How to Fortify Your (and Your Kids’) Screen Time with a Dose of Physics
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Physics Toolbox Play consists of seven gamified tasks that introduce learners to sensors, basic physicsprinciples, data representations, and careers that make use of sensors. Children can observe the air pressure decrease as they go up a flight of stairs or climb a hill, and increase as they go back down. Since 2017, over one million users have downloaded Physics Toolbox Play. However, one of the best places to do science is home, especially in the presence of families.Completing the Physics Toolbox Play tasks takes around 30-45 minutes for most family groups. Completing the tasks with Physics Toolbox Play takes only a short period of time, but any spark of interest in physics can last a lifetime!

Dire Wolves Were Not Really Wolves, New Genetic Clues Reveal
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It had long been assumed that dire wolves made themselves at home in North America before gray wolves followed them across the Bering Land Bridge from Eurasia. For decades, paleontologists have remarked on how similar the bones of dire wolves and gray wolves are. Dire wolves, it now appeared, had evolved in the Americas and had no close kinship with the gray wolves from Eurasia; the last time gray wolves and dire wolves shared a common ancestor was about 5.7 million years ago. Perri, Mitchell and their colleagues found no DNA evidence of interbreeding between dire wolves and gray wolves or coyotes. Dire wolves were genetically isolated from other canids, Mitchell notes, so “hybridization couldn’t provide a way out” because dire wolves were probably unable to produce viable offspring with the recently arrived wolves from Eurasia.

Mysterious Heat Spikes inside Cells Are Probed with Tiny Diamonds
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The dispersal of that heat sets an overall body temperature, with different types of cells contributing to varying degrees. Because the fluid in cells is water-based, scientists have generally assumed it carries heat much like water does. Instead heat dissipates in cells about five times more slowly—a speed more akin to the way it dissipates in oil. Until now “nobody knew this basic property of living cells,” Suzuki says. The heat conductivity identified in the new work can explain smaller heat spikes of a couple of degrees F, though not the massive heat surge in mitochondria, Suzuki says.

Vaccines Need Not Completely Stop COVID Transmission to Curb the Pandemic
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According to Dawn Bowdish, a professor of pathology and molecular medicine at McMaster University, this so-called sterilizing immunity was a key factor in eliminating smallpox. “The [smallpox] vaccination caused sterilizing immunity, meaning that you don’t carry any of the virus. Sterilizing immunity may have been a lofty goal for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, though not necessary to curb disease. The oral polio vaccine (OPV) generates localized intestinal immunity, preventing infection and protecting against disease and transmission. But ample precedent points to vaccines driving successful containment of infectious diseases even when they do not provide perfectly sterilizing immunity.

Unrivaled View of Brilliant ‘Planetary Nebula’ NGC 2899
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A star at the center of this tie-dye apparition is collapsing, a process scientists have watched and measured for decades. In 2020 astronomers overcame the 3,000 to 6,500 light-years separating us from this celestial beauty, named NGC 2899, for the clearest picture of it yet. Though the phenomenon is called a planetary nebula, the term is a misnomer. In the image of NGC 2899, oxygen (blue) is surrounded by hydrogen (pink). Discovered in 1835 by English astronomer John Herschel in the constellation Vela, NGC 2899 looks like a butterfly because it is made of two stars.

How to Avoid Becoming a Meal for a Cheetah
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Think of it this way: for every cheetah on the planet, there are more than four Starbucks coffee shops. Even though these communication hubs only comprise around 10 percent of the landscape, cheetahs spend most—sometimes all—of their time within them. “This is basically a long-term tradition, which is passed on from cheetah generation to cheetah generation. “I told him, ‘Look, Wilfred, I have the idea that they are actually there because of these marking trees. In all, the number of calves lost to cheetah predation fell by a whopping 86 percent.

