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Sci/Tech
 

The Alaska fire season -- before and after (satellite photos)

The 2015 Alaska fire season has been particularly brutal this year. The fire season reached another milestone on Aug. 7 by surpassing the 5-million- mark in the number of acres burned so far this season. According to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center's (AICC) daily situation report on Aug. 7, a total of 743 fires have burned 5,013,053.4 acres to date. That total ranks the 2015 fire season No. 3 on the list of the largest fire seasons on record. As of today, 768 fires have ravaged the state and 153 fires are currently active there. AICC notes as of August 13 that Alaska is moving into its annual seasonal rain pattern which should help to diminish fire activity across the state.

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To email or not to email? For those in love, it's better than leaving a voice message

In her hit single, Carly Rae Jepsen may have sung, "Here's my number, so call me maybe." But according to a new research study from Indiana University, she might be more successful in finding love if she asked him to send her an email.

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New Elevation for Nation’s Highest Peak

A new, official height for Denali has been measured at 20,310 feet, just 10 feet less than the previous elevation of 20,320 feet which was established using 1950’s era technology.

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Climate change will irreversibly force key ocean bacteria into overdrive

Imagine being in a car with the gas pedal stuck to the floor, heading toward a cliff's edge. Metaphorically speaking, that's what climate change will do to the key group of ocean bacteria known as Trichodesmium, scientists have discovered.

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Seabird SOS: New study estimates that almost all seabirds have eaten plastic

Plastic debris in the ocean has been an environmental issue for almost half a century. Now, for the first time, scientists can predict the global impact of plastics on avian marine species — and it isn’t pretty.

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Asteroid Deflection: Science Fiction or Reality?

It’s the ultimate science fiction: The immense power of the sun is harnessed and converted into a massive phased array of laser beams that have the potential to intercept and deflect asteroids before they smash into Earth. But in this case, fiction may actually be closer to reality. DE-STAR, or Directed Energy System for Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation, the brainchild of UC Santa Barbara physicist Philip Lubin and Gary B. Hughes, a researcher and professor at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, is designed to do exactly that.

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Predicting who will murder his wife or his family

Murderers who kill intimate partners and family members have a significantly different psychological and forensic profile from murderers who kill people they don’t know, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study that examined the demographics, psychiatric history and neuropsychology of these individuals.

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Earth's Mineralogy Unique in the Universe

New research from a team led by Carnegie’s Robert Hazen predicts that Earth has more than 1,500 undiscovered minerals and that the exact mineral diversity of our planet is unique and could not be duplicated anywhere in the cosmos.

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Hi-tech analysis pinpoints Antarctic ice sheet dangers

Scientists have used high-resolution computing techniques to calculate the future of the West Antarctic ice sheet over the next two or three centuries.

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Men who feel they fall short of 'masculine' gender norms may be prone to violence

Men whose image of themselves falls short of the traditional masculine gender norms, and who feel that others think this about them too, may be more prone to violence than men who feel comfortable in their own skin, suggests research published online in the journal Injury Prevention.

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NASA: Smoke from western fires wafts eastward (photo)

On August 21, 2015 the Aqua satellite captured this image of the smoke from the fires on the west coast of the United States wafting eastward on the jet stream. In this image the smoke is obscuring parts of Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

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SwRI scientists think 'planetary pebbles' were the building blocks for the largest planets

Researchers at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and Queen's University in Canada have unraveled the mystery of how Jupiter and Saturn likely formed. This discovery, which changes our view of how all planets might have formed, will be published in the Aug. 20 issue of Nature.

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Want to see what science now calls the world's unsustainable "super predator"? Look in the mirror.

Want to see what science now calls the world's "super predator"? Look in the mirror.

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New research shows that hummingbird tongue is really a tiny pump

In a paper titled Hummingbird tongues are elastic micropumps which appears in the August 19 issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Alejandro Rico Guevara and Margaret Rubega from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Tai-Hsi Fan from the School of Engineering, say that fluid is actually drawn into the tongue by the elastic expansion of the tongues grooves after they are squeezed flat by the beak.

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Solar System formation don't mean a thing without that spin

New work from Carnegie's Alan Boss and Sandra Keiser provides surprising new details about the trigger that may have started the earliest phases of planet formation in our solar system. It is published by The Astrophysical Journal. For decades, it's been hypothesized that our Solar System's genesis was initiated by a shock wave from a supernova. According to this theory, the wall of pressure formed by a shock wave from the exploding star smacked into a cloud of dust and gas, causing it to collapse and contract into the core of a new proto-star--our Sun. This young Sun was surrounded by a rotating disk of dust and gas that eventually aggregated to form the planets of our Solar System.

