Month: September, 2017

Rodents Of Unusual Size? Researchers Find Giant, Tree-Dwelling Rat In Solomon Islands

Deep in the forests of Vangunu in the Solomon Islands lives a rat like no other you’ve likely ever seen. It’s more than four times the size of an average rat and weighs more than a kilogram.

Meet Uromys vika, a new giant rat species.

The Solomon Islands in the South Pacific are home to some unique species, a result of the relative isolation of the islands. In particular, they are home to a number of giant rats species.

In 2010 while on a visit to the island of Vangunu, mammalogist Tyrone Lavery heard stories of a giant, coconut-cracking rat from locals.

He was convinced that this was a new kind of rat because while several giant rat species had been found in parts of the Solomon Islands, none had yet been discovered in the region known as the Western Province, which includes Vangunu and several other islands.




Those islands have also never been connected to the other Solomon islands, so I knew that if something had managed to arrive in the Western Province, it was a really good chance it would be a new species,” said Lavery, lead author of the findings, which were published in the Journal of Mammalogy Wednesday.

You’d think finding a giant rat would be easy, but Lavery spent five years searching for the elusive rodent.

While spending time on a tropical island may sound like paradise, Lavery said that it was a gruelling experience.

Long hikes through the forest, plenty of long rainy days setting up traps and cameras, and digging through layers of vegetation to try to find some clue as to the rat’s existence.

And then by accident he and his colleague Hikuna Judge found vika.

The rat was discovered near the village of Zaira during a hike in 2015.

Lavery and his colleague spotted the rat scurrying out from a tree that had been logged near the community trying to protect its rich forest from logging companies active throughout the islands where various species of these giant rats live.

The researchers captured the injured rat, which later died.

“Logging is quite a threat to a number of [mammal] species,” Lavery said.

That’s because many species — including many bats that Lavery studies in the islands — rely on old trees, those with hollows in them where the mammals can live.

And logging removes most of those trees,” he said.

The researchers compared the dead rat’s skull to existing giant rat skulls from other museums and collections. They found that this rat was like no other ever documented.

The new species, Uromys vika, became the first rat discovered in the Solomon Islands in 80 years.

It’s important to document these animals to know they’re there and conserve them,” Lavery said.

There are other giant rats living in the forests across the Solomon Islands. To date there have been eight species identified.

And while this vika rat may seem like a nightmare to some, Lavery looks at it quite fondly.

People … not having seen this rodent, [believe] it’s scary to think of a rodent that large,” he said.

I don’t think of it as scary. I think they’re quite unique animals. And I think this rat is quite cute for a rat.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science

The Matrioshka Brain: How To Turn The Solar System Into A Computer


It’s the ultimate computer. Capable of simulating entire universes and powered by the sun. Watch to learn about the Matryoshka Brain.

Support this channel on Patreon!

http://www.patreon.com/answerswithjoe

Follow me!

Instagram: https://instagram.com/answerswithjoe

Snapchat: https://www.snapchat.com/add/answersw…

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/answerswithjoe

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/answerswithjoe

A Matryoshka Brain is considered a Type 2 stellar engine, a machine that is powered by a star. The idea of a Matrioshka Brain is to stack multiple Dyson Spheres inside each other to collect all the energy coming out of a star and connect those spheres into a massive computer. It’s thought that civilizations that create a Matryoshka brain would upload their consciousnesses into the computer and live in the computer as a simulation.

Check out this video from Isaac Arthur for a DEEP dive into the mechanics and physics behind the Matrioshka Brain:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ef-mx…

Want to help out with SETI at home?

Go here: http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu

SETI at Home info: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aIJV…

SETI computer screen video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAcFI…

Other Links:

http://renaudroche.com/dyson-sphere

http://earthsky.org/space/what-is-a-d…

http://io9.gizmodo.com/12-ways-humani…

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/2d92A

http://www.popularmechanics.com/space…

http://www.planetaryresources.com/#ho…

He’s Gambling Obsession Spurred Him To Invent Two Of The Most Important Theories In Math

Girolamo or Hieronimo Cardano‘s name was Hieronymus Cardanus in Latin and he is sometimes known by the English version of his name Jerome Cardan.

Girolamo Cardano was the illegitimate child of Fazio Cardano and Chiara Micheria. His father was a lawyer in Milan but his expertise in mathematics was such that he was consulted by Leonardo da Vinci on questions of geometry.

