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History of science, the development of science over time.

On the simplest level, science is knowledge of the world of nature. There are many regularities in nature that humankind has had to recognize for survival since the emergence of Homo sapiens as a species. The Sun and the Moon periodically repeat their movements. Some motions, like the daily “motion” of the Sun, are simple to observe, while others, like the annual “motion” of the Sun, are far more difficult. Both motions correlate with important terrestrial events. Day and night provide the basic rhythm of human existence. The seasons determine the migration of animals upon which humans have depended for millennia for survival. With the invention of agriculture, the seasons became even more crucial, for failure to recognize the proper time for planting could lead to starvation. Science defined simply as knowledge of natural processes is universal among humankind, and it has existed since the dawn of human existence.

The mere recognition of regularities does not exhaust the full meaning of science, however. In the first place, regularities may be simply constructs of the human mind. Humans leap to conclusions. The mind cannot tolerate chaos, so it constructs regularities even when none objectively exists. Thus, for example, one of the astronomical “laws” of the Middle Ages was that the appearance of comets presaged a great upheaval, as the Norman Conquest of Britain followed the comet of 1066. True regularities must be established by detached examination of data. Science, therefore, must employ a certain degree of skepticism to prevent premature generalization.

Regularities, even when expressed mathematically as laws of nature, are not fully satisfactory to everyone. Some insist that genuine understanding demands explanations of the causes of the laws, but it is in the realm of causation that there is the greatest disagreement. Modern quantum mechanics, for example, has given up the quest for causation and today rests only on mathematical description. Modern biology, on the other hand, thrives on causal chains that permit the understanding of physiological and evolutionary processes in terms of the physical activities of entities such as molecules, cells, and organisms. But even if causation and explanation are admitted as necessary, there is little agreement on the kinds of causes that are permissible, or possible, in science. If the history of science is to make any sense whatsoever, it is necessary to deal with the past on its own terms, and the fact is that for most of the history of science natural philosophers appealed to causes that would be summarily rejected by modern scientists. Spiritual and divine forces were accepted as both real and necessary until the end of the 18th century and, in areas such as biology, deep into the 19th century as well.

Certain conventions governed the appeal to God or the gods or to spirits. Gods and spirits, it was held, could not be completely arbitrary in their actions. Otherwise, the proper response would be propitiation, not rational investigation. But, since the deity or deities were themselves rational or bound by rational principles, it was possible for humans to uncover the rational order of the world. Faith in the ultimate rationality of the creator or governor of the world could actually stimulate original scientific work. Kepler’s laws, Newton’s absolute space, and Einstein’s rejection of the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics were all based on theological, not scientific, assumptions. For sensitive interpreters of phenomena, the ultimate intelligibility of nature has seemed to demand some rational guiding spirit. A notable expression of this idea is Einstein’s statemet that the wonder is not that humankind comprehends the world but that the world is comprehensible.

Science, then, is to be considered in this article as knowledge of natural regularities that is subjected to some degree of skeptical rigour and explained by rational causes. One final caution is necessary. Nature is known only through the senses, of which sight, touch, and hearing are the dominant ones, and the human notion of reality is skewed toward the objects of these senses. The invention of such instruments as the telescope, the microscope, and the Geiger counter enabled an ever-increasing range of phenomena within the scope of the senses. Thus, scientific knowledge of the world is only partial, and the progress of science follows the ability of humans to make phenomena perceivable.

This article provides a broad survey of the development of science as a way of studying and understanding the world, from the primitive stage of noting important regularities in nature to the epochal revolution in the notion of what constitutes reality that occurred in 20th-century physics. More-detailed treatments of the histories of specific sciences, including developments of the later 20th and early 21st centuries, may be found in the articles biology; Earth science; and physical science.

Science as natural philosophy

Precritical science

Science, as it has been defined above, made its appearance before writing. It is necessary, therefore, to infer from archaeological remains what was the content of that science. From cave paintings and from apparently regular scratches on bone and reindeer horn, it is known that prehistoric humans were close observers of nature who carefully tracked the seasons and times of the year. About 2500 bce there was a sudden burst of activity that seems to have had clear scientific importance. Great Britain and northwestern Europe contain large stone structures from that era, the most famous of which is Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain in England, that are remarkable from a scientific point of view. Not only do they reveal technical and social skills of a high order—it was no mean feat to move such enormous blocks of stone considerable distances and place them in position—but the basic conception of Stonehenge and the other megalithic structures also seems to combine religious and astronomical purposes. Their layouts suggest a degree of mathematical sophistication that was first suspected only in the mid-20th century. Stonehenge is a circle, but some of the other megalithic structures are egg-shaped and, apparently, constructed on mathematical principles that require at least practical knowledge of the Pythagorean theorem that the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. This theorem, or at least the Pythagorean numbers that can be generated by it, seems to have been known throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Neolithic Europe two millennia before the birth of Pythagoras.

This combination of religion and astronomy was fundamental to the early history of science. It is found in Mesopotamia, Egypt, China (although to a much lesser extent than elsewhere), Central America, and India. The spectacle of the heavens, with the clearly discernible order and regularity of most heavenly bodies highlighted by extraordinary events such as comets and novae and the peculiar motions of the planets, obviously was an irresistible intellectual puzzle to early humankind. In its search for order and regularity, the human mind could do no better than to seize upon the heavens as the paradigm of certain knowledge. Astronomy was to remain the queen of the sciences (welded solidly to theology) for the next 4,000 years.

 

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Science, in its mature form, developed only in the West. But it is instructive to survey the protoscience that appeared in other areas, especially in light of the fact that until quite recently this knowledge was often, as in China, far superior to Western science.

China

As has already been noted, astronomy seems everywhere to have been the first science to emerge. Its intimate relation to religion gave it a ritual dimension that then stimulated the growth of mathematics. Chinese savants, for example, early devised a calendar and methods of plotting the positions of stellar constellations. Since changes in the heavens presaged important changes on the Earth (for the Chinese considered the universe to be a vast organism in which all elements were connected), astronomy and astrology were incorporated into the system of government from the very dawn of the Chinese state in the 2nd millennium bce. As the Chinese bureaucracy developed, an accurate calendar became absolutely necessary to the maintenance of legitimacy and order. The result was a system of astronomical observations and records unparalleled elsewhere, thanks to which there are, today, star catalogs and observations of eclipses and novae that go back for millennia.

In other sciences too the overriding emphasis was on practicality, for the Chinese, almost alone among ancient peoples, did not fill the cosmos with gods and demons whose arbitrary wills determined events. Order was inherent and, therefore, expected. It was for humans to detect and describe this order and to profit from it. Chemistry (or, rather, alchemy), medicine, geology, geography, and technology were all encouraged by the state and flourished. Practical knowledge of a high order permitted the Chinese to deal with practical problems for centuries on a level not attained in the West until the Renaissance.

India

Astronomy was studied in India for calendrical purposes to set the times for both practical and religious tasks. Primary emphasis was placed on solar and lunar motions, the fixed stars serving as a background against which these luminaries moved. Indian mathematics seems to have been quite advanced, with particular sophistication in geometrical and algebraic techniques. This latter branch was undoubtedly stimulated by the flexibility of the Indian system of numeration that later was to come into the West as the Hindu-Arabic numerals.

America

Quite independently of China, India, and the other civilizations of Europe and Asia, the Maya of Central America, building upon older cultures, created a complex society in which astronomy and astrology played important roles. Determination of the calendar, again, had both practical and religious significance. Solar and lunar eclipses were important, as was the position of the bright planet Venus. No sophisticated mathematics are known to have been associated with this astronomy, but the Mayan calendar was both ingenious and the result of careful observation.

The Middle East

In the cradles of Western civilization in Egypt and Mesopotamia, there were two rather different situations. In Egypt there was an assumption of cosmic order guaranteed by a host of benevolent gods. Unlike China, whose rugged geography often produced disastrous floods, earthquakes, and violent storms that destroyed crops, Egypt was surpassingly placid and delightful. Egyptians found it difficult to believe that all ended with death. Enormous intellectual and physical labour, therefore, was devoted to preserving life after death. Both Egyptian theology and the pyramids are testaments to this preoccupation. All of the important questions were answered by religion, so the Egyptians did not concern themselves overmuch with speculations about the universe. The stars and the planets had astrological significance in that the major heavenly bodies were assumed to “rule” the land when they were in the ascendant (from the succession of these “rules” came the seven-day week, after the five planets and the Sun and the Moon), but astronomy was largely limited to the calendrical calculations necessary to predict the annual life-giving flood of the Nile. None of this required much mathematics, and there was, consequently, little of any importance.

Mesopotamia was more like China. The life of the land depended upon the two great rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, as that of China depended upon the Huang He (Yellow River) and the Yangtze (Chang Jiang). The land was harsh and made habitable only by extensive damming and irrigation works. Storms, insects, floods, and invaders made life insecure. To create a stable society required both great technological skill, for the creation of hydraulic works, and the ability to hold off the forces of disruption. These latter were early identified with powerful and arbitrary gods who dominated Mesopotamian theology. The cities of the plain were centred on temples run by a priestly caste whose functions included the planning of major public works, like canals, dams, and irrigation systems, the allocation of the resources of the city to its members, and the averting of a divine wrath that could wipe everything out.

Mathematics and astronomy thrived under these conditions. The number system, probably drawn from the system of weights and coinage, was based on 60 (it was in ancient Mesopotamia that the system of degrees, minutes, and seconds developed) and was adapted to a practical arithmetic. The heavens were the abode of the gods, and because heavenly phenomena were thought to presage terrestrial disasters, they were carefully observed and recorded. Out of these practices grew, first, a highly developed mathematics that went far beyond the requirements of daily business, and then, some centuries later, a descriptive astronomy that was the most sophisticated of the ancient world until the Greeks took it over and perfected it.

Nothing is known of the motives of these early mathematicians for carrying their studies beyond the calculations of volumes of dirt to be removed from canals and the provisions necessary for work parties. It may have been simply intellectual play—the role of playfulness in the history of science should not be underestimated—that led them onward to abstract algebra. There are texts from about 1700 bce that are remarkable for their mathematical suppleness. Babylonian mathematicians knew the Pythagorean relationship well and used it constantly. They could solve simple quadratic equations and could even solve problems in compound interest involving exponents. From about a millennium later there are texts that utilize these skills to provide a very elaborate mathematical description of astronomical phenomena.

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Although China and Mesopotamia provide examples of exact observation and precise description of nature, what is missing is explanation in the scientific mode. The Chinese assumed a cosmic order that was vaguely founded on the balance of opposite forces (yin–yang) and the harmony of the five elements (water, wood, metal, fire, and earth). Why this harmony obtained was not discussed. Similarly, the Egyptians found the world harmonious because the gods willed it so. For Babylonians and other Mesopotamian cultures, order existed only so long as all-powerful and capricious gods supported it. In all these societies, humans could describe nature and use it, but to understand it was the function of religion and magic, not reason. It was the Greeks who first sought to go beyond description and to arrive at reasonable explanations of natural phenomena that did not involve the arbitrary will of the gods. Gods might still play a role, as indeed they did for centuries to come, but even the gods were subject to rational laws.

Greek science

The birth of natural philosophy

There seems to be no good reason why the Hellenes, clustered in isolated city-states in a relatively poor and backward land, should have struck out into intellectual regions that were only dimly perceived, if at all, by the splendid civilizations of the Yangtze, Tigris and Euphrates, and Nile valleys. There were many differences between ancient Greece and the other civilizations, but perhaps the most significant was religion. What is striking about Greek religion, in contrast to the religions of Mesopotamia and Egypt, is its puerility. Both of the great river civilizations evolved complex theologies that served to answer most, if not all, of the large questions about humankind’s place and destiny. Greek religion did not. It was, in fact, little more than a collection of folk tales, more appropriate to the campfire than to the temple. Perhaps this was the result of the collapse of an earlier Greek civilization, the Mycenaean, toward the end of the 2nd millennium bce, when the Dark Age descended upon Greece and lasted for three centuries. All that was preserved were stories of gods and men, passed along by poets, that dimly reflected Mycenaean values and events. Such were the great poems of Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey, in which heroes and gods mingled freely with one another. Indeed, they mingled too freely, for the gods appear in these tales as little more than immortal adolescents whose tricks and feats, when compared with the concerns of a Marduk or Jehovah, are infantile. There really was no Greek theology in the sense that theology provides a coherent and profound explanation of the workings of both the cosmos and the human heart. Hence, there were no easy answers to inquiring Greek minds. The result was that ample room was left for a more penetrating and ultimately more satisfying mode of inquiry. Thus were philosophy and its oldest offspring, science, born.

The first natural philosopher, according to Hellenic tradition, was Thales of Miletus, who flourished in the 6th century bce. We know of him only through later accounts, for nothing he wrote has survived. He is supposed to have predicted a solar eclipse in 585 bce and to have invented the formal study of geometry in his demonstration of the bisecting of a circle by its diameter. Most importantly, he tried to explain all observed natural phenomena in terms of the changes of a single substance, water, which can be seen to exist in solid, liquid, and gaseous states. What for Thales guaranteed the regularity and rationality of the world was the innate divinity in all things that directed them to their divinely appointed ends. From these ideas there emerged two characteristics of classical Greek science. The first was the view of the universe as an ordered structure (the Greek kósmos means “order”). The second was the conviction that this order was not that of a mechanical contrivance but that of an organism: all parts of the universe had purposes in the overall scheme of things, and objects moved naturally toward the ends they were fated to serve. This motion toward ends is called teleology and, with but few exceptions, it permeated Greek as well as much later science.

Thales inadvertently made one other fundamental contribution to the development of natural science. By naming a specific substance as the basic element of all matter, Thales opened himself to criticism, which was not long in coming. His own disciple, Anaximander, was quick to argue that water could not be the basic substance. His argument was simple: water, if it is anything, is essentially wet; nothing can be its own contradiction. Hence, if Thales were correct, the opposite of wet could not exist in a substance, and that would preclude all of the dry things that are observed in the world. Therefore, Thales was wrong. Here was the birth of the critical tradition that is fundamental to the advance of science.

Thales’ conjectures set off an intellectual explosion, most of which was devoted to increasingly refined criticisms of his doctrine of fundamental matter. Various single substances were proposed and then rejected, ultimately in favour of a multiplicity of elements that could account for such opposite qualities as wet and dry, hot and cold. Two centuries after Thales, most natural philosophers accepted a doctrine of four elements: earth (cold and dry), fire (hot and dry), water (cold and wet), and air (hot and wet). All bodies were made from these four.

The presence of the elements only guaranteed the presence of their qualities in various proportions. What was not accounted for was the form these elements took, which served to differentiate natural objects from one another. The problem of form was first attacked systematically by the philosopher and cult leader Pythagoras in the 6th century bce. Legend has it that Pythagoras became convinced of the primacy of number when he realized that the musical notes produced by a monochord were in simple ratio to the length of the string. Qualities (tones) were reduced to quantities (numbers in integral ratios). Thus was born mathematical physics, for this discovery provided the essential bridge between the world of physical experience and that of numerical relationships. Number provided the answer to the question of the origin of forms and qualities.

Aristotle and Archimedes

Hellenic science was built upon the foundations laid by Thales and Pythagoras. It reached its zenith in the works of Aristotle and Archimedes. Aristotle represents the first tradition, that of qualitative forms and teleology. He was himself a biologist whose observations of marine organisms were unsurpassed until the 19th century. Biology is essentially teleological—the parts of a living organism are understood in terms of what they do in and for the 

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organism—and Aristotle’s biological works provided the framework for the science until the time of Charles Darwin. In physics, teleology is not so obvious, and Aristotle had to impose it on the cosmos. From Plato, his teacher, he inherited the theological proposition that the heavenly bodies (stars and planets) are literally divine and, as such, perfect. They could, therefore, move only in perfect, eternal, unchanging motion, which, by Plato’s definition, meant perfect circles. The Earth, being obviously not divine, and inert, was at the centre. From the Earth to the sphere of the Moon, all things constantly changed, generating new forms and then decaying back into formlessness. Above the Moon the cosmos consisted of contiguous and concentric crystalline spheres moving on axes set at angles to one another (this accounted for the peculiar motions of the planets) and deriving their motion either from a fifth element that moved naturally in circles or from heavenly souls resident in the celestial bodies. The ultimate cause of all motion was a prime, or unmoved, mover (God) that stood outside the cosmos.

Aristotle was able to make a great deal of sense of observed nature by asking of any object or process: what is the material involved, what is its form and how did it get that form, and, most important of all, what is its purpose? What should be noted is that, for Aristotle, all activity that occurred spontaneously was natural. Hence, the proper means of investigation was observation. Experiment, that is, altering natural conditions in order to throw light on the hidden properties and activities of objects, was unnatural and could not, therefore, be expected to reveal the essence of things. Experiment was thus not essential to Greek science.

The problem of purpose did not arise in the areas in which Archimedes made his most important contributions. He was, first of all, a brilliant mathematician whose work on conic sections and on the area of the circle prepared the way for the later invention of the calculus. It was in mathematical physics, however, that he made his greatest contributions to science. His mathematical demonstration of the law of the lever was as exact as a Euclidean proof in geometry. Similarly, his work on hydrostatics introduced and developed the method whereby physical characteristics, in this case specific gravity, which Archimedes discovered, are given mathematical shape and then manipulated by mathematical methods to yield mathematical conclusions that can be translated back into physical terms.

In one major area the Aristotelian and the Archimedean approaches were forced into a rather inconvenient marriage. Astronomy was the dominant physical science throughout antiquity, but it had never been successfully reduced to a coherent system. The Platonic-Aristotelian astral religion required that planetary orbits be circles. But, particularly after the conquests of Alexander the Great had made the observations and mathematical methods of the Babylonians available to the Greeks, astronomers found it impossible to reconcile theory and observation. Astronomy then split into two parts: one was physical and accepted Aristotelian theory in accounting for heavenly motion, and the other ignored causation and concentrated solely on the creation of a mathematical model that could be used for computing planetary positions. Ptolemy, in the 2nd century ce, carried the latter tradition to its highest point in antiquity in his Hē mathēmatikē syntaxis (“The Mathematical Collection,” better known under its Greek-Arabic title, Almagest).

organism—and Aristotle’s biological works provided the framework for the science until the time of Charles Darwin. In physics, teleology is not so obvious, and Aristotle had to impose it on the cosmos. From Plato, his teacher, he inherited the theological proposition that the heavenly bodies (stars and planets) are literally divine and, as such, perfect. They could, therefore, move only in perfect, eternal, unchanging motion, which, by Plato’s definition, meant perfect circles. The Earth, being obviously not divine, and inert, was at the centre. From the Earth to the sphere of the Moon, all things constantly changed, generating new forms and then decaying back into formlessness. Above the Moon the cosmos consisted of contiguous and concentric crystalline spheres moving on axes set at angles to one another (this accounted for the peculiar motions of the planets) and deriving their motion either from a fifth element that moved naturally in circles or from heavenly souls resident in the celestial bodies. The ultimate cause of all motion was a prime, or unmoved, mover (God) that stood outside the cosmos.

Aristotle was able to make a great deal of sense of observed nature by asking of any object or process: what is the material involved, what is its form and how did it get that form, and, most important of all, what is its purpose? What should be noted is that, for Aristotle, all activity that occurred spontaneously was natural. Hence, the proper means of investigation was observation. Experiment, that is, altering natural conditions in order to throw light on the hidden properties and activities of objects, was unnatural and could not, therefore, be expected to reveal the essence of things. Experiment was thus not essential to Greek science.

The problem of purpose did not arise in the areas in which Archimedes made his most important contributions. He was, first of all, a brilliant mathematician whose work on conic sections and on the area of the circle prepared the way for the later invention of the calculus. It was in mathematical physics, however, that he made his greatest contributions to science. His mathematical demonstration of the law of the lever was as exact as a Euclidean proof in geometry. Similarly, his work on hydrostatics introduced and developed the method whereby physical characteristics, in this case specific gravity, which Archimedes discovered, are given mathematical shape and then manipulated by mathematical methods to yield mathematical conclusions that can be translated back into physical terms.

In one major area the Aristotelian and the Archimedean approaches were forced into a rather inconvenient marriage. Astronomy was the dominant physical science throughout antiquity, but it had never been successfully reduced to a coherent system. The Platonic-Aristotelian astral religion required that planetary orbits be circles. But, particularly after the conquests of Alexander the Great had made the observations and mathematical methods of the Babylonians available to the Greeks, astronomers found it impossible to reconcile theory and observation. Astronomy then split into two parts: one was physical and accepted Aristotelian theory in accounting for heavenly motion, and the other ignored causation and concentrated solely on the creation of a mathematical model that could be used for computing planetary positions. Ptolemy, in the 2nd century ce, carried the latter tradition to its highest point in antiquity in his Hē mathēmatikē syntaxis (“The Mathematical Collection,” better known under its Greek-Arabic title, Almagest).

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The rise of modern science

The authority of phenomena

Even as Dante was writing his great work, deep forces were threatening the unitary cosmos he celebrated. The pace of technological innovation began to quicken. Particularly in Italy, the political demands of the time gave new importance to technology, and a new profession emerged, that of civil and military engineer. These people faced practical problems that demanded practical solutions. Leonardo da Vinci is certainly the most famous of them, though he was much more as well. A painter of genius, he closely studied human anatomy in order to give verisimilitude to his paintings. As a sculptor, he mastered the difficult techniques of casting metal. As a producer-director of the form of Renaissance dramatic production called the masque, he devised complicated machinery to create special effects. But it was as a military engineer that he observed the path of a mortar bomb being lobbed over a city wall and insisted that the projectile did not follow two straight lines—a slanted ascent followed by a vertical drop—as Aristotle had said it must. Leonardo and his colleagues needed to know nature truly; no amount of book learning could substitute for actual experience, nor could books impose their authority upon phenomena. What Aristotle and his commentators asserted as philosophical necessity often did not gibe with what could be seen with one’s own eyes. The hold of ancient philosophy was too strong to be broken lightly, but a healthy skepticism began to emerge.

The first really serious blow to the traditional acceptance of ancient authorities was the discovery of the New World at the end of the 15th century. Ptolemy, the great astronomer and geographer, had insisted that only the three continents of Europe, Africa, and Asia could exist, and Christian scholars from St. Augustine on had accepted it, for otherwise men would have to walk upside down at the antipodes. But Ptolemy, St. Augustine, and a host of other authorities were wrong. The dramatic expansion of the known world also served to stimulate the study of mathematics, for wealth and fame awaited those who could turn navigation into a real and trustworthy science.

