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A trio of rare elephants led an unusual ceremony in the Sumatran jungle Friday, raising Indonesia's red and white flag to help mark the country's independence day. Brandishing a flagpole flying the national colours by the trunk, lead elephant Ulu marched outside a conservation office in northern Aceh province as onlookers sung the national anthem. “As we can see here, this is also an education for us, that elephants can live side by side with humans," Rizal, an elephant trainer at the conservation office, told AFP.
Crafty zookeepers are keeping a set of newborn panda twins alive by switching them out every day. Although twins aren't uncommon, when pandas have multiple babies they tend to devote all of their attention to only one of their cubs, leaving the other to starve. SEE ALSO: Someone tried to smuggle a snake onto a plane by hiding it in a hard drive But these zookeepers have managed to get new panda moms to care for both babies by rotating them out, tricking the pandas into believing they only have one cub to care for. A BBC Earth video — narrated by the one and only David Attenborough — shows the keepers' technique. New mother Lee Lee hasn't realized that she had twins because her keepers have been switching her 18-day-old cubs out, so she only has one at a time. When they need to change out the cubs, they distract Lee Lee with a bowl of honey water and worm the young cub from her paws. Then, they put that cub in an incubator and bring the other cub to Lee Lee, ensuring that both get the maternal care they need. Keepers swap the cubs out at least 10 times a day, keeping a meticulous record of the babies' time with their mom. The technique has an almost 100 percent survival rate. Although pandas are no longer endangered, they are still vulnerable, so finding new ways to help the species along, even in captivity, is important. Plus, it's freaking adorable. WATCH: This design studio is growing gourds inside 3D printed molds to create organic, biodegradable cups
Researchers believe an Australian bee which produces a “cellophane-like” material for its nests could help to end the world’s reliance on disposable plastics. The native Hylaeus nubilosus masked bee, known for the distinctive yellow badge on its back, does not sting or live in hives but it has generated interest because of the nesting material it produces, which is non-toxic, waterproof, flame-resistant and able to withstand heat. A biotech company in New Zealand, Humble Bee, is trying to reverse-engineer the material in the hope of mass producing it as an alternative to plastic. Veronica Harwood-Stevenson, the firm’s founder, said she began investigating the potential plastic alternative after noticing a throwaway line in a research paper about the “cellophane-like” qualities of the masked bee’s nesting material. "Plastic particles and chemicals have permeated ecosystems and organisms around the world, [from] foetal blood of babies [to] the most remote arctic lakes; it's so pervasive, it's terrifying," she told The Sydney Morning Herald. "It's about biomimicry, about copying what's in the natural environment, and we've been doing it in design for centuries, from plane wing design inspired by birds of prey to train shapes reflecting bird beaks." Richard Furneaux, a chemistry professor at the Victoria University of Wellington, said the discovery of the new material was “almost too good to be true”. File image of bees working on their hive “Its robustness is beyond what you would have expected,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Scientists analysed the genetic makeup of the bioplastic by studying the bee’s glands. Humble Bee plans to initially use the material to make outdoor apparel, such as camping gear, which often use toxic chemicals to keep them waterproof. "Outdoor apparel is definitely what we’re most interested in because of the chemicals being used and because chances are, if you like the environment, you don't want the products you enjoy to be screwing up the environment," Ms Harwood-Stevenson said. Scientists believe chemicals used to change the properties of plastic – such as those that make it harder or waterproof – may be harmful and could increase the risk of heart disease, cancer or infertility. The bioplastic could also be used for aviation, electrics and construction products. It is resistant to acid which could allow it to coat medicines and help them to pass through the stomach. The firm hopes to start selling the bioplastic in five years.
