Apr 9, 2017


Here's Why the Environmental Protection Agency Was Created

The Cuyahoga River burst into flames, while the Potomac stunk from the hundreds of millions of gallons of waste added to its waters every single day.

As the Environmental Protection Agency becomes the subject of focus for major cuts under President Trump's proposed budget — and as the U.N. marks World Water Day on Wednesday — it's worth looking back at the moment in time when the EPA was first created, and why Richard Nixon saw a need for the agency to exist.

Dirty water was only one ingredient. At the close of the 1960s, the United States could not escape the fact of, as TIME put it in 1968, "the relentless degradations of a once virgin continent." The evidence was right in front of citizens' faces. Pollution had gotten bad enough to be undeniable, and science had become advanced enough to make the reasons why clear. In 1963, smog had killed 400 New Yorkers, and Lake Erie's oxygen content had become so depleted that the center of the lake sustained precious little life. An oil spill off the California coast in 1969 coated 400 square miles with slime and killed hundreds of birds. Scientists announced that auto exhaust was at high enough levels in some places that it could cause birth defects. The city of St. Louis smelled, as one resident put it, "like an old-fashioned drugstore on fire."

Did ISIS inadvertently uncover the secret to the “lost” Hanging Gardens of Babylon?

In February the Iraqi army drove ISIS from Mosul, giving archaeologists their first chance to inspect the devastation. ISIS’ funding of its activities through the sale of illicit antiquities has been well-documented. Anything ISIS might find, in the course of plowing through ancient sites, would be gathered for sale abroad, while the militants would destroy as much as they could along the way, documenting the harm in order to upset their ideological enemies.

At first there was little concern that Nineveh would yield salable artifacts. It had been carefully excavated by waves of archaeologists since at least 1842. The only chance of finding new treasures would be to search where no one has looked before. And the only place that no one has looked, where archaeologists would not try to look, would be places that can be accessed only by blowing up or bulldozing the already-revealed parts of the ancient city.

To the surprise of the archaeologists, upon examining the reconquered city, they found evidence that when ISIS blew up parts of the Nebi Yunus shrine, the militants unveiled a major discovery: a palace that predated the Tomb of Jonah and had been buried beneath it — unseen for thousands of years.

Humpback Whales Are Forming Mysterious 'Super-Groups', and No One Can Explain It

Humpback whales are known for being the loners of the sea - while they tend to migrate, feed, and mate in groups, they spend much of their existence in solitude, or in small, short-lived groups of up to seven individuals.

But something could be brewing in our oceans, because scientists are reporting 22 separate instances of humpback 'super-groups' that defy explanation - never-before-seen groups of 20 to 200 whales all appearing off the southwest coast of South Africa in recent years.

"I've never seen anything like this," lead researcher Ken Findlay, from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in South Africa, told New Scientist.

According to a new study, 22 instances of humpback super-groups were witnessed on three research cruises in 2011, 2014, and 2015, as well as a handful of public observations from aircraft over the south-western Cape region of South Africa.

It wasn't just Greece: Archaeologists find early democratic societies in the Americas

Some Mesoamerican cultures do seem to fit the despotic model. More than 2000 years ago in the Olmec capitals of San Lorenzo and La Venta along the Mexican gulf coast, for example, kings had their portraits carved into gargantuan stone heads and lived in palaces dripping with exotic luxury goods like greenstone and iron mirrors. Centuries later, Classic period Mayan kings in southern Mexico and Guatemala recorded their conquests, marriages, and dynasties in glyphs carved into stone. Meanwhile, commoners lived humbly in settlements dispersed around the city's core of pyramids and monuments.

But as Blanton logged year after year of surveys and excavations in Mexico, he noticed an increasingly long list of sites that didn't conform to these expectations. For example, Monte Albán, the capital of the Zapotec people in Oaxaca between 500 B.C.E. and 800 C.E., lacked the ostentatious representations of individual rulers so common in Olmec and classical Maya art. It also seemed to be devoid of palaces and royal tombs stocked with precious goods. Instead, signs of authority were more anonymous, linked to cosmological symbols and enduring deities rather than specific individuals.

Intrigued by such outliers, Blanton and three co-authors worked up a new theory, published in 1996 in Current Anthropology. Based largely on Mesoamerican examples, they laid out two forms that governments could take, which Blanton now terms autocratic and collective. Autocratic governments were based on the authority of an individual ruler and often supported by wealth acquired by monopolizing natural resources or controlling trade. Think of the Olmec, who controlled key gulf coast trade routes, or even present-day Saudi Arabia, Blanton says, "where the royal family controls the oil industry and uses that to fund the state's activity. They don't have to be accountable to the people.

Summit County televangelist Ernest Angley ordered to pay $388,000 to unpaid workers

New details have emerged in the ongoing case against a Summit County televangelist.

A federal judge has ordered Ernest Angley to pay more than $388,000 in back wages and damages to more than 200 unpaid workers at his buffet restaurant.

The U.S. Department of Labor alleged that Angley's Cathedral Buffet in Cuyahoga Falls used unpaid volunteers, as workers.

Get ready for our first image of a black hole

When astronomers “see” black holes, they are actually seeing light from a disk of material around the black hole, which is sitting beyond the event horizon. Anything within the event horizon itself is truly invisible, as that marks the point at which even light cannot travel fast enough to break free of the black hole’s gravity and escape. But currently, astronomical instruments don’t have the resolution to really see the disk closely or image its structure.

