Category: News Posts

Tube Worms In Deep Sea Discovered To Have Record Long Life Spans

tube worms

Tubeworms at the cold and calm hydrocarbon-seep sites in the Gulf of Mexico have surprisingly long life spans, especially compared to their cousins living at the hot and dynamic hydrothermal vents, according to a paper published in the 3 February 2000 issue of the journal Nature by a Penn State research team.

“The hydrocarbon-seep tubeworms we studied take from 170 to 250 years to grow two meters long, while hydrothermal-vent tubeworms grow well over a meter in just one year,” says graduate assistant Derk C. Bergquist, an author of the research paper along with Frederick M. Williams, associate professor emeritus of biology, and Charles Fisher, professor of biology.




The scientists say the tubeworms they studied at the cold seeps are the most long-lived noncolonial animals without backbones currently known.

“The tissues of colonial animals like coral and anemone are continually recycled by the community, so it is tough to say what a single individual is in a colonial animal,” Bergquist explains. “Entire colonies can have life spans over 1,000 years, but no individual polyp in the colony lives that long.”

To study the tubeworms’ growth, the team used the Johnson Sea Link submarine, equipped with a special staining device they designed in collaboration with the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, to reach the tubeworm sites 1800 feet below the ocean’s surface about 120 miles off the Louisiana coast.

tube worm

They first used the “stainer” to color the white tubeworm casings a robin’s-egg-blue, then returned to the site a year later to collect and study the animals.

By comparing the overall length of each tubeworm with the length of its new, unstained, growth, the researchers were able to determine the average growth rate for animals of different lengths and ages.

Tubeworms, which grow in spurts as they lay down the successive rings of their external skeleton, grow more when they are young than later in their life span.

“The trend for a decreasing growth rate with increasing size is typical of most animals, including humans,” Bergquist explains.

tube worm

“The most realistic age estimate for an average 2-meter-long tubeworm, taking into account the changing growth rates over the animal’s life, is 170 to 250 years old,” Fisher says.

“Since we collect animals much longer than 2 meters, we know that this is a minimum estimate and that some of these individuals live much, much longer.”

The researchers now are trying to understand why these animals live so long and grow so slowly. Bergquist speculates it is possible that their long life results partly from the shortage of solid growing locations on the mostly muddy bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

tubeworms

Animals with shorter life spans in this environment are more likely to die off before any of their larvae could find a place to grow–leaving no trace of their genes in future tubeworm populations.

“Natural selection would seem to prefer long-lived tubeworms in the hydrocarbon-seep environment, but it’s going to take a lot of really careful hypothesis testing to say exactly why they live so long,” Bergquist says.

The team’s work in the Gulf of Mexico is largely driven by a Mineral Management Service policy designed to protect the tubeworms from the potentially damaging effects of oil drilling.

The policy requires oil companies to demonstrate before they build a drilling platform on a particular leasing area that the site contains no high-density chemosynthetic communities or that measures will be taken to prevent harm to these communities.

tubeworms

One of the research sites, called Bush Hill because it is covered with bush-like clusters of tubeworms, is about 500 yards from one of the deepest oil-drilling platforms in the world.

“Technology now is making drilling possible at deeper and deeper sties, so these deep-water communities are no longer safe from human activity,” Bergquist says.

“Our research has shown that these tubeworms grow very slowly over a long time and that their larvae need to settle on exposed substrates, which may not be easy to find on the muddy floor of the Gulf,” Bergquist explains.

“If you destroy one of these communities, it likely would take a long time to come back if it comes back at all.”

This research was supported by the Mineral Management Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

This 24ft Long Crocodile That Had Razor Sharp Teeth Was A Top Land Predator In Madagascar Million Years Ago

Razanandrongobe sakalavae

A new study has finally shed light on a mysterious, jaw fragment discovered on Madagascar years ago. It is from an ancient crocodile, nearly 24-feet in length, with teeth like a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

The study, published in the journal PeerJ, highlights the creature, identified as Razanandrongobe sakalavae, as an enormous crocodile ancestor. The ancient croc likely walked on land, hunting its prey with its massive teeth and jaws.