In large part the Renaissance was a time of feverish intellectual activity devoted to the complete recovery of the ancient heritage. To the Aristotelian texts that had been the foundation of medieval thought were added translations of Plato, with his vision of mathematical harmonies, of Galen, with his experiments in physiology and anatomy, and, perhaps most important of all, of Archimedes, who showed how theoretical physics could be done outside the traditional philosophical framework. The results were subversive.

The search for antiquity turned up a peculiar bundle of manuscripts that added a decisive impulse to the direction in which Renaissance science was moving. These manuscripts were taken to have been written by or to report almost at first hand the activities of the legendary priest, prophet, and sage Hermes Trismegistos. Hermes was supposedly a contemporary of Moses, and the Hermetic writings contained an alternative story of creation that gave humans a far more prominent role than the traditional account. God had made humankind fully in his image: a creator, not just a rational animal. Humans could imitate God by creating. To do so, they must learn nature’s secrets, and this could be done only by forcing nature to yield them through the tortures of fire, distillation, and other alchemical manipulations. The reward for success would be eternal life and youth, as well as freedom from want and disease. It was a heady vision, and it gave rise to the notion that, through science and technology, humankind could bend nature to its wishes. This is essentially the modern view of science, and it should be emphasized that it occurs only in Western civilization. It is probably this attitude that permitted the West to surpass the East, after centuries of inferiority, in the exploitation of the physical world.

The Hermetic tradition also had more specific effects. Inspired, as is now known, by late Platonist mysticism, the Hermetic writers had rhapsodized on enlightenment and on the source of light, the Sun. Marsilio Ficino, the 15th-century Florentine translator of both Plato and the Hermetic writings, composed a treatise on the Sun that came close to idolatry. A young Polish student visiting Italy at the turn of the 16th century was touched by this current. Back in Poland, he began to work on the problems posed by the Ptolemaic astronomical system. With the blessing of the church, which he served formally as a canon, Nicolaus Copernicus set out to modernize the astronomical apparatus by which the church made such important calculations as the proper dates for Easter and other festivals.

The scientific revolution

Copernicus

In 1543, as he lay on his deathbed, Copernicus finished reading the proofs of his great work; he died just as it was published. His De revolutionibus orbium coelestium libri VI (“Six Books Concerning the Revolutions of the Heavenly Orbs”) was the opening shot in a revolution whose consequences were greater than those of any other intellectual event in the history of humankind. The scientific revolution radically altered the conditions of thought and of material existence in which the human race lives, and its effects are not yet exhausted.

All this was caused by Copernicus daring to place the Sun, not the Earth, at the centre of the cosmos. Copernicus actually cited Hermes Trismegistos to justify this idea, and his language was thoroughly Platonic. But he meant his work as a serious work in astronomy, not philosophy, so he set out to justify it observationally and mathematically. The results were impressive. At one stroke, Copernicus reduced a complexity verging on chaos to elegant simplicity. The apparent back-and-forth movements of the planets, which required prodigious ingenuity to accommodate within the Ptolemaic system, could be accounted for just in terms of the Earth’s own orbital motion added to or subtracted from the motions of the planets. Variation in planetary brightness was also explained by this combination of motions. The fact that Mercury and Venus were never found opposite the Sun in the sky Copernicus explained by placing their orbits closer to the Sun than that of the Earth. Indeed, Copernicus was able to place the planets in order of their distances from the Sun by considering their speeds and thus to construct a system of the planets, something that had eluded Ptolemy. This system had a simplicity, coherence, and aesthetic charm that made it irresistible to those who felt that God was the supreme artist. His was not a rigorous argument, but aesthetic considerations are not to be ignored in the history of science.

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Copernicus did not solve all of the difficulties of the Ptolemaic system. He had to keep some of the cumbrous apparatus of epicycles and other geometrical adjustments, as well as a few Aristotelian crystalline spheres. The result was neater, but not so striking that it commanded immediate universal assent. Moreover, there were some implications that caused considerable concern: Why should the crystalline orb containing the Earth circle the Sun? And how was it possible for the Earth itself to revolve on its axis once in 24 hours without hurling all objects, including humans, off its surface? No known physics could answer these questions, and the provision of such answers was to be the central concern of the scientific revolution.

More was at stake than physics and astronomy, for one of the implications of the Copernican system struck at the very foundations of contemporary society. If the Earth revolved around the Sun, then the apparent positions of the fixed stars should shift as the Earth moves in its orbit. Copernicus and his contemporaries could detect no such shift (called stellar parallax), and there were only two interpretations possible to explain this failure. Either the Earth was at the centre, in which case no parallax was to be expected, or the stars were so far away that the parallax was too small to be detected. Copernicus chose the latter and thereby had to accept an enormous cosmos consisting mostly of empty space. God, it had been assumed, did nothing in vain, so for what purposes might he have created a universe in which Earth and humankind were lost in immense space? To accept Copernicus was to give up the Dantean cosmos. The Aristotelian hierarchy of social place, political position, and theological gradation would vanish, to be replaced by the flatness and plainness of Euclidean space. It was a grim prospect and not one that recommended itself to most 16th-century intellectuals, and so Copernicus’s grand idea remained on the periphery of astronomical thought. All astronomers were aware of it, some measured their own views against it, but only a small handful eagerly accepted it.

In the century and a half following Copernicus, two easily discernible scientific movements developed. The first was critical, the second, innovative and synthetic. They worked together to bring the old cosmos into disrepute and, ultimately, to replace it with a new one. Although they existed side by side, their effects can more easily be seen if they are treated separately.

Tycho, Kepler, and Galileo

The critical tradition began with Copernicus. It led directly to the work of Tycho Brahe, who measured stellar and planetary positions more accurately than had anyone before him. But measurement alone could not decide between Copernicus and Ptolemy, and Tycho insisted that the Earth was motionless. Copernicus did persuade Tycho to move the centre of revolution of all other planets to the Sun. To do so, he had to abandon the Aristotelian crystalline spheres that otherwise would collide with one another. Tycho also cast doubt upon the Aristotelian doctrine of heavenly perfection, for when, in the 1570s, a comet and a new star appeared, Tycho showed that they were both above the sphere of the Moon. Perhaps the most serious critical blows struck were those delivered by Galileo after the invention of the telescope. In quick succession, he announced that there were mountains on the Moon, satellites circling Jupiter, and spots upon the Sun. Moreover, the Milky Way was composed of countless stars whose existence no one had suspected until Galileo saw them. Here was criticism that struck at the very roots of Aristotle’s system of the world.

At the same time Galileo was searching the heavens with his telescope, in Germany Johannes Kepler was searching them with his mind. Tycho’s precise observations permitted Kepler to discover that Mars (and, by analogy, all the other planets) did not revolve in a circle at all, but in an ellipse, with the Sun at one focus. Ellipses tied all the planets together in grand Copernican harmony. The Keplerian cosmos was most un-Aristotelian, but Kepler hid his discoveries by burying them in almost impenetrable Latin prose in a series of works that did not circulate widely.

What Galileo and Kepler could not provide, although they tried, was an alternative to Aristotle that made equal sense. If the Earth revolves on its axis, then why do objects not fly off it? And why do objects dropped from towers not fall to the west as the Earth rotates to the east beneath them? And how is it possible for the Earth, suspended in empty space, to go around the Sun—whether in circles or ellipses—without anything pushing it? The answers were long in coming.

Galileo attacked the problems of the Earth’s rotation and its revolution by logical analysis. Bodies do not fly off the Earth because they are not really revolving rapidly, even though their speed is high. In revolutions per minute, any body on the Earth is going very slowly and, therefore, has little tendency to fly off. Bodies fall to the base of towers from which they are dropped because they share with the tower the rotation of the Earth. Hence, bodies already in motion preserve that motion when another motion is added. So, Galileo deduced, a ball dropped from the top of a mast of a moving ship would fall at the base of the mast. If the ball were allowed to move on a frictionless horizontal plane, it would continue to move forever. Hence, Galileo concluded, the planets, once set in circular motion, continue to move in circles forever. Therefore, Copernican orbits exist. Galileo never acknowledged Kepler’s ellipses; to do so would have meant abandoning his solution to the Copernican problem.

Kepler realized that there was a real problem with planetary motion. He sought to solve it by appealing to the one force that appeared to be cosmic in nature, namely magnetism. The Earth had been shown to be a giant magnet by William Gilbert in 1600, and Kepler seized upon this fact. A magnetic force, Kepler argued, emanated from the Sun and pushed the planets around in their orbits, but he was never able to quantify this rather vague and unsatisfactory idea.

By the end of the first quarter of the 17th century Aristotelianism was rapidly dying, but there was no satisfactory system to take its place. The result was a mood of skepticism and unease, for, as one observer put it, “The new philosophy calls all in doubt.” It was this void that accounted largely for the success of a rather crude system proposed by René Descartes. Matter and motion were taken by Descartes to explain everything by means of mechanical models of natural processes, even though he warned that such models were not the way nature probably worked. They provided merely “likely stories,” which seemed better than no explanation at all.

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Armed with matter and motion, Descartes attacked the basic Copernican problems. Bodies once in motion, Descartes argued, remain in motion in a straight line unless and until they are deflected from this line by the impact of another body. All changes of motion are the result of such impacts. Hence, the ball falls at the foot of the mast because, unless struck by another body, it continues to move with the ship. Planets move around the Sun because they are swept around by whirlpools of a subtle matter filling all space. Similar models could be constructed to account for all phenomena; the Aristotelian system could be replaced by the Cartesian. There was one major problem, however, and it sufficed to bring down Cartesianism. Cartesian matter and motion had no purpose, nor did Descartes’s philosophy seem to need the active participation of a deity. The Cartesian cosmos, as Voltaire later put it, was like a watch that had been wound up at the creation and continues ticking to eternity.

Newton

The 17th century was a time of intense religious feeling, and nowhere was that feeling more intense than in Great Britain. There a devout young man, Isaac Newton, was finally to discover the way to a new synthesis in which truth was revealed and God was preserved.

Newton was both an experimental and a mathematical genius, a combination that enabled him to establish both the Copernican system and a new mechanics. His method was simplicity itself: “from the phenomena of motions to investigate the forces of nature, and then from these forces to demonstrate the other phenomena.” Newton’s genius guided him in the selection of phenomena to be investigated, and his creation of a fundamental mathematical tool—the calculus (simultaneously invented by Gottfried Leibniz)—permitted him to submit the forces he inferred to calculation. The result was Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, usually called simply the Principia), which appeared in 1687. Here was a new physics that applied equally well to terrestrial and celestial bodies. Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo were all justified by Newton’s analysis of forces. Descartes was utterly routed.

Newton’s three laws of motion and his principle of universal gravitation sufficed to regulate the new cosmos, but only, Newton believed, with the help of God. Gravity, he more than once hinted, was direct divine action, as were all forces for order and vitality. Absolute space, for Newton, was essential, because space was the “sensorium of God,” and the divine abode must necessarily be the ultimate coordinate system. Finally, Newton’s analysis of the mutual perturbations of the planets caused by their individual gravitational fields predicted the natural collapse of the solar system unless God acted to set things right again.

The diffusion of scientific method

The publication of the Principia marks the culmination of the movement begun by Copernicus and, as such, has always stood as the symbol of the scientific revolution. There were, however, similar attempts to criticize, systematize, and organize natural knowledge that did not lead to such dramatic results. In the same year as Copernicus’s great volume, there appeared an equally important book on anatomy: Andreas Vesalius’s De humani corporis fabrica (“On the Fabric of the Human Body,” called the De fabrica), a critical examination of Galen’s anatomy in which Vesalius drew on his own studies to correct many of Galen’s errors. Vesalius, like Newton a century later, emphasized the phenomena—i.e., the accurate description of natural facts. Vesalius’s work touched off a flurry of anatomical work in Italy and elsewhere that culminated in the discovery of the circulation of the blood by William Harvey, whose Exercitatio Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus (An Anatomical Exercise Concerning the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals) was published in 1628. This was the Principia of physiology that established anatomy and physiology as sciences in their own right. Harvey showed that organic phenomena could be studied experimentally and that some organic processes could be reduced to mechanical systems. The heart and the vascular system could be considered as a pump and a system of pipes and could be understood without recourse to spirits or other forces immune to analysis.

In other sciences the attempt to systematize and criticize was not so successful. In chemistry, for example, the work of the medieval and early modern alchemists had yielded important new substances and processes, such as the mineral acids and distillation, but had obscured theory in almost impenetrable mystical argot. Robert Boyle in England tried to clear away some of the intellectual underbrush by insisting upon clear descriptions, reproducibility of experiments, and mechanical conceptions of chemical processes. Chemistry, however, was not yet ripe for revolution.

In many areas there was little hope of reducing phenomena to comprehensibility, simply because of the sheer number of facts to be accounted for. New instruments like the microscope and the telescope vastly multiplied the worlds with which humans had to reckon. The voyages of discovery brought back a flood of new botanical and zoological specimens that overwhelmed ancient classificatory schemes. The best that could be done was to describe new things accurately and hope that someday they could all be fitted together in a coherent way.

The growing flood of information put heavy strains upon old institutions and practices. It was no longer sufficient to publish scientific results in an expensive book that few could buy; information had to be spread widely and rapidly. Nor could the isolated genius, like Newton, comprehend a world in which new information was being produced faster than any single person could assimilate it. Natural philosophers had to be sure of their data, and to that end they required independent and critical confirmation of their discoveries. New means were created to accomplish these ends. Scientific societies sprang up, beginning in Italy in the early years of the 17th century and culminating in the two great national scientific societies that mark the zenith of the scientific revolution: the Royal Society of London for the Promotion of Natural Knowledge, created by royal charter in 1662, and the Académie des Sciences of Paris, formed in 1666. In these societies and others like them all over the world, natural philosophers could gather to examine, discuss, and criticize new discoveries and old theories. To provide a firm basis for these discussions, societies began to publish scientific papers. The Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions, which began as a private venture of its secretary, was the first such professional scientific journal. It was soon copied by the French academy’s Mémoires, which won equal importance and prestige. The old practice of hiding new discoveries in private jargon, obscure language, or even anagrams gradually gave way to the ideal of universal comprehensibility. New canons of reporting were devised so that experiments and discoveries could be reproduced by others. This required new precision in language and a willingness to share experimental or observational methods. The failure of others to reproduce results cast serious doubts upon the original reports. Thus were created the tools for a massive assault on nature’s secrets.

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Even with the scientific revolution accomplished, much remained to be done. Again, it was Newton who showed the way. For the macroscopic world, the Principia sufficed. Newton’s three laws of motion and the principle of universal gravitation were all that was necessary to analyze the mechanical relations of ordinary bodies, and the calculus provided the essential mathematical tools. For the microscopic world, Newton provided two methods. Where simple laws of action had already been determined from observation, as the relation of volume and pressure of a gas (Boyle’s law, pv = k), Newton assumed forces between particles that permitted him to derive the law. He then used these forces to predict other phenomena, in this case the speed of sound in air, that could be measured against the prediction. Conformity of observation to prediction was taken as evidence for the essential truth of the theory. Second, Newton’s method made possible the discovery of laws of macroscopic action that could be accounted for by microscopic forces. Here the seminal work was not the Principia but Newton’s masterpiece of experimental physics, the Opticks, published in 1704, in which he showed how to examine a subject experimentally and discover the laws concealed therein. Newton showed how judicious use of hypotheses could open the way to further experimental investigation until a coherent theory was achieved. The Opticks was to serve as the model in the 18th and early 19th centuries for the investigation of heat, light, electricity, magnetism, and chemical atoms.

The classic age of science

Mechanics

Just as the Principia preceded the Opticks, so too did mechanics maintain its priority among the sciences in the 18th century, in the process becoming transformed from a branch of physics into a branch of mathematics. Many physical problems were reduced to mathematical ones that proved amenable to solution by increasingly sophisticated analytical methods. The Swiss Leonhard Euler was one of the most fertile and prolific workers in mathematics and mathematical physics. His development of the calculus of variations provided a powerful tool for dealing with highly complex problems. In France, Jean Le Rond d’Alembert and Joseph-Louis Lagrange succeeded in completely mathematizing mechanics, reducing it to an axiomatic system requiring only mathematical manipulation.

The test of Newtonian mechanics was its congruence with physical reality. At the beginning of the 18th century it was put to a rigorous test. Cartesians insisted that the Earth, because it was squeezed at the Equator by the etherial vortex causing gravity, should be somewhat pointed at the poles, a shape rather like that of an American football. Newtonians, arguing that centrifugal force was greatest at the Equator, calculated an oblate sphere that was flattened at the poles and bulged at the Equator. The Newtonians were proved correct after careful measurements of a degree of the meridian were made on expeditions to Lapland and to Peru. The final touch to the Newtonian edifice was provided by Pierre-Simon, marquis de Laplace, whose masterly Traité de mécanique céleste (1798–1827; Celestial Mechanics) systematized everything that had been done in celestial mechanics under Newton’s inspiration. Laplace went beyond Newton by showing that the perturbations of the planetary orbits caused by the interactions of planetary gravitation are in fact periodic and that the solar system is, therefore, stable, requiring no divine intervention.

Chemistry

Although Newton was unable to bring to chemistry the kind of clarification he brought to physics, the Opticks did provide a method for the study of chemical phenomena. One of the major advances in chemistry in the 18th century was the discovery of the role of air, and of gases generally, in chemical reactions. This role had been dimly glimpsed in the 17th century, but it was not fully seen until the classic experiments of Joseph Black on magnesia alba (basic magnesium carbonate) in the 1750s. By extensive and careful use of the chemical balance, Black showed that an air with specific properties could combine with solid substances like quicklime and could be recovered from them. This discovery served to focus attention on the properties of “air,” which was soon found to be a generic, not a specific, name. Chemists discovered a host of specific gases and investigated their various properties: some were flammable, others put out flames; some killed animals, others made them lively. Clearly, gases had a great deal to do with chemistry.

The Newton of chemistry was Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier. In a series of careful balance experiments Lavoisier untangled combustion reactions to show that, in contradiction to established theory, which held that a body gave off the principle of inflammation (called phlogiston) when it burned, combustion actually involves the combination of bodies with a gas that Lavoisier named oxygen. The chemical revolution was as much a revolution in method as in conception. Gravimetric methods made possible precise analysis, and this, Lavoisier insisted, was the central concern of the new chemistry. Only when bodies were analyzed as to their constituent substances was it possible to classify them and their attributes logically and consistently.

The imponderable fluids

The Newtonian method of inferring laws from close observation of phenomena and then deducing forces from these laws was applied with great success to phenomena in which no ponderable matter figured. Light, heat, electricity, and magnetism were all entities that were not capable of being weighed—i.e., imponderable. In the Opticks, Newton had assumed that particles of different sizes could account for the different refrangibility of the various colours of light. Clearly, forces of some sort must be associated with these particles if such phenomena as diffraction and refraction are to be accounted for. During the 18th century, heat, electricity, and magnetism were similarly conceived as consisting of particles with which were associated forces of attraction or repulsion. In the 1780s, Charles-Augustin de Coulomb was able to measure electrical and magnetic forces, using a delicate torsion balance of his own invention, and to show that these forces follow the general form of Newtonian universal attraction. Only light and heat failed to disclose such general force laws, thereby resisting reduction to Newtonian mechanics.

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Science and the Industrial Revolution

It has long been a commonsensical notion that the rise of modern science and the Industrial Revolution were closely connected. It is difficult to show any direct effect of scientific discoveries upon the rise of the textile or even the metallurgical industry in Great Britain, the home of the Industrial Revolution, but there certainly was a similarity in attitude to be found in science and nascent industry. Close observation and careful generalization leading to practical utilization were characteristic of both industrialists and experimentalists alike in the 18th century. One point of direct contact is known: namely, James Watt’s interest in the efficiency of the Newcomen steam engine, an interest that grew from his work as a scientific-instrument maker and that led to his development of the separate condenser that made the steam engine an effective industrial power source. But, in general, the Industrial Revolution proceeded without much direct scientific help. Yet the potential influence of science was to prove of fundamental importance.

What science offered in the 18th century was the hope that careful observation and experimentation might improve industrial production significantly. In some areas, it did. The potter Josiah Wedgwood built his successful business on the basis of careful study of clays and glazes and by the invention of instruments like the pyrometer with which to gauge and control the processes he employed. It was not, however, until the second half of the 19th century that science was able to provide truly significant help to industry. It was then that the science of metallurgy permitted the tailoring of alloy steels to industrial specifications, that the science of chemistry permitted the creation of new substances, like the aniline dyes, of fundamental industrial importance, and that electricity and magnetism were harnessed in the electric dynamo and motor. Until that period science probably profited more from industry than the other way around. It was the steam engine that posed the problems that led, by way of a search for a theory of steam power, to the creation of thermodynamics. Most importantly, as industry required ever more complicated and intricate machinery, the machine tool industry developed to provide it and, in the process, made possible the construction of ever more delicate and refined instruments for science. As science turned from the everyday world to the worlds of atoms and molecules, electric currents and magnetic fields, microbes and viruses, and nebulae and galaxies, instruments increasingly provided the sole contact with phenomena. A large refracting telescope driven by intricate clockwork to observe nebulae was as much a product of 19th-century heavy industry as were the steam locomotive and the steamship.

The Industrial Revolution had one further important effect on the development of modern science. The prospect of applying science to the problems of industry served to stimulate public support for science. The first great scientific school of the modern world, the École Polytechnique in Paris, was founded in 1794 to put the results of science in the service of France. The founding of scores more technical schools in the 19th and 20th centuries encouraged the widespread diffusion of scientific knowledge and provided further opportunity for scientific advance. Governments, in varying degrees and at different rates, began supporting science even more directly, by making financial grants to scientists, by founding research institutes, and by bestowing honours and official posts on great scientists. By the end of the 19th century the natural philosopher following his private interests had given way to the professional scientist with a public role.

The Romantic revolt

Perhaps inevitably, the triumph of Newtonian mechanics elicited a reaction, one that had important implications for the further development of science. Its origins are many and complex, and it is possible here to focus on only one, that associated with the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant challenged the Newtonian confidence that the scientist can deal directly with subsensible entities such as atoms, the corpuscles of light, or electricity. Instead, Kant insisted, all that the human mind can know is forces. This epistemological axiom freed Kantians from having to conceive of forces as embodied in specific and immutable particles. It also placed new emphasis on the space between particles; indeed, if one eliminated the particles entirely, there remained only space containing forces. From these two considerations were to come powerful arguments, first, for the transformations and conservation of forces and, second, for field theory as a representation of reality. What makes this point of view Romantic is that the idea of a network of forces in space tied the cosmos into a unity in which all forces were related to all others, so that the universe took on the aspect of a cosmic organism. The whole was greater than the sum of all its parts, and the way to truth was contemplation of the whole, not analysis.

