Health Science

New Technology In Genetic Testing!

Don’t start rolling your eyes just yet. I know that blockchain technology is suggested as the savior to everything. However, in the world of genetic testing, it’s becoming a genuinely viable solution to a problem that is showing no signs of getting any better.

Genetic testing is one of the most powerful tools that we have as a species, but it’s also an industry that is fraught with data leaks and other such problems.

With DNA sequencing now a fully affordable solution, more and more people are getting involved with it. However, the question has to be asked – how will that data be used in the first place? How will the medical industry use our genetic data to help make the world a better place?

Privacy, of course, is the next big challenge. We look at the world and we see the increase of data and the drop-off of privacy becoming a major problem. Genetic testing, then, is no different: so how could we make a genetic testing industry that is both affordable and private?

According to the CEO of Geneyx, David Yizhar, the solution is going to be a blockchain technology offer. Stressing that it offers the security and anonymity that is needed to help keep genetic tasting data safe, this could be the bespoke solution that the industry has been crying out for.

Blockchain and genetic testing: a happy combination?

As Yizhar says, they want to make genomic data available without having to put people’s privacy at needless risk. The hope is that, by using the data of your own genomes, you could hunt down people who suffer from the same condition as you – anonymously at first. It might help those with rare genetic mutations to find treatments in other parts of the world.

The challenge is making sure that it’s sliced up into enough tiny screeds of data as to be more or less impossible to take over. This means that if one piece of data was collected, it could never be enough for a hacker or leaker to be able to trace the source of the data itself.

At present, genome data is secured in the one location, on a single local server. For a hacker, that’s a piece of cake to get around. Though Geneyx has around 50,000 genomes at the moment, they want to get to 100,000 before they can start to use it to anything like its full potential.

For now, though, it’s certainly a good and honest idea. Many people feel unsure about giving out their contact details online: it’s then much harder to convince someone to give out their genetic data. So, if this system managed to show a safer and more trustworthy way of making this work, more people would likely take part.

It’s all a bit carrot and stick at the moment. If genome testing could become a safer experience, and more anonymous, people would take part. With a blockchain-style solution, though, that might not be so far off now.

Don’t start rolling your eyes just yet. I know that blockchain technology is suggested as the savior to everything. However, in the world of...

Science

Solving The Mystery Of Green Icebergs

Since long before the 1900’s, explorers and sailors around Antarctica have been greeted by the sight of beautiful, but strange,  green icebergs.  Researchers have been perplexed for decades by the unusually colored ice formations.

The mystery may finally be laid to rest, however.  A recent publication released in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans reports that the brilliant emerald green colorations occur because of mainland Antarctica’s rock dust is heavy in iron oxides.  The findings were revealed by a University of Washington glaciologist team, headed by Stephen Warren.

In a Newsweek report, Warren explained that the green icebergs wouldn’t have been seen before 1774’s discovery of the Antarctic Ocean by James Cook’s expedition.  In fact, a famous poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge, describes the phenomenon:
“Ice, mast high, came floating by, as green as emerald.”  It seems this was based on fact, not poetic license.

Warren went on to explain that a German expedition in 1903 noted the green icebergs, and they made the scientific headlines in 1921.  The novelty has been spotted on occasion by a number of sea captains and explorers.

When ice breaks apart from an ice shelf or a glacier, it forms an iceberg. Layers and layers of snow will pile onto the iceberg, gradually becoming solid.  These formations will contain light reflecting air pockets.  The iceberg absorbs less blue light than red, giving them a bluish appearance.

Layers Of Different Ice

The emerald green icebergs in the Antarctic Ocean contain layers of frozen ocean water under the ice shelf.  This marine ice lacks air pockets, making the icebergs look darker and more clear than normal icebergs.  According to Warren, one percent of all icebergs have this layer of visible marine ice.

The theory behind the green icebergs was traditionally that they were formed out of marine ice, not glacier ice.  The iceberg, it was thought, would take on a greenish hue because of dead marine animals or plants trapped in it as it froze. When this organic material began to break down, it took on a yellowish tinge as it produced organic carbons.  The green color, accordingly, was as elementary as this yellow marine ice mixing with the blue tinged glacier ice.

Warren, however, found that the same amounts of organic materials were found in both blue ice and the green.  This 1990’s discovery torpedoed the long-standing theory.  Something else had to be at work within the green icebergs.

A recent discovery by Tasmanian researchers found that an ice sample taken from the Antarctica Amery Ice Shelf had a significantly higher iron content at its base than was produced by the glacier ice above.  In fact, there was nearly 500 times more iron at the base of the core sample.

