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Beardog fossils found in southern Texas

Fragmentary fossil evidence of a bear dog species was found in southwestern Texas.

The fossil specimens were found over three decades ago. A new study has identified the fossils as belonging to a group of now extinct mammals that are being recognized as “bear dogs”. Scientists believe that these animals were prevalent tens of millions of years ago and lived in Europe, Asia, and North America.

According to the study, the bear dog is likely to have originated in southwest Texas and this was also a likely hot spot of evolution for the species. It is not known for certain, however, when or where the amphicyonid evolved.

The fossil findings indicate that the bear dogs weighed only a few kilograms and were the size of a Chihuahua at their first appearance on the planet. As they evolved, however, some members of this species of carnivorous animal grew to the size of modern day bears and became top chain predators in their respective ecosystems.

The bear dog is scientifically recognized as the amphicyonid. Their name is derived from their resembling a mix between the modern version of bears and dogs. Although the bear dog is seemingly like both modern bears and dogs in body shape and posture, they are not closely related to either animal.

According to Susumu Tomiya, a vertebrate paleontologist at The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois, neither bears nor dogs had evolved when the amphicyonid first appeared approximately 40 million years ago.

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NATURE NONE SCI

Study suggests more Hurricane Sandy like storms for Tri State area

A study suggested that more Hurricane Sandy like storms could be in store for the Tri State area.

Hurricane Sandy, which occurred in 2012, devastated the northeast United States of America. Areas from New Jersey to Connecticut were affected by the storm, which caused major property damage and caused the temporary homelessness of many in the area. New York City, which contains large areas of land that are as low as 16 feet above sea level, was also hit by the storm. Manhattan is estimated to be only five feet above sea level.

“It was absolutely horrifying,” said Tribeca resident Tara Reilly said. “We had no power, we basically had to evacuate. Having lived through 9/11, being down here again during something traumatic like that was scary.”

The new study predicts that storms the intensity of  Sandy and with the capability of causing major flooding in New York City will occur more frequently in the near future. According to the study, the reason for the increased frequency is a rising sea level. Many attribute the rise in sea level in part to global warming, which melts the polar caps, causing their ice to turn to added global water.

“Events like Hurricane Sandy, which currently occur approximately every 400 years — the frequency that those events will occur may be as much as once every 20 years,” explained Benjamin Horton, Ph.D., a professor at Rutgers said. “Sea levels will rise in the 21st century because we’re increasing our atmospheric temperatures, which are causing our oceans to expand and our ice sheets to melt. Quite simply, if you increase atmospheric air temperatures, you increase ocean temperatures.”

 

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NATURE NONE SCI

Exercising while angry more than triples risk of heart attack

Many therapy journals have continually explained that a good way of releasing anger or tension is by exercising. They often recommend exercises like kickboxing or any extreme sport. No doubt many have attested that this actually works and they feel better after intense exerting if they are angry.

However, new info says that this may be actually very dangerous. The results came after two teams of scientists carried out parallel experiments. One team discovered that over exercising may increase heart attack risk by almost double.

The other team also noticed that anger by itself also increases chances of a heart attack by almost double. After the findings of both teams, they pulled together and discovered exercising when angry enhances the possibility of a heart attack to almost triple in less than an hour.

“This study is further evidence of the connection between mind and body. When you’re angry, that’s not the time to go out and chop a stack of wood,” said Barry Jacobs, a psychologist at the Crozer-Keystone Health System. “We all need to find ways of modifying our emotional reactions and to avoid extreme anger.”

But the experiments went much deeper. After carrying out tests on almost 13, 000 people they noted that nearly 58 percent of the participants experienced problems related to heart attacks after only 52 minutes. Of this, 75 percent were men.

The team suggested that this proved women had better ways of controlling their anger. Or it would also suggest that women are working out more often than men.

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NATURE NONE SCI

Nobel Prize laureates proposes open border policies

Several Nobel Prize winners are advocating for open borders to aid the advancement of science.

A growing anti-immigration sentiment has grown recently in such places as continental Europe and the United States of America. These concerns have been compounded by the largest refugee totals recorded in the history of the world. Some countries have had internal conflict surrounding whether to open their doors to such refugees or immigration in general.

Nobel Prize laureates are now speaking out on their feelings on the issue. Six of the 2016 Nobel laureates that are connected to United States universities are immigrants. Five of them emigrated from Britain and one from Finland. British advocates see their voices coming in the wake of the Brexit, a large component of which was driven by a desire to tighten borders.

