By Tom Brown MIAMI (Reuters) - The U.S. National Weather Service is getting a quantum jump in computing power that will significantly improve its forecasting and storm tracking abilities to better protect the country from severe weather. "This is a game changer," Louis Uccellini, who took over as director of the National Weather Service in February, told Reuters in an interview, calling it "the biggest increase in operational capacity that we've ever had. ...
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - NASA's first telescope dispatched to hunt for Earth-like planets that may support life elsewhere in the universe has lost use of its positioning system, threatening its mission, officials said on Wednesday. Launched in 2009, the Kepler space telescope revolutionized the study of so-called exoplanets, with discovery of 130 worlds orbiting distant stars and 2,700 potential planets still awaiting confirmation. ...
By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - After more than 15 years of failures by scientists around the world and one outright fraud, biologists have finally created human stem cells by the same technique that produced Dolly the cloned sheep in 1996: They transplanted genetic material from an adult cell into an egg whose own DNA had been removed. The result is a harvest of human embryonic stem cells, the seemingly magic cells capable of morphing into any of the 200-plus kinds that make up a person. ...
Protection against the disease pertussis, or whooping cough , doesn’t appear to be as strong with the currently administered vaccine when compared with the older version administered up until the 1990s, according to a new study in Pediatrics . During a pertussis outbreak in 2010–11 in California teens who had received four doses of the current vaccine were at almost six times more likely to get pertussis as those who had received four doses of the older preparation.[More]
Pre-dawn emergency workers searched feverishly for survivors in the rubble of homes, primary schools and an hospital in an Oklahoma City suburb ravaged by a massive Monday afternoon tornado feared to have killed up to 91 people and injured well over 200 residents.[More]
From Nature magazine[More]
Turkey hunting in Texas dried up along with the state's water due to the epic drought of 2011. And while the drought has relented, turkey season hasn't been the same.[More]
Residents of Manhattan will not just sweat harder from rising temperatures in the future, says a new study; many may die.[More]
This story was originally published by Inside Science News Service .[More]
Summer in the city could get a whole lot more miserable in the coming decades, according to a new report.
Urban centers like New York City are especially sensitive to extreme temperatures because of the heat island effect. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the annual mean temperature of a city with a million or more people can be up to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than its more rural surroundings. (NYC currently clocks in with more than 8 million.)
Using 16 computer models of present and future climate change, scientists at Columbia University and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that while warmer temperatures would reduce the number of deaths due to cold in the winter, the increase in heat-related deaths in summer months would cause a net 6.2 percent spike in weather-related mortality per year in the city by the 2020s.
By the 2080s, there could be as much as a 91 percent increase in heat deaths compared to 1980s levels:
"What our study suggests is that the heat effects of climate change dominate the winter warming benefits that might also come: climate change will cause more deaths through heat than it will prevent during winter," lead author Patrick Kinney, a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University, told The Guardian.
The study did not take into account potential changes in the use of air conditioning, heat alerts or cooling shelters in the future. Those factors can help mitigate the risk of extreme heat for vulnerable populations like the elderly.
People in the path of a tornado typically get only 10 minutes of warning. Why?
Sixteen minutes before a tornado touched down in Newcastle, Okla., yesterday, the U.S. Storm Prediction Center sent a warning to the area. That heads-up was longer than the average warning time of 8 to 10 minutes.
Why are tornado predictions so short-term, especially compared to other predictions we're familiar with, such as weather forecasts or hurricane warnings?
Hurricanes and blizzards show up on satellites days beforehand, but the conditions that favor tornados appear much more quickly and unexpectedly, the Associated Press reported in 2011. Tornadoes are just made of much finer print, so to speak. Their paths are smaller and they last for shorter periods of time, so predicting any particular tornado requires a fine-grain understanding that's more difficult for scientists.
Instead, the Storm Prediction Center issues tornado watches hours ahead of time that cover very broad areas. In 2011, the Associated Press reported on a watch that included 14 states.
The Storm Prediction Center looks for patterns in temperature and wind flow that create certain levels of moisture, instability, lift and wind shear, according to the center's extensive frequently asked questions page. Even then, its predictions may be uncertain because tornado conditions don't always look the same. A number of different scenarios can result in tornados, while similar scenarios may not always produce tornados. Slight changes that meteorologists can't currently measure may tip a thunderstorm to form a tornado?or not, Storm Prediction Center warning coordinator Greg Carbin told Scientific American in 2011.