In addition to his law practice, Fazio lectured on geometry, both at the University of Pavia and, for a longer spell, at the Piatti foundation in Milan.

When he was in his fifties, Fazio met Chiara Micheria, who was a young widow in her thirties, struggling to raise three children.

Chiara became pregnant but, before she was due to give birth, the plague hit Milan and she was persuaded to leave the city for the relative safety of nearby Pavia to stay with wealthy friends of Fazio.

Thus Cardan was born in Pavia but his mother’s joy was short lived when she received news that her first three children had died of the plague in Milan.

Chiara lived apart from Fazio for many years but, later in life, they did marry.




Cardan at first became his father’s assistant but he was a sickly child and Fazio had to get help from two nephews when the work became too much for Cardan.

However, Cardan began to wish for greater things than an assistant to his father. Fazio had taught his son mathematics and Cardan began to think of an academic career.

After an argument, Fazio allowed Cardan to go university and he entered Pavia University, where his father had studied, to read medicine despite his father’s wish that he should study law.

When war broke out, the university was forced to close and Cardan moved to the University of Padua to complete his studies.

Shortly after this move, his father died but by this time Cardan was in the middle of a campaign to become rector of the university. He was a brilliant student but, outspoken and highly critical, Cardan was not well liked.

However, his campaign for rector was successful since he beat his rival by a single vote.

Cardan squandered the small bequest from his father and turned to gambling to boost his finances. Card games, dice and chess were the methods he used to make a living.

Cardan’s understanding of probability meant he had an advantage over his opponents and, in general, he won more than he lost. He had to keep dubious company for his gambling.

Once, when he thought he was being cheated at cards, Cardan, who always carried a knife, slashed the face of his opponent.

Gambling became an addiction that was to last many years and rob Cardan of valuable time, money and reputation.

Cardan was awarded his doctorate in medicine in 1525 and applied to join the College of Physicians in Milan, where his mother still lived.

The College did not wish to admit him for, despite the respect he had gained as an exceptional student, he had a reputation as a difficult man, whose unconventional, uncompromising opinions were aggressively put forward with little tact or thought for the consequences.

The discovery of Cardan’s illegitimate birth gave the College a reason to reject his application.

Cardan, on the advice of a friend, went to Sacco, a small village 15km from Padua. He set up a small, and not very successful, medical practice.

In late 1531 Cardan married Lucia, the daughter of a neighbour Aldobello Bandarini, a captain of the local militia.

ardan’s practice in Sacco did not provide enough income for him to support a wife so, in April 1532, he moved to Gallarate, near Milan.

He applied again to the College of Physicians in Milan but again was not allowed membership.

Unable to practise medicine, Cardan reverted, in 1533, to gambling to pay his way, but things went so badly that he was forced to pawn his wife’s jewellery and even some of his furniture.

Desperately seeking a change of fortune, the Cardans moved to Milan, but here they fared even worse and they had to ignominiously enter the poorhouse.

Cardan was fortunate to obtain Fazio’s former post of lecturer in mathematics at the Piatti Foundation in Milan which gave him plenty of free time and he used some of this to treat a few patients, despite not being a member of the College of Physicians.

Cardan achieved some near miraculous cures and his growing reputation as a doctor led to his being consulted by members of the College.

His grateful patients and their relatives became whole hearted supporters and in this way, Cardan was able to build up a base of influential backers.

Cardan was still furious at his continuing exclusion from the College and, in 1536, he rashly published a book attacking not only the College’s medical ability but their character.

This was not the way to gain entry to the College and not surprisingly Cardan’s application to join in 1537 was again rejected.

However, two years later, after much pressure from his admirers, the College modified the clause regarding legitimate birth and admitted Cardan.

In the same year, Cardan’s first two mathematical books were published, the second The Practice of Arithmetic and Simple Mensuration was a sign of greater things to come.

This was the beginning of Cardan’s prolific literary career writing on a diversity of topics medicine, philosophy, astronomy and theology in addition to mathematics.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: New Scientist

Is Genetically Modified Wheat the Solution to Celiac Disease?

The people who grow wheat think they might have a solution for people with celiac disease: Genetically modified wheat.

By genetically modifying wheat, researchers are looking to ‘silence’ proteins that trigger adverse immune reactions in people with celiac disease.

A research team working on just such a project recently published a report of their results in the Journal of Cereal Science.

The team included researchers Cristina M. Rosella, Francisco Barrob, Carolina Sousac, and Ma Carmen Menad.

