Month: April, 2018

The 2018 Lyrid Meteor Shower Will Light Up The Sky On Earth Day.

One of the best meteor showers of the year coincides with Earth Day this year — meaning people all over the world will have the chance to see the 2018 Lyrid meteor shower light up the sky.

The Lyrids peak on April 22–23. A Half Moon may make viewing conditions difficult. Named after constellation Lyra, the Lyrids are one of the oldest known meteor showers.

What is the Lyrid meteor shower?

The Lyrid meteor shower happens annually, and according to a video from NASA’S Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it is active from April 14 until April 30 — and peaks on April 22.

It is the “first significant meteor shower in a few months,” according to AccuWeather’s astronomy blogger Dave Samuhel.




And while it is only a moderately active meteor shower, it is the oldest one on record and was first recorded by the Chinese in 687 B.C.

What stargazers see when they’re observing the Lyrid meteor shower is the Earth’s orbit coming into contact with dust left behind from a comet — in this case Comet Thatcher (C/1861 G1), which was discovered in 1861 by A.E. Thatcher.

Comet Thatcher orbits the sun roughly every 415 years, according to NASA. The debris left behind by the comet burns up in our atmosphere creating fiery streaks observed in the night sky.

A long exposure photograph shows how intense the Milky Way can be

Where is the best place to see the meteor shower?

Special equipment — telescopes, binoculars — is not necessary to view the Lyrid meteor shower, which is safe to view with the naked eye.

However, to increase your chances of seeing this annual meteor shower, it’s best to head to a dark area away from light pollution.

And while the Lyrid meteor shower should be viewable no matter your location, there are a few other variables to take into consideration: hemisphere and weather.

For those in the U.S., AccuWeather has a map showing what areas of the country will have good, fair, or poor conditions for viewing.

According to the map, those with the best optics for viewing the Lyrid meteor shower are on the East Coast from Pennsylvania to Maine as well as a swath on the West Coast that includes parts of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Washington and California.

The Lyrid meteor shower “favors the Northern Hemisphere,” according to EarthSky’s McClure, because “the higher [the star] Vega climbs into your sky, the more meteors you’re likely to see.

Vega is part of the constellation Lyra — where the Lyrids get their name, because it looks like they are radiating from the constellation — and it is located in the Northern Celestial Hemisphere.

However, those in the Southern Hemisphere will have to wait until the “early hours of the morning before reasonable rates can be observed,” according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Viewers in Australia will have the best view of the meteor shower on Monday, April 23 between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. local time.

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Is There Still Time To Save The Great Barrier Reef?

New research published today in the scientific journal Global Change Biology shows that adopting best management practices can help the Great Barrier Reef in a time of climate change.

The study models a range of predicted outcomes for the Reef out to 2050 under different scenarios of future climate change and local management action.

There is significant potential for coral recovery in the coming decades,” said Dr Nick Wolff, Climate Change Scientist at The Nature Conservancy.

But under a scenario of unmitigated greenhouse gas emissions and business-as-usual management of local threats, we predict that after this recovery, average coral cover on the Reef is likely to rapidly decline by 2050.”




The research involved scientists from The Nature Conservancy; The University of Queensland; James Cook University; the UK’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture; and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).

It modelled changes to corals that make up the Great Barrier Reef in the presence of a range of threats including cyclones, Crown-of-Thorns Starfish, nutrient runoff from rivers and warming events that drive mass coral bleaching.

The study provides much-needed clarity around how conventional management actions can support the resilience of the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem.

The $60M package announced recently by the Federal Government including $10.4M for Crown-of-Thorns Starfish control and $36.6M for measures to reduce river pollution is a positive step.

This could buy us some critical time,” said Dr Wolff.

The Queensland and Federal Governments have the right strategy in pursuing ambitious targets for water pollution reduction by 2025.

Further large-scale investments from both the private and public sectors should now be mobilised to expand and accelerate a range of innovative and tailored solutions to ensure targets are met.

Importantly though, the positive signs for the future shown in the research also depend strongly on whether the world meets the ambitious carbon emission targets of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The study shows that in a world of unmitigated carbon emissions, the increased frequency and severity of coral bleaching events will overwhelm the capacity of corals to recover and the benefits of good management practices could then be lost.

The study’s results also come with an important warning: not all coral reefs can be protected by good management under climate change, even if global warming can be kept below 1.5°C.

To protect the most climate sensitive species in the hardest-hit places, we would need to consider additional and unconventional management interventions beyond carbon mitigation AND intensified management.

“A new innovative R&D program to develop such interventions, including ways to boost the spread of warm-adapted corals to naturally cooler parts of the Great Barrier Reef, is included in the Australian Government’s recent $60M announcement. It’s a big step in the right direction,” concluded Dr Anthony.

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How To Throw The Perfect Punch

If you’re lucky, you’ll never have to defend yourself through physical violence. But if that time ever comes, or if you’re ever enrolled in a Fight Club against your will, would you know what to do?

You’ve seen punches thrown on TV plenty of times, but do you actually know how to throw one correctly?

