Yep, the Earth is still round, Neil deGrasse Tyson says
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Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson wants everyone to know that the world is round. (National Geographic Channel)
"So, tell me, Neil, is the Earth flat?" Nice said to open the conversation.
"What's odd," Tyson continued, "is there are people who think that Earth is flat but recognize that the moon is round. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and the sun are all spheres. But Earth is flat ... something doesn't square here."
Tyson explained that because of the laws of physics and the way energy works, the universe "favors the sphere" when forming planets and other bodies. Sometimes, a sphere might be distorted because it's rotating very fast. But almost everything in the universe, he added, is spherical or almost spherical.
Tyson did not address asteroids, which are small bodies of ice and rock and are irregularly shaped. It is widely recognized, however, that these asteroids have a gravity too low to pull their mass into a sphere. Worlds orbiting the sun that do have spherical bodies are sometimes called planets, but only if they meet certain criteria set by the International Astronomical Union.
Tyson was similarly outspoken in the new StarTalk video. He said there are people in the U.S. who believe in a flat Earth for two reasons: the country protects free speech, and its educational system doesn't teach students to think critically about the evidence.
Or think about a ship sailing toward the horizon, Tyson said — it gradually disappears, because the Earth is curved. Or, he said, if he were to send co-host Nice on a journey around the Earth, Tyson could turn his chair 180 degrees and eventually see Nice arriving back where the comedian had started. (Nice quipped that would take him 150 years to accomplish the trip, because "I'm no Forrest Gump. It would take me that long to run the Earth.")
There are two possible explanations for that observation, Tyson added. The first is that the Earth is flat and has a small sun, close to the planet. The second is that the Earth is curved, with a sun further from the planet. But if you were to extend the argument to three wells, there's no way a flat Earth's geometry would fit the experiment's results, he added.
So, what if people still believe the Earth is flat?
"That's OK," Tyson quipped, "as long as you don't run NASA."
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March 13, 2018
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p>Scientists have made an interesting discovery in an ancient tomb in China's Shaanxi province. They excavated bones of an entirely new but already extinct genus of gibbons.</p><p>Scientists studying bones unearthed from an ancient tomb in China’s Shaanxi Province have discovered the remains of a new but totally extinct species of ape.</p><p>When the tomb was excavated in 2004 a number of animal remains, which included gibbon bones, were unearthed from 12 burial pits. By harnessing computer modelling, scientists were able to identify a new genus and species of gibbon. Named Junzi imperialis, records indicate that the gibbon probably survived until less than 300 years ago.</p><p>Scientists say that the discovery of the extinct ape species provides a stark reminder of the vulnerability of the world’s apes, particularly gibbons.</p><p>ZSL warns that all the world’s apes are threatened with extinction today due to human activities. However, no ape species were thought to have become extinct as a result of hunting or habitat loss.</p><p>The researchers note that 73 percent of Asian primates are threatened, compared to 60 percent globally, adding that two species of gibbon have recently disappeared in China.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
about the Copper Age. </p><p>In 1991, scientists in the Italian Alps came across a frozen, caramel-colored corpse face down in the melting ice. They named him Ötzi, or the Iceman. And since that time, researchers have been learning more and more about the Iceman’s life in the Copper Age in Europe some 5,300 years ago.</p><p>“He cared about his tools,” said Dr. Wierer, adding that many showed signs of being resharpened or repaired.</p><p>All of the items had been recovered in the glacier gully near Ötzi’s body. They included a quiver containing just two arrowheads and a dozen unfinished arrow shafts, several antler points and a bundle of sinew, or animal tendons. Ötzi must have been in some sort of rush, said Dr. Wierer, as he did not have the time to construct a working bow or complete his other dozen arrowheads before his death. She thinks that he could have finished that task over the course of several hours if he had wanted.</p><p>Ötzi’s dagger was unusually small with a blade that was barely a couple of inches long. Its tip was also broken, so it lacked a sharp point. The blade was made of a hard, dark rock called chert that is similar to flint. To sharpen it, Ötzi would have had to apply pressure and flake off its edges, rather than scrape it against another rock. </p><p>The chert that Otzi used was mined from three different areas, which were as far as 40 miles away, Dr. Wierer said. And in his final moments, the Iceman ran out of chert to fix his tools.