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Citizen Scientists Discover H5N1 Flu in NYC Wild Birds

In a groundbreaking study conducted by citizen scientists in New York City, a small number of wild birds have been found to be infected with the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian flu, challenging the notion that the risk is primarily in rural areas. While the discovery may raise concerns, experts emphasize that there is no immediate threat to the public, as no human cases have been reported. The study, led by Dr. Christine Marizzi of the New York City Virus Hunters Program, involved local high school students collecting bird fecal samples to screen for viruses. The findings revealed the presence of two different genotypes of H5N1 in various bird species, highlighting the potential for virus mixing among migratory birds in urban areas. Despite the low risk to the general public, residents are advised to avoid contact with sick birds and wildlife to prevent transmission. sources

Published:
May 15 2024, 8 pm

Two searches discover 60 possible "alien megastructures" in galaxy

Boyajian's Star, also known as KIC 8462852, sparked excitement in 2018 due to its unusual dimming patterns, leading to speculation about a potential Dyson Sphere built by aliens. However, recent studies have debunked this theory, attributing the dimming to dust. Despite this, astronomers continue to search for advanced alien civilizations by looking for excess infrared light emitted by potential megastructures. Two recent papers have identified candidates for Dyson Spheres, including stars with extreme debris disks, challenging current models of planet formation. While these findings are intriguing, further observations are needed to confirm the presence of alien megastructures. The search for extraterrestrial life remains ongoing, with hopes of one day finding concrete evidence. sources

Published:
May 16 2024, 3 pm

Cuban Crocodile: Athletic, Speedy, Heavily Armored

The critically endangered Cuban crocodile, known for its athleticism, speed, and heavy armor, is facing multiple threats in its restricted habitat in Cuba's Zapata Swamp. With only around 2,600 individuals left in the wild, the species is at risk due to hybridization with American crocodiles, hunting for skins and food, and climate change-related issues like rising temperatures affecting the sex of their eggs. Cuban crocodiles, which can reach speeds of up to 35 kilometers per hour on land, are the most heavily armored of all crocodilian species, with horned squamosals on the back of their heads. Conservation efforts are crucial to protect this unique and endangered species from extinction. sources

Published:
May 15 2024, 5 am

Fastest ocean animal?

In the competitive world of ocean predators, billfish, particularly sailfish, are often considered the fastest swimmers. With their sleek bodies and impressive dorsal fins, sailfish are built for speed, capable of reaching up to 36 kilometers per hour. However, recent research suggests that their top speeds may not be as high as previously thought. While sailfish can accelerate at impressive rates, they are likely only able to maintain these speeds for short bursts while hunting prey. Bluefin tuna, on the other hand, may surpass sailfish in terms of acceleration, but like their counterparts, their sustained speeds remain uncertain. On land, the cheetah holds the title for the fastest land animal, with recorded speeds of up to 98 kilometers per hour. sources

Published:
May 15 2024, 10 pm

Is There Anything Beyond the Observable Universe?

The observable universe, limited by the time it takes for light to reach us, is expanding at a rate of 73 kilometers per second per megaparsec. As the universe grows, the distance between us and other stars increases, shrinking our observable universe. While we have only observed around 43 percent of the galaxies we will eventually see, the rest remains unobservable. The cosmic microwave background radiation suggests we are either in a typical part of a larger universe or at the center of a universe the size of our observable universe. Speculation about the universe being bigger than what we can observe has led to controversial claims of detecting gravitational influences from objects beyond our observable universe. Despite the possibility of detecting such influences in the future, the expansion of the universe and the speed limit prevent us from ever seeing or influencing what lies beyond our observable universe. sources

Published:
May 15 2024, 5 pm

New Study Predicts Collapse of Atlantic Circulation Current

A recent study suggests that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), a crucial ocean current system, is nearing collapse, with potential profound impacts on global climate. The AMOC, known as the "conveyor belt of the ocean," transports warm water from the tropics to the North Atlantic, influencing weather patterns in Northwest Europe. Climate change is believed to be weakening the AMOC, with models predicting further slowdown. Scientists at Utrecht University have identified a potential early warning signal for AMOC collapse, based on the movement of freshwater in the Atlantic. While the exact timing of the tipping point remains uncertain, the consequences of an AMOC collapse would disrupt heat distribution in the world's oceans. The study is published in Science Advances. sources

Published:
May 19 2024, 3 am

Flying Over an Earthquake: What Could Happen?

