Categories
NONE

Massive tsunamis put California cities, ports at risk

A shocking new study has revealed a massive fault line in the Pacific Ocean that could potentially lead to a devastating tsunami along the California coast. According to a CBS News report, the study was published this Friday in the Journal of Geophysical Research and outlines the risks posed by the underwater tectonic activity.

The study found that there are currently several major faults that could produce earthquakes up to magnitude 8.0 off the coast of Southern California and northern Baja. According to lead author Mark Legg, a geologist in California, there is currently no sign that the faults will trigger a massive earthquake, but he stresses the importance of being prepared.

Legg stated that there have been several magnitude 7-plus earthquakes within the past few hundred years, and that another one is not unlikely. The last offshore earthquake to generate a tsunami was in 1927, which sent six feet of ocean crashing into the shore.

Underwater earthquakes are common along fault lines, but it takes a really big one to cause a tsunami. It usually happens when a tectonic plate is moving towards another, more stable plate. When the building pressure between the two plates becomes too intense, the slabs of earth give way and release all of the pent-up energy.

This can cause the seafloor to rise dramatically and suddenly, which shoves an ocean’s worth of water towards the shore. In California, the Pacific plate is crushing up against the North American plate, resulting in unfathomable amounts of stored energy.

Currently, there is little data about the plate tectonics off the coast of California, and funding for such studies is extremely difficult to come by. Legg has been studying the seismic landscape off the shores of California for years, and warns that there should be more preparation for a large seismic event.

While there’s no sign of a massive tsunami coming to California’s beaches any time in the immediate future, it is essential that we learn to understand the mysterious oceanic plates before a disaster happens.

Categories
NONE

Beijing rocked by new anti-smoking laws

New laws will go into effect on Monday in Beijing that will ban smoking in all indoor public places, work areas and outdoor areas surrounding schools, hospitals, and tourist attractions. According to the Hindustan Times, radio, film, television, mobile service providers and internet service providers will all be forbidden to advertise tobacco across various media platforms.

China is by far the world’s largest consumer and producer of tobacco products – just last year, the number of smokers in China surpassed 300 million. That’s almost as much as the population the entire United States.

Anti smoking campaigns have already been rolled out in restaurants, bars, subways, train and bus stations and other public places throughout the city of Beijing, but Monday will represent the first time smoking became illegal in certain parts of the city.

One survey found that there were 4.2 million smokers in Beijing alone, and many are raising questions about whether or not the people will accept a law that violates a deeply entrenched tradition. Chinese state media said that the ban will be particularly challenging to enforce in bars and restaurants, where over 90 percent of people are exposed to the risks of secondhand smoke.

The penalty for lighting up in Beijing will include a fine of up to 200 Yuan, or about 32 U.S. dollars. It may be a while before the smoke clears in Beijing nightclubs, bars, and restaurants, but officials are making a very clear effort to enforce the ban and keep smoking to specifically designated areas throughout the city.

Categories
Science

Breakthrough: Scientists discover way to restore “lost” memories

In a stunning finding that could have huge impacts for sufferers of brain trauma, a new study has found a way to restore previously “lost” memories by stimulating neurons in the brain.

Researchers were able to reactive memories in mice that had not been lost, but were simply lurking deep within the brain, where they were repressed rather than eliminated — indicating that those who have suffered brain trauma may not have lost memories at all, but simply lost the ability to recall them, according to a Washington Post report.

The study, which was published in the journal Science, could herald big breakthroughs when it comes to treating trauma victims and other sufferers of amnesia, restoring memory that seemingly was gone forever but still existed within the brain.

By using optogenetics, scientists were able to use a specially engineered virus to introduce a special protein to specific neurons tied to those memories. The virus makes the neurons sensitive to blue light, and then scientists can switch those neurons on and off.

They introduced the mice to a traumatic incident — shocking them over and over in an enclosure — and took notes of which neurons were stimulated. They then used optogenetics to tweak those neurons in a new batch of mice and put them through the same experience, causing them to fear the enclosure.

The scientists caused them to “lose” those memories by introducing retrograde amnesia with a drug, and the mice stopped fearing the enclosure, but when scientists used blue light to stimulate those neurons again, they feared the shock chamber once more.

The findings are exciting, but unfortunately the report suggests that a cure for humans is a long way off. For one thing, the procedure is invasive and invites ethical questions, and there are significant logistical and technical problems to overcome. But, it does provide some hope of an eventual cure for amnesia.

Categories
TECH_Social

Muslims, Anti-Islam activists yell at each other in protests in Arizona

The Anti-Muslim demonstrators bore an inflammatory message on their t-shirts as they exchanged shouted messages across a police line in Arizona in front of a mosque on Friday night.

About 250 anti-Islam activists, many wearing shirts saying “F*** Islam, ” battled verbally throughout the evening with an equal number of Muslims as police stood guard, successfully preventing violence from breaking out in the tense standoff, according to a Washington Post report.

