As the severe drought in California continues for a third straight year, water levels in the State’s lakes and reservoirs is reaching historic lows.
Two new studies offer worrying results, showing that human activity is responsible for about one third of Earth’s largest underground water reserves being rapidly drained. Researchers have no idea how much there will be left in the end.
Massive portions of the planet’s population tap into the groundwater resource without being aware of how much water there still is. The research will be published in the journal Water Resources Research, but the findings can already be found online.
Leading investigator Jay Famiglietti, professor at the University of California Irvine, explained that it’s not enough to use the current chemical and physical measurements; in order to estimate how fast are the world’s groundwater reserves draining, an international effort needs to be conducted.
Famiglietti also works as a senior water scientist in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, so his team had access to data provided by special NASA satellites in their endeavor of accurately measuring groundwater losses.
For the first study, researchers looked at data on Earth’s top 37 aquifers – the largest ones we have – between 2003 and 2013. They noticed that 8 of these are in the category of “overstressed,” which means they are almost dry with little to no possibility of being naturally replenished in order to balance out the extreme usage.
In addition, 5 other aquifers were classified as “extremely or highly stressed.” Scientists concluded that climate change and population growth are two factors that are putting a lot of strain on these reserves.
It is obvious that the most overburdened aquifers are located in the hottest and driest areas on Earth, where natural in the world’s driest places, where natural refilling is almost never an option.
Lead author on both researches, Alexandra Richey tries to warn concerned authorities about the future dramatic situations where highly stressed aquifers located in regions with socioeconomic tensions won’t be enough to sustain life in the area.
For this to be prevented, Richey works to raise red flags that would geolocate regions where active initiatives and water-supply management could result in a better future for coming generations.
The world’s most overstressed source of water is the Arabian Aquifer System, which will soon become dry as it provides water for a population larger than 60 million individuals. On second and third place are the Indus Basin aquifer of Pakistan and northwestern India, and the Murzuk-Djado Basin in northern Africa, respectively.
One that hits closer to home is the Central Valley aquifer, located in drought-stricken California; this one has already been marked as “highly stressed.”
Problem is, scientists have no idea how much water is there left in the world’s usable resources, and time before they dry out is a highly variable estimation. Some scientists believe we have some decades until complete depletion, while others think in terms of millennia.
Image Source: CBS News
Starting next month, Twitter users will have the possibility to text messages containing 10,000 characters.
As of this week, Twitter has decided to make important policy changes offering its users both additional service and increased online protection. Twitter gives permission for longer messages, was the recent announcement that the spokespersons of the social network have made.
Twitter has had rough times lately mainly because users feel somewhat hindered by the 140-character limit that they have to observe when posting a new message on their personal profiles. For that matter, Twitter has decided to lift this limitation and to give permission for longer online messages.
Starting next month, Twitter customers will be able to upload messages that contain up to 10,000 characters. Until now, the maximum limit that was imposed was of 140 characters, for those of you who may not be familiar with the subject or with the regulations of the social network.
This measure is meant to facilitate communication between Twitter users and followers. Thus, the latter can use the chat service as an alternative for the well-known Facebook chat option, whom Twitter has been struggling to dethrone for a long time.
There have been other additional changes that the CEOs of the online company have enacted with the sole purpose of offering better services to their customers. The company has also recently announced that they will be implementing a new security policy to offer protection to people who might feel in one way or another harassed.
The new security policy presupposes that users can at any time report abuses that they have suffered from other Twitter users. The social network will take their complaint into consideration and will do their best to limit the other person’s access to the social network if its conduct does not observe the conduct rules of the website.
Among the other changes that the company has made are also the new options related to the groups that people can follow. Twitter offers users the possibility to manually select the persons they want to follow or not. Moreover, the group messaging option enables more users to have private conversations in groups.
This last option is very similar to the service that Facebook provides, but Twitter has, nevertheless, included several different tools. According to their official declaration, getting involved in group messages is an option that many Twitter customers can use, even those who do not belong to a specific group.