Researchers are now working on forecasts that apply to areas smaller than a state, but larger than a county, Garbin said. With future improvements, meteorologists could get about an hour's warning on tornados, but not much more. Researchers just can't read the fine print that closely.
Meanwhile, the Storm Prediction Center has a webpage of tornado safety tips, many geared toward the short lead times that people typically have before a twister.
One of the most deadly pathogens in human history has been pinpointed.
The Irish Potato Famine lasted just a few years, from around 1845 to 1852, but killed about a million people and forced the emigration of around a million more. The Irish population at that point was reliant on one specific white potato, the Irish lumper, as a primary food source for about a third of the country. Potatoes, like most other members of the nightshade family (tomatoes, eggplant), are native to the New World, not to Ireland. In the mid-19th century, travel between the New and Old World increased, bringing over new strains of Phytophthora infestans. One of those strains eventually mutated into a killer.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology took dried plants, some from as far back as 170 years ago, and found that there was still trace amounts of DNA from the Phytophthora infestans. Previously, it was assumed that a strain known as US-1 was responsible for the Irish Potato Famine, but this research found that the strain on these dried potato plants is not, in fact, US-1. It's related, but genetically unique, and US-1 was more likely to be the strain that replaced the culprit after it was eliminated. They've named the new strain HERB-1.
This is the first time that scientists have decoded the genome of a plant pathogen from dried plants, and the researchers say that the study holds promise for the future. "These findings will greatly help us to understand the dynamics of emerging pathogens," one of the researchers says.
The study will appear in a coming issue of the journal eLife.
This is what real destruction looks like.
It?s tough to describe and easier to show. And given the camera-fication of everything these days, there?s plenty of footage floating around the web today, enough that one can pretty much reconstruct this twister--which was on the ground for 40 minutes with winds up to 200 miles per hour--from start to finish. Which is exactly what we?ve done below.
1. In Newcastle, Okla., (just southwest of Moore and due west of Norman), the funnel drops from the sky and starts picking up steam (and debris).
2. By the time this thing reaches Moore, it?s a monster. Even seasoned storm chasers can?t believe what they are seeing.
3. It doesn?t get better. The video below begins with footage shot near South Moore High School but culminates with scenes shot from a devastated neighborhood just minutes after the storm more or less flattened it.
4. Another perspective captured by a storm chaser from the east side of Moore offers a clear view of the massive, swirling debris field gathered by the funnel. At this point the tornado has traveled roughly three-quarters of its total journey and is tearing through the heart of Moore.
5. Just west of Lake Stanley Draper the tornado stops moving and begins to rope out and dissipate.
6. And of course there?s the timelapse, which quickly conveys--in a few brief, sped-up clips--just how destructive this storm was as it gathered steam and then slammed into the sprawling suburbia of Moore.
INFECTED In the abdomen of a trap-jaw ant, a parasitic nematode lives off nutrients from the surrounding fluids and changes the morphology of its host.
HEALTHY The jaws of a parasite-free worker can snap shut on prey in just 1/10,000 of a second?the fastest known mechanical action in nature.
The E-Cat strikes again.
If Andrea Rossi's cold fusion reactor, called the E-Cat, really worked, it could power the world cheaply and without pollutants. Rossi has previously backed out of third-party testing with NASA and the University of Bologna in Italy, as Popular Science reported in November, but now he's saying that a team has tested the E-Cat.
His new third party verification says the E-Cat creates at least tenfold more power than energy sources at work today. A paper about the tests is available on arXiv, a database for publishing physics papers, often before they're peer reviewed. The paper, which is not peer-reviewed, leaves out crucial details, for example referring to "unknown additives" instead of specifying what chemicals actually go into the reaction.
There's plenty of reason to be skeptical. Rossi has a history of blocking even simple tests of the E-Cat. Many established experts are skeptical of his invention and with the idea that cold fusion is even possible. Even among those who work on cold fusion?often tinkerers not associated with major research institutions?Rossi doesn't necessarily inspire confidence. He has previously passed off spurious inventions, including a machine that was supposed to turn waste into oil.
Its speed, which largely determines the damage it causes, is still unknown
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