New book reveals Cecil the lion suffered for at least 10 hours before dying

March 7, 2018 by  
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When Cecil the lion was killed by a game hunter in 2015 , people around the world were outraged. But despite the widespread attention to the situation, questions still lingered about what exactly took place. A new book on Cecil’s death finally gives us some answers, revealing that the lion likely suffered for 10 – 12 hours before being shot a second time, which ended his life. Cecil was shot with an arrow from a compound bow by dentist Walter J. Palmer from Minnesota. At the time, media outlets reported that the lion was in agony from a thoracic injury for 40 hours. While that seems to not be the case, the book says that “Cecil suffered incredible cruelty for at least 10 hours, severely wounded and slowly dying.” The arrow wound missed vital organs and arteries, incapacitating the lion but not killing him. The lion was finally relieved of his torture when the hunters located him and shot him with a second arrow. Related: Cecil the lion’s son shot and killed by trophy hunter Using data from the lion’s GPS collar and details from interviews with game staff, researchers and the local community, the book also confirms that the lion was lured out of the park in order to avoid regulations, a detail that has been disputed by the hunters. You can read all the details about Cecil’s tragic death in the book Lion Hearted: The Life and Death of Cecil and the Future of Africa’s Iconic Cats , which will be released on April 10. Via CNN Images via Flickr , Simon & Schuster and Flickr

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New technology could slow down biological time to save injured soldiers’ lives

March 5, 2018 by  
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Sometimes the difference between life and death is a matter of time. For injured soldiers in the field, the minutes that pass before a medic can treat them can make all the difference. That’s why DARPA is looking into ways to slow biological time in order to give medics an extra advantage in the battle to save lives. We can learn a lot from life around us. For instance, some organisms like tardigrades can essentially suspend animation when conditions are hostile to life. DARPA wants to tap into that ability to do something similar for soldiers. The trick is to figure out how to slow down every cellular process concurrently, and how to return everything back to normal without doing any damage. Related: US govt developing brain implants that give humans the ability to never forget According to DARPA, “When a Service member suffers a traumatic injury or acute infection, the time from event to first medical treatment is usually the single most significant factor in determining the outcome between saving a life or not.” To tackle that problem, DARPA just launched a 5-year Biostasis program that is developing biochemicals that can help slow down cellular activity so that medics can provide help before vital systems start shutting down. It’s still in the early stages, but if they can develop a viable technology, it could not only save soldiers’ lives, but it could have massive implications for medical science as a whole. “Nature is a source of inspiration,” program manager Dr. Tristan McClure-Begley said. “If we can figure out the best ways to bolster other biological systems and make them less likely to enter a runaway downward spiral after being damaged, then we will have made a significant addition to the biology toolbox.” Via Engadget Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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MIT’s thermal resonator generates power "out of what seems like nothing"

February 27, 2018 by  
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A brand new power-generating system from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers creates energy “out of what seems like nothing,” according to chemical engineering professor Michael Strano in a statement . Their system, which they’re calling a thermal resonator, harnesses daily swings in ambient temperature , potentially enabling remote sensing systems to operate for years — no batteries or other power sources required. Nine MIT scientists from the chemical engineering department envisioned a new way to transform temperature changes into electric power. Their system doesn’t need two different temperature inputs simultaneously; it simply draws on fluctuations in the temperature of the air. Strano said, “We basically invented this concept out of whole cloth. We’ve built the first thermal resonator. It’s something that can sit on a desk and generate energy out of what seems like nothing. We are surrounded by temperature fluctuations of all different frequencies all of the time. These are an untapped source of energy.” Related: MIT battery that inhales and exhales air can store power for months MIT said the power levels the thermal resonator can generate are modest at this point, but the system’s advantage is that it isn’t affected at all by short-term changes in environmental conditions, and doesn’t require direct sunlight. It could generate energy in oft-unused spaces like underneath solar panels . The researchers say their thermal resonator could even help solar panels be more efficient as it could draw away waste heat . The thermal resonator was tested in ambient air, but MIT said if the researchers tuned the properties of the material used, the system could harvest other temperature cycles, such as those of machinery in industrial facilities or even the on and off cycling of refrigerator motors. The scientists created what MIT described as a “carefully tailored combination of materials” for their work, including metal foam, graphene , and the phase-change material octadecane. MIT said, “A sample of the material made to test the concept showed that, simply in response to a 10-degree-Celsius temperature difference between night and day, the tiny sample of material produced 350 millivolts of potential and 1.2 milliwatts of power — enough to power simple, small environmental sensors or communications systems.” The journal Nature Communications published the work online in February. + MIT News + Nature Communications Images via Melanie Gonick and Justin Raymond