Put together by researchers Cristiano Dal Sasso , Giovanni Pasini, Guillaume Fleury and Simone Maganuco , the study notes that the teeth are “remarkably large, even larger than the largest denticles in large-bodied theropods.

The longest tooth found was 15 cm (5.9 inches) in length. By comparison, the longest T. rex tooth ever found was 12 inches, though they often vary in length.

Razanandrongobe sakalavae

R. sakalavae means “giant lizard ancestor from Sakalava region.”

“Razanandrongobe sakalavae is the largest terrestrial carnivore from this Middle Jurassic terrestrial ecosystem and was perhaps one of the top predators in Madagascar at the time,” the study’s conclusion reads.

“Its jaws were extremely robust and high, but possibly short, and bore large teeth with serrated edges resembling those of theropod dinosaurs. Many features of this species strongly suggest that it fed also on hard tissue such as bone and tendon.”

Razanandrongobe sakalavae

It is the oldest and largest known “notosuchian,” a suborder of Gondwanan mesoeucrocodylian crocodylomorphs that lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. It predates other members of the species by 42 million years.

The fossils are from the mid-Jurassic period, approximately 166 million years ago. They were first found in the early 1970s, with other parts of the Razana skull found later.

The findings were made after the fossils were made available to the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle in Toulouse, France, where they were then analyzed and reconstructed. They had been previously part of a private collection.

jaw

The skull was reconstructed using a CT scan, as well as using 3-D printers to print out missing bone fragments, using mirror images of existing fragments.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Fire Ants Can Build Roiling Ant Towers To Get Around

fire ants

Ants don’t just build complicated nests. They’ll use their own bodies to make things, too. Researchers at Georgia Tech University are studying how the insects link together to make ant rafts and ant bridges.

Now, they’ve accidentally found that fire ants can also get around by using themselves to constantly build and rebuild a moving tower.




Researchers filmed fire ants climbing on top of each other and left the cameras rolling. When they watched the sped-up footage, they found the ant structure sinks under its own weight, so the insects constantly renewed the tower until they went where they wanted to go.

They fed ants radioactive food and watched them build towers in an X-ray machine so they could watch the interior of the tower sink as it grew. Ants that got pushed to the bottom eventually disengaged and started climbing again.

Behavior like this serves a purpose: Fire ants in their natural habitat in Brazil have to deal with frequent flooding. Rafts and towers are a way to escape water and relocate to a new home.

fire ants

It’s worked so well it’s kept ants alive for millions of years all over the world — and in Georgia Tech’s buildings, where they’ve been known to escape labs and set up camps under staffers’ desks.

nd designs based in biology could make our own construction more efficient. Scientists think ant building-techniques like this replenishing trick could be useful for self-assembling robots in the future.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Here Are All The Major Changes Coming To iPhones and iPads with iOS 12

On Monday, iOS 12 will arrive for iPhones and iPads.

Apple announced the upgrade to its mobile operating system in June, at its annual developer conference, WWDC.

iOS 12 includes some major new features, along with several changes designed to make using your iPhone or iPad a lot easier.

Among the notable additions: a standalone Measure app that’s like a virtual tape measure, tools to combat smartphone addiction, grouped notifications, and customizable animated avatars called “Memoji.”




iOS 12 Gives Older Devices A Performance Boost.

With iOS 12, older iPhones and iPads could feel like new again.

Apple is giving older devices a performance boost when the new software rolls out on Monday. It says apps will launch 40% faster, the camera will open 70% faster, and the keyboard will display 50% faster.

iOS 12 will be available for devices as old as the iPhone 5S.

Apple Has A Brand-New App Called Measure.