What Romantics, or nature philosophers, as they called themselves, could see that was hidden from their Newtonian colleagues was demonstrated by Hans Christian Ørsted. He found it impossible to believe that there was no connection between the forces of nature. Chemical affinity, electricity, heat, magnetism, and light must, he argued, simply be different manifestations of the basic forces of attraction and repulsion. In 1820 he showed that electricity and magnetism were related, for the passage of an electrical current through a wire affected a nearby magnetic needle. This fundamental discovery was explored and exploited by Michael Faraday, who spent his whole scientific life converting one force into another. By concentrating on the patterns of forces produced by electric currents and magnets, Faraday laid the foundations for field theory, in which the energy of a system was held to be spread throughout the system and not localized in real or hypothetical particles.

The transformations of force necessarily raised the question of the conservation of force. Is anything lost when electrical energy is turned into magnetic energy, or into heat or light or chemical affinity or mechanical power? Faraday, again, provided one of the early answers in his two laws of electrolysis, based on experimental observations that quite specific amounts of electrical “force” decomposed quite specific amounts of chemical substances. This work was followed by that of James Prescott Joule, Robert Mayer, and Hermann von Helmholtz, each of whom arrived at a generalization of basic importance to all science, the principle of the conservation of energy.

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The nature philosophers were primarily experimentalists who produced their transformations of forces by clever experimental manipulation. The exploration of the nature of elemental forces benefitted as well from the rapid development of mathematics. In the 19th century the study of heat was transformed into the science of thermodynamics, based firmly on mathematical analysis; the Newtonian corpuscular theory of light was replaced by Augustin-Jean Fresnel’s mathematically sophisticated undulatory theory; and the phenomena of electricity and magnetism were distilled into succinct mathematical form by William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) and James Clerk Maxwell. By the end of the century, thanks to the principle of the conservation of energy and the second law of thermodynamics, the physical world appeared to be completely comprehensible in terms of complex but precise mathematical forms describing various mechanical transformations in some underlying ether.

The submicroscopic world of material atoms became similarly comprehensible in the 19th century. Beginning with John Dalton’s fundamental assumption that atomic species differ from one another solely in their weights, chemists were able to identify an increasing number of elements and to establish the laws describing their interactions. Order was established by arranging elements according to their atomic weights and their reactions. The result was the periodic table, devised by Dmitry Mendeleyev, which implied that some kind of subatomic structure underlay elemental qualities. That structure could give rise to qualities, thus fulfilling the prophecy of the 17th-century mechanical philosophers, was shown in the 1870s by Joseph-Achille Le Bel and Jacobus van ’t Hoff, whose studies of organic chemicals showed the correlation between the arrangement of atoms or groups of atoms in space and specific chemical and physical properties.

The founding of modern biology

The study of living matter lagged far behind physics and chemistry, largely because organisms are so much more complex than inanimate bodies or forces. Harvey had shown that living matter could be studied experimentally, but his achievement stood alone for two centuries. For the time being, most students of living nature had to be content to classify living forms as best they could and to attempt to isolate and study aspects of living systems.

As has been seen, an avalanche of new specimens in both botany and zoology put severe pressure on taxonomy. A giant step forward was taken in the 18th century by the Swedish naturalist Carl von Linné—known by his Latinized name, Linnaeus—who introduced a rational, if somewhat artificial, system of binomial nomenclature. The very artificiality of Linnaeus’s system, focusing as it did on only a few key structures, encouraged criticism and attempts at more natural systems. The attention thus called to the organism as a whole reinforced a growing intuition that species are linked in some kind of genetic relationship, an idea first made scientifically explicit by Jean-Baptiste, chevalier de Lamarck.

Problems encountered in cataloging the vast collection of invertebrates at the Museum of Natural History in Paris led Lamarck to suggest that species change through time. This idea was not so revolutionary as it is usually painted, for, although it did upset some Christians who read the book of Genesis literally, naturalists who noted the shading of natural forms one into another had been toying with the notion for some time. Lamarck’s system failed to gain general assent largely because it relied upon an antiquated chemistry for its causal agents and appeared to imply a conscious drive to perfection on the part of organisms. It was also opposed by one of the most powerful paleontologists and comparative anatomists of the day, Georges Cuvier, who happened to take Genesis quite literally. In spite of Cuvier’s opposition, however, the idea remained alive and was finally elevated to scientific status by the labours of Charles Darwin. Darwin not only amassed a wealth of data supporting the notion of transformation of species, but he also was able to suggest a mechanism by which such evolution could occur without recourse to other than purely natural causes. The mechanism was natural selection, according to which minute variations in offspring were either favoured or eliminated in the competition for survival, and it permitted the idea of evolution to be perceived with great clarity. Nature shuffled and sorted its own productions, through processes governed purely by chance, so that those organisms that survived were better adapted to a constantly changing environment.

Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, published in 1859, brought order to the world of organisms. A similar unification at the microscopic level had been brought about by the cell theory announced by Theodor Schwann and Matthias Schleiden in 1838, whereby cells were held to be the basic units of all living tissues. Improvements in the microscope during the 19th century made it possible gradually to lay bare the basic structures of cells, and rapid progress in biochemistry permitted the intimate probing of cellular physiology. By the end of the century the general feeling was that physics and chemistry sufficed to describe all vital functions and that living matter, subject to the same laws as inanimate matter, would soon yield up its secrets. This reductionist view was triumphantly illustrated in the work of Jacques Loeb, who showed that so-called instincts in lower animals are nothing more than physicochemical reactions, which he labelled tropisms.

The most dramatic revolution in 19th-century biology was the one created by the germ theory of disease, championed by Louis Pasteur in France and Robert Koch in Germany. Through their investigations, bacteria were shown to be the specific causes of many diseases. By means of immunological methods first devised by Pasteur, some of humankind’s chief maladies were brought under control.

The 20th-century revolution

By the end of the 19th century, the dream of the mastery of nature for the benefit of humankind, first expressed in all its richness by Sir Francis Bacon, seemed on the verge of realization. Science was moving ahead on all fronts, reducing ignorance and producing new tools for the amelioration of the human condition. A comprehensible, rational view of the world was gradually emerging from laboratories and universities. One savant went so far as to express pity for those who would follow him and his colleagues, for they, he thought, would have nothing more to do than to measure things to the next decimal place.

But this sunny confidence did not last long. One annoying problem was that the radiation emitted by atoms proved increasingly difficult to reduce to known mechanical principles. More importantly, physics found itself relying more and more upon the hypothetical properties of a substance, the ether, that stubbornly eluded detection. Within a span of 10 short years, roughly 1895–1905, these and related problems came to a head and wrecked the mechanistic system the 19th century had so laboriously built. The discovery of X rays and radioactivity revealed an unexpected new complexity in the structure of atoms. Max Planck’s solution to the problem of thermal radiation introduced a discontinuity into the concept of energy that was inexplicable in terms of classical thermodynamics. Most disturbing of all, the enunciation of the special theory of relativity by Albert Einstein in 1905 not only destroyed the ether and all the physics that depended on it but also redefined physics as the study of relations between observers and events, rather than of the events themselves. What was observed, and therefore what happened, was now said to be a function of the observer’s location and motion relative to other events. Absolute space was a fiction. The very foundations of physics threatened to crumble.

This modern revolution in physics has not yet been fully assimilated by historians of science. Suffice it to say that scientists managed to come to terms with all of the upsetting results of early 20th-century physics but in ways that made the new physics utterly different from the old. Mechanical models were no longer acceptable, because there were processes (like light) for which no consistent model could be constructed. No longer could physicists speak with confidence of physical reality, but only of the probability of making certain measurements.

All this being said, there is still no doubt that science in the 20th century worked wonders. The new physics—relativity, quantum mechanics, particle physics—may have outraged common sense, but it enabled physicists to probe to the very limits of physical reality. Their instruments and mathematics permitted modern scientists to manipulate subatomic particles with relative ease, to reconstruct the first moment of creation, and to dimly glimpse the grand structure and ultimate fate of the universe.

The revolution in physics has spilled over in the 21st century into chemistry and biology and has led to hitherto undreamed-of capabilities for the manipulation of atoms and molecules and of cells and their genetic structures. Chemists perform molecular tailoring today as a matter of course, cutting and shaping molecules at will. Genetic engineering and the subsequent development of gene editing made possible active human intervention in the evolutionary process and held out the possibility of tailoring living organisms, including the human organism, to specific tasks. This second scientific revolution may prove to be, for good or ill, one of the most important events in the history of humankind.

 

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The water cycle (known scientifically as the hydrologic cycle) refers to the continuous exchange of water within the hydrosphere, between the atmosphere, soil water, surface water, groundwater, and plants.
Water moves perpetually through each of these regions in the water cycle consisting of following transfer processes:
evaporation from oceans and other water bodies into the air and transpiration from land plants and animals into air.
precipitation, from water vapor condensing from the air and falling to earth or ocean.
runoff from the land usually reaching the sea.
Most water vapor over the oceans returns to the oceans, but winds carry water vapor over land at the same rate as runoff into the sea, about 47 Tt per year. Over land, evaporation and transpiration contribute another 72 Tt per year. Precipitation, at a rate of 119 Tt per year over land, has several forms: most commonly rain, snow, and hail, with some contribution from fog and dew.[31] Dew is small drops of water that are condensed when a high density of water vapor meets a cool surface. Dew usually forms in the morning when the temperature is the lowest, just before sunrise and when the temperature of the earth's surface starts to increase.[32] Condensed water in the air may also refract sunlight to produce rainbows.
Water runoff often collects over watersheds flowing into rivers. A mathematical model used to simulate river or stream flow and calculate water quality parameters is a hydrological transport model. Some water is diverted to irrigation for agriculture. Rivers and seas offer opportunity for travel and commerce. Through erosion, runoff shapes the environment creating river valleys and deltas which provide rich soil and level ground for the establishment of population centers. A flood occurs when an area of land, usually low-lying, is covered with water. It is when a river overflows its banks or flood comes from the sea. A drought is an extended period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply. This occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation.

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Last week, a story about a 3,000-year-old castle discovered beneath the waters of Lake Van, in Turkey, went viral. But what's the real story behind this Atlantis-like discovery?

It turns out that the story is more complicated and mysterious than recent news reports suggest, Live Science found after speaking with several archaeologists as well as the leader of the photography team who discovered the castle.

Parts of the "castle," a term that the discoverers use to describe it, likely date to the Middle Ages, which lasted from about A.D. 476 to 1450, and it may not be an entirely new discovery: Reports from surveys of the Lake Van area conducted in the 1950s and 1960s noted the existence of the structure. It's not clear when the castle was washed underwater.

For instance, some of those reports indicated that medieval castle builders at Lake Van actually reused ancient material dating back to about 1000 B.C. to create the castle walls. The reports also mention a wall that plunges into the lake that has inscriptions on it that discuss an ancient king named "Rusa" and his interactions with a god named "Haldi."

What has really been found?

For the past 10 years, a team led by Tahsin Ceylan, an underwater photographer, has been exploring the waters beneath Lake Van, documenting natural features like microbialites (living, organic rock structures that are similar in some ways to coral) as well as archaeological sites, such as a Russian ship that dates to 1915.

In 2016, this team, which does not include an archaeologist, found a structure outside the harbor of Adilcevaz, a town in Turkey that has been inhabited for thousands of years. We "came across some sort of wall outside the harbor in one of our dives. Later [we] found out that it is a castle's wall that starts within the harbor and continues outside," Ceylan told Live Science.

"The castle is approximately 1 kilometer [less than a mile] long and has a solid structure."

The castle is made primarily of cut stones, Ceylan said, adding that the team had found a lion drawing on one of them, supporting the idea that Urartians — a people who flourished in Turkey about 3,000 years ago — may have built the structure. Lions were a popular motif among the people of Urartu.

Media reports suggested that an archaeologist was part of the team. "Our team of divers does not include an archaeologist — that is something the press added on their own," Ceylan said. "In our statement that we've sent to the press, we indicated that [given] the fact it was built with cut stones and one of the stones has a lion figure carved on it, the castle might belong to [the] Urartian civilization that lived here 3,200 years ago. But we specifically stated that archaeologists are the sole deciders on the matter. But the press made their own assumptions from this statement," Ceylan said.

Archaeologists weigh in

The archaeologists that Live Science talked to thought that many of the remains the team found likely date to the Middle Ages. The underwater remains seem to consist of "Medieval castle walls and probably an Urartian site," said Geoffrey Summers, an archaeological research associate at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute. The remains have been "known for a long time" from survey reports, Summers said.

Summers looked at a high-resolution image of the lion drawing, saying he thinks it looks more medieval than something from the Urartian kingdom.

Kemalettin Köroğlu, an archaeology professor at Marmara Üniversitesi, agreed that much of the underwater remains are actually medieval. He noted that some of the images show masonry between the ashlar wall stones (which are a type of stone that is square cut). "The walls [seem] medieval or late antique period rather than Urartu. Urartian never used any material between ashlar wall stones to connect each other," Köroğlu said.

It's possible that some of the 3,000-year-old Urartian remains seen in the photos were actually reused by castle builders during the Middle Ages, said Paul Zimansky, a history professor at Stony Brook University in New York. He also said that he needs to conduct more research.

Earlier explorers

A vast collection of surveys and documents published by archaeologists who surveyed the Lake Van area in the 1950s and 1960s includes mentions of both Urartu and medieval remains in the area.

One intriguing paper, by archaeologists Charles Allen Burney and G.R.J. Lawson, published in 1958 in the journal Anatolian Studies, discusses a "medieval castle at Adilcevaz, on the north shore of Lake Van," whose builders had reused blocks that had been constructed by the Urartians 3,000 years ago.

 

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Water is a transparent and nearly colorless chemical substance that is the main constituent of Earth's streams, lakes, and oceans, and the fluids of most living organisms. Its chemical formula is H2O, meaning that each of its molecules contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms that are connected by covalent bonds. Strictly speaking, water refers to the liquid state of a substance that prevails at standard ambient temperature and pressure; but it often refers also to its solid state (ice) or its gaseous state (steam or water vapor). It also occurs in nature as snow, glaciers, ice packs and icebergs, clouds, fog, dew, aquifers, and atmospheric humidity.
Water covers 71% of the Earth's surface.[1] It is vital for all known forms of life. On Earth, 96.5% of the planet's crust water is found in seas and oceans, 1.7% in groundwater, 1.7% in glaciers and the ice caps of Antarctica and Greenland, a small fraction in other large water bodies, 0.001% in the air as vapor, clouds (formed of ice and liquid water suspended in air), and precipitation.[2][3] Only 2.5% of this water is freshwater, and 98.8% of that water is in ice (excepting ice in clouds) and groundwater. Less than 0.3% of all freshwater is in rivers, lakes, and the atmosphere, and an even smaller amount of the Earth's freshwater (0.003%) is contained within biological bodies and manufactured products.[2] A greater quantity of water is found in the earth's interior.[4]
Water on Earth moves continually through the water cycle of evaporation and transpiration (evapotranspiration), condensation, precipitation, and runoff, usually reaching the sea. Evaporation and transpiration contribute to the precipitation over land. Large amounts of water are also chemically combined or adsorbed in hydrated minerals.
Safe drinking water is essential to humans and other lifeforms even though it provides no calories or organic nutrients. Access to safe drinking water has improved over the last decades in almost every part of the world, but approximately one billion people still lack access to safe water and over 2.5 billion lack access to adequate sanitation.[5] However, some observers have estimated that by 2025 more than half of the world population will be facing water-based vulnerability.[6] A report, issued in November 2009, suggests that by 2030, in some developing regions of the world, water demand will exceed supply by 50%.[7]
Water plays an important role in the world economy. Approximately 70% of the freshwater used by humans goes to agriculture.[8] Fishing in salt and fresh water bodies is a major source of food for many parts of the world. Much of long-distance trade of commodities (such as oil and natural gas) and manufactured products is transported by boats through seas, rivers, lakes, and canals. Large quantities of water, ice, and steam are used for cooling and heating, in industry and homes. Water is an excellent solvent for a wide variety of chemical substances; as such it is widely used in industrial processes, and in cooking and washing. Water is also central to many sports and other forms of entertainment, such as swimming, pleasure boating, boat racing, surfing, sport fishing, and diving.

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Animals
Humans are hardly the only interesting members of the animal kingdom. Research on the bodies and behaviors of our furry (and creepy and crawly and slimy and slithery) cousins can help scientists learn more about our own species’ evolution and cognition. And even when they don’t help unlock the ancient secrets of human ancestry, some animals are just too cute—or weird, or gross, or terrifying—not to get to know a little better. Go ahead: take a walk on the wild side.

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An ocean (from Ancient Greek Ὠκεανός, transc. Okeanós, the sea of classical antiquity[1]) is a body of saline water that composes much of a planet's hydrosphere.[2] On Earth, an ocean is one of the major conventional divisions of the World Ocean. These are, in descending order by area, the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Southern (Antarctic), and Arctic Oceans.[3][4] The word sea is often used interchangeably with "ocean" in American English but, strictly speaking, a sea is a body of saline water (generally a division of the world ocean) partly or fully enclosed by land.[5]
Saline water covers approximately 360,000,000 km2 (140,000,000 sq mi) and is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas, with the ocean covering approximately 71% of Earth's surface and 90% of the Earth's biosphere.[6] The ocean contains 97% of Earth's water, and oceanographers have stated that less than 5% of the World Ocean has been explored.[6] The total volume is approximately 1.35 billion cubic kilometers (320 million cu mi) with an average depth of nearly 3,700 meters (12,100 ft).[7][8][9]
As the world ocean is the principal component of Earth's hydrosphere, it is integral to life, forms part of the carbon cycle, and influences climate and weather patterns. The world ocean is the habitat of 230,000 known species, but because much of it is unexplored, the number of species that exist in the ocean is much larger, possibly over two million.[10] The origin of Earth's oceans is unknown; oceans are thought to have formed in the Hadean eon and may have been the impetus for the emergence of life.
Extraterrestrial oceans may be composed of water or other elements and compounds. The only confirmed large stable bodies of extraterrestrial surface liquids are the lakes of Titan, although there is evidence for the existence of oceans elsewhere in the Solar System. Early in their geologic histories, Mars and Venus are theorized to have had large water oceans. The Mars ocean hypothesis suggests that nearly a third of the surface of Mars was once covered by water, and a runaway greenhouse effect may have boiled away the global ocean of Venus. Compounds such as salts and ammonia dissolved in water lower its freezing point so that water might exist in large quantities in extraterrestrial environments as brine or convecting ice. Unconfirmed oceans are speculated beneath the surface of many dwarf planets and natural satellites; notably, the ocean of Europa is estimated to have over twice the water volume of Earth. The Solar System's giant planets are also thought to have liquid atmospheric layers of yet to be confirmed compositions. Oceans may also exist on exoplanets and exomoons, including surface oceans of liquid water within a circumstellar habitable zone. Ocean planets are a hypothetical type of planet with a surface completely covered with liquid.[

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When British photographer Lara Maiklem heard tens of thousands of sea creatures washed up on a beach near her hometown of Kent, England, over the weekend she had to see the scene for herself. So, she woke her 5-year-old twins in time to catch the tide.

Maiklem described the scene as "shocking" and "sad," but at the same time, she had to admit it was an "incredible" sight. In fact, it was "almost biblical in scale," she added.

"There were thousands upon thousands of starfish, with crabs, sea urchins, fish and sea anenomies mixed in with them," Maiklem told Fox News. "Someone even found a lobster."

The creatures covered the sandy beach like a thick blanket. Maiklem and her two kids tried to rescue as many fish as they could, tossing them one by one back into the sea.

The animals were the victims of a cold spell – what Maiklem called a "beast from the east" – that hit the U.K. last week. Similar scenes were reported down the coast, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, a wildlife conservation charity, said in a news release on Wednesday.

“There was a three degree drop in sea temperature last week which will have caused animals to hunker down and reduce their activity levels," Bex Lynam, North Sea marine advocacy officer for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said in a statement provided to Fox News. "This makes them vulnerable to rough seas – they became dislodged by large waves and washed ashore when the rough weather kicked in."

Crabs, starfish and mussels were "ankle-deep" in some places, though at least two lucky marine species seemed to survive the freeze: lobsters and crabs.

“Lobsters and crabs can survive out of water, unlike the majority of the other creatures washed up," Lynam told Fox News. "Also they have a hard exoskeleton, which offers them a certain level of protection when being thrown around by the sea.”

Maiklem said she also found several dead sea birds washed up along the same stretch. 

"I understand it is a natural phenomena," Maiklem said. "I'm pleased I went to see it, but I wouldn't like to see it again."

Wildlife officials also hope they won't see a repeat of the disaster.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is working with local fisherman to clear the beach and rescue any remaining species that are still alive.

"This area is very important for shellfish and we work alongside fishermen to promote sustainable fisheries and protect reproductive stocks," Lynam said. "It’s worth saving them so that they can be put back into the sea and continue to breed."

Dr. Lissa Batey, senior living seas officer with The Wildlife Trusts, an organization made up of 47 local wildlife trusts in the U.K., said the government can help the creatures by designating more marine conservation zones.

“We can’t prevent natural disasters like this – but we can mitigate against declining marine life and the problems that humans cause by creating enough protected areas at sea and by ensuring that these sites are large enough and close enough to offer fish, crustaceans, dolphins and other marine life the protection they require to withstand natural events such as this," Batey said in a statement.

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A deep sea diver has struck gold after unearthing a 17th century chain worth $250,000 from the ocean floor.

Bill Burt, a diver for Mel Fisher's Treasures, spotted the 40-inch gold chain while looking for the wrecked Nuestra Senora de Atocha, which sank off the Florida Keys in a 1622 hurricane.

Shipwreck experts have tentatively valued the piece at around $250,000.

The chain has 55 links, an enamelled gold cross and a two-sided engraved religious medallion featuring the Virgin Mary and a chalice.

On the edges of the cross there is engraved wording thought to be in Latin.

Andy Matroci, captain of Mel Fisher's Treasures salvage vessel, JB Magruder, said the crew had been diving at the North end of the Atocha trail.

On their last trip to the wreck they uncovered 22 silver coins and a cannon ball just east of the site.

They had been hoping to find more coins in the area, Mr Matroci said, but instead found the chain.

'In the nine years I have been running this boat this is the most unique artefact we have brought up,' Mr Matroci said.

The piece is believed to be from the Atocha's infamous treasure trove. 

The company has uncovered half a billion dollars in historic artefacts, gold, silver and emeralds since they began diving the wreck in 1969.

In 1985 - after 15 years of searching - the Fisher crew discovered Atocha's 'mother lode', worth more than $450million.

They unearthed thousands of artefacts, silver coins, gold coins - many in near mint condition, exquisite jewellery sets with precious stones, gold chains, disks, a variety of armaments and even seeds, which later sprouted.