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Scientists solve the mystery of Turkey’s deadly ‘Gate to Hell’

February 22, 2018 by  
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According to the ancient Romans, the Mediterranean is riddled with places where mortals can access the underworld. These “gates to hell” (or Plutoniums) are marked by stone structures, and some of them, like a cave in Hierapolis (now modern-day Turkey ) seem to have supernatural powers. Ancient Romans would bring animals into the mysterious haze inside the cave, where they would swiftly die. Now, scientists have answered the mystery of what is killing these animals and how humans could escape seemingly unscathed. According to the ancient Romans, humans would enter the grotto as part of a ritualistic sacrifice and leave unharmed, while animals would quickly die. The Greek geographer Strabo once said, “This space is full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death. I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell.” Some believed that the vapor was the breath of the hellhound Kerberos. Legend also has it that even birds flying by would drop out of the air. Related: Egyptians discover three sunken ships full of 2,000-year-old treasure Scientists have found that the cause of this deadly mist is actually carbon dioxide from a volcanic fissure in the earth underneath the cave. Concentrations of carbon dioxide are stronger towards the ground, which helps explain why animals were impacted more than humans. The time of day also impacts its concentration, with wind and sunlight dispersing the vapor. That means that nighttime, and particularly right before dawn, are the deadliest times to enter the cave. At dawn, concentrations are strong enough to kill a human within a minute. Researchers believe that priests participating in the rituals understood that the higher you were from the ground, the longer you could stand in the cave, making them to appear to have supernatural powers. They may have also adjusted the time that they entered the cave to coincide with lower concentrations. The cave was actually forgotten until just seven years ago, but the mystery around it has remained. Brave researchers, led by Hardy Pfanz at the University of Duisburg-Essen , wanted to understand the enigma, so they examined the grotto in detail. Pfanz’s method could be used to help solve the mysteries of other Plutoniums as well. Via IFL Science Images via Chris Parfitt and Carole Raddato

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The majority of the National Park Service board just resigned

January 17, 2018 by  
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The majority of the 12-person National Park System Advisory Board (NPSAB) resigned this week because President Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke was unwilling to meet with them, according to NPR . Democrat Tony Knowles, former governor of Alaska, said in a resignation letter “…from all of the events of this past year I have a profound concern that the mission of stewardship, protection, and advancement of our National Parks has been set aside.” The National Park Service (NPS) advisory board was first authorized in 1935, and today more than three-quarters of its members have left their seats. In the January 15 letter Knowles said that he will remain dedicated to the success of America’s national parks, but “For the last year we have stood by waiting for the chance to meet and continue the partnership between the NPSAB and the DOI [Department of the Interior] as prescribed by law. We understand the complexity of transition but our requests to engage have been ignored and the matters on which we wanted to brief the new Department team are clearly not part of its agenda.” Related: Ryan Zinke recommends shrinking two more national monuments Nine board members signed that letter, and all of their terms were set to expire in May. Today a tenth member – whose term doesn’t expire until 2021 – resigned as well. Project Concern International CEO Carolyn Hessler Radelet submitted a similar letter to Zinke. According to The Washington Post , this move means the federal government lacks a functioning body to “designate national historic or natural landmarks.” The publication said it also shows how federal advisory bodies have been marginalized in Trump’s administration . Zinke suspended outside committees back in May of last year for his staff to review their work. Interior spokesperson Heather Swift said boards restarted in an email to The Washington Post earlier this month, but didn’t provide other details. The two people remaining on the board at this time are University of Maryland professor Rita Colwell and Harvard University professor Linda Blimes, who told The Washington Post she didn’t resign as she’s currently conducting research funded by the National Park Foundation and wants to finish. Their terms are up in May. Via NPR and The Washington Post (1 , 2 , 3) Images by Casey Horner on Unsplash , Gage Skidmore on Flickr and NPS