Rocks and soils that have heavy iron oxide content will be red, yellow or orange in color.  Warren began to consider that perhaps this is why the icebergs in Antarctica were green. The researchers theorized that when ocean water mixes with the mainland rock of Antarctica, the result was green marine ice.  If the ice turned over as it was breaking away from the main ice sheet, the green bottom layer would be exposed and create a green iceberg.

Scientists are considering the uses of this information and suggest that these icebergs play an important role as a delivery system of iron nutrients to the Southern Ocean.  Tiny marine plants at the bottom of the food chain, known as phytoplankton, need iron to survive.

Warren believes that the green icebergs are responsible for delivering iron directly to the phytoplankton that use it.  This means that green icebergs are more than just a bizarre fluke of nature, they are, in fact, very important to marine life.

Currently, Warren is teaming up with colleagues from the Hobart, Australia Antarctic Center for more testing.  They are hoping to gather more iceberg samples of all colors to check iron content and prove the theory.  The Australian team specialize in measuring the levels of iron in seawater and sea ice.

Warren says, “If our project is approved, we will travel by ship to the Australian Antarctic stations close to the Amery Ice Shelf, where green icebergs are commonly found. The iron analyses will be done in Australia. Spectral reflectance of icebergs will be measured by others of our group. We have submitted a proposal to do this work.”

Since long before the 1900’s, explorers and sailors around Antarctica have been greeted by the sight of beautiful, but strange,  green icebergs. ...

Science

Israel Joins Space Club

On Thursday, February 21, Space X launched its 70th completed mission, making company history. At 8:45 EST, Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station successfully sent the Nusantara Satu Mission into the atmosphere, hauling several payloads.

SpaceX is a private space exploration corporation with several spacecraft to its name, including the Nusantara Satu satellite, the Air Force Research Laboratory S5 spacecraft, and the Beresheet lunar spacecraft.

The Indonesian Nusantara Satu satellite has been launched to provide internet access to its citizens.  Israel’s Beresheet is set to make Israel the fourth country to have ever landed on the moon.

Beresheet will take almost two months to reach the moon and will be the first spacecraft from Israel as well as the first privately-owned spacecraft to ever reach the moon.  It will take photos and video for scientific research, explains SpaceX, the owner of the spacecraft.

SpaceX released high-resolution pictures of the launch immediately after it happened.  The test launch had occurred on Monday for Thursday’s planned launch, and a back-up plan of a Friday launch was scheduled in case of complications.

Reusable Rocket

SpaceX is well known for using reusable rockets; in fact, this payload was launched on a Falcon 9 rocket while the first stage rocket had been used to launch Iridium 7 in July of 2018 and SAOCOM 1A in October of 2018. SpaceX successfully recovered first stage booster again after the launch on Thursday night.  The mission makes the 70th one for SpaceX, and the 20th successful launch reusing a booster.

Nusantara Satu was successfully launched to a geosynchronous transfer orbit and was expected to work soon after. SpaceX, still riding high from its successes, is scheduled for another launch in March in its partnership with NASA.  The unmanned test launch will demonstrate the possibility of sending astronauts into space in the future.

 

On Thursday, February 21, Space X launched its 70th completed mission, making company history. At 8:45 EST, Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force...

Category - Science

Science

Donald Trump And His Science

Growing up, I used to listen with part-wonder and part-bemusement at some of the things I’d hear Ronald Raegan had once said. My father grew up in the United Kingdom but got to pick up on a lot of the ‘greatest hits’ of one of the more controversially-spoken Presidents of the USA.

As I was growing up to get more involved in the world outside of my toy box, I used to watch on with embarrassment at George Bush Jr. I’d feel equally embarrassed for my own nation’s leader at the time, Tony Blair, standing there like the best mate who was only invited out of guilt.

Today, though? It would appear that the current President might be among the most outrageous yet. Here are just some of his statements which fly in the face of facts which aren’t even really contestable any longer. Science is always changing and fluid, and skepticism is usually a good thing. However, some of these takes? You’d get laughed out of your earliest science classes for stuff like the following…

Super Stealth

“You like the F-35?” Trump said at a military briefing in Puerto Rico in November 2017, “You can’t see it. You literally can’t see it. It’s hard to fight a plane you can’t see.”

Hahahaha. He’s become someone who uses the term “literally” in literally the wrong way. Donald my friend, you might mean figuratively. You can quite literally see these planes, my friend. It’s not hard.