They then faced a legal wrangle with the U.S. Government claimed title to the wreck. Florida state officials seized many of the items the Fisher crew had retrieved. 

But after eight years of litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Fisher's favour.

The contents of the ships sterncastle - a wooden, fort-shaped area at the back of ship, have never been recovered.

This is where the wealthy passengers, including nobility and clergy, would have stayed.

Fisher's estimates the treasure in the sterncastle section is worth in the region of half a billion dollars.

The latest find was likely owned by a member of the clergy indicating the company's search for the missing treasure trove could be getting nearer.


 

 

 

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Types of lake according to seasonal variation of lake level and volume
Lakes are informally classified and named according to the seasonal variation in their lake level and volume. Some of the names include:
Ephemeral lake is a short-lived lake or pond.[33] If it fills with water and dries up (disappears) seasonally it is known as an intermittent lake[34] They often fill poljes[35]
Dry lake is a popular name for an ephemeral lake that contains water only intermediately at irregular and infrequent intervals.[25][36]
Perennial lake is a lake that has water in its basin throughout the year and is not subject to extreme fluctuations in level.[25][33]
Playa lake is a typically shallow, intermittent lake that covers or occupies a playa either in wet seasons or in especially wet years but subsequently drying up in an arid or semiarid region.[25][36]
Vlei is a name used in South Africa for a shallow lake which varies considerably in level with the seasons.

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The word lake comes from Middle English lake ("lake, pond, waterway"), from Old English lacu ("pond, pool, stream"), from Proto-Germanic *lakō ("pond, ditch, slow moving stream"), from the Proto-Indo-European root *leǵ- ("to leak, drain"). Cognates include Dutch laak ("lake, pond, ditch"), Middle Low German lāke ("water pooled in a riverbed, puddle") as in: de:Moorlake, de:Wolfslake, de:Butterlake, German Lache ("pool, puddle"), and Icelandic lækur ("slow flowing stream"). Also related are the English words leak and leach.
There is considerable uncertainty about defining the difference between lakes and ponds, and no current internationally accepted definition of either term across scientific disciplines or political boundaries exists.[4] For example, limnologists have defined lakes as water bodies which are simply a larger version of a pond, which can have wave action on the shoreline or where wind-induced turbulence plays a major role in mixing the water column. None of these definitions completely excludes ponds and all are difficult to measure. For this reason, simple size-based definitions are increasingly used to separate ponds and lakes. One definition of lake is a body of water of 2 hectares (5 acres) or more in area;[5]:331[6] however, others[who?] have defined lakes as waterbodies of 5 hectares (12 acres) and above,[citation needed] or 8 hectares (20 acres) and above [7] (see also the definition of "pond"). Charles Elton, one of the founders of ecology, regarded lakes as waterbodies of 40 hectares (99 acres) or more.[8] The term lake is also used to describe a feature such as Lake Eyre, which is a dry basin most of the time but may become filled under seasonal conditions of heavy rainfall. In common usage, many lakes bear names ending with the word pond, and a lesser number of names ending with lake are in quasi-technical fact, ponds. One textbook illustrates this point with the following: "In Newfoundland, for example, almost every lake is called a pond, whereas in Wisconsin, almost every pond is called a lake."[9]
One hydrology book proposes to define the term "lake" as a body of water with the following five characteristics:[4]
it partially or totally fills one or several basins connected by straits[4]
has essentially the same water level in all parts (except for relatively short-lived variations caused by wind, varying ice cover, large inflows, etc.)[4]
it does not have regular intrusion of seawater[4]
a considerable portion of the sediment suspended in the water is captured by the basins (for this to happen they need to have a sufficiently small inflow-to-volume ratio)[4]
the area measured at the mean water level exceeds an arbitrarily chosen threshold (for instance, one hectare)[4]
With the exception of the seawater intrusion criterion, the others have been accepted or elaborated upon by other hydrology publications

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Ponds are used for the provision of fish and other wildlife including waterfowl which a source of food for humans. Pollutants entering ponds are often substantially mitigated by the natural sedimentation and biological activities within the water body. Ponds are also a major contributor to local ecosystem richness and diversity for both plants and animals.[18]
In the Indian subcontinent, Hindu temples usually have a pond nearby so that pilgrims can take baths. These ponds are considered sacred.
In medieval times in Europe, it was typical for many monastery and castles (small, partly self-sufficient communities) to have fish ponds. These are still common in Europe and in East Asia (notably Japan), where koi may be kept.
Waste stabilization ponds are used as a low-cost method for wastewater treatment.
In agriculture, treatment ponds may reduce nutrients released downstream from the pond. They may also provide irrigation reservoirs at times of drought.

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The technical distinction between a pond and a lake has not been universally standardized. Limnologists and freshwater biologists have proposed formal definitions for pond, in part to include 'bodies of water where light penetrates to the bottom of the waterbody,' 'bodies of water shallow enough for rooted water plants to grow throughout,' and 'bodies of water which lack wave action on the shoreline.' Each of these definitions has met with resistance or disapproval, as the defining characteristics are each difficult to measure or verify. Accordingly, some organizations and researchers have settled on technical definitions of pond and lake which rely on size alone.[4]
Even among organizations and researchers who distinguish lakes from ponds by size alone, there is no universally recognised standard for the maximum size of a pond. The international Ramsar wetland convention sets the upper limit for pond size as 8 hectares (20 acres),[5] but biologists have not universally adopted this convention. Researchers for the British charity Pond Conservation have defined a pond to be 'a man-made or natural waterbody which is between 1 m2 and 20,000 m2 in area (2 ha or ~5 acres), which holds water for four months of the year or more.'[4] Other European biologists have set the upper size limit at 5 ha (12 acres).[6]
In practice, a body of water is called a pond or a lake on an individual basis, as conventions change from place to place and over time. In North America, even larger bodies of water have been called ponds; for example, Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts measures 61 acres (25 ha), nearby Spot Pond is 340 acres (140 ha), while in between is Crystal Lake at 33 acres (13 ha). There are numerous examples in other states of bodies of water less than 10 acres (4.0 ha) being called lakes. As the case with Crystal Lake shows, marketing purposes may be the driving factor behind some names.

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MUTUM PARANA, Brazil — When it is completed in 2015, the Jirau hydroelectric dam will span five miles across the Madeira River, feature more giant turbines than any other dam in the world and hold as much concrete as 47 towers the size of the Empire State Building.
And then there are the power lines, draped along 1,400 miles of forests and fields to carry electricity from here in the center of South America to Brazil’s urban nerve center, Sao Paulo.
Still, it won’t be enough.
The dam and the Santo Antonio complex that is being built a few miles downstream will provide just 5 percent of what government energy planners say the country will need in the next 10 years. So Brazil is building more dams, many more, courting controversy by locating the vast majority of them in the world’s largest and most biodiverse forest.
“The investment to build these plants is very high, and they are to be put in a region which is an icon for environmental preservation, the Amazon,” said Paulo Domingues, energy planning director for the Ministry of Mines and Energy. “So that has worldwide repercussions.”
Between now and 2021, the energy ministry’s building schedule will be feverish: Brazilian companies and foreign conglomerates will put up 34 sizable dams in an effort to increase the country’s capacity to produce energy by more than 50 percent.
The Brazil projects have received less attention than China’s dam-building spree, which has plugged up canyons and bankrolled hydroelectric projects far from Asia.
But Brazil is undertaking one of the world’s largest public works projects, one that will cost more than $150 billion and harness the force of this continent’s great rivers. The objective is to help the country of 199 million people achieve what Brazilian leaders call its destiny: becoming a modern and efficient world-class economy with an ample supply of energy for office towers, assembly lines, refineries and iron works.
“Brazil is a country that’s growing, developing, and it needs energy,” said Eduardo de Melo Pinto, president of Santo Antonio Energia. “And the potential in energy production in Brazil is located, for the most part, in Amazonia. And that’s why this is important for this project to be developed.”
Jirau, Santo Antonio and other projects, though, have until now generated more tension than electricity, raising questions that range from their environmental impact to whether future generations will be saddled with gigantic debt.
International Rivers, a U.S.-based environmental group that has tracked government agencies involved in the dam building, says plans call for 168 dams to be completed by 2021. Most are small dams that will be used to regulate water or to power silos, mineral extraction facilities or industrial complexes. But whether the dams are large or small, homesteaders and Indian leaders say they will cause irreversible changes in a forest that plays a vital role in absorbing the world’s carbon emissions and regulating its climate.
Across Brazil, rivers are being diverted. Canals and dikes are being built. Roads are being paved, and blocks of concrete are being laid across a network of waterways that provides a fifth of the world’s fresh water.
And the big dams will inundate at least 2,500 square miles of forests and fields — an area larger than the state of Delaware.
Environmentalists say the dams are a throwback, not the kind of projects a modern, democratic country should be aggressively pursuing. They say Brazil should focus instead on developing wind and solar energy while overhauling existing plants and instituting other reforms to reduce electrical demand.
“This is a sort of 1950s development mentality that often proceeds in a very authoritarian way, in terms of not respecting human rights, not respecting environmental law, not really looking at the alternatives,” said Brent Millikan, Amazon program director in Brazil for International Rivers.
Lives torn asunder
In a swath of Rondonia state, along the BR-364 highway, several residents said the dams had uprooted communities of subsistence farmers and fishermen, unalterably changing their way of life for the worse.
Telma Santos Pinto, 53, said she had to leave her home of 36 years, receiving $18,000 as compensation from the companies building Jirau.
“The compensation was very, very low,” she said. “And we were obligated to accept that.”
Her town, Mutum Parana, was left underwater. Most of her neighbors moved into Nova ­Mutum — or New Mutum — a town of 1,600 homes, schools, churches and stores put up by the builders of Jirau.
“We were a community, all of us united,” she said. “All of us helped each other.”
Such laments come up against the hard economic realities that Brazil faces.
By 2021, the economy is projected to expand by 63 percent, the energy ministry says. Hundreds of thousands of people are receiving electricity for the first time each year, and a ballooning middle class is consuming more. Economic planners also predict that Brazil could become the world’s fifth-largest economy in a few years.
No Brazilian leader is more focused on that objective than President Dilma Rousseff, a former 1970s-era guerrilla who was energy minister in her predecessor’s government. She says that Brazil is “privileged” to have so much water and that it is logical for the country to rely heavily on hydropower.
She counters environmentalists by arguing that Brazil’s energy mix — the country also relies on solar, wind and biomass, all renewable energy sources — is among the world’s cleanest.
“Economic growth is not contrary to the best environmental practices,” Rousseff said at the inauguration of one huge dam in October. “We are proving that it’s possible to increase electrical generation and at the same time respect the environment.”
Priority projects
To be sure, the footprints of the new dams will be smaller than those of the past.
The proposed Belo Monte project on the Xingu, a huge dam that has galvanized environmentalists and Hollywood luminaries, will flood fives times less land than the 29-year-old Tucurui dam, ­Brazil’s second-biggest, said Domingues, the energy ministry planner.
The Jirau dam includes ladders to help migrating fish make it upstream and conservation programs for animal and bird life.
Gil Maranhão, the Jirau dam’s communications and business development director, said “the real deforestation is maybe zero” because the flooding has taken out cattle ranches and small subsistence farms rather than large swaths of forest.
He said the $7.7 billion project has created jobs and prompted the consortium building the dam to spend $600 million on social programs and housing for the 350 families that had to be relocated.
“The impacted population move from slums without electricity, without sewage, and we put them in new cities built for them,” he said, pointing to Nova Mutum.
Jose Gomes, a civil engineer who is the project’s institutional director, said rigid requirements ensured that the environmental impacts of Jirau and Santo Antonio were minimized. Building dams, he said, here and elsewhere, is a major priority that will not be derailed.
“Brazil needs two hydroelectric dams like this to provide power each and every year,” Gomes said. “We’re going to have energy guaranteed.”
Cranes stretched into the sky and steel reinforcements were going up. Although the turbines were not yet operating, the power houses were firmly installed. Upriver, more than 100 square miles of land were underwater.
It was clear that the mighty Madeira, the biggest tributary of the Amazon, had been tamed.

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Troposphere
The troposphere starts at the Earth's surface and extends 8 to 14.5 kilometers high (5 to 9 miles). This part of the atmosphere is the most dense. Almost all weather is in this region.

Stratosphere
The stratosphere starts just above the troposphere and extends to 50 kilometers (31 miles) high. The ozone layer, which absorbs and scatters the solar ultraviolet radiation, is in this layer.

Mesosphere
The mesosphere starts just above the stratosphere and extends to 85 kilometers (53 miles) high. Meteors burn up in this layer

Thermosphere
The thermosphere starts just above the mesosphere and extends to 600 kilometers (372 miles) high. Aurora and satellites occur in this layer.

Ionosphere
The ionosphere is an abundant layer of electrons and ionized atoms and molecules that stretches from about 48 kilometers (30 miles) above the surface to the edge of space at about 965 km (600 mi), overlapping into the mesosphere and thermosphere. This dynamic region grows and shrinks based on solar conditions and divides further into the sub-regions: D, E and F; based on what wavelength of solar radiation is absorbed. The ionosphere is a critical link in the chain of Sun-Earth interactions. This region is what makes radio communications possible.

Exosphere
This is the upper limit of our atmosphere. It extends from the top of the thermosphere up to 10,000 km (6,200 mi).

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New economic developments in the Arctic, such as trans-Arctic shipping and oil exploitation, will bring along unprecedented risks of marine oil spills. The world is therefore calling for a thorough understanding of the resilience and "self-cleaning" capacity of Arctic ecosystems to recover from oil spills.
Although numerous efforts are put into cleaning up large oil spills, only 15 to 25% of the oil can be effectively removed by mechanical methods. This was the case in major oil disasters such as the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska, and the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. Future spill will be no different. Oil-eating microbes played the major role in degrading the oil and reducing the impact of the spilled oil during these past oil disasters.
"We are now presenting a first assessment of the microbial degradation potential in seawaters off Greenland," postdoc Leendert Vergeynst, Arctic Research Centre at Aarhus University, explains.
The research group has identified six factors challenging the microbes in Arctic seas.
Low temperatures, sea ice and few nutrients
Low temperature changes the chemical properties of spilled oil and slows down biodegradation. For example, cold oil is more viscous, which hampers oil dispersion. The efficiency of microbial degradation is decreased when oil is not dispersed in small droplets.
Waves also plays an important role in breaking the oil into droplets. However, where there is sea ice, there are much less or no waves.
The Arctic is generally an environment with very low amounts of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. These nutrients are not present in the oil and oil-eating bacteria therefor need to find them in the water. Few nutrients result in reduced activity of the oil-eating bacteria.
Particle formation, sunlight and adaptation
Massive phytoplankton (algae) blooms and suspended mineral particles released by glaciers occur during the Arctic spring and summer. The concentrations of particles from glacier outlets and algae blooms in Arctic waters can be magnitudes higher than in the Gulf of Mexico, where phytoplankton, particles and oil droplets were sticking together and sank to the seafloor, forming a "dirty blizzard" during the Deepwater Horizon oil spills in 2010. Microbial degradation of oil on the seafloor is much slower than in the water column.
The 24-h sunlight during the Arctic summer may help the microbes to break up oil molecules into smaller pieces. However, it may also make the oil compounds more toxic for aquatic organisms. We still need a lot of knowledge to properly understand the effect of sunlight on oil spills in Arctic ecosystems.
Regular small oil spills in other marine waters have adapted ('learned') microbes to eat oil molecules. However, the Arctic is still a very pristine environment. The researchers are therefore currently investigating if the microbial populations present in the Arctic have adapted to degrading oil compounds.
"We are especially concerned that the most toxic molecules in the oil, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, may be the most difficult to degrade" says Leendert Vergeynst.

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Cyanobacteria -- which propel the ocean engine and help sustain marine life -- can shift their colour like chameleons to match different coloured light across the world's seas, according to research by an international collaboration including the University of Warwick.
The researchers have shown that Synechococcus cyanobacteria -- which use light to capture carbon dioxide from the air and produce energy for the marine food chain -- contain specific genes which alters their pigmentation depending on the type of light in which they float, allowing them to adapt and thrive in any part of the world's oceans.
"Blue light is most prevalent in the open oceans, as it penetrates into deep waters -- whereas in warm equatorial and coastal waters there is more green light, and in estuaries the light is often red," explains David Scanlan, who is Professor in Marine Microbiology in the University of Warwick's School of Life Sciences.
These specific 'chromatic adaptor' genes are abundant in ocean dwelling Synechococcus -- enabling these colour-shifting microorganisms to change their pigment content in order to survive and photosynthesise in ocean waters, especially when the light quality changes from blue to green.
Professor Scanlan commented on the significance of the research:
"Finding Synechococcus cells capable of dynamically changing their pigment content in accordance with the ambient light colour -- abundant in ocean ecosystems, making them planktonic 'chameleons' -- gives us a much deeper understanding of those processes essential to keep the ocean 'engine' running.
"This will help improve how we look after our waters -- and will allow us to better predict how oceans will react in the future to a changing climate with increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere."
The researchers made their discovery using data from the Tara Oceans expedition -- which took seawater samples from ocean waters all over the world.
From this data, Professor Scanlan and colleagues analysed specific gene sequences from Synechococcus in the different samples, identifying particular 'chromatic adaptor' genes in bacteria living thousands of miles apart.
This discovery represents a major breakthrough in our understanding of these organisms, which are key primary producers and potentially excellent bio-indicators of climate change.

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Since the Kobe Ocean Bottom Exploration Center (KOBEC) was established in 2015, the Center has carried out three survey voyages to the Kikai Caldera, south of Japan's main islands. Based on these voyages, researchers have confirmed that a giant lava dome was created after the caldera-forming supereruption 7300 years ago. The dome is in the world's largest class of post-caldera volcano, with a volume of over 32 cubic kilometers. The composition of this lava dome is different from the magma that caused the giant caldera to erupt -- it shows the same chemical characteristics as the current post-caldera volcano on the nearby Satsuma Iwo-jima Island. It is possible that currently a giant magma buildup may exist under the Kikai Caldera.
These findings were published in the online edition of Scientific Reports on February 9.
There is roughly a 1% chance of a giant caldera-forming eruption occurring within the Japanese archipelago during the next 100 years. An eruption like this would see over 40 cubic kilometers of magma released in one burst, causing enormous damage. The mechanism behind this and how to predict this event are urgent questions.
Researchers equipped training ship Fukae Maru, part of the Kobe University Graduate School of Maritime Sciences, with the latest observation equipment to survey the Kikai Caldera. They chose this volcano for two main reasons. Firstly, for land-based volcanoes it is hard to carry out large-scale observations using artificial earthquakes because of the population density, and it is also difficult to detect giant magma buildups with precise visualization because they are often at relatively low depths (roughly 10km). Secondly, the Kikai Caldera caused the most recent giant caldera-forming eruption in the Japanese archipelago (7300 years ago), and there is a high possibility that a large buildup of magma may exist inside it.
During the three survey voyages, KOBEC carried out detailed underwater geological surveys, seismic reflection, observations by underwater robots, samples and analysis of rocks, and observations using underwater seismographs and electromagnetometers.
In their upcoming March 2018 voyage, researchers plan to use seismic reflection and underwater robots to clarify the formation process of the double caldera revealed in previous surveys and the mechanism that causes a giant caldera eruption.
They will also use seismic and electromagnetic methods to determine the existence of a giant magma buildup, and in collaboration with the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology will carry out a large-scale underground survey, attempting to capture high-resolution visualizations of the magma system within the Earth's crust (at a depth of approximately 30km). Based on results from these surveys, the team plans to continue monitoring and aims to pioneer a method for predicting giant caldera-forming eruptions.
Formation of metallic ore deposits are predicted to accompany the underwater hydrothermal activity, so the team also plan to evaluate these undersea resources.
Terms
1. Caldera: a depression in the land formed when a volcano erupts
2. Giant caldera-forming eruption: an eruption that releases a large amount of magma (>40km3) and forms a large-scale caldera. This sort of eruption has occurred ten times on the Japanese archipelago in the last 120,000 years. Giant caldera volcanoes are concentrated in Kyushu and Hokkaido.
3. Seismic reflection survey: Causing an artificial earthquake with air guns or similar, receiving the seismic waves that have reflected or refracted below ground, and estimating the subsurface structure.

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Some deep-sea skates -- cartilaginous fish related to rays and sharks -- use volcanic heat emitted at hydrothermal vents to incubate their eggs, according to a new study in the journal Scientific Reports. Because deep-sea skates have some of the longest egg incubation times, estimated to last more than four years, the researchers believe the fish are using the hot vents to accelerate embryo development. This the first time such behavior has been seen in marine animals.
"Hydrothermal vents are extreme environments, and most animals that live there are highly evolved to live in this environment," said Charles Fisher, Professor and Distinguished Senior Scholar of Biology at Penn State and an author of the paper. "This study is one of the few that demonstrates a direct link between the vent environment and animals that live most of their life elsewhere."
Among the least explored and unique ecosystems, deep-sea hydrothermal fields are regions on the sea floor where hot water emerges after being heated in the ocean crust. In their study, an international team of researchers, led by Pelayo Salinas-de-León of the Charles Darwin Research Station, used a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) to survey in and around an active hydrothermal field located in the Galapagos archipelago, 28 miles north of Darwin Island.
"The first place the ROV landed on the sea floor was on a ridge, in the plume of a nearby hydrothermal vent that we had specifically come to investigate -- a black smoker," said Fisher. "When we panned the camera down, we found something we did not expect: These giant egg cases, also known as mermaid purses. And we found several layers of them, indicating that whatever was laying these eggs had been coming back to this spot for many years to lay them. As the dive progressed, we saw more and more of these egg cases and realized that this was not the result of a single animal, but rather a behavior shared by many individuals. "
The researchers found 157 egg cases in the area and collected four with the ROV's robotic arm. DNA analysis revealed that the egg cases belonged to the skate species Bathyraja spinosissima, one of the deepest-living species of skates that is not typically thought to occur near the vents. The majority -- 58 percent -- of the observed egg cases were found within about 65 feet of the chimney-like black smokers, the hottest kind of hydrothermal vents, and over 89 percent had been laid in places where the water was hotter than average. The researchers believe that the warmer temperatures in the area could reduce the typically years-long incubation time of the eggs.
While several species of reptiles and birds lay their eggs in locations that optimize soil temperatures, only two other groups of animals are known to use volcanically heated soils: the modern-day Polynesian megapode -- a rare bird native to Tonga -- and a group of nest-building neosauropod dinosaurs from the Cretaceous Period.
Because of their long lifespan and slow rate of development, deep-water skates may be particularly sensitive to threats to their environment, including fisheries expanding into deeper waters and sea-floor mining. Understanding the development and habitat of the skates is vital for developing effective conservation strategies for this poorly understood species.
"The deep sea is full of surprises," said Fisher. "I've made hundreds of dives, both in person and virtually, to deep sea hydrothermal vents and have never seen anything like this."

