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First Mode joins Arizona State’s team to flesh out a plan for a marathon moon rover

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 11:58

Seattle-based First Mode is working with Arizona State University and other partners to draw up a concept for a rover that could travel more than 1,100 miles across the moon's surface over a four-year period. NASA is funding the concept study, which is due next June. The rover, dubbed Intrepid, would travel farther than any previous rover in NASA's history to check out more than 100 sites for signs of lunar water ice.  Intrepid would also map radiation, solar wind and the chemical makeup of lunar soil. The mission's proposed landing site is in the region of the moon's Reiner… Read More

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Every person alive today descended from a woman who lived in modern-day Botswana about 200,000 years ago, a new study finds

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 10:00

Modern humans emerged in Africa around 200,000 years ago. Now, a research team has figured out where on the continent our ancestors originated.

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Spooky Sight! Sun Looks Like a Massive Jack-O’-Lantern in Photo from NASA

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 09:09

Sun Looks Like a Massive Jack-O’-Lantern in NASA Photo

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Lamborghini to send materials to space to study their reaction to extreme environments

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 09:02

Lamborghini is collaborating with the International Space Station to study the effects of extreme stress on five different composite materials. Information about the materials collected during this phase of the project is expected to have applications both within the automobile manufacturing and the biomedical fields.

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The Air Force’s Secret X-37B Spaceplane Has Finally Landed

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 08:55

The mysterious unmanned craft spent an astonishing 780 days in orbit.

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3 astronomy events that you won't want to miss in November

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 08:24

While many wait until the sun has set to look to the sky, November will feature a rare astronomical event that will take place during the day and will only be visible if you have the right equipment.Here's what to look for in the night sky throughout the new month:Mercury Transit When: Nov. 11One of the biggest astronomy events of the entire year will take place on Monday, Nov. 11, as Mercury passes directly between the Earth and the sun. This rare astronomical event is known as a transit.The only way to safely view this event is with a solar filter, such as special glasses used during a solar eclipse. If using a telescope, it is incredibly important to have a solar filter on the part of the telescope where light enters. Not doing this can lead to severe and permanent eye damage. This composite image of observations by NASA and the ESA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory shows the path of Mercury during its November 2006 transit. On Monday, May 9, 2016, the solar system's smallest, innermost planet will resemble a black dot as it passes in front of the sun. NASA says the event occurs only about 13 times a century. (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory/NASA/ESA via AP) The transit will be visible across all of North America (with the exception of Alaska), South America, Europe, Africa and western Asia. It lasts for over five hours, starting at 7:36 a.m. EST and ending at 1:03 p.m. EST.People that miss this event will need to wait 13 years for the next opportunity to see a Mercury transit, which will take place on Nov. 13, 2032.Leonid meteor shower When: Nov. 16-17November will feature the peak of two meteor showers, the Northern Taurids and the Leonids, the latter being the better of the two.On the same day that Mercury passes across the face of the sun, the Northern Taurids will peak. This is a minor meteor shower, bringing only about five meteors per hour on the night of Nov. 11 into the morning of Nov. 12. However, it is known for its fireballs, or incredibly bright meteors that can light up the entire sky.The following weekend, the Leonid meteor shower will peak on the night of Saturday, Nov. 16, into the early hours of Sunday, Nov. 17.Onlookers can expect around 15 meteors per hour, with the greatest number of meteors coming after midnight.Venus-Jupiter conjunction When: Nov. 24Near the end of the month, two of the brightest planets will meet up in the evening sky.Shortly after sunset on Sunday, Nov. 24, Venus and Jupiter will appear right next to each other in the southwestern sky in what is known by astronomers as a conjunction.The two will appear so close that they will appear in the same field of view of most binoculars and telescopes. Venus will be the brighter of the two objects. The planets Venus, left, and Jupiter, right, with three of their moons visible, appear close to each other in the sky above tree branches after dusk Wednesday, July 1, 2015, in Tacoma, Wash. In reality, the planets are millions of miles apart, but to viewers from Earth they have appeared very close together recently. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) Folks that miss the planetary meet-up on Nov. 24 can look to the southwestern sky on the following nights, but the two planets will not be quite as close as they will be on the night of the conjunction.Looking back at OctoberFor the first time in spaceflight history, there was an all-female spacewalk when two astronauts, Jessica Meir and Christina Koch, were outside of the International Space Station (ISS) at the same time. The historic event took place on Oct. 18 as the astronauts replaced batteries located on the outside of the station.Another first took place down on Earth earlier in October when NASA's 2020 Mars Rover stood unsupported for the first time. This new rover will be sent to mars next year and will conduct research on the planet's surface.Deeper in our solar system, scientists announced the discovery of 20 new moons orbiting Saturn. The ringed planet now has 82 known satellites, more than any other planet in the solar system.October brought the peak of three meteor showers: The Draconids, the Southern Taurids and the Orionids. The trio of meteor showers gave stargazers around the globe ample opportunities to spot some shooting stars.The Hunter's Moon rose in the middle of the month, the first full moon of fall.A little over a week after the full moon, Blue Origin announced a team that will work together to send humans back to the moon by 2024.