Their report acknowledges that creating strains of wheat with reduced gluten toxicity is difficult using conventional breeding methods, and that genetic modification, in particular a technology called RNA interference (RNAi), hold the greatest promise in reducing or ‘silencing’ the gluten proteins in wheat and other cereals.




Such technology allows researchers to develop gluten-free wheat strains by adjusting the gluten fractions toxic to those with celiac disease.

They acknowledge that their efforts could face resistance fueled by global concerns around genetically modified foods.

They also note that current and prior genetic modification efforts have not produced products with tangible benefits to the consumer.

Rather, the main beneficiaries of such efforts have been large companies and/or farmers.

According to their report, the development of genetically modified wheat lines suitable for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance could be a major turning point.

Their efforts to create celiac-friendly wheat varieties via genetic modification aims to “solve a health problem that directly affects a large proportion of consumers, in developed as well as developing countries, and with higher consumer awareness.

What do you think? Is this a possible breakthrough? Would you be interested in wheat that had been genetically modified to be safe for people with celiac disease?

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: New Scientist

A Wearable Device That Helps You Avoid Nasty Air Pollution

While humanity has made strides to cut down its greenhouse emissions, the fact remains: We produce a lot of harmful gases every day.

If you live in a city, however, it’s easy to forget the quality of the air around you and the impact it might be having on your health.

Flow, by Plume Labs, could change that. The tiny air-quality sensor looks like a portable thumb drive with a leather strap that lets you hang it from bags and clothing.

It can measure dust, exhaust fumes and other harmful gases, as well as the household chemicals you might encounter indoors.

If you care about the environment, I can see the appeal. At CES, the team showed me the various LED combinations you can trigger with a small dimpled button on the front.




Different colors clearly indicate the quality of the air around you; a second button press gives you an overview of the day, with each tiny light representing a one- or two-hour block.

Flow works best when lots of people are using their devices simultaneously. Plume Labs will be collecting and comparing user data to create accurate, real-time pollution maps.

The result will be an ever-evolving heat map with defined routes to avoid and clean, picturesque spots to enjoy.

Swiping through the Flow’s companion app, I was able to tap on starred parks that had been logged as pollution-free zones.

The challenge will be persuading users to take potentially longer routes around their city or hometown. If you’re running late for work, for instance, would you still accept a detour to avoid a patch of smog?

W care about our health, but we’re not sure we care that much. Unfortunately for Plume Labs, I suspect many people feel the same way.

That’s a problem, because scale will be critical in order for it to realize its crowdsourced air-mapping dream. Still, it’s a noble goal, and one that I can’t help but admire.

Flow’s success will ultimately depend on its pricing — if the sensor is cheap, curious souls might be willing to give it a try. If it’s expensive, however, only the most-green-thumbed individuals will take the plunge.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: New Scientist

Meet The French Team Who “Woke” A Man From 15 Years In Vegetative State

The team of researchers including Angela Sirigu, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Institute for Cognitive Sciences–Marc Jeannerod in Lyon, France and her colleagues, tried vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) on the whose in vegitative state for 15 years.

They surgically implanted a disk-shaped palm-sized electrical stimulator to the vagus nerve that gives off minute electrical shocks.

These shocks are less than one hundredth of the current required to run a battery-powered wrist watch.

The vagus is one of the most important nuerves in the body that carries signals to major organs such as the brain, heart, lungs, gut, digestive system as well as other parts of the body.

As Sirigu explained, nerve stimulation has been studied for brain damage for a while now. It has been tried for other brain diseases as well including epilepsy, cluster headaches, Parkinson’s disease, dementia etc.




It is not clear why these work. However, Sirigu says that it could be because the vagus nerve connects to the thalamus.

Thalamus is a deep-seated region of the brain that leads to awareness and consciousness. If this thalamus is stimulated, it could lead to consciousness.

If temporary stimulation leads to rousing a person, long term stimulation of the thalamus could lead to waking up of a vegetative person, she speculated. This was the hypothesis the team had worked upon.

For this study the team thus implanted a vagus nerve stimulator in the chest of the patient and kept stimulating the vagus nerve.

A month into the therapy the man showed small signals that he was more interactive with the world. He started to respond.

He was still deemed “minimally conscious” but was still improving from his previous vegetative state say the researchers.

For example, the person now could track an object with his eyes and also turn his head when requested. There was a startle response when he was faced with another face close to his suddenly.

Brain mapping of activities showed that metabolism was better in the brain in certain regions. This means that these regions were working better now.