Causing Cancer One Lumen at a time

“Remember, new ‘environment-friendly’ lightbulbs can cause cancer. Be careful – the idiots who came up with this stuff don’t care.” Proclaimed the leader of the free world.

Yeah, a lot of things cause cancer that we can only know about. Smoking. Eating junk food. Constant sunlight on our skin. Light bulbs though? That seems a bit of a stretch.

Nuclear Warming

When a man like Donald Trump sits with a fellow intellectual heavyweight like Sean Hannity, you take notice. Speaking to Hannity on Fox News in July 2018, Trump said: “I know President Obama said global warming is our biggest problem and I would say that no, it’s nuclear warming is our biggest problem by a factor of about five million.”

He said a similar thing in 2015 when campaigning across Indiana, when he said: “I believe global warming is the single biggest problem in our country, but it’s made of the nuclear variety.”

Nuclear warming.

Jet Fuel Can’t Melt … Asbestos

There are many, many things which could have eventually stopped the dreadful September 11th terror attacks. However, when Donald Trump tweeted in 2012 that “If we didn’t remove incredibly powerful fire-retardant asbestos & replace it with junk that doesn’t work, the World Trade Center would never have burned down,”, that was a bit of a stretch.

I’m not sure if asbestos would have stopped them burning down. It would have probably left a good chunk of the local populace with asbestosis, though. Kinda expensive to cure – but cheap to die from!

Asbestos would have stopped the War on Terror, you see. Some of these statements are just…yeah. Come on now.

If that is not enough for you, Here is Trump bragging that he got a natural instinct to science last month:

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Growing up, I used to listen with part-wonder and part-bemusement at some of the things I’d hear Ronald Raegan had once said. My father grew up in the United Kingdom but got to pick up on a lot of the ‘greatest hits’ of one of the more...

Science

So, Who Built The Great Pyramids? New Information

Built by slaves. Produced by beings of intellect far beyond our present day capabilities. Built with spiritual powers that lifted the blocks into place. Created under the instruction of some form of super-being. Formed in homage to the ‘Anunnaki’. Look around enough, and it’s very easy to find some stories about what the Great Pyramids may have been built by, or for.

However, one recent discovery claims to have come a bit closer to solving the mystery. The Great Pyramid, easily among the most impressive objects built by man, stands at a whopping 456ft in height. It’s stood for millennia, and its true creation has never been understood. We’d struggle, if not fully fail, to create something so perfect today – even with all of our tools. How, then, could some slaves have built it in homage to the Pharaohs?

Head north of the town of Luxor, and we might have some answers. A new sloped ramp has been found with two large sets of steps and a variety of post holes either side. It’s now suggested these blocks could have been brought up the ramps via sled. Using the wooden posts, many men and plenty of ropes, the sled would be pulled uphill.

According to the Egyptian Minister of Antiquities, this is evidence of a system that was in place to move and pull around the blocks. While it’s always been a suggested part of the building of the pyramids, this is the first ever found physical suggestion that this was actually the case. That’s very interesting, especially as the lack of physical evidence left behind by ramps at any pyramid has always made this seem a little odd.

A step in the right direction

As well as finding this interesting ramp system, a number of engravings were found along the slopes. These depict worker and their building campaigns of the era. It’s all very interesting, especially as the location it was found is nearby Hatnub, which was once a major home for workers and also home to a major alabaster quarry.

Many of the walls, floors and sculptures of the pyramids were made from alabaster, which would have made Hatnub an obvious place to start the transport. Indeed, it’s also supposed to date back to the time of King Khufu, which would put it in a good line of sight with the Great Pyramid’ time of construction.

Indeed, studies in the past have always pointed to the likelihood of sleds and roped being used to move the various 2.5-ton blocks used to build the pyramids. Indeed, another suggestion is that water was poured onto the sand slowly to help reduce tension when trying to pull the large stones along – supposedly enough to half the needed workforce.

While I’m still somewhat skeptical, it’s certainly one of the most interesting finds related to the Pyramids in some time.

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Built by slaves. Produced by beings of intellect far beyond our present day capabilities. Built with spiritual powers that lifted the blocks into place. Created under the instruction of some form of super-being. Formed in homage to the ‘Anunnaki’. Look...

Science

Today It’s Easier To Find Habitable Planets

For years, the search for habitable planets has gone on. However, there is often little to no genuine progress. one such change to that, though, has come from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), as well as the Paris Observatory. Working alongside NVIDIA, they have taken the move to try and ramp up the search for new planets which would be habitable.