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Substantial glacier ice loss in Central Asia's largest mountain range

Glaciers in Central Asia experience substantial losses in glacier mass and area. Along the Tien Shan, Central Asia's largest mountain range, glaciers have lost 27% of their mass and 18% of their area during the last 50 years. An international research team led by the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences and including the institute of the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) at Rennes University in particular, estimated that almost 3000 square kilometres of glaciers and an average of 5.4 gigatons of ice per year have been lost since the 1960s. In the current online issue of Nature Geoscience, the authors estimate that about half of Tien Shan's glacier volume could be depleted by the 2050s.

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Melting Ice Sheets, Genomic Studies, Deep-Space Observations Are Top Priorities for Next Decade of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Research

An initiative to better understand how melting ice sheets will contribute to sea-level rise, efforts to decode the genomes of organisms to understand evolutionary adaptations, and a next-generation cosmic microwave background experiment to address fundamental questions about the origin of the universe are the top research goals for Antarctic and Southern Ocean science recommended in a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

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Researchers explain why the Greenwich prime meridian moved

In 1884, a delegation of international representatives convened in Washington, D.C. to recommend that Earth's prime meridian (the north-south line marking zero degrees longitude) should pass through the Airy Transit Circle at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England.

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Global Vulnerability of Forests to Climate Change-Related Tree Mortality is Widely Underestimated

Forests worldwide are vulnerable to growing risks of drought- and heat-induced tree mortality and forest die-off because of a rapidly warming Earth, according to just-published research in the scientific journal Ecosphere. The paper is an invited “ESA Centennial Paper” to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Ecological Society of America.

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Charting the Slow Death of the Universe

An international team of astronomers studying more than 200 000 galaxies has measured the energy generated within a large portion of space more precisely than ever before. This represents the most comprehensive assessment of the energy output of the nearby Universe. They confirm that the energy produced in a section of the Universe today is only about half what it was two billion years ago and find that this fading is occurring across all wavelengths from the ultraviolet to the far infrared. The Universe is slowly dying.

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Study Reveals Latest Evidence That Prejudice Causes the Perception of Threat

When people feel or act negatively toward a group, they may explain their feelings or behavior by saying, “I felt threatened.” However, new research reveals how easily people can be conditioned to feel prejudice -- and that unrecognized prejudice can be the source of a perceived threat. The study by Angela Bahns, a social psychologist and professor at Wellesley College, is published this month in the journal Group Processes and Intergroup Relations: http://gpi.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/07/03/1368430215591042.abstract

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Privacy Badger 1.0 Blocks the Sneakiest Kinds of Online Tracking

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today released Privacy Badger 1.0, a browser extension that blocks some of the sneakiest trackers that try to spy on your Web browsing habits.

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High-altitude climate change to kill cloud forest plants

Australian scientists have discovered many tropical, mountaintop plants won't survive global warming, even under the best-case climate scenario.

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Scientists' Heighten Concerns About Global Extinctions: "We Are the Asteroid" (VIDEO)

The global rate of extinctions, “already very large,” is “ramping up” . . . with climate change helping bring about that “acceleration,” scientist James White of the University of Colorado cautions in this month’s “This is not Cool” Yale Climate Connections video.

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Ocean changes are affecting salmon biodiversity and survival

The biodiversity of two Northern Pacific salmon species may be at risk due to changes in ocean conditions at the equator, reports a study by the University of California, Davis.

In the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Aug. 3, researchers tracked the survival of Chinook and coho salmon from hatcheries in North America between 1980 and 2006.

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Simple intervention can moderate anti-vaccination beliefs, study finds

It might not be possible to convince someone who believes that vaccines cause autism that they don't. Telling skeptics that their belief is not scientifically supported often backfires - strengthening, rather than weakening, their anti-vaccine views. But researchers say they have found a way to overcome some of the most entrenched anti-vaccine attitudes: Remind the skeptics, with words and images, why vaccines exist.

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New Study Reveals Stars in Milky Way Have Moved

New Mexico State University researchers are part of a team of scientists with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) who created a new map of the Milky Way that shows nearly a third of the stars have dramatically changed their obits.

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Half of the most popular news on Twitter is not covered by traditional news media sources

The study, carried out by researchers from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, the IMDEA Networks Institute and NEC Laboratories, has just been published in the journal PLOS ONE. The analysis focuses on the "trending topics" of Twitter because they share some of the same characteristics as news, dealing with subjects that attract the attention of a large number of people. "They are events that a large number of users are interested in and, in this regard, we can say that they are news items selected democratically by Twitter users in a country," the researchers noted.

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Drought's lasting impact on forests

In the virtual worlds of climate modeling, forests and other vegetation are assumed to bounce back quickly from extreme drought. But that assumption is far off the mark, according to a new study of drought impacts at forest sites worldwide. Living trees took an average of two to four years to recover and resume normal growth rates after droughts ended, researchers report today in the journal Science.

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James Hansen paper, "Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise and Superstorms," Published Online

The paper “Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2°C global warming is highly dangerous” has been published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussion and is freely available here.

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