Time Has No Meaning at the North Pole
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At the North Pole, 24 time zones collide at a single point, rendering them meaningless. At Earth’s other pole, time zones are quirky but rooted in utility. At the North Pole, it’s all ocean, visited only rarely by an occasional research vessel or a lonely supply ship that strayed from the Northwest Passage. What we think of as a single day, flanked by sunrise and sunset, happens just once per year around the North Pole. So I can’t help but wonder: Does a single day up North last for months?

What's the Difference Between Enabling and Supporting?
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Although enabling behaviors are usually done out of love, they can actually backfire for everyone involved. AdvertisementAdvertisementThe Difference Between Enabling and SupportingIt's often tough for a person in the thick of it to realize which type of behavior they're engaged in. Another reason that enabling behaviors persist is because often it's easier to go along with the problem than trying to fight it. Wedding photographer Erica Hartwig calls stopping the cycle of enabling \"emotionally one of the hardest things you can do. The website DrugAbuse.com has a lot of resources for people looking for treatment options for loved ones, as does the U.S.-government-run SAMHSA.gov.

Why Does the Secret Service Protect a President's Adult Children?
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The Secret Service has, during the four years of Trump's tenure, spent enormous amounts of money providing protection to Trump's children. The adult Trump children have caught plenty of flak during their father's administration for hauling their Secret Service details all over the world at the U.S. taxpayer's expense. While in office, neither the president nor the vice president can decline Secret Service protection, but their spouses and adult children can. Almost all presidential families have accepted full Secret Service protection for as long as the law allows. Despite the cost, the Trump family is doing nothing unusual by accepting Secret Service protection at home and while traveling abroad.

Twitter Bots Are a Major Source of Climate Disinformation
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Twitter accounts run by machines are a major source of climate change disinformation that might drain support from policies to address rising temperatures. “Twitter bots have been this growing force of evil over a half a decade now,” said John Cook, a professor at George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication who was not involved with the study. “Twitter bots have been a part of that.”Marlow’s team measured the influence of bots on Twitter’s climate conversation by analyzing 6.8 million tweets sent by 1.6 million users between May and June 2017. But those bots accounted for 25% of the total tweets about climate change on most days. The bots were also more prevalent in discussions on climate research and news.

Farm Protests in India Are Writing the Green Revolution’s Obituary
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The move enraged farmers—especially in the northwestern state of Punjab, an epicenter of the Green Revolution since the 1950s. After protesting in vain for two months, tens of thousands of Punjab farmers began a march to New Delhi in late November. In a broader perspective, however, this agitation is writing the obituary of the Green Revolution. Underlying this broad base of discontent is the failure of the Green Revolution. In short, the Green Revolution secured cheap cereals in exchange for justice and ecological sustainability.

Could a Galactic Civilization Survive the End of the Universe?
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\" \" Galactic civilizations looking to postpone the end of the universe may be wise to stock up on a few stars like our sun. But it's also possible that you, gentle reader, are an immortal member of a galactic civilization in a distant future. If you're the former, then have a listen to the recent Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast episode \"Galactic Civilization's End.\" In 2018, astrophysicist Dan Hooper pondered the question of a galactic civilization's long-term survival and contended that annihilation might at least be postponed with a little hoarding. If star-jacking isn't your style, physicist Alan Guth – who, by the way, developed cosmic inflation theory – told the BBC that a galactic civilization might be capable of creating its own pocket universe.

New Technology Turns a Sunny Day into Safe Water
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\" \" More than 2 billion people worldwide live without access to safe, clean water. As the problem is exacerbated by climate change, scientists have come up with a new solution using sunlight, a plentiful resource. That's enough drinking water for four people for one day. Ramping up production for large-scale purification is still in development, but this method is encouraging as an additional means of securing safe water for a growing population. It's time to see the future of clean water in a whole new light.