This comes after a new demonstration of the Subaru Telescope, the 8.2-meter telescope owned by the NAOJ. Also, they are using development with astronomers from the KAUST Extreme Computing Research Center to develop new Extreme-AO algorithms. These will help to make the search for habitable planets much easier and should help to put a dent in what has been a huge barrier in the path to finding a potential new home in the centuries to come.

According to Dr. Hatem Ltaief, the Senior Research Scientist at ECRC: “Imaging exoplanets with large ground-based telescopes is very challenging due to the star/planet contrast and blurring induced by Earth’s atmosphere. Very high-performance adaptive optics—sometimes referred to as ‘Extreme-AO’—are required,”

The aim is to create more powerful control algorithms, with the aim being to help use high-powered NVIDIA GPU systems to help deliver continuous optimization of the system. This would even help to create a system that can anticipate quickly changing disturbances caused by the atmosphere of the Earth itself.

A step in the right direction

Professor Damien Gratadour, an astronomer at Paris Observatory, noted that “This fantastic new technology is already being used to take a closer look at exoplanets orbiting around nearby stars. With the larger 25-40 meter telescopes astronomers are currently building, new Earth-like planets orbiting nearby stars will be imaged and their atmospheric composition will be measured to look for signs of life such as oxygen, water or methane,”

By using the new Singular Value Decomposition (SVD) algorithms, there can be better control provided to account for atmospheric conditions. Indeed, the research itself was highly regarded, winning awards at the Platform for Advanced Scientific Computing Conference in Basel in 2018. Indeed, it’s already being used on the Subaru Telescope, located at 14,000ft, over in Hawaii.

While some get frustrated at stories like this, it’s obviously very cool. The world does need to act faster on saving our own planet, what with the whole 12-year warning recently from the IPCC. However, it’s important that we continue to develop aspects of science like this. Sadly, if humanity continues to show this same ravenous appetite for all things it shouldn’t touch, we might need a new planet one day.

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For years, the search for habitable planets has gone on. However, there is often little to no genuine progress. one such change to that, though, has come from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), as well as the Paris Observatory. Working...

Earth Science

How One Japanese Island Seemed to Vanish

In the rapid and exceptional changing pace of our world, it’s hard to notice everything. Don’t pass through a city for a month or two, and it changes a fair bit. Don’t pass through for a year or two, and it’s transformative. However, things like islands and genuine land masses tend to be something that we can spot and acknowledge – if they were not there, we would surely notice. Right?

Apparently not. According to Japanese outlet Asahi Shimbun, one of the 158 islands which belong to the country but was uninhabited, has vanished. The Japanese Coast Guard are out searching for the island, which is known as Esanbehanakitakojima. The island in question is around a third of a mile away from Sarufutsu, a small village based on Hokkaido island. According to Japanese media author Hiroshi Shimizu, the man who reported the missing island, it’s gone.

He was to visit the island as part of a project that he was writing as a follow-up to his picture book on Japanese islands. The paper rejected his claim, though saying he couldn’t find it: so Shimizu headed out to Sarufutsu to ask around.

It turns out that Esanbehanakitakojima was last surveyed by the Coast Guard in 1987 – when the island was around 4 ½ feet above sea level. Now, it’s not able to be seen from land whatsoever. One senior Coast Guard quoted in Asahi Shimbun, Tomoo Fujii, said: “There is a possibility that the islet has been eroded by wind and snow and, as a result, disappeared,”

Has this happened before?

Strangely, yes. Land vanishing might seem very odd, but a 2016 report which was published in Environmental Research Letters claimed this is more commonplace than one might assume. They found that five reef islands of the Solomon Islands had vanished between the years of 1947-2014. They believe that major events, such as sea walls and ‘inappropriate development’ could be the main causes of that kind of vanishing act.

Interestingly, Japan has in the past been very clear about claiming islands in a bid to ensure territorial dominance over some of their neighbors. In 2016 they committed to a $107m rebuild of an observatory tower on Okinotorishima, around 1,000 miles from Tokyo.

This was disputed by China, and has created a back-and-forth quarrel ever since, culminating in a United Nations convention suggesting that “rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own” cannot qualify as an exclusive economic location.

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In the rapid and exceptional changing pace of our world, it’s hard to notice everything. Don’t pass through a city for a month or two, and it changes a fair bit. Don’t pass through for a year or two, and it’s transformative. However, things like...

Earth Science

Watch: Animation Of What 80,000 Tons Of Garbage In The Ocean Looks Like

Each year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste ends up inside the sea. In the Great Pacific Garbage Patch alone, about 80,000 tons of debris find their way inside the ocean annually.