Five of them were born in Britain, and one in Finland; they hold positions on campuses including Princeton University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Northwestern University.

“I think the resounding message that should go out all around the world is that science is global. It’s particularly pertinent to have these discussions in view of the political climate on both sides of the pond at the moment…. I think the United States is what it is today largely because of open borders,” said 2016 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, professor at Northwest University, and native Finn, Sir James Fraser Stoddart. “I got colleagues saying ‘Don’t you know that our people are better?’ ” he said of his early career in Britain. “When you get people from Messina or Madrid moving to a cold place like Sheffield, they’re serious about science…. It’s better for everyone.”

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NATURE NONE SCI

Half of forest fires deemed to be effect of man-made climate change

A new study suggests that half of forest fire quantity is caused by man induced climate change.

The study comes from climate modelers and scientists at the Lamont – Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University and the University of Idaho. Researchers there have posited that climate change induced by human activity (better termed as anthropogenic climate change) has doubled the expansion of wildfires in the western portion of the United States of America over approximately the last four decades.

The areas of the Americas specified in the report were the northern Rocky Mountain territories that cross Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and the Pacific Northwest, including the Cascade Mountains in eastern Oregon and eastern Washington.

“These are all areas where fires were especially influenced by climate change,” explained LDEO bioclimatologist and co-author of the report, Park Williams. “Most things tend to be influenced pretty slowly by climate change. But forest fires are one of the systems on the planet that are showing a very strong effect.”

The report, which was published Monday in PNAS, recorded attempts from Williams and colleague, John Abatzoglou, to measure the effects of anthropogenic climate change on forest fires in the western portion of the United States. Williams and Abatzoglou siphoned data from climate models for their analysis in order to determine fuel aridity, or the ability of dryness to turn trees into tinder. Williams and Abatzoglou implemented eight separate commonly used models in their work.

 

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NATURE NONE SCI

Rachel Feltman is arguing Nobel Prize for scientist Vera Rubin.

Washington Post columnist, Rachel Feltman, is arguing a Nobel Prize for Vera Rubin.

“What’s the Holdup, ” read the headline of a piece written by Feltman, an online science columnist.

“[Vera] Rubin and her colleague Kent Ford provided the first real evidence of dark matter—yes, dark matter, the unseeable, unknowable, mysterious stuff that makes up more than a quarter of the universe, which is kind of a big deal—decades ago. Her time in the Nobel spotlight is overdue,” read the article, which argued for popular Nobel Prize candidate, Rubin, to finally be recognized by the Royal Swedish Academy for her work.

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics went to the work of three men surrounding the discovery of exotic phases of matter. Media sites criticized the Nobel Prize committee for their lack of female inclusion in winners. Rubin, if she were to win, would join only two other women, Marie Curie and Maria Goeppert-Mayer, to ever receive the Nobel Prize in Physics. There is an argument against Rubin having received the 2016 award, but Feltman argued down that dissent as well.

“Some might argue that Rubin, an obvious and timely Nobel candidate, should have to wait until dark matter is officially detected until she is given her due,” explained Feltman. “But Rubin is in her late 80s, and the Nobel Prize cannot be given posthumously. Her work on dark matter has spawned entirely new branches of scientific inquiry, and time is running out. This should have been her year.”

 

 

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NATURE NONE SCI

See through rats next phase of lab experiments

Rats are the primary experimental animals in labs. Suffice the obvious contrast to the human appearance their genetic makeup is actually pretty close. Scientists see the rapidly reproducing animal as the perfect specimen. But even with these characteristics, dissecting rodents still damages cells and structures while killing the rat. In the end, scientists sacrifice the whole animal for a small piece of tissue.

A group of scientists has now come up with a way to make the specimen transparent. They have found a way to remove the fats and liquids from the tissue before a scanning. This leaves the tissue undamaged and transparent, allowing scientists to view the specimen without cutting it.

However, the scientists believe that the rat subjects are the first phase of this new step. Their ultimate goal is to be able to view the human brain without any insertions. “Now, for the first time, we have a powerful tool that can make the human brain transparent and reduce its size to fit an imaging microscope for mapping,” said Ali Ertu?rk, a brain researcher at Ludwig Maximilians University. “We expect that this method is readily applicable to small monkeys, even to a whole human brain shortly.”