Measure helps you take measurements of real-world objects. The app uses your iPhone’s camera to virtually take accurate readings, letting you see the width, length, and height of things just by tapping your screen.

Plus, if you point Measure at a photo, it’ll automatically detect it and tell you the dimensions.

Apple’s Photos App Is Smarter And More Interactive Than Before.

Apple made a bunch of subtle updates to the Photos app, putting it on par with apps like the popular Google Photos:

Search suggestions. The Photos app can recommend searching for people, places, categories, business names, sporting events, or concerts. When you select a term, the app will pull up all photos related to that term.

Search refinements. You can search with multiple search terms too.

“For You.” The Photos app will automatically generate personalized items like memory movies, features photos, and “on this day” images.

Sharing suggestions. The Photos app will suggest photos and videos to share with the people who are in them.

When someone accepts the images from you, they’ll get a recommendation to share their photos back with you. Apple says that sharing is end-to-end encrypted and works via iMessage.

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Who Is SpaceX’s Mystery Moon Passenger?

The moon is essentially grey, no color. Looks like plaster of Paris or sort of a grayish beach sand.

This was how Jim Lovell described the lunar surface in 1968 from his perch about 60 miles above the moon.

Lovell and his fellow NASA astronauts never touched down, but they returned to Earth with memories of what was, at the time, the closest view a human being had ever experienced of the planet’s rocky companion.

Nearly 50 years after the Apollo 8 mission, SpaceX wants to give someone that view again.

Elon Musk’s spaceflight company announced Thursday that it will send a private passenger to fly around the moon on its next launch system, the Big Falcon Rocket. The voyage is “an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space,” SpaceX said on Twitter.

SpaceX did not give a potential launch date or other details, but those may come Monday night, when the company said it would reveal the identity of the passenger.

This gives us a full weekend to speculate, and speculate we will. Because this trip, if it indeed moves forward—SpaceX previously announced and scrapped a similar plan—would make history.

And not because the voyage would be developed, funded, and operated by a commercial company, rather than NASA, but because the passenger is probably unlike anyone who has made the journey before.

Only 24 people have been to the moon. They were all American, male, and white.

So, who could this mystery moon traveler be?




In February of last year, SpaceX announced it would send two paying customers on a trip around the moon aboard the company’s Falcon Heavy rocket sometime in 2018.

The plan never materialized, likely because Musk eventually decided not to certify the Heavy for human spaceflight and focused on the development of the BFR instead.

The identities of these private citizens were never revealed, though Musk did say that “it’s nobody from Hollywood.” The passenger SpaceX plans to fly on the BFR may be one of them.

The passenger doesn’t have to be a U.S. citizen.

SpaceX will someday fly Americans, yes, but these will be the astronauts that NASA has chosen to test the company’s crew transportation system, which the space agency wants to use to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Unlike that project, the BFR is not affiliated with or funded by NASA. After the announcement Thursday, when a Twitter user mused whether the lucky passenger may be Musk himself, Musk responded with the emoji for the Japanese flag, prompting some to throw out names of wealthy Japanese individuals with an interest in tech.

Russia, China, and India have all said they hope to put their astronauts on the moon, with India aiming to do so as early as 2022. SpaceX may beat them, and give another country the historic first.

Perhaps the voyage will record another first, for women. The Soviet Union sent the first woman to space, Valentina Tereshkova, in 1963. Twenty years later, the United States sent Sally Ride.

As of March of this year, 60 women from nine countries have gone to space, and several of them have made multiple trips, according to NASA. But none have been to the moon.

If this concept becomes reality, the mystery passenger—and the flight engineers picked to accompany them—will have plenty of leg room.

Their experience will be very unlike that of Jim Lovell and his fellow astronauts, who were packed like spacefaring sardines in the lunar module.

The view, however, will be the same. The window will fill up with the slate gray of the moon, with the texture of the ridges and craters of its surface.

