Science & Environment

Tecumsehsbones

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So pop a few pills you bought from a guy on the streetcorner, stick your gun in your waistband, and go for a drive. Just don't shovel snow, cuz that's dangerous!
 

petros

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Can shovelling snow give you a heart attack?
'In my opinion, it's the single most dangerous activity people can do,' said Barry Franklin, with the American Heart Association

Author of the article:Washington Post
Washington Post
Lindsey Bever
Published Jan 12, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 3 minute read

Is it true that shovelling snow can give you a heart attack?


The science: Snow shovelling can be dangerous. It can place stress on the heart and has been associated with increased cardiovascular events, particularly after heavy snowfalls, research shows.


One study showed that from 1990 to 2006, about 195,000 people in the United States were treated in emergency rooms for injuries and medical emergencies from snow shovelling. Of those, 6.7 percent were cardiac related, including all 1,647 deaths.

“Snow shovelling causes excessive demands on the heart while simultaneously compromising blood flow with the cold, which leads to heart attacks and sudden death every year,” said Barry Franklin, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. “In my opinion, it’s the single most dangerous activity people can do.”


Snow shovelling is a vigorous workout primarily for your arms, and upper-extremity exercise is more strenuous and puts more stress on your heart than lower-extremity exercise, said Franklin, a professor and director of preventive cardiology and cardiac rehabilitation at Corewell Health William Beaumont University Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.

You’re also largely standing still, which can cause blood to pool in your lower extremities, depriving your heart of oxygenated blood; there is an inclination to hold your breath when straining, which causes a disproportionate rise in heart rate and blood pressure; and cold temperatures can cause blood vessels to constrict, limiting blood flow to the heart and raising blood pressure, he said.


Steven Brooks, head of emergency medicine at Cleveland Clinic’s Akron General, said he does not typically see heart attacks related to snow shovelling, but each winter, people – mainly men – come into the ER with chest pain.

“People often think that snow is very light and fluffy until they go out and start shoveling it,” he said.

Those who are about 40 and older or have risk factors such as diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure or who smoke or live a sedentary lifestyle should think twice before shovelling snow, experts say. And, they say, those with a history of cardiovascular problems, including chest pain, heart disease or previous heart attacks, or those who have had procedures such as an angioplasty or bypass surgery should not do it.


What else you should know:
Snow removal is hard work. In a 1995 study, 10 healthy men, with an average age of 32.4 years, shovelled snow for 10 minutes, averaging 12 lifts per minute for an average of 16 pounds per load of snow.

If you do the math, “Middle-aged and older people who are shoveling heavy, wet snow may be moving approximately 2,000 pounds in 10 minutes,” said Franklin, the lead author of the study. “That’s the weight of a midsize car.”

If you are shovelling snow, experts suggest these precautions:
– Warm up, pace yourself by doing small sections at a time and take frequent breaks. Drink plenty of water.

– Dress in warm layers, a hat and gloves, and cover your nose and mouth to avoid breathing in the cold air.

– Use your legs, too, to keep blood from pooling in your lower extremities.


– Push the snow rather than lifting and throwing it. Some shovels are designed to push snow. Some even have wheels to make it easier.

If you start experiencing dizziness, lightheadedness, chest pain or shortness of breath, stop immediately and go inside, Brooks said. If you develop chest pain that does not quickly resolve when you stop shovelling, call 911 or have someone drive you to the ER to be evaluated.

Bottom line: Snow shovelling can be a dangerous chore, especially for those at higher risk. If you or your doctor is concerned whether your heart can handle the task, get someone else to do it.

For more health news and content around diseases, conditions, wellness, healthy living, drugs, treatments and more, head to Healthing.ca – a member of the Postmedia Network.
It's a specific type of snow dubbed "heart attack snow".

We dont see it often in real Canada. Its a S Ontario thing.

"Even just an inch or two of wet snow can be very heavy to shovel and can pose a risk of overexertion, particularly among the elderly and those with heart and other health conditions," said weather.com senior meteorologist Jonathan Erdman. "This is why meteorologists refer to it as 'heart-attack snow'."

