Hexbyte Glen Cove Political discussions focused on consensus more comfortable, less divisive for students thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Political discussions focused on consensus more comfortable, less divisive for students

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A new study found more U.S. high school students felt respected in a political discussion designed as a deliberation—where the goal was to reach consensus—than in a group debate, and their views also moved closer toward agreement. Students engaged in group debate were generally more polarized after the activity.

Published in the Peabody Journal of Education, the study’s findings could help teachers to structure political discussions in social studies classrooms, depending on the skills they want students to learn. In classrooms with high political diversity, could help reduce division.

“In our highly polarized climate, do we want kids to become more entrenched in their views, or more open to learning about the issues?” said the study’s first author Paula McAvoy, associate professor of teacher education at NC State. “The value of deliberation is it can promote an openness to changing your mind and being persuaded. The debate model promotes taking a position and fighting for it. These findings can help teachers decide which skills they want students to learn, depending on how they structure classroom discussions.”

In the study, researchers surveyed and observed 165 high school students who participated in political discussions in the fall of 2019 as part of the civic education program Close Up Washington. The program brings around 20,000 middle and high school students from public and around the country to Washington D.C. for a week-long study of the federal government.

“This program offered us a chance to study a lab-like experience of in political discussions,” said study co-author Gregory McAvoy, professor of political science at UNC-Greensboro.

For held through the program, students were provided with background materials on issues and encouraged to discuss, with civility, issues including criminal justice reform, climate change, gun regulation, health care and immigration. In deliberations, students first read about different policy proposals. Then students discussed the proposals in small groups in order to try to come to consensus about a policy they all endorse, and presented their findings to the larger group. In debates, students formed two opposing teams, and then each prepared persuasive arguments to try to win over a panel of their peers.

Ninety percent of participants they surveyed reported they felt respected in the deliberation that focused on consensus, and 91 percent reported they felt good about their comments. In comparison, 76 percent of students who engaged in debate felt respected during the activity, and 70 percent felt good about their comments.

“In terms of what made students feel more comfortable, we think the tone of the deliberation led more students to report feeling comfortable because it’s collaborative, and not adversarial,” Paula McAvoy said. “The debate was challenging because everyone had to stand up and make a 30-second comment to the group. A lot of students got nervous about that.”

Young women were significantly more likely to report hearing something offensive during either type of discussion, to report they were more hesitant to speak, and were less likely to say they felt good about the comments they made. They did not find any statistically significant differences by race or ethnicity.

Students who responded to the survey were 79 percent white, 24 percent Latinx, 5 percent Black, and 2 percent Asian, with some students selecting more than one category. They were 54 percent female and 44 percent male. Two percent declined to answer. The sample was politically diverse, with an approximately even distribution of students identifying as conservative, liberal, moderate and unsure. However, the researchers said the respondents tended to more white, more conservative and wealthy compared to the demographics of Gen Z across the United States.

They plotted student’s attitudes on specific issues before and after the deliberations and debates. For students who participated in consensus deliberations, they saw attitudes on the assigned issues start out dispersed—either with a wider distribution of views or two divided peaks. After the deliberation, researchers saw a trend across groups of views moving toward agreement. They saw more polarization—a move toward two opposing positions—after debates.

“In the debates, most of the talk that happens involves students talking to others who agree with them, and figuring out why the other team is wrong,” Paula McAvoy said. “A lot of teachers use debate as a critical thinking activity, but you might actually be causing students to become more divided on issues.”

The findings could help social studies teachers to structure discussions at a time when political culture is highly polarized. Previous studies have shown that students are increasingly arriving at schools with partisan animosity and anxiety related to politics, making teachers hesitant to bring politics into the classroom.

“What we’re finding is that with appropriate structure and design, students are able to have student-centered, civil, informed discussions about highly controversial issues,” Paula McAvoy said. “Even though there was a lot of political disagreement in the room, students were able to talk across their differences.”

To see if their conclusions hold, researchers want to repeat the study with a larger sample size. They also want to find out if deliberation and debates look different with groups of different beliefs, ethnicities and other demographic factors.

The study, “Can Debate and Deliberation Reduce Partisan Divisions? Evidence from a Study of High School Students” was published online in the Peabody Journal of Education on July 14, 2021.



More information:
Paula McAvoy et al, Can Debate and Deliberation Reduce Partisan Divisions? Evidence from a Study of High School Students, Peabody Journal of Education (2021). DOI: 10.1080/0161956X.2021.1942706

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Want to reduce cockroach sex? Block an enzyme thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Want to reduce cockroach sex? Block an enzyme

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Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

It’s not the look in her compound eyes or the shape of her carapace that really attracts the male cockroach to his mate. Instead, it’s all those 29-carbon hydrocarbons in her cuticle that drive him wild. How the female cockroach regulates production of these contact sex pheromones, and what happens when she produces too few, is the subject of a new study publishing on July 27th in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Tong-Xian Liu of Northwest A&F University in Yangling, China, and colleagues.

The German , Blatella germanica, is the most common, and most despised, cockroach around the world. Like other insects, its exoskeleton is impregnated with a rich mix of molecules, including oily hydrocarbons that help keep the cockroach from drying out. A key feature that distinguishes male from female cockroaches is the abundance of one such , called 3,11-DimethylC29, which is chemically converted into a female sex pheromone. When the male senses the pheromone with his antennae, he raises his wings to expose a nutrient-containing gland. While the female feasts on its contents, the male copulates with her.

Like other long-chain fatty molecules, the pheromone precursor is synthesized in part by elongating a shorter hydrocarbon chain, through the action of a type of enzyme called an elongase. To better understand how that synthesis is regulated, the authors blocked the set of cockroach elongases using RNA interference. When one elongase, BgElo12, was knocked down, they found that the level of the pheromone was reduced and males were less attracted to the affected females.

Using RNAi knockdown, they showed that BgElo12 production was regulated by two insect sex differentiation studied previously in fruit flies. In male cockroaches, a gene called Doublesex repressed the production of the elongase, limiting the amount of pheromone produced. In females, however, another gene, called Transformer, blocked the effect of Doublesex, turning on the elongase gene. The authors showed that knocking down Transformer in females led again to limited production and to reduced sexual attractiveness.

“The identification of this pathway regulating female contact pheromones is valuable,” Liu said, “as it enriches our general understanding of the regulation of insect sexual behavior. Further, the elucidation of this key pathway in the cockroach in particular may well lead to better ways to control reproduction of this globally significant pest.”



More information:
Xiao-Jin Pei et al, Modulation of fatty acid elongation in cockroaches sustains sexually dimorphic hydrocarbons and female attractiveness, PLOS Biology (2021). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001330

Citation:
Want to reduce cockroach sex? Block an enzyme (2021, July 27)
retrieved 28 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-cockroach-sex-block-enzyme.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Bezos offers NASA a $2 billion discount for Blue Origin Moon lander thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Bezos offers NASA a $2 billion discount for Blue Origin Moon lander

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Blue Origin owner Jeff Bezos wrote an open letter to NASA on Monday offering a $2 billion discount to allow his company to build a Moon lander.

The human landing system (HLS) contract, worth $2.9 billion, was awarded to rival SpaceX in April, but Blue Origin and a third company Dynetics filed protests that are currently awaiting adjudication by the US Government Accountability Office.

The United States is seeking to return to the Moon by 2024 under the Artemis program, using the lessons learned to prepare for a crewed Mars mission in the 2030s.

In his letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, Bezos said the offer would “bridge the funding shortfall” that led to the space agency picking just one contractor, instead of two which would then compete with each other.

He added “this offer is not a deferral, but is an outright permanent waiver.”

Since losing the award, Blue Origin has been frantically lobbying to have the decision reversed, leading the Senate to pass a bill agreeing to add $10 billion to the human lander system.

But the legislation is still being debated in the House, and has been branded a “Bezos Bailout” by critics.

Bezos wrote that an advantage of Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lander was its use of liquid hydrogen for fuel, which can be mined from lunar ice in line with NASA’s plans to use the Moon to refuel rockets for operations deeper into the solar system.

He added that the company would test its in orbit around the Earth at its own cost.

“We stand ready to help NASA moderate its technical risks and solve its and put the Artemis Program back on a more competitive, credible, and sustainable path,” Bezos concluded.

It is unclear whether Bezos’ last-minute intervention will sway the outcome of the award.



© 2021 AFP

Citation:
Bezos offers NASA a $2 billion discount for Blue Origin Moon lander (2021, July 27)
retrieved 27 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-bezos-nasa-billion-discount-blue.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Sandstorm engulfs desert city in China thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Sandstorm engulfs desert city in China

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Dunhuang, a tourist draw with a colourful history as a Silk Road outpost, momentarily disappeared in the dust clouds.

A wall of sand over 100 metres high swallowed a city on the fringes of the Gobi desert in northwestern China, in scenes reminiscent of a disaster film.

Dunhuang, a tourist draw with a colourful history as a Silk Road outpost, momentarily disappeared in the dust clouds as the storm hit on Sunday.

A resident surnamed Zhang told local media Jimu News that the sandstorm came abruptly and swept through the city in five or six minutes.

“I couldn’t see the sun,” he said, adding that the city in Gansu province had not experienced such a sandstorm in several years.

“At first I was enveloped in the sandstorm’s , then it turned red and finally black.”

Dunhuang is home to several major tourist attractions including the Mogao Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage site with ancient Buddhist carvings and striking desert landforms.

Sandstorms are common in the region each spring but rare in the summer, according to state-run news agency China News Service.



© 2021 AFP

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Sandstorm engulfs desert city in China (2021, July 27)
retrieved 27 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-sandstorm-engulfs-city-china.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Fermi spots a supernova's 'fizzled' gamma-ray burst thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Fermi spots a supernova’s ‘fizzled’ gamma-ray burst

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When the core of massive star collapses, it can form a black hole. Some of the surrounding matter escapes in the form of powerful jets that rush outward at almost the speed of light in opposite directions, as illustrated here. Normally jets from collapsing stars produce gamma rays for many seconds to minutes. Astronomers think the jets from GRB 200826A were shut down quickly, producing the shortest gamma-ray burst (magenta) from a collapsing star ever seen. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (KBRwyle)

On Aug. 26, 2020, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected a pulse of high-energy radiation that had been racing toward Earth for nearly half the present age of the universe. Lasting only about a second, it turned out to be one for the record books—the shortest gamma-ray burst (GRB) caused by the death of a massive star ever seen.

GRBs are the most powerful events in the universe, detectable across billions of light-years. Astronomers classify them as long or short based on whether the event lasts for more or less than two seconds. They observe long bursts in association with the demise of massive , while short bursts have been linked to a different scenario.

“We already knew some GRBs from massive stars could register as short GRBs, but we thought this was due to instrumental limitations,” said Bin-bin Zhang at Nanjing University in China and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “This burst is special because it is definitely a short-duration GRB, but its other properties point to its origin from a collapsing star. Now we know dying stars can produce , too.”






Astronomers combined data from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, other space missions, and ground-based observatories to reveal the origin of GRB 200826A, a brief but powerful burst of radiation. It’s the shortest burst known to be powered by a collapsing star – and almost didn’t happen at all. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Named GRB 200826A, after the date it occurred, the burst is the subject of two papers published in Nature Astronomy on Monday, July 26. The first, led by Zhang, explores the gamma-ray data. The second, led by Tomás Ahumada, a doctoral student at the University of Maryland, College Park and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, describes the GRB’s fading multiwavelength afterglow and the emerging light of the supernova explosion that followed.

“We think this event was effectively a fizzle, one that was close to not happening at all,” Ahumada said. “Even so, the burst emitted 14 million times the energy released by the entire Milky Way galaxy over the same amount of time, making it one of the most energetic short-duration GRBs ever seen.”

When a star much more massive than the Sun runs out of fuel, its core suddenly collapses and forms a black hole. As matter swirls toward the black hole, some of it escapes in the form of two powerful jets that rush outward at almost the speed of light in opposite directions. Astronomers only detect a GRB when one of these jets happens to point almost directly toward Earth.