In recent years, plastic has continued to pose an increased level of threat to the ecosystem and human life in general. Most animals inside the sea ingest harmful chemicals such as microplastics which human consumption as well when they use these animals to prepare meals. It is estimated that about 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean annually.

The world generates a huge amount of plastic every year, large enough to build 50 pyramids of Giza. That automatically translates to over 350 million tons of candy wrappers, synthetic T-shirt and PVC pipes. 8 million tons end up in the sea while the rest end up in landfills each year. Most of them find their way into massive garbage patches in different parts of the world. A good example of such is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Each piece of plastic picked in this patch would result in 1.8 million individual parts. Such could weigh up to 80,000 tons which is equivalent to the weight of three statutes of liberty.

Half of the patch comprises of plastic fishing nets, ropes and lines as a result of the fishing activities performed in the area. The other half is made up of films and hard plastics such as plastic wraps and water bottles. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch does not refer to a mountain of debris as the name implies, rather it relates to waste that is scattered over an oceanic region that is twice the size of Texas alone.

It will take you 121 days to pick up every piece of plastic on the ocean at a walking pace of 5 km/hr. But the garbage patch has no end in reality because it is constantly flowing with the ocean currents. The size of the patch is getting bigger, and for 70 years, its size has been on the increase. The permanent nature of plastics causes this. For instance, a plastic fishing line will take at least 600 years to decompose.

Even after they break down, the resultant effect will still linger on the environment. Some of them decompose into microplastic and cannot be seen with the naked eye. But sea animals can ingest them, and when humans consume these animals, their health is automatically in danger. According to recent studies, every species of sea turtle has ingested these harmful microplastics including 60% of whales and seabirds.

Even at that, plastic is heaped unto the ocean on a daily basis. It has been estimated that by the year 2050, the number of plastics in the ocean will be more than the entire species of fishes in the oceans of the world.

When next you toss a water bottle inside the sea, have a deep thought on its recycling effect and how it is harmful to sea life and human life. You can contribute your quota to help make the environment safe for habitation.

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Each year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste ends up inside the sea. In the Great Pacific Garbage Patch alone, about 80,000 tons of debris find their way inside the ocean annually.
In recent years, plastic has continued to pose an increased level of...

Animals Science

Stunning: See Animal X-Ray Pictures

One of the most important things a zoo can do is carry out regular check-ups and medical checks on their animals. Good quality health is so important in a zoo, and this is part of the reason why animals in the zoo often look so healthy. However, one of the things we often forget about is how animals are examined. They can’t exactly follow medical instructions. For that reason, it’s important that we use X-ray hardware to take a closer look inside and try to fully diagnose what the problem might be.

Want to see what that looks like? Then take a look at some of these amazing animal x-ray images. They show you just how an animal looks from the inside, and makes it easier to appreciate their rare beauty.

The zoo that was being looked into was Oregon Zoo, rated as one of the best in the United States. They take comprehensive checks of all animals in their stable, looking into things like weight and general health. Indeed, the use a massive state-of-the-art scanning tool which can be used for creatures as large as bears – even elephants, in fact!

This allows them to easily study the animals without having to sedate them or do anything else. it also allows for a much easier level of knowledge about the animal, allowing them to easily share images with other zoos and health departments to get further information, confirmation or to warn of a problem to look out for.

As the zoo explained, trying to get some creatures to take part is easier than others. For example, trying to get a tiger or a golden eagle to sit inside an x-ray system is a lot harder than getting something like a sloth to do so!

A challenge for science

Some of the things found in their studies was amazing. For example, did you know that the fruit bat – who looks so lean and fit – is actually a bit podgy? These fluffy little creatures are actually a touch more rotund than the svelte shadows suggest.

At the same time, finding out that a snake has a backbone and is actually a vertebrate is quite the shock. This awesome x-ray image of a ball python, though, makes it easy for you to see the bone in full flow. Snakes have 200-400 vertebrae, and equally as many ribs – tends of times the volumes we have as humans.

The beaver, too, is shown to have a strong tail for a reason: rather than being fluffy like hair, it’s actually scaly in complexion. This helps them to use it both on land and when in the water.

Each image just shows us how many animals and creatures that we share out existence with are just quite different to what one would expect. Often, what is under the skin is far different than what we would expect – in people and in creatures.

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One of the most important things a zoo can do is carry out regular check-ups and medical checks on their animals. Good quality health is so important in a zoo, and this is part of the reason why animals in the zoo often look so healthy. However, one of the...

Earth Science

The Earth Map Is A Lie!!!

Turns out the Earth actually is flat. Those YouTube accounts with suspiciously large followings might just be right after all.

