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Sat, 26 May 2018
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Brain

A new theory on the quality of high IQ brains

neurons
More intelligent people's brains are not just bigger...

People with bigger heads are, on average, more intelligent, new research confirms.

Bigger heads contain bigger brains, which have more neurons (brain cells), which make people smarter.

But wait, that is not the end of the story.

The latest neuroscience research suggests there's a twist.

When you 'listen' electrically to the brain running, the more intelligent ones make less 'noise'.

It's like a larger, more powerful engine somehow running quieter.

Galaxy

Astronomers discover fastest growing monster black hole the size of 20 billion suns

black Hole
© AP Photo / M.Weiss/NASA
Astronomers using cutting-edge skywatching devices have identified an extremely fast-growing black hole, cataloging it as a 'monster' that eats the mass equivalent of our sun every two days.

Astronomers with the Australian National University (ANU) have discovered the fastest-growing black hole in the known universe, a super-massive celestial object some 12 billion light years distant, thought to be at least the size of 20 billion of our suns.

Research suggests that the object is so large and has so much gravity that it pulls into itself the mass equivalent of one of our suns every two days, radiating matter-transforming energies back into space on a galactic scale.

Comment: See also:


Attention

Researchers issue new drug resistance warning as deaths from fungal infections exceeding malaria

candida yeast fungus fungal culture
'Compost heaps are absolutely lethal, if your immune system doesn't mop up those spores they'll just rot you down as quick as a flash,' says fungal disease expert professor Matthew Fisher

Common fungal infections are "becoming incurable" with global mortality exceeding that for malaria or breast cancer because of drug-resistant strains which "terrify" doctors and threaten the food chain, a new report has warned.

Writing in a special "resistance" edition of the journal Science, researchers from Imperial College London and Exeter University have shown how crops, animals and people are all threatened by nearly omnipresent fungi.

"Fungal infections on human health are currently spiralling, and the global mortality for fungal diseases now exceeds that for malaria or breast cancer," the report notes.

Attention

Washington's hidden Glacier Peak volcano is one of the most dangerous and least monitored

Recently completed lidar maps of Glacier Peak strip away the heavy vegetation and reveal the underlying topography, including tracks of past eruptions and lahars.
© Washington Department of Natural Resources
Recently completed lidar maps of Glacier Peak strip away the heavy vegetation and reveal the underlying topography, including tracks of past eruptions and lahars.
As Kilauea continues its rampage on Hawaii's Big Island, the 38th anniversary this month of Mount St. Helens' cataclysmic eruption is an uneasy reminder that the snow-capped volcanoes of the Pacific Northwest can awaken at any time.

Yet one of Washington's most dangerous volcanoes remains the least-monitored and the least-studied in the Cascade range.

Tucked deep inside its namesake 566,000-acre wilderness a scant 70 miles northeast of Seattle, Glacier Peak is the state's hidden volcano. At a modest 10,541 feet, its summit doesn't tower over the landscape like Rainier, Baker or Adams. Settlers didn't even realize it was a volcano until the 1850s, when Native Americans told the naturalist and ethnologist George Gibbs about a small mountain north of Rainier that once smoked.

Comment: As many in the vicinity of Hawaii's Kilauea have discovered, it's one thing to be aware of the potential activity of a volcano and it is extremely mportant to closely monitor the situation, because when it begins to unleash its fury the only choice you have is to get out of its way. And when we consider volcanic activity appears to be on the increase, now more than ever do citizens need to be ready:


Info

Earth's magnetic field is drifting westward

Magnetic Field
© RU-RTR Russian Television via AP
Over the 400 years or so that humans have been measuring Earth's magnetic field, it has drifted inexorably to the west. Now, a new hypothesis suggests that weird waves in Earth's outer core may cause this drift.

The slow waves, called Rossby waves, arise in rotating fluids. They're also known as "planetary waves," and they're found in many large, rotating bodies, including on Earth in the oceans and atmosphere and on Jupiter and the sun.

Earth's outer core is also a rotating fluid, meaning Rossby waves circulate in the core, too. Whereas oceanic and atmospheric Rossby waves have crests that move westward against Earth's eastward rotation, Rossby waves in the core are "a bit like turning atmospheric Rossby waves inside out," said O.P. Bardsley, a doctoral student at the University of Cambridge in England, and the author of a new study on the Rossby wave hypothesis. Their crests always move east.

Galaxy

The 'Great Filter': Are we humans about to go extinct by our own hand?

milky way
Humans have had a great ride. We've overcome vicious predators, drastic shifts in climate, diseases, large-scale warfare and many other things that would have put an end to lesser species. These days, life is so comfortable and sheltered for many of us that we often take the survival of our species for granted. However, as I will discuss in this article, there is a major risk of extinction on the horizon. Will we overcome this hurdle like we have overcome past hurdles, or will our species finally be filtered out?

To understand what I mean by a "Great Filter", let's first go over the Fermi's Paradox. The Fermi's Paradox is the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence and high probability estimates for the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations. To put it more simply: if there are 70 sextillion stars (more than all grains of sand on earth) in the observable universe, why haven't we discovered signs of intelligent life? The odds of such a discovery should be heavily in our favor.

We have gotten some close calls, like the mysterious SETI signal we got 40 years ago, and the possible alien megastructure (I.e. Dyson Sphere) discovered a few years ago. But these discoveries are far from conclusive signs of another intelligent civilization.