This is why every “image” ever shown of a black hole in a news article or textbook is an artist’s rendering, rather than an actual picture. But that’s all about to change.

The Event Horizon Telescope makes use of a technique called Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) that requires several telescopes observing the same object from different locations to create highly detailed images of very, very small sections of the sky. The farther apart the telescopes are located, the greater the detail they can achieve. The Event Horizon Telescope will link eight radio telescopes around the world, including the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile, the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory in Hawaii, the Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano in Mexico, the South Pole Telescope in Antarctica, and other facilities in France and Spain to utilize the longest baselines possible. By creating a truly Earth-sized telescope, the project should be capable of imaging the space around a black hole in exquisite detail.

This will allow astronomers to study not only the structure of the disk around the black hole, but also to test general relativity, get a better look at how the black hole actually feeds on material, and maybe even determine how the outflows and jets that are so common among black holes are actually created.

Scientists Do The IMPOSSIBLE! Wormhole Created In Lab

In a paper called “A Magnetic Wormhole” by Jordi Prat-Camps, Carles Nava & Alvaro Sanchez published in Scientific Reports they report that they have designed and created in the laboratory the first experimental ‘wormhole’ that can connect two regions of space magnetically. And amazingly enough, the scientists at the Department of Physics at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona report that it consists of a tunnel that transfers the magnetic field from one point to the other while keeping it undetectable — invisible — all the way.They used metamaterials and metasurfaces to build the tunnel experimentally, so that the magnetic field from a source, such as a magnet or a an electromagnet, appears at the other end of the ‘wormhole’ as an isolated magnetic monopole. This result is strange enough in itself, as magnetic monopoles — magnets with only one pole, whether north or south — do not exist in nature. The overall effect is that of a magnetic field that appears to travel from one point to another through a dimension that lies outside the conventional three dimensions. The ‘wormhole’ in this experiment is a sphere made of different layers: an external layer with a ferromagnetic surface, a second inner layer, made of superconducting material, and a ferromagnetic sheet rolled into a cylinder that crosses the sphere from one end to the other. The sphere is made in such a way as to be magnetically undetectable — invisible, in magnetic field terms — from the exterior.

The magnetic wormhole is an analogy of gravitational ones, as it “changes the topology of space, as if the inner region has been magnetically erased from space,” explains Àlvar Sánchez, the lead researcher. 

A Radical New Therapy Could Treat the 'Untreatable' Victims of Trauma

Ever since Sigmund Freud pioneered the “talking cure” in the late 19th century, psychologists have been trumpeting new ways to make people feel happier—or at least less miserable—and usually delivered more hype than hope. Indeed, a widely cited 2001 study found that it is the warmth and empathy of the therapists—and not the type of therapy they use—that may be the most important factor in treatment. And there’s another reason to be cautious about CRM: It has not yet passed any formal clinical trials. Nevertheless, CRM’s proponents make bold claims. The model can not only completely remove symptoms of PTSD, they say, but also help patients live their lives with greater serenity than they would have imagined possible before they were poleaxed by their trauma.

In standard therapy, practitioners will encourage survivors to come to terms with an awful event by talking about it in great detail, and perhaps even record their account so they can later listen to it over and over to extinguish their fear. Schwarz’s work could not be more different. In a CRM session, there’s no need to talk about what happened. Rather than delving into the stories her clients tell about the past, Schwarz encourages them to focus on the physical sensations arising in their bodies as they silently recall their worst memories: chest-crushing sadness, a hot flash of anger, stomach cramps, palpitations or feeling like one’s heart is frozen in ice. Only by facing such feelings fully—if only for a moment—can the survivors finally let go of their buried anger, terror or shame.

The problem, as Karen discovered, is that even with the support of the most sympathetic therapist, such feelings are often too much to bear. That’s why Schwarz equips her clients with tools to give them the strength to confront the raw emotions they’ve kept locked deep inside for so long. Inspired by Native American healing arts, mystical traditions and the practices of tribal shamans, these “resources” require something of a metaphysical leap. These include various breathing and visualization exercises, and also work with eye positions—based on the theory that different emotions correlate to minute variations in the direction of gaze. At key points in the process, Schwarz aims to help clients tap into their intuition by posing what she calls her “magical question” to find out what aspect of their trauma history needs to be tackled next: “Don’t think. Ask your body, not your brain, and take the first answer that comes.”

Scientists Have Pinpointed the Annoying Genetic Mutation That Turns Us Into Night Owls

A new study has revealed that many people who stay up late and struggle to wake up in the morning aren't lazy, their internal clock is simply genetically programmed to run between 2 and 2.5 hours slower than the rest of the population, thanks to a mutation in a body clock gene called CRY1.

"Carriers of the mutation have longer days than the planet gives them, so they are essentially playing catch-up for their entire lives," says lead researcher Alina Patke from The Rockefeller University in New York.

To be clear, we're not just talking about anyone with a smartphone addiction who struggles to fall asleep at night.

True night owls are people who, even in the absence of smartphones and electrical lights, will still fall asleep and wake up late. In contrast, most people who go camping away from city lights will generally time their sleep with the rising and setting of the Sun after a few days.

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