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Kids of obese parents develop insulin resistance at older ages, new study confirms.
A recent research conducted by the American Diabetes Association claims that kids of obese parents are more likely to develop obesity problems. Doctors have reached this conclusion after comparing the cells of fetuses in normal-weight mothers to those in obese moms.
The American Diabetes Association has always been interested in finding effective solutions against obesity problems. Since most of the hypotheses that have been put forth were made in relation to adults’ behavior scientists went on to investigate other possible leads.
They have thus, suggested that obesity problems may in fact surface at a younger age. Some children may be more likely to develop obesity problems due to their parents’ heritage. For that matter, the most recent research focused mainly on the link between children’s physical development and their parents’ medical condition.
The idea is not very new. Previous tests have also suggested that children who have obese parents are more likely to become fat themselves at an older age, but scientists could not specify to what extent was this fact true.
By comparing the cells withdrawn from fetuses in normal-weight women to the ones in overweight mothers, medical experts have confirmed their thesis. The withdrawn cells were chemically grown in the laboratory to determine the percentage of fat that they would take.
After several weeks, researchers have re-evaluated the lab cells. They have noticed that the percentage of fat tissue was 30 percent bigger in the artificial cells of overweight mothers than in those belonging to normal-weight moms.
While the data clearly indicates that children with obese parents are more likely to develop obesity problems, there are still many aspects that scientists will have to clarify. They were not capable of indicating the exact factors that cause the infants with obese moms to become fatter and insulin-resistant.
While the mother’s heritage may play a significant role in the child’s later development, some science professors at the University of Colorado think changes may also occur in the utero. Further studies will therefore pay closer attention to the development of fetuses in the utero. More specifically, researchers will compare the development of fetuses in overweight moms to the one of fetuses in normal-weight mothers.
Image Source: Telegraph.co.uk
This is one of the most discussed moral problems of our times. Abortion is a delicate subject and it is a goo thing that people are starting to talk about it more and more, in order to decide whether it is moral or not or in what conditions it can be legitimate to end a pregnancy. The lawmakers of the United States have different opinions on this matter as well. And if you were to look at all the states in the US, you will see that some have a tendency of seeing abortion as a more acceptable thing than others do. However, a recent report by the Associated Press has shown that the abortion rate lowers almost everywhere in the United States. And while some voices claim that this is a success of the contraceptives, which have become more effective than ever, other say that a change in the social attitude towards ending the life of an unborn child has changed, and for the better, they claim.
Well, it might not surprise you to hear that in the states where the laws are strict about abortion and where it is a difficult process to proceed in such a way, the abortion rate has dropped. Still, what is more unanticipated is the fact that the abortion rate has also lowered in the more so called `liberal` states, where the laws are more permissive when it comes to this delicate subject.
For instance, in states like Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Oklahoma the rate of abortion has dropped by over 15 per cent since five years ago. Such states have shown a firmer attitude towards passing laws against abortion. But, even if you were to take into consideration states that have maintained it rather facile to proceed to an abortion, like Oregon, New York or Washington, the numbers of the abortion rate drop look almost the same, according to the study led by Associated Press.
The lowering of the abortion rate goes together with a drop in the teen pregnancy rate. In 2010, the numbers of pregnant teens has been the lowest in decades. Even if there has been no official update to the 2010 study regarding teen pregnancy, the experts say that the numbers are at a steady level and this also contributes to the drop of the abortion rate overall.
On a national scale, the AP study results uncover the fact that, since 2010, the abortion rate has dropped by 12 per cent.
Image Source: CBS News
Christian Titman has inspired all Native Americans to advocate for the values and principles of their tribes.
The Amerindian community has made an important conquest as a Native American student wins court battle over right to wear eagle feather at graduation ceremony. The Clovis High School has imposed a sober dress code for its students, but Christian Titman managed to get an exception after winning a lawsuit, new reports have stated.