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Lessons from 15-year rover mission: Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids

Sun, 10/27/2019 - 21:52

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — For 15 years, planetary scientist Steve Squyres' life revolved around Mars, with good reason. He was the principal investigator for one of the longest-running NASA missions on the surface of another world, executed by the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity. If anyone has a sense of the lay of the land on the Red Planet, it'd be Squyres. So what does he think of the idea of setting up permanent cities on Mars? "My take on this one is no, I don't think so," Squyres said here today at Penn State University during the ScienceWriters 2019… Read More

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An engineer has devised a way to stop Arctic ice from melting by scattering millions of tiny glass beads to reflect sunlight away

Sat, 10/26/2019 - 13:04

The Arctic is melting faster than ever. One nonprofit wants to blanket parts of glaciers in glass beads to reflect sunlight and slow the thaw.

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The universe is expanding faster than scientists thought, a study confirms — a 'crisis in cosmology' that could require a 'new physics'

Sat, 10/26/2019 - 06:11

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and new mirror technology confirmed a mystery that could lead to a "new physics," one astrophysicist said.

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A Forecast for a Warming World: Learn to Live With Fire

Fri, 10/25/2019 - 13:15

SAN FRANCISCO -- Facing down 600 wildfires in the past three days alone, emergency workers rushed to evacuate tens of thousands of people in Southern California on Thursday as a state utility said one of its major transmission lines broke near the source of the out-of-control Kincade blaze in Northern California.The Kincade fire, the largest this week, tore through steep canyons in the wine country of northern Sonoma County, racing across 16,000 acres within hours of igniting. Wind gusts pushed the fire through forests like blowtorches, leaving firefighters with little opportunity to stop or slow down the walls of flames tromping across wild lands and across highways overnight.And north of Los Angeles, 50,000 people were evacuated as strong winds propelled fires into the canyons of Santa Clarita, threatening many homes.Aerial footage of the Kincade fire showed homes engulfed in flames propelled by high winds that could become even stronger in the coming days.But beyond the destruction, which appeared limited Thursday to several dozen buildings, hundreds of thousands of people were affected, both by the fires and a deliberate blackout meant to prevent them. Schools and businesses closed, and thousands of people evacuated their homes.All this is happening after three straight years of record-breaking fires that researchers say are likely to continue in a warming world and which raise an important question: How to live in an ecosystem that is primed to burn?"I think the perception is that we're supposed to control them. But in a lot of cases we cannot," said John Abatzoglou, an associate professor at the University of Idaho. "And that may allow us to think a little bit differently about how we live with fire. We call it wildfire for reason -- it's not domesticated fire."According to the National Climate Assessment, the government report that summarizes present and future effects of a warming climate on the United States, fire is a growing problem. Climate change will lead to more wildfires nationwide as hotter temperatures dry out plants, making them easier to ignite.The total area burned in a single year by wildfires in the United States has only exceeded 13,900 square miles -- an area larger than the country of Belgium -- four times since the middle of last century. All four times have happened this decade, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA."There is anger in the community," said Michael Gossman, the deputy county administrator of Sonoma County's office of recovery and resilience, in an interview this year. In 2017 his California county was devastated by the Sonoma Complex fires, which killed 24 and burned more than 170 square miles. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the conditions this week were analogous to those of 2017.Many residents in Northern California faced a twin threat on Thursday: fires, but also the deliberate power outages meant to mitigate the blazes. Both the Kincade fire and a small fire that ignited Thursday morning, the Spring fire, occurred in or near areas where the state utility, Pacific Gas & Electric had turned off the power.The fires "brought out some longer standing institutional issues around equity," Gossman said. Critics say electricity cutoffs disproportionately harm low income people who cannot afford solar and battery backup systems or gas based generators, as well as sick and disabled people who rely on electricity to run lifesaving medical equipment.Although winds in California were forecast to subside later on Thursday, officials warned that the extreme winds and dry conditions that create high risk for fires could return on Sunday. This is why government agencies are preparing themselves to deal with fires that are increasingly seen as inevitable.Prescribed burns, or planned fires, like one set last spring on Brawley Mountain in Georgia in southern Appalachia roughly 100 miles north of Atlanta, are often seen as part of the solution.The idea that fire could itself be used to help fight fire and restore ecosystems first gained institutional