We’ve asked a few experts to help us learn the proper method of punching.

Our pros will show you the right way of making a fist, the proper way of orienting your wrist, what part of the person you should hit and what you should do after the punch.

The goal is to throw an effective punch without injuring yourself in the process.

When you’re punching, the fundamental thing you should know is that your thumb needs to be on the outside of your fist, between your first and second knuckles on your index and middle finger.




If the thumb is on the inside upon hitting a hard target you WILL break your thumb,” says Aiman Farooq, a Martial Artist.

Keith Horan, also a Martial Artist recommends a linear punch, which most martial artists do, that looks like a “cross” punch in boxing.

Chris Waguespack, also a Martial Artist says that the main reason why people hurt their hands when they punch someone is “because they punch with the flats of their fingers instead of their knuckles.

When you see people shaking their hands after a punch, it is usually because they impacted, more often than not, with the wrong part of their hand. Many people think that you punch with your fist straight. The truth is, you aim to punch with the first two knuckles. In order to achieve this, you need to slightly tilt your wrist down (which actually strengthens your punch as well). By tilting your wrist down slightly, you put your knuckles in front of your fingers. You also align your wrist with your forearm, so you are less likely to bend your wrist back or down and break it.

Where should I aim?

Because you want the fight to end as quickly as possible—you’re not fighting just to fight—you want to incapacitate your opponent as quickly and efficiently as possible so you can escape. So where should you aim to do so?

Keith Horan says that, unlike what you might think, you should not punch the face. “You’ll either miss, or commonly punch wrong and hit the jaw and break your hand.

The punch for the beginner is best used on the body, towards the chest, or if you’re on the side, to the ribs.”

Pete Carvill suggests a slightly different tactic, but also advises against the head.

Warning: Although knowing the fundamentals of punching is useful, it’s also not enough to properly defend yourself without practicing. It’s definitely not for you to go out and pick fights, but you all should be smart enough to figure this out on your own.

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Miles of Dangerous Algae Covering Lake Erie

Dog swims through an algae bloom in North Carolina.

A potentially harmful algae bloom covered more than 1812 square km in the western basin of Lake Erie last week, turning the lake bright green and alarming residents and local officials.

Scientists say that algae blooms have been a growing problem for Lake Erie since the 2000s, mostly because of the extensive use of fertilizer on the region’s farmland.

The algae blooms contain cyanobacteria, which, under certain conditions, can produce toxins that contaminate drinking water and cause harm to the local ecosystem.




Millions of people get drinking water from Lake Erie. Previous blooms have been toxic.

While not all algae blooms are toxic, they can produce a type of toxin called microcystis that can cause serious liver damage under certain conditions.

Dangerous levels of the toxin caused Toledo, Ohio, to shut down the drinking water supply of a half-million residents for three days in 2014.

In total, almost 3 million people get drinking water from the central basin of Lake Erie. Officials have been testing the intake points in the lake where towns draw water and report that the current toxin levels are low.

Green waters of Lake Erie, which emit “18 times more carbon dioxide than all the cars in Detroit,” according to researcher Tonya DelSontro, who studies the relationship of lake algae to greenhouse gases.

The algae blooms are getting larger.

Since the 2000s, algae blooms in Lake Erie have become much more extensive.

According to one study by the Carnegie Institute for Science and Stanford University, most of the increase in the size of the blooms can be attributed to a rise in the amount of dissolved phosphorus flowing into the lake.

In the 1980s, researchers started tracking algae blooms in Lake Erie. They were mostly small, but changes in farming practices caused them to spike.

The blooms are expected to grow more harmful as global warming changes rainfall patterns.

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The Science of Climate Change Denial with John Cook of Skeptical Science

John Cook founded the website skepticalscience.com, where he has compiled a list of the most repeated climate change denial arguments and shows the science behind the myths. Along the way, he gained a PhD in Psychology and studies why people refuse to believe scientific truths.

Here, we talk about the science of climate change denial and I let him respond to some of the most common comments I’ve received about climate change.

Could This Trick Make You Like Your Vegetables More?

Could we learn to like our vegetables more!? It’s a question that many of us may have wondered, as we struggle to get through a plate of broccoli.

Now, an experiment done with a group of UK school children thinks it might have the answer!

The study wanted to see if it was possible to train ourselves to like a food that we didn’t like before.

To find out, a group of young scientists aged 9 to 11 were split down into two groups.




Half of them were asked to eat a piece of the green vegetable kale every day for 15 days, while the other half ate raisins – and there were some very interesting results!

Most of the kids who ate kale every day found that they did like it more by the end of the experiment.

So, by making yourself eat something you may not really like over a period of time, you could learn to not hate it as much!

However, there were still some in the kale group who really didn’t like it – even after the 15 days was up.

It was discovered this was because they had more fungiform papillae on their tongue, which contain our taste buds.

The more fungiform papillae a person has, the more strongly they will taste flavours – especially bitter ones – so these children are known as ‘supertasters‘.