Christian Titman came in the spotlight after close sources have disclosed that the Native American student has filed a lawsuit against its high school in order to get permission to wear an eagle feather at his graduation ceremony. The item is considered a sacred object in the culture of the Pit River Tribe, so the boy wanted to get the permission to wear it.
The dress code imposed by the Clovis High School does not allow students to embellish their graduation uniforms with personal accessories. The decision was adopted as the boarding commission wanted to prevent a possible “disruption” stemming from students’ personal choice of graduation caps and gowns.
Rules are just as severe when it comes to student’s daily outfits. Christian Titman has had problems before as the high school did not allow him to wear long hair. However, he has managed to bend the rules by proving that long hair is part of his Native American culture and it is his right to keep it this way if he chooses so.
On Thursday, Titman has made a new conquest on behalf of his Pit River Tribe as he wore an eagle feather during his graduation day. The feather was proudly evinced by the Native American student next to his long dark tress.
Titman has won the appreciation of all his colleagues. The latter hurried to take pictures with him as they considered that Titman’s decision to stick to his principles is an act of courage. His mother told the press that the boy did not enjoy so much popularity until he has won the legal battle against the high school.
Christian Titman was not available for additional comments, in spite of the numerous requests he has received. He was even congratulated by the American Civil Liberties Union, who have stated that the boy’s determination to stick to rightful causes is an inspiration to all Native Americans.
Image Source: Fox News
Humanity could soon witness the production of transplantable lab-grown limbs.
A new medical boundary was set as scientists have created the first transplantable lab-grown limb, new reports show. The great news was first communicated by scientists at the Massachusetts General Hospital after reproducing the first lab-grown rat limb.
Medical scientists have been going great lengths in the past years to create the first artificial limbs. The objective was finally accomplished this week when researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital proved that they were able to grow a transplantable rat leg.
The experiment involved the careful observance and analysis of medical scientists. They have thus withdrawn cells from the vascular and nerve system of deceased rats and placed them in a special environment to favor cell reproduction.
Scientists have stated that the withdrawn tissues have been subject to constant electrical stimulation. Muscle fibers contracted using 80 percent of the strength of a newborn rat, so the muscles, arteries and veins would regrow.
The endeavor turned out successful when scientists noticed that the tissue took the form of a rat limb. They continued the experiment by transplanting the lab-grown limb on a living animal. Blood continued to flow through the veins of the artificial member, thus proving that the experiment was successful.
Dr. Harald Ott of the MGH Department of Surgery and the Center for Regenerative Medicine was very proud of the recent medical discovery. He told the press that the achievement is all the more praiseworthy as the muscles, the bone cartilage, the blood vessels, ligaments and tendons have to be precisely reproduced in order for the limb to be fully functional.
Scientists have managed to carry out all necessary operations for the successful culture of the transplantable limb. Moreover, the relationships between the tissues in the matrix have been naturally preserved in relation to one another.
The limb of the dead rat was first subject to a week-long hygienic process presupposing the treatment of the leg with a special detergent in a bioreactor. Once all the cells of the limb have been removed, new vascular cells were injected into the main artery.
The injected cells led to the regeneration of the arteries and veins in the muscular tissue making the limb functional again. This last process lasted five more days.
Similar tests were carried out on baboon forearms and the same positive results were registered. Scientists hope they could soon develop human transplantable limbs, as well.
Image Source: Bioengineer.org
Yes, a flying saucer. On Wednesday, NASA will be live broadcasting the launch and flight test of one of its craziest sounding prototypes, a test originally scheduled for Tuesday.
It was postponed because today’s ocean conditions wouldn’t allow the rescue mission to safely recover the craft after the flight. NASA has loaded the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) on a large weather balloon which will act as a launcher.
The technology used to design the LDSD – edge-of-atmosphere and supersonic – carries the agency’s hopes that one day will make missions on Mars possible. If the test works, the flying saucer will prove to be more suitable for future Mars missions because it will enable a safer surface landing for great payloads.
