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What does Martian wind sound like? Now we know

What does Martian wind sound like? Now we knowInSight, or NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport lander, provided the first "sounds" of Martian winds to human ears on Friday. The spacecraft's sensors captured a "haunting low rumble caused by vibrations from the wind," a NASA spokesperson wrote in a press release. "The winds were consistent with the direction of dust devil streaks in the landing area, which were observed from orbit," the NASA statement added.

Sat, 08 Dec 2018 14:05:04 -0500
Protesters march as UN climate talks hit fossil fuel snag

Protesters march as UN climate talks hit fossil fuel snagKATOWICE, Poland (AP) Thousands of people from around the world marched Saturday through the southern Polish city that's hosting this year's U.N. climate talks, demanding that their governments take tougher action to curb global warming.

Sat, 08 Dec 2018 16:28:58 -0500
Fluoride discovery could lead to much longer-lasting EV batteries

Fluoride discovery could lead to much longer-lasting EV batteriesHonda, Caltech and NASA scientists discovered a way to make it work at room temperature, which could eventually yield more energy dense and environmentally safe batteries for EVs and other devices. To get around that, the Honda/NASA/Caltech team created a liquid electrolyte called BTFE that allows fluoride to dissolve at room temperature. The scientists paired the electrolyte with a copper, lanthanum and fluorine to create a prototype battery capable of reversible chemical reactions (aka recharging) at room temperature.

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 11:30:00 -0500
Some Twitter Users Are Showing Support for Michael Flynn by Changing Their Handles

Some Twitter Users Are Showing Support for Michael Flynn by Changing Their HandlesSome of his supporters on Twitter are calling Flynn a "hero" who should be cleared

Sat, 08 Dec 2018 11:10:35 -0500
We Must Protect Journalists Shedding Light on Injustice, Not Attack Them

We Must Protect Journalists Shedding Light on Injustice, Not Attack ThemA transcript of the lawyer and activist's Amal Clooney's speech at the United Nations' Correspondents Association on Dec. 5

Sat, 08 Dec 2018 08:12:48 -0500
Beloved freeway-crossing mountain lion found dead following California fire

Beloved freeway-crossing mountain lion found dead following California fireIt's hard out there for a smart cat in a dumb world. The National Park Service confirmed on Dec. 7 that a mountain lion, widely known for his ability to safely navigate the treacherous freeways of Southern California, was found dead following the Woolsey Fire. The "Culvert Cat," as he was affectionately referred to, was discovered by a National Park Service biologist on Dec. 3 after the fire had been contained with burnt paws. SEE ALSO: California's Woolsey Fire has left a burn scar so big you can see it from space While the exact cause of death remains unknown, the possible effects of it are not. P-64, as the four-year old cat was officially designated, had previously given researchers hope that his travels might help end a human environment-abetted problem of inbreeding among mountain lions in the region. As it stands, reports KPCC, researchers fear that the mountain lions could go extinct in the area within 50 years. Image: national park service / flickrThat's partially because, as KPCC reported in March, at the time the Culvert Cat was only the second mountain lion in 15 years that had been observed moving into the Santa Monica Mountains from across Highway 101. And now he is dead. Because in this cruel world, if the cars don't get you then something else surely will. The Culvert Cat got his name when he was spotted on a motion-sensor camera exiting a you guessed it culvert that passed under Highway 101. He had figured out a way to bypass the busy road altogether. Image: national park service / flickrBut there is one possible bit of good news in this otherwise tragic story. The National Park Service tells us that, although DNA tests are still needed to be sure, researchers believe P-64 fathered four kittens that were born in May of this year. Here's hoping the Culvert Cat passed on some of those street smarts. WATCH: Your cat can achieve ultimate chill with this portable hammock

Sat, 08 Dec 2018 13:57:53 -0500
Smokey Bear's world is on fire. But the old mascot won't die.

