A new research found that the height and weight of humans evolved separately from one another.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – A long-range study of the evolution of hominid body types has yielded some interesting discoveries about how height and weight development of our ancient ancestors.
The Weight and Height Growth Process Parted Ways
Published in the Royal Society Open Science journal, the research covered four million years’ worth of the fossils of hominids, of which humans are the last remaining species. The study range involved 311 specimens, the oldest being 4.4 million years old and the newer ones being anatomically modern humans from the end of the most recent Ice Age.
One interesting find is that our current height and weight developed at different moments in our history. After evolving “in concert” for a long period, about one and a half million years ago, humans suddenly grew about 10 cm without adding any significant bulk.
Dr. Manuel Will, the lead author of the study and a member of the Cambridge Department of Archaeology and a Gonville and Caius College Research Fellow, offered details on the matter. According to him, the resulting tall, lean physique was probably an evolutionary advantage. This might have appeared as our ancestors started moving out of forests and began living in the African savannas.
Humans became experts at endurance hunting, stalking prey animals for hours. Their higher surface-to-volume ratio would have helped with that. In contrast, when humanity began moving into higher latitudes with their cooler climates, they would have had to become bulkier to compensate.
However, Dr. Will also notes that these are just theories. He also points out that their ability to draw information from the remains can be quite limited. Aside from gaps in the fossil records, at times they had to estimate a specimen’s entire body type from something as small as one toe bone.
Another interesting find is that the hominid change in both height and weight was not uniform. Instead, it probably happened in “growth spurts” (or shrinking spurts, sometimes) that might have been separated even by as much as millennia.
Image Source: Wikimedia
A microlensing event revealed the possible existence of a massive exoplanet at the core of the Milky Way.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – According to a new report, a microlensing event has allowed scientists to detect a massive exoplanet in the central core of the Milky Way galaxy.
The planet was discovered by the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, which based its findings on observations from the Spitzer Space Telescope and Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) used by NASA. A study paper with their findings was published on October 27, 2017.
The Massive Exoplanet and its Location
Dubbed OGLE-2016-BLG-1190Lb, the new planet is 13.4 times the size of Jupiter. This is considered the largest that a planet can get before becoming a star. Because of this, one of the emerging theories is that OGLE-2016-BLG-1190Lb may actually be a brown dwarf with low mass. It orbits a G dwarf star that is about 0.89 times the size of our planet’s Sun, at a distance of about 2.0 AU (twice as far as the Earth is from the sun).
The massive exoplanet is located in the central core, a bulge in the center of the Milky Way that is mostly filled with stars. This is a chaotic region where it is difficult to detect any planets through conventional means. However, this massive exoplanet was detected thanks to a microlensing event.
Such an event occurs when one star passes in front of another. The gravity of the star closer to the Earth then bends the light of the other star, magnifying it. In this case, OGLE-2016-BLG-1190Lb was orbiting the closer star, and thus blocked the light of the more distant star. Thus, scientists were able to calculate its properties based on how much light was blocked and for how long.
Because it relies on stars moving in front of each other, microlensing is a very slow process.
The central core region which includes this planet is located about 22,000 light years away from the Earth.
Image Source: Exoplanets.NASA.gov
An ancient spiral galaxy might light up new paths for scientists studying the Universe.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – Thanks to modern technology, the scientific world records one major discovery after another. Recent entries to the body of knowledge humans accumulated make today an interesting period of time to live in. The most recent finding concerns an ancient spiral galaxy that is 11 billion years old. The system of gravitational lensing is now capturing an early cosmos where the Big Bang happened only 2. 6 billion years ago.
The Newly Discovered Ancient Spiral Galaxy Is 11 Billion-Years-Old
The newly discovered universe received the code name of A1689B11. Using Near-infrared Integral Field Spectrograph, researchers managed to turn the gravity of the galaxies into a huge lens and find an ancient spiral galaxy., scientists managed to spear the universe back in time and experience historic times. The new technique enabled scientists to employ the gravity of galaxies as a lens and look even further into space than it was ever possible before.
The galaxy is almost 1 billion years older than Andromeda, our neighboring cosmos which is also a spiral galaxy. It is an 11 billion-year-old galactic system that sports numerous fascinating features.