The brain was also producing stronger theta waves explained Sirigu. These waves are patterns seen on EEG or electroencephalogram and are connected to consciousness.

The persons’ progress is being continuously monitored. After around nine months of the stimulation therapy, although he remained static at his level of consciousness, he did not deteriorate either.

This raises hopes for others in this state too says the team. However, experts warn it may be too early to speculate similar successes or more in other patients.

A single case might not be indicative of others. But this experiment shows promise they agree.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: New Scientist

The Dark Side Of The Singularity


Or… How To Not Be A Horse. Automation and AI promise to usher in an era of amazing productivity and innovation. But they also threaten our very way of life.

Support me on Patreon!

http://www.patreon.com/answerswithjoe

Follow me at all my places!

Instagram: https://instagram.com/answerswithjoe

Snapchat: https://www.snapchat.com/add/answersw…

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/answerswithjoe

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/answerswithjoe

LINKS LINKS LINKS:

Tony Seba’s talk about why transportation and energy will be obsolete by 2030: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kxryv…

http://www.chicagotribune.com/classif…

Okuma Automation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3d-kP…

CNet News on the automated Amazon fulfillment centers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtBa9…

Fully Charged – Self-Driving Nissan Leaf: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfRqN…

 

 

Partial Transcript:

For hundreds, even thousands of years, the horse was humanity’s go-to form of transportation. And in 13 years, that all changed.

Right now, we are on the cusp of a technological disruption that will make the switch from horses to cars look like switching from Coke to Pepsi.

So we talk a lot on this channel about exponential growth, artificial intelligence, the singularity, and that’s a lot of fun, but there is a dark side to all this change, one that really needs to be talked about because the way we respond to it is going to significantly alter our future as a species.

The BBC released a report just a few weeks ago that said that 30% of jobs are going to go away in the next 10 years because of automation.

In the U.S., we’ve heard a lot over the last election about the proverbial coal miners and our current president specifically campaigning to bring back coal jobs.

But coal is just one of hundreds of industries that are taking advantage of employees that can work 24/7, never need a bathroom break, never sleep, never make a mistake and work twice as fast. Oh, and you don’t have to pay them.

Factories already decimated by outsourcing are now losing even more jobs to automation. And as automation becomes more sophisticated, more industries are at risk.

The transportation sector actually makes up 25% of the jobs in the United States, if you can believe that. A full quarter of the population. And autonomous cars… They’re pretty much here, guys.

Famously, the Tesla Model 3, going into production this year, will have autonomous capability, though it may not have the software available, it will have the hardware ready for it.

But less famously, there are a lot of other car companies trying to beat Tesla to market with this. Nissan has a fully self-driving prototype in development that they took a drive in on Fully Charged and it was spooky how good it was.

Cadillac is so bullish on self-driving technology, they spent millions of dollars to create a lidar map of every highway in the United States using their own proprietary system.

This way their cars won’t just rely on sensors and GPS to find their way, the Cadillac system will contain a 3D map of everything, including the roadsigns.

Google’s working on a car, Apple supposedly is working on a car, but the people who are really big on this technology are the service providers.

Uber made over 2 billion dollars last year. Imagine how much they could make if they didn’t have to pay their drivers…

Uber has been working for years on a transportation fleet of autonomous cars, and even Ford has made some intentions known of pivoting in a similar direction.

Many are predicting that cars will go from a retail industry to a service industry, with Peter Diamandis saying that in ten years, car ownership will be an outdated idea.

The fact of the matter is, you can be for automation or against it, you can agree with its use or not, but this is happening. And we need to be ready for it.

Some people are talking about a basic minimum income, a flat amount of money that everybody in a society makes, as a safety net to keep people above water. This is an interesting idea that’s even being tested in some places.

There is a coming change on a fundamental and massive level in this world. One that is filled with amazing advancements and technological wonders. The question is, will we be able to change with it?

How Cosmic Crashes Could Have Kick-started Plate Tectonics

A rock the size of a small city hurtles towards Earth, smashing a crater bigger than the span between Washington, D.C. and New York City.

The heat and shockwave raises the temperature of the atmosphere above boiling as huge seismic waves ripple through the Earth’s crust.

New research indicates that such an impact may have happened to our planet, although (thankfully) it was long before civilization arose.

About 3.26 billion years ago, an object between 23 and 26 miles wide (37 and 58 kilometers) crashed into the Earth somewhere and left geological evidence behind in South Africa.