Harrowing new footage released by California's firefighting agency Cal Fire reveals the massive fire tornado that led to the death of a firefighter on July 26. The fire tornado was part of the Carr Fire that's engulfed 223,610 acres of land in Northern California so far. A report from Cal Fire breaks down the details surrounding the fiery phenomenon. SEE ALSO: A fire tornado hit California. Here's how it happened. Per the report, the tornado "was a large rotating fire plume that was roughly 1,000 feet in diameter at its base" and managed to reach a height of 40,000 feet. In late July, we covered news of a fire tornado in the area on the evening of July 26. It's unclear whether the fire tornado in the report is the same as the one that garnered media attention at the time, according to Cal Fire. "Observations from witnesses and other evidence suggest that either several fire tornados occurred at different locations and times, or one fire tornado formed and then periodically weakened and strengthened causing several separate damage areas," the report says. Fire tornados can happen when extreme heat spins up from the ground. As Mashable's Mark Kaufman explained at the time: Firefighters captured the disturbing video above from a helicopter, as well as footage taken from a fire engine, and from the Keswick Dam on the Sacramento River. The Carr Fire continues to ravage parts of Shasta County and Trinity County. It is 77 percent contained, and other fires continue to rage in Northern California and other areas These fires are spurred on by extreme heat and dryness in the region. While human-caused climate change isn't necessarily the direct cause of any single weather event, like these fires, it can make extreme weather more likely now and in the future. WATCH: Scientists made an awesome error that could save our planet from plastic hell
You probably have no idea how recycling works. Most Americans — who recycle nearly 87 million tons of waste each year — likely think that the plastic and paper thrown into those special blue bins gets sorted by some nebulous government agency and automatically becomes an environmentally-friendly product. But that's not how it works. Recycling, first and foremost, is a business. When recycled goods get picked up by the state's waste management corporation, they are taken to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where everything is separated and packaged up to be sent to another facility where it's processed depending on the material. For example, paper is processed at a mill where it is turned into pulp to be repurposed. But in order for the recyclable material to get to its proper sorting center, someone has to buy it first. And that's where we have a problem. Bales of recycled cartons sit outside and await transport.Image: Sean Gallup/Getty ImagesRecycling has worked well for the last 40 years because recycled waste was valuable and in high demand in countries around the world. The United States has historically sold most of its recycled goods to China. But new restrictions from the Chinese government on imported recyclables have demanded that the materials have very, very little contamination, or in the case of paper, that it is processed into pulp before reaching their shores. Typically, contamination is a people issue. Plastic or paper with food remnants on it — like your greasy pizza box — cannot be recycled because those contaminants would mess up the refining process. Contamination levels in America are at 25 percent right now, meaning 1 out 4 items in a recycling bin should actually be thrown in the trash, according to Waste Management. But China wants the contamination levels down to 0.3 percent, which is effectively code for "we will not be accepting any imported recyclable materials." “China is sort of saying to itself we want our socioeconomic industrial programs to have recyclable programs like America does," National Waste & Recycling Association director Steve Changaris said. "They are kicking us out, and trying to use their own wastes so they can develop their own domestic recycling capacity." Sorted recycled materials sit in stacks outside of a recycling facility in Germany.Image: Sean Gallup/Getty ImagesThis causes problems on two fronts, he explained. First, since the United States has to rely on other countries to buy the recyclables, the value of the commodity is staggeringly low. Over the course of 2017, the value of mixed paper dropped from $75 per ton in January to $25 per ton in December. Second, the U.S. has more supply than these countries are demanding. “The material keeps coming in. It’s piling up and the value is diminishing,” Changaris said. “And recycling isn’t free.” Many Materials Recovery Facilities (MRF), especially in states that don’t put much emphasis on recycling policies, are going to be facing a hard decision as they continue to lose profit. Unless they come up with a sustainable solution, recycling in large swaths of the United States might come to an end. In the future, cities less committed to sustainability might have to drop their recycling programs in favor of an easier disposal program, Sims Municipal Recycling manager Tom Outerbridge said. Waste management companies are only going to turn to landfills when that’s the cheaper option, like in Alabama, where you can put garbage in the ground for $19 a ton. Otherwise, the more comfortable position is continue to work within the already established infrastructure and try and update it to meet the new world order. Outerbridge says some ideas are already floating around. Since the biggest change to the market involves mixed paper (newspapers, junk mail, and magazines) corporations in the United States are looking to swoop in and exploit the newly vacated market. Workers at a recycling facility in San Francisco sort through trash on a conveyor belt.Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesOne purported way companies are making space for themselves in the market is by purchasing paper mills and retrofitting them to include processing abilities — giving these companies the ability to turn the recycled mixed paper into pulp, and therefore bypassing China's restrictions. But beginning that process is a huge risk. “We don’t know for sure if this world is the new status quo," Outerbridge said. "Chinese paper mills might be struggling without the constant influx of U.S. recyclables so much that the Chinese government eases some of the restrictions and then people go back to shipping mixed paper there.” Current tensions between China and the U.S. certainly aren't helping. The Trump administration's recent efforts to increase U.S production of goods by increasing tariffs on Chinese goods has lead to full-scale retaliation by the Chinese government. For example, the Chinese government placed a 25 percent tax on aluminum scraps. Formerly, the U.S. made more than $1.1 billion off of aluminum trading. The new tariff places a $300 million burden on that industry. It's safe to say the whole infrastructure is in limbo right now, as corporations weigh their options. A spokesperson from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) acknowledged via email that the government organization recognizes the challenges that lie ahead when it comes to updating recycling infrastructure. "[The] EPA is communicating with governments at the federal, state and local levels, as well as stakeholders at the private sector, to determine what (if any) additional steps should be taken at the national level regarding the domestic management of materials," the spokesperson explained. In the mean time, MRFs are tightening up production by adding more staff to ensure that the materials collected are of the best quality — as well as altering what is collected to more closely match the market demand according to the EPA. Recycling hasn't reached critical failure just yet, but the industry is in desperate need of an upgrade. The alternative is a world full of trash. WATCH: Ever wonder where your recyclables go? Get an inside look at where the magic happens
Pressure intensified Saturday to save thousands still trapped by devastating floods that have killed more than 300 in the Indian state of Kerala, triggering landslides and sending torrents sweeping through villages in the region's worst inundation crisis in a century. Authorities warned of more torrential rain and strong winds over the weekend, as hundreds of troops and local fishermen staged desperate rescue attempts in helicopters and boats across the southern state. Kerala, popular among international tourists for its tropical hills and beaches, has been battered by record monsoon rainfall this year.