acceptance in the South. In 1958 a policy change was made to allow for the first prescribed burn in a national park, at Everglades National Park in Florida.For some time, the practice remained anomalous outside of the South. But within the south, according to Nathan Klaus, a senior wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, even private landowners would occasionally set smaller, controlled fires on their property.Before the era of fire suppression, north Georgia around Brawley Mountain used to burn roughly every three to five years, according to Klaus. Those blazes allowed species that could withstand some fire, like the longleaf pine, to proliferate and flourish, shaping local ecosystems.Some of those fires were caused by natural events like lightning; others were caused by human activity. The Forest Service notes that Native Americans used prescribed burns to help with food production. These smaller fires act as a kind of incendiary rake, clearing out grasses, shrubs and other plant matter before they can overgrow to become fuel for bigger, more extreme fires.Dave Martin, who oversees fire and aviation management in the Forest Service's Southern Region, said that a prescribed burn costs about $30 to $35 an acre -- versus spending about $1,000 an acre for putting out a fire. "The cost of suppressing a fire is more than a prescribed burn," he said.It was a combination of forest overgrowth and drought conditions that helped fuel Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains Fires in 2016, which killed at least 14 people. Several fires burned across eight southeastern states that year, the same year Kansas experienced the largest wildfire in its history. The Anderson Creek prairie fire, which also affected Oklahoma, blackened some 625 square miles.The 2016 wildfires also allowed researchers to compare fire intensity between areas that had undergone a prescribed burn and those that had not. The fires in areas that had undergone prescribed were less intense. "It went from a 20- to 30-foot breaking front," Klaus said in reference to the height of the leading edge of the blaze on wild lands that had not burned, "to two to three feet."Reintroducing fire to the land is more complex than lighting a match. You can't burn where people live, for example. But nationwide, housing near wild lands is the fastest growing land-use type in the United States. More people are moving into areas that are more likely to burn, and in some cases they may oppose prescribed burning."Part of doing this work means educating local communities," said Mike Brod, the fire and natural-resources staff officer of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests.And there are limits to prescribed burning. If conditions are too wet, a fire will not ignite, but if it is too dry, the fire is hard to contain. Like Goldilocks, for wild land managers the conditions have to be just right. This includes not just the wind's speed, which can affect the spread of a fire, but also its direction.And once the burn starts, its smoke can travel great distances. Smoke from last year's California's wildfires not only threw a haze over much of the state, but transformed sunsets as far away as Washington, D.C. On Thursday, NOAA warned residents of the Bay Area that "shifting winds tomorrow will likely cause the smoke to be directly over much of the region," as a result of the Kincade fire.So during planned burns great pains have to be taken to make sure that the smoke is directed away from population centers. "If the smoke isn't doing what we want it to do, we'll shut it down," said Nick Peters, the acting district fire management officer for the Chattooga River ranger district in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests.The particulates in wildfire smoke are similar to the kind of pollution that gets released from burning gasoline or coal. Called PM 2.5, the tiny particles are associated with negative health effects. Out west, the rise of giant wildfires has worsened air pollution enough to erode some of the air-quality gains from the Clean Air Act.Earlier this year NOAA and NASA launched a mission to learn more about wildfire smoke. The program flew planes into Western wildfires and Midwestern agricultural fires throughout the summer and into the fall.A lot of wildfire and climate research is divided into two camps: observational modelers (who run large computer simulations) and researchers (who gather observational data using sophisticated monitors) said Rajan Chakrabarty, an assistant professor at the Washington University in St. Louis. The goal of the mission was to bridge that gap.But flying into a fire is not for the weak bellied. As the plane flies through a blaze, the cabin fills with the smell of smoke evocative of a barbecue or a campfire. And sampling a fire plume often involves the kind of rollicking, stomach churning turbulence that commercial flights go out of their way to avoid.By taking samples during an active fire, scientists hope to understand what is in the smoke, and how the chemical makeup changes over time."This air is getting blown downwind, so it's going to impact areas outside of just where the fire was burning," said Hannah Halliday, a researcher at NASA Langley, who also participated in the mission. "And we have models for how emissions change, but we want to make sure that we have that chemistry right, and the physics right."The hope is that, over the long term, the smoke models will be as sophisticated as weather models, and can let people know well in advance when they will need to prepare for smoke, even if they are relatively far from the site of a fire.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

