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The Crux

Can Humans Live in Space Without Going Crazy?

By David Levine | August 14, 2018 2:30 pm

On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American in space when he piloted the Mercury capsule Freedom 7. His sub-orbital journey lasted 15 minutes. Like most children who grew up in the early era of space flight, I remember this moment well.

The flight was extra special for me because my dad, Arthur L. Levine, worked for NASA. As a human resources administrator, he recruited John Glenn, who in 1962 became the first American to orbit Earth. My dad, Glenn and Neil Armstrong, all work …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts
The steaming cone at Fissure 8 with some small pockets of molten lava in the main vent area. Taken August 12, 2018. USGS/HVO.

Rocky Planet

Is the Kīlauea Eruption Winding Down?

By Erik Klemetti | August 14, 2018 9:54 am

It has been awhile since I updated on the lower East Rift Zone eruption on Hawaii’s Kīlauea. Well, it appears that the eruption is slowing down significantly. The fountaining at the Fissure 8 cone has stopped (see above) and the lava lake that formed there has gotten sluggish and sticky. Does this mean we’re seeing the end of the eruption that has paved over so many homes and added to the Big Island? That is hard to say with any certainty at this point.

There are still dribbles of lava m …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Rocky Planet, Science, Science Blogs

Science Sushi

Livestock Infected with Worms Belch and Fart 33% More Methane

By Christie Wilcox | August 14, 2018 8:00 am

It’s estimated that 40% of greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, and a substantial portion of that is directly ’emitted’ by livestock. And just last year, climate scientists reported that we’ve actually been underestimating the extent to which the combined belches and flatulence of farmed animals contributes to climate change by 11%. Unsurprisingly, there’s been renewed interest in reducing those emissions, especially considering the demand for livestock is only growing. Now,  …

Seriously, Science?

Physicists finally explain why your earphones are always tangled.

By Seriously Science | August 14, 2018 6:00 am

[Note from the authors of “Seriously, Science?”: After nine years with Discover, we’ve been informed that this will be our last month blogging on this platform. Despite being (usually) objective scientists, we have a sentimental streak, and we have spent the last few days reminiscing about the crazy, and often funny, science we have highlighted. Therefore, we have assembled a month-long feast of our favorite science papers. Enjoy!]

There are few day-to-day events that send me in …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: blog business

ImaGeo

What caused this colossal heart-shaped hole in the cloud deck off the coast of California and Baja?

By Tom Yulsman | August 13, 2018 7:14 pm

I’m always on the look out for interesting images of Earth shot from space so that I can share them here at ImaGeo. And when I saw the one above, I just couldn’t resist it.

Often, the cloud deck extends along the coast of California and down into Baja in a more or less continuous manner, as you can see in the image at right acquired by NASA’s Terra satellite five years ago in August. But in the Terra image above, there is indeed a massive heart-shaped hole in the deck.

It’s also …

The Crux

Brains Store Temporary Records Before Creating Life-long Memories

By Kelsey Tyssowski, Harvard University | August 13, 2018 5:41 pm

A version of this article originally appeared on The Conversation.

The first dance at my wedding lasted exactly four minutes and 52 seconds, but I’ll probably remember it for decades. Neuroscientists still don’t entirely understand this: How was my brain able to translate this less-than-five-minute experience into a lifelong memory? Part of the puzzle is that there’s a gap between experience and memory: our experiences are fleeting, but it takes hours to form a long-term memory.

 …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain

Neuroskeptic

A Brief Guide to Neuro-Products

By Neuroskeptic | August 13, 2018 4:41 pm

On this blog I usually focus on academic, scientific neuroscience. However, there is a big world outside the laboratory and, in the real world, the concepts of neuroscience are being used (and abused) in ways that would make any honest neuroscientist blush.

In this post I’m going to focus on three recent examples of neuro-products: commercial products that are promoted as having some kind of neuroscience-based benefit.

1) Neuro Connect Golf Bands

We’ll start out with a silly one. Th …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: funny, media, neurofetish, select, Top Posts

The Crux

The Evolutionary Quirk That Made Vitamin B12 Part of Our Diet

By Nathan H. Lents | August 13, 2018 2:15 pm

Vitamins and other nutrients that we cannot make for ourselves are called essential. It’s a misleading term because “essential” most often means “important,” but in the world of dietetics, it denotes that we must obtain it in our diets. For example, vitamin Q, also called ubiquinone, is extremely important – it’s crucial for cellular respiration in the mitochondria – but it is not deemed essential because our cells simply make this biomolecule from already available parts.

 …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
MORE ABOUT: evolution, nutrition

ImaGeo

From space, numerous wildfires look like glittering embers strewn across a vast swath of the Pacific Northwest

By Tom Yulsman | August 13, 2018 1:49 pm

As more than 140 new wildfires erupted in British Columbia and Washington State, a weather satellite captured this dramatic imagery

Wildfires blazing in California have received a huge amount of attention in recent weeks. But this summer’s wildfire crisis is much more widespread, as shown in dramatic fashion by the animation of satellite images above, as well as other images to follow.

The animation consists of images acquired by the GOES-16 weather satellite over the course of 24 ho …

Dead Things

Utah Pterosaur Was Desert-Dwelling Badass...Pelican?

By Gemma Tarlach | August 13, 2018 10:00 am

More than 200 million years ago, a shadow traveled across the hot, arid landscape of what’s now the western United States. It belonged to a Late Triassic pterosaur that may have been the biggest of its time. Describing its size, features and home turf, researchers reveal this new Utah pterosaur is full of surprises.

Pterosaurs lived at about the same time as dinosaurs, from the late Triassic until the end of the Cretaceous, or roughly  215-66 million years ago. But these fantastic fly …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
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