior and growing eggs due to large amounts of chemicals in water supply

© Norbert Probst / Global Look Press
A leading eco-toxicologist has warned that the quantity of synthetic chemicals entering our watershed is feminizing fish populations to such a degree that several species now boast transgender and intersex fish, with eggs in their testicles.
"If you look in terms of what gets into a fish's liver or gonad, the analysis of the chemicals it contains is a bit of a blueprint in terms of what's flushed down the toilet," Professor Charles Tyler, of the University of Exeter said, speaking to The Independent.

"We're starting to establish not just effects on gender, but that they can also affect other physiological processes in the fish as well," he added.
Tyler will give a keynote speech on the topic of 'transgender' or 'intersex' fish at the 50th Anniversary Symposium of the Fisheries Society in the British Isles at Exeter University from July 3 to 7.


Lunar robots deployed on Mount Etna to prepare for future landings on Mars and moon

© Antonio Parrinello / Reuters
Robots are seen on the Mount Etna, Italy July 2, 2017.
Europe's most active volcano welcomes tourists every day, but now it's hosting some rather unusual visitors - lunar robots whose skills are being tested for future landing missions on the moon and Mars.

Located on the Italian island of Sicily, Mount Etna exhibits seismic activity similar to what scientists believe will be found on the Earth's lunar satellite.

"We choose Etna because the volcanic, the seismic [activity] here is near that [which] we could expect it to be on the lunar surface," researcher Armin Welder told Reuters.


Russian Academy of Sciences to develop software for Large Hadron Collider

© Pierre Albouy / Reuters
Scientists from the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (SB RAS) have agreed to develop software that will combine information from all experiments carried out in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN laboratory on the Franco-Swiss border.
"Scientists of the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics of SB RAS and CERN signed an agreement on developing software, which is designed to unify information platforms of all experiments of the Large Hadron Collider. It is called CRIC - Computing Resource Information Catalog, and it will start operating in CERN at the end of 2017," read the press release from the SB RAS official site.


Rediscovering Roman concrete: Still better than ours, 2000 years later

© J.P. Oleson
ROMACONS drilling at a marine structure in Portus Cosanus, Tuscany, 2003. Drilling is by permission of the Soprintendenza Archeologia per la Toscana.
Around A.D. 79, Roman author Pliny the Elder wrote in his Naturalis Historia that concrete structures in harbors, exposed to the constant assault of the saltwater waves, become "a single stone mass, impregnable to the waves and every day stronger."

He wasn't exaggerating. While modern marine concrete structures crumble within decades, 2,000-year-old Roman piers and breakwaters endure to this day, and are stronger now than when they were first constructed. University of Utah geologist Marie Jackson studies the minerals and microscale structures of Roman concrete as she would a volcanic rock. She and her colleagues have found that seawater filtering through the concrete leads to the growth of interlocking minerals that lend the concrete added cohesion. The results are published today in American Mineralogist.

Roman concrete vs. Portland cement

Romans made concrete by mixing volcanic ash with lime and seawater to make a mortar, and then incorporating into that mortar chunks of volcanic rock, the "aggregate" in the concrete. The combination of ash, water, and quicklime produces what is called a pozzolanic reaction, named after the city of Pozzuoli in the Bay of Naples. The Romans may have gotten the idea for this mixture from naturally cemented volcanic ash deposits called tuff that are common in the area, as Pliny described.