At the same time, the craft’s design will allow astronauts a better access to the rest of the planet because it is able to land said payloads at various altitudes, as high as necessary. A successful flight test will improve the chances of advancing robotic science missions on the Red Planet.
Moreover, complex human expeditions will stand a better chance of becoming reality, as the heavy gear necessary for survival will finally have an appropriate means of transportation.
On Wednesday, the plan is to track the weather balloon carrying the LDSD as high as 120,000 feet (36,576 meters). The ascent will take over two hours; the first 30 minutes after launch, NASA will offer live feed from ground tracking cameras.
After this mark, four cameras located above the test craft will take over the broadcast, with images of considerably lower resolution. Mark Adler, project manager for LDSD at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said that the world will be able to see the same video feed as the scientists, at exactly the same time.
This year’s challenge is to test the new model of supersonic parachute. Its performance will be caught on tape by one of the four cameras, as each of them will show a different perspective of the test.
Even though the resolution is low, Adler hopes this fourth camera will catch the exact moment of the deployment of supersonic parachute. There was another test last year, and the model of the parachute they had did not perform very well.
But with the great number of improvements the mission team has brought to the design also come great hopes of getting it to finally work on this test. If you’re interests in checking how it works, head to NASA TV or on JPL’s Ustream channel.
Don’t be disappointed if you can’t really make out what happens in the low-res imagery transmitted on the spot. NASA promised that high-res video will follow in the next few days with feed collected from the cameras onboard the LDSD.
Image Source: South China Morning Post
Mars features blue lagoon formations which most likely appeared due to powerful winds and sand storms.
The European Space Agency explains mysterious blue lagoon on Mars’ surface after recent footage released by NASA indicates that there could be water on the Red Planet. ESA on the other hand, has released a recent declaration stating that the mysterious blue lagoons residing on Mars’ surface are in fact, optical illusions.
Even though great part of Mars’ territory has been subject to numerous tests and studies as NASA is now planning its 2020 mission on the Red Planet, there are still many aspects that scientists need to uncover. Recent images have fueled scientists’ hopes that Mars might feature water-covered areas, but officials at the European Space Agency were quick to contradict them saying that the photos are deceiving.
Based on their previous analyses, the soil of Mars is known to be shaped by the powerful winds circulating the atmosphere of the Red Planet. Much like Earth’s surface, Mars has craters, hills and dunes that have stemmed from powerful winds and giant sand storms. Experts have estimated, so far that the most powerful winds of Mars can reach up to 60 mph (100 km/h).
Winds on Mars are considered to be the main responsible for the way planet looks nowadays. Surroundings have been eroded and even out until the celestial body has reached the shape and form we now know today.
The recently captured blue lagoons have triggered researchers’ interest as they suggest Mars could have water fountains. A closer analysis has revealed that the blue lagoons are in fact dark areas that appear blue due to the image scanning process. Moreover, the blue shade of the patches on Mars’ territory stands for dark dust that was collected in the respective valleys throughout the years.
Further data needs to be collected in order for scientists to precisely determine the substances and materials existing in the darker regions that were spotted by NASA’s telescopes. However, the team of experts believes these craters could contain volcanic, basalt-rich deposits, hence the bluish shade of the patches.
Most blue lagoons have formed around the so-called Arabia Terra region on Mars. Other reports related to Mars’ territory did not suggest that there could be other similar deposits on the Red Planet; therefore, scientists are now trying to find out the reasons behind Arabia Terra’s special formations. Most likely, the area is constantly affected by powerful winds, but there could be other factors leading to basalt deposits, as well.
ESA has also suggested that Arabia Terra might have been once hit by numerous asteroids and thus, craters appeared on the planet’s surface. Yet, other regions on Mars have been equally affected by asteroid attacks and these did not result in blue lagoon-like formations. Experts believe there could be more to discover on the matter.
Image Source: Daily Mail
Ever since 1999, when Gallup, the global performance-management consulting company, has started tracking this matter, there hasn’t been a time such as the one we live in right now. There are currently just as many Americans who describe themselves and the views they hold on social issues as “liberal” as there are who “conservative” citizens.