And then, as the spaceship circles the moon, the Earth will slink into view from behind it. “Oh, my God! Look at that picture over there! Here’s the Earth coming up. Wow, is that pretty!” exclaimed one of the NASA astronauts 60 years ago when he snapped a photograph of that view, the now iconic “Earthrise” shot.

Whomever the mystery SpaceX passenger is, let’s hope they don’t forget to pack a camera.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Watch SpaceX Announce Its First Passenger To The Moon

Tonight will be a big night for space tourism.

SpaceX, the private spaceflight company spearheaded by Elon Musk, will reveal the identity of the mystery passenger who booked a trip around the moon on the company’s massive BFR rocket.

The announcement is being broadcast from the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, but you can watch the highly anticipated event live, courtesy of SpaceX.

The event—which kicks off at 9 pm EDT and is expected to last an hour—will feature Musk unveiling not only the name of the first BFR (aka the Big Falcon Rocket) passenger, but the person’s reasons for going.

The big reveal comes a few days after SpaceX’s initial surprise tweet announcement last Thursday that it signed its first passenger to fly around the moon on the company’s next-generation rocket, the BFR.

Leading up to today, Musk has stoked speculation by dropped tantalizing previews of the BFR’s new rocket design as well as subtle clues to the mystery passenger’s identity on Twitter.

Shortly after the announcement, Musk tweeted a Japanese flag emoji, which could be a hint as to the nationality of the BFR passenger.

It’s probably safe to assume that the mystery person is extremely wealthy.




With Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic preparing to take tourists to suborbital space for a couple hundred thousand dollars a ticket, and trips to the International Space Station carrying a hefty price tag of $35 million (or more) for space tourists, SpaceX’s moon shot will likely be significantly higher.

This customer will be the first private astronaut to go to the moon, assuming no one beats SpaceX to it in the meantime.

Only 24 humans have been to the Moon in history. No one has visited since the last Apollo mission in 1972,” SpaceX tweeted following its initial announcement.

The company has dubbed this flight the “BFR Lunar Mission.” But it’s not the first time that SpaceX has announced it would be ferrying tourists to lunar space.

In 2017, Musk said that the company would take not one, but two astronauts on a trip around the moon. Those two people, however, would be riding on the Falcon Heavy, not the BFR.

Scant details emerged about those individuals or their proposed flight. Musk revealed only that they had both put down a “significant deposit” for the trip.

But during the Falcon Heavy’s inaugural flight last February, Musk admitted that the Falcon Heavy moon trip was not going to happen; instead the company would focus on putting people on the BFR.

Musk did confirm that the design of the BFR has changed slightly since it was first announced in 2016.

Last night, he tweeted new images showing a few changes to the vehicle’s design, which included three huge fins, seven engines, and a black heat shield, mounted on the underside of the spacecraft.

Musk also indicated that there will be a deployable “forward moving wing” near its nose.

It’s unclear whether this new customer is one of the two passengers who planned to fly on the Falcon Heavy. We also don’t know any specific details about the mission other than the destination.

Will this person be alone, or will they be accompanied by official astronauts? If this person is one of the passengers who signed up to fly on the Falcon Heavy, what happened to the other one?

If this person is a third individual entirely, does that make two purported customers who are now unaccounted for? And the money question that we’re all asking: how much is this ride going to cost?

One thing, at least, is clear: The BFR is far from ready to send a passenger around the moon. SpaceX recently leased property near the Port of Los Angeles to build the massive new rocket. Exactly when that will happen remains to be seen.

We’ll be looking for answers to these questions and more during tonight’s event. Check back in at 9pm ET / 6pm PT to watch the livestream with us.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

 

How To Prevent Your Computer From Overheating (And Why It’s Important)

Keeping your computer running within safe temperatures is important, especially as the temperature rises outside. Here’s how to make sure your computer’s not overheating—and how to fix it if it is.

The cooling system of your computer is one of the most important features of the device.

