Month: August, 2017

5 Of The Best Places In America To Watch The Total Solar Eclipse This August

SOLAR ECLIPSE

This August 21, Americans will experience the first total solar eclipse since 1979 to touch the lower 48.

Here are some of the best places to watch this phenomenal solar event as it makes its way from Oregon down to South Carolina.




1. Madras, Oregon

madras-oregon

Duration of Totality:2 minutes 4 seconds

Starts At: 10:19 a.m. PDT

Madras is located in Oregon’s high desert about a 2.5 hour drive southeast of Portland, in the shadow of Mount Jefferson. Come early for the Oregon Solar Fest and stick around after the eclipse to experience gorgeous sunsets like the one pictured here.

2. Arco, Idaho

idaho

Duration of Totality: 2 minutes 18 seconds

Starts At: 11:31 a.m. MDT

While Craters of the Moon National Monuments falls just outside of the path of totality, the city of Arco, the National Park Service, NASA and Idaho State University are partnering to put on a program of starwatching events at the park in the days leading up to the eclipse and an official viewing on the day of the eclipse in Arco.

3. Jackson Hole, Wyoming

WYOMING

Duration of Totality: 2 minutes 20 seconds

Starts At:11:42 a.m. MDT

Grand Teton National Park is already one of the most beautiful places in America to visit in the summer, but this August the eclipse’s path of totality goes almost directly over the small town of Jackson Hole bumping it up even higher on our bucket lists.

4. Alliance, Nebraska

alliance-nebraska

Duration of Totality: 2 minutes 30 seconds

Starts At: 11:49 a.m. MDT

You won’t be able to see the total solar eclipse at England’s Stonehenge, but you can catch it as is passes over Carhenge, an exact replica made from cars, in this small town in western Nebraska.

5. Shawnee National Forest, Illinois

illinois

Duration of Totality: 2 minutes 41.6 seconds

Starts At: 1:20 p.m. CDT

While the southern tip of Illinois isn’t a well-known tourist destination, the area surrounding the Shawnee National Forest—including nearby Carbondale—is expecting a massive influx of tourists in August since this is the place with the longest duration of totality, lasting 2 minutes 41.6 seconds.

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Ocean Levels Are Getting Higher. Why Is This Happening?

sea level

Core samples, tide gauge readings, and, most recently, satellite measurements tell us that over the past century, the Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL) has risen by 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters).

However, the annual rate of rise over the past 20 years has been 0.13 inches (3.2 millimeters) a year, roughly twice the average speed of the preceding 80 years.

Over the past century, the burning of fossil fuels and other human and natural activities has released enormous amounts of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. These emissions have caused the Earth’s surface temperature to rise, and the oceans absorb about 80 percent of this additional heat.




The rise in sea levels is linked to three primary factors, all induced by this ongoing global climate change:

Thermal Expansion: When water heats up, it expands. About half of the past century’s rise in sea level is attributable to warmer oceans simply occupying more space.

Melting Glaciers and Polar Ice Caps: Large ice formations, like glaciers and the polar ice caps, naturally melt back a bit each summer. In the winter, snows, primarily from evaporated seawater, are generally sufficient to balance out the melting.

Recently, though, persistently higher temperatures caused by global warming have led to greater-than-average summer melting as well as diminished snowfall due to later winters and earlier springs.

Ice Loss from Greenland and West Antarctica: As with the glaciers and ice caps, increased heat is causing the massive ice sheets that cover Greenland and Antarctica to melt at an accelerated pace.

Scientists also believe meltwater from above and seawater from below is seeping beneath Greenland’s and West Antarctica’s ice sheets, effectively lubricating ice streams and causing them to move more quickly into the sea.

sea level

When sea levels rise rapidly, as they have been doing, even a small increase can have devastating effects on coastal habitats. As seawater reaches farther inland, it can cause destructive erosion, wetland flooding, aquifer and agricultural soil contamination, and lost habitat for fish, birds, and plants.

In addition, hundreds of millions of people live in areas that will become increasingly vulnerable to flooding. Higher sea levels would force them to abandon their homes and relocate. Low-lying islands could be submerged completely.

Most predictions say the warming of the planet will continue and is likely to accelerate. Oceans will likely continue to rise as well, but predicting the degree to which they will rise is an inexact science.

sea level

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we can expect the oceans to rise between 11 and 38 inches (28 to 98 centimeters) by 2100, enough to swamp many of the cities along the U.S. East Coast.

More dire estimates, including a complete meltdown of the Greenland ice sheet, place sea level rise to 23 feet (7 meters), enough to submerge London.

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Robotics Are Helping Paralyzed People Walk Again

ROBOT

Artificial intelligence software combined with a robotic harness could help spinal injury and stroke patients walk again. Clinical trials are underway.

Rehabilitation programs for spinal cord injuries or strokes usually have patients walk on treadmills at a steady pace while harnesses support their weight to varying degrees.




In the new study, researchers sought to develop a system that better mimicked the conditions that people might experience during everyday life, where they would have to move in more than one direction and vary their gaits.

The idea is to provide the most appropriate environment for patients to be active during training,” says study co-author Grégoire Courtine, a neuroscientist at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne EPFL. “The goal of this rehabilitation is to have patients repeat natural activities for an extended amount of time.