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NASA plans to send water-hunting robot to moon surface in 2022

Fri, 10/25/2019 - 12:42

NASA will send a golf cart-sized robot to the moon in 2022 to search for deposits of water below the surface, an effort to evaluate the vital resource ahead of a planned human return to the moon in 2024 to possibly use it for astronauts to drink and to make rocket fuel, the U.S. space agency said on Friday. "VIPER is going to assess where the water ice is.

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NASA will send VIPER rover to the moon in 2022 to track down south pole’s water ice

Fri, 10/25/2019 - 10:35

NASA says it'll send a rover to the moon's south pole by the end of 2022 to answer one of the biggest questions surrounding its Artemis moon program: Just how accessible is the water ice that's mixed in with moon dirt? The mobile robot — whose race car name, VIPER, is actually an acronym standing for Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover — would be the first U.S. rover launched to the lunar surface since the moon buggies that went with the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions in 1971 and 1972. "VIPER is going to rove on the south pole… Read More

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Why Saving the Oceans Is as Vital as Protecting Rain Forests

Thu, 10/24/2019 - 12:54

Saving the oceans is key to fighting the climate crisis, according to Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a Brooklyn-born marine biologist and activist who is a rising figure in the climate movement.Johnson, 39, is the founder of Ocean Collectiv, a conservation consultancy, and of Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank, and speaks frequently at TED Talks, climate rallies and her salons at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. Protecting the ocean is crucial for people at all economic levels, she said, not just bicoastal elites who look down their noses at plastic straws.Q: You have talked a lot about how the oceans are crucial in the fight against climate change. How so?A: When people talk about the destruction of the Amazon, and how forests in general are the lungs of the planet, I always want to jump in and say the ocean is a huge part of that, too.Phytoplankton -- these tiny little plants in the ocean -- produce a huge percentage of the oxygen we breathe, and the population of phytoplankton is declining. That should be a cause for concern for every single person.Q: You hear a lot of talk about plastic straws. Is that issue really a big deal or is it greenwashing?A: Straws are not the biggest problem facing the ocean, but they are an opportunity to think about what else we can do to reduce our impact on the planet.It really cracked me up the other day. I was walking down the street in Fort Greene, the neighborhood where I grew up and where I live now, and I saw this guy looking super-stylish carrying an iced coffee in a plastic to-go coffee cup with a plastic lid, and I turned to look, and he's got a metal straw in the cup.Part of me wanted to just hit it out of his hand and be like, "Dude, you're totally missing the point! If you're going to bring a straw, just bring your own cup!"Q: Some of those straws, I guess, can end up in the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch." Are there any steps we can take to tackle that?A: I kind of recoil at this question, to be honest, because I feel like this has been done a million times: carry your own water bottle, carry your own grocery bags. But I think there is a harder answer, which is that it does actually require some sacrifice.Like I'll be walking down the street and I want to get a Juice Press because I'm hungry and I didn't bring enough snacks for the day, and I don't. There is an element of: "Don't buy the thing that's in plastic."There's no cute answer, right? Nothing that is disposable can be sustainable.Q: The United Nations says that 93% of commercial fish stocks are being fished at or beyond capacity. What kind of fish should we avoid eating?A: Pending changes which could come at any moment, the U.S. still does a very good job of managing our fish population. So eat U.S. seafood and support your fishermen who are doing it right.And eat lower on the food chain. Instead of tuna, eat sardines and anchovies -- those little ones that are reproducing super-quickly. Because tuna is so far up the food chain, if we were eating the land equivalent of tuna, it would be like eating whatever kind of dragon eats a lion. It's this incredible beast, and we will never be able to have sustainable tuna fishing at scale.Q: Is farmed seafood preferable to wild?A: The sustainability of fish farming is improving, but farmed fish are still often grown in high densities, and so there's a lot of spread of disease and pollution.But ocean farming of shellfish -- oysters, mussels and clams -- and seaweed is super-sustainable, and we should all be eating more of those things because they actually just live off of nutrients in the water and sunlight.In fact, eating shellfish like oysters can be more sustainable than being