Without the cooling system, the electrical components of your computer wouldn’t be able to function; overheating would damage the integral parts of what makes your computer work.

The heat has to be dissipated in order to keep everything working within safe operating temperatures.

Why an Overheated Computer Is Dangerous

Simply put, if your computer becomes too hot, it is possible to destroy and shorten the lifespan of the hardware inside your computer, leading to irreparable damage and potential data loss.

Besides losing your data, heat pecks away at your computer’s internal organs—the motherboard, CPU, and more—significantly shortening its lifespan.




Besides the most obvious reason to keep your computer cool, a hot computer will also run slower than a cooler computer.

So to prevent your computer from slowing down, make sure that it is running at a moderate or low temperature.

What Temperature Should My Computer Be Running At?

Because of the different types of computer makes and models out there, the safe temperature range your computer should run at varies.

The safe operating range depends on things like processor type, manufacturer, and other factors that make it impossible to give an answer that applies to all CPUs.

How to Check the Temperature of Your PC

Sticking your hand over your computer’s ventilation system or case isn’t an accurate way to judge how hot your computer is running.

So how do you determine how hot your system’s running? You’ve got a few options.

To check the computer’s temperature without additional software, you can check your system BIOS. Restart your computer, and on the boot screen, you should have an option to press a key (often Delete) to enter the BIOS.

Once you enter Setup, navigate the BIOS menu using the on-screen instructions. You should be able to find a menu that deals with the computer’s hardware monitors and CPU.

 

There should be a field that lists your CPU temperature. Rather not restart your computer to check the temp?

We don’t blame you. Plenty of system monitoring tools can give you a temperature read-out, like free Windows program HWMonitor, which displays the temperature of the CPU, each of the computer’s cores, video card, hard drives, along with the minimum and maximum values of each temperature.

Unfortunately, you’ll need to make sure that your hardware is supported because the program can only read certain sensors.

We’ve featured several system monitoring options in the past that can also handle these duties, like the cross-platform, previously mentioned GKrellM (Windows/Mac/Linux), system-tray friendly app Real Temp, Core Temp, and SpeedFan.

SpeedFan has the added bonus of being able to show how fast each fan is spinning, complete with RPM readings.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Rolls-Royce Reveals Its New Phantom: ‘The Most Silent Car In The World’

Rolls-Royce revealed its new £350,000 Phantom in London tonight – describing it as ‘the most silent motor car in the world’

Whisper it softly, but the quietest and most technically advanced Rolls-Royce Phantom ever was launched in London tonight.

The flagship Rolls-Royce is designed to whisk the world’s wealthiest around in near silence and the lap of luxury – and it comes with its own dashboard art gallery for those who can afford the £350,000 price tag.

The new Phantom even paves the way for a future all-electric Rolls-Royce, ready to comply with Government moves to ban the sale of new ‘conventional’ petrol and diesel vehicles from 2040.




On the basis that silence is golden and the new Phantom limousine is ‘a work of art’, Rolls-Royce say their new Phantom is ‘the most silent motor car in the world’ and the quietest Rolls-Royce ever made –at least for the pampered chauffeur-driven occupant in the back.

The launch was hailed as another big vote of confidence in Britain – with the big Roller exported around the globe and considered the pinnacle of British automotive craftsmanship

The new Phantom even paves the way for a future all-electric Rolls-Royce, ready to comply with Government moves to ban the sale of new ‘conventional’ petrol and diesel vehicles from 2040

Bosses at Rolls-Royce’s parent company BMW – which earlier this week announced they were building an electric Mini in the UK – said the new Phantom demonstrated that they remain ‘fully committed to the future of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’, based at Goodwood, in West Sussex.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Alternative Android Browsers That Beat Chrome at Its Own Game

Web browsers are one of the most important apps on any device. Having the right features and performance while browsing the web can literally change your entire experience.

Finding the right one can be difficult because there are so many options and the face of the web is changing all the time.