In case you haven't been keeping track of the plight of NASA's Opportunity rover, I'll get you caught back up: A dust storm covered Mars, the rover fell asleep, and now it won't wake back up. The rover's team of engineers is worried that it might never wake back up — and it's playing inspirational songs for it in the meantime — but even if it does the rover might never be the same.
In a new blog post, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory offers a brief update on the status of the rover before examining the best- and worst-case scenarios. Spoiler: Some of it is kind of sad.
First, to tackle the status of the rover, NASA believes the rover fell asleep due to a low-power fault. This occurs when the rover's solar panels can't recharge its battery to an adequate level and the rover enters a standby state while it waits for more juice. The rover is designed to regularly wake back up to check its power levels and attempt to contact Earth.
That doesn't appear to be happening, at least not yet.
NASA goes on to explain that a second type of fault, called a "clock fault," occurs when the rover's onboard clock get confused. That internal clock is supposed to tell the rover when it should wake back up and check power levels. The skies are clearer now than before, and the rover's solar panels should, in theory, be charging its batteries, but the rover has yet to snap out of its stupor. If the clock is busted, the rover is capable of guessing the time based on light levels, but if the rover is asleep that be a pretty difficult task to perform.
The Opportunity team goes on to warn that even if the rover does wake back up, it might actually be damaged too severely to continue its job. NASA likens the rover's situation to a coma patient waking up, noting that it "takes time to fully recover" from the trauma of the situation.
On top of all that, the rover's batteries might now be damaged from the long downtime. If the batteries spent every last drop of energy they had before the Sun could finally recharge them, their capacity might be severely limited, giving the rover much less energy to work with going forward.
This all paints a pretty dire picture of Opportunity's current status, but it's still possible that the rover will spring back to life and keep chugging along as it has for well over a decade. The rover has already outpaced every possible expectation of it, so maybe it has one more trick up its sleeve.
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — An appeals court on Friday told a judge to take another look at whether a Montana fish should be protected, saying that U.S. wildlife officials did not consider all environmental factors when they decided against designating the Arctic grayling as a threatened or endangered species.
Indonesian Police Have Killed Dozens of People in a Crackdown on Crime Before Asian Games, Rights Groups Say
The chances of finding alien organisms have been boosted by the discovery of hundreds of “water worlds” capable of supporting life. New analysis by Harvard University estimates that one in three “exoplanets” outside our solar system that are larger than Earth are likely to contain an abundance of water. The scientists say the planets that are two to four times bigger than Earth that have the best chance of supporting life. Analysis of data from the exoplanet-hunting Kepler Space Telescope and the Gaia mission indicates half their weight may be water - either flowing or frozen. In comparison, the amount of water on Earth makes up just 0.02 per cent of its complete mass. Lead researcher Dr Li Zeng, said: "It was a huge surprise to realise that there must be so many water-worlds." Exoplanets were first discovered in 1992 and since then about 4,000 have since been confirmed to exist. An impression of one of the Trappist exoplanets, whose discovery was announced in 2017 Credit: NASA Scientists believe they fall into two broad categories: those with a planetary radius averaging around 1.5 the size of Earth, or 2.5. Now the group of international scientists has developed a model of their internal structure. This is based upon their recent mass and radius measurements from the Gaia satellite. Dr Zeng said: "We have looked at how mass relates to radius, and developed a model which might explain the relationship." The model indicates the smaller planets tend to be rocky planets - with typically five times as much mass as Earth. In numbers | Kepler mission The larger ones have about 10 times more mass - and "are probably water worlds," said Dr Zeng. Presenting the findings at the Goldschmidt conference in Boston, he explained: "This is water, but not as commonly found here on Earth. "Their surface temperature is expected to be in the 200 to 500 degree Celsius range. "Their surface may be shrouded in a water-vapour-dominated atmosphere, with a liquid water layer underneath.”
NIH Funding Opportunities
- Limited Competition: RCMI Research Coordination Network (RRCN) (U54 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
- NLM Information Resource Grants to Reduce Health Disparities (G08 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
- Leveraging Electronic Medical Records for Psychiatric Genetic Research (R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
- Leveraging Electronic Medical Records for Psychiatric Genetic Research (R01 (Collab) Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
- Notice of the Publication of an NIH Proposal to Amend the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules to Streamline Oversight of Human Gene Transfer Protocols