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Large areas of the Earth's surface are experiencing rising maximum temperatures, which affect virtually every ecosystem on the planet, including ice sheets and tropical forests that play major roles in regulating the biosphere, scientists have reported.
An analysis of records from NASA's Aqua satellite between 2003 and 2014 shows that spikes in maximum surface temperatures occurred in the tropical forests of Africa and South America and across much of Europe and Asia in 2010 and in Greenland in 2012. The higher temperature extremes coincided with disruptions that affected millions of people: severe droughts in the tropics and heat waves across much of the northern hemisphere. Maximum temperature extremes were also associated with widespread melting of the Greenland ice sheet.
The satellite-based record of land surface maximum temperatures, scientists have found, provides a sensitive global thermometer that links bulk shifts in maximum temperatures with ecosystem change and human well-being.
Those are among the conclusions reported in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology by a team of scientists from Oregon State University, the University of Maryland, the University of Montana and the Pacific Northwest Research Station of the U.S. Forest Service.
Land surface temperature measures the heat radiated by land and vegetation. While weather stations typically measure air temperatures just above the surface, satellites record the thermal energy emitted by soil, rock, pavement, grass, trees and other features of the landscape. Over forests, for example, the satellite measures the temperature of the leaves and branches of the tree canopy.
"Imagine the difference between the temperature of the sand and the air at the beach on a hot, summer day," said David Mildrexler, the lead author who received his Ph.D. from the College of Forestry at Oregon State last June. "The air might be warm, but if you walk barefoot across the sand, it's the searing hot surface temperature that's burning your feet. That's what the satellites are measuring."
The researchers looked at annual maximum land surface temperatures averaged across 8-day periods throughout the year for every 1-square kilometer (247 acres) pixel on Earth. NASA collects surface temperature measurements with an instrument known as MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) on two satellites (Aqua and Terra), which orbit the Earth from north to south every day. Mildrexler and his team focused on the annual maximum for each year as recorded by the Aqua satellite, which crosses the equator in the early afternoon as temperatures approach their daily peak. Aqua began recording temperature data in the summer of 2002.
"As anyone who pays attention to the weather knows, the Earth's temperature has incredible variability," said Mildrexler. But across the globe and over time, the planet's profile of high temperatures tends to be fairly stable from year to year. In fact, he said, the Earth has a maximum temperature profile that is unique, since it is strongly influenced by the presence of life and the overall frequency and distribution of the world's biomes. It was the discovery of a consistent year-to-year profile that allowed the researchers to move beyond a previous analysis, in which they identified the hottest spots on Earth, to the development of a new global-change indicator that uses the entire planet's maximum land surface temperatures.
In their analysis, the scientists mapped major changes in 8-day maximum land surface temperatures over the course of the year and examined the ability of such changes to detect heat waves and droughts, melting ice sheets and tropical forest disturbance. In each case, they found significant temperature deviations during years in which disturbances occurred. For example, heat waves were particularly severe, droughts were extensive in tropical forests, and melting of the Greenland ice sheet accelerated in association with shifts in the 8-day maximum temperature.
In 2010, for example, one-fifth of the global land area experienced extreme maximum temperature anomalies that coincided with heat waves and droughts in Canada, the United States, Northern Europe, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China and unprecedented droughts in tropical rainforests. These events were accompanied by reductions in ecosystem productivity, the researchers wrote, in addition to wildfires, air pollution and agricultural losses.
"The maximum surface temperature profile is a fundamental characteristic of the Earth system, and these temperatures can tell us a lot about changes to the globe," said Mildrexler. "It's clear that the bulk shifts we're seeing in these maximum temperatures are correlated with major changes to the biosphere. With global temperatures projected to continue rising, tracking shifts in maximum temperature patterns and the consequences to Earth's ecosystems every year globally is potentially an important new means of monitoring biospheric change."
The researchers focused on satellite records for land surfaces in daylight. NASA also produces satellite-based temperature records for the oceans and for nighttime portions of the globe.

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Athletes who suffer life-threatening heat stroke should be cooled on site before they are taken to the hospital, according to an expert panel's report published in the journal Prehospital Emergency Care.

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The principle of "cool first, transport second" differs from the usual practice of calling 911 and getting to the hospital as soon as possible.

The article was published online Jan. 16, 2018.

"In the case of heat stroke, the definitive care is cooling, which may best be performed immediately onsite before transport," said Jolie C. Holschen, MD, FACEP, a Loyola Medicine emergency medicine physician and co-author of the expert panel's consensus statement. First author of the statement is Luke Beval, MS, of the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut.

Exertional heat stroke is one of the most common causes of death in athletes. Although it can happen in cooler temperatures, it typically occurs in warm weather during events such as marathons and preseason football practices.

The athlete shows central nervous system disturbances such as confusion, irritability or irrational behavior, which may culminate in a collapse or loss of consciousness. There is a common misconception that the athlete will have stopped sweating, have hot skin or be unconscious, but none of these symptoms are required for heat stroke.

The Korey Stringer Institute organized a meeting of national experts in emergency medicine and sports medicine to identify best practices for treating exertional heat stroke in prehospital settings. The institute is named after a Minnesota Viking football player who died from heat stroke during a sweltering training camp.

The panel recommended rapidly cooling the body to less than 104.5 degrees F (the threshold for critical cell damage) within 30 minutes of the time of collapse. Cooling should end once the body temperature drops to about 101.5 degrees F.

The best cooling method is to immerse the athlete in a tub of cold water. If a tub isn't available, a tarp, shaped like a taco and filled with cold water, could be tried. (This is known as tarp-assisted cooling.) Less effective cooling methods include cold-water dousing, cold showers, fans and icepacks.

"Transportation of an exertional heat stroke patient should occur only if it is impossible to cool adequately onsite or after adequate cooling has been verified by a body temperature assessment," the expert panel wrote. If a patient cannot be cooled onsite, paramedics should try the most aggressive cooling methods possible in the ambulance, such as continuously applying cold wet towels.

The panel's paper is titled "Consensus Statement -- Prehospital Care of Exertional Heat Stroke." The goal of the consensus statement is to raise awareness of the need to implement the most rapid method of cooling, and to do so immediately in the field when resources are available, Dr. Holschen said.

"When doctors serve in sporting events as medical directors and team physicians, they must be prepared to cool onsite," Dr. Holschen said. "We also want to give emergency medical services the leeway to cool the patient before transport, when superior cooling methods are available. EMS directors should build this into their protocols and standard operating procedures."

Dr. Holschen is an associate professor in the department of emergency medicine of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of medicine. She is a fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians and is board certified in emergency medicine and in the sports medicine subspecialty of emergency medicine.

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Meteorology is the scientific study of the atmosphere that focuses on weather processes and forecasting.

Meteorological phenomena are observable weather events which illuminate and are explained by the science of meteorology.

Those events are bound by the variables that exist in Earth's atmosphere.

They are temperature, pressure, water vapor, and the gradients and interactions of each variable, and how they change in time.

The majority of Earth's observed weather is located in the troposphere.

Although meteorologists now rely heavily on computer models (numerical weather prediction), it is still relatively common to use techniques and conceptual models that were developed before computers were powerful enough to make predictions accurately or efficiently.


 

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A new study has found that levels of commercial fish stocks could be harmed as rising sea temperatures affect their source of food.

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University of Adelaide scientists have demonstrated how climate change can drive the collapse of marine "food webs."

Published in the open access journal PLOS Biology, the study's lead author PhD student, Hadayet Ullah and supervisors Professor Ivan Nagelkerken and Associate Professor Damien Fordham of the University's Environment Institute, show that increased temperatures reduce the vital flow of energy from the primary food producers at the bottom (e.g. algae), to intermediate consumers (herbivores), to predators at the top of marine food webs.

Such disturbances in energy transfer can potentially lead to a decrease in food availability for top predators, which in turn, can lead to negative impacts for many marine species within these food webs.

"Healthy food webs are important for maintenance of species diversity and provide a source of income and food for millions of people worldwide," said Mr Ullah. "Therefore, it is important to understand how climate change is altering marine food webs in the near future."

Twelve large 1,600 litre tanks were constructed to mimic predicted conditions of elevated ocean temperature and acidity caused by increasing human greenhouse gas emissions. The tanks harboured a range of species including algae, shrimp, sponges, snails, and fishes.

The mini-food web was maintained under future climate conditions for six months, during which time the researchers measured the survival, growth, biomass, and productivity of all animals and plants, and used these measurements in a sophisticated food web model.

"Whilst climate change increased the productivity of plants, this was mainly due to an expansion of cyanobacteria (small blue-green algae)," said Mr Ullah. "This increased primary productivity does not support food webs, however, because these cyanobacteria are largely unpalatable and they are not consumed by herbivores."

Understanding how ecosystems function under the effects of global warming is a challenge in ecological research. Most research on ocean warming involves simplified, short-term experiments based on only one or a few species.

"If we are to adequately forecast the impacts of climate change on ocean food webs and fisheries productivity, we need more complex and realistic approaches, that provide more reliable data for sophisticated food web models," said project leader Professor Nagelkerken.

Marine ecosystems are already experiencing major impacts from global warming, making it vital to better understand how these results can be extrapolated to ecosystems worldwide.


 

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If you want to do something about global warming, look under your feet. Managed well, soil's ability to trap carbon dioxide is potentially much greater than previously estimated, according to Stanford researchers who claim the resource could "significantly" offset increasing global emissions. They call for a reversal of federal cutbacks to related research programs to learn more about this valuable resource.

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The work, published in two overlapping studies Oct. 5 in Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics and Global Change Biology, emphasizes the need for more research into how soil -- if managed well -- could mitigate a rapidly changing climate.

"Dirt is not exciting to most people," said earth system science professor Rob Jackson, lead author of the Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics article and coauthor of the Global Change Biology paper. "But it is a no-risk climate solution with big cobenefits. Fostering soil health protects food security and builds resilience to droughts, floods and urbanization."

Humble, yet mighty

Organic matter in soil, such as decomposing plant and animal residues, stores more carbon than do plants and the atmosphere combined. Unfortunately, the carbon in soil has been widely lost or degraded through land use changes and unsustainable forest and agricultural practices, fires, nitrogen deposition and other human activities. The greatest near-term threat comes from thawing permafrost in Earth's northern reaches, which could release massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.

Despite these risks, there is also great promise, according to Jackson and Jennifer Harden, a visiting scholar in Stanford's School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences and lead author of the Global Change Biology paper.

Improving how the land is managed could increase soil's carbon storage enough to offset future carbon emissions from thawing permafrost, the researchers find. Among the possible approaches: reduced tillage, year-round livestock forage and compost application. Planting more perennial crops, instead of annuals, could store more carbon and to reduce erosion by allowing roots to reach deeper into the ground.

Jackson, Harden and their colleagues also found that about 70 percent of all sequestered carbon in the top meter of soil is in lands directly affected by agriculture, grazing or forest management -- an amount that surprised the authors.

"I think if beer bets were involved, we all would have lost," Harden said of her coauthors.

Jackson and his coauthors found a number of other surprises in their analysis. For example, plant roots are ?ve times more likely than leaves to turn into soil organic matter for the same mass of material. The study also provides the most complete estimate yet of carbon in peatland and permafrost -- almost half of the world's estimated soil carbon.

"Retaining and restoring soil organic matter helps farmers grow better crops, purifies our water and keeps the atmosphere cleaner," said Jackson, Michelle and Kevin Douglas Provostial Professor in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences.

Overcoming obstacles

The Jackson-led study describes an unexpectedly large stock of potentially vulnerable carbon in the northern taiga, an ecosystem that is warming more rapidly than any other. These carbon stocks are comparatively poorly mapped and understood.

The study warns of another danger: overestimating how the organic matter in soil is distributed. Jackson and his coauthors calculate there may be 25-30 percent less than currently estimated due to constraints from bedrock, a factor previously not analyzed in published scientific research.

While scientists are now able to remotely map and monitor environmental changes on Earth's surface, they still don't have a strong understanding of the interactions among biological, chemical and physical processes regulating carbon in soils. This knowledge is critical to understanding and predicting how the carbon cycle will respond to changes in the ecosystem, increasing food production and safeguarding natural services we depend on, such as crop pollination and underground water storage.

A rapidly changing climate -- and its effects on soil -- make these scientific advances all the more urgent.

"Soil has changed under our feet," Harden said. "We can't use the soil maps made 80 years ago and expect to find the same answers."

However, funding pressures such as federal cuts to climate science, combined with turnover in science staff and a lack of systematic data threaten progress on soil carbon research. Jackson, Harden and their colleagues call for a renewed push to gather significantly more data on carbon in the soil and learn more about the role it plays in sequestering carbon. They envision an open, shared network for use by farmers, ranchers and other land managers as well as policymakers and organizations that need good data to inform land investments and conservation.

"If we lose momentum on carbon research, it will stifle our momentum for solving both climate and land sustainability problems," Harden said.

 

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A new study has found that levels of commercial fish stocks could be harmed as rising sea temperatures affect their source of food.

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University of Adelaide scientists have demonstrated how climate change can drive the collapse of marine "food webs."

Published in the open access journal PLOS Biology, the study's lead author PhD student, Hadayet Ullah and supervisors Professor Ivan Nagelkerken and Associate Professor Damien Fordham of the University's Environment Institute, show that increased temperatures reduce the vital flow of energy from the primary food producers at the bottom (e.g. algae), to intermediate consumers (herbivores), to predators at the top of marine food webs.

Such disturbances in energy transfer can potentially lead to a decrease in food availability for top predators, which in turn, can lead to negative impacts for many marine species within these food webs.

"Healthy food webs are important for maintenance of species diversity and provide a source of income and food for millions of people worldwide," said Mr Ullah. "Therefore, it is important to understand how climate change is altering marine food webs in the near future."

Twelve large 1,600 litre tanks were constructed to mimic predicted conditions of elevated ocean temperature and acidity caused by increasing human greenhouse gas emissions. The tanks harboured a range of species including algae, shrimp, sponges, snails, and fishes.

The mini-food web was maintained under future climate conditions for six months, during which time the researchers measured the survival, growth, biomass, and productivity of all animals and plants, and used these measurements in a sophisticated food web model.

"Whilst climate change increased the productivity of plants, this was mainly due to an expansion of cyanobacteria (small blue-green algae)," said Mr Ullah. "This increased primary productivity does not support food webs, however, because these cyanobacteria are largely unpalatable and they are not consumed by herbivores."

Understanding how ecosystems function under the effects of global warming is a challenge in ecological research. Most research on ocean warming involves simplified, short-term experiments based on only one or a few species.

"If we are to adequately forecast the impacts of climate change on ocean food webs and fisheries productivity, we need more complex and realistic approaches, that provide more reliable data for sophisticated food web models," said project leader Professor Nagelkerken.

Marine ecosystems are already experiencing major impacts from global warming, making it vital to better understand how these results can be extrapolated to ecosystems worldwide.



 

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A new geological record of the Yellowstone supervolcano's last catastrophic eruption is rewriting the story of what happened 630,000 years ago and how it affected Earth's climate. This eruption formed the vast Yellowstone caldera observed today, the second largest on Earth.

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Two layers of volcanic ash bearing the unique chemical fingerprint of Yellowstone's most recent super-eruption have been found in seafloor sediments in the Santa Barbara Basin, off the coast of Southern California. These layers of ash, or tephra, are sandwiched among sediments that contain a remarkably detailed record of ocean and climate change. Together, both the ash and sediments reveal that the last eruption was not a single event, but two closely spaced eruptions that tapped the brakes on a natural global-warming trend that eventually led the planet out of a major ice age.

"We discovered here that there are two ash-forming super-eruptions 170 years apart and each cooled the ocean by about 3 degrees Celsius," said U.C. Santa Barbara geologist Jim Kennett, who will be presenting a poster about the work on Wednesday, 25 Oct., at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Seattle. Attaining the resolution to detect the separate eruptions and their climate effects is due to several special conditions found in the Santa Barbara Basin, Kennett said.

One condition is the steady supply of sediment to the basin from land -- about one millimeter per year. Then there is the highly productive ocean in the area, fed by upwelling nutrients from the deep ocean. This produced abundant tiny shells of foraminifera that sank to the seafloor where they were buried and preserved in the sediment. These shells contain temperature-dependent oxygen isotopes that reveal the sea surface temperatures in which they lived.

But none of this would be much use, said Kennett, if it not for the fact that oxygen levels at the seafloor in the basin are so low as to preclude burrowing marine animals that mix the sediments and degrade details of the climate record. As a result, Kennett and his colleagues can resolve the climate with decadal resolution.

By comparing the volcanic ash record with the foraminifera climate record, it's quite clear, he said, that both of these eruptions caused separate volcanic winters -- which is when ash and volcanic sulfur dioxide emissions reduce that amount of sunlight reaching Earth's surface and cause temporary cooling. These cooling events occurred at an especially sensitive time when the global climate was warming out of an ice age and easily disrupted by such events.

Kennett and colleagues discovered that the onset of the global cooling events was abrupt and coincided precisely with the timing of the supervolcanic eruptions, the first such observation of its kind.

But each time, the cooling lasted longer than it should have, according to simple climate models, he said. "We see planetary cooling of sufficient magnitude and duration that there had to be other feedbacks involved." These feedbacks might include increased sunlight-reflecting sea ice and snow cover or a change in ocean circulation that would cool the planet for a longer time.

"It was a fickle, but fortunate time," Kennett said of the timing of the eruptions. "If these eruptions had happened during another climate state we may not have detected the climatic consequences because the cooling episodes would not have lasted so long."

 

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Special 'nugget-producing' bacteria may hold the key to more efficient processing of gold ore, mine tailings and recycled electronics, as well as aid in exploration for new deposits, University of Adelaide research has shown.

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For more than 10 years, University of Adelaide researchers have been investigating the role of microorganisms in gold transformation. In the Earth's surface, gold can be dissolved, dispersed and reconcentrated into nuggets. This epic 'journey' is called the biogeochemical cycle of gold.

Now they have shown for the first time, just how long this biogeochemical cycle takes and they hope to make to it even faster in the future.

"Primary gold is produced under high pressures and temperatures deep below the Earth's surface and is mined, nowadays, from very large primary deposits, such as at the Superpit in Kalgoorlie," says Dr Frank Reith, Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the University of Adelaide's School of Biological Sciences, and Visiting Fellow at CSIRO Land and Water at Waite.

"In the natural environment, primary gold makes its way into soils, sediments and waterways through biogeochemical weathering and eventually ends up in the ocean. On the way bacteria can dissolve and re-concentrate gold -- this process removes most of the silver and forms gold nuggets.

"We've known that this process takes place, but for the first time we've been able to show that this transformation takes place in just years to decades -- that's a blink of an eye in terms of geological time.

"These results have surprised us, and lead the way for many interesting applications such as optimising the processes for gold extraction from ore and re-processing old tailings or recycled electronics, which isn't currently economically viable."

Working with John and Johno Parsons (Prophet Gold Mine, Queensland), Professor Gordon Southam (University of Queensland) and Dr Geert Cornelis (formerly of the CSIRO), Dr Reith and postdoctoral researcher Dr Jeremiah Shuster analysed numerous gold grains collected from West Coast Creek using high-resolution electron-microscopy.

Published in the journal Chemical Geology, they showed that five 'episodes' of gold biogeochemical cycling had occurred on each gold grain. Each episode was estimated to take between 3.5 and 11.7 years -- a total of under 18 to almost 60 years to form the secondary gold.

"Understanding this gold biogeochemical cycle could help mineral exploration by finding undiscovered gold deposits or developing innovative processing techniques," says Dr Shuster, University of Adelaide. "If we can make this process faster, then the potential for re-processing tailings and improving ore-processing would be game-changing. Initial attempts to speed up these reactions are looking promising."

The researchers say that this new understanding of the gold biogeochemical process and transformation may also help verify the authenticity of archaeological gold artefacts and distinguish them from fraudulent copies.

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New research from University of Alberta and University of Vienna microbiologists provides unparalleled insight into the Earth's nitrogen cycle, identifying and characterizing the ammonia-oxidizing microbe, Nitrospira inopinata. The findings, explained Lisa Stein, co-author and professor of biology, have significant implications for climate change research.

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"I consider nitrogen the camouflaged beast in our midst," said Stein.

"Humans are now responsible for adding more fixed nitrogen, in the form of ammonium, to the environment than all natural sources combined. Because of that, the nitrogen cycle has been identified as the most unbalanced biogeochemical cycle on the planet."

The camouflaged beast

Earth's nitrogen cycle has been thrown significantly off balance by the process we use to make fertilizer, known as the Haber-Bosch process, which adds massive quantities of fixed nitrogen, or ammonium, to the environment. Downstream effects of excess ammonium has huge environmental implications, from dead zones in our oceans to a greenhouse gas effect 300 times that of carbon dioxide on a molecule to molecule basis.

Isolation and characterization of the Nitrospira inopinata microbe, Stein said, could hold the answers for Earth's nitrogen problem.

Practical applications

"The Nitrospira inopinata microbe is an ammonium sponge, outcompeting nearly all other bacteria and archaea in its oxidation of ammonium in the environment," explained Stein. "Now that we know how efficient this microbe is, we can explore many practical applications to reduce the amount of ammonium that contributes to environmental problems in our atmosphere, water, and soil."

The applications range from wastewater treatment, with the development of more efficient biofilms, to drinking water and soil purification to climate change research.

"An efficient complete ammonia oxidizer, such as Nitrospira inopinata, may produce less nitrous oxide," explained Kits. "By encouraging our microbe to outgrow other, incomplete oxidizers, we may, in turn, reduce their contribution to the greenhouse gas effect. Further investigation is required."

 

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What do the Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone," global climate change, and acid rain have in common? They're all a result of human impacts to Earth's biology, chemistry and geology, and the natural cycles that involve all three.

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On August 4-5, 2009, scientists who study such cycles--biogeochemists--will convene at a special series of sessions at the Ecological Society of America (ESA)'s 94th annual meeting in Albuquerque, N.M.

They will present results of research supported through various National Science Foundation (NSF) efforts, including coupled biogeochemical cycles (CBC) funding. CBC is an emerging scientific discipline that looks at how Earth's biogeochemical cycles interact.

"Advancing our understanding of Earth's systems increasingly depends on collaborations between bioscientists and geoscientists," said James Collins, NSF assistant director for biological sciences. "The interdisciplinary science of biogeochemistry is a way of connecting processes happening in local ecosystems with phenomena occurring on a global scale, like climate change."