totally vegan, because it's just such an efficient and low-carbon way to make protein. Shellfish are absorbing carbon as they're making their shells. And seaweed is absorbing tons of CO2, because they're plants.Q: Some people think ocean conservation is an elitist issue for people with beach houses. Why does it matter for people across the economic spectrum?A: It's no coincidence which communities bear the brunt of sea level rise, pollution and strengthened storms. Along the coasts, it's poor communities and communities of color who are most at risk. It's those who already have the fewest resources who are most in danger, not people with vacation homes and yachts. Ocean conservation is a social justice issue.Q: Climate change deniers like to paint conservation as a pet cause for limousine liberals.A: It's so easy to think about the typical environmentalist as this stereotype of a fit white guy stepping out of a Prius, looking out into the mountains wearing a Patagonia jacket. But I've looked into the polling data, and that's completely false.It's young people, and it's people of color, and it's women who disproportionately care about environmental and climate issues, and are most supportive of stronger government policies to address them: 68% of people of color say they are worried about the impacts of climate change, compared to 55% of white people.Q: Do you see the green movement forging stronger ties to the social justice movement?A: I mean, Black Lives Matter has a part of their platform that's about climate and the environment, because it is a justice issue. If you think about the rates of asthma in inner-city communities that are near power plants or exposed to other types of pollution, it's a lot higher.And when we think about immigration, and how a lot of migration is now driven by climate change, whether it's droughts and crop failures or the impacts of storms, that becomes a social justice issue that was triggered by the impacts on communities that did the least to emit the carbon to cause the problem.Q: That's a lot of bad news to take in. What's the biggest reason for hope?A: Nature is super-resilient if we give it a chance, right? If we stop polluting the ocean, it will be less polluted. If we stop overfishing, in most cases, fish populations will recover.The ocean has already absorbed about 30% of the excess CO2 that we've trapped by burning fossil fuels. And the ocean has already absorbed 93% of the heat that we've trapped. And so the ocean is trying its best to buffer us from our worst, right? We need to return the favor.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

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Amazon Web Services and NASA team up to stream video from space via the cloud

Thu, 10/24/2019 - 12:00

Amazon Web Services and NASA have demonstrated how cloud-based video processing can distribute live streams from space, with a shout-out from the International Space Station. The demonstration took center stage today in Los Angeles at the annual meeting of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, or SMPTE. Barbara Lange, SMPTE's executive director, told GeekWire that the members of her organization have a professional and personal interest in telling the story of space travel through moving images. Previously: Amazon Web Services plays role in NASA’s first ultra-HD live video from space "We want to make sure that that story… Read More

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Rats trained to drive tiny cars find it relaxing, scientists report

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 23:18

Sometimes life really can be a rat race. US scientists have reported successfully training a group of the rodents to drive tiny cars in exchange for bits of Froot Loops cereal, and found that learning the task lowered their stress levels.

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Suborbital spacefliers will get pinned by the Association of Space Explorers

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 21:59

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Will the customers who fly on the suborbital spaceships operated by British billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic and Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin get astronaut wings? That's not in the cards, because those wings are typically reserved for flight crews. But at least they'll get a lapel pin to mark their achievement. The pin, created by the Association of Space Explorers, made its debut today on the lapel of Beth Moses, chief astronaut instructor at Virgin Galactic. She was pinned here at the International Astronautical Congress by former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, the association's president. Moses… Read More

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These U.N. Climate Scientists Think They Can Halt Global Warming for $300 Billion. Here's How

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 21:44

Returning land to pasture, food crops or trees would convert enough carbon into biomass to stabilize emissions of CO2 for 15-20 years, the scientists say.