Smokey Bear's world is on fire. But the old mascot won't die.The real Smokey Bear narrowly avoided death in the pine-filled Capitan Mountains of New Mexico, nearly 70 years ago. Just west of the town of Roswell, firefighters found the bear cub clutching to the upper reaches of a tree, with singed paws and legs. The stranded black bear would almost certainly have perished amid the ashy land, but foresters saved him, and ultimately brought the tiny omnivore to the National Zoo in Washington D.C. Here, the newly named "Smokey Bear" lived out his domesticated life, well beyond the wild threats of the American West, where forests burn, and indomitable fires are king. Today, of course, Smokey Bear lives on as a 74-year-old message, the longest-serving public service campaign in U.S. history. He is stern, though approachable. Authoritative, yet gentle. He only says one thing, ever. "Only you can prevent wildfires." But as Smokey the campaign run by the U.S. Forest Service, theNational Association of State Foresters, and the non-profit advertiser the Ad Council approaches his 75-birthday, he has entered changing climes. Earth's temperature has been rising for over a century a rise that is indisputably caused by humans. But over the past four decades, this rate of warming has accelerated. A Smokey illustration in 1995, as he puts out a forgotten campfire.Image: Rudy Wendelin/U.S. department of AgricultureThough the nation's fire woes are a complex confluence of potent culprits, Smokey's modern world, parched by heat and dryness, is increasingly aflame, and climate change is making it worse. Wildfires are burning more than twice as much land as they were in the early 1980s (when modern record-keeping began), and these blazes are burning for weeks not just days longer. Yet Smokey's message though imperfect remains relevant in an increasingly fire-damaged nation. "You can prevent wildfires thats a great message," Mike Flannigan, a fire scientist at the University of Alberta, said in an interview. "I like to think every human-caused fire is preventable." Globally, humans are responsible for starting around 95 percent of fires, said Flannigan, whether by downed power lines, a sparking vehicle, or a campfire gone wrong. So, encouraging Americans to be careful in fire country by drowning campfires in water or not carelessly tossing cigarette butts into the woods is unquestionably valuable, if not critical. A Smokey PSA from 1947.Image: Ad Council, US Forest Service & National Association of State ForestersBut limited to five words, Smokey's famous adage while memorable and enduring comes with a catch. "Smokey's other message is not as obvious," said Flannigan. "It's 'Fire is bad'." But, emphasized Flannigan, "Fire is not bad it's nature at work." "Smokey has a place," Stephen Pyne, a wildlife historian at Arizona State University, added in an interview. "The problem is when Smokey's message gets generalized." Smokey's modern message There are bad fires, and there are good fires. "We want fires of the right sort," said Pyne. Wildfires improve the wilderness. They open up sunlight while removing dead brush. They fertilize the land and crack open pine cones, spreading seeds. And, critically, they thin the forests and woodlands, depriving large fires of the fuel they relish when growing into towering conflagrations. In a modern world besieged by fires, then, we also need fire. In fact, when it's possible, many fire experts promote intentionally and intelligently lighting fires to thin out forests that we've let become overgrown. This is called prescribed burning. "Some fires we need to fight, and some we need to light," said Pyne. That's why Pyne suggests a mild alteration of Smokey's legendary message. "Why not just have him say 'Help Smokey stop bad fires?" wondered Pyne. Or, perhaps, it's time to let Smokey retire and hand over the reins to Smokey's cubs to carry the modern message, while leaving Smokey to walk into the sunset, with his furry head and iconic flat-hat held high. "Let him retire with dignity," said Pyne. SEE ALSO: The EPA has lost its mind It's quite unlikely, however, that Smokey will be retired. He's not just a massive advertising success, perhaps one of the most successful in U.S. history who doesn't know Smokey Bear? His message, though oversimplified, remains important not because of his legend, but because of his relevance to the future. Because forests, especially in the Western U.S. and Canada, are growing more susceptible to flames. "The climate is changing," said Flannigan. "Were getting more extreme weather for fire, and there are more people on the landscape." This is a recipe for catastrophic flames, which recently proved historically deadly in the California town of Paradise. Though this blaze might have been caused by flawed power lines, not poor campfire etiquette, the consequences of accidental fire can be identical: towering, unstoppable flames. A Smokey PSA from 1953.Image: Ad Council, US Forest Service & National Association of State ForestersThousands of years ago, before hundreds of millions of people had populated North America, lightning strikes likely started nearly every fire on Earth. Lightning however, is more limited in scope, in part because lightning has a season. "But now with humans, as long as the fuels are dry and the weather is conducive, you can have a fire any time of the year," said Flannigan. After all, in the parched West, all it takes is a spark. Under the right conditions, once a fire reaches the crowns of trees, humans are generally powerless to stop the flames, noted Flannigan. Even massive 747 aircraft swooping over fires and dropping loads of crimson retardant has little effect. "Dropping retardant makes a nice picture," said Flannigan, "But you might as well be spitting on a campfire." Smokey's survival Smokey has survived through 14 presidential administrations, largely immune to America's contemporary episodes of social unrest, warring, and economic tumult. Yet, how successful has Smokey been at stopping, or avoiding, wildfires? A smokey PSA from 2017.Image: Ad Council, US Forest Service & National Association of State ForestersIt's nearly impossible to say. As the Ad Council pointed out over email, "there are difficulties measuring something that never happens." What is understood, however, is that Smokey is well known. Of over 6,700 outdoor recreationists recently surveyed, 8 of 10 could identify Smokey, according to the Ad Council. So his message is likely being heard. And Smokey has evolved and changed his message, in a nuanced but relevant way. In 2001, his message shifted from "Only you can prevent forest fires" to "Only you can prevent wildfires." This was appropriate, as some of the America's largest wildfires don't occur in forests, but in scrublands and chaparral. Whatever Smokey's true success rate, the U.S. Forest Service still considers the anthropomorphized bear as one weapon in its battle to stop accidental fires. "The objective of wildfire prevention strategies, whether engineering, enforcement, education, administration or the Smokey Bear campaign, is to prevent human-caused ignitions from starting," the federal agency said in a statement. "Smokeys message is about preventing a wildfire from starting in the first place." Although seasoned fire experts like Pyne, who grew up with Smokey think his message can be refined, it's hard to argue Smokey isn't an important part of the modern solution to climate change-enhanced infernos. After all, we're going to need all the help we can get. Money alone, to fight fires and treat the land (reducing fuels in heavily wooded forest) won't solve the problem. And the U.S. Forest Service knows it. In 1995, 16 percent of the agency's budget was devoted to fighting fire. Now, it's up to 50 percent. And by 2025, "two out of every three dollars the Forest Service gets from Congress as part of its appropriated budget will be spent on fire programs," the agency concluded in a 2015 report. An illustration of Smokey reading his fan mail in 1979.Image: RUDY WENDELIN/U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE"Were seeing expenditures go up and up and up," said Flannigan. "Despite how much we're spending, our area burned has more than doubled." Solving the nation's modern wildfire woes doesn't have a silver bullet solution regardless of what leading politicians, like Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, contend. Yes, it will mean reducing overgrown vegetation, or fuels, in our historically ill-managed forests. It will mean dramatically lowering global societies reliance on carbon emitting fossil fuels. It will mean fortifying communities against fire. And it will mean not acting foolishly in fire country. That's where Smokey, with his unpretentious, chummy demeanor, comes in. "The status quo is not an option for the future," said Flannigan. "We cant spend, spend, and spend and continue to get our butts kicked. When you have a battle with a lion you lose." "Were losing." WATCH: Ever wonder how the universe might end?