Let’s take a look at the best Android browsers of 2018 (so far)! You can also click here to see the best web browsers on most platforms!




Brave Browser

Brave Browser is one of the newer Android browsers. It came out in 2016 and has a variety of features. There is an ad blocker built-in.

Additionally, it can block third party cookies, block scripts, and it has HTTPS everywhere. Included is per-site settings just in case you need that.

It also boasts optimizations for speed and battery life improvements. You can even keep track of all the stuff that it blocks. In real world use, it is highly functional and even occasionally fun to use.

It also has most of the basic features like bookmarks, history, and a privacy (incognito) mode. The app is entirely free with no in-app purchases or ads.

Dolphin Browser

Dolphin Browser has seen a lot of success on Androidy. It has a decent set of features as well. That includes theming, flash support, ad-block, incognito mode, and some tertiary features like gesture controls.

There is also add-on and extension support if you need that. A lot of people swear by Dolphin Browser. It covers most of the bases and that’s more than enough to rank it among the best.

It’s definitely one of the best Android browsers.

Ecosia Browser

Ecosia is an environmentally friendly mobile web browser. It features all of the usual stuff like bookmarks, multiple tabs, a private browsing mode, and downloads.

It pulls from Chromium’s open source project. Thus, it looks and feels a bit like Chrome as well. The big draw here is the cause. The browser donates up to 80% of its profits to plant trees.

That isn’t a browser feature, but it’s definitely nice. This one is good for those who don’t need to browse the web often, but still want something that works well. The trees thing is a bonus. It’s also free.

Flynx Browser

Flynx by InfiKen Labs has come a long way since its inception. This unique browser works in a floating window as opposed to a full screen mode.

This allows for quick web browsing. It also doesn’t force you to leave the app you’re currently using.

When you click links, they open a little bubble on the side of the screen and the page will load in the background until you decide to click the bubble to read it yourself.

It also comes with a few other features, such as night mode. It’s something different in the Android browsers space.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Over The Past Nineteen Years, This Man Has Dedicated His Work To The Study Of Our Solar System

Dr. Franck Marchis is a senior planetary astronomer and chair of the exoplanet group at the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute and Chief Scientific Officer and Founder at Unistellar.

He began full-time work at the Institute in June 2011 after leaving a joint position with Institute and the department of astronomy at University of California, Berkeley.

Marchis moved to the United States in October 2000 shortly after getting a Ph.D. from the University of Toulouse in France that he acquired while traveling around the world for his research and for the sake of exploration.

Over the past nineteen years, he has dedicated his work to the study of our solar system, specifically the search for asteroids with moons, using mainly ground-based telescopes equipped with adaptive optics (AO).

More recently he has been also involved in the definition of new generation of AOs for 8 -10 m class telescopes and future Extremely Large Telescopes.

He has also developed algorithms to process and enhance the quality of astronomical and biological images.




He is currently the collaboration manager of the Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey, which consists in imaging and characterizing Jupiter-like exoplanets using an extreme AO system designed for the Gemini South telescope.

Today, Marchis dedicates most of his energy to instruments capable of imaging and characterizing Earth-like exoplanets by being involved in education, public outreach, technology, and scientific investigations related to those ambitious projects both in the United States and in Europe.

Marchis is also involved in startups related to astronomy so he joined Unistellar as a Chief Scientific Officer and VR2Planets as a scientific advisor in 2017.

Marchis is a member of numerous science committees including the SETI Science council, the GPI steering Committee, the TMT Science Definition Team, PLOS One editor board, the Project Blue and the PLANETS Foundation Advisory board.

He has co-authored more than 380 scientific publications, trained numerous students, and served as a science consultant and interviewee for numerous documentaries and movies in English, French, and Spanish.

The asteroid (6639) was named Marchis in honor of his discovery of the first triple-asteroid system in 2007. He has been an affiliated Astronomer at Observatoire de Paris since 2003.

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Pass it on: Popular Science