</p><p>The team also analyzed the wooden retoucher, which had a deer’s antler stuck inside it. This tool was used to sharpen the stone tools by flaking off new sharp edges. The shape of the end-scraper, a long-rounded stone most likely used to cut plants and strip animal hide, suggested that it was used by someone who was right-handed. It had been recently sharpened, based on its glossy appearance, Dr. Wierer concluded. </p><p>“It’s really surprising how many re-sharpenings and how many modifications we can see on this tool,” she said. “The Iceman did a last re-sharpening and perhaps wanted to use it again, but there was no time.”</p><p>About 33 hours before he died, the 46-year-old Ötzi ate a meal in the mountains. Then, in the next nine hours before death, he descended the mountain, sharpened his end-scraper and borer and probably worked on his bow and arrow shafts. </p><p>A little while later, he got into a skirmish and was stabbed on his right hand. Some 12 hours before he died, he ate another meal in a valley, and then climbed nearly two miles up the mountain again, which was a hike of about a day or two away from his community. Five or four hours before death, he had a third meal and perhaps a little later a fourth. Then an arrow shot by a Southern Alpine archer struck the Iceman from behind, shattering his scapula and severing an artery. </p>
er they are put on ventilators. Doctors are beginning to wonder if the procedure should be used so often. </p><p>Earlier this year, an ambulance brought a man in his 80s to the emergency room at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He had metastatic lung cancer; his family had arranged for hospice care at home. </p><p>“As soon as I met them, his son said, ‘Put him on a breathing machine,’” recalled Dr. Kei Ouchi, an emergency physician and researcher at the hospital. </p><p>Hospice patients know that they’re close to death; they and their families have also been instructed that most distressing symptoms, like shortness of breath, can be eased at home.</p><p>But the son kept insisting, “Why can’t you put him on a breathing machine?”</p><p>Dr. Ouchi, lead author of a new study of how older people fare after emergency room intubation, knew this would be no simple decision. </p><p>“I went into emergency medicine thinking I’d be saving lives. I used to be very satisfied putting patients on a ventilator,” he told me in an interview. </p><p>But he began to realize that while intubation is indeed lifesaving, most older patients came to the E.R. with serious illnesses. “They sometimes have values and preferences beyond just prolonging their lives,” he said.</p><p>Often, he’d see the same people he’d intubated days later, still in the hospital, very ill, even unresponsive. “Many times, a daughter would say, ‘She would never have wanted this.’”</p><p>But, he said, “I was never trained to talk to patients or their families about what this means.”</p><p>Of potentially greater importance to elderly patients — who so often declare they’d rather die than spend their lives in nursing homes — are the discharge statistics. </p><p>After intubation, 31 percent of patients ages 65 to 74 survive the hospitalization and return home. But for 80- to 84-year-olds, that figure drops to 19 percent; for those over age 90, it slides to 14 percent.</p><p>At the same time, the mortality rate climbs sharply, to 50 percent in the eldest cohort from 29 percent in the youngest.</p><p>All intubated patients proceed to intensive care, most remaining sedated because intubation is uncomfortable. If they were conscious, patients might try to pull out the tubes or the I.V.’s delivering nutrition and medications. They cannot speak. </p><p>Intubation “is not a walk in the park,” Dr. Ouchi said. “This is a significant event for older adults. It can really change your life, if you survive.”</p><p>Those who underwent intubation had more than twice the mortality risk of other I.C.U. patients. “You don’t get better, most of the time,” said Dr. Ouchi. While outcomes remain hard to predict, “a lot of times, you get worse.”</p><p>A tightfitting mask over the nose and mouth helps patients with certain conditions breathe nearly as well as intubation does. But they remain conscious and can have the mask removed briefly for a sip of water or a short conversation.</p><p>“There are cases where noninvasive ventilation is comparable or even superior to mechanical ventilation,” said Dr. Douglas White, a critical care physician and ethicist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. </p><p>Dr. Ouchi, for instance, explained to his patient’s distraught son that intubation would thwart his father’s desire to remain communicative. The patient, able to see though not to say much, died four days later in a hospital room with bipap and morphine to reduce his “air hunger.”</p><p>The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s health system has begun adopting the program in its 40 I.C.U.s. </p><p>When they do, Dr. Michael Wilson, a critical care physician at the Mayo Clinic, opts for a particularly humane approach. </p><p>“You may later wake up and do fine,” he tells his patient. “Or this may be the last time to communicate with your family,” because intubated patients can’t talk.</p><p>Since setting up intubation generally takes a few minutes, he encourages people to spend them sharing words of comfort, reassurance and affection. Without that pause, “I have stolen the last words from patients,” he told me. </p><p>Dr. Wilson has used this approach about 50 times in his I.C.U., so he has learned what patients and families, given this opportunity, tell one another. </p><p>“It’s nearly always, ‘I love you,’” he said. “‘I hope you do well.’”