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Science

Alaska adds another new dinosaur species to growing list

A slew of fossils in Alaska have been discovered this year. Another new species of dinosaur has been announced on top of the plesiosaur fossil that was made known to the public in late July.

“We know that there’s at least 12 to 13 distinct species of dinosaurs on the North Slope in northern Alaska, ” said Patt Druckenmiller on the influx of fossils being discovered and named in Alaska.

Druckenmiller works as the curator of fossils at the University of Alaska Museum in Fairbanks, and while he is pleased with the latest discovery he shed some light on the road blocks archaeologists and the scientific community face this far up north.

“Not all of the material we find is adequate enough to actually name a new species,” he added. Luckily there was just enough for the public release of this new species.

According to the Seattle Times, this new find comes from the duckbilled species, a herbivore whose remains have also been found in Asia and Europe. Researchers have named the species Ugrunaaluk kuukpikenis, meaning “ancient grazer” in the language of the Alaskan Inupiat Eskimos.

Many of the bones found belonged to juveniles of the species. Adults were speculated to grow up to 30 feet long, and had hundreds of teeth to help chew through the thick, coarse vegetation that had been growing in Alaska 69 million years ago.

“It appears that a herd of young animals was killed suddenly, wiping out mostly one similar-aged population to create this deposit,” explains Druckenmiller.

Most of the fossils of this new species were found in in the Liscomb Bone Bed, a fossil deposit located 300 miles northwest of Fairbanks that was named after geologist Robert Liscomb.

 

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NONE PHYS

Physicists set new distance record for quantum teleportation

Engineers have achieved a quantum transfer of information contained in photons in an optical fiber over a 100 kilometer distance.

According to Discovery News, a team from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), led by Hiroki Takesue from NTT Corp. in Japan, transferred a quantum state from one light particle to another over the 100-km distance, marking a new record distance for quantum teleportation.

The team attributes its success to the new type of detector developed at NIST to locate single photons.

“Only about 1 percent of photons make it all the way through 100 km of fiber,” Marty Stevens of NIST said in a statement. “We never could have done this experiment without these new detectors, which can measure this incredibly weak signal.”

The phenomenon in play for the long-distance, instantaneous transmission of information is called quantum entanglement, which Einstein dubbed “spooky action at a distance.”  Entanglement occurs when two particles become linked and maintain their relationship over a distance.  The quantum state of one is linked to the state of the other, and that link makes the particles capable of affecting one another – namely, transmitting quantum information from one entangled particle to its partner instantly over a distance.

According to The Weather Space, further advances in quantum teleportation of information could lead to advanced encryption capabilities, useful for transmissions between Earth and spacecraft.  Research may also lead to quantum computing, a quantum Internet and long-range, instantaneous transmissions for space exploration.

The team published the report in Optica and has posted an infographic describing the experiment.

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HEALTH

Stricter gun laws keeps firearms away from children and teens

New research shows that states with less restrictive gun laws shouldn’t be surprised if firearms wind up in the hands of teenagers and children.

According to Philly.com, the correlation between adolescents and firearms rested in whether the state imposed stricter gun control laws. State governments can add further restrictions to gun possession, which added in to the study’s gun law score.
Utah scored a low 1.3, whereas California topped the study at 79.7.  The study suggests that for every ten point increase there was a 9% less chance that minors would report carrying a firearm.
While it is illegal for minors to purchase a firearm, many are finding easy access to them as they are readily available in their home.
“It’s very likely explained by the fact that the youth are getting their guns from adults,” said Ziming Xuan, lead author of the study from Boston University School of Public Health. “If a state with strong gun control is able to reduce the amount of adult gun ownership, it will reduce the number of kids carrying guns.”
Another important factor to consider when looking at youths carrying guns is the environment they live in.

“It goes back to the reasons that youth are carrying weapons,” said Michele Cooley-Strickland of the David Geffen School of Medicine in California.

WSVN-TV 7 reports that in Wyoming, with an 8.3 gun law score, many adolescents have access to firearms for hunting purposes. However, in Baltimore, Maryland, kids carry guns to protect themselves and loved ones.
Unintentional injuries, homicide, and suicide are the leading causes of death in teens. The study pointed out that 83% of teen-related homicides involved firearms, with 45% of suicides involving the use of firearms as well.
“If we understand the why, we can work to prevent it,” said Cooley-Strickland.
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HEALTH Science

Air pollution kills millions each year; deaths could double by 2050

A new study shows that 3.3 million are dying from air pollution on a yearly basis. The culprit comes as a surprise to many, as the majority of these deaths come from farming in large industrial countries.

According to Nature World Report, farming in Europe, the United States, South Korea, Japan, and Russia was the lead cause of pollution-related deaths across the world. Other factors included burning wood and coal for cooking and heating homes.

Surprisingly, cars were not a big contributor to air pollution. The study showed that methods releasing smoke and soot into the air were to blame, and that cars don’t contribute as much soot as farming.

“In London, for example, the pollution from traffic takes time to be converted into soot,” said Jos Lelieveld, lead author of the study. He was joined by Max Planck from the Institute of Chemistry in Germany.