Jon Ritzheimer was the protest organizer, arguing that Islam is terrorizing the United States and it was his duty to stand up to what he termed the “tyranny” of the religion, and he hoped other organic protests would show up elsewhere in the country. On the other side was Usama Shami, the president of the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix where the protests took place, who called the protests nothing more than bigotry wrapped in patriotism, comparing them to neo-Nazis who feared people who were different from them.

The protests stemmed from an incident earlier this month at a Muhammed cartoon-drawing contest in Texas, when two Phoenix residents were gunned down by police when they attempted to storm the facility where it was being held. Ritzheimer decided to start making the t-shirts in response, and then organized the protests with dozens by his side.

Ritzheimer said he was forced into hiding after getting death threats from Muslims on Twitter, and he urged his followers to bring guns to the event on Facebook as a precautionary measure. Many brought multiple guns to the event. Ritzheimer said he didn’t regret organizing the rallies despite the backlash, saying that he was simply following in the footsteps of the Founding Fathers who risked their lives and families to sign the Declaration of Independence.

However, not everyone at the anti-Islam rally was entirely happy about what they had done. According to the report, one man expressed regret at the inflammatory message on his shirt and vowed not wear it again.

Categories
TECH TECH_Technology

Would you buy touchscreen clothes? Google and Levi’s team up for crazy project

With all the hype of wearable technology, Google is taking it a step further: they want to incorporate digital technology into fabric with the announcement of Project Jacquard and a teaming with clothing giant Levi Strauss.

These “interactive textiles” can be woven into any fabric that could eventually allow for touchscreens in suits or on carpets that could perform just about any function you would find on your smartphone, according to a New Zealand Herald report.

During Google’s annual developers conference, the search giant announced the project and the Levi’s partnership. They will create special threads that are stretchable and washable, and basically act like any other fabric.

The fabric could allow clothes to carry data and therefore allow manufacturers to add touch or gesture commands that could be woven in with standard industrial looms. So if you want a shirt where you can simply tap your chest and phone a friend, or control your house’s temperature by stepping on a certain spot on the carpet, this fabric could make that happen.

Wearable electronics has become the latest fad. One of the first instances was the unveiling of Google Glass, a huge project that was aimed at replacing standard glasses with an accessory that would allow the person to take video and view other data with a screen that is always in front of their eyes. Most recently, the Apple Watch has burst onto the scene, attempting to resurrect an accessory that has fallen by the wayside now that smartphones have made them virtually obsolete. Apple is hoping the popularity of touchscreens will make its Watch fashionable again.

But there have been setbacks in the wearables market, with the Google Glass project eventually shelved and Apple Watch still yet to prove that it can be a success. However, the Google/Levi’s teaming certainly shows that tech companies view wearables as the future.

Categories
HEALTH

If you get a tattoo, you could get an ugly surprise — new research

People who get tattoos probably aren’t aware that there is a risk lurking out there, particularly for those who suffer acutely from allergies.

Apparently, itchy, scaly rashes can crop up soon after getting a tattoo, and they can linger for a long time after for some people, according to an NBC News report.

Researchers recently published a study in the journal Contact Dermatitis that involved interviewing 300 people at Central Park  — 149 men and 151 women who were at least 18 and had tattoos done in the United States. They found that 4 percent of those who had gotten a tattoo recently had also developed a rash that lasted for a short while. An additional 6 percent developed skin problems that last longer than four months.

They found that oftentimes, the colored portion of the tattoo will rise up as much as a centimeter above the skin, resulting in a nasty, scaly texture that doesn’t soon go away.

The researchers believe allergies are to blame, as they found that two-thirds of the people who had these skin conditions have had allergies in the past, compared to just one-third of those who didn’t.

Usually, the skin irritations were itchy, scaly, raised, and sometimes filled with edema.

Red ink appeared to be the worst offender, with authorities noting that the red pigment seems to irritate people’s skins more than others.

Categories
Science

Why have 100,000 saiga antelopes suddenly died in the Kazakhstan wilderness?

Saiga antelopes, prized for their meat and horns and a protected species in tne nation of Kazakhstan, have suddenly started dying off in large numbers this month, and scientists are scratching their heads as to why.

The die-off began May 10, and in weeks officials have counted a total of 121,000 carcasses, resulting in fears that a creature that has survived the last Ice Age could be gone forever, according to a Reuters report.

The staggering number of dead saiga antelopes represents a stunning 40 percent of the population in Central Asia, and animal health experts believe a respiratory disease could be the reason for the sudden deaths.

Kazakhstan is home to about 90 percent of all saiga antelopes, which are known for their large noses and lyre-shaped horns. If such a die-off were to happen again next year, said one zoologist quoted in the report, it might wipe out the saiga antelope species for good.

The saiga antelopes if considered a critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. There were an estimated 300,000 saiga still in Kazakhstan on May 11 when the first dead antelope had been discovered, and just weeks later 121,000 of them were dead.

