Frame: Matteo Farinella
Hamilton was a software engineer before the position was even existed—in fact, she's the one who coined the term. She was one of the first people who distinguished software engineering as a legitimate field worthy of respect.
In the 1960s, she led the team that developed the in-flight software for the Apollo missions. Her team's hand-written software played a critical role in landing the astronauts of Apollo 11 on the moon, one of the first times a computer was trusted with the real-time execution of a mission-critical task.
Jim Peaco, National Park Services
Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs) repel both oil and water. So, as Anna Robuck wrote last fall:
"...PFASs are everywhere: fire-fighting foams, nonstick cookware like Teflon, stain-resistant carpet, water-resistant clothing, food packaging, compostable plates, some cosmetics, and other consumer products that repel oil, grease, or water."
They're ubiquitous, and because of that, they end up in our bodies. Now, the European Food Safety Authority says that humans can tolerate approximately...*pulls out adding machine*....99.9% of what they've been exposed to in the past.
In respone to this news, Robuck shared her thoughts:
"Ugh. Add this to the very-recent news that the US will refuse to set drinking water limits for these compounds.
My family lives near DuPont HQ, and some back of the envelope calculations suggest they (we) are drinking the weekly limit suggested in your link over the course of about three hours."
My favorite part of the science I do is field work. I fell in love with the study of geology because of all the field trips my classes took to mountains, road-side outcrops, and sand dunes on Lake Michigan, and the time spent wading in rivers and lakes. I never imagined, though, that I would spend my graduate studies crawling around underground in caves! I had been in so-called "show caves", like Mammoth Caves in Kentucky. But, they didn't prepare me for the thrill (and scariness) of crawling and climbing through the remote and unmodified caves central to my fieldwork.
My fieldwork in caves consists of cave monitoring, where we frequently visit the caves and measure their CO2 levels and temperature, and collect water from inside the cave to analyze back in our lab. We monitor the caves in the modern climate system, so we can better understand what they might be able tell us about past climate. The cave pictured here is Waipuna Cave in New Zealand's North Island, where we have cave deposits that serve as climate archives for the past 30,000 years. I've learned to love caves for both the awesome science they allow me to do, and their beauty. How can I not be inspired?
We asked our community whether or not the partial shutdown of the federal government, which has stretched into its second month, was having an impact on their research. One of our members is a former USDA researcher and helped illustrate the consequences of the shutdown on the government's scientific research. They asked to remain anonymous, citing limits on unauthorized statements imposed on scientists by the administration.
When it comes to agriculture research conducted by the USDA, they told us how a shutdown means the living things are not getting regular care. Plant research is often seasonal and so certain experiments need to be done at set seasonal times. If the few personnel allowed on station aren't capable of watering everything. Plants and insect colonies which aren't cared for could die. As a result, year-long projects could be irreparably lost.
Volcanoes of New Zealand are important figures in Māori (New Zealand's indigenous people) culture. When European exploration of New Zealand began in the early 1700's many places and landmarks were renamed, replacing their original Māori names. One such name change was Mount Taranaki, a volcano central in Māori legends with other mountains in the Tongariro National Park. Taranaki was renamed Mount Egmont by a Dutch explorer in 1770, and was taken by the British Crown in 1865. In 1986, Mount Taranaki (then Mount Egmont) was officially renamed "Mount Egmont or Mount Taranki" by the Lands Minister at the time, although the New Zealand Geographic Board had unanimously voted to return its name to Mount Taranaki months prior. In December 2017, eight iwi (people or nations of New Zealand) Taranaki officially signed an agreement with the Crown to begin the process of giving Mount Taranaki legal personality, meaning Mount Taranaki would have legal ownership over itself. Upon legalization, Taranaki will join Te Urewera and the Whanganui River, both of which have had legal identity since 2014.
Researchers from MIT have flown a plane powered by an ‘ion drive’ for the first time. The drive uses high powered electrodes to ionise and accelerate air particles, creating an ‘ionic wind’. This wind drove a 5m wide craft across a sports hall. Unlike the ion drives which have powered space craft for decades, this new drive uses air as its accelerant. The researchers say it could power silent drones.
Check out this video featuring Steven Barrett, the researcher who led the team:
This first flight made it about as far as the Wright brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk. While it seems infeasible for passenger flights, it does have the potential to create a new class of small, silent, and clean drone aircraft.
In the US, food regulation is split in two. As they put it, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates most "food or food additives" in the US, including the production, packaging, labeling, and sale of food besides meat and poultry. Meat and poultry are regulated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA regulates the production, slaughter, and sale of all meat and meat products. These agency's joint decision on cell-based meats will treat these new products as different things at different points along the process of turning cells into meat.
