Oct 9, 2019


North America Has Lost 3 Billion Birds, Scientists Say

Over the past half-century, North America has lost more than a quarter of its entire bird population, or around 3 billion birds.

That's according to a new estimate published in the journal Science by researchers who brought together a variety of information that has been collected on 529 bird species since 1970.

"We saw this tremendous net loss across the entire bird community," says Ken Rosenberg, an applied conservation scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, N.Y. "By our estimates, it's a 30% loss in the total number of breeding birds."

Rosenberg and his colleagues already knew that a number of bird populations had been decreasing.

"But we also knew that other bird populations were increasing," he says. "And what we didn't know is whether there was a net change." Scientists thought there might simply be a shift in the total bird population toward more generalist birds adapted to living around humans.

Sea 'Boiling' with Methane Discovered in Siberia: 'No One Has Ever Recorded Anything like This Before'

Scientists in Siberia have discovered an area of sea that is "boiling" with methane, with bubbles that can be scooped from the water with buckets. Researchers on an expedition to the East Siberian Sea said the "methane fountain" was unlike anything they had seen before, with concentrations of the gas in the region to be six to seven times higher than the global average.

The team, led by Igor Semiletov, from Tomsk Polytechnic University in Russia, traveled to an area of the Eastern Arctic previously known to produce methane fountains. They were studying the environmental consequences of permafrost thawing beneath the ocean.

. . .

Locked within in the permafrost is organic material. When the ground thaws, this material starts to break down and, as it does, it releases methane—a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide. With global temperatures increasing, scientists are concerned the warming will result in more permafrost thawing, causing more methane to be released, leading to even more warming. This is known as a positive feedback loop.

Milky Way's centre exploded 3.5 million years ago

"These results dramatically change our understanding of the Milky Way," says co-author Magda Guglielmo from the University of Sydney, Australia.

"We always thought about our galaxy as an inactive galaxy, with a not so bright centre," she added.

The flare created two enormous "ionisation cones" that sliced through the Milky Way and left its imprint on the Magellanic Stream. This is a long trail of gas that extends from nearby dwarf galaxies called the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.

The stream lies at an average of 200,000 light-years from the Milky Way.

The Australian-US research team says the explosion was too big to have been triggered by anything other than nuclear activity associated with the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy.

First-Ever Image of the 'Cosmic Web' Reveals the Gassy Highway That Connects the Universe

In the cold wilderness of space, galaxies huddle together around the campfires of stars and the assuring pull of supermassive black holes. Between these cozy clusters of galaxies, where empty space stretches on for millions of light-years all around, a faint highway of gas bridges the darkness.

This gassy, intergalactic network is known in cosmological models as the cosmic web. Made of long filaments of hydrogen left over from the Big Bang, the web is thought to contain most (more than 60%) of the gas in the universe and to directly feed all of the star-producing regions in space. At the intersections where filaments overlap, galaxies appear. At least, that's the theory.

The filaments of the galactic web have never been directly observed before, because they are among the faintest structures in the universe and are easily overshadowed by the glow of the galaxies around them. But now, in a study published today (Oct. 3) in the journal Science, researchers have cobbled together the first-ever photograph of cosmic filaments converging on a faraway galaxy cluster, thanks to some of the most sensitive telescopes on Earth.

Paralysed man walks using mind-controlled exoskeleton

A French man paralysed in a nightclub accident has walked again thanks to a brain-controlled exoskeleton, providing hope to tetraplegics seeking to regain movement.

The patient trained for months, harnessing his brain signals to control a computer-simulated avatar to perform basic movements before using the robot device to walk. Scientists described the trial results as a breakthrough.

Doctors who conducted the trial said though the device was years away from being publicly available, it had the potential to improve patients’ quality of life and autonomy.

. . .

He trained using a video game avatar system to acquire the skills needed to operate the exoskeleton and had to relearn natural movements from scratch. “I can’t go home tomorrow in my exoskeleton but I’ve got to a point where I can walk. I walk when I want and I stop when I want,” Thibault said.

Tiny 'Lizard-Like' Muscles Found in Developing Embryos Vanish Before Birth

In the womb, developing humans grow extra muscles in their hands and feet that later disappear without a trace, scientists have discovered.

The temporary tissues, the researchers found, may be leftovers from our evolutionary ancestors.