Fifteen years have passed, and the curb followed a slow but steady line up, with Americans becoming more and more liberal in their thinking on social issues. The only time the graphic showed a serious dip was when President Obama first took office in 2009.
According to Gallup statistics, liberals and conservatives are tied at 31 percent – a significant change from 1999, when for each liberal citizen there were two conservatives. And attempting to answer the question of how this changed happened, led analysts to the most obvious answer: same-sex marriage and marijuana.
In the time passed since 1999, public view over these two social issues has changed dramatically; recreational marijuana became legal in 4 states, and same-sex marriage has gone from no legality to being legal in 36 states.
It is no coincidence that these changes would be reflected in the way people describe their social and political views. According to Gallup statistics, a lot of Americans might adopt a “liberal” approach on some of the social issues, but when asked, they don’t necessarily feel they are liberal or conservative overall.
Same-sex marriage, stricter gun control and legalizing marijuana have gained support from 50 percent of the respondents in the 2010s. However, the number of people who identify as socially conservative or liberal did not surpass 40 percent.
Bottom line in the charts presented by Gallup shows that each and every one of the five issues that people were asked about from 2010 to 2014 have benefitted from a significant increase in support.
The social dilemmas were same-sex marriage, legalized marijuana, stricter gun control, increased immigration and death penalty. Earlier this year, Gallup registered an increased flow in self-described “liberals” in the United States, a demographic which rose from 16 percent in the mid-1990s to 24 percent in 2014.
Analysts realized it was these social issues that triggered the higher number of “liberal” Americans, as most of them still like to say they are “socially liberal but fiscally conservative.” Economic liberalism did not grow in public acceptability as social liberalism has.
Image Source: The Daily Signal
If you’ve been secretly yearning for Cortana – Windows’ virtual assistant and counterpart of Siri – to become available on your iPhone, you’re in luck. On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that later this year, Cortana will come on both iOS and Android smartphones, in the form of an app.
Moreover, in the same press release, the company announced that Windows 10 will benefit from its own Phone Companion app, allowing users to connect to their Windows PC from whatever smartphone they might own; it supports Windows, Android phone, and iOS.
Not only is Cortana Microsoft’s reaction to Siri, the virtual provided by Apple, but also an answer to Google Now, the Android feature that feed users with little bits of useful information throughout the day.
But Google Now does so much more: by having access to your smartphone’s apps, it crawls into your emails, notes and shopping lists in order to efficiently remind you to buy that milk you made a note of, or to make sure you catch that flight you wrote about in an email. It works by providing answers by demand, as well.
Using Cortana on a Windows smartphone offers you the best experience it can, as it is completely intertwined with Microsoft services. Making it available for Android and iPhone is predicted to considerably limit that experience, just like Google Now is not working on full capacity on iOS.
What Apple and Android users will be able to access by installing the Cortana app are the services such as intelligent reminders and syncing notes on multiple devices.
Microsoft explained that more advanced services like toggling settings or invoking Cortana hands-free with the phrase “Hey Cortana” will not be available right off the bat and will require special integration with the OS.
So far, Cortana was available exclusively on Windows Phone, but it will also launch as an app on desktop with Windows 10. Joe Belfiore, Corporate Vice President of Operating Systems Group explained in a blog post why Microsoft decided to extend Cortana for Android and iOS.
He said that the company wanted to be relevant on any smartphone, as it is aware so many people use iPhones or Android phones. Microsoft main application for brining Cortana for Android and iOS is the possibility to become a “companion app” for Windows 10 users.
This phrase should not be confused with the new Phone Companion app announced by Microsoft. That app will ask Android and iOS users to follow a few easy steps in order to become synced with Windows 10 PC.
The setup will include the installation of Music, OneDrive, Office Package and OneNote on the user’s smartphone, along with Cortana, the virtual assistant.
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