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Could gravitational waves reveal how fast our universe is expanding?
16 July 2018 - An new study finds black holes and neutron stars are key to measuring our expanding universe. Since it first exploded into existence 13.8 billion years ago, the universe has been expanding, dragging along with it hundreds of billions of galaxies and stars, much like raisins in a rapidly rising dough. Astronomers have pointed telescopes to certain stars and other cosmic sources to measure their distance from Earth and how fast they are moving away from us -- two parameters that are essential to estimating the Hubble constant, a unit of measurement that describes the rate at which the universe is expanding. But to date, the most precise efforts have landed on very different values of the Hubble constant, offering no definitive resolution to exactly how fast the universe is growing. (more)

Neutrino that struck Antarctica traced to galaxy 3.7bn light years away
16 July 2018 - A mysterious, ghostly particle that slammed into Earth and lit up sensors buried deep beneath the south pole has been traced back to a distant galaxy that harbours an enormous spinning black hole. Astronomers detected the high-energy neutrino, a kind of subatomic particle, when it tore into the southern Indian Ocean near the coast of Antarctica and carried on until it struck an atomic nucleus in the Antarctic ice, sending more particles flying. (more)

No single birthplace of mankind, say scientists
16 July 2018 - Researchers say it is time to drop the idea that modern humans originated from a single population in a single location. The origins of our species have long been traced to east Africa, where the world's oldest undisputed Homo sapiens fossils were discovered. About 300,000 years ago, the story went, a group of primitive humans there underwent a series of genetic and cultural shifts that set them on a unique evolutionary path that resulted in everyone alive today. However, a team of prominent scientists is now calling for a rewriting of this traditional narrative ... (more)

VERITAS supplies critical piece to neutrino discovery puzzle
16 July 2018 - The VERITAS array has confirmed the detection of gamma rays from the vicinity of a supermassive black hole. While these detections are relatively common for VERITAS, this black hole is potentially the first known astrophysical source of high-energy cosmic neutrinos, a type of ghostly subatomic particle. (more)

India: Government to showcase Sikkim's success in organic farming
15 July 2018 - In a move aimed at giving a push to organic farming across the country, the Agriculture Ministry has decided to showcase the performance of Sikkim in organic farming as the model for its Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY). As per officials, the initiative would help in encouraging farmers to adopt organic farming. ... Sikkim, a small state in the northeastern region that borders China, has achieved the tag of organic state under the visionary leadership of Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, who had taken the decision to bring the state's entire agriculture land under organic farming in 2010 and the state was declared an organic state in 2016. (more)

India: Rising demand for chemical-free produce, farmers encouraged to adopt new practice
15 July 2018 - In view of rising demand for chemical-free fruits and vegetables in the local markets, farmers' groups in and around Pune are encouraging cultivators to adopt such practices of production. Tushar Agarwal, the director of Swami Samarth Farmer Producer Company, that runs 20 weekly farmers' markets in Pune and Mumbai said they are making efforts to push for agricultural practices to meet the increased demand from urban customers. (more)

Why young professionals are taking up farming in Thailand
15 July 2018 - In Thailand, dozens of young men and women are turning their backs on big city life and returning to the countryside to build a new life through agriculture. They are in good hands: A grass-roots network of experienced farmers has developed an agricultural community called Dare to Return that helps the younger generation establish farms with modern and sustainable methods. (more)

South Africa's MeerKAT to help unlock mysteries of universe
14 July 2018 - A scientific mega-project to unlock cosmic conundrums from dark energy to detecting extraterrestrial life was given a boost on Friday (13 July), when the 64-dish MeerKAT radio telescope was inaugurated in the remote South African town of Carnarvon. ... MeerKAT will be incorporated into the complex Square Kilometre Array (SKA) instrument, which when fully operational in the late 2020s would be the world's biggest and most powerful radio telescope. (more)

Survey: Half of young people want electric cars
12 July 2018 - Half of young people in the UK would like to own an electric car -- compared with just a quarter of their parents, a survey suggests. The research comes from motoring group the AA ... It comes as the government has announced a target for 50 percent of all new vehicle sales to be in the ultra-low emissions category by 2030. (more)

Source of cosmic 'ghost' particle revealed
12 July 2018 - Ghost-like particles known as neutrinos have been puzzling scientists for decades. Part of the family of fundamental particles that make up all known matter, neutrinos hurtle unimpeded through the Universe, interacting with almost nothing. The majority shoot right through the Earth as though it isn't even there, making them exceptionally difficult to detect and study. Despite this, researchers have worked out that many are created by the Sun and even in our own atmosphere. But the source of one high energy group, known as cosmic neutrinos, has remained particularly elusive. (more)

Antarctic IceCube observatory tracks a single neutrino to solve cosmic ray puzzle (+video)
12 July 2018 - An array of detectors buried under a half-mile-wide stretch of Antarctic ice has traced the path of a single neutrino back to a supermassive black hole in a faraway galaxy, shedding light on a century-old cosmic ray mystery in the process. .... Neutrinos are different: They don't carry an electrical charge, have virtually no mass, and interact so weakly with other types of matter that they typically pass right through anything that gets in their way -- including stars and planets. That means they travel in a straight line from their source. (more)

Ghostly particles give scientists new understanding of universe
12 July 2018 - A breakthrough in the study of ghostly particles called high-energy neutrinos that traverse space, zipping unimpeded through people, planets, and whole galaxies, is giving scientists an audacious new way to expand our understanding of the cosmos. Researchers on Thursday (12 July) said they have for the first time located a deep-space source for these ubiquitous subatomic particles. They detected high-energy neutrinos in pristine ice deep below Antarctica's surface, then traced their source back to a giant elliptical galaxy with a massive, rapidly spinning black hole at its core, called a blazar, located 3.7 billion light years from Earth in the Orion constellation. (more)