The most interesting fact about this corner of the universe is the speed at which it creates new cosmic bodies. This medium promotes star formations at a 20 times quicker rate than any other galaxy.
Data from a New Entry in the Small List of Spiral Galaxies Can Help Scientists Confirm the Hubble Sequence
Dr. Tiantian Yuan, part of the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, claimed that this represents a unique system. No other galaxy has been expanding in the universe with such a dazzling speed when they were as young as A1689B11. On top of that, the galaxy managed to form an ideal equilibrium for its rotating disc. This ancient spiral galaxy encounters little turbulence in its evolution.
“Spiral galaxies are exceptionally rare in the early Universe, and this discovery opens the door to investigating how galaxies transition from highly chaotic, turbulent discs to tranquil, thin discs.”
Such a novel discovery can clear out further dilemma about our universe. Studying A1689B11 might constitute further evidence to support the Hubble sequence. Edwin Hubble drew a classification scheme for galaxies in 1926 with three main categories. These are spiral, irregular, and elliptical. This diagram withstood the test of time, and it is still the most common system used for classifying galaxies.
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A mysterious void is hiding within the Great Pyramid of Giza
(Mirror Daily, United States) – Archaeologists and researchers have been unendingly searching the chambers of the Great Pyramid of Giza, hoping they might find some secret corners hidden inside it. Now, after observing a series of mysterious subatomic particles, a team of scientists spotted the presence of a new structure within the pyramid. The discovery is major, as it might provide some answers to the great mystery of how an ancient civilization managed to build such an imposing structure.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is hiding a gaping void beneath its walls
The Great Pyramid of Giza is 4,500 years old, but its interiors still remain a mystery. However, researchers managed to find a sophisticated technique which allowed them to take a peek inside its vaults. This technology could measure the strange particles called muons, and discovered a void gaping open within the pyramid walls.
Researchers nicknamed this hole the Big Void, and it spreads over 100 feet right in the center of the pyramid. The void lays above the Grand Gallery, a passage which links the two main chambers of the structure, the Queen’s and the King’s room.
What are muons?
These mysterious muons are created with the breaking down of cosmic rays. They can easily float into the air, but have a hard time escaping from behind materials like stone. Researchers discovered that, by measuring how many muons can get through the stone, they could detect the presence of gaps and voids. This technique is really similar to X-ray monitoring.
Unfortunately, they cannot create a clear image of how this void should look like. They cannot tell if it is horizontal, if it’s made up of several empty spaces gathered together, or if it’s just a big hall. More importantly, they cannot tell why it hides beneath the walls of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
To find out more, researchers are now planning to design a robot which can enter the pyramid and better explore the void. This way, they might find out how such an ancient civilization, with less sophisticated technology, could erect such a formation like the Great Pyramid of Giza.
The study on the mysterious structure has been published in the journal Nature.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Animals are still sent into space for testing
(Mirror Daily, United States) – Sixty years ago, Laika became both the first dog and the first living creature to go out into space. The main purpose of its launching was to see how a living being would react in zero gravity, so that we would know how a human astronaut would react. Nowadays, scientists still send animals into the orbit, as they have a lot of things to learn from them.
Laika inspired researchers to send more animals into space
Before sending Laika into space, scientists thought mammals couldn’t survive in an environment with no gravity. Such a prospect put future astronauts in a lot of danger, so they decided to test their hypothesis by sending a non-human creature out there on the orbit.
The experiment showed mammals can survive in space, and other observations helped the researchers prepare the astronauts for space travel. However, there’s still a lot to learn about this, so they haven’t stopped sending animals on the orbit. This time, they opt for smaller creatures which are less likely to create an emotional bond with humans, so dogs like Laika are now out of the question.
These test animals show what changes the organism undergoes in zero gravity
Therefore, the purpose of animals in space is research, so scientists use the same test creatures as they use on Earth. These include flies, rodents, fish, and any kinds of small critters. Snails might be next on the list, and big rats should follow them soon enough.
It’s interesting to see how the animals behave before the launching, and how they cope when they first time have to deal with microgravity. Studies so far showed how they were able to adapt pretty quickly to the new environment, and what changes they suffered. This way, researchers know what treatments they should develop for astronauts, and how to reduce the risks they are exposed to in microgravity.