Each jet drills through the star, producing a pulse of gamma rays—the highest-energy form of light—that can last up to minutes. Following the burst, the disrupted star then rapidly expands as a supernova.

Discovery image of the fading afterglow (center) of GRB 200826A. Credit: ZTF and T. Ahumada et al., 2021

Short GRBs, on the other hand, form when pairs of compact objects—such as neutron stars, which also form during stellar collapse—spiral inward over billions of years and collide. Fermi observations recently helped show that, in nearby galaxies, giant flares from isolated, supermagnetized neutron stars also masquerade as short GRBs.

GRB 200826A was a sharp blast of high-energy emission lasting just 0.65 second. After traveling for eons through the expanding universe, the signal had stretched out to about one second long when it was detected by Fermi’s Gamma-ray Burst Monitor. The event also appeared in instruments aboard NASA’s Wind mission, which orbits a point between Earth and the Sun located about 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) away, and Mars Odyssey, which has been orbiting the Red Planet since 2001. ESA’s (the European Space Agency’s) INTEGRAL satellite observed the blast as well.

All of these missions participate in a GRB-locating system called the InterPlanetary Network (IPN), for which the Fermi project provides all U.S. funding. Because the burst reaches each detector at slightly different times, any pair of them can be used to help narrow down where in the sky it occurred. About 17 hours after the GRB, the IPN narrowed its location to a relatively small patch of the sky in the constellation Andromeda.

Using the National Science Foundation-funded Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) at Palomar Observatory, the team scanned the sky for changes in visible light that could be linked to the GRB’s fading afterglow.

“Conducting this search is akin to trying to find a needle in a haystack, but the IPN helps shrink the haystack,” said Shreya Anand, a graduate student at Caltech and a co-author on the afterglow paper. “Out of more than 28,000 ZTF alerts the first night, only one met all of our search criteria and also appeared within the sky region defined by the IPN.”

Within a day of the burst, NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory discovered fading X-ray emission from this same location. A couple of days later, variable radio emission was detected by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Karl Jansky Very Large Array in New Mexico. The team then began observing the afterglow with a variety of ground-based facilities.

Observing the faint galaxy associated with the burst using the Gran Telescopio Canarias, a 10.4-meter telescope at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands, the team showed that its light takes 6.6 billion years to reach us. That’s 48% of the universe’s current age of 13.8 billion years.

But to prove this short burst came from a collapsing star, the researchers also needed to catch the emerging supernova.

“If the burst was caused by a collapsing star, then once the afterglow fades away it should brighten again because of the underlying supernova explosion,” said Leo Singer, a Goddard astrophysicist and Ahumada’s research advisor. “But at these distances, you need a very big and very sensitive telescope to pick out the pinpoint of light from the supernova from the background glare of its host galaxy.”

To conduct the search, Singer was granted time on the 8.1-meter Gemini North telescope in Hawaii and the use of a sensitive instrument called the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph. The astronomers imaged the host galaxy in red and infrared light starting 28 days after the burst, repeating the search 45 and 80 days after the event. They detected a near-infrared source—the supernova—in the first set of observations that could not be seen in later ones.

The researchers suspect that this burst was powered by jets that barely emerged from the star before they shut down, instead of the more typical case where long-lasting jets break out of the star and travel considerable distances from it. If the black hole had fired off weaker jets, or if the star was much larger when it began its collapse, there might not have been a GRB at all.

The discovery helps resolve a long-standing puzzle. While long GRBs must be coupled to supernovae, astronomers detect far greater numbers of supernovae than they do long GRBs. This discrepancy persists even after accounting for the fact that GRB jets must tip nearly into our line of sight for astronomers to detect them at all.

The researchers conclude that collapsing stars producing short GRBs must be marginal cases whose light-speed jets teeter on the brink of success or failure, a conclusion consistent with the notion that most die without producing jets and GRBs at all. More broadly, this result clearly demonstrates that a burst’s duration alone does not uniquely indicate its origin.