Sorry, jokes aside. It turns out that the world map that most of us grew up observing, though, might not be true either. The world is not quite the way it was set out in the maps of old. Most of the maps that we see come from the Mercator projection. However, at a good bit over 450 years old, the map obviously has some limitations.

The Mercator projection is a cylindrical map projection on a flat surface, presented by the Flemish geographer and cartographer Gerardus Mercator in 1569. The projection on a flat surface creates a distorted image of land masses and countries.

Instead, Google Maps has decided to stop using the old metric and start creating its own projection instead. Since it poorly maps out the size of countries properly, the Mercator projection often poorly projects the size of some locations. For example, climate scientist Neil formed a new map visualization which is a closer medium between the Mercator projection and other accepted projections.

Want to see just how odd this project can be at times? Take a look at this GIF – it shows you in perfect detail why this might not be the best way to estimate the size of nations.


Indeed, limitations like showing Greenland to be larger than the whole of Africa is a joke. At fourteen times the size of Greenland, it’s these limitations that make the Mercator projection more than a little wobbly all these years on. While once a very powerful and useful, today it’s possible that we can do even more.

Why the need for a change?

Well, the Mercator projection came to be in 1569, when Gerardus Mercator put it together. The famous Finnish cartographer was a major name in his time, and he was seen as the creator of a tool which made navigation much easier. By being able to plot a straight-line course whilst maintaining the true shape of country, it was very useful for the time.

However, convert the Mercator projection into a 3D globe, and it does not really work. Unless the flat Earth people are correct, it’s likely that this rule very much needed an update. Others claim that the Mercator projection needs to go as it presents a very European-sympathetic view of the world – to the point where some schools got rid of it and replaced it with the alternative maps made by Gall-Peters.

The 2018 release of the Equal Earth projection map is supposed to be the catch-all solution to bring an end to these constant arguments. However, we are sure that cartographers will continue to vociferously debate the pros and cons of each choice.

We want to be better…So if you found a mistake in this article, please let us know

Turns out the Earth actually is flat. Those YouTube accounts with suspiciously large followings might just be right after all.
Sorry, jokes aside. It turns out that the world map that most of us grew up observing, though, might not be true either. The world...

Animals Science

3 Reasons Why Sloths Are The Real Kings & Queens

As a creature which is more or less a byword for being lazy and not taking any effort, sloths are hilarious. Their cheery faces and complete inability to do anything makes them quite hilarious, but it’s actually part of their entire nature as a species. Indeed, some facts and figures from the Guinness World Book of Records shows that sloths are by far and away the laziest animals around!

You see, with International Sloth Day recently held in late October (the 20th), people have been thinking taking on a more sloth-like approach to life. Need some inspiration? Here is some proof that sloths are the animal who waits for nobody.

Sloths And The Sea

One comical fact about the sloth is that they can move at roughly three times the pace in water as they can on-land. Maybe it’s because they know that they cannot make their way into a tree to sleep all day. Maybe it’s because the monsters of the water are much more likely to get them than the animals of the jungle.

Whatever the reason, they are pretty rapid swimmers and will make their way out of the water much faster than they would if they were just floating around in the comfort of a tree branch.

The Size of a Sloth

Indeed, the largest ever sloths were known as the Florida ground. While they have been dead as a species for at least 300,000 years, they left a memorable mark on the animal kingdom. These massive creatures were capable of creating the largest animal burrows ever found – some the size of a cave. Some still are intact today across South America.

Of course, some tiny sloths do exist as well – the pygmy three-toed sloth stand at around 50cm in height. These adorable little creatures are very much easy to fall in love with, Overall, this makes them the size of a normal domestic cat – imagine that cat that was so lazy!

Sadly, only 100 of these adorable little creatures are left.

The Speed of a Sloth

Noted for their lack of real ability to move at any pace, the adorable sloth lives up to that reputation. You see, if you were to put some animals into a 100m sprint, the sloth would probably be the last over the line.

Usain Bolt can do it in 9.58 seconds – a three-toed sloth? 50 minutes. That’s a hilarious 6-8ft per minute. For perspective, an iceberg just drifting along would be moving at over fifteen times that pace.

So, with this in mind, you can easily see why the sloth has gained its reputation as a creature who very much wants to deal with things tomorrow. It’s well earned!

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As a creature which is more or less a byword for being lazy and not taking any effort, sloths are hilarious. Their cheery faces and complete inability to do anything makes them quite hilarious, but it’s actually part of their entire nature as a species...

Earth Science

Yellowstone Geyser Spits Out Freaky Objects In Eruption

As one of the most stunning pieces of natural land, Yellowstone is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit. It is also one of the most dangerous, though. The home of many a catastrophe waiting to happen, the immense power held within Yellowstone can be hard to quantify in many ways. Indeed, when a huge geyser eruption took place recently in Yellowstone, it was enough to produce some interesting objects due to being ‘coughed up’ along the way.

Over at Ear Spring, the normally quiet hot pool spat out all manner of garbage – in what is the largest eruption to take place here since the late 1950s. What it produced, though, was more of a surprise than anything else.

According to the park itself on their official Facebook page, they said: “After Ear Spring erupted on September 15, employees found a strange assortment of items strewn across the landscape around its vent! Some are clearly historic: they’ll be inventoried by curators and may end up in Yellowstone’s archives,”

What was produced by Ear Spring?

It produced all manner of items from back in the day. One of the oddest items to have come out was that of a pacifier that came from the 1930s. How it’s still in one piece, we will never know. It also spat up a bunch of coins – which will no doubt become worth a pretty penny just purely because of where they came from.

Some plastic knives and forks came up, too, and also a series of aluminum cans were spat out from the geyser. It’s all quite nuts, and can be pretty hard to actually fathom. How can so much be produced in such a short space of time? It’s incredible to see, in truth.

Using a clean-up team to get rid of the items and put them into storage, they found all manner of odd items including funnels and even a sign that appeared to be for some kind of bear management business.

However, fear not: while some are making it out like this is a sign that a major eruption is on the way, it’s not. The supervolcano is not on the verge of eruption: geothermal activity happens all the time, and is entirely normal. Don’t worry, cans and coins being spat out by the ground is – to our knowledge – not one of the signs of the apocalypse, Ragnarok or any other end of days’ scenario.

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As one of the most stunning pieces of natural land, Yellowstone is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit. It is also one of the most dangerous, though. The home of many a catastrophe waiting to happen, the immense power held within Yellowstone can...

Science

Scary: First Set of Edited Human Embryos Soon In Japan

The reports coming from Japan indicate that the government will soon allow human genes to be edited. This is following the receipt of guidelines which define how the process must be done. According to these guidelines which were released by representatives from Japan’s health and science ministries, scientists must adhere to the recommendations. We know about the invention of the sophisticated tools that can be used for gene editing.

Now, it is time to use these tools. There are many uncertainties about the expected outcome of gene editing. The curiosity has put pressure on the regulatory committees and scientists to make an attempt at editing human genes with the tools.

One of the tools that can be used to edit human genes is the CRISPR Cas9. It was developed for use in modifying the DNA in the human embryo. This has been the focus of on-going studies on human embryos for many years.

The center where a majority of these studies are done is located within the Hokkaido University in Sapporo. One of the foremost scientists involved in this process is Tetsuya Ishii, a bioethicist attached to the university.

Earlier, Japan had propagated a neutral opinion about editing human genes. However, there has been a review of this position. The authorities are now interested in pushing forward research in this direction.

It has however been noted that when all permissions to proceed with this experiment have been granted, there will be some restrictions. The scientists in charge of the project will not be allowed to manipulate the human embryos to stimulate or achieve reproduction. These restrictions will not be legally binding.

The main objective of this project is to modify genes in the human embryo to find ways through which genetic mutations can be prevented. This means a long list of diseases can be prevented if the project is successful.

These experiments have been stalled for many years due to uncertainties based on ethics. There have been criticisms that the editing of genes in the human embryo is unethical. There are also concerns that secret experiments can be done to use these tools to modify human DNA. The authorities have therefore stressed that the tools should only be used for medical research.

The concept of editing genes in the human embryo is forbidden in many countries.

What we know is the publication of reports for studies that have only discussed the possibilities and advantages of this process. In countries such as China and the United States, scientists are permitted to explore these areas only through privately funded research projects. However, these projects are closely monitored by the authorities in these countries.

According to the reports from Japan, we will be able to view the guidelines that have been released publicly. These documents are scheduled to be released in the coming months. It is expected that there will be a public debate and some review to adjust different areas of this report.

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The reports coming from Japan indicate that the government will soon allow human genes to be edited. This is following the receipt of guidelines which define how the process must be done. According to these guidelines which were released by representatives...

Science

Privacy Invasion Big Time, in China

For some time now, TV shows such as Black Mirror have tried to show us how technology could lead to an Orwellian state. It might sound daft when Black Mirror is just a TV show, but when you find out just how close some of the episodes are to reality, it becomes terrifying. Take the latest new ‘Social Credit’ system coming into place by 2020 in China: it’s essentially a mass surveillance system!