There are many possible explanations for why we can't find intelligent life. Here are a few:
  1. other civilizations might be out there but are too advanced to communicate with (think about a human trying to communicate with an ant),
  2. intelligent lifeforms could have already visited or tried to communicate with Earth, but we were not here yet,
  3. higher civilizations are aware of us but are just observing our species for now,
  4. the concept of physical colonization may be a silly idea to higher-level civilizations (therefore, no need to find life elsewhere).

Comment: A prime example of how this dilemma is being made manifest: US Military invests $100m in 'genetic extinction' technologies, should Russia be concerned?

And some more thoughts on why we may actually be on the brink of extinction:


Galaxy

Astronomers find fingerprints of Universe's first stars

An artist's illustration of what the first stars in the universe may have looked like.
© N.R. Fuller, National Science Foundation
The cosmic dark ages lasted no more than 180 million years.

Astronomers have picked up a long-sought signal from some of the universe's first stars, determining that these pioneers were burning bright by just 180 million years after the Big Bang.

Scientists had long suspected that dawn broke over the cosmos that long ago; theorists' models predict as much. But researchers had never had the evidence to back it up until now. Before this new study, the oldest stars ever seen dated to about 400 million years after the Big Bang.

"This pushes our knowledge of when and how stars formed to earlier times in the universe," said study lead author Judd Bowman, an astronomer at Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration.

Comment: See: The big bang was not the beginning
There is more to Hu's analogy than meets the eye. In the past few years, physicists have made models of warped regions of space-time from fluids, and found that the two are eerily similar. Taking that together with similarities in the underlying mathematics, Hu suspects space-time isn't just like a fluid - it is a fluid (see "Cold, dark and... wet?").

[...]

In such extreme conditions, he says, space-time could well have changed from one phase to another, meaning it didn't have a definite beginning at all. What we think of as the big bang was just the moment of condensation. The big condensation, you might say. Or, if we are still in rewind, the big boil.
See also:


Dig

Mammoth site is over 100,000 years older than previously thought - And the climate was warmer than it is today

hot springs mammoth
Paleontologists and interns prepare to remove a Columbian mammoth skull weighs several hundred pounds from the bone bed at the Mammoth Site.

When scientists first dated the bone bed at the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, it appears they underestimated its age by more than 100,000 years.

Scientists at the research facility and tourism attraction first dated the site in the early 1980s. At that time, the bones were thought to be 26,000 years old. But new testing methods performed in 2016 and analyzed for the past two years showed that site is actually 140,000 years old.

"We decided to retool what we are doing, make sure we're up to snuff and see what new technology can do," said Jim Mead, Mammoth Site chief scientist.

Comment: Clearly there is a lot more to the story than we've been led to believe. Laura Knight-Jadczyk in The Golden Age, Psychopathy and the Sixth Extinction writes:
We know that the earliest known remains of Cro-Magnon-like humans are radiometrically dated to 35,000 years ago though there are important finds indicating that modern human types may have existed on earth millions of years ago. Naturally, these finds are suppressed by the evolutionists (recall their missionary zeal to spread their religion). Anyway, I have a problem with the date of the appearance of Cro-Magnon and here's why: In my book, Secret History, I cite the research of Richard Firestone and William Topping which demonstrates that there are a number of events - including cometary or asteroid impacts, not to mention a host of less dramatic things, that can - and have! - 'reset' the carbon dating clock (as well as problems with other forms of dating). Because we are fairly certain that there have been numerous such events, we have to assume that things that are radiometrically dated are probably much older, perhaps by a factor of two. So, I'm going to go with that for this hypothesis. (See Secret History for a detailed discussion of this problem.)
And Pierre Lescaudron in Of Flash Frozen Mammoths and Cosmic Catastrophes writes:
In addition, the mammoths had hair hanging down to their toes, yet every arctic animal has fur, not hair on their toes. Hair would have caused snow to cake on its ankles and hinder walking.

The above clearly shows that fur is not a proof of cold-adaptation and neither is fat. Fat only proves that food is plentiful. A fat, overfed dog could not withstand an arctic blizzard and its -80F (-60° Celsius) temperatures. On the contrary, creatures like arctic rabbits or caribous can, despite their relative low fat to body mass ratio.



Attention

Bee gone: Scientists turn to robotic replacements as declining bee numbers threaten global food security

Bees
© Yves Herman / Reuters
The devastating consequences of our declining bee population are being highlighted on the first ever 'Bee Day.' Around 80 percent of crops are pollinated by insects. RT asks if there are any alternatives to secure our food future.

According to Greenpeace, some 40 percent of commercial honeybees have been lost across the US since 2006. The decline is attributed to a rise in colony collapse disorder (CCD), a phenomenon that occurs when the majority of a colony's worker bees suddenly disappear. The cause is unknown, although some experts offer various explanations ranging from infections, increased urbanization, the loss of habitat, and the widespread use of pesticides.

Whatever the reason, insect pollination directly contributes to the production of a huge portion of the world's food supply, so the dramatic decline of the honeybee should be a warning: either we get to the root of the problem or develop a technological alternative capable of performing the same function.

Satellite

NASA's new exoplanet hunter TESS snaps 200,000+ stars in its first photo

Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)
© NASA
After passing the moon's orbit, NASA's planet-hunting satellite has snapped its first picture from one of four cameras on board, relaying the footage of some 200,000 stars back to astronomers on Earth.

The mesmerizing two-second test exposure by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) focused on the southern constellation Centaurus, after the spacecraft traveled around 5,000 miles past the moon. The image, which captures more than 200,000 stars, clearly shows Coalsack Nebula in the top-right corner, while Beta Centauri is visible at the lower left edge.

TESS, which was launched on its hunt for faraway planets last month, is armed with four cameras capable of covering 400 times as much sky as shown in its maiden snapshot.