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  • An artistic representation of the exoplanet K2-18b. (Alex Boersma/) If you could pack a hot air balloon onto an interstellar spaceship and travel 110 light years to a certain planet orbiting a dim star in the constellation Leo, you’d have an experience not entirely unlike ballooning on Earth. The temperature, pressure, and moist air could feel quite pleasant, though you’d need an oxygen mask—and possibly an umbrella. “It could happen that you get rained upon,” says Björn Benneke, an exoplanet researcher at the University of Montreal. Telescopes hunting for flickering, wobbling stars have located more than 4,000 potential exoplanets in recent decades, some of which orbit in the not-too-cold, not-too-hot zone around their host star where water would have a shot at staying liquid. Others have even been found to harbor actual molecules of H2O. The exoplanet K2-18b, however, is the first to check both boxes, according to two studies published this week. Unfortunately, a few other decidedly unearth-like characteristics make K2018b an improbable home for life as we know it. But the discovery represents an important step toward finding planets we might actually consider hospitable. “It’s the closest we have come to detecting some kind of environment similar to the Earth,” says Benneke, who leads one of the two teams studying the planet. Everything scientists know about this alien world comes from the way it interacts with its star. The Kepler mission first spotted the star’s dimming in 2015, and follow-up observations with the Spitzer space telescope confirmed presence of a planet twice as large as Earth in 2017. A different instrument then weighed the planet by measuring the star’s wobble, finding it to be about eight times heavier than Earth. Another three years of observations with the Hubble Space Telescope managed to capture eight more flickers of light,...
  • Humans started farming and keeping livestock hundreds of years earlier than thought before. (Andrea Kay/) Today, humans are changing the planet at an unprecedented rate. Despite the threat of climate change, we’re increasing our fossil fuel emissions. We’ve also imperiled up to one million species and altered over 70 percent of the land’s ice-free surface. While the magnitude of global change today is unmatched in history, that doesn’t mean that ancient societies didn’t leave any impacts on the environment. In fact, humans have vastly altered the land they’ve inhabited for the last 3,000 years, a study published Thursday in Science suggests. We don’t have an overabundance of archaeological data about how ancient humans lived and used their land. But the models we do have tend to underestimate the amount of land ancient civilizations used for foraging, agriculture, and grazing, the study reports. Those simulations used estimates of human populations in those times to predict land use. But, this “backcasting” is “essentially based on a lot of assumptions and a little bit of data,” says Erle Ellis, an environmental scientist at the University of Maryland and one of the study’s authors. It’s not that we don’t have any information describing human activity back then—it’s that the information is scattered about in the work of hundreds of archaeologists worldwide. No one had taken the time to step back and look at the big picture. So Ellis and his team enlisted 255 archaeologists to complete a questionnaire about land use between 10,000 years ago to 1850. Their knowledge covered 146 regions spanning all continents except Antarctica. The effort hasn’t gone unnoticed in the field. “I believe that large global patterns across space and time are the primary contribution that archaeology makes to the study of humanity,” says Robert Kelly, an archeologist at the...
  • Insta360 today launched its GO camera, a wearable shooter that’s about as big as your thumb. I’ve had my mitts on one for a couple of weeks and I’m simply twitterpated with its clever engineering and thoughtful trough of accessories. The GO’s meant to be worn or stuck somewhere. Its back is magnetic so it’ll stick to metal surfaces, it also comes with a sticky mount, magnetic tether, magnetic tripod mount, and a charging case that holds about two and a half full charges. Specifications: It comes with a powerful editing app that features the company’s Flashcut AI, a tool that finds your best shots and combines them. But during my limited use so far, my favorite feature’s been the camera‘s image stabilization. This thing really is a camera for people on the go, hence the name. Its six-axis proprietary image stabilization software is, as advertised, nearly gimbal-like. And that means you can surf with it, run with it, or strap it on your kids or pets and let them bounce around and you’ll still get usable footage. It’s apparent that image stabilization is one of Insta360’s strong suits, and they put it to excellent use here. The GO also has a fantastic hyperlapse mode that allows you to shoot up to 30 minutes of video that’s subsequently rendered down to five minutes or less. It also does slow motion, still shots, and standard video. So far, results have been mixed. I’m not a big fan of the 30-second limit on standard videos, but perhaps further testing will make it seem less arbitrary. To its benefit, the GO handles broad daylight well and the included accessories make it intuitive to get just about any shot you can think of. Stay tuned for our full review next week. The GO is...