More information:
B.-B. Zhang et al, A peculiarly short-duration gamma-ray burst from massive star core collapse, Nature Astronomy (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41550-021-01395-z

Tomás Ahumada et al, Discovery and confirmation of the shortest gamma-ray burst from a collapsar, Nature Astronomy (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41550-021-01428-7

Citation:
Fermi spots a supernova’s ‘fizzled’ gamma-ray burst (2021, July 26)
retrieved 27 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-fermi-supernova-fizzled-gamma-ray.html

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part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

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Hexbyte Glen Cove East China battens down as Typhoon In-Fa approaches thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove East China battens down as Typhoon In-Fa approaches

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Workers attempt to remove a fallen tree as winds from Typhoon In-Fa start to affect Ningbo.

Typhoon In-Fa uprooted trees and drenched communities in knee-deep water in parts of eastern China, but there were no reports of major damage as it made landfall on Sunday.

Sea, air and rail traffic had been shut down across a swathe of the coast centered on the major shipping port of Ningbo, where the weakening typhoon rumbled ashore around midday packing winds of up to 38 metres per second, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

Response teams in Ningbo cleared away fallen trees in the city centre, while residents in some neighbourhoods waded through floodwaters and merchants piled up sandbags in front of their businesses to keep out water.

The typhoon hit as the central province of Henan was still cleaning up after torrential downpours dumped a year’s worth of rain in just three days last week.

Government officials on Sunday added another five dead to the toll from the freak flooding in Henan, raising the total to 63.

In-Fa’s effects were also felt Sunday in the metropolis of Shanghai, China’s largest city, with strong gusts of wind and steady but not heavy rainfall.

All inbound and outbound flights were cancelled Sunday for the city’s two international airports, as were dozens of scheduled trains, while activity at the ports of Shanghai and Ningbo—two of the world’s largest—was also shut down.

The government announced that it would extend a suspension of railway services in and out of Shanghai through midday on Monday.

Some public attractions in Shanghai and other cities, including Shanghai Disneyland, also were closed and residents were warned to avoid outdoor activities.

The meteorological administration said that after landfall In-Fa would weaken but continue to hover over a wide expanse of eastern China for days, ringing itself out and bringing heavy rainfall, possibly to areas still recovering from last week’s flooding.

“It is necessary to be highly vigilant and prevent disasters that may be caused by extreme heavy rainfall,” the administration said on Sunday.

China has suffered an annual summer flooding and typhoon season for millennia, but the record rainfall this past week in Henan has prompted questions about how cities could be better prepared for freak weather events, which experts say are happening with increased frequency and intensity due to climate change.

Millions were affected by the Henan floods, with some trapped without fresh food or water for days, and economic losses have run into the billions of dollars.



© 2021 AFP

Citation:
Typhoon In-Fa drenches eastern China (2021, July 25)
retrieved 26 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-east-china-battens-typhoon-in-fa.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove India: on the frontline of climate change thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove India: on the frontline of climate change

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Flooding is common during India’s monsoon season but climate change is making the monsoon stronger, according to a report from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Swathes of India are battling deadly floods and landslides after heavy monsoon rains, just the latest example of how the vast country is on the frontline of climate change.

In the first seven months of this year alone the impoverished nation of 1.3 billion people has experienced two cyclones, a deadly glacier collapse in the Himalayas, a sweltering heatwave and killer floods.

Melting glaciers

In February, a ferocious flash flood hurtled down a remote Indian Himalayan valley, sweeping away homes, a hydro plant and around 200 people. Only 60 bodies have been found.

Experts believe the cause was a massive chunk of glacier—15 football fields long and five across—breaking off high in the mountains.

A glaciologist who investigated the site told AFP the catastrophe was “clearly a fallout of climate change and in itself a tell-tale of our future”.

In the Indian Himalayas, about 10,000 glaciers are receding at a rate of 30 to 60 metres (100 to 200 feet) per decade as global temperatures rise.

In 2013, a flash flood in the same area killed 6,000 people.

More cyclones

Cyclones are not a rare sight in the northern Indian Ocean but scientists say they are becoming more frequent and severe as sea temperatures rise.

People look at the remains of a dam in Tapovan in the Indian Himalayas that was swept away by a flash flood believed caused by a massive chuck of glacier breaking off high in the mountains.

In May Cyclone Tauktae claimed 155 lives in western India including dozens working on oil rigs off Mumbai. It was the fiercest storm to hit the area in several decades.

Barely a week later Yaas, with winds the equivalent of a category-two hurricane, killed at least nine people and forced the evacuation of more than 1.5 million in the east.

With waves the height of double-decker buses, hundreds of thousands lost their houses. “I have lost my home, everything,” said one survivor.

Hotter and hotter

India’s average temperature rose around 0.7 degrees Celsius (1.3 degrees Fahrenheit) between the beginning of the 20th century and 2018. It will rise another 4.4 degrees by 2100, according to a recent government report.

In early July, tens of millions of people sizzled in just the latest heatwave across northern India.

India’s weather department has declared a heatwave almost every year in the last decade with temperatures sometimes touching 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit).

The Hindustan Times newspaper reported that heatwaves had claimed more than 17,000 lives in India since 1971, according to top meteorologists.

In Churu, Rajasthan, temperatures have hit as high as 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit).

Currently just five percent of Indian households have air conditioning compared with 90 percent in the United States and 60 percent in China.

But the market is forecast to boom in the coming years, driving up energy consumption in what is already the world’s third-largest carbon emitter.

Monsoon floods

Torrential rains have hit India’s western coast in the past few days triggering landslides and a deluge of sludge, leaving more than 75 dead and dozens missing.

The hillside resort of Mahabaleshwar reportedly saw nearly 60 centimetres (23 inches) of rain in a 24-hour period, a record.

The neighbouring resort state of Goa is reeling under its worst floods in decades, its chief minister said.

Flooding and landslides are common during India’s treacherous monsoon season, which also often sees poorly constructed buildings buckle after days of non-stop rain.

But climate change is making the monsoon stronger, according to a report from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in April.

It warned of potentially severe consequences for food, farming and the economy affecting nearly a fifth of the world’s population.

Climate change means even worse monsoon floods in India.

Lightning

The monsoon from June to September also brings danger from the skies. In 2019, lightning strikes killed almost 3,000 people.

Earlier this month, 76 people perished including a dozen watching a storm and taking selfies at a historic fort in Rajasthan.

But scientists say climate change may be making lightning more frequent. A recent study said strikes rose 34 percent in the past year.

And it’s not just people. In May, lightning was blamed for the deaths of at least 18 elephants in Assam.



© 2021 AFP

Citation:
India: on the frontline of climate change (2021, July 25)
retrieved 26 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-india-frontline-climate.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Greece's first underwater museum opens ancient world to dive tourists thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Greece’s first underwater museum opens ancient world to dive tourists

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Thousands of amphorae mark the wreckage of an ancient Greek vessel and now the country’s first underwater museum.

Emerging from the crystal-clear turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea, Hans-Juergen Fercher has just returned from his fourth dive to where mounds of 2,500-year-old wine pots mark the site of an ancient shipwreck—and Greece’s first underwater museum.

“This is a combination of diving and archaeological diving. It’s diving into history,” says the 48-year-old psychiatrist after pulling himself onto the deck of the Triton dive boat.

“It makes it special and unique.”

The museum beneath the waves at Peristera, a rocky outcrop off the island of Alonissos, opened in 2020, though the has been largely mothballed until now due to Covid-19 restrictions.

As Greece opens up its vital tourism industry, the site offers an example of a new and more sustainable source of revenue.

Divers like Fercher and Danish wine-cellar maker, Lisette Fredelund, are willing to pay 95 euros ($110) a dive—about 50 percent more than the cost of a regular recreational scuba outing—for a guided tour of a site once the preserve of professional archaeologists.

“It was just amazing,” said Fredelund. “I was just, while we were down there, trying to imagine what it had been like being on a vessel transporting wine.”

More to come

More wrecks have been discovered in the area—the middle of the country’s largest marine reserve—holding out the prospect that more such museums will open.

Due to the technical difficulty of the dive, only those qualified can take the tour.

Greece has made diving part of its focus to attract visitors since legislation passed in 2020 making it possible to access such sites, Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis told AFP.

“This is a type of tourism that attracts people all year round, a special audience that pays generously to dive,” he said, adding that 10 new diving parks are ready to be licensed under the process provided for by the legislation.

On board the Triton, a group of six more visitors don their scuba gear and plunge into the sea, closely following their guide. About 300 people have paid to visit the since the museum opened, according to Alonissos Mayor Petros Vafinis.

Vafinis—himself an avid scuba diver—joined a group of tourists as they one by one launched themselves off the rear deck of the Triton into the sea.

All visitors must first undergo a briefing about the site and the strict rules—such as keeping at least two metres (about six feet) away from the artifacts.

High expectations

After a short swim from the boat, the tour guide leads the group down through changing layers of light and increasing cold to the sea bed almost 30 metres below.

Resting around 30 metres for almost 2,500 years, the Peristera shipwreck opened to recreational scuba divers during the summer of 2020.

“My expectations were really high from the briefing, and it fulfilled everything,” said George Giasemidis, a Greek tourist who visited the area specifically to see the wreck.

Due to the depth and technical difficulty of the descent, only qualified divers are allowed to visit the wreck of a ship that was delivering wine and other goods when it foundered, around the fifth century BC.

More than 4,000 two-handled amphorae are anchored in the sand, their positions marking out the outline of the wooden vessel, the remains of which have been washed away over time.

“We want to propose another kind of tourism to the people who come. I don’t want intensive tourism we can find anywhere else,” Vafinis said.

With four other wrecks discovered nearby, the goal is that they will in turn become accessible, adding Alonissos to the must-do list for divers around the world.

“It goes to put Alonissos on the world diving map, to have like an underwater safari of ancient wrecks,” said Kostas Efstathiou, co-owner of the Triton diving centre.



© 2021 AFP

Citation:
Greece’s first underwater museum opens ancient world to dive tourists (2021, July 25)
retrieved 26 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-greece-underwater-museum-ancient-world.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Image: Hubble views a faraway galaxy through a cosmic lens thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Image: Hubble views a faraway galaxy through a cosmic lens

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Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Newman, M. Akhshik, K. Whitaker

The center of this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is framed by the tell-tale arcs that result from strong gravitational lensing, a striking astronomical phenomenon which can warp, magnify, or even duplicate the appearance of distant galaxies.

Gravitational lensing occurs when light from a distant galaxy is subtly distorted by the of an intervening . In this case, the relatively nearby galaxy cluster MACSJ0138.0-2155 has lensed a significantly more distant inactive galaxy—a slumbering giant known as MRG-M0138 which has run out of the gas required to form new stars and is located 10 billion light-years away. Astronomers can use as a natural magnifying glass, allowing them to inspect objects like distant dormant galaxies which would usually be too difficult for even Hubble to resolve.

This image was made using observations from eight different infrared filters spread across two of Hubble’s most advanced astronomical instruments: the Advanced Camera for Surveys and the Wide Field Camera 3. These instruments were installed by astronauts during the final two servicing missions to Hubble and provide astronomers with superbly detailed observations across a large area of sky and a wide range of wavelengths.



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Image: Hubble views a faraway galaxy through a cosmic lens (2021, July 24)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Artificial intelligence helps improve NASA’s eyes on the Sun

Hexbyte Glen Cove

This image shows seven of the ultraviolet wavelengths observed by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly on board NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. The top row is observations taken from May 2010 and the bottom row shows observations from 2019, without any corrections, showing how the instrument degraded over time. Credit: Luiz Dos Santos/NASA GSFC

A group of researchers is using artificial intelligence techniques to calibrate some of NASA’s images of the Sun, helping improve the data that scientists use for solar research. The new technique was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics on April 13, 2021.

A solar telescope has a tough job. Staring at the Sun takes a harsh toll, with a constant bombardment by a never-ending stream of solar particles and intense sunlight. Over time, the sensitive lenses and sensors of solar telescopes begin to degrade. To ensure the data such instruments send back is still accurate, scientists recalibrate periodically to make sure they understand just how the instrument is changing.