Earth Has Lost 28 Trillion Tons of Ice since the Mid-1990s
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Altogether, the planet lost a whopping 28 trillion tons of ice between 1994 and 2017. It accounts for both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, Arctic and Antarctic sea ice and mountain glaciers all over the world. Since the 1990s, Antarctica has lost more than 2.6 trillion tons and Greenland has lost nearly 4 trillion. These ice shelves help to stabilize the ice sheet’s marine-terminating glaciers and hold back the flow of ice behind them. In addition to the ice sheet’s losses, Antarctica’s ice shelves have lost more than 8.6 trillion tons of mass since the 1990s.

How have events shaped the Clinton-Trump race?
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This is unfortunate because a weak get out the vote effort is probably worth a couple of points on election day. It is unfortunate because some Trump scandals increase, rather than decrease, his numbers. He could suddenly gain a couple of points if he says or does just the wright/wrong things. Then Wikileaks, weak as it is, or some other issue, will come into play and knock two points off of her numbers. It is unfortunate because the difference between Clinton and Trump is now between about 5 and 7 points, and 2 + 2 + 2 = 6.

Physics, Flocks, and Fire Ants
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Though small, ants are mighty; individual ants can withstand more than 5,000 times their own weight by some estimates. “Ants are like no living thing on Earth,”In addition to their strength, speed, and raft-crafting abilities, ants are also excellent atFlocking physics Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have studied the unique collective behavior that arises when fire ants band together. Physics offers a few hints.Flocking (like raft-forming) is an example of active matter: systems whose constituent elements consume energy. Active matter is still a relatively new classification of soft matter; one of the most well-known mathematical models describing active matter — the Vicsek model — was published in 1995. Collective behavior arises as a property of groups but is not necessarily shared by the individual participants themselves.

Why AI Needs to Be Able to Understand All the World's Languages
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Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, and Amazon’s Alexa collectively service zero African languages. For them, speech recognition technology could help bridge the gap between illiteracy and access to valuable information and services from agricultural information to medical care. Languages spoken by smaller populations are often casualties of commercial prioritization. Instead of exploiting data sets from unrelated, high-resource languages, we leveraged speech data that are abundantly available, even in low-resource languages: radio broadcasting archives. The second, West African Virtual Assistant Speech Recognition Corpus, consists of 10,000 labeled audio clips in four languages.

Scientists Need to Be Kinder to One Another
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One unanticipated consequence of the current pandemic is that many scientists are cutting one another some slack. The answers to these questions rest heavily on the peer-review process and, more specifically, on the critical processes of vetting scientific claims that peer review entails. Individual scientists do commit fraud and engage in sloppy and stupid practices, but peer review lets others point such problems out. Think of it as tough love: scientists take the time to review colleagues' work because they are committed to the production of reliable knowledge. But if we are on the receiving end, we need to dig deep and accept it, even (or especially) if it hurts.

Will the Real Banana Spider Please Stand Up?
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\" \" In the United States, the golden silk orb-weaver spider (Nephila clavipes) is commonly known as the \"banana spider.\" Just a banana spider — nothing to worry about.\" \" \" As if to illustrate the problem with common spider names, this black-and-yellow argiope spider, (Argiope aurantia), is commonly known as the yellow garden spider, the golden garden spider, the writing spider, the black and yellow garden spider, the corn spider, the zigzag spider, or the McKinley spider. A few species commonly called \"banana spider\" are, in fact, harmless. \" \" The Brazilian wandering spider (Phoneutria nigriventer), which some people think of as a \"banana spider.\"

Scientists Take a Cattle Head Count in India
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Cattle are a common sight in Indian cities. [CLIP: Sound of honking][CLIP: “From blocking traffic to damaging greens in residential colonies, untended cattle have become a nuisance in Delhi.”]And the nuisance extends beyond Delhi. “All these problems are very intense in many Indian cities.”Atanu Pati studies animal behavior at Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University in Raipur in central India. He and his colleagues wanted to find out just how many cows lived on the streets of Raipur. “We used two methods: one is a direct head count.”The other was photographic: they’d take pictures in those same grids over a few days and count the cows they may have missed.

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