Surprisingly, the impact may have made the Earth a friendlier place for life because it corresponds with this planet’s establishment of plate tectonics.




Finding the crater, though, is likely an impossible task. There are few rocks of this age on the entire Earth, the notable exception being the nearly 4-billion-old Canadian Shield that stretches across much of eastern Canada.

Little remains of that era of history, making it necessary for researchers to do detective work to learn more about the impactor.

It’s like the aftermath of a tornado where the insurance company won’t pay because your car was sucked off of your driveway and you can’t find the car, so they can’t pay it,” said Norm Sleep, a geophysicist at Stanford University who led the research.

You don’t know if it was stolen or damaged or wrecked or whatever because you can’t find it. We have the same difficulty.

Sleep and departmental co-author Donald Lowe published their research in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics and Geosystems in April.

The paper is called “Physics of crustal fracturing and chert dike formation triggered by asteroid impact, ∼3.26 Ga, Barberton greenstone belt, South Africa.

The only life in that era was microbial, although Lowe pointed out they would have struggled with their new circumstances. “To say the least, it would have adversely affected life near the surface,” he said.

While whole microbe communities could have been wiped out, on the species level many would have survived.

Life was all over the Earth and not just in the area of the impact, and microbes are better able to withstand sudden temperature changes than more advanced lifeforms.

Perhaps microbes would have suffered after the impact, but in its wake, the impactor could have helped change our planet into one that better supports complex life.

Lowe pointed out that plate tectonics seems to have appeared around 3 billion to 3.2 billion years ago, around the same time the impactor smashed into the Earth.

If enough big objects hit the Earth frequently enough, it could have broken up the primitive plate structure on our planet into the plate tectonics we have today, they said.

This has important implications for life, as other researchers have said that plate tectonics might be necessary for complex life to exist.

Another clue came from the isotopes (types) of chromium. The surface rocks on Earth have a uniform ratio of chromium isotopes, but Lowe and a colleague in San Diego found that the isotopes in this layer had a different ratio.

The unusual proportions, along with the iridium, the platinum and the widespread distribution of the layer, all suggested this was produced by an impact.

The crash happened somewhere far away, though.

In the area around a crater, the rocks of this age would have been destroyed,” Lowe said. “We’ve never found evidence that we were at or close to an actual crater.

Perhaps further examination of the greenstone will turn up more information on this impactor, but similar sites will be hard to come by.There are few regions like the Barberton around

There are few regions like the Barberton around today, so that scientists will have trouble finding other impactors that could have affected plate tectonics.

Life on Earth is also adapted to plate tectonics, he pointed out, and as we have not found life elsewhere it is hard to say if tectonics are necessary for life to exist.

Even when looking outside of the Solar System, it will be a challenge to detect plate tectonics on extrasolar planets because they are so far away.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: New Scientist

End Of The World Is Still Coming Soon, Christian Numerologists Said It Was Just Postponed

The so-called ‘Christian numerologist‘ who alleged that the world would end on September 23 has clarified that the apocalypse has in fact been delayed.

The conspiracy theorist David Meade – who claimed that a mysterious planet would collide with Earth – is now saying that Saturday only marks the beginning of the end of the end of times.

Indeed, Saturday will see the beginning of a number of cataclysmic events that will occur over a number of weeks, that will lead to our demise.

The world is not ending, but the world as we know it is ending.”




Meade added: “A major part of the world will not be the same the beginning of October.

Meade used the ‘biblically significant’ number 33 and his interpretation of the Bible’s Book of Revelation to suggest that the legendary – and widely debunked – planet Nibiru would strike Earth on September 23.

The impact would set in motion cataclysmic events, according to Meade.

Nibiru would strike 33 days after the total solar eclipse. In his analysis, Meade cited how Jesus allegedly lived for 33 years.

I’m talking astronomy. I’m talking the Bible,” Meade said.

Another Christian fringe group, called Unsealed, claims that a Biblical image will appear on the sky on September 23.

In late August, Meade said that ‘Nibiru’ would hit Earth between September 20 and 23.

He said the clues are written on the Pyramids of Ancient Egypt and in the Bible.

The conspirator said: ‘It is very strange indeed that both the Great Sign of Revelation 12 and the Great Pyramid of Giza both point us to one precise moment in time – September 20 to 23, 2017.

Is this the end of the Church Age and the transition to the Day of the Lord? There couldn’t be two greater witnesses.