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3 Green Goals Worth Setting in 2018

January 5, 2018 by  
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The start of a new year is traditionally the time … The post 3 Green Goals Worth Setting in 2018 appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Substantial swaths of globe face desertification without climate action – new study

January 2, 2018 by  
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Limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels could reduce desertification of substantial swaths of Earth, according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change . The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016 is theoretically designed to ensure temperatures reach “well below 2 degrees Celsius” — but the United States, a leading contributor to climate change , rescinded its participation last June under President Donald Trump. “Our research predicts that aridification would emerge over about 20-30 percent of the world’s land surface by the time the global mean temperature change reaches 2ºC,” Manoj Joshi, lead researcher from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, told The Washington Examiner . “But two-thirds of the affected regions could avoid significant aridification if warming is limited to 1.5ºC.” More than 20 percent of the world’s population would be affected by extreme drought without action, according to the report; Central America, Southeast Asia, Southern Europe, Southern Africa and Southern Australia would be hardest hit. The UN’s Green Climate Fund was established to ensure developed countries that spew the most greenhouse gases into the atmosphere contribute funds to help less developed countries, which are likely to suffer the most, adapt to and mitigate the effects of a warming world. Related: Stephen Hawking says Trump decision to leave Paris accord could induce irreversible climate change Before the Trump administration announced the US would stop making contributions to the fund, the country had committed to a contribution of less than $10 per person, according to the New York Times . Considering how much the US contributes to climate change, that sum pales in comparison to Sweden’s $59 per capita. But for Donald Trump, $10 per person was too steep a price to pay to slow down what leading scientists like Stephen Hawking warn is one of the gravest dangers humanity has ever faced. Here’s Trump in a recent tweet showing a cringeworthy lack of understanding of climate science: In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 29, 2017 Beyond being just plain wrong, Trump’s scientific illiteracy is dangerous; not only does he promote industries that send even more heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, he encourages his base to adopt the kind of wrong-thinking that could derail the kind of climate action that could have life-saving results. “The world has already warmed by 1ºC. But by reducing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere in order to keep global warming under 1.5ºC or 2ºC could reduce the likelihood of significant aridification emerging in many parts of the world,” said Su-Jong Jeong from China’s Southern University of Science and Technology, and a participant in the study. Drought is nothing to scoff at. It could lead to water and food scarcity, disease and war, among countless other consequences. It behooves all of us to arrest its deadly advance. + Nature Climate Change Images via DepositPhotos – Kalahari Desert , Desert Dune

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Revolutionary Tesla Semi Truck arrives with a whopping 500 mile driving range

November 17, 2017 by  
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It’s here: the semi truck that we’ve all been waiting for.  Tesla just unveiled its new electric 500-mile-range Semi Truck, which could revolutionize the transportation world. Semi trailer trucks move goods all over the country, and without them we’d never get our stuff as fast as we do now, but they come with one big disadvantage – emissions. Today’s trucks are powered by dirty diesel engines that emit a large portion of the harmful pollutants in our air, but that could soon change. Not only does the Tesla Semi have a driving range of 500 miles, but it can also reach 60 mph in five seconds without a trailer, which is a fraction of the time that it takes for a comparable diesel truck . With an 80,000 pound load, Tesla estimates that the truck will reach 60 mph in 20 seconds, which normally takes a diesel truck about a minute. The Tesla Semi requires no shifting or clutching for smooth acceleration and deceleration, and its regenerative braking recovers 98% of kinetic energy to the battery, giving it a basically infinite brake life. Even with a 500 mile driving range, drivers will need to find a place to recharge their Tesla Semi, so Tesla has announced new Megachargers that will add about 400 miles in 30 minutes. Inside the Tesla Semi’s cabin is designed specifically around the driver, with full standing room inside, and a centered driver position for better visibility. The driver also has two touchscreen displays positioned symmetrically on both sides that provide access to navigation, blind spot monitoring and electronic data logging. The Tesla Semi can also travel in a convoy, where one or several Semi trucks will be able to autonomously follow a lead Semi, making it even easier for the driver to travel long distances. Related: Cummins beats Tesla with a fully-electric semi truck The truck is also much safer than traditional semi trucks. According to Elon Musk, jackknifing is impossible thanks to independent motors on each will that can adjust torque as needed, and the roll risk is greatly reduced. It can even function of two of the motors fail for some reason. They are also more reliable, because Tesla guarantees them for a million miles, and the brake pads don’t need replacing. There is also no transmission to worry about. Best of all, according to Musk, is his favorite feature: thermonuclear explosion-proof glass. Tesla changed the auto industry when it debuted the Model S, but can it do the same thing with its Semi Truck? When the Model S debuted, Tesla didn’t really have any big rivals, but the Tesla Semi Truck already has a growing list of competitors, including Bosch, Cummins , and Daimler. There are even a few start ups that are trying to get into the segment. At the event, Musk also revealed that Tesla is releasing an updated Roadster. It will be the fastest production car ever made and will have a top speed of 250 miles per hour with a range of 620 miles. You can reserve the Tesla Semi for $5,000 and production is expected to start in 2019. Images @Tesla + Tesla