A biogeochemical cycle is a pathway by which a chemical element, such as carbon, or compound, like water, moves through Earth's biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere.

In effect, the element is "recycled," although in some cycles the element is accumulated or held for long periods of time.

Chemical compounds are passed from one organism to another, and from one part of the biosphere to another, through biogeochemical cycles.

Water, for example, can go through three phases (liquid, solid, gas) as it cycles through the Earth system. It evaporates from plants as well as land and ocean surfaces into the atmosphere and, after condensing in clouds, returns to Earth as rain and snow.

Researchers are discovering that biogeochemical cycles--whether the water cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the carbon cycle, or others--happen in concert with one another. Biogeochemical cycles are "coupled" to each other and to Earth's physical features.

"Historically, biogeochemists have focused on specific cycles, such as the carbon cycle or the nitrogen cycle," said Tim Killeen, NSF assistant director for geosciences. "Biogeochemical cycles don't exist in isolation, however. There is no nitrogen cycle without a carbon cycle, a hydrogen cycle, an oxygen cycle, and even cycles of trace metals such as iron."

Now, with global warming and other planet-wide impacts, biogeochemical cycles are being drastically altered. Like broken gears in machinery that was once finely-tuned, these cycles are falling out of sync.

Knowledge about coupled biogeochemical cycles is "essential to addressing a range of human impacts," said Jon Cole, a biogeochemist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y., and co-organizer of the CBC symposium at ESA.

"It will shed light on questions such as the success of wetland restoration and the status of aquatic food webs. The special CBC conference sessions at ESA will explore future research needs in environmental chemistry, with a focus on how global climate change may impact various habitats."

Earth's habitats have different chemical compositions. Oceans are wet and salty; forest soils are rich in organic forms of nitrogen and carbon that retain moisture.

The atmosphere has a fairly constant chemical composition--roughly 79 percent nitrogen, 20 percent oxygen, and a 1 percent mix of other gases like water, carbon dioxide, and methane.

"Seemingly subtle chemical changes may have large effects," said Cole.

"Consider that global climate change is caused by increases in carbon dioxide and methane, gases which occupy less than ½ of one percent of the atmosphere. Now more than ever, we need a comprehensive view of Earth's biogeochemical cycles."

The study of coupled biogeochemical cycles has direct management applications.

The "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico is one example. Nitrogen-based fertilizers make their way from Iowa cornfields to the Mississippi River, where they are transported to the Gulf of Mexico. Once deposited in the Gulf, nitrogen stimulates algal blooms.

When the algae die, their decomposition consumes oxygen, creating an area of water roughly the size of New Jersey that is inhospitable to aquatic life. Protecting the Gulf's fisheries--with an estimated annual value of half-a-billion dollars--relies on understanding how coupled biogeochemical cycles interact.

A better understanding of the relationship between nitrogen and oxygen cycles may help determine how best to use nitrogen fertilizers, for example, to avoid dead zones.

 

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A study published today in Science by researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory may dramatically shift our understanding of the complex dance of microbes and minerals that takes place in aquifers deep underground. This dance affects groundwater quality, the fate of contaminants in the ground and the emerging science of carbon sequestration.

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Deep underground, microbes don't have much access to oxygen. So they have evolved ways to breathe other elements, including solid minerals like iron and sulfur.

The part that interests scientists is that when the microbes breathe solid iron and sulfur, they transform them into highly reactive dissolved ions that are then much more likely to interact with other minerals and dissolved materials in the aquifer. This process can slowly but steadily make dramatic changes to the makeup of the rock, soil and water.

"That means that how these microbes breathe affects what happens to pollutants -- whether they travel or stay put -- as well as groundwater quality," said Ted Flynn, a scientist from Argonne and the Computation Institute at the University of Chicago and the lead author of the study.

About a fifth of the world's population relies on groundwater from aquifers for their drinking water supply, and many more depend on the crops watered by aquifers.

For decades, scientists thought that when iron was present in these types of deep aquifers, microbes who can breathe it would out-compete those who cannot. There's an accepted hierarchy of what microbes prefer to breathe, according to how much energy each reaction can theoretically yield. (Oxygen is considered the best overall, but it is rarely found deep below the surface.)

According to these calculations, of the elements that do show up in these aquifers, breathing iron theoretically provides the most energy to microbes. And iron is frequently among the most abundant minerals in many aquifers, while solid sulfur is almost always absent.

But something didn't add up right. A lot of the microorganisms had equipment to breathe both iron and sulfur. This requires two completely different enzymatic mechanisms, and it's evolutionarily expensive for microbes to keep the genes necessary to carry out both processes. Why would they bother, if sulfur was so rarely involved?

The team decided to redo the energy calculations assuming an alkaline environment -- "Older and deeper aquifers tend to be more alkaline than pH-neutral surface waters," said Argonne coauthor Ken Kemner -- and found that in alkaline environments, it gets harder and harder to get energy out of iron.

"Breathing sulfur, on the other hand, becomes even more favorable in alkaline conditions," Flynn said.

The team reinforced this hypothesis in the lab with bacteria under simulated aquifer conditions. The bacteria, Shewanella oneidensis, can normally breathe both iron and sulfur. When the pH got as high as 9, however, it could breathe sulfur, but not iron.

There was still the question of where microorganisms like Shewanella could find sulfur in their native habitat, where it appeared to be scarce.

The answer came from another group of microorganisms that breathe a different, soluble form of sulfur called sulfate, which is commonly found in groundwater alongside iron minerals. These microbes exhale sulfide, which reacts with iron minerals to form solid sulfur and reactive iron. The team believes this sulfur is used up almost immediately by Shewanella and its relatives.

"This explains why we don't see much sulfur at any fixed point in time, but the amount of energy cycling through it could be huge," Kemner said.

Indeed, when the team put iron-breathing bacteria in a highly alkaline lab environment without any sulfur, the bacteria did not produce any reduced iron.

"This hypothesis runs counter to the prevailing theory, in which microorganisms compete, survival-of-the-fittest style, and one type of organism comes out dominant," Flynn said. Rather, the iron-breathing and the sulfate-breathing microbes depend on each other to survive.

Understanding this complex interplay is particularly important for sequestering carbon. The idea is that in order to keep harmful carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, we would compress and inject it into deep underground aquifers. In theory, the carbon would react with iron and other compounds, locking it into solid minerals that wouldn't seep to the surface.

Iron is one of the major players in this scenario, and it must be in its reactive state for carbon to interact with it to form a solid mineral. Microorganisms are essential in making all that reactive iron. Therefore, understanding that sulfur -- and the microbe junkies who depend on it -- plays a role in this process is a significant chunk of the puzzle that has been missing until now.

 

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Many different types of animals come together to form vast groups -- insect swarms, mammal herds, or bird flocks, for example. Researchers in France added another example to the list, reported October 5 in the online journal PLoS ONE: the huge Wels catfish, the world's third largest and Europe's largest fresh-water fish. Researchers observed these fish in the Rhone River from May 2009 to Feb. 2011 and found that they formed dense groups of 15 to 44 individuals, corresponding to an estimated total biomass of up to 1132 kilograms with a biomass density of 14 to 40 kilograms per square meter.

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Unlike traditional behavior seen in schools of fish, the catfish in the aggregations did not all point in the same direction and sometimes came into contact with their neighbors. Researchers were not able to determine the reason for this behavior, though they ruled out reproduction, foraging, and safety from predators.

The species originates from Eastern Europe and is not native to the Rhone, so the researchers were curious what effect these large aggregations may have on the local ecosystem. They calculate that the groups of fish could excrete extremely large amount of phosphorus and nitrogen in their waste, creating potentially the highest biogeochemical hotspots reported in freshwater ecosystems.

According to the authors, "our study is unique in identifying unexpected ecological impacts of alien species. Our findings will be ground breaking news for many scientific fields including conservation biology, ecosystem ecology and behavioral ecology and anyone interested in biological invasion and the potential ecological impacts of alien species. Therefore, we believe that our manuscript will stimulate further research and discussion in these fields."

 

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Cortisol, deemed the quintessential stress hormone, allows us to cope with important events and imminent threats. A spike in cortisol levels mobilizes necessary resources -- such as by tapping into our body's reserves to produce energy -- and then allows us to return to a stable state. But can our bodies cope with prolonged or repeated stress in the same way? Some studies report lower cortisol levels in humans -- or other mammals -- subject to chronic stress, while other studies contradict these findings. In light of this, is cortisol still a reliable stress indicator?

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To answer this question, researchers from Rennes, France, studied 59 adult horses (44 geldings and 15 mares) from three different riding centers, under their usual living conditions: Horses were kept in individual stalls that are both spatially and socially restrictive and ridden by inexperienced equestrians -- both potential stressors that, if recurrent, can lead to chronically compromised welfare. The scientists monitored various behavioral and sanitary indicators of the horses' welfare and measured cortisol levels using blood and stool samples. The equine subjects had all been living under the stated conditions for at least a year at the start of the study, and they were observed for several weeks.

Surprisingly, cortisol levels in horses showing signs of compromised welfare (e.g., ears pointed back, back problems, and anemia) were lower than in other horses. These findings are in accord with early observations by the ethology team, which recorded abnormally low cortisol concentrations in horses with depressive-like behavior. Furthermore, cortisol metabolite levels measured in feces correlated with blood cortisol levels, which advocates use of stool sample analyses as an alternative, noninvasive means of gauging horse welfare.

Low cortisol levels may seem counterintuitive here, but they could be explained by a breakdown of the system when horses experience stress at excessive levels for excessive lengths of time. So when exactly does duration and intensity of stress become excessive for these horses? This is one of the questions the team of researchers is now seeking to answer. At any rate, this study demonstrates that cortisol levels are not always reliable indicators of stress or compromised welfare: On the one hand, high cortisol may be a sign of positive stress, driving higher performance; on the other, low cortisol does not necessarily mean lack of stress. Quite the contrary, under a certain threshold, low cortisol levels may be cause for concern.

 

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The wellbeing of zoological animals is set to improve following the successful trial of a new welfare assessment grid, a new study in the journal Veterinary Record reports.

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Researchers from Marwell Zoo, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Surrey, trialled a series of monitoring strategies on primates and birds to help zookeepers ensure the health and safety of animals in their care. The introduction of the practice over a period of 13 weeks at two zoological collections in the South of England, clearly demonstrated the level of physical and psychological wellbeing of the animals, and the effect of certain interventions.

The welfare assessment grid requires daily monitoring of a range of factors, such as the animals' physical condition, their psychological wellbeing and the quality of the environment, as well as the daily procedures they experience. These factors were not all previously part of the regular health checks that zookeepers were required to assess when they were undertaking animal welfare audits. In each area the primates and birds were scored, helping to monitor their progress and highlight any potential problems.

Although welfare protection of zoo animals is enshrined in both European and domestic legislation, monitoring it comprehensively in zoos has proven difficult due to the absence of clear and consistent guidance.

Sarah Wolfensohn, Professor of Animal Welfare at the University of Surrey, said: "Ensuring a high standard of animal welfare is paramount for any zoo, but it has not always been possible. This innovative system will give zookeepers clear guidance on what they should be looking out for in terms of physical and psychological characteristics in animals, which will help monitor their overall wellbeing.

"Zoos are a key part of educating us all about our environment and the animals we share it with across the world, and we all want to know that the animals we do see in zoos are being given the best possible care for their welfare."

 

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A recently published study in the journal Pachyderm highlights the ongoing effort of accredited zoos to address challenges and improve the sustainability of endangered species populations in their care. The study, co-authored by scientists from San Diego Zoo Global and Mars Hill University, evaluated fertility issues in captive-born southern white rhinos and determined that diets including soy and alfalfa were likely contributors to breeding challenges.

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"The captive southern white rhinoceros (SWR) population is not currently self-sustaining, due to the reproductive failure of captive-born females," said Christopher Tubbs Ph.D, San Diego Zoo Global and lead author of the paper. "Our research into this phenomenon points to chemicals produced by plants present in captive diets, such as soy and alfalfa, as likely causes."

Soy and alfalfa are commonly included in feeds for many herbivorous animals under human care, however these diets have high levels of phytoestrogens that disrupt normal hormone functions in some species. The study reviews historical data on the reproductive success of southern white rhinos in zoos in North America. These studies discovered that female rhinos born in captive environments showed lower reproductive levels. At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, animal care staff switched to a low phytoestrogen diet for southern white rhinos in their care in 2014. The nutritional change appears to be an effective means of addressing the challenge.

"Following our diet modification, routine monitoring of the reproductive status of our female SWR suggested that the diet change was having a positive impact," said Tubbs. "Two females that had previously not reproduced have now become pregnant and successfully given birth to healthy calves."

 

 

 

 

 

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Reptiles are often chosen as pets when an allergy risk exists within a family and the choice is made to avoid potentially allergenic pets such as dogs, cats or guinea pigs. Researchers at the Messerli Research Institute, however, recently described a noteworthy clinical case in which an eight-year-old boy developed nightly attacks of severe shortness of breath four months after the purchase of a bearded dragon.

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The cause for the allergic reaction turned out not to be the lizard itself but the animal's food. The grasshoppers used to regularly feed the lizard were revealed to be the source of the allergy.

First author Erika Jensen-Jarolim speaks of the tip of an iceberg: "Even colleagues with allergologic expertise could overlook insects as reptile food as a possible cause of such allergic reactions. Far too little is known about grasshoppers as a potential allergenic source in homes. We do know of cases, however, in which fish food has caused allergies. And insects are often processed in fish food."

Grasshopper enzymes identified as allergens

For a long time, the cause of the allergic reaction in the eight-year-old Viennese boy remained unknown. The initial diagnosis was pseudo croup, an infection of the respiratory tract, and severe asthma. Allergy expert Jensen-Jarolim and her team considered the possibility of a pet allergy and chose to also test the reptile food: grasshoppers. An allergy skin test and evidence of specific IgE antibodies finally brought certainty: grasshopper allergens were the cause of the allergic reactions in the child.

"We were in the middle of a study investigating sources of allergies at pet stores. So coming upon the reptile food was pure coincidence," says Jensen-Jarolim.

Allergy persists long after exposure

On Jensen-Jarolim's advice, the reptile was immediately removed from the boy's home. The symptoms abated as a result. Four years later, however, the boy exposed himself to the allergen again, which triggered an allergic asthmatic reaction even after all that time.

New rules for handling reptiles

"We are seeing a shift in the attitude towards reptiles from a pure hobby or biological interest toward a human-animal relationship with an emotional component. It is difficult to estimate the number of reptiles and food animals living in people's homes and the undisclosed figure is sure to be high," Jensen-Jarolim believes. She recommends keeping reptile food outside of homes. The reptiles themselves should not be kept in living rooms, as undigested insects end up in the terraria via the faeces. This could result in pet owners inhaling the aggressive allergens, leading to allergies such as asthma or skin inflammations.

"Grasshopper allergies have been nearly unknown to date. With our publication, it is our intention to sensitise the public to this matter. We are especially concerned about people who keep such animals, pet store employees as well as physicians, who should include questions regarding reptile pets and their food as a routine in their allergy diagnostic consultation," stresses Jensen-Jarolim.

 

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Experts are warning cat owners to be aware of the risks associated with feeding their pets raw meat-based diets (RMBDs), instead of the more conventional dry or canned pet foods.

In the Vet Record today, a team of researchers based in The Netherlands say these diets may be contaminated with bacteria and parasites, and as such may pose a risk to both animal and human health.

Feeding RMBDs to companion animals has become increasingly popular across the world, yet claims of health benefits are not backed by evidence, and several studies have reported possible risks.

Of most concern, however, is the risk to public or animal health due to contamination of RMBDs with zoonotic bacteria and parasites, that can pass between animals and humans.

So a team led by Paul Overgaauw at Utrecht University set out to determine the presence of four zoonotic bacteria and two parasite species in commercial RMBDs, available in most pet shops and supermarkets.

They analysed 35 commercial frozen RMBDs from eight different brands, widely available in The Netherlands. Escherichia coli O157 was isolated from eight products (23%), Listeria species were present in 15 products (43%) and Salmonella species in seven products (20%). Both E coli O157 and Salmonella infections in humans have been linked with serious illnesses.

Four products (11%) contained the parasite Sarcocystis cruzi and another four contained Sarcocystis tenella. In two products (6%) Toxoplasma gondii was found. The Sarcocystes species are not zoonotic but pose a risk to farm animals. T gondii is an important zoonosis with a high disease burden in humans.

"Despite the relatively low sample size of frozen products in our study, it is clear that commercial RMBDs may be contaminated with a variety of zoonotic bacterial and parasitic pathogens that may be a possible source of bacterial infections in pet animals and if transmitted pose a risk for human beings," say the researchers.

"Cats and dogs that eat raw meat diets are also more likely to become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria than animals on conventional diets, which could pose a serious risk to both animal health and public health," they add.

They outline several ways in which pet owners and other household members can encounter such pathogens. For example, through direct contact with the food or with an infected pet; through contact with contaminated household surfaces; or by eating cross-contaminated human food.

They therefore suggest that pet owners should be informed about the risks associated with feeding their animals RMBDs, and should be educated about personal hygiene and proper handling of RMBDs.

Warnings and handling instructions should also be included on product labels and/or packages, they advise.

 

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Warthog Facts and Information

Phacochoerus africanus

Introduction to Warthog

The Warthog is a member of the wild pig family, and they are larger than many other species. They have four protrusions that come out of the head and that is where their name comes from. They have small tusks that are sharp and powerful. They use them for digging as well as for fighting.

There are four subspecies of the Warthog and they vary in overall size and weight. They range from 3 to 5 feet tall and from 100 to 170 pounds. The males are usually about 25% larger than the females. They tusks are curved and they are sharp. They have very sharp teeth too.

Warthog Description

The body of the Warthog is very stocky and powerful. They are fast animals and they can be very physical with each other. They have dark gray colored skin that is has short hairs. They also have long hair that is like a mane on the back. This helps to protect their skin from the harsh sunlight. The tail is very long and thin with a tuft of hair at the end of it.

Warthog Distribution

There are quite a few types of habitat that the Warthog is able to do well in. They live in the savanna, woodlands, and grassland areas. They live in various parts of Africa including Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.

Warthog Behavior

The Warthog has adapted to be able to survive by grazing along the areas of the savanna. They rely on their snout to help them get food and they also use their front and back legs to dig. They tend to take over burrows that have been left behind by other animals though instead of digging their own when possible. These burrows offer them protection from predators as well as from the heat.

They will roll around in mud when it is available to help them cool off when it is too hot. When it is cooler in the evening they will huddle so that they can generate enough body heat to stay warm. They tend to run away from danger most of the time but they will fight if they need to.

Most of the fighting that does occur is between two males, trying to get the right to mate with a female. They use their tusks to fight each other and the battle will continue until one of the males walks away in defeat. Usually there aren’t any serious injuries that result from such conflicts.

Warthog Feeding

They are opportunistic feeders and take every chance they get to forage for food. The diet for the Warthog consists of roots, berries, grass, eggs, fungus, carrion, and bark from trees. They are able to adjust their diet based on various seasons too. During the dry season they will consume roots that most other living creatures in that area can’t digest.

Warthog Reproduction

Females and their young live in grounds called sounders, and the males live alone. During mating season though the males will come to those groups of females. They are attracted by the strong scent that the females deliver.

After mating occurs the female will carry the young in her body for 5 or 6 months. The young offspring are called piglets. A litter may have from 2 to 7 young in it. Sometimes females will also nurse the young of other females in their sounder. The young are able to find their own food when they are about 6 weeks old.

Warthog Conservation

Even though the Warthog isn’t at risk of too low numbers right now, there are concerns about it. Many of these animals are killed by poachers that want to take their ivory. They are also killed by hunting enthusiasts that are looking for a more advanced thrill than the typical prey they go after.

 

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Recent incidents of adulteration involving infant formula, other milk products and pet food with the industrial chemical melamine revealed the weaknesses of current methods widely used across the domestic and global food industry for determining protein content in foods. The possible utility of alternative existing and emerging methods is the subject of a new paper published in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, a peer-reviewed journal of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).

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The paper, now available online, is authored by a team of experts led by Jeffrey Moore, Ph.D., of the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP). USP publishes the Food Chemicals Codex (FCC), a compendium of quality standards for food ingredients.

The paper examines how reliance on 19th century methods -- primarily the Kjeldahl method and the combustion (Dumas) method -- for measuring total protein content in foods and the lack of more specific methods allowed for the adulteration of protein-based foods with melamine and related nonprotein compounds in 2007 and 2008. Rather than quantifying protein content, these methods rely on total nitrogen determination as a marker to estimate the amount of protein in a food -- and are the current standard for the food industry. Such approaches may allow unscrupulous parties to fool these tests simply by adding a cheap organic compound containing nitrogen, which can result in severe physical damage to humans and animals as well as financial consequences for food producers and consumers through price increases, market disruptions, trade restrictions, product liability costs, loss of revenues and brand damages.

"While the globalization of the food industry has provided consumers with a seemingly endless number of choices and year-round availability to enhance their diets, the events of 2007 and 2008 have shown that it may also introduce new risks -- leaving the industry as a whole and individual consumers vulnerable to potential serious consequences," said Dr. Moore. "Adulteration of foods represents a significant public health threat that needs to be addressed. In this paper, we look at a path forward on the complex issue of protein measurement -- development, validation and implementation of new analysis methods specific for protein-based food ingredients."

As described in the paper, protein content is held at a premium because of the nutritional value of proteins as well as their contribution to functional properties of food such as texture and flavor. Thus, protein quantification is an important tool used throughout the global food supply chain, helping to determine the economic value of a food. The authors note that as long as the value of food ingredients is based on protein content, the incentive to adulterate these materials by measures designed to inflate protein measurement will exist -- necessitating the need for new approaches used by the food industry.

To stimulate discussion and to provide new information about the development and adoption of new or alternative protein methodologies, the authors of the paper review the following:

the early history of food protein methodology

analytical strategies to prevent intentional adulteration of foods and food ingredients

challenges of developing or adopting new or alternative protein quantification methods and associated reference materials

criteria against which new methodologies can be evaluated, and

emerging methodologies for total food protein measurement, including pros and cons.

The paper looks at the two primary analytical strategies to prevent "economic adulteration of food," which is defined as "fraudulent addition of non-authentic substances or removal or replacement of authentic substances without the purchaser's knowledge for economic gain of the seller." The first approach uses analytical tests to identify one or more suspected adulterants, where an "absence of" result indicates the test material is not adulterated with a specific material. This requires prior knowledge about the adulterant and therefore is not useful for detecting unknown adulterants, thus prohibiting it from preventing future adulteration with unknown substitutes. The second approach is based on compendial identification and purity tests that substantiate an ingredient's identify and quantify its purity, i.e., a "presence of" result. This approach is effective when either a known or unknown adulterant is substituted for the original material at concentrations high enough to be recognized in test results. As noted in the paper, it is less useful when adulterants are present in low concentrations; however, from a practical perspective, counterfeiters often must adulterate at relatively high concentration levels to realize economic gain. Such purity standards are contained in compendia including the FCC. At this time, no current compendial methods are sufficiently selective to differentiate protein from other nitrogen-containing compounds.