The mysterious muscles can be found in limbed animals with more dexterous digits than ours, explained study co-author Rui Diogo, an evolutionary biologist and hominid paleobiologist at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Many of the muscles crop up in lizards, which sport fantastically wiggly toes, while a couple of them appear in mammals like chimpanzees, known for their flexible feet. However, in humans, the tissues either fuse to other muscles or shrink away to nothing before birth, according to the small study, published Oct. 1 in the journal Development.

The authors suggest that some of the transient muscles may have vanished from our adult ancestors more than 250 million years ago, as mammals began evolving from mammal-like reptiles. Given the study's small sample size, though, it remains to be seen whether these muscles appear in all human embryos and what that may mean for human evolutionary history.

Cattle Are Being Mutilated And Killed In Eastern Oregon. No One Is Sure How Or Why.

Right now in remote Eastern Oregon, a serial crime spree is unfolding. Young purebred bulls are mysteriously showing up dead. Cowboys recently found several animals with body parts precisely removed — and it’s happened just like this before in the West.

It happened to Anderson back in the 1980s, when one of the rancher’s mother cows was mysteriously killed overnight. From his homeplace, Anderson pointed to the exact spot where he found her on top of a mountain. He’s never gotten over it.

Anderson said he had just been near the spot the night before. The next morning, his cow was laid over and dead, her udder removed with something razor-sharp.

“And not one drop of blood anywhere,” Anderson said.

‘They are barbaric’: Turkey prepares to flood 12,000-year-old city to build dam

Hasankeyf is thought to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements on Earth, dating as far back as 12,000 years and containing thousands of caves, churches and tombs.

But this jewel of human history will soon be lost; most of the settlement is about to be flooded as part of the highly controversial Ilisu dam project.

Construction work on the dam and its hydroelectric power plant started in 2006 and Hasankeyf is now just weeks away from destruction, despite a fight by residents and environmental campaigners to save it. The Turkish government has given residents until 8 October to evacuate.

An attempt to challenge the project at the European court of human rights on the grounds that it would damage the country’s cultural heritage was unsuccessful.

Nxivm financier Clare Bronfman to be sentenced in January

Sentencing for liquor-heiress turned Nxivm financier Clare Bronfman and the bookkeeper for the alleged upstate sex cult has been set for dates in January in Brooklyn federal court, officials said Friday.

Bronfman, co-defendant Kathy Russell and three other defendants copped to guilty pleas in the case — leaving alleged Nxivm leader Keith Raniere to go to trial alone.

Bronfman, who is set to be sentenced before Brooklyn federal judge Nicholas Garaufis on Jan. 8, 2020, pleaded guilty to charges of concealing and harboring an illegal alien for financial gain, as well as fraudulent use of identification and faces up to 25 years in prison.

But federal sentencing guidelines call for the Seagram’s heiress, who owns her own island but never finished high school, to receive a prison sentence ranging between 21 and 26 months.

Leah Remini blames Scientology after finding out from a stranger that her dad died

“King of Queens” star and former Scientologist Leah Remini said she and her sister learned of their father’s death from a stranger before the weekend got underway — and blamed the Church of Scientology for driving a wedge between family members and depriving her of closure.

“On Friday, I received a message from my sister Nicole, who had been contacted by a stranger passing on his condolences for the passing of our father, George Anthony Remini,” the 49-year-old Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, native wrote on Instagram. “We had no idea that he had died a month ago.”

According to Remini, she wasn’t aware her father was ill, but knows now that she missed his funeral. Their lack of communication deprived Anthony the opportunity to “redeem himself" for an alleged upbringing of neglect and abuse, as well as, according to Remini, his decision to join the church in a “smear campaign” against her.

“I’m angry that the last chapter in our relationship was dictated by Scientology,” wrote Remini, who blasted the church on her Emmy-winning A&E series “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath,” which ended its three-year run last month.


  1. Just wanted to say hi!

    LaVaughn, thank you for your work.

    1. Hi, darlin.' Wonderful to see you. Wish I had more time for blogging. Life continues apace. Strange times we are living in indeed, huh?

    2. Oh yeah!
      And really, your writing has been helping me thru it all a lot. I understand, though always looking forward for more (new entries). Although, there is so much I have to read and re-read. Often getting something new, something, that was hidden to me before.


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