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Italy bans the use of animals in circuses

November 13, 2017 by  
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Animal rights activists are winning victories as more countries prohibit animals in circus acts. This month the Italian Parliament adopted legislation to phase out animals in traveling shows and circuses, according to Animal Defenders International (ADI). It’s a big move, as there are an estimated 100 circuses with 2,000 animals in Italy . Italy became the 41st country to pass measures prohibiting animals in circuses. ADI said on their Facebook page that Italy’s Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini promoted the legislation to phase out animals in circuses. Related: America’s largest animal circus closes after 146 years ADI president Jan Creamer said in a statement, “Traveling from place to place, week after week, using temporary collapsible cages and pens, circuses simply cannot provide for the needs of the animals. Through ADI’s undercover investigations we have shown the violence and abuse that is used to force these animals to obey and perform tricks. We applaud Italy and urge countries like the UK and the US to follow this example and end this cruelty.” It’s not yet clear how Italy’s phase-out will play out; ADI said within a year, Italy will outline how the law will be implemented through a ministerial decree. It’s not yet known how long circuses will have to phase animals out of their shows. ZME Science highlighted some of the issues with animals performing in circuses, pointing to an investigation from researchers at Wageningen University. They found 71 percent of observed animals were experiencing medical issues, and 33 percent of lions and tigers didn’t have access to an outdoor enclosure. They said circus lions spent 98 percent of their time inside on average. Elephants spent 17 hours a day shackled on average, and tigers – though scared of fire – were often forced to jump through flaming hoops. Ireland also stood up for animal rights recently , with a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses that will take effect on January 1, 2018. Via Animal Defenders International ( 1 , 2 , 3 ) Images via Wikimedia Commons and ~Pawsitive~Candie_N on Flickr

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Beech Architects convert 125-year-old windmill into a modern guesthouse

September 26, 2017 by  
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Beech Architects converted a 125-year-old windmill in Suffolk, England, into a modern guest house for rent. Complete with a metal-clad observation pod on top, the new guesthouse is well insulated and features custom-made furniture that fits its constraining circular layout. The 60-foot high windmill was built in 1891 and had a role in agricultural production at the time. However, the building had been disused for decades–until Beech Architects restored it. The owners, a surveyor and his wife who live in the house next door, plan to rent out the new guesthouse for extra income. Related: This windmill converted into a beach house is the perfect waterfront getaway “The biggest design challenge was the reinstatement of the cap or ‘pod’, which was not intended as a faithful historic reconstruction, but rather as contemporary and innovative interpretation that would also serve as the principal living and viewing platform ,” Beech Architects told Dezeen. Related: Rothschild Foundation Moves Into Beautifully Renovated Windmill Hill Dairy Farm The architects added insulation panels to the exterior walls and topped the entire structure with a wooden observation pod. The flexible timber rib system, manufactured by MetsaWood , is covered by 200 panels of zinc. This particular element of the conversion is why some locals complained that the structure doesn’t fit into its surroundings and looks “alien”. Nevertheless, the conversion project has recently received a RIBA award nomination. + Beech Architects Via Treehugger

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