About one in four people could be ‘supertasters‘, which makes them more sensitive to strong foods, like lemons, spices and bitter vegetables, like Brussels sprouts

Therefore, these people may need to eat kale for slightly longer before they learn to love it.

Jackie Blissett, professor in health behaviour and change at Coventry University, said: “It’s been wonderful to work with these young scientists, and they’ve helped shed some light on one of the great mysteries: why some of us might not like our Brussels sprouts!

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How Much Water Pressure Can The Human Body Take?

Depending on how you look at it, the human body is either one of the most vulnerable things on the planet, or one of the most resilient.

It’s true we can do amazing things — heal where we once were bleeding, attack and destroy unfriendly microbial invaders, even knit our own bones back together.

But despite our many abilities, we’re still pretty delicate when you consider the universe around us.

There’s only a tiny window of conditions in which we can thrive, and things that are rather inconsequential in the universe — a dip in oxygen, shocking cold, a flare of nuclear radiation — would mean the end of us in the blink of an eye.

But what exactly can we take? What are the limits of our survival, and what happens to our body if we cross them?

Here we explore the body’s (many) breaking points. First up: water pressure.




What is pressure?

Pressure can generally be defined as the force, per unit area, applied to the surface of something. We’re always under a certain amount of pressure, we just don’t notice.

We hear about air pressure on the weather channel, but we actually have our own pressure in air-filled spaces of our body like our lungs, stomach, and ears.

Our internal pressure is usually equal to the outside air pressure (the weight of the atmosphere pushing down on us.)

We become uncomfortable whenever we venture away from sea level; our internal pressure is no longer equal to the ambient pressure. This is why our ears hurt when we go up in a plane or when we dive too deep underwater.

Underwater Pressure

Ever wonder why we can’t just create extra-long snorkels to breathe underwater? Seems like an obvious and easy solution for breathing without an oxygen tank, but there’s a good reason this can’t work.

For every 33 feet a diver descends the weight of the water above them increases by 15 pounds per square inch.

At only a few feet below the surface, the water pressure is already too great for the muscles that expand and contract our lungs to work, making it extremely difficult for us to draw breath.

A couple feet of water pressure isn’t enough to do serious damage yet, but looking at deeper levels shows how pressure affects us a little more gradually.

At a depth of around 100 feet, the spongy tissue of the lung begins to contract, which would leave you with only a small supply of air that was inhaled at the surface.

An ancient “dive-response” is then triggered in our body, which constricts the limbs and pushes blood toward the needier heart and brain.

If you somehow got stuck in the middle of an oceanic abyss, the deepest part of the ocean, you’d have a few things to worry about.

The lack of breathable oxygen, freezing cold, and these charming creatures, to name a few, but the huge amount of water pressure pressing down on you would definitely be the immediate threat.

Since your body’s internal pressure is so much less than the ambient pressure, your lungs would not have the strength to push back against the water pressure.

At a deep enough level, the lungs would collapse completely, killing you instantly.

This is the most extreme consequence of underwater pressure, but thankfully most of us will never have to deal with ocean depths of this magnitude.

So, how deep can we go? Scientists haven’t yet determined a hard limit for how deep we can survive underwater.

There have been a few instances of divers surviving ridiculous depths (not without side effects), but most professional free divers don’t go past 400 feet deep.

The only way to test a limit would be to test on a real, live human, so obviously there are no handy studies to help us formulate an answer.

Scientists do know, however, what would happen to a diver who crossed their body’s limit. A diver could die from bleeding into the lungs, or pass out from the strain the redistribution of blood lays on the heart.

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NASA Releases Astounding Video Of The Lagoon Nebula To Celebrate Hubble’s Birthday

The Lagoon Nebula as seen by Hubble in 1996.

Ever wanted to zoom near that central bulge in the Milky Way in the Sagittarius constellation where stars are born? NASA has almost made it possible thanks to the Earth-orbiting Hubble Space Telescope.

As a kind of a 28th Hubble birthday gift for all of us, the space agency has posted astounding videos and photos of what’s known as the Lagoon Nebula.

The main video takes viewers from far away into the very heart of the massive, colorful nebula, what NASA calls a “raucous star nursery full of birth and destruction,” 4,000 light-years away from Earth.




At the Lagoon Nebula’s heart is a massive “young” star (the million-year-old Hershel 36), 200,000 times brighter and eight times hotter than Earth’s sun.

It roils the region with ultraviolet radiation and winds carving out an exploding, undulating “fantasy landscape of ridges, cavities, and mountains of gas and dust,” gushes NASA.

Hubble was launched April 24, 1990, aboard the space shuttle Discovery and was a joint project of NASA and the European Space Agency.

The lagoon nebula seen in visible light ( left) and infrared (right).

Once a year the telescope takes a break from its assigned observations to take a detailed image of a particular spot of the cosmos.

The Hubble “has offered a new view of the universe and has reached and surpassed all expectations for a remarkable 28 years,” said NASA and the ESA. The telescope has “revolutionized almost every area of observational astronomy.”

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