Aug 26, 2017


Secret life of the dodo revealed

Scientists are piecing together clues about the life of the dodo, hundreds of years after the flightless bird was driven to extinction.

Few scientific facts are known about the hapless bird, which was last sighted in 1662.

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The research could also shed light on the dodo's extinction about 350 years ago, less than 100 years after humans arrived on the island.

Hunting was a factor in the dodo's demise, but monkeys, deer, pigs and rats released on the island from ships probably sealed their fate.

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Dr Angst said the dodo is considered "a very big icon of animal-human induced extinction", although the full facts are unknown.

Asteroid that killed the dinosaurs created endless night and 18-month winter as it rained fire

It is a vision of hell on Earth. The sun disappeared behind a cloud of smoke that encircled the planet, turning day into night and causing temperatures to plummet as fire rained down from above.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the massive asteroid that struck the planet 66 million years ago – wiping out the dinosaurs and many other species in the fifth mass extinction of all life – set off earthquakes, giant tsunamis and volcanoes.

Even after the dust cleared nearly two years later, chemical reactions in the upper atmosphere would have wrecked the protective layer of ozone so that the sun’s rays would have irradiated anything left alive by the strong ultraviolet light.

It seems extraordinary that life survived such an Armageddon-like event, which was laid bare by researchers who used a sophisticated computer model to work out the effect of the 10km-wide asteroid on the climate.

This Absolutely Ginormous Asteroid Is Passing Close by Earth in Two Weeks Time

On 1 September, a mammoth 4.4 kilometre (2.7 mile) chunk of rock will pass within an astronomical whisker of our planet – the largest near-Earth object to come this close since NASA set up its Near Earth Observations program in 1998.

Don't bother unlocking the old bomb shelter, though. At 18 times the distance between Earth and the Moon this asteroid poses no threat our own delicate space rock, but it will still be a great opportunity for astronomers to study this orbiting space mountain up close.

We have Schelte "Bobby" Bus at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia to thank for noticing this space boulder back in 1981, and for naming it after the famous 19th century nurse, Florence Nightingale.

In spite of her size, we have nothing to fear from the lovely Florence.

Planet Uranus Could Be Full Of Giant Diamonds

Scientists have long theorized that the icy giant planet Uranus could have diamond rain showers due to the immense pressure in its atmosphere but none have actually come close to confirming the idea since mimicking the harsh conditions of the planet is necessary.

A team of researchers, however, has recreated the atmospheric conditions of Uranus at Stanford University's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and successfully observed a rain of tiny diamonds.

"Previously, researchers could only assume that the diamonds had formed. When I saw the results of this latest experiment, it was one of the best moments of my scientific career," lead author Dominik Kraus from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf expressed.

Several experiments have already been done to confirm the theory; however, previous observations failed to achieve success because researchers could not observe the results in real-time, which is a necessary part of the monitoring process.

Catholic archbishop says he would rather go to prison than report child abuse heard in confession

Denis Hart, Archbishop of Melbourne, insisted confession was "a spiritual encounter with God through the priest" and was "of a higher order" than criminal law.

His comments came after the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse said there should be "no excuse, protection nor privilege" for clergy who failed to alert police of abuse.

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"We can no longer think about sexual offending against children as some kind of forgivable sin."

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Archbishop Hart's predecessor at the Diocese of Melbourne, Cardinal George Pell, is due to face trial on multiple sex charges later this year.

Catholic Church claimed child sex abuse victims ‘consented’

The Catholic Church and British local authorities have been accused of using a legal loophole to avoid paying compensation to victims of child sex abuse.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, a government agency, has denied some children financial settlements because it said the victims had “consented” to the abuse, a group of charities has warned.

Lawyers representing victims have warned that this line of defence is becoming increasingly common.

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The victim said "I was below the legal age of consent anyway and there's a grooming element to that kind of situation. It was totally disregarded and it made me feel really small." The case was finally settled, with the Catholic Church paying out £80,000.