Launched in 2010, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, has provided high-definition images of the Sun for over a decade. Its images have given scientists a detailed look at various solar phenomena that can spark space weather and affect our astronauts and technology on Earth and in space. The Atmospheric Imagery Assembly, or AIA, is one of two imaging instruments on SDO and looks constantly at the Sun, taking images across 10 wavelengths of ultraviolet light every 12 seconds. This creates a wealth of information of the Sun like no other, but—like all Sun-staring instruments—AIA degrades over time, and the data needs to be frequently calibrated.

Since SDO’s launch, scientists have used to calibrate AIA. Sounding rockets are smaller rockets that typically only carry a few instruments and take short flights into space—usually only 15 minutes. Crucially, sounding rockets fly above most of Earth’s atmosphere, allowing instruments on board to to see the ultraviolet wavelengths measured by AIA. These wavelengths of light are absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere and can’t be measured from the ground. To calibrate AIA, they would attach an ultraviolet telescope to a sounding and compare that data to the measurements from AIA. Scientists can then make adjustments to account for any changes in AIA’s data.

There are some drawbacks to the sounding rocket method of calibration. Sounding rockets can only launch so often, but AIA is constantly looking at the Sun. That means there’s downtime where the calibration is slightly off in between each sounding rocket calibration.

“It’s also important for deep space missions, which won’t have the option of sounding rocket calibration,” said Dr. Luiz Dos Santos, a solar physicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author on the paper. “We’re tackling two problems at once.”

Virtual calibration

With these challenges in mind, scientists decided to look at other options to calibrate the instrument, with an eye towards constant calibration. Machine learning, a technique used in artificial intelligence, seemed like a perfect fit.

As the name implies, machine learning requires a computer program, or algorithm, to learn how to perform its task.

The top row of images show the degradation of AIA’s 304 Angstrom wavelength channel over the years since SDO’s launch. The bottom row of images are corrected for this degradation using a machine learning algorithm. Credit: Luiz Dos Santos/NASA GSFC

First, researchers needed to train a to recognize solar structures and how to compare them using AIA data. To do this, they give the algorithm images from sounding rocket calibration flights and tell it the correct amount of calibration they need. After enough of these examples, they give the algorithm similar images and see if it would identify the correct calibration needed. With enough data, the algorithm learns to identify how much calibration is needed for each image.

Because AIA looks at the Sun in multiple wavelengths of light, researchers can also use the algorithm to compare specific structures across the wavelengths and strengthen its assessments.

To start, they would teach the algorithm what a looked like by showing it solar flares across all of AIA’s wavelengths until it recognized solar flares in all different types of light. Once the program can recognize a solar flare without any degradation, the algorithm can then determine how much degradation is affecting AIA’s current images and how much calibration is needed for each.

“This was the big thing,” Dos Santos said. “Instead of just identifying it on the same wavelength, we’re identifying structures across the wavelengths.”

This means researchers can be more sure of the calibration the algorithm identified. Indeed, when comparing their virtual calibration data to the sounding rocket calibration data, the machine learning program was spot on.

With this new process, researchers are poised to constantly calibrate AIA’s images between calibration rocket flights, improving the accuracy of SDO’s data for researchers.

Machine learning beyond the Sun

Researchers have also been using machine learning to better understand conditions closer to home.

One group of researchers led by Dr. Ryan McGranaghan—Principal Data Scientist and Aerospace Engineer at ASTRA LLC and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center—used machine learning to better understand the connection between Earth’s magnetic field and the ionosphere, the electrically charged part of Earth’s upper atmosphere. By using data science techniques to large volumes of data, they could apply machine learning techniques to develop a newer model that helped them better understand how energized particles from space rain down into Earth’s atmosphere, where they drive space weather.

As advances, its scientific applications will expand to more and more missions. For the future, this may mean that deep space missions—which travel to places where rocket flights aren’t possible—can still be calibrated and continue giving accurate data, even when getting out to greater and greater distances from Earth or any stars.



More information:
Luiz F. G. Dos Santos et al, Multichannel autocalibration for the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly using machine learning, Astronomy & Astrophysics (2021). DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/202040051

Citation:
Artificial intelligence helps improve NASA’s eyes on the Sun (2021, July 24)
retrieved 24 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-artificial-intelligence-nasa-eyes-sun.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

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