Both had assumed that power plants and traffic would be the lead factors in air pollution.

“We were very surprised, but in the end it makes sense,” said Lelieveld. “Residential energy use is an inefficient form of fuel combustion that causes a lot of smoke, and is the foremost source of premature mortality in Asia.”

Benchmark Reporter reports that China takes the biggest hit when it comes to air pollution related deaths, with 1.4 million fatalities per year. India comes in second, with 654,000 deaths per year. Benchmark also reports that air pollution accounts for 6% of the world’s deaths, beating out HIV and malaria.

“This is an astounding number,” said Lelieveld. “In some countries air pollution is actually a leading cause of death, and in many countries it is a major issue.”

He concluded that the numbers will only grow if not enough is done.

“If this growing premature mortality by air pollution is to be avoided, intensive air-quality-control measures will be needed, particularly in South and East Asia.”

 

 

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Science

Snake gives birth with no prior contact to males for the second time

A snake at the Cape Girardeau Nature Center in Missouri has obtained Virgin Mary status after giving birth without any prior contact with males of her species. But this isn’t the first time this has happened.

According to Science Recorder, a yellow-bellied water snake called Yellow Belly has now given birth twice, and she hasn’t been around a male in eight years. Unfortunately her offspring did not survive this time around, but last year she gave birth to two healthy babies, both of which survived.

“I went to clean her enclosure and I noticed something out of the ordinary,” said Jordi Brostoski of the experience last year. He didn’t think they were alive, but was proven wrong when he started cleaning out Yellow Belly’s bedding.

“Two little healthy offspring slithered out.”

This method of reproduction, known as parthenogenesis, is a form of asexual breeding that most often occurs with a lack of available partners. The necessity for a species to survive relies on methods such as parthenogenesis, though Yellow Belly’s case is the first of her species of snake.

Other species that often rely on parthenogenesis include pit vipers, smalltooth sawfish, turkeys, and komodo dragons. A study in 2012 published in Biology Letters tested parthenogenesis in cottonmouth and copperhead snakes, with one in 37 cottonmouths and one in 22 copperheads giving birth under these circumstances.

“There is always a high proportion of infertile eggs due to chromosome combination,” said Jeff Briggler of the Missouri Department of Conservation, “but a few can be successful and hatch if the mother has a dissimilar sex chromosome (ZW) compared to the male with copies of the ZZ chromosome.”

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HEALTH

Study suggests teens with bulimia recover faster with parental support

Eating disorders require time and patience to overcome. A new study shows that teens with eating disorders, in particular bulimia, get the most out of therapy and make a full recovery when parents are involved.

Scientifically named bulimia nervosa, EurekAlert defines bulimia as uncontrolled overeating, known as binging, followed by periods of overly intense exercise or vomiting in order to get rid of what had just been consumed. An estimated 1-3% of teens in the United States suffer from bulimia.

This new study, published in the Journal of the American and Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, reveals just how much support from a parental figure helps. By itself, family based therapy has a 49% success rate, while individual therapy sits at 32%.

“Parents need to be actively involved in the treatment of kids and teens with eating disorders,” said Dr. Daniel Le Grange of UCSF Benoiff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco. Le Grange led the study along with Dr. James Lock, a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine.

“This study shows definitively that parental engagement is imperative for a successful outcome of adolescents with bulimia nervosa,” said Dr. Le Grange. While anyone would agree that most disorders would require help from loved ones, Dr. Le Grange added that bulimia had been one of the exceptions.

“It goes counter to the training that physicians receive in psychiatry, which teaches that parents are to blame for bulimia, and therefore should be omitted from treatment.”

The study focused on teens in the United States who had been diagnosed with bulimia. A yearlong study of those who participated in family based therapy and individual therapy was conducted, and results showed that in the end it was faster and more successful when parents were involved.

“These findings are quite clear,” said Dr. Le Grange. “The quicker we can intervene, the better chances we have at keeping a patient safe.”

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Science

Flood of tourists in Costa Rica hinder turtles from laying their eggs

Tourists in Costa Rica flooded the beaches this weekend for some fun in the sun and relaxation. This wouldn’t usually come under public scrutiny, and for Costa Rica’s booming tourist industry this seems relatively normal.

But the amount of tourists on the beach this weekend hindered another normal happening that occurs on the beach. One that has been going on for hundreds of years.

Sea turtles making the trek to Ostional Wildlife Refuge on Ostional Beach to lay their eggs were met with tourists taking selfies on mobiles and flash cameras. The New York Times reports many of the tourists stood in the way, causing many of the sea turtles to turn back.

“A tornado can be happening, and they will continue to deposit the eggs, carve it out, nest, and go back to sea,” said Mauricio Méndez when explaining just how troublesome tourists were being. Méndez works as deputy director of the Tempisque Conservation Area, and was not happy with the way tourists behaved.

The pictures of the chaos on Ostional Beach have been blowing up on social media, with many condoning the tourists for their disrespectful actions, as well as authorities for not taking the proper measures to protect the species.

Luckily, despite how crowded it was some turtles did manage to lay their eggs, though more were found after the tourists left.