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Rats trained to drive tiny cars find it relaxing, scientists report

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 19:24

Sometimes life really can be a rat race. US scientists have reported successfully training a group of the rodents to drive tiny cars in exchange for bits of Froot Loops cereal, and found that learning the task lowered their stress levels.

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The Loudest Bird in the World Has a Song Like a Pile Driver

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 06:07

The pressures of sexual selection have made peacocks gorgeous, wood thrushes sonorous and birds of paradise great dancers. At first glance, the white bellbird doesn't appear to have benefited similarly. Barrel-chested and big-mouthed, with a long wattle dangling from the top of its beak, this rainforest bird looks more like a Muppet than an avian Casanova.But everyone's got their thing. According to a paper published Monday in Current Biology, this goofball boasts the loudest birdsong ever recorded. And he must be proud of it, because he sings the most piercing note right into potential mates' faces.The white bellbird -- one of four bellbird species in South and Central America -- is a favorite among birders in Brazil. It has a "strange, metallic, kind of alien call," said Caio Brito, one of the founders of Brazil Birding Experts. When several sing at once, they are "deafening," and sound like "several blacksmiths trying to compete," said Arthur Gomes, a biology student at Sao Paulo State University who contributed to the new research.Mario Cohn-Haft, the curator of birds at the National Institute of Amazonian Research in Brazil and one of the authors of the study, regularly travels to understudied rainforest areas to survey birds and other species. On a 2017 trip to the Serra do Apiau, a peak in north Brazil, he encountered bellbirds, which tend to live at high altitudes. They are "the soundtrack of the mountain," he said. "You can hear them from a mile away."While examining a bellbird specimen during that trip, Cohn-Haft was struck by the thickness of its abdominal wall. It had "this really ripped, washboard stomach," he said. He thought it might have something to do with the loudness of their song -- "if they didn't have that kind of protection," he said, perhaps "their guts would blow out."He sent photos to Jeffrey Podos, a professor specializing in bioacoustics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who was similarly intrigued. A year later, the two led a team that further studied the bird.Until a few years ago, assessing the amplitude, or loudness, of birdsong required an unusual amount of devotion and tech-savvy. Only a couple of dozen species have been properly measured, said Podos.But new tools are making the pursuit much easier. For their expedition in 2018, Podos and Cohn-Haft brought sound level meters more commonly used for industrial-noise monitoring, along with laser range-finders to pinpoint how far away the birds were.At the top of the mountain, they measured two vocalizations made by the white bellbird: a longer, more elaborate song, and a shorter, more intense one.The white bellbird's second song type is louder than a jackhammer, and approaches, "at its peak, the amplitude of a pile driver" -- around 125 decibels, said Podos. That makes it three times more intense than the call of the screaming piha, the previous record-holder for loudness.The researchers also discovered a trade-off between song length and amplitude -- the more intense the song's peak, the less time it lasted. "If sexual selection keeps pushing the song to be louder and louder, it's going to become shorter and shorter," said Podos.This, along with the song's simplicity, is in keeping with "a pattern of evolutionary trade-offs between sound amplitude and song complexity," said Gonçalo Cardoso, a researcher at the University of Porto who was not involved in this study.One big mystery remains. The white bellbird sings its pile driver tune when a potential mate is nearby. It starts facing away from her, and then whips around to blast the loudest, record-setting note right into her face. This choreography puzzles experts: Many other birds, including the famously elaborate satin bowerbird, actually tone down their displays once a female expresses interest, so as not to startle her.The bellbird's strategy "goes against expectations," said Podos. "They just really seem to be socially awkward.""I am surprised that the loudest bird makes loud sounds when the female is so close," said Nicole Creanza, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University who was not involved with the study. She said the findings went against her expectations, but called them "a great foundation for future research."Podos hopes to see whether such behavior actually helps male birds get mates."We never saw copulation -- we never saw what a really good male does," he said. "The ones we saw might have just been losers."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company

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The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs acidified the ocean in a 'flash,' killing most marine life. The seas could see a similar problem a century from now.

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 12:39

A new study found that the asteroid impact that led the dinosaurs to go extinct also caused rapid ocean acidification, which killed most sea life.

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