Image Source: Flickr
The pterosaur remnants might have belonged to one of the largest flying creatures in the world
(Mirror Daily, United States) – A team of researchers has recently stumbled upon the remnants of a huge flying creature which preyed upon smaller creatures about 70 million years ago. The fossils have been spotted in Mongolia, and likely belong to one of the largest animals of the kind which lived during that period.
The fossils belonged to a pterosaur
After a close analysis of the remains, researchers could tell they belonged to a pterosaur. This represented a group of reptiles which were able to fly, and lived during the same period as dinosaurs. Given their age, these reptiles were probably the first to fly among the vertebrates, and probably the biggest winged creatures which could also fly.
As soon as the Mongolian pterosaur was discovered, researchers were amazed by the impressive size of its neck bones. Therefore, judging from how big the remnants were, they could immediately tell the specimen belonged to this group of animals. The site of the discovery was the Nemegt Formation, a region in the Gobi Desert where many other dinosaur finds had occurred.
However, this was the first time when researchers discovered a pterosaur in the area. They had stumbled upon fossils of the animal in many other places, indicating its wide distribution over an extensive area 70 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period.
How big was this pterosaur?
The most remarkable and well-preserved parts of the fossil were the neck bones. This means it’s quite hard to estimate the exact dimensions of the creature. However, thanks to its footprint, researchers assumed the specimen must have been close in size to the biggest species which belonged to the pterosaur group.
The species in question, Hatzegopteryx and Quetzalcoatlus, reached about 36 feet when they spread their wings. Therefore, the Mongolian pterosaur must have been as big as a small plane, which is remarkable for a flying animal. However, researchers say that the animal could have actually been smaller, and the neck bones could have reached an abnormal size.
The study on the unusual pterosaur has been published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
Image Source: Pixabay
The Jackson’s climbing salamander has been spotted again after 40 years
(Mirror Daily, United States) – A team of researchers made an encouraging discovery which left them rejoicing. While exploring the Cuchumatanes Mountains in Guatemala, they stumbled upon a Jackson’s climbing salamander. This finding matters a lot, as this is the first time in 40 years when they spot the species, and many thought it had already gone extinct.
The Jackson’s climbing salamander is back from the dead
The Jackson’s climbing salamander can be easily spotted thanks to its striking yellow color, which also led to it being called the golden wonder. This species was spotted for the first time in 1975, in a jungle in Guatemala. However, this month, a guard looking after the Finca San Isidro Amphibian Reserve spotted a baby salamander belonging to the same species. This was the third specimen ever spotted.
This attracted the attention of the Global Wildlife Conservation group, who have dedicated their time to look for species which people regarded as extinct. They were extremely excited by the discovery, and said endangered species still have a chance. Since such a species was spotted again within a protected area, this means there’s still hope.
An expert confirm that the specimen belonged to the long-lost salamander species
The conservation group decided to check if the mysterious salamander really belonged to the Jackson’s climbing species. Therefore, they snapped a quick photo of the specimen, and sent it to an expert. This was the curator of herpetology at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala, Carlos Vasquez, who has been on an avid quest to find the salamander since 2005.
He confirmed its origin, and was happy to see that the species didn’t disappear, after all. However, the discovery isn’t valuable only for the species alone, but for the entire area. This highlights the ideal conditions for different species to thrive, and promises a bright future for the creatures which populate it.
Image Source: Pixabay
Microsoft reached the revenue target it set in 2015
(Mirror Daily, United States) – Microsoft was aiming to reach new records in their cloud business field, and its attempt were marked by a huge success. The company has just declared it can easily project an annual revenue of more than $20 billion. This is an important achievement, which will definitely help the company step forward.
Microsoft reached its $20 billion target
In 2015, Satya Nadella became the company’s CEO. At that moment, Microsoft earned about $6.3 billion revenue, and the new CEO wanted to hit the $20 billion milestone in 2018. Given the fact that the 2018 fiscal year started in July, then the revenue increase arrived just when it should have, or maybe even a bit earlier.