</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p> Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona </p><p>NASA unveiled an image of sand dune on Mar's Lyot Crater region that has been enhanced to get a better look at the surface features of the fourth planet from the Sun.</p><p>NASA added that this particular dune "is made of finer material and/or has a different composition than the surrounding."</p><p>Images from Mars continue to capture the attention of the public, especially as the planet is currently experiencing a massive dust storm that is threatening NASA's Martian operations.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p> Experts in Italy believe that the work portraying the Archangel Gabriel is a self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci and the famous artist's earliest surviving work. (ANSA via AP) </p><p>Experts in Italy say they have found the earliest surviving work by Leonardo da Vinci.</p><p>The small glazed terracotta tile, described as a self-portrait of the artist as the Archangel Gabriel, was unveiled at a press conference in Rome on Thursday. </p><p>The tile was studied in three different laboratories, according to Solari, who believes that the Italian Renaissance master used a pottery kiln owned by his grandparents to produce the tile.</p><p>Kemp also described the tile’s “vermicelli like” hair as particularly unconvincing.</p><p>With so few of Leonardo’s artworks in existence, potential new finds come under intense scrutiny.</p><p>The painting grabbed headlines around the world when it was sold at Christie’s auction house in New York. "Salvator Mundi," Latin for "Savior of the World,” is one of fewer than 20 paintings by Da Vinci known to exist and the only one in private hands.</p><p>A copy of the Archangel Gabriel tile is on display at Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Experience Museum. </p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
ll over the world. Even trees coveted for their wood that are protected from logging are chopped down.</p><p>Worried about such deforestation, environmental advocates are driving a project to create a DNA database of populations of the bigleaf maple tree on the West Coast. The eventual goal is to use DNA mapping to combat the thriving black markets for timber in tropical countries that are plagued by illegal logging.</p><p>“We are taking leaf tissue from the maple trees and taking samples along the entire length of the species range from Southern California to British Columbia,” said Meaghan Parker-Forney, a science officer with the World Resources Institute, a nonprofit group that promotes environmental sustainability and is working on the monthslong initiative.</p><p>The DNA database is an experimental project for the Norwegian government, which is jointly funding the effort with the United States Forest Service’s international program. Norway hopes to see whether such a database is feasible in places like Indonesia and Peru, where illegal logging is rampant.</p><p>Using volunteers from Adventure Scientists, a nonprofit organization that specializes in outdoor data collection, the World Resources Institute has recorded different populations of the bigleaf maple, and the unique characteristics of each population.</p><p>Environmental advocates hope that DNA databases could be used for legal cases. Several sawmills in the United States have been charged with illegal logging and brought to trial on the basis of DNA evidence. Genetic markers can indicate whether a tree was logged from a protected location.</p><p>“If someone came to us and told us their wood came from Washington State and it in fact did not, we would be able to say if the wood they were declaring came from a legal location, or we could say that in fact that is not where it came from,” Ms. Parker-Forney said.</p><p>Collecting the DNA is fairly simple. Volunteers are trained online by Adventure Scientists and use an app to log information in the field.</p><p>Ashley Plaga, 33, planned her vacation around collecting tree DNA for the project.</p><p>“I just got back from a backpacking trip to Ventana Wilderness in Big Sur,” Ms. Plaga said in a phone interview, referring to the region in Central California. “We had 20 miles of trail that we were backpacking, and when we reached certain areas that coincided with where a bigleaf maple would be, I would look for trees that fit the description and I would take a leaf from the tree.”</p><p>Before setting out on their adventures, volunteers take two brief online courses. The courses and a quiz detail the goals of the project and teach volunteers how to identify the environment of the tree as well as how to collect and store the DNA samples.</p><p>“I would take a leaf from the tree and use an app that asks a number of questions, like the latitude and longitude of the location, the circumference of the tree,” Ms. Plaga said. “We also had to take pictures of the tree and leaves and log the information into the system.”</p><p>The project says on its website that it hopes to help prevent the poaching of endangered wildlife by demonstrating “the value of DNA bar coding for investigating and prosecuting wildlife crime.”</p><p>Collecting DNA from wild animals is much easier than collecting from leaves because the DNA survives for much longer, according to Ms. Parker-Forney, who previously worked with the Barcode of Wildlife initiative as a project manager.</p><p>“We helped build a capacity in countries dealing in the trade and illegal poaching of endangered animals to help them set up a chain-of-custody system where they had the ability to test the illegal material in a database,” she said.