The paper identifies a host of existing methods for food protein measurement that may exhibit potential for broader use (and the associated pros and cons of each method), including infrared methods, amino acid-based methods and new spectral probes. Certain methods have existed for some time but have not achieved routine use by the food industry, instead having been largely limited to research applications. However, the authors note that even though these methods may have some utility, many food matrices have unique requirements that necessitate different approaches for protein measurement. This may require a combination of different protein analysis methods to effectively prevent adulteration. The paper also looks at emerging methods including antibody based methods and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) that may be useful once sufficiently developed for practical use in routine protein measurements.

"Through further exploration of available and emerging methods -- and new work in this area -- the ultimate hope is to protect public health by preventing the next melamine," noted Dr. Moore.

 

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Animals' Sleep: Is There a Human Connection?

Giraffes can go without sleep for weeks, while brown bats sleep for nearly the entire day. The golden dormouse carefully balances itself on the branch of a tree to sleep, and any quiver of the twig wakes it up immediately.

From the miniscule tree shrew to the most physically imposing of mammals, animals have varying sleep patterns and habits. Rats have similar sleep needs to humans, requiring rest to become alert and learn new tasks for the upcoming day. Certain canines have even helped scientists in treating serious sleep disorders.

"The only way to understand human sleep is to study animals," says Jerome Siegel, PhD, professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA Center for Sleep Research. "If we could better understand animal sleep, we could better understand the core aspects of sleep."

The common denominator of both (non-human) mammals and humans is the existence of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the sleep state that is associated with dreams. Both humans and all other mammals display the same level of brain activity and increased heart rate variability during REM sleep. For example: dogs often bark or twitch their legs during REM sleep; platypuses make movements imitating the process where they kill crustacean prey before eating it; and humans often talk in their sleep.

"[Mammals] all have the same fundamental sleep cycle," says Adrian Morrison, DVM, PhD, professor of Behavior Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Center. "During REM sleep, you see the same kind of eye movement, paralysis and twitching across species."

Scientists still don't know—and probably never will—if animals dream during REM sleep, as humans do. "How can you prove that another person has dreams? You ask them," says Siegel.

Scientists do know, however, that the brain wave pattern during REM sleep among animals is similar to humans.

Man's Best Friend in Treating Sleep Disorders

For many years, scientists struggled to identify the brain abnormality in humans that causes narcolepsy. Little did they know that the dog would become invaluable in helping treat the disease. Major advances in treating narcolepsy were made in the 1970s, when William Dement, MD, PhD, of the Stanford University Sleep Research Center learned that certain dogs displayed similar symptoms of narcolepsy as manifested in humans: sudden collapse and muscle weakness leading to near-paralysis.

These initial observations led to the identification over 20 years later of the narcolepsy-causing gene in dogs, hypocretin receptor 2, by Emmanuel Mignot, MD, PhD, at Stanford University. Further studies by Siegel and Mignot showed that humans who suffer from narcolepsy had a severely reduced amount of the narcolepsy-preventing chemical hypocretin in their brains. Siegel also discovered that injecting hypocretin in dogs reduces the degree of some symptoms. These findings suggest that it may be possible to design drugs that replace the missing hypocretin molecules in patients with the disorder. "You are happy when you make a discovery, but you are really, really happy when you make a discovery with therapeutic possibilities," says Mignot.

Studying animals' sleep patterns and sleep habits carries the potential to benefit other brain disorders in humans. Unihemispheral sleep in birds and dolphins—where one side of the brain remains awake in sleep—may provide new clues into the human brain. According to Amlaner, the bird's sleeping brain could be used in the future as the model to help treat debilitating brain illnesses in humans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It has become common for people who have pets to refer to themselves as "pet parents," but how closely does the relationship between people and their non-human companions mirror the parent-child relationship? A small study from a group of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers makes a contribution to answering this complex question by investigating differences in how important brain structures are activated when women view images of their children and of their own dogs. Their report is being published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

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"Pets hold a special place in many people's hearts and lives, and there is compelling evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that interacting with pets can be beneficial to the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of humans," says Lori Palley, DVM, of the MGH Center for Comparative Medicine, co-lead author of the report. "Several previous studies have found that levels of neurohormones like oxytocin -- which is involved in pair-bonding and maternal attachment -- rise after interaction with pets, and new brain imaging technologies are helping us begin to understand the neurobiological basis of the relationship, which is exciting."

In order to compare patterns of brain activation involved with the human-pet bond with those elicited by the maternal-child bond, the study enrolled a group of women with at least one child aged 2 to 10 years old and one pet dog that had been in the household for two years or longer. Participation consisted of two sessions, the first being a home visit during which participants completed several questionnaires, including ones regarding their relationships with both their child and pet dog. The participants' dog and child were also photographed in each participants' home.

The second session took place at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at MGH, where functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) -- which indicates levels of activation in specific brain structures by detecting changes in blood flow and oxygen levels -- was performed as participants lay in a scanner and viewed a series of photographs. The photos included images of each participant's own child and own dog alternating with those of an unfamiliar child and dog belonging to another study participant. After the scanning session, each participant completed additional assessments, including an image recognition test to confirm she had paid close attention to photos presented during scanning, and rated several images from each category shown during the session on factors relating to pleasantness and excitement.

Of 16 women originally enrolled, complete information and MR data was available for 14 participants. The imaging studies revealed both similarities and differences in the way important brain regions reacted to images of a woman's own child and own dog. Areas previously reported as important for functions such as emotion, reward, affiliation, visual processing and social interaction all showed increased activity when participants viewed either their own child or their own dog. A region known to be important to bond formation -- the substantia nigra/ventral tegmental area (SNi/VTA) -- was activated only in response to images of a participant's own child. The fusiform gyrus, which is involved in facial recognition and other visual processing functions, actually showed greater response to own-dog images than own-child images.

"Although this is a small study that may not apply to other individuals, the results suggest there is a common brain network important for pair-bond formation and maintenance that is activated when mothers viewed images of either their child or their dog," says Luke Stoeckel, PhD, MGH Department of Psychiatry, co-lead author of the PLOS One report. "We also observed differences in activation of some regions that may reflect variance in the evolutionary course and function of these relationships. For example, like the SNi/VTA, the nucleus accumbens has been reported to have an important role in pair-bonding in both human and animal studies. But that region showed greater deactivation when mothers viewed their own-dog images instead of greater activation in response to own-child images, as one might expect. We think the greater response of the fusiform gyrus to images of participants' dogs may reflect the increased reliance on visual than verbal cues in human-animal communications."

Co-author Randy Gollub, MD, PhD, of MGH Psychiatry adds, "Since fMRI is an indirect measure of neural activity and can only correlate brain activity with an individual's experience, it will be interesting to see if future studies can directly test whether these patterns of brain activity are explained by the specific cognitive and emotional functions involved in human-animal relationships. Further, the similarities and differences in brain activity revealed by functional neuroimaging may help to generate hypotheses that eventually provide an explanation for the complexities underlying human-animal relationships."

The investigators note that further research is needed to replicate these findings in a larger sample and to see if they are seen in other populations -- such as women without children, fathers and parents of adopted children -- and in relationships with other animal species. Combining fMRI studies with additional behavioral and physiological measures could obtain evidence to support a direct relationship between the observed brain activity and the purported functions.

Stoeckel is a clinical neuropsychologist and lecturer on psychology, and Gollub an associate professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Additional co-authors of the PLOS ONE report are Eden Evins, MD, MGH Psychiatry, and Steven Niemi, DVM, Harvard University. Support for the study includes National Institutes of Health grants K23DA032612 and K24DA030443 and support from the Charles A. King Trust. The study was facilitated by imaging consult support from Harvard Catalyst.

 

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A novel PET radiotracer developed at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) is able for the first time to reveal epigenetic activity -- the process that determines whether or not genes are expressed -- within the human brain. In their report published in Science Translational Medicine, a team of MGH/Martinos Center investigators reports how their radiochemical -- called Martinostat -- shows the expression levels of important epigenetics-regulating enzymes in the brains of healthy volunteers.

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"The ability to image the epigenetic machinery in the human brain can provide a way to begin understanding interactions between genes and the environment," says Jacob Hooker, PhD, of the Martinos Center, senior author of the report. "This could allow us to investigate questions such as why some people genetically predisposed to a disease are protected from it? Why events during early life and adolescence have such a lasting impact on brain health? Is it possible to 'reset' gene expression in the human brain?"

A key epigenetic mechanism is the packaging of DNA into chromosomes, in which it wraps around proteins called histones forming a structure called chromatin. Modification of histones by the addition or removal of molecules called epigenetic factors can regulate whether or not an adjacent gene is expressed. One of the most important of these factors is the acetyl molecule, addition of which allows a gene to be transcribed and removal of which -- called deacetylation -- prevents transcription.

Enzymes called histone deacetylases (HDAC) are important regulators of gene transcription, and one group of HDACs has been linked to important brain disorders. Several established neuropsychiatric drugs are HDAC inhibitors, and others are currently being studied as potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's disease. Martinostat was developed in Hooker's laboratory and is patterned after known HDAC inhibitors in order to tightly bind to HDAC molecules in the brain.

PET scans with Martinostat of the brains of eight healthy human volunteers revealed characteristic patterns of uptake -- reflecting HDAC expression levels -- that were consistent among all participants. HDAC expression was almost twice as high in gray matter as in white matter; and within gray matter structures, uptake was highest in the hippocampus and amygdala and lowest in the putamen and cerebellum. Experiments with brain tissues from humans and baboons confirmed Martinostat's binding to HDAC, and studies with neural progenitor stem cells revealed specific genes regulated by this group of HDACs, many of which are known to be important in brain health and disease.

"HDAC dysregulation has been implicated in a growing number of brain diseases, so being able to study HDAC regulation both in the normal brain and through the progression of disease should help us better understand disease processes," says Hooker, who is an associate professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School. "We've now started studies of patients with several neurologic or psychiatric disorders, and I believe Martinostat will help us understand the different ways these conditions are manifested and provide new insights into potential therapies."

 

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Contrary to popular belief, having a cat in the home does not improve the mental or physical health of children, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

The findings are from the largest-ever study to explore the notion that pets can improve children's health by increasing physical activity and improving young people's empathy skills.

Unlike earlier smaller studies on the topic, the RAND work used advanced statistical tools to control for multiple factors that could contribute to a child's wellbeing other than pet ownership, such as belonging to a family that has higher income or living in a more affluent setting. The results are published online by the journal Anthrozoos.

"We could not find evidence that children from families with dogs or cats are better off either in terms of their mental wellbeing or their physical health," said Layla Parast, a co-author of the study and a statistician at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "Everyone on the research team was surprised -- we all have or grew up with dogs and cats. We had essentially assumed from our own personal experiences that there was a connection."

The study analyzed information from more than 2,200 children who lived in pet-owning households in California and compared them to about 3,000 households without a dog or cat. The information was collected as a part of the 2003 California Health Interview Survey, an annual survey that for one year also asked participants about whether they had pets, along with an array of other health questions.

Researchers did find that children from pet-owning families tended to have better general health, have slightly higher weight and were more likely to be physically active compared to children whose families did not have pets. In addition, children who had pets were more likely to have ADD/ADHD, were more likely to be obedient and were less likely to have parents concerned about their child's feelings, mood, behavior and learning ability.

But when researchers adjusted the findings to account for other variables that might be associated with both the likelihood that a family has a pet and the child's health, the association between pet ownership and better health disappeared. Overall, researchers considered more than 100 variables in adjusting their model of pet ownership and health, including family income, language skills and type of family housing.

While many previous studies have suggested a link between pet ownership and better emotional and physical health, RAND researchers say their analysis has more credibility because it analyzed a larger sample than previous efforts.

Researchers say future research could examine associations involving pet ownership over longer periods of time and in more experimental settings.

The ultimate test of the pet-health hypothesis would require a randomized trial where some people are given pets and other are not, with the groups being followed for 10 to 15 years to see if there are differences in their health outcomes.

"Such a study would likely be too costly and/or infeasible to implement, and I'm afraid it's not likely to be funded by anybody," Parast said.


 

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Since the isolation of morphine from opium in the 19th century, scientists have hoped to find a potent opioid analgesic that isn't addictive and doesn't cause respiratory arrest with increased doses.

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Now scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center report that in an animal model a novel pain-killing compound, BU08028, is not addictive and does not have adverse respiratory side effects like other opioids. The research findings are published in the Aug. 29 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Based on our research, this compound has almost zero abuse potential and provides safe and effective pain relief," said Mei-Chuan Ko, Ph.D., professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study. "This is a breakthrough for opioid medicinal chemistry that we hope in the future will translate into new and safer, non-addictive pain medications."

Pain, a symptom of numerous clinical disorders, afflicts millions of people worldwide. Despite the remarkable advances in the identification of novel targets as potential analgesics in the last decade, including nociceptin-orphanin FQ peptide (NOP) receptor, mu opioid peptide (MOP) receptor agonists remain the most widely used drugs for pain management even though they are addictive and have a high mortality rate caused by respiratory arrest, Ko said.

This study, which was conducted in 12 non-human primates, targeted a combination of classical (MOP) and non-classical (NOP) opioid receptors. The researchers examined behavioral, physiological and pharmacologic factors and demonstrated that BU08028 blocked the detection of pain without the side effects of respiratory depression, itching or adverse cardiovascular events.

In addition, the study showed pain relief lasted up to 30 hours and repeated administration did not cause physical dependence.

"To our knowledge, this is the only opioid-related analgesic with such a long duration of action in non-human primates," Ko said. "We will investigate whether other NOP/Mop receptor-related compounds have similar safety and tolerability profiles like BU08028, and initiate investigational new drug-enabling studies for one of the compounds for FDA's approval."

 

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Scientists have long known that solar-energized particles trapped around the planet are sometimes scattered into Earth's upper atmosphere where they can contribute to beautiful auroral displays. Yet for decades, no one has known exactly what is responsible for hurling these energetic electrons on their way. Recently, two spacecraft found themselves at just the right places at the right time to witness first hand both the impulsive electron loss and its cause.

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New research using data from NASA's Van Allen Probes mission and FIREBIRD II CubeSat has shown that a common plasma wave in space is likely responsible for the impulsive loss of high-energy electrons into Earth's atmosphere. Known as whistler mode chorus, these waves are created by fluctuating electric and magnetic fields. The waves have characteristic rising tones -- reminiscent of the sounds of chirping birds -- and are able to efficiently accelerate electrons. The results have been published in a paper in Geophysical Review Letters.

"Observing the detailed chain of events between chorus waves and electrons requires a conjunction between two or more satellites," said Aaron Breneman, researcher at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and lead author on the paper. "There are certain things you can't learn by having only one satellite -- you need simultaneous observations at different locations."

The study combined data from FIREBIRD II, which cruises at a height of 310 miles above Earth, and from one of the two Van Allen Probes, which travel in a wide orbit high above the planet. From different vantage points, they could gain a better understanding of the chain of cause and effect of the loss of these high-energy electrons.

Far from being an empty void, the space around Earth is a jungle of invisible fields and tiny particles. It's draped with twisted magnetic field lines and swooping electrons and ions. Dictating the movements of these particles, Earth's magnetic environment traps electrons and ions in concentric belts encircling the planet. These belts, called the Van Allen Radiation Belts, keep most of the high-energy particles at bay.

Sometimes however, the particles escape, careening down into the atmosphere. Typically, there is a slow drizzle of escaping electrons, but occasionally impulsive bunches of particles, called microbursts, are scattered out of the belts.

Late on Jan. 20, 2016, the Van Allen Probes observed chorus waves from its lofty vantage point and immediately after, FIREBIRD II saw microbursts. The new results confirm that the chorus waves play an important role in controlling the loss of energetic electrons -- one extra piece of the puzzle to understand how high-energy electrons are hurled so violently from the radiation belts. This information can additionally help further improve space weather predictions.

 

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It's been 55 years since NASA astronaut John Glenn successfully launched into space to complete three orbits aboard the Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft, becoming the first American to orbit Earth. The evolution of spaceflight, advancements in science and technologies and the progress of public-private commercial partnerships with companies such as Space X and Blue Horizons have strengthened NASA's goals and the public's confidence to move forward in discovery and human exploration.

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More people today are poised to explore space than ever before; those who do will experience the effects of microgravity on the human body. Recognizing the need for data related to those effects, MUSC neuroradiologist Donna Roberts, M.D., conducted a study titled "Effects of Spaceflight on Astronaut Brain Structure as Indicated on MRI," the results of which will be featured in the Nov. 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Exposure to the space environment has permanent effects on humans that we simply do not understand. What astronauts experience in space must be mitigated to produce safer space travel for the public," said Roberts.

While living and working in space can be exciting, space is a hostile environment and presents many physiological and psychological challenges for the men and women of America's space program. For example, NASA astronauts have experienced altered vision and increased pressure inside their heads during spaceflight aboard the International Space Station. These conditions can be serious problems for astronauts, particularly if they occur in low-earth orbit aboard the International Space Station or far from Earth, such as on an exploration mission to Mars.

To describe these symptoms, NASA coined the term visual impairment intracranial pressure syndrome, or VIIP syndrome for short. The cause of VIIP syndrome is thought to be related to the redistribution of body fluid toward the head during long-term microgravity exposure; however, the exact cause is unknown. Given safety concerns and the potential impact to human exploration goals, NASA has made determining the cause of VIIP syndrome and how to resolve its effects a top priority.

Roberts is an associate professor of radiology in the Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences at MUSC. Before attending medical school at MUSC, she worked at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Working with NASA's Space Life Sciences Division in the early 1990s, she was already aware of the challenges astronauts faced during long-duration spaceflights. She was concerned about the lack of data describing the adaptation of the human brain to microgravity and proposed to NASA that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) be used to investigate the anatomy of the brain following spaceflight.

Roberts suspected subtle anatomical changes in the brains of astronauts during spaceflight might be contributing to the development of VIIP syndrome, based on her earlier work. From 2001 to 2004, Roberts led a three-year NASA-funded bed rest study, collaborating with other life sciences researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. A South Carolina native, Roberts had just completed a two-year neuroradiology fellowship at the University of California at San Francisco.

For this study, she examined the brains and muscular responses of participants who stayed in bed for 90 days, during which time, they were required to keep their heads continuously tilted in a downward position to simulate the effects of microgravity.

Using functional MRI, Roberts evaluated brain neuroplasticity, studying the brain's motor cortex before, during and after long-term bed rest. Results confirmed neuroplasticity in the brain occurred during bed rest, which correlated with functional outcomes of the subjects.

As Roberts evaluated the brain scans, she saw something unusual. She noted a "crowding" occurrence at the vertex, or top of the brain, with narrowing of the gyri and sulci, the bumps and depressions in the brain that give it its folded appearance. This crowding was worse for participants who were on longer bed rest in the study.

Roberts also saw evidence of brain shifting and a narrowing of the space between the top of the brain and the inner table of the skull. She questioned if the same thing might be happening to the astronauts during spaceflight.

In further studies, Roberts acquired brain MRI scans and related data from NASA's Lifetime Surveillance of Astronaut Health program for two groups of astronauts: 18 astronauts who had been in space for short periods of time aboard the U.S. Space Shuttle and 16 astronauts who had been in space for longer periods of time, typically three months, aboard the International Space Station. Roberts and her team then compared the brain images of the two groups of astronauts.

Roberts and study investigators evaluated the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) spaces at the top of the brain and CSF-filled structures, called ventricles, located at the center of the brain. In addition, the team paired the preflight and postflight MRI cine clips from high-resolution 3-D imaging of 12 astronauts from long-duration flights and six astronauts from short-duration flights and looked for any displacement in brain structure.

Study results confirmed a narrowing of the brain's central sulcus, a groove in the cortex near the top of the brain that separates the parietal and frontal lobes, in 94 percent of the astronauts who participated in long-duration flights and 18.8 percent of the astronauts on short-duration flights. Cine clips also showed an upward shift of the brain and narrowing of the CSF spaces at the top of the brain among the long-duration flight astronauts but not in the short-duration flight astronauts.

Her findings concluded that significant changes in brain structure occur during long-duration space flight. More importantly, the parts of the brain that are most affected -- the frontal and parietal lobes -- control movement of the body and higher executive function. The longer an astronaut stayed in space, the worse the symptoms of VIIP syndrome would be.

Roberts compared these findings with a similar medical syndrome experienced by women called idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), which affects young, overweight women who present with symptoms similar to VIIP syndrome: blurry vision and high intracranial pressure with no known cause. A common treatment for IIH is to perform a lumbar puncture, whereby CSF is drained using a needle placed in the lower back -- a procedure performed by a neuroradiologist such as Roberts. Presently, there is no protocol to perform a lumbar puncture in a microgravity environment.

To further understand the results of the study, Roberts and the team plan to compare repeated postflight imaging of the brains of astronauts to determine if the changes are permanent or if they will return to baseline following some time back on Earth. With NASA's Mars expedition mission set to launch in 2033, there's an urgency for researchers such as Roberts to collect more data about astronauts and understand the basics of human space physiology.

A journey to Mars can take three to six months, at best. In order to reduce travel time between Earth and Mars, the two planets need to be aligned favorably, which occurs approximately every two years.

During this two-year time period, crew members would remain on Mars, carrying out exploration activities. The gravity on Mars is approximately one-third that of Earth. Considering travel to and from Mars, along with the time on the surface, the Martian expedition crew would be exposed to reduced gravity for at least three years, according to Roberts. What would that do to the human body? Could a human even survive that long in a reduced gravity environment?

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly spent 340 days living and working aboard the International Space Station, and astronaut Peggy Whitson recently completed a 288-day mission in space. To date, the longest continuous time in space was 438 days, a record held by Russian cosmonaut Valery Polyakov.

"We know these long-duration flights take a big toll on the astronauts and cosmonauts; however, we don't know if the adverse effects on the body continue to progress or if they stabilize after some time in space," Roberts said. "These are the questions that we are interested in addressing, especially what happens to the human brain and brain function?"

Study co-author and Department of Radiology and Radiological Science colleague Michael Antonucci, M.D., agreed. "This study is exciting in many ways, particularly as it lies at the intersection of two fascinating frontiers of human exploration -- space and the brain."

"We have known for years that microgravity affects the body in numerous ways," he continued.