This system will monitor, track and follow every Chinese citizen – ranking them across various factors. They’ll then be given a score akin to a credit score, and will play a critical role in determining how someone gets on in life. From giving them VIP access to making it harder for them to get access to government facilities, including transportation, this new system sounds like a death knell for long-term privacy.

Depending on how you behave, your score could increase or decrease. The ranking system is supposed to help bring in what they call a “Secure Socialist Society” – but what kind of socialism is built on such monitoring?

Indeed, around 600 million high-tech cameras exist in China, monitoring the 1.4 billion inhabitants of the country. That’s 20x what the USA has for example. With around 9 million banned from getting air tickets and another 3 million banned from buying business class tickets, this new system is an absolutely haunting look into the future.

A new form of social control

This kind of governance goes far beyond we’ve ever seen outside of the most terrifying fiction. Some might think that sounds overblown, but this kind of service is easily one of the biggest forms of privacy intrusion that we have heard of.

With a score capped at 800, you can increase your score by doing stuff like taking part in charitable acts, paying your bills without delay and obeying the law. Good scores will give you benefits such as cheaper transport and better hospital services. Bad scores will exclude you from a great many different things.

Personally, I find the idea of ranking people on such static algorithms is outrageous. While I won’t pretend to be too knowledgeable on Chinese culture, it seems that the nation which had many great forms of social progress has just taken a massive regressive step backwards.

For some people, it’s a justifiable invasion of privacy for a nation that takes up over a seventh of the global population. If it shows even a slight level of ‘success’ in China, expect supposedly more liberal Western governments to continue adapting it as time goes on.

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For some time now, TV shows such as Black Mirror have tried to show us how technology could lead to an Orwellian state. It might sound daft when Black Mirror is just a TV show, but when you find out just how close some of the episodes are to reality, it...

Science

Science? Roller Coaster Removes Kidney Stones?

The world is, increasingly, a rather odd place to live. While the web has obviously opened up a new means of communication and commerce never seen before, it’s also the gateway to insane stories. While many stories you read today often leave you with that dark feeling in the pit of your stomachs, often it’s easy to find yourself lifted momentarily.

A nice story can provide the same upbeat and positive impetus as a negative story can drag one down. So, with that in mind, have you heard of the roller coaster that removes kidney stones?

According to Ig Nobel Prize-winning research, certain forms of roller coasters can help to kid one of kidney stones. It’s a rather outlandish theory, but US researchers have spent some time carrying out work on this project. The recommendation is that those who suffer from kidney conditions like kidney stones should seek out their nearest theme park, and let loose.

This all sounds too good to be true, right? It’s like the doctor saying you can cure your cold with a few pints, isn’t it?

The Ig Nobel Prize, you might have wondered, is a spoof prize. It’s part of the Annals of Improbable Research, and often covers topics that, humor aside, can have a serious point to them.

Comedy turned quality

The story itself is based on a story that comes from Professor David Wartinger. Prof Wartinger had a patient at Michigan State University’ College of Osteopathic Medicine, who had just returned from a trip to Walt Disney World, Florida.

They claimed that one of their kidney stones had become dislodged during a ride on Big Thunder Mountain, one of the most popular rollercoasters of the time. The professor took this further, created a silicone model of the patients’ actual renal system, and took it with him on a variety of rides. It was to help try and replicate the kind of movement that the patient had suggested took place.

To his surprise, he found that it did make a difference. He found that rides without so much prolonged periods of dropping down worked best; the more side-to-side and up-down movements, the better. This is because it was causing more direct impact on the body.

The prize itself was handed to this and nine other different scientists. While it might sound crazy, this is actually peer-reviewed scientific content that has been produced in journals. While it’s all a bit tongue-in-cheek, the aim is to shine a light on crazy sounding and ‘mind-bending’ forms of science that might not otherwise get any kind of popular notice.

The event, held at Harvard University, Cambridge in the USA, provides the winners with a moment to give their acceptance speech. After the minute, a young girl tells them “please stop, I’m bored” until the speaker stops.

It might all be quite funny, but the actual science behind this one appears to check out. While we’d always recommend you go to speak to a medical professional before such things, it turns out that this crazy piece of science might just be true after all!

We want to be better…So if you found a mistake in this article, please let us know

The world is, increasingly, a rather odd place to live. While the web has obviously opened up a new means of communication and commerce never seen before, it’s also the gateway to insane stories. While many stories you read today often leave you with that...