Dino Nocivelli, a specialist child abuse solicitor at Bolt Burdon Kemp told Kent Live: “It is time for the church to practise what they preach and to admit their failings, to take account of the damage this has caused to the lives of far too many children and lastly to apologise for the abuse.”

India guru rape case: 23 die in unrest as Ram Rahim Singh convicted

At least 23 people have been killed in violent protests over the rape conviction of a popular religious leader in north India.

The victims are believed to be Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's followers. Angry supporters rampaged through Panchkula town, near Chandigarh.

About 2,500 of Singh's followers have been arrested, police said.

Earlier, his devotees smashed cars and set media vans alight, saying he was innocent.

More than 200,000 of his followers had flocked to the Chandigarh area ahead of Friday's verdict.

Singh, who says he has millions of disciples, was found guilty of raping two women at the headquarters of his sect, known as Dera Sacha Sauda, in 2002.

Babylonians developed trigonometry 'superior' to modern day version 3,700 years ago

The Ancient Babylonians knew about a form of trigonometry more advanced than the modern-day version – about 1,000 years before its supposed invention by the Ancient Greeks, academics in Australia say.

The astonishing claim is based on a 3,700-year-old clay tablet inscribed with a table of numbers.

Known as Plimpton 322, it is already known to contain evidence that the Babylonians knew Pythagoras’ famous equation for right-angled triangles, long before the Greek philosopher gave his name to it.

And researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have claimed it also shows the Babylonians developed a highly sophisticated form of trigonometry – the system of maths used to describe angles that has tortured generations of school pupils with sine, cosine and tangent.

Elon Musk backs call for global ban on killer robots

The world's leading artificial intelligence experts are sounding the alarm on killer robots.

Tesla (TSLA) boss Elon Musk is among a group of 116 founders of robotics and artificial intelligence companies who are calling on the United Nations to ban autonomous weapons.

"Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare. Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend," the experts warn in an open letter released Monday.

"These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways," the letter says.

Its signatories are from companies spread across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia, including Mustafa Suleyman, an artificial intelligence specialist at Google (GOOGL, Tech30).

The Concept of Schizophrenia Is Coming to an End – Here's Why

The concept of schizophrenia is dying. Harried for decades by psychology, it now appears to have been fatally wounded by psychiatry, the very profession that once sustained it. Its passing will not be mourned.

Today, having a diagnosis of schizophrenia is associated with a life-expectancy reduction of nearly two decades. By some criteria, only one in seven people recover.

Despite heralded advances in treatments, staggeringly, the proportion of people who recover hasn't increased over time. Something is profoundly wrong.

Part of the problem turns out to be the concept of schizophrenia itself. Arguments that schizophrenia is a distinct disease have been "fatally undermined".

Dan, Fran Keller to get $3.4 million in ‘satanic day care’ case

Dan and Fran Keller, who spent more than 21 years in prison after they were accused of sexually abusing children during supposed satanic rituals at their South Austin day care facility, will receive $3.4 million from a state fund for those wrongly convicted of crimes.

Shortly after receiving the news Tuesday, an ecstatic Fran Keller said they will no longer have to live on the brink of destitution, unable to find jobs at their ages and with their convictions, even if overturned by the state’s highest criminal court.

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The Keller case made national news after three children accused them in 1991 of leading ghastly satanic rituals that supposedly included desecrated graves, videotaped orgies, dismembered babies and tortured pets. No evidence of such activities was discovered at their in-home day care facility, and the case against them collapsed about two decades later when the only physical evidence of abuse was acknowledged as a mistake by the examining physician.

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The Kellers also were harmed, [attorney Keith Hampton] argued, by the combined efforts of inept therapists, gullible police and an investigation that spiraled out of control, producing a suspect list of 26 ritual abusers, including many of the Kellers’ neighbors and a respected Austin police captain.

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