"However, this study represents the most comprehensive assessment of the impact of prolonged space travel on the brain. The changes we have seen may explain unusual symptoms experienced by returning space station astronauts and help identify key issues in the planning of longer-duration space exploration, including missions to Mars."

Roberts hopes to continue to collect long-term follow-up data on the astronauts already being studied. In addition, she is participating in a new bed rest study in Cologne, Germany, collaborating with Racheal Seidler, Ph.D., of the University of Florida and the German Space Agency. The study simulates astronauts living aboard the International Space Station, while being exposed to higher levels of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide scrubbers aboard the International Space Station clean and filter the air systems throughout the spacecraft, but some CO2 remains. Roberts will evaluate the blood flow to the brain, brain structure and other changes among study subjects.

With her team's hard work and dedication, Roberts hopes to establish MUSC as the go-to institution for further studies in clinical neuroimaging related to space exploration.

 

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Arizona State University's Psyche Mission, a journey to a metal asteroid, has been selected for flight, marking the first time the school will lead a deep-space NASA mission and the first time scientists will be able to see what is believed to be a planetary core.

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The mission's spacecraft is expected to launch in 2023, arriving at the asteroid in 2030, where it will spend 20 months in orbit, mapping it and studying its properties.

It will be part of NASA's Discovery Program, a series of lower-cost, highly focused robotic space missions that are exploring the solar system. The Psyche project is capped at $450 million.

"This mission, visiting the asteroid Psyche, will be the first time humans will ever be able to see a planetary core," said principal investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton, director of ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE). "Having the Psyche Mission selected for NASA's Discovery Program will help us gain insights into the metal interior of all rocky planets in our solar system, including Earth."

Psyche, an asteroid orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter, is made almost entirely of nickel-iron metal. As such, it offers a unique look into the violent collisions that created Earth and the other terrestrial planets.

The scientific goals of the Psyche mission are to understand the building blocks of planet formation and explore firsthand a wholly new and unexplored type of world. The mission team seeks to determine whether Psyche is a protoplanetary core, how old it is, whether it formed in similar ways to Earth's core, and what its surface is like.

"The knowledge this mission will create has the potential to affect our thinking about planetary science for generations to come," ASU President Michael M. Crow said. "We are in a new era of exploration of our solar system with new public-private sector partnerships helping unlock new worlds of discovery, and ASU will be at the forefront of that research."

Psyche -- a window into planetary cores

Every world explored so far by humans (except gas giant planets such as Jupiter or Saturn) has a surface of ice or rock or a mixture of the two, but their cores are thought to be metallic. These cores, however, lie far below rocky mantles and crusts and are considered unreachable in our lifetimes.

Psyche, an asteroid that appears to be the exposed nickel-iron core of a protoplanet, one of the building blocks of the sun's planetary system, may provide a window into those cores. The asteroid is most likely a survivor of violent space collisions, common when the solar system was forming.

Psyche follows an orbit in the outer part of the main asteroid belt, at an average distance from the sun of about 280 million miles, or three times farther from the sun than Earth. It is roughly the size of Massachusetts (about 130 miles in diameter) and dense (7,000 kg/m³).

"Being selected to lead this ambitious mission to the all-metal asteroid Psyche is a major milestone that reflects ASU's outstanding research capacity," said Sethuraman Panchanathan, executive vice president and chief research and innovation officer at ASU. "It speaks to our innovative spirit and our world-class scientific expertise in space exploration."

Mission instrument payload

The spacecraft's instrument payload will include magnetometers, multispectral imagers, a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer, and a radio-science experiment.

The multispectral imager, which will be led by an ASU science team, will provide high-resolution images using filters to discriminate between Psyche's metallic and silicate constituents. It consists of a pair of identical cameras designed to acquire geologic, compositional and topographic data.

The gamma ray and neutron spectrometer will detect, measure and map Psyche's elemental composition. The instrument is mounted on a 7-foot (2-meter) boom to distance the sensors from background radiation created by energetic particles interacting with the spacecraft and to provide an unobstructed field of view. The science team for this instrument is based at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University.

The magnetometer, which is led by scientists at MIT and UCLA, is designed to detect and measure the remnant magnetic field of the asteroid. It's composed of two identical high-sensitivity magnetic field sensors located at the middle and outer end of the boom.

The Psyche spacecraft will also use an X-band radio telecommunications system, led by scientists at MIT and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This instrument will measure Psyche's gravity field and, when combined with topography derived from onboard imagery, will provide information on the interior structure of the asteroid.

The Psyche mission team

In addition to Elkins-Tanton, ASU SESE scientists on the Psyche mission team include Jim Bell, deputy principal investigator and co-investigator, co-investigator Erik Asphaug, and co-investigator David Williams.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory managed by Caltech is the managing organization and will build the spacecraft with industry partner Space Systems Loral (SSL). JPL's contribution to the Psyche mission team includes over 75 people, led by project manager Henry Stone, project scientist Carol Polanskey, project systems engineer David Oh and deputy project manager Bob Mase. SSL contribution to the Psyche mission team includes over 50 people led by SEP Chassis deputy program manager Peter Lord and SEP Chassis program manager Steve Scott.

Other co-investigators are David Bercovici (Yale University), Bruce Bills (JPL), Richard Binzel (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), William Bottke (Southwest Research Institute -- SwRI), Ralf Jaumann (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft -- und Raumfahrt), Insoo Jun (JPL), David Lawrence (Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Laboratory -- APL), Simon Marchi (SwRI), Timothy McCoy (Smithsonian Institution), Ryan Park (JPL), Patrick Peplowski (APL), Thomas Prettyman, (Planetary Science Institute), Carol Raymond (JPL), Chris Russell (UCLA), Benjamin Weiss (MIT), Dan Wenkert (JPL), Mark Wieczorek (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris), and Maria Zuber (MIT).

 

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In 2013, researchers announced that a pebble found in south-west Egypt, was definitely not from Earth. By 2015, other research teams had announced that the 'Hypatia' stone was not part of any known types of meteorite or comet, based on noble gas and nuclear probe analyses.

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(The stone was named Hypatia after Hypatia of Alexandria, the first Western woman mathematician and astronomer.)

However, if the pebble was not from Earth, what was its origin and could the minerals in it provide clues on where it came from? Micro-mineral analyses of the pebble by the original research team at the University of Johannesburg have now provided unsettling answers that spiral away from conventional views of the material our solar system was formed from.

Mineral structure

The internal structure of the Hypatia pebble is somewhat like a fruitcake that has fallen off a shelf into some flour and cracked on impact, says Prof Jan Kramers, lead researcher of the study published in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta on 28 Dec 2017.

"We can think of the badly mixed dough of a fruit cake representing the bulk of the Hypatia pebble, what we called two mixed 'matrices' in geology terms. The glace cherries and nuts in the cake represent the mineral grains found in Hypatia 'inclusions'. And the flour dusting the cracks of the fallen cake represent the 'secondary materials' we found in the fractures in Hypatia, which are from Earth," he says.

The original extraterrestrial rock that fell to Earth must have been at least several meters in diameter, but disintegrated into small fragments of which the Hypatia stone is one.

Weird matrix

Straight away, the Hypatia mineral matrix (represented by fruitcake dough), looks nothing like that of any known meteorites, the rocks that fall from space onto Earth every now and then.

"If it were possible to grind up the entire planet Earth to dust in a huge mortar and pestle, we would get dust with on average a similar chemical composition as chondritic meteorites," says Kramers. "In chondritic meteorites, we expect to see a small amount of carbon{C} and a good amount of silicon (Si). But Hypatia's matrix has a massive amount of carbon and an unusually small amount of silicon."

"Even more unusual, the matrix contains a high amount of very specific carbon compounds, called polyaromatic hydrocarbons, or PAH, a major component of interstellar dust, which existed even before our solar system was formed. Interstellar dust is also found in comets and meteorites that have not been heated up for a prolonged period in their history," adds Kramers.

In another twist, most (but not all) of the PAH in the Hypatia matrix has been transformed into diamonds smaller than one micrometer, which are thought to have been formed in the shock of impact with the Earth's atmosphere or surface. These diamonds made Hypatia resistant to weathering so that it is preserved for analysis from the time it arrived on Earth.

Weirder grains never found before

When researcher Georgy Belyanin analyzed the mineral grains in the inclusions in Hypatia, (represented by the nuts and cherries of a fruitcake), a number of most surprising chemical elements showed up.

"The aluminum occurs in pure metallic form, on its own, not in a chemical compound with other elements. As a comparison, gold occurs in nuggets, but aluminum never does. This occurrence is extremely rare on Earth and the rest of our solar system, as far as is known in science," says Belyanin.

"We also found silver iodine phosphide and moissanite (silicon carbide) grains, again in highly unexpected forms. The grains are the first documented to be found in situ (as is) without having to first dissolve the surrounding rock with acid," adds Belyanin. "There are also grains of a compound consisting of mainly nickel and phosphorus, with very little iron; a mineral composition never observed before on Earth or in meteorites," he adds.

Dr Marco Andreoli, a Research Fellow at the School of Geosciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, and a member of the Hypatia research team says, "When Hypatia was first found to be extraterrestrial, it was a sensation, but these latest results are opening up even bigger questions about its origins."

Unique minerals in our solar system

Taken together, the ancient unheated PAH carbon as well as the phosphides, the metallic aluminum, and the moissanite suggest that Hypatia is an assembly of unchanged pre-solar material. That means, matter that existed in space before our Sun, the Earth and the other planets in our solar system were formed.

Supporting the pre-solar concept is the weird composition of the nickel-phosphorus-iron grains found in the Hypatia inclusions. These three chemical elements are interesting because they belong to the subset of chemical elements heavier than carbon and nitrogen which form the bulk of all the rocky planets.

"In the grains within Hypatia the ratios of these three elements to each other are completely different from that calculated for the planet Earth or measured in known types of meteorites. As such these inclusions are unique within our solar system," adds Belyanin.

"We think the nickel-phosphorus-iron grains formed pre-solar, because they are inside the matrix, and are unlikely to have been modified by shock such as collision with the Earth's atmosphere or surface, and also because their composition is so alien to our solar system," he adds.

"Was the bulk of Hypatia, the matrix, also formed before our solar system? Probably not, because you need a dense dust cloud like the solar nebula to coagulate large bodies" he says.

A different kind of dust

Generally, science says that our solar system's planets ultimately formed from a huge, ancient cloud of interstellar dust (the solar nebula) in space. The first part of that process would be much like dust bunnies coagulating in an unswept room. Science also holds that the solar nebula was homogenous, that is, the same kind of dust everywhere.

But Hypatia's chemistry tugs at this view. "For starters, there are no silicate minerals in Hypatia's matrix, in contrast to chondritic meteorites (and planets like the Earth, Mars and Venus), where silicates are dominant. Then there are the exotic mineral inclusions. If Hypatia itself is not presolar, both features indicate that the solar nebula wasn't the same kind of dust everywhere -- which starts tugging at the generally accepted view of the formation of our solar system," says Kramers.

Into the future

"What we do know is that Hypatia was formed in a cold environment, probably at temperatures below that of liquid nitrogen on Earth (-196 Celsius). In our solar system it would have been way further out than the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, where most meteorites come from. Comets come mainly from the Kuiper Belt, beyond the orbit of Neptune and about 40 times as far away from the sun as we are. Some come from the Oort Cloud, even further out. We know very little about the chemical compositions of space objects out there. So our next question will dig further into where Hypatia came from," says Kramers.

The little pebble from the Libyan Desert Glass strewn field in south-west Egypt presents a tantalizing piece for an extraterrestrial puzzle that is getting ever more complex.

The research was funded by University of Johannesburg Research council via the PPM Research Centre.

The researchers would like to thank Aly Barakat, Mario di Martino and Romano Serra for access to the Hypatia sample material; and Michael Wiedenbeck and his co-workers at the Geoforschungszentrum Potsdam, Germany for their collaboration.

 

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Despite the many impressive discoveries humans have made about the universe, scientists are still unsure about the birth story of our solar system.

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Scientists with the University of Chicago have laid out a comprehensive theory for how our solar system could have formed in the wind-blown bubbles around a giant, long-dead star. Published Dec. 22 in the Astrophysical Journal, the study addresses a nagging cosmic mystery about the abundance of two elements in our solar system compared to the rest of the galaxy.

The general prevailing theory is that our solar system formed billions of years ago near a supernova. But the new scenario instead begins with a giant type of star called a Wolf-Rayet star, which is more than 40 to 50 times the size of our own sun. They burn the hottest of all stars, producing tons of elements which are flung off the surface in an intense stellar wind. As the Wolf-Rayet star sheds its mass, the stellar wind plows through the material that was around it, forming a bubble structure with a dense shell.

"The shell of such a bubble is a good place to produce stars," because dust and gas become trapped inside where they can condense into stars, said coauthor Nicolas Dauphas, professor in the Department of Geophysical Sciences. The authors estimate that 1 percent to 16 percent of all sun-like stars could be formed in such stellar nurseries.

This setup differs from the supernova hypothesis in order to make sense of two isotopes that occur in strange proportions in the early solar system, compared to the rest of the galaxy. Meteorites left over from the early solar system tell us there was a lot of aluminium-26. In addition, studies, including a 2015 one by Dauphas and a former student, increasingly suggest we had less of the isotope iron-60.

This brings scientists up short, because supernovae produce both isotopes. "It begs the question of why one was injected into the solar system and the other was not," said coauthor Vikram Dwarkadas, a research associate professor in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

This brought them to Wolf-Rayet stars, which release lots of aluminium-26, but no iron-60.

"The idea is that aluminum-26 flung from the Wolf-Rayet star is carried outwards on grains of dust formed around the star. These grains have enough momentum to punch through one side of the shell, where they are mostly destroyed -- trapping the aluminum inside the shell," Dwarkadas said. Eventually, part of the shell collapses inward due to gravity, forming our solar system.

As for the fate of the giant Wolf-Rayet star that sheltered us: Its life ended long ago, likely in a supernova explosion or a direct collapse to a black hole. A direct collapse to a black hole would produce little iron-60; if it was a supernova, the iron-60 created in the explosion may not have penetrated the bubble walls, or was distributed unequally.

Other authors on the paper included UChicago undergraduate student Peter Boyajian and Michael Bojazi and Brad Meyer of Clemson University.

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The world's population has broken the 7 billion person milestone. Out of those people, an estimated 6 billion people currently have access to cellphones. To put that into perspective, only 4.5 billion of those people have access to toilets. These cell phones, combined with the use of decentralized and inexpensive cube satellites, will make it possible for all the people on earth to have access to currency.

Bitcoin in space is not a new idea. It is an idea that graced the minds of brilliant men who first fell upon cryptocurrency technology.


The idea is that Bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies and networks in space can be broadcast everywhere on earth. Using decentralized cube satellites to broadcast the blockchain and even a decentralized internet to populations who currently have no access or access is severely restricted.


Then on the ground, with the use of mesh networks, decentralized satellite up-link node stations all connected with point of sale devices and individual technology communication devices, the network will continue to decentralize and expand.


This idea is brilliant but no one has been able to make it come to a reality... Yet.
It's an idea that Jeff Garzik (Core Bitcoin developer) attempted to bring alive with Dunvegan Space Systems. Mainly a one man mission with a passion, he was unable to attain the resources to make it happen. This has not stopped him or others within the community and outside to continue to push for a free and decentralized network.

Recently Elon Musk (Lead Founder of Space-X) requested permission from the FCC to allow for testing of high powered radio signals to earth from satellites meant to broadcast free WIFI to the world. Realistically, this project is still four years out in development. Not a main focus on decentralized economies and definitely not incorporating Blockchain financial tech...yet.

Then there is James Cantrell (another founder of Space-X and owner of Vector Space Systems) and his focus specifically on these said systems. Research and development by VSS has not been rushed but continues to press on in specifically the micro satellite and rocket launch system business. It is estimated that Vector space is years ahead of competitors in making this a reality.

So what does Vector Space systems have to do with Bitcoin and cryptocurrency?


Colin Cantrell. This is the son of Vector Space Systems CEO, James Cantrell. Colin is the lead developer (and many would argue a cryptocurrency genius) of the cryptocurrency project called Nexus. Nexus is being developed to be the strongest encrypted cryptocurrency on earth. Other focused developments with Nexus is building the infrastructure and foundation to allow for widespread adoption.


Such technologies as Lower Level Protocol, Lower Level Libraries, Variable Nexus Proof Of Stake Interest, Trust Keys with reputation, 571 bit encrypted private keys to prepare for quantum computing, three channels of mining and trust to prevent 51% attack, decentralized checkpoints, fast and decentralized clocks, decaying algorithms for a slow and less disturbing decay of distribution of supply compared to block halving, reserve systems for mining and more... All mostly coded from scratch.


Incorporated in the economic model of Nexus is checks and balances which will allow anyone to be rewarded for maintaining the network based on time and trust without a massive use of energy. This is important as this allows anyone in the world to enter marketplace compared to fiat and other cryptocurrencies which require a lot of money and power (mostly political). It is also important that as adoption gains momentum, you do not overburden the energy system to facilitate fast and efficient transactions and keep it affordable enough anyone can enter.


"Not everyone has money but everyone has time"
-Colin Cantrell


Colin and James are both currently working on the very foundations of building a decentralized economic network which has the capability to reach everyone and actually work. From the root of the code in Nexus to the thousands of satellites that will orbit earth broadcasting Light Fidelity (Li-Fi) of the blockchain to the whole world, the development produced this far is no small undertaking.


This is a game changing event. This is quite literally as big as the creation of the Internet but far more powerful. For the first time the people of the world will be within reach of truly decentralized banking, government and information.


We see each cryptocurrency add something new to the table when it comes to advancing blockchain technology and giving it real world use.


Take Steemit for example: a decentralized and political neutral algorithmic social media website which pays the idea makers over the infrastructure owners. Instead of publishers getting paid over authors, they cut the middleman out. Just like Bitcoin did with the banks. The idea that authors should be compensated voluntarily is so successful, some authors on Steemit have made more than many authors writing articles have in a whole year!


Some cryptocurrencies are fads, some are hypes... But some have real value and add to the value of Bitcoin.
Space is very similar to the laws of international waters. Anything goes and no one can regulate effectively. It's truly a frontier looking to be conquered by mankind. Like any frontier, it offers freedom in exchange for exploration. Good luck regulating light.


What a perfect place for Bitcoin, something that needs space to grow, to grow... In space.


Nexus is not looking to replace Bitcoin. Nexus is looking to bring Bitcoin to the world with Nexus. Nexus means to link things together. To link Bitcoin with Nexus, Bitcoin with people and people with people.
Nexus is the next big thing. The Internet of the people, by the people and for the people. The We The People Network. Where a merchant can do business in Africa with a customer in China without the central banks or telecommunications industry being involved. Truly decentralized from the code to the satellite.


Some cryptocurrencies want to go to the moon. Nexus wants to bring crypto to earth. Nexus Earth. Will you join us?

 

 

 

 

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Scientists say they’ve discovered a new human organ

Researchers believe they have discovered an elaborate path of fluid-filled tissues that make up the interstitium, a previously unknown organ — a finding that could have major impacts on how serious diseases are treated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On June 17, NASA's MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission) will celebrate 1,000 Earth days in orbit around the Red Planet. Since its launch in November 2013 and its orbit insertion in September 2014, MAVEN has been exploring the upper atmosphere of Mars. MAVEN is bringing insight to how the sun stripped Mars of most of its atmosphere, turning a planet once possibly habitable to microbial life into a barren desert world.

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"MAVEN has made tremendous discoveries about the Mars upper atmosphere and how it interacts with the sun and the solar wind," said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator from the University of Colorado, Boulder. "These are allowing us to understand not just the behavior of the atmosphere today, but how the atmosphere has changed through time."

During its 1,000 days in orbit, MAVEN has made a multitude of exciting discoveries. Here is a countdown of the top 10 discoveries from the mission:

10. Imaging of the distribution of gaseous nitric oxide and ozone in the atmosphere shows complex behavior that was not expected, indicating that there are dynamical processes of exchange of gas between the lower and upper atmosphere that are not understood at present.

9. Some particles from the solar wind are able to penetrate unexpectedly deep into the upper atmosphere, rather than being diverted around the planet by the Martian ionosphere; this penetration is allowed by chemical reactions in the ionosphere that turn the charged particles of the solar wind into neutral atoms that are then able to penetrate deeply.

8. MAVEN made the first direct observations of a layer of metal ions in the Martian ionosphere, resulting from incoming interplanetary dust hitting the atmosphere. This layer is always present, but was enhanced dramatically by the close passage to Mars of Comet Siding Spring in October 2014.

7. MAVEN has identified two new types of aurora, termed "diffuse" and "proton" aurora; unlike how we think of most aurorae on Earth, these aurorae are unrelated to either a global or local magnetic field.

6. These aurorae are caused by an influx of particles from the sun ejected by different types of solar storms. When particles from these storms hit the Martian atmosphere, they also can increase the rate of loss of gas to space, by a factor of ten or more.

5. The interactions between the solar wind and the planet are unexpectedly complex. This results due to the lack of an intrinsic Martian magnetic field and the occurrence of small regions of magnetized crust that can affect the incoming solar wind on local and regional scales. The magnetosphere that results from the interactions varies on short timescales and is remarkably "lumpy" as a result.

4. MAVEN observed the full seasonal variation of hydrogen in the upper atmosphere, confirming that it varies by a factor of 10 throughout the year. The source of the hydrogen ultimately is water in the lower atmosphere, broken apart into hydrogen and oxygen by sunlight. This variation is unexpected and, as yet, not well understood.

3. MAVEN has used measurements of the isotopes in the upper atmosphere (atoms of the same composition but having different mass) to determine how much gas has been lost through time. These measurements suggest that 2/3 or more of the gas has been lost to space.

2. MAVEN has measured the rate at which the sun and the solar wind are stripping gas from the top of the atmosphere to space today, along with the details of the removal processes. Extrapolation of the loss rates into the ancient past -- when the solar ultraviolet light and the solar wind were more intense -- indicates that large amounts of gas have been lost to space through time.

1. The Mars atmosphere has been stripped away by the sun and the solar wind over time, changing the climate from a warmer and wetter environment early in history to the cold, dry climate that we see today.

"We're excited that MAVEN is continuing its observations," said Gina DiBraccio, MAVEN project scientist from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "It's now observing a second Martian year, and looking at the ways that the seasonal cycles and the solar cycle affect the system."

MAVEN began its primary science mission on November 2014, and is the first spacecraft dedicated to understanding Mars' upper atmosphere. The goal of the mission is to determine the role that loss of atmospheric gas to space played in changing the Martian climate through time. MAVEN is studying the entire region from the top of the upper atmosphere all the way down to the lower atmosphere so that the connections between these regions can be understood.