</p><p>If an elephant tusk is found, it is possible to use its DNA to map where the animal was poached and to match its sister tusk, which may be tracked down elsewhere, Ms. Parker-Forney said. “We focused on the most highly trafficked material.”</p><p>Nineteen volunteers have collected DNA samples for the tree project. At the moment, a single volunteer is collecting samples of the bigleaf maple tree, near Port Mellon Highway in Gibsons, British Columbia. Seventy-four other volunteers are ready to be deployed. The project is expected to be completed by December.</p><p>“The best part was that I learned so much,” Ms. Plaga said. Her time volunteering became “a catalyst to learn more. Is it a native species, is it invasive?”</p><p>The more volunteers learn, the more they will pass on: The DNA database will eventually be available to the public.</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p> Genetically modified male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are pictured at Oxitec factory in Piracicaba, Brazil, October 26, 2016. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker - S1AEUJGODLAB </p><p>Microsoft founder Bill Gates is pouring £3million ($4 million) into a project to create killer mosquitoes that destroy each other through sex.</p><p>The plan is to create genetically-modified male mosquitoes that mate with their female counterparts in the wild.</p><p>Only female mosquitoes bite, so Gates' army of gene-engineered male mosquitoes would be safe to humans.</p><p>What's important is that these male mosquitoes contain a self-limiting gene that gets passed onto female mates.</p><p>When the females give birth, their offspring will die before adulthood thanks to the gene.</p><p>Mosquitoes only start biting people once they're adults, so given enough time, the danger of blood-sucking female mosquitoes could be eradicated.</p><p>This means it would be possible to stem the spread of malaria through mosquito bites.</p><p>They're developed by a UK company called Oxitec, which has dubbed the creations "Friendly Mosquitos" – although their female mates may disagree.</p><p>In some areas, the wild populations of Aedes aegypti (the mosquito that carries Zika) have been reduced by 90 percent.</p><p>But the malaria-carrying Anopheles mosquitoes require a new genetically-modified breed to mate with.</p><p>Oxitec's killer sex mosquitoes are expected to be ready for trials by the end of 2020.</p><p>However, not everyone is happy about the prospect of genetically-modified mosquitoes being used to prematurely terminate their offspring.</p><p>Oxitec's work has been heavily criticized by Friends of the Earth, a charity dedicated to protecting the environment.</p><p>Back in 2012, Friends of the Earth's Eric Hoffman said: "Trials of its mosquitoes must not move forward in the absence of comprehensive and impartial reviews of the environmental, human health and ethical risks."</p><p>In a statement at the time, Friends of the Earth said: "The GM mosquitoes are intended to reduce the wild population by mating with naturally occurring mosquitoes and producing progeny which don’t survive, thus reducing the population and therefore the transmission of the tropical disease dengue fever.</p><p>"The company has been widely criticized for putting its commercial interests ahead of public and environmental safety.</p><p>"Its first releases of GM mosquitoes took place controversially in the Cayman Islands, where there is no biosafety law or regulation.</p><p>"Oxitec staff have been closely involved in developing risk assessment guidelines for GM insects worldwide, leading to concerns about lack of independent scrutiny and conflict of interest."</p><p>But Bill Gates is a long-time supporter of Oxitec's work.</p><p>Back in 2010, he gave £3.7million (approximately $4.9 million) to Oxitec to help fund early work on killer mosquito projects.</p><p>He has extensively funded work on eradicating malaria, a disease that kills around 440,000 people every year.</p><p>Complications that threaten human life including swelling of the blood vessels in the brain, a build-up of fluid in the lungs, organ failure (of the kidneys, liver or spleen, anemia, and low blood sugar.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p> In an illustration of the Amundsen Sea Embayment in West Antarctica, a cutaway reveals the bedrock below the ice, as well as Earth's crust (brown layer), the bottom of the lithosphere (red area) and the mantle (yellow) underneath. Credit: Planetary Visions/ESA </p><p>Bedrock under Antarctica is rising more swiftly than ever recorded — about 1.6 inches (41 millimeters) upward per year. And thinning ice in Antarctica may be responsible.</p><p>That's because as ice melts, its weight on the rock below lightens. And over time, when enormous quantities of ice have disappeared, the bedrock rises in response, pushed up by the flow of the viscous mantle below Earth's surface, scientists reported in a new study.</p><p>These uplifting findings are both bad news and good news for the frozen continent.</p><p>But while computer models give scientists an idea of how the mantle behaves, the picture is incomplete, lead study author Valentina Barletta, a postdoctoral researcher at DTU Space, the National Space Institute at the Technical University of Denmark, told Live Science.