  • This story was originally published on Outdoor Life. The state of Montana has determined that a bighorn ram has a public value of about $30,000. (Max Pixel/) If you don’t think roadkill can take a bite out of hunters’ opportunity, just ask Bruce Sterling. Since 1985, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks biologist has counted bighorn sheep that have been killed near Thompson Falls, where US Highway 200 and railroad tracks run between cliffs and a river for about 10 miles. Sterling has counted nearly 500 bighorn killed in collisions, 84 percent by cars and trucks, the rest by train. During those same decades, FWP issued only 274 ram tags to hunters. “When you lose that many sheep, it certainly has an impact on hunter opportunity,” he said. From a hunters’ perspective, roadkill is a lose-lose. Wildlife collisions endanger drivers, waste a valuable natural resource, and, at the very least, damage our vehicles. The good news is Congress is considering investing in wildlife-safe highway crossings that make America’s roads safer for both motorists and wildlife. While we all notice a road-killed animal bloating on a hot afternoon, the impacts that highways have on long-term population dynamics can be more difficult to track. Highways with busy traffic and divided medians can create impenetrable barriers for wildlife. Once roads surpass a certain size and traffic level, they effectively block wildlife migrations. This is particularly important out West, where elk, mule deer, and pronghorn might have to roam 150 miles between seasons, to find water, escape high-elevation snow and maximize the value of fresh forage. All of that impacts the total number of animals that a landscape can support. It also impacts the survivorship and health of mother animals and their young. And all of those factors are important to growing...
  • Fire consumes a forested area near Jaci Parana in northern Brazil last week. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres/) Fires in the Amazon rainforest have captured attention worldwide in recent days. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office in 2019, pledged in his campaign to reduce environmental protection and increase agricultural development in the Amazon, and he appears to have followed through on that promise. The resurgence of forest clearing in the Amazon, which had decreased more than 75 percent following a peak in 2004, is alarming for many reasons. Tropical forests harbor many species of plants and animals found nowhere else. They are important refuges for indigenous people, and contain enormous stores of carbon as wood and other organic matter that would otherwise contribute to the climate crisis. Some media accounts have suggested that fires in the Amazon also threaten the atmospheric oxygen that we breathe. French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted on Aug. 22 that “the Amazon rain forest—the lungs which produces 20 percent of our planet’s oxygen—is on fire.” The oft-repeated claim that the Amazon rainforest produces 20 percent of our planet’s oxygen is based on a misunderstanding. In fact nearly all of Earth’s breathable oxygen originated in the oceans, and there is enough of it to last for millions of years. There are many reasons to be appalled by this year’s Amazon fires, but depleting Earth’s oxygen supply is not one of them. Oxygen from plants As an atmospheric scientist, much of my work focuses on exchanges of various gases between Earth’s surface and the atmosphere. Many elements, including oxygen, constantly cycle between land-based ecosystems, the oceans and the atmosphere in ways that can be measured and quantified. Nearly all free oxygen in the air is produced by plants through photosynthesis. About one-third of land photosynthesis occurs in tropical forests,...
  • The solution to get rid of all the spammy emails Receiving lots of unwanted emails from unknown people is one thing that we all hate. This is called spam, and because we try to deal with it fast and efficiently, it can end up eating quite a lot of our time. But the main problem here is that spam can be extremely hard to eliminate, and sometimes it can also allow hackers to steal your personal data  or infect your computer with malware. There is a solution for all of this though. What you can do here is to create a temporary email for all the websites which you just want to use once. The reason is simple, those sites should not receive your info, so here an Tempemail.co temporary email will come in handy. In fact, since you protect relevant information, the idea of using a temporary email can be very good. And the damage is minimal, which is something you want in this sort of situation even if you click on something that you were not supposed to. They will just get access to your temporary email, which you don’t care that much for, to begin with. Plus, this will also help limit the huge amount of spammy emails which you receive right now. A good idea would be to start unsubscribing from all the unwanted emails and you should use Tempemail.co and create a temporary email as fast as possible when you do need an extra service. The process can bring in front some really impressive solutions and it is incredibly easy. Check out all these great ideas and in the end the value that you will receive will be a great one. The sheer fact that you avoid leaking any of your personal data or information...