Earlier this year Mr Meade made a September prediction using verses from the Bible, but he now claims this date is backed up by marking on the pyramids.

Of the pyramid, he said: ‘It faces true north with only 3/60th of a degree of error and is located at the centre of the land mass of the Earth.

The east/west parallel that crosses the most land and the north/south meridian that crosses the most land intersect in two places on the Earth – one in the ocean and the other at the Great Pyramid.

Despite a lack of evidence for the hidden world, which Nasa has previously stated is an ‘internet hoax’, many people believe it is real. The scientific community does not agree Nibiru exists.

Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an internet hoax,” NASA has said previously. “Obviously, it does not exist.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: New Scientist

How Do Hurricanes Form? A Step-By-Step Guide.

Whenever hurricane season arrives in the Atlantic Ocean — typically between June and November — a bunch of meteorological terms get hurled around.

Tropical storm. Tropical depression. Category 3 hurricanes. Category 4 hurricanes.

So what’s the difference between all these types of weather events? One way to understand this is to walk through the different stages of a hurricane, step by step.

We’ll use Hurricane Irma, which started out as a wave off the African coast and went on to pound several Caribbean before it hit Florida as a Category 4 storm, as an example:




1) Tropical disturbance: A hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean typically begins life as a lowly “tropical disturbance” — defined as organized thunderstorm activity that stretches at least 100 miles across and maintains its identity for more than 24 hours.

During the summer, these disturbances often start as storms moving westward off the coast of Africa in what are known as “tropical waves.”

If meteorologists think a tropical disturbance may develop further, they’ll designate it as an “investigative area,” or invest.

Irma became a disturbance off the Cape Verde Islands in late August, with forecasters keeping close watch as it headed west.

2) Tropical depression or cyclone: Under the right conditions, a tropical disturbance can develop further and start to spin around a low-pressure center. Once that happens, it’s classified as a “tropical cyclone” or “tropical depression”:

For a tropical depression to form, conditions have to be just right: The water has to be warm enough to fuel the system, with temperatures of 80°F or hotter.

There needs to be enough moisture in the lower and middle part of the atmosphere. Local winds also have to be arranged so that they allow the depression to spin — too much wind shear can tear an aspiring tropical cyclone apart.

3) Tropical storm: This is the next stage. When the pressure in the center of the tropical depression drops, air rushes in, creating strong winds.

If the system strengthens and wind speeds rise past 39 mph, the system is dubbed a “tropical storm” and is given a name.

That’s what happened to Irma on August 30, as it picked up speed in the far Eastern Atlantic and intensified.
The US National Hurricane Center makes the call for when a tropical depression officially becomes a tropical storm.

It relies on data from islands and buoys as well as from reconnaissance aircrafts that fly into the storms to measure wind speed.

4) Hurricane: Tropical storms can intensify quickly if they pass over a region of especially warm water and don’t face much wind shear. As that happens, the pressure in the center drops even further and the winds really pick up.

The system gets rounder and often forms a clearly defined “eye.” Here’s Irma on Wednesday:

When the winds reach sustained speeds of 74 mph or more, the storm system is classified as a hurricane. Hurricanes are categorized according to the Saffir-Simpson Scale based on their wind speed and propensity for damage.

Irma was a Category 5 as of September 5 with wind speeds of 185 miles per hour. That’s serious — major hurricanes can do structural damage to buildings, take down trees, and cause widespread flooding.

Side note: The fact that you need especially warm water here explains why hurricanes only form in the Atlantic during the late summer months.

It also helps explain why global warming may lead to stronger hurricanes, although this gets complicated, since climate change can also affect wind shear that suppresses hurricanes.

5) Back down to tropical storm: Hurricanes can also weaken, however, as they move over land (or cooler water) and no longer have warm, moist air to fuel them.

Once wind speeds drop below 75 miles per hour, the hurricane gets downgraded to a tropical storm — and, later on, a “post-tropical cyclone” as it degrades further.

For example, Hurricane Hermine in 2016 was downgraded to a tropical storm not long after it made landfall in Florida in September.

But then Hermine moved back over the Atlantic Ocean and hit record-warm ocean temperatures there, gathering to hurricane strength again.

It’s worth emphasizing that even tropical cyclones that aren’t hurricanes can still do a great deal of damage by bringing torrential rain, dangerous surf, beach erosion, high winds, and flooding.

In 2012, “superstorm” Sandy was technically no longer a hurricane when it hit the East Coast, but it still proved devastating to the New York and New Jersey coasts.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science