</p><p>Dramatic changes such as those that the researchers observed in Antarctica's bedrock — nudged upward by the mantle below — were thought to happen over thousands, or even tens of thousands, of years. Their new findings show that this shift in response to vanishing ice can take place much more rapidly, over centuries or decades. This suggests that the mantle under Antarctica, which is lifting the bedrock upward, may be more fluid, flowing more quickly than previously suspected, the study authors reported.</p><p>There's a downside to their findings, too. Estimates of ice loss in Antarctica depend on satellite measurements of gravity in localized areas, which can be affected by significant changes in mass. If the bedrock under Antarctica is rapidly adjusting in response to ice loss, its uplift would register in gravity measurements, compensating for some ice loss and obscuring just how much ice has truly disappeared by about 10 percent, according to the study.</p><p>Hopefully, now that scientists are aware of this discrepancy, it can be addressed in future models of disappearing ice, Barletta said.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p> The Hubble Space Telescope captured the gravitational lens from galaxy LRG 3-757. (ESA/Hubble & NASA) </p><p>This study supports our current understanding of gravity and provides more evidence for the existence of dark matter and dark energy — two mysterious concepts that scientists know about only indirectly by observing their effects on cosmic objects.</p><p>The researchers tested the assumption that "the same laws of physics we see working here on Earth are true anywhere else," Terry Oswalt, an astronomer and chair of physical sciences at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, said in an email to Space.com. Verifying general relativity "at all possible scales (especially the largest scale) is fundamentally important to physics as a whole, and to cosmology in particular," added Oswalt, who was not involved in the new study.</p><p>"I doubt astronomers will be giving up the standard model of cosmology anytime soon," Oswalt said. So, instead of abandoning the standard model, researchers look to "make the models more precisely explain the observed data," he added.</p><p>In the standard model, dark matter is required to explain how fast stars orbit around galaxies and dark energy is required to explain why the universe is expanding faster, according to Collett.</p><p>Some scientists have suggested that "alternative gravity theories," as Collett described, could eliminate a need for dark matter and dark energy in the standard model. However, because this team has found that gravity functions outside our solar system like it does inside our solar system, for now it appears that our understanding of gravity is correct and dark matter and dark energy still fit in the standard model.</p><p>Collett noted that this study isn't concrete "proof" of dark matter and dark energy, but it serves as additional evidence that they exist.</p><p>In addition to measuring the space-time curve, the researchers had to determine the galaxy's mass, because general relativity predicts how much curvature is created by a mass. They calculated this mass by measuring how fast the galaxy's stars travel. Then, by comparing this measured mass with the measured curvature of space-time, the team found what general relativity predicts for this mass, or galaxy. </p><p>So now, as far as we know, even outside our solar system, general relativity is the correct theory of gravity, Collett said. This team of astronomers hopes to study even farther galaxies and lenses, further verifying that gravity works the same throughout the cosmos.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p> NASA's Mars rover Curiosity snapped this self-portrait on June 15, 2018 at Gale Crater during a growing dust storm. Since then, the dust storm has engulfed all of Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech ) </p><p>According to NASA, the 2018 dust storm is not as big as the 2007 dust storm that Opportunity survived 11 years ago. It's more similar to a dust storm seen by the Viking 1 lander in 1977. Past dust storms seen by NASA's Mariner 9 spacecraft from 1971 to 1972, as well as by the Mars Global Surveyor in 2001, were also much larger. During those storms, only the tallest volcanoes on Mars were visible poking above the dust.</p><p>"The current dust storm is more diffuse and patchy; it's anyone's guess how it will further develop, but it shows no sign of clearing," NASA officials wrote in the second update. </p><p>A key question for scientists is why some dust storms on Mars become planet-enshrouding events and last months while others fade away in a week.</p><p>"We don't have any good idea," Scott Guzewich, an atmospheric scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in the statement. Guzewich is leading the Curiosity rover's dust storm work.</p><p>New photos from Curiosity show a wall of haze over Gale Crater that is up to eight times thicker than normal for this time on Mars, NASA officials said. One photo also shows a curious lack of shadows. That's because the entire sky on Mars is red and illuminating the rocks from all sides, NASA officials explained. </p><p>While the dust storm won't affect Curiosity's power levels, the low-light conditions are forcing the rover to take longer exposures when it snaps photographs, NASA officials said. When Curiosity is not taking pictures, the rover rotates its mast-mounted Mastcam camera to face the ground, to protect it from blowing dust, they added.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>