Microsoft has just announced the figures for this year, marking the reaching of their target. More precisely, the annual revenue was of $24.5 billion, with a profit of $6.6 billion. The increase can be observed even when comparing the reports with the earnings of last year. Back then, the revenue was of $20.4 billion, and the profit $4.7 billion.
The revenue increase was given by the prolific cloud business
The biggest contribution to this fruitful increase is given by the cloud business, as it brought $6.9 billion of the entire earnings. When assessing cloud’s contribution over more years, it accounts for about 14 percent of the increase, which is quite important. Microsoft is currently at the top of the cloud market, but many other companies are rapidly coming from behind.
However, cloud is the business of tomorrow, while the business of today is still represented by PC. Unfortunately, this field could have been better for Microsoft. Their revenue from gaming and Windows was a bit static, while the mobile business went off, as the company no longer produces smartphones. Even so, we can say this has been a prolific year for Microsoft, and good days are ahead of it.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Paul Weitz had a 28-year-long career as a NASA astronaut
(Mirror Daily, United States) – NASA has just announced the death of one of the greatest astronauts it has ever had. Paul Weitz was the commander of the Challenger space shuttle, and led it on its maiden voyage through space. The retired astronaut was 85, and died at the beginning of this week.
Weitz spent over 790 hours flying through space, and was an astronaut for 28 years of his life. NASA revealed he led an avid struggle with cancer, but the space administration didn’t reveal if this was the actual cause of the man’s death.
The man was a Navy astronaut, and was selected by NASA in April 1966, together with 18 other astronauts. Then, in May 1973, he was the pilot of the spaceship Skylab 2, when he also established a world record by flying into space for 28 days straight. He got retired in 1976, returned to the Navy, but then regained its collaboration with NASA later.
Weitz came back from his retirement at 51 to fly back into space
Back then, it was remarkable for an astronaut to abandon retirement and return to NASA to fly into space. Therefore, he was given the command of the Challenger mission, which launched on April 4th, 1983. Weitz was 51 at the time, proving that age didn’t matter. The same space shuttle was relaunched in January 1986, but it had a cruel fate. Soon after launching, it exploded and seven members of the crew lost their lives.
Afterwards, Weitz was named deputy director of the Johnson Space Center, and remained there until his final retirement in 1994. NASA deeply regrets his loss, as he was a remarkable man who didn’t allow himself to be constrained by age or any other limitations. All scientists and astronauts will remember him for his amazing contributions to the astronomical world, and use him as a true role model.
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Solar storms might wipe off entire oceans and atmospheres, destroying life before it can even begin
(Mirror Daily, United States) – The presence of water and an atmosphere are the secret ingredients a planet needs to sustain life. However, finding both of them somewhere else besides Earth is a huge challenge. One of the reasons why this doesn’t happen are solar storms, which stripe the water vapors off from the atmosphere, and make planets uninhabitable.
Planets with volatile atmosphere are perfect for life
Researchers wanted to find out how an atmosphere suitable for life, namely one made up of water vapor, can resist in harsh space conditions. Therefore, they ran several simulations of the effect solar storms might have on such atmospheres, and discovered how it could evaporate so quickly that life would not have time to form there.
Ocean planets are the perfect environments for life. They have vast surfaces occupied by seas and oceans, and have atmospheres made up of many volatile compounds. This is precisely the type of environment where life can thrive.
Solar storms threaten to wipe entire oceans off the surface of these planets
This is why researchers decided to explore the effects of space weather on such worlds, and the prospect is not so optimistic. Not all Earth-like planets are in danger, but there is a series of red dwarf stars which have some water worlds in their habitable zones. This provides an optimal temperature for life but, at the same time, they are a little too close to the star and to its fiery emissions.
Therefore, over a period of several billions of years, solar storms might lead to the disappearance of these oceans. Although it sounds like a long time, this timeframe is only a small part in the evolution of life. This means solar storms act quite rapidly, and have the potential to wipe out any kind of life-friendly environment.
Moreover, red dwarf stars are some of the most widespread in the universe. This means that this conclusion might apply to most of the ocean worlds, offering a grim prospect for life outside Earth. All the other details on the study have been published in the Astrophysical Journal.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons