As 2014 came to an end, teams of climate scientists all over the world have concluded that this year was the hottest globally. Nine out of 10 years that were analyzed have been declared the hottest years ever recorded, and that only since 2000. 1965 is the last known year when a record cold year was declared.
And what could be the reason? Climate change under the influence of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) is a unanimous response. If 2014 warm climate was driven by the warming of the Earth’s oceans, it can be expected that 2015 will only continue the trend.
Detractors of climate change science might argue that record hot temperatures are not felt throughout the world. And they are right, only this is an argument for climate change science, not against it. The world does not warm uniformly, but extreme weather events in regard to geographical locations are happening as we speak.
The US did not warm equally on its vast territory, but while the eastern territory experienced a rather cool 2014, parts of its western territories were on fast track for record hot temperatures. Europe was boiling.
So record hot days might become a day to day occurrence which is set to change the world as we know it: who is to blame? A new study conducted by climate scientists at the ETH Zurich and published in the journal Nature Climate Change connects three of four record hot days to the human factor. GHGs, mostly carbon dioxide from the industrial burning of coal, oil and gas are responsible for the heating of the planet as they retain heat in the atmosphere.
In the study, Erich Fischer and Reto Knutti examined only the hottest one-tenth of one percent. Running the scenario of a world without human-made GHGs through 25 computer models, the Swiss climate scientist discovered that hot days would only happen once every three years. In these computer models they then introduced the heat trapping GHGs and the number changed: four days.
According to their study South America has one of the highest number of hot days that can be blamed on human influence, 88 percent. In North America, the percentage falls at 67 percent. Europe stands at 63 per cent, while Africa has the highest percentage of record high temperatures, at 89 percent.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. In March, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared the period from January to March 2015 the hottest on their long record of keeping track of temperatures, amounting to 135 years of experience. NASA also came to support the claim.
Under these circumstances and taking into consideration the effects that human-made climate change can have on human lives, it should be easier for governments to reach a meaningful deal in December, when the highest climate change conference is set to take place in Paris. Putting a real price on carbon dioxide and making it binding in order to save millions should be one of the solutions.
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New study shows that if mosquitoes are drawn to the scent of a particular person, they are are more to find her twin’s scent appealing as well. On the other side, if they are repelled by someone’s scent, they’re likely to find her twin repulsive, too.
Scientists analyzed 37 sets of twins who were entered their hands in a Y-shaped glass tube. The 20 mosquitoes from the tube had 30 seconds to assess the scents emitted by the hand. Then a small door was opened, which allowed the mosquitoes to fly toward the hands they found appealing and away from the hands they were repelled by.
After running the experiment 40 times with each set of twins, they discovered that the mosquito preferences were about twice as large for identical twins, compared to the levels for fraternal twins. That allowed the scientists to demonstrate that 62% to 83% of a person’s degree of mosquito appeal is determined by DNA, according to a research published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One.
Other studies have discovered that genes are about 80% liable for a person’s height and 50% to 80% for their IQ.
Researchers have believed for some time that people are bitten by mosquitoes an unfortunate genetic inheritance.
They suspected that biology had a role in either attracting or scattering mosquitoes. For example, women who are pregnant are much more appealing than women who aren’t. The scientists also found out that people who are infected with malaria parasite are more attractive to the insects at the time when the infection can be spread.
Previous research have demonstrated that mosquitoes are drawn to people on the basis of their odor. Bacteria that is present on the skin is responsible for producing body odor, but skin cells also play a role, which might be controlled by genes.
So the scientists recruited 19 pairs of fraternal twins and 18 pairs of identical twins. All of them were women and post-menopausal.
The team also made use of dozens of female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, a species that can spread dengue fever. The mosquitoes were almost a week old, and in their lives until the experiment all their food was a glucose solution.
In some tests, the researchers analyzed the odor of one twin’s hand while comparing it to clean air. They also tested twin-versus-twin, while in other tests, both ends of the Y-shaped tube had clean air pumped through them.
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Scientists discovered the most enigmatic components of modern cosmology, the the cosmic microwave background (CMB) Cold Spot, which lies at the furthest-most reaches of the observable universe.
Found in 2004, this strange space object has been the focus of many hypotheses and theories. Some believe it might be the presence of another universe. Others think it is an instrumental error. In a recent study, astronomers may have discovered strong evidence about the origin of the Cold Spot’s and, according to the the new theory, the multiverse hypothesis is not required.
When the Cold Spot was first discovered by NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), scientists rapidly realized that the feature is the greatest structure ever observed in the cosmos. But with just one space telescope taking all the measurements, a fear that something like instrumental error could be responsible.
The European Planck telescope, which was also launched to analyze slight temperature changes in the CMB, also observed the Cold Spot. Despite some beliefs that the space object could be an error which comes up because our statistical analysis methods are flawed, the general hypothesis is that the Cold Spot is real.
One of the most extreme hypotheses that gives an explanation for the Cold Spot is focused around the multiverse. Derived from superstring theory, the multiverse suggests that our universe is just one of a number universes in a soup of universes. The Cold Spot could be one of the neighboring universes which squeezing up against our own.
the multiverse theory is one of the more extreme cosmological thoughts, but there are also other explanations for the Cold Spot. One such idea that now appears to have gained popularity is that of the presence of a “supervoid” in the universe between us and the Cold Spot.
This supervoid is immense, being almost 1.8 billion light-years wide. This vast supervoid is the largest structure ever discovered by humanity.
István Szapudi of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and his team have found, through the combination of data collected by Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS1 (PS1) telescope from Haleakala, Maui, and NASA’s Wide Field Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite, “the largest individual structure ever identified by humanity”. According to the researchers, this structure might be behind the creation of the anomalous Cold Spot.
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NASA and other private space companies like Mars One and SapceX are going to send the first to Mars, the Red Planet.
NASA recently announced the human’s journey to Mars would not be possible without the agency’s contribution.
Charles Bolden, the administrator of NASA, explained during the session with the U.S. House Committee on Science on Thursday, that the space agency is expected to send the first humans on Mars in 2030, and any other private company will not be able to do the same thing before them.
Bolden mentioned, “No commercial company without the support of NASA and government is going to get to Mars.”
NASA has send a rover which is still exploring the Red Planet’s surface and a few spacecrafts which are orbiting Mars, and this knowledge and experience will be of major help in their task of sending humans to the planet.
The gained data of Mars showed that the Red Planet may have been home to more forms of life in the past.
Bolden said before sending a manned mission it is crucial to understand the most detailed aspects of the Red Planet. He also added that NASA researchers have to find out if what happened to Mars could also happen to Earth.
Mars is believed to dispose of large water bodies, even oceans, just like Earth, but the planet lost all the liquid water as the planet slowed the generation of its magnetic field.
Mars One aims at sending humans on Mars and also to set the basis for a human colony on the Red Planet The company announced that they will make possible for humans to go to Mars in 2020s and then start up a human colony by 2027.
A space trip from Earth to Mars would take around 500 days. NASA has sent its astronauts to International Space Station for long periods, such as 12 months, in order to better understand the suitability of sending humans to Mars.
NASA, which is a government agency, announced it has the technology,information, finance, and support from the United States. Private companies would need the help of the agency for sending humans to Mars, the NASA scientists firmly believe.
For an entire month, starting April 29, NASA will organize a challenge for design ideas to keep astronauts safe during deep space missions. More than $30,000 will be given to design projects selected by NASA.
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Scientists announced they have discovered the oldest human tools in Africa. According to the new study, the new discovered tools are 3.3 million years old, which precedes by several hundred thousand years the time our genus Homo entered the scene.
The stone flakes discovered are 700,000 years older than previous found oldest-known tools, scientists said. Until recently, the earliest stone tools, recognized by the scientific world, had been found on the website of Gona in Ethiopia. The tools have been dated to be 2.6 million years old.
A few years ago, researchers digging on the site of Dikika in Ethiopia announced the discovery of minimized marks on animal bones which were dated to be 3.4 million years in the past. The scientists argued that those ancient human ancestors made linear marks on the bones with specific tools, ‘Science Magazine’ wrote.
The claim was immediately disputed and became a controversial subject, while some argued that what appeared to be human made marks could have been the results of trampling by people or some domesticated animals.
At the assembly of the Paleoanthropology Society San Francisco, California, which takes place every year, archaeologist Sonia Harmand from Stony Brook University in New York said that her team discovered some very old tools near the site of Lomekwi 3, which is a few kilometers of Lake Turkana in Kenya.
”The artifacts were clearly knapped and not the result of accidental fracture of rocks, “Harmand said at the annual meeting of the Paleoanthropology Society.
Four years ago, Harmand’s team stumbled upon a former public place, referred to as Lomekwi, which is near the place where a very controversial human relative called Kenyanthropus platyops had been uncovered.
The scientists observed what Harmand cataloged as unmistakable stone tools on the floor bed of the deserted field and instantly started a small excavation.
More objects and tools have been discovered closer to the bottom, along with cores of stone from which human ancestors obtained sharp flakes by chipping.
Researchers have now discovered almost 20 greatly-preserved flakes, cores, but also anvils which were probably used to transport the cores. The flakes which have been struck off from the core was uncovered sealed in sediments that gave a safe context for their preservation.
Since then, one hundred thirty items have been discovered on the floor, researchers added.
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Tens of demonstrators gathered near a New Orleans federal courthouse as President Barack Obama’s moves to change the country’s immigration system is still caught in legal limbo.
Justice Department lawyers requested a federal appeals court to go ahead with a plan that would allow up to 5 million illegal immigrants to continue living in the country, receive work permits and obtain other benefits.
In February, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen validated a preliminary injunction at the solicitation of 26 states that are opposing Obama’s action. Hanen’s decision has temporarily stopped the Obama administration from putting into practice the policies that would protect illegal immigrants from deportation.
“We have health costs. We have law enforcement costs. Then there’s additional costs to the federal government, because basically this is a benefits program for people who are not actually supposed to be here,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said.
Barack Obama pushed forward the executive orders after the November midterm elections, adding that lack of action by Congress prompted him to make radical changes to immigration rules by his own.
A group 26 states strong, which is led by Texas, acted in court to overturn Obama’s executive decision, explaining that it is against the Constitution and would imply more investments in law enforcement, education and also in health.
Justice Department lawyers have argued that holding the temporary stuation is harmful for “the interests of the public who will be deprived of important law enforcement and health benefits of prompt implementation” of the president’s immigration executive action.
The current court will promote the case to a special hearing. It is still unclear how quickly the court might offer its ruling following the hearing. Each side was to obtain an hour to make the arguments for their case.
The first of Obama’s orders is to implement and enlarge a program that offers protection to young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the United States as children and illegally. This law had been scheduled to take effect Feb. 18.
The other important part would enlarge deportation protections to those who are parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been living in the country for several years. That action was set to begin on May 19.
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A Chinese court recently convicted a 71-year-old journalist and writer of leaking state secrets. Gao Yu will spend the next seven years in jail, the court ruled, while rights groups are saying the verdict is just a “blow to free expression”.
In 2000, Gao Yu was named one of the International Press Institute’s 50 “world press heroes”. According to the court she “illegally provided state secrets to foreigners”. The Beijing’s No. 3 Intermediate People’s Court made this announcement on a verified social media account.
The ruling explained that Gao was the one who leaked a 2013 directive by the ruling Communist party called “Document number 9″ to a Hong Kong media agency.
The directive warns of the “dangers” of independent media, multiparty democracy, but also criticism of the party’s historical record, and “universal” definitions of human rights, according to copies which were distributed trough the internet.
“We are very disappointed with this verdict,” said Shang Baojun, one of Yu’s lawyers, who argued in front of the tribunal that a “confession” from Gao had been forcefully extracted after vile threats have been made against her son.
William Nee, a researcher for Britain-based Amnesty International, said Gao is “the victim of vaguely worded and arbitrary state-secret laws that are used against activists as part of the authorities’ attack on freedom of expression.”
Known for her outspoken appeal to democracy and press freedom, Gao disappeared last April and reentered the public life with an intervention on China’s state broadcaster a month later, in which she admitted she made “mistake”.
Shang explained the main evidence shown at Gao’s trial in November was a confession the journalist had made after police made threats against the journalist’s son, who is also in prison. Shang added that after the verdict was announced Gao replied in a “strong voice” that she would make an appeal, but was not permitted to make any other statement.
The court did not allow the defense access to the documents used to convict Gao. The septuagenarian is ill, having a high blood pressure and many groups are worried about her health.
Chinese courts are controlled by the party apparatus and almost 100% of defendants are convicted, while appeals are rarely successful.
Police and security forces held back foreign journalists hoping to hear the verdict at more than 100 yards away from the courthouse.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telephone discussion on Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which he said the missiles he is allowing to be transported to Iran have only “defensive” purposes and won’t menace the Middle East.
The talk comes only 24 hours after Putin said Russia was immediately lifting a five-year ban on supplying one of the world’s most advanced anti-aircraft systems to Iran. Two weeks ago, Iran and the world powers, including the United States and Russia, reached a framework agreement, on toning down its nuclear program in return for the stoppage of economic sanctions.
Russia announced Tuesday it would need at least six months before it could ship the S-300 air defense missile system to Teheran.
In the phone call with Netanyahu, Putin motivated the logic behind his decision, saying the action “would not pose any threat to the security of Israel or other countries in the Middle East”. According to a statement by the Kremlin, the Russian president explained that the technical and tactical specifications of the defense missile system make it a “purely defensive weapon.”
Netanyahu talked about Israel’s “grave concerns” over the missile system, by saying the sale “will only encourage Iranian aggression in the region and further undermine the stability of the Middle East.”
Israel is against the nuclear deal reached this month and believes Iran may try to push forward a nuclear bomb project in secret. Israel has menaced to use military force in order to prevent that from happening. The advanced air defense system Putin gave the green light would make an Israeli charge more difficult.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, announced that Russia was already supplying Iran with some goods in exchange for oil. Peskov added this trade was not forbidden under the sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council.
In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama launched a warning to Iran, saying its fighters must not meddle with Iraq’s sovereignty and cooperate with Baghdad in the battle against Islamic State militants.
Iran-backed Shi’ite forces have played a major role in fighting the Sunni Islamic State, the terrorist group that gained strength from the chaos in Iraq and Syria.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi was forced to use Shi’ite militias, some of which are supported by Iran and led by Iranian military officers, after Iraq’s regular military was faced with large scale desertions last summer.
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According to a study recently published in the journal Diabetologia, serious life events in childhood, such as illness or death in the family, a new child or adult in the family, divorce or separation, and constant domestic conflicts and fights in the family can triple the risk of developing Type-1 diabetes (T1D)
Even if the causes of T1D are unknown, a new research has found that both genetic and environmental factors are involved in the development of the disease. This form of diabetes is usually contacted after the body’s own immune system has attacked and destroyed most beta cells in the pancreas, the organ that is responsible with the production of insulin.
“This study concludes that the experience of a serious life event, which reasonably indicates psychological stress, during the first 14 years of life may be a risk factor for developing Type-1 diabetes,” was mentioned in the statement which accompanied the research carried out by specialists from Linkoping University in Sweden.
The study performed on 10,495 participants. At least one of four data gatherings were performed when the children were aged 2 to 14 years. From the entire sample, 58 were later diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The researchers obtained the age at diagnosis from the national register SweDiabKids.
The scientists measured family psychological stress using forms filled out by parents assessing important life events, parental worries, parenting stress and parent’s social support.
The team noted that this increase in risk for type 1 diabetes was in close relationship with serious life events in early years of life was as important as birth weight, enterovirus infection or infant nutrition factors.
Genetic predisposition remains the most important of all factors after comparing each one individually. Type 1 diabetes risk increased 12-fold, within the study, for those with a first-degree family member whom has already suffered from type 1 diabetes, which was approximately four times higher than the boost associated with serious life events.
The researchers added that “psychological stress should be treated as a potential risk factor, and should be examined further in future epidemiological studies, for instance in relation to genetic risk.”
The team identified the beta cell stress hypothesis. It suggests that the child’s experience of an important life event may contribute to beta cell stress which causes both increased insulin resistance and increased insulin demands. This is due to the physiological stress response.
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United States President Barack Obama said the Washington is worried China is using its “sheer size and muscle” to bully smaller countries in the South China Sea.
Obama’s comments come shortly after China protected its construction of artificial islands, explaining it needs to safeguard its sovereignty in the South China Sea. The mineral-rich waters are disputed by China, who has territorial claims in the region, and countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines,Taiwan and Brunei.
“Where we get concerned with China is where it is not necessarily abiding by international norms and rules and is using its sheer size and muscle to force countries into subordinate positions,” Obama said in Jamaica, at an event ahead of a Caribbean summit in Panama.
“We think this can be solved diplomatically, but just because the Philippines or Vietnam are not as large as China doesn’t mean that they can just be elbowed aside”, the Washington leader added.
Chinese officials explained that their projects in the region would be used for military defense, but also to offer services that would be beneficial for other countries as well. The U.S. State Department mentioned that the Chinese activity was provoking anxiety in the area.
Barack Obama also said the United States supports Chinese investments in all parts of the world, but the deals need to be in the interest of the people of those countries.
China has reacted swiftly to Obama’s comments, by saying that the U.S. has no right to accuse anyone of pushing around anyone else.
“You’ve said that the U.S. leader said that China is showing its size and muscle. I think everyone can see very clearly who has the biggest size and muscle in the world. But we have many times explained China’s position on the South China Sea. China has always been a resolute proponent of peace and stability in the South China Sea. We have always proactively advocated using a dual track approach to resolve the South China Sea issue,” was the statement of Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.
The Chinese official also said China has faith the U.S. can show respect for the hard work of China and other countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and also play a positive role maintaining peace in the region.
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