Prior techniques included slicing the tissue into thin slices before creating a 3D image from them. But even this left some cells damaged and in the end did not give a clear indication of how the structure really looked like, missing small yet significant details.

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NATURE NONE SCI

‘Earth hotter than it ever was’ study reveals

A study has revealed that in over 120, 000 years, Planet Earth has never been as warm as it is. The earth is bound to hit a record temperature in 2 million years.

Carolyn Snyder in her doctoral research at the university of Stanford created a consecutive 2 million year record of temperature, which is much longer than the previous 22,000-year-old record.

The temperature re-enactment which was published in the journal Nature on Monday averages periods from 5000-years time, going back several million years back rather than estimating the temperature for a single year.

Basing her reconstruction on 61 varying sea surface temperature alternatives globally, this includes the ratio between calcium and magnesium and species structure and salinity. However so, the study shows over a million years back these alternatives are few, which makes the predictions indefinite.

The estimates are very uncertain, and the error margins are quite outsized, said Snyder. She also discovered the close correlation in the temperature changes and the carbon dioxide levels.

Carbon dioxide levels alongside other factors, and how the past temperature trends were helped Snyder to predict the amount of warming that may be expected in the future.

“If the climatic factors remained as they were in the past, which is hardly possible, Earth, is going to experience over 7 degrees of warming in the next few millenniums”. Snyder also said, “the human beings are messing with the atmosphere more now than they did in the past.”

The research was praised by four other outside scientists. Jeremy Shakum from Boston College said the research was a great contribution upon which future work should be based on. However so, some scientists still thought of her estimate of the warming in the future as a bit too high. Shalkun said they were unrealistic.

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NATURE NONE SCI

Chinese scientists give silkworms supernatural strength

Chinese scientists have been experimenting with strengthening the silk of silkworms.

Silk is highly prized for its light weight, flexibility, strength and versatility. Chinese scientists have found a way to create silk that is much tougher, far more durable, and considerably more conductive than unaffected silk threads.

The new properties of the “super silk” were brought about by Chinese scientists feeding silkworms with carbon nanotubes and graphene, which affected the type of silk they spun. There is great hope for the various potential applications of the new silk that range from new fabrics to medical implants.

The explanation of the process is that scientists engaged silk moth caterpillars, which naturally produce the silk while they eat the leaves of mulberry trees. When they are ready for metamorphosis into adult moths, the caterpillar larvae create silk cocoons for themselves. The fibre thereof is produced by proteins in their salivary glands.

This is not the first time that scientists have attempted to alter the silk fibres that are produced by moth larvae. It is a widespread practice of textile manufacturers to tweak the properties of naturally occurring silk fibres by adding antimicrobial compounds and variously colored dyes to them.

The team of scientists at Tsinghua University in China, however, came up with the idea to feed the larvae a diet heavy with nanomaterials such as graphene and carbon nanotubes. This process allows the larvae to naturally spin the reinforced threads themselves. Only parts of nanomaterials had to be incorporated into the fibres thereafter.

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NATURE NONE PHYS SCI

The understanding of physics makes cats the best hunters

Cats, ranging from the domesticated feline to the mighty savanna lion, are termed as one of the best hunters on the planet. Evolution has helped them to a great extent achieve this fit, with powerful limbs and jaws. However, it seems that their basic understanding of physics has played a role just as significant.

Saho Takagi, a scientist with his team from the University of Kyoto, conducted experiments with 30 cats. They put the cats in a room and placed a box in its vicinity. The box either contained an object or was empty.

The Scientists shock both boxes as the felines stared at the boxes. The Boxes with objects inside made sounds when shaken, and those without did not. The researchers observed that the cats stared longer at the boxes with the object as inside than once without.

They took the experiment a step further and tilted the boxes in front of the cats after removing the object inside. The cats looked at the boxes which had prior had objects inside with more anticipation. The cats knew that since the boxes had something inside the object would have to drop out of the box if tilted. This proved that cats understood causal-logical one of the fundamental core concepts in physics.

“The results suggest that cats used a causal-logical understanding of auditory stimuli to predict the appearance of invisible objects,” said Saho Takagi. “The ecology of cats’ natural hunting style may favor the ability for inference on the basis of sounds.”

Understanding basic physics may be a unique skill that cats have used to become such excellent hunters. Understanding how physical forces work and how to use them to their advantage may help them move quicker and hunter with m0ore intelligence.