Pasteurellosis is believed to be the likely cause of death. It’s a baceterial disease that can infect animals as well as humans. Scientists are testing the soil, the air, and the water to see if they can identify the root cause, and Kazakh officials are enlisting the help of western nations such as Britain and Germany.

Saiga are believed to have roamed the Earth alone with woolly mammoth and saber-toothed tigers. There were as many as 1 million saiga as recently as the 1990s, but poaching and disease have cut deeply into their numbers, which dwindled down to 21,000 in 2003. A conservation plan was put in place and populations have since rebounded.

Categories
HEALTH

Uh-oh: Tinder, Grindr dating apps causing STDs to spread like wildfire

Syphilis, gonorrhoea, and HIV are soaring thanks to dating apps like Tinder and Grindr, experts say as young people find it easier in the digital age to find multiple partners to sleep with.

In Rhode Island, syphilis is up 79 percent, gonorrhoea is up 30 percent, and HIV is up almost 33 percent as high-risk behaviors such as using social media to arrange casual sexual encounters becomes increasingly popular, according to a Daily Mail report.

The state health department noted that the rise mirrors a national trend, which indicates that there is still work to be done despite improvements in public understanding of how to practice safe sex.

It may not be all the fault of social media apps like Grindr and Tinder: better testing by providers could be partly the cause of the increase, officials say, although it also appears to be an increase of high-risk behaviors as well.

HIV, AIDS, and syphilis increase particularly strongly among men who have sex with other men, whether gay or bisexual. Infection rates were also higher in African-Americans, Hispanics, and young adults, according to the report.

State officials have been working to provide public health programs to help curb the number of people who contract STDs. For example, pregnant women are given routine testing, which has all but eliminated the number of HIV-infected babies. Needle-exchange programs have also decreased transmission between drug users.

However, dating apps play a big role in the STD business, and they have a responsibility to educate their users about the dangers of high-risk behavior, officials said according to the report.

Categories
NONE

What's causing these weird endangered antelopes to die by the thousands?

Tens of thousands of rare saiga antelopes, commonly found in the nation of Kazakhstan, are dying unexpectedly and inexplicably. According to the Tech Times, scientists and veterinarians across the country are extremely worried about the sudden deaths of these large creatures.

Reported numbers are approaching the 120,000 mark, and officials say they have only been aware of the problem since May 12. This translates to roughly 40 percent of Kazakhstan’s entire saiga antelope population. The Royal Veterinary College in Hatfield, United Kingdom has sent a team of veterinarians to Kazakhstan this week to investigate possible causes for the death of the antelopes.

According to Richard Kock, the lead veterinarian from the RVC, “It’s very dramatic and traumatic, with 100 percent mortality. I know of no example in history with this level of mortality, killing all the animals and all the calves.”

Initial reports from Kazakhstan officials stated that the die-offs were due largely in part to the animals experiencing respiratory difficulties, as well as severe cases of diarrhea.

After examining tissue samples from the deceased antelopes, Kock and his team from the RVC were able to identify three possible causes for the antelope die-offs.

The first suspect is an infection called pasteurellosis, which can affect bison, cattle, and water buffalo as well. The disease is spread between animals via direct contact, and can kill an animal within 8 to 24 hours.

The second possible culprit is a virus called epizootic hemorrhagic disease, a sickness spread through mosquitos and common in many white-tailed deer.

The last possibility is toxemia caused by clostridia bacteria, ingested from contaminated food. The bacteria produce toxins in the gut that can quickly kill the host animal.

While much more research needs to be done to pinpoint the exact cause of the massive die-offs of saiga antelopes, the team is confident that they will be able to establish a cause and compose a plan of action in a timely manner.

Categories
NWT_Earth

Solar sail silenced by software problem

A mission to test a solar sail spacecraft has run into an obstacle, as a software malfunction has silenced the Planetary Society’s LightSail. According to a Planetary Society blog post, the LightSail mission began smoothly on May 20 with a flawless launch using a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that blasted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

At first, the mission continued to go well, as LightSail transmitted around 140 data packets back to Earth. On May 22, ground stations at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Georgie Tech were receiving data from LightSail that showed the spacecrafts power and temperature to be holding steady.

However, later that day, LightSail’s flight software registered a problem. The ground crew prepared a fix for the software, but LightSail went silent before they could upload it. The Planetary Society now hopes that LightSail will be able to reboot, although the outcome is far from certain. As of the afternoon of May 26, LightSail had passed over its ground stations 37 times; reboot commands were transmitted to the craft during half of those, with no success so far.

In its current CubeSat configuration, LightSail could remain in orbit as long as six months. The Cal Poly ground station has automated its reboot command transmission, hoping that it will be received and acted upon during one of LightSail’s passes. In the meantime, the ground team is readying several additional software fixes in the hope that they will be able to upload them in the very near future.