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 15:30:00 -0500
China launches probe to explore dark side of Moon - Xinhua

China launches probe to explore dark side of Moon - XinhuaChina on Saturday launched a first probe ever to explore the dark side of the Moon, marking another milestone in its ambitious space programme, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The probe, the Chang'e-4, is expected to make the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the Moon, according to Xinhua. Previous spacecraft have seen the far side of the Moon, but none has landed on it.

Sat, 08 Dec 2018 02:07:29 -0500
A former symbol of Silicon Valleys crush it culture now regrets working so much

A former symbol of Silicon Valleys crush it culture now regrets working so muchIt wasnt so much that Kai-Fu Lee had trouble balancing work and life. Its that work was his life. As an Apple employee in the early 1990s, he almost walked out of the delivery room when the impending birth of his first child threatened to disrupt a presentation he was scheduled to give. As president

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 08:01:10 -0500
NASA gives the Avengers some advice for helping Tony Stark

NASA gives the Avengers some advice for helping Tony StarkThe last time we saw Tony Stark, he was adrift in space in the Avengers: Endgame trailer, and it didn't look like survival was likely. Luckily, the folks at NASA heard about Iron Man's plight and had some advice to offer for the rest of the Avengers who were still alive on Earth. Hey @Marvel, we heard about Tony Stark. As we know, the first thing you should do is listen in mission control for @Avengers, we have a problem. But if he cant communicate, then we recommend ground teams use all resources to scan the skies for your missing man pic.twitter.com/zavXrsPljq NASA (@NASA) December 9, 2018 SEE ALSO: Thanos: I am not the villain here. Stop saying I'm the villain. The NASA tweet suggested, of course, to listen for a distress call from Stark that mirrors NASA's infamous "Houston, we have a problem" phrase. But since it seems like Stark, who has run out of food and water and is almost out of oxygen, doesn't have an operable communications device (at least not one that can reach Earth), NASA said that the Avengers who are on the ground should use all their resources to scan the skies for Iron Man. Unfortunately, the Avengers are a little short-staffed after the Snappening at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Based on the trailer, it looks like only a handful of superheroes are available: Captain America, Black Widow, The Hulk, Thor, Nebula, and Ant-Man. Hopefully Bruce Banner can use his genius to help find Stark, or maybe Thor will be able to fly out into space to help him once they locate him. In fact, check out this zoomed-in look at NASA's photo, shared by a sharp-eyed Twitter user. Finally found the hammer. pic.twitter.com/b18zTRV9Ep Darshan Baid (@frunkad) December 9, 2018 It looks like Thor is already on the case. WATCH: You won't feel so good if you watched this before watching 'Avengers: Infinity War

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 15:21:12 -0500
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