The FDA will oversee the growth and production of cells. At harvest time, when the cells are collected to be turned into meat, regulation will transfer to the USDA. The decision can be seen as a win for the companies that make cell based meat, which advocated for a similar set up in a letter to the White House in August.
To learn more about the growing field of cellular agriculture, read Massive's free report on the state of this research.
Last month the scientific exploration ship Nautilus has discovered the largest deep-sea octopus nursery, with over 1,000 octopus.
"We went down the eastern flank of this small hill, and that's when - boom - we just started seeing pockets of dozens here, dozens there, dozens everywhere," King told National Geographic.
It's wonderful to hear the un-self-conscious enthusiasm of these researchers as they discover the nursery.
This is a great piece:
“In 1983, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared the Bunker Hill Mine and smelter complex the nation’s second-largest Superfund site. The agency has been a presence in the valley ever since. Today, after 35 years and almost $900 million in cleanup costs, Bunker Hill’s tailings heap still oozes 400 pounds of toxic metals a day into the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River. Tundra swans still flap and stagger in the marshes. After picking up more mine waste downstream, the river dumps almost 400 tons of lead and 700 tons of zinc into Lake Coeur d’Alene every year.”
Meanwhile, in England, extremophile microbiologist and Consortium scientist Dr. Rose Jones is figuring out how to clean up toxic mining waste with microbes.
Photo by Michael Schiffer on Unsplash
Our microbiome, the collective genomes of the microbes that live inside our digestive systems, has been linked to multiple facets of our health, from cancer to depression and everything in between. However, before you go recommending one probiotic over another, you might want to read ahead.
Large studies have revealed significant variation between the gut microbiome of both healthy individuals and those with health conditions, making it hard to identify associations between the gut microbiome and a person’s health. However, thanks to two recent studies (one in Amsterdam and one in Guangdong, China), the reasons for this variation are now clearer. The two studies showed that both ethnicity and geography are key factors in determining the gut microbiome. It gets even more complicated: most of the current knowledge about the connections between the microbiome and health come from studies of European and North American populations.
This new research highlights the importance of being careful when applying data about the gut microbiome to different groups of people: clearly, one size does not fit all. However, researchers still don’t know why differences in the gut microbiome are associated with ethnicity and geography. We’ll need to untangle the influence of genetics, cultural norms, and diet if we want to develop personalized microbiome-based treatments.
Purple sea urchins are eating all the kelp in California. But in Pittsburgh, hundreds of miles from the ocean, we order them in the mail.
They arrive wrapped in wet newspaper with pieces of seaweed to snack on. We keep them in tanks, next to some sea star buddies, and study how they grow skeletons. When we're done, we bleach them (the university considers them a biohazard) and save them as extremely fragile decorations.
💀 You can estimate a person’s age from their skeleton (specifically, from how many/which bones have fused growth plates) — and the more skeletal bones you have, the better your age estimate!
🧛🏼♂️ Bioarchaeologists recently excavating a 17th-18th century cemetery in Poland have found graves of “suspected vampires” — people the locals interred with iron sickles or with rocks under their chins, to keep them from rising and feeding on the living.
🔪 Paleoanthropologists have found cut-marked Neanderthal bones at a number of Neanderthal sites. The placement of these marks suggests that individuals were dismembered and de-fleshed — a likely indicator of cannibalism.
👻 Happy Halloween! 🎃
One of the most famous volcanoes of New Zealand is Mount Ngauruhoe, which some may recognize as Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings. The largely accepted translation of its Māori (New Zealand's indigenous people) name is "throwing hot stones," characterizing its active volcanism. Ngauruhoe isn't actually a volcano on its own, but rather a cone of the larger Tongariro Volcanic Complex, which resides in the Tongariro National Park.
Ngauruhoe is a stratovolcano, which means its built of alternating layers of lava and ash. The type of lava that erupts from Ngauruhoe cools and hardens relatively quickly after eruption and piles closely around the volcano, a behavior that gives Nagauruhoe and other stratovolcanoes their iconic cone shape.
Recent studies suggest Ngauruhoe began forming 7,000 years ago. There is a long Māori verbal record of eruption activity and 60 events since written records began in 1839. Ngauruhoe was erupting roughly every 9 years until its last eruption in 1975. Today New Zealand-based research teams actively monitor the seismic and chemical activity of Ngauruhoe.
NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory
The short answer is no. Our planet's changing climate did not cause Florence to form, but it's definitely not making things any easier. Because of increased air and water temperatures, hurricanes can carry more rain onto land than they used to. That makes flooding an even more pressing threat. In addition to being wetter, hurricanes are also larger: a brand-new (not yet peer-reviewed) analysis released yesterday showed that the diameter of Florence is 50 miles (80 km) larger because of the influence of climate change. Analyses completed after landfall will have more information about how warming temperatures are influencing big storms, but for now, scientists will continue to watch and wait.