Flying over an earthquake may seem like a terrifying scenario, but in reality, passengers on a commercial flight at 30,000 feet are unlikely to feel any effects of the seismic activity below. While earthquakes can cause atmospheric disturbances, the seismic waves that travel through the air are typically too weak by the time they reach a plane to have any impact. However, there are still potential risks for aircraft during earthquakes, such as interference with navigation and communication systems. In a rare case recounted by a United States Air Force pilot, an earthquake caused a power outage at an air traffic control base, leading to temporary issues for a flight. Despite this, air traffic control stations are well-prepared for system-wide events, including earthquakes, ensuring the safety of flights even during seismic activity. So, while the idea of flying over an earthquake may sound alarming, in reality, passengers have little to worry about as they soar above the ground. sources

Published:
May 15 2024, 1 am

Did giant crabs eat Amelia Earhart?

The mystery surrounding the disappearance of aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart has sparked a new theory - was she eaten by giant crabs? In 1940, British colonists found 13 bones on Nikumaroro, an atoll in the Pacific Ocean, believed to be Earhart's. The idea is that Earhart and her navigator landed on the atoll, but only she survived. Coconut crabs, massive land-dwelling creatures known to hunt large birds, are suspected of scattering the rest of the bones. The International Group of Historical Aircraft Recovery conducted experiments with pig carcasses to test this theory, finding that the crabs can strip a body in less than two weeks. Despite the popularity of this hypothesis online, no conclusive evidence has been found, leaving the fate of Amelia Earhart still shrouded in mystery. sources

Published:
May 18 2024, 10 pm

Lost river may reveal secrets of pyramid construction

A recent study suggests that the ancient pyramids of Egypt, including the iconic Great Pyramid of Giza, may have been built along a now-lost branch of the River Nile. Over 30 pyramids are located in a strip of desert between Giza and Lisht, far from the modern Nile, indicating the presence of a former river system. Scientists used satellite imagery to identify a 64-kilometer ancient river branch, proposing the name "Ahramat," meaning "pyramids" in Arabic. This discovery could explain how the massive stones used in pyramid construction were transported, as the river would have provided an efficient means of moving materials and workers. The study, led by Dr. Eman Ghoneim from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, was presented at the 13th International Congress of Egyptologists and published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment. sources

Published:
May 17 2024, 2 am

Meaning of "SOS" is not "Save Our Ship"

The widely recognized distress signal "SOS" does not actually stand for "Save Our Souls" or "Save Our Ship," but was chosen for its distinctive Morse code sequence of three dots, three dashes, and three dots. Before the adoption of "SOS" as a universal distress signal in 1908, different countries and organizations used various codes, leading to confusion and inefficiency in maritime communication. The first documented use of "SOS" in the US was in 1909, and it gained prominence during the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912. Despite Morse code no longer being used for marine communication, "SOS" remains a standard distress signal, as demonstrated by three sailors rescued in 2020 after writing a giant SOS message on a remote Pacific island beach. sources

Published:
May 15 2024, 6 pm

Women hunt less in foraging societies than previously believed

A recent study challenges the widely held belief that women in foraging societies are active hunters, arguing that they may be the exception rather than the rule. While previous research suggested that women actively hunt in 79 percent of foraging societies, a new study disputes these claims, citing methodological flaws and selection bias. The researchers contend that gendered divisions of labor are present in all known contemporary hunter-gatherer societies, with men often taking on the role of hunters. Despite some evidence of female hunters in prehistoric cultures, the debate continues on the extent of women's involvement in hunting activities. The study emphasizes the importance of reassessing past assumptions and avoiding projecting Westernized ideas onto foraging societies. The findings are published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior. sources

Published:
May 15 2024, 9 pm

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