Here's why today's announcement of neutrino discovery is a big deal
12 July 2018 - Scientists have spotted a high-energy, incredibly tiny 'ghost' particle called a neutrino flying through Antarctic ice and traced its origins back to a specific blazar, they announced today, July 12. ... A neutrino is a subatomic particle just as tiny as an electron, but without any charge. Scientists know neutrinos have a tiny bit of mass, but they can't pin down exactly how little. The result is that neutrinos tend to give other matter the cold shoulder: They don't interact with their surroundings very often, which makes them difficult for scientists to spot. (more)

In a cosmic first, scientists detect 'ghost particles' from a distant galaxy
12 July 2018 - When the sun was young and faint and the Earth was barely formed, a gigantic black hole in a distant, brilliant galaxy spat out a powerful jet of radiation. That jet contained neutrinos -- subatomic particles so tiny and difficult to detect they are nicknamed 'ghost particles.' Four billion years later, at Earth's South Pole, 5,160 sensors buried more than a mile beneath the ice detected a single ghostly neutrino as it interacted with an atom. Scientists then traced the particle back to the galaxy that created it. (more)

US: California meets greenhouse gas reduction goal years early
11 July 2018 - Officials say California greenhouse gas emissions have fallen below 1990 levels, putting the state well on its way toward meeting long-term goals to fight climate change. The state Air Resources Board announced Wednesday (11 July) that pollution levels are down 13 percent since their 2004 peak -- as the economy grew 26 percent since that year. (more)

Cave rescue: The Australian diving doctor who stayed with the boys
11 July 2018 - It was his rare combination of talents that led Australian doctor Richard Harris deep into the Tham Luang cave in Thailand. When the Wild Boars football team was located deep inside the cave, after being missing for a week, the Adelaide anaesthetist abandoned his holiday in Thailand and volunteered to help. Dr Harris was specifically identified by British divers and requested by the 'highest levels' of the Thai government to join the rescue, according to the Australian government. (more)

UK: Peers and parents may have influenced drop in childhood smoking
11 July 2018 - Two consecutive generations of children in the UK had dramatically different rates of smoking at an early age, and one major reason may be the changing socioeconomic status and behaviors of their parents and friends, researchers say. Children born in 1970 were 12 times more likely to have smoked a cigarette by age 10 or 11 compared with kids born in the early 2000s, the study team reports in the journal Addictive Behaviors. (more)

US: Pollution controls help red spruce rebound from acid rain
11 July 2018 - The gray trunks of red spruce trees killed by acid rain once heavily scarred the mountain forests of the Northeast. Now those forests are mostly green, with the crowns of red spruce peeking out of the canopy and saplings thriving below. A main reason, scientists say, is a government-enforced reduction in the kind of air pollution that triggers acid rain. (more)

Thai cave rescue: In celebration, a nation unites
10 July 2018 - When people in Thailand say goodbye, occasionally they say this: 'We will come together when the nation needs us.' For more than two weeks, twelve of the country's boys and one of their men have been encased in a dark mountain, hoping someone would bring them into the light of day. Their nation needed them so the people of Thailand came together. And now, to each and every boy who braved an entrapment and escape attempt that transfixed the world, there is no need to say goodbye. ... in this country, people offer more than thoughts and prayers when their kids are in danger. (more)

U.S. judge allows lawsuits over Monsanto's Roundup to proceed to trial
10 July 2018 - Hundreds of lawsuits against Monsanto Co by cancer survivors or families of those who died can proceed to trial, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday (10 July), finding there was sufficient evidence for a jury to hear the cases that blame the company's glyphosate-containing weed-killer for the disease. (more)

US: Nebraska tribe becomes a solar power leader on the Plains
9 July 2018 - The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska already boasts 400 kilowatts of installed solar panels, more than nearly any other Midwestern Indian tribe. ... Tribal leaders in this community of about 850 people in northeastern Nebraska say the solar push, which started a decade ago, advances commitments to sustainability and self-sufficiency, and is cutting electric bills. (more)

Thai cave rescue: Trapped coach's community chooses love over blame
8 July 2018 - More than two weeks ago, the twenty-five-year-old assistant soccer coach crawled inside a cave in [a] remote part of northern Thailand with twelve children under his care; none of them could crawl out. ... Not half an hour from the cave, in the area of Koh Sai, residents say they love the boys; they love their neighbour too, the man who was supposed to protect his young charges. In every corner of Thailand, the country follows their lead. (more)

US: Cornell University and solar developer form partnership for $100,000 pollinator study
8 July 2018 - Agriculture in New York is highly dependent on bees, which contribute about $500 million in pollination services annually to crops such as cherries, pumpkins, strawberries, apples, beans, squash, and blueberries. Cornell University and a solar developer are planning to find solutions to the issues pollinators are facing by launching a three-year $100,000 study to determine the ecological and economic benefits of pollinator-friendly flowers on community solar farms in New York. (more)

Happy and healthy: one in five Dutch is super smiley
6 July 2018 - Whatever the weather, one in five Dutch adults feels glowing. This is the message from a Dutch Statistics Office study of 7,500 people between 2013 and 2017. A detailed investigation of the figures, first released in March, was published on Friday (6 July). It reveals that people who rate their happiness at 9 or 10 out of 10 are more likely to be healthy, in close contact with family and friends, trusting of strangers, and working actively as a volunteer. (more)

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