“We are reassessing the way we work and the way we tackle the issue,” said Méndez. He adds that authorities have agreed to work with him to protect nesting grounds, and hopes that the next wave of sea turtles coming in to nest will have it a bit easier.

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HEALTH

Sea otter at Seattle Aquarium uses inhaler to combat asthma

When veterinary staff at the aquarium noticed Mishka the sea otter was having difficulty breathing, they new something had to be done. Tests and observations led to the conclusion that Mishka had developed asthma, most likely from the drifting smoke caused by wildfires in the area.

The solution to this problem? Teach Mishka how to use an inhaler.

According to Rapid News Network, Mishka is the first reported case of a sea otter developing asthma. After training him how to use an inhaler, he is showing significant improvements and plays normally with the other otters.

Sam Perry, a biologist at the aquarium who works closely with the others, trained Mishka using food. Mishka now comes up to the inhaler and takes a deep breath, and then is rewarded with a small treat.

“We try to make it as fun as possible”, said Perry. “Anytime you’re training a medical behavior, you want to make it nice and positive.”

Otters have become more and more susceptible to diseases due to low genetic diversity. According to Dispatch Times, Sea otters living in the Pacific Northwest became extinct in the 1960s. Alaskan sea otters were brought south and reintroduced to the coast.

“So anytime that happens and [it] reduces the genetic diversity of a species, that can affect their immune system and their ability to fight off diseases or deal with different environmental contaminants,” said Dr. Lesanna Lahner, who diagnosed and treated Mishka for asthma.

Asthma is rare in animals, though there have been cases where dogs, cats, and horses develop the condition. Mishka will most likely need the inhaler for the rest of his life.

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Science

Last of suspects in California whale meat case sentenced

Has  whale made it onto the menu? US law prohibits the sale and consumption of whale meat, but Japanese chefs and seafood dealers in California have landed themselves in hot water for violating this law.

According to Los Angeles Daily News, three men have plead guilty to charges accusing them of distributing and serving whale meat. Ginichi Ohira, Kiyoshiro Yamamoto, and Susumu Ueda all faced charges of violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act, with the final sentencing taking place just days earlier.

“We’re pleased the case is over and justice has been done,” said U.S. Attorney Dennis Mitchell outside of the courtroom.

Ohira, a seafood dealer from Gardena, California, faces jail time for the offense for importing the illegal meat from Tokyo and selling it to a Santa Monica restaurant called The Hump. Serving exquisite Japanese cuisine and one of the top date night spots in the area, many were shocked to hear that the establishment had been partaking in such illegal activity.

“It made a perfect date night spot, or place to grab a drink & sushi after work without it being some uber trendy hipster scene,” wrote Hannah R. in a Yelp review praising the restaurant. “I hope it reopens some day– without the whale.”

Two chefs who had knowingly cooked and served the meat have also been charged. Yamamoto and Ueda received a $5,000 fine and 200 hours of community service over a two-year probation for their part in serving diners whale meat. Restaurant owner Brian Vendor also received punishment forhis role in the case.

Investigation started after the 2010 documentary “The Cove” filmed Yamamoto serving whale meat. “The Cove,” scrutinizes the slaughter of dolphins and whales that takes place in Japanese waters, and won an Academy Award that same year.

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Science

Mauna Loa earthquakes could lead to eruption

Hawaiian officials from the US Geological Survey (USGS) have raised alert levels for Mauna Loa, the largest of the volcanoes that make up the Hawaiian islands and the largest volcano in the world.

According to West Hawaii Today, the USGS had reported that the volcano had been showing “signs of unrest” since Thursday, provoking the change in alert levels from normal to advisory. “It doesn’t mean an eruption is imminent, but it’s a reminder to the residents of Hawaii, that Mauna Loa is still an active volcano,” said geologist Frank Trusdell.

Mauna Loa, which hasn’t had an eruption since 1984, has seen an increase in seismic activity, causing officials to put out the warning to inhabitants. 10 earthquakes per week is the usual for the area, but lately over 40 earthquakes per week have been recorded by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO).

During the time frame of the 1984 eruption, up to 100 earthquakes per day were recorded by the HVO.

“We expect the seismicity to grow steadily and be more consistent and persistent, and even the rates to change before we forecast an eruption,” said Trusdell. “HVO is monitoring it, and if there is any change that we will alert the emergency managers and notify the public.”

Asta Miklius, a geophysicist from the HVO highlights that Mauna Loa has two reservoirs containing magma, and that recent activity in one has been enough to cause tremors.

“The magma is infilling the shallow reservoir system and is causing enough stress to cause these shallow earthquakes,” she said. “It just fits the definition of a volcano that is in unrest.”

She explains that unrest doesn’t mean that the volcano will erupt. HVO released a statement confirming this sentiment.

“It’s possible that the increased level of activity at Mauna Loa could continue for many months, or years, without leading to an eruption,” said Tina Neal, the head scientist at HVO.

However, residents still need to be aware of the dangers.

“The current unrest could be a precursor to the next eruption of Mauna Loa. But at this early stage, we cannot determine precisely which possibility is more likely.”