The scientists developed a robotic harness that uses cables to control the amount of upward and forward force that patients feel while also permitting them to walk forwards, backwards, and side to side.

stroke

This robotic harness was controlled by software that personalized the multidirectional forces that each patient experienced depending on their specific problems.

In order to customize patient experiences, this system relied on an artificial neural network, where components known as artificial neurons are supplied data and work together to solve a problem.

The neural net can then alter the pattern of links among those neurons to change the way they interact, and the network tries solving the problem again.

Over time, the neural net learns which patterns are best at computing solutions, an AI strategy that imitates the human brain.

As part of a clinical trial of this “neurorobotic platform,” the researchers experimented with 26 volunteers recovering from spinal cord injuries or strokes, whose disability ranged from being able to walk without assistance to being able to neither stand nor walk independently.

After the volunteers walked roughly 20 meters using the neurorobotic platform to familiarize themselves with the apparatus, three patients with spinal cord injuries who previously could not stand independently could, immediately after such practice, walk with or without assistance.

stroke

Four of 10 patients with spinal cord injuries who previously could only move with crutches or a walker could, immediately after such practice, do so without assistance. Similar or even superior findings were seen with stroke patients, the researchers say.

Furthermore, after a one-hour training session with the neurorobotic platform, four out of five patients with chronic spinal cord injuries who previously could only walk with the assistance of a device experienced significant improvements, such as increase in speed, the researchers say.

In contrast, the same amount of time on just a treadmill actually impaired the ability to walk without robotic assistance in one patient.

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Scientists Aim To Treat Autoimmune Diseases With Worm-Based Therapy

worm

For more than 20 years, scientists have been studying the theory of the hygiene hypothesis – the idea that organisms we might consider dangerous today were actually protecting our immune systems before modern medicine existed.

In the 19th century, autoimmune diseases – like Crohn’s, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes – were virtually non-existent.

Since people didn’t frequently bathe or wash their hands as often, the filth actually activated an immune response. Subsequently, those who live in third-world countries also have a lower rate of developing these sorts of diseases.




Scientists at Coronado Biosciences are using immunotherapy biologic agents to treat autoimmune diseases, including helminthic therapy, the use of parasitic worms to modulate the immune system.

They’ve seen the success the therapy has had on patients suffering from Crohn’s disease, so they’ve started three trials in which they hope to prevent and treat type 1 diabetes using Trichuris suis ova (TSO), or the eggs of a pig whipworm.

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Why Are Your Muscles Sore After a Workout?

You’ve crushed a tough workout only to be rewarded with stiff, aching muscles the morning after. Turns out that uncomfortable feeling, otherwise known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), is actually a pretty normal side effect of the muscle rebuilding process.




Despite the prevalence of DOMS, the exact mechanisms that cause it are not totally understood. Currently, most think it’s a result of microscopic tears in the muscle and surrounding connective tissue as a result of eccentric exercise.

The eccentric phase of a movement occurs when a muscle is lengthening. Classic examples would be lowering a dumbbell back to its starting position during bicep curls or running downhill. One thing DOMS doesn’t involve? The build-up of lactic acid, which is actually a common myth.

workout

And DOMS isn’t just about soreness. Symptoms can include weakness, stiffness, and sensitivity to touch. The discomfort usually starts to appear within 12 to 24 hours after exercise, peaks after 24 to 72 hours, and should disappear within three to five days.

But here’s the good news. Because the body builds tolerance and adapts pretty rapidly, DOMS should become less frequent as you continue exercising at the same intensity.

Plus, just one soreness-inducing session reduces the chance of the same workout making you sore again for weeks or even months.

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Microsoft Paint To Be Killed Off After 32 Years

MS paint

Long-standing basic graphics editing program, used throughout childhoods since the 1980s, has been marked for death.

Microsoft’s next Windows 10 update, called the Autumn (or Fall in the US) Creators Update, will bring a variety of new features.But one long-standing stalwart of the Windows experience has been put on the chopping block: Microsoft Paint.




First released with the very first version of Windows 1.0 in 1985, Paint in its various guises would be one of the first graphics editors used by many and became a core part of Windows.

Starting life as a 1-bit monochrome licensed version of ZSoft’s PC Paintbrush, it wasn’t until Windows 98 that Paint could save in JPEG.

With the Windows 10 Creators Update, released in April, Microsoft introduced the new Paint 3D, which is installed alongside traditional Paint and features 3D image making tools as well as some basic 2D image editing. But it is not an update to original Paint and doesn’t behave like it.

Now Microsoft has announced that, alongside Outlook Express, Reader app and Reading list, Microsoft Paint has been signalled for death having been added to the “features that are removed or deprecated in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update” list.

Falling under the deprecated column for apps that are “not in active development and might be removed in future releases”, Microsoft Paint’s ticket has been called and now it’s only a matter of time before it is removed like your favourite piece of old furniture from your childhood home.

Paint was never one of the most capable apps, and was limited to the bitmap (BMP) and PCX formats until 1998, but if you wanted to scribble something out using your mouse or make a quick cut and paste job, Paint was always there, even on work computers.

When Microsoft Paint will officially be removed from Windows has yet to be confirmed, while a precise date for the release of the Windows 10 Autumn Creators Update is equally up in the air.

Whether, like Clippy, Windows users will celebrate or decry Paint’s removal, it will be a moment in the history of Windows as one of its longest-standing apps is put out to pasture.

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