Heavy, wet snow has a low snow-to-liquid ratio, as low as 5-to-1, meaning for every 5 inches of snow, there is a 1-inch liquid equivalent. Mid-winter snowstorms with colder air near the surface, in the 20s or even teens, may have a snow-to-liquid ratio of 10-to-1 to as high as 20-to-1, since melting isn't occurring before the snowflakes reach the ground.

Lake-effect snow typically has snow-to-liquid ratios of 25-to-1 or 30-to-1, depending how cold the air is that's flowing over the lake.

The higher the snow-to-liquid ratio, the lighter and fluffier the snow, making it much easier to shovel. The opposite is true for heavy, wet snow.

"This all matters because the weight of inches of wet snow can damage trees, knock out power and can be a danger to those trying to shovel," said Erdman.
 
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spaminator

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Volcano erupts in Iceland, sending lava flowing toward nearby settlement
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Published Jan 14, 2024 • 2 minute read
emergency personnel using diggers to build a protective wall
Aerial view taken on January 14, 2024 shows emergency personnel using diggers to build a protective wall after a volcanic eruption. PHOTO BY HALLDOR KOLBEINS /AFP via Getty Images
LONDON — A volcano erupted in southwestern Iceland Sunday for the second time in less than a month, sending semi-molten rock toward a nearby settlement.


The eruption just before 8 a.m. came after a swarm of earthquakes near the town of Grindavik, the Icelandic Meteorological Office said. The community was evacuated overnight.


A crack opened near homes just a few hours later and moved to the community’s outskirts.

“Right now, a new fissure opened south of the first fissure from this morning,” Iceland’s Met office said in a statement. “The new crack is just outside the town limits.”

The 3,800 residents of Grindavik were previously evacuated from their homes in November following a series of earthquakes that led to cracks and openings in the earth between the town and Sýlingarfell, a small mountain to the north. The nearby Blue Lagoon geothermal spa — one of Iceland’s biggest tourist attractions — also closed temporarily. The volcano eventually erupted on Dec. 18.


Residents were allowed to return to their homes on Dec. 22. In the weeks since then, defensive walls had been placed around the volcano in hopes of directing the magma away from the community. But the walls of the barriers built north of Grindavik have been breached and lava is on the move toward the community, the meteorological office said.

“This continues to surprise us,” Benedikt Ofeigsson at the Icelandic Meteorological Office told Iceland’s RUV television. “Things were slowing down after the eruption started, but about half an hour or an hour ago they started to pick up speed again. We are no longer seeing a slowdown in the town.”

Iceland, which sits above a volcanic hot spot in the North Atlantic, averages an eruption every four to five years. The most disruptive in recent times was the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which spewed huge clouds of ash into the atmosphere and closed airspace over parts of Europe.

But Sunday’s eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula, about 50 kilometres southwest of the capital, Reykjavik, isn’t expected to release large amounts of ash into the air. Gudjon Helgason, airport operator Isavia’s press officer, said that operations at Keflavik Airport are going on as normal.iceland-volcano-2024-01-14[1].jpg
 
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Taxslave2

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It's a specific type of snow dubbed "heart attack snow".

We dont see it often in real Canada. Its a S Ontario thing.

"Even just an inch or two of wet snow can be very heavy to shovel and can pose a risk of overexertion, particularly among the elderly and those with heart and other health conditions," said weather.com senior meteorologist Jonathan Erdman. "This is why meteorologists refer to it as 'heart-attack snow'."

Heavy, wet snow has a low snow-to-liquid ratio, as low as 5-to-1, meaning for every 5 inches of snow, there is a 1-inch liquid equivalent. Mid-winter snowstorms with colder air near the surface, in the 20s or even teens, may have a snow-to-liquid ratio of 10-to-1 to as high as 20-to-1, since melting isn't occurring before the snowflakes reach the ground.

Lake-effect snow typically has snow-to-liquid ratios of 25-to-1 or 30-to-1, depending how cold the air is that's flowing over the lake.

The higher the snow-to-liquid ratio, the lighter and fluffier the snow, making it much easier to shovel. The opposite is true for heavy, wet snow.

"This all matters because the weight of inches of wet snow can damage trees, knock out power and can be a danger to those trying to shovel," said Erdman.
Buddy of mine died of a heart attack shovelling snow in Grande Prairie 4 winters ago. He was 61.
 

spaminator

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Noisy nose world record and other offbeat offerings
Author of the article:Eddie Chau
Published Jan 14, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 4 minute read
Nose whistle
Mississauga's Lulu Lotus netted a Guinness World Record with the loudest nose whistle. PHOTO BY SCREENSHOT /YouTube/Guinness World Records
MISSISSAUGA WOMAN HAS WORLD’S LOUDEST NOSE WHISTLE

Even the most unusual talent nets you accolades.


A Mississauga woman’s ability to whistle with her nose has garnered her a Guinness World Record for loudest nose whistle.

Lulu Lotus set the record after blowing a 44.1-decibel whistle, according to Guinness World Records. The GTA woman learned to use her nose to whistle at age seven.

Lotus visited Aercoustics Engineering Ltd. in her hometown to set the record by having the whistle loudness measured in a special room used for precision recording.


“I would love to attempt an even louder whistle,” Lotus said in an interview with Guinness World Records, noting she may want to break her own record.

The record holder has a five-year-old son, who also recently discovered he could whistle with his nose, too.

“It would be a dream come true if he beat my record one day,” said Lotus.
1705401212135.png
 
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55Mercury

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A Mississauga woman’s ability to whistle with her nose has garnered her a Guinness World Record for loudest nose whistle.
...
“It would be a dream come true if he beat my record one day,” said Lotus.
View attachment 20777
lol

that's cute, spammy, formerly known as spermy!
I wonder if she can do the 60s Star Trek intro with her olfactory theremin.


Could be a funny comedy skit scene with a snot-coloured bungee string she stretches and shrinks back to her nose like a trombone slide while her theremin snout belts out The Hokey Pokey...? I'm A Little Tea Pot...? come on, think of a good tune to play on the snot string!
well... I think I'd laugh.

:?D
 
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spaminator

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President says Iceland faces daunting period after lava from volcano destroys homes in fishing town
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Published Jan 15, 2024 • 2 minute read
Billowing smoke and flowing lava
Billowing smoke and flowing lava are seen in this Icelandic Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management , January 14, 2024, handout image during an volcanic eruption on the outskirts of the evacuated town of Grindavik, western Iceland. Seismic activity had intensified overnight and residents of Grindavik were evacuated, Icelandic public broadcaster RUV reported. This is Iceland's fifth volcanic eruption in two years, the previous one occurring on December 18, 2023 in the same region southwest of the capital Reykjavik. Iceland is home to 33 active volcano systems, the highest number in Europe. PHOTO BY AFP CONTRIBUTOR#AFP /AFP via Getty Images
REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) — Iceland’s president said the country is battling “tremendous forces of nature” after molten lava from a volcano in the island’s southwest consumed several houses in the evacuated town of Grindavik.


Scientists said Monday that the eruption appeared to be dying down, but it was too soon to declare the danger over.


President Gudni Th. Johannesson said in a televised address late Sunday that “a daunting period of upheaval has begun on the Reykjanes peninsula” where a long-dormant volcanic system has awakened.

A volcano on the peninsula erupted for the second time in less than a month on Sunday, with orange lava bursting through two fissures near the fishing town of Grindavik. Authorities had ordered residents to leave hours earlier as a swarm of small earthquakes indicated an imminent eruption.

The nearby Blue Lagoon geothermal spa — one of Iceland’s biggest tourist attractions — also shut and said it would remain closed until at least Tuesday.


An aerial view
An aerial view taken on January 15, 2024 shows a lava stream across a road near Grindavik, southwest of the capital Reykjavik, after a volcanic eruption. (Photo by Halldor KOLBEINS / AFP) PHOTO BY HALLDOR KOLBEINS /AFP via Getty Images
Grindavik, a town of 3,800 people about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southwest of the capital, Reykjavik, was previously evacuated in November when the Svartsengi volcanic system awakened after almost 800 years with a series of earthquakes that opened large cracks in the earth between the town and Sýlingarfell, a small mountain to the north.

The volcano eventually erupted on Dec. 18, sending lava flowing away from Grindavik. Residents were allowed to return to their homes on Dec. 22.

Since then, emergency workers have been building defensive walls that have stopped much of the lava flow from the new eruption short of the town.

No one has been killed in the eruptions, but a workman is missing after reportedly falling into a crack opened by the volcano.


“We don’t yet know how this eruption will unfold, but we must still take those actions that are within our power,” the president said. “We will carry on with our responsibilities and we will continue to stand together.

“We continue to hope for as good an outcome as possible, in the face of these tremendous forces of nature,” he added.

Iceland, which sits above a volcanic hot spot in the North Atlantic, averages one eruption every four to five years. The most disruptive in recent times was the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which spewed clouds of ash into the atmosphere and disrupted trans-Atlantic air travel for months.

The latest eruption isn’t expected to release large amounts of ash into the air. Operations at Keflavik Airport are continuing as normal, said Gudjon Helgason, spokesperson for airport operator Isavia.
1705517608488.png1705517740773.png
 
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spaminator

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Health minister chides U.S. officials over cost-saving scheme to buy Canadian drugs
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Published Jan 16, 2024 • 1 minute read
Holland has been calling around to United States officials to let them know that the Canadian government will be guarding its medical drug supply after the U.S. moved to allow states to mass import medicine from Canada.
Holland has been calling around to United States officials to let them know that the Canadian government will be guarding its medical drug supply after the U.S. moved to allow states to mass import medicine from Canada.
OTTAWA — Health Minister Mark Holland has been calling around to United States officials to let them know that the Canadian government will be guarding its medical drug supply after the U.S. moved to allow states to mass import medicine from Canada.


He says he’s received assurances that the U.S. government has no intention of triggering drug shortages in Canada.


Health Canada issued a readout of Holland’s conversations in the past week with the U.S. secretary of health and human services and the American ambassador to Canada about the decision.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced earlier this month that it would allow Florida to import millions of dollars worth of pharmaceuticals from Canadian wholesalers as a way to save money on medicines that are more expensive south of the border.

The decision prompted immediate concerns within Canada’s pharmacy sector about what that would mean for Canadian supply.

Holland says Canada has existing regulations that will prevent wholesalers and other members of the Canadian drug industry from selling medicine outside the domestic market if it could mean there’s not enough left for Canadians.
 

spaminator

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Invasive fire ants form 'rafts' as they spread on Australia's waterways
Author of the article:Washington Post
Washington Post
Frances Vinall, The Washington Post
Published Jan 17, 2024 • 2 minute read

MELBOURNE, Australia – An environmental group has issued a warning about the invasive threat posed by fire ants, which have been documented forming “rafts” in floodwaters to access new territory amid ongoing heavy rain and cyclone conditions in Australia’s northeast.


Reece Pianta at the Invasive Species Council said the insects were “one of the world’s worst invasive species” and were known to be more active immediately before and after rainfall. They can be seen joining together in buoyant clumps pulled along the current in waters in the Gold Coast region of Queensland state this month, in video footage the council shared Tuesday.


“They can form rafts and float on floodwaters and land in new locations to reestablish their colonies once the floodwaters recede,” Pianta said in a phone interview. “Quite remarkable, but also quite scary.” The council shared the video in a call for residents in Queensland and New South Wales to be vigilant in checking their properties for fire ants and informing authorities if they find any.



Fire ants, which are native to South America, are capable of a sting that can be painful for an hour and in rare cases can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction. They often attack in a swarm of ants stinging at once, according to the National Fire Ant Eradication Program in Australia.

Multiple stings “give a sensation the body is on fire” and can leave behind itchy pustules, the program said.

The spread of fire ants is a global problem. An extensive population was detected in Europe for the first time in September. In the United States, where they were introduced in the first half of the 20th century, they are present in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Puerto Rico, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


They were first detected in Australia in 2001 and have steadily increased their foothold. Usually limited to the tropical state of Queensland, they were found further south in northern New South Wales for the first time in November.

“We have enough stinging things in Australia,” Pianta said. “We don’t want another one.” The ants’ mode of entry into Australia is not certain but was probably through shipping containers from the United States, according to the National Fire Ant Eradication Program.

Australian state and federal governments have committed more than 670 million Australian dollars, or $440 million, to eradication efforts since 2017, the government said in October.

Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Murray Watt said then that the insects were capable of spreading across 97 percent of the country. “They have the potential to do more damage to our agriculture and environment than all of the worst invasive pests combined,” he said.
 

spaminator

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Finger length may determine psychopathy, study finds
Author of the article:postmedia News
Published Jan 21, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 1 minute read
Fingers show psychopathy
A research team has found a new way to finger people who might be psychopaths.
A research team has found a new way to finger people who might be psychopaths.


Check their hands.


A study published in the February edition of the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that people whose index fingers are shorter than their ring fingers are more likely to have a diagnosed psychiatric disorder, including psychopathy, according to the New York Post.

But not everyone with those finger sizes will become a cold-hearted psychopath. Having shorter index fingers is common, according to the study’s lead author, Serge Brand.

“It is important to understand that the finger lengths-ratio as a proxy of a specific exposure to prenatal sex steroids should not be understood as a person’s irrevocable fate,” Brand told PsyPost. “The more an adult participant had signs of psychopathology, the more it appeared that this adult has been exposed to higher testosterone concentrations and lower estrogen concentrations during the prenatal period of life.”


Researchers recruited 80 volunteers for the study — 44 with psychiatric issues and 38 healthy individuals without any diagnosed mental conditions.

Analysis of their hands showed that “compared to healthy controls, individuals with a clinically diagnosed psychiatric issue were more likely to have a shorter index finger and longer ring finger.” The study also concluded that people in this category were associated with higher “Dark Triad” traits.

“Dark Triad” traits are “highly socially discouraged attitudes, namely Machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy.”

People who have scored high on the “Dark Triad” scale have “also scored high on mental toughness and sports performance, but also on various types of negative psychosocial and psychological outcomes, including intolerance of uncertainty, anxiety sensitivity callous affect, and interpersonal manipulation,” according to the study.

The finger ratio is believed to be influenced by the levels of testosterone and estrogen a fetus is exposed to in the womb.

For more health news and content around diseases, conditions, wellness, healthy living, drugs, treatments and more, head to Healthing.ca – a member of the Postmedia Network.
 

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Indonesia’s Mount Merapi unleashes lava as other volcanoes flare up, forcing thousands to evacuate
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Slamet Riyadi
Published Jan 21, 2024 • 2 minute read
In this file photo taken on Aug. 9, 2023, Mount Merapi spews smoke during an effusive eruption as seen from Wonokerto village, Yogyakarta.
In this file photo taken on Aug. 9, 2023, Mount Merapi spews smoke during an effusive eruption as seen from Wonokerto village, Yogyakarta.
YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia’s Mount Merapi erupted Sunday, spreading searing gas clouds and avalanches of lava down its slopes as other active volcanoes flared up across the country, forcing the evacuation of thousands.


On the densely populated island of Java, Merapi unleashed clouds of hot ash and a mixture of rock, and lava that travelled up to 2 kilometres down its slopes, said Agus Budi Santoso, the head of Indonesia’s Geological Disaster Technology Research and Development Center. A column of hot clouds blasted 100 metres (about 109 yards) into the air as ash blanketed several villages without casualties, he added.


Merapi is the most active out of more than 120 volcanoes across the country. Sunday’s eruption is the latest since authorities raised its alert level to the second-highest in November 2020 after sensors picked up increasing activity. Residents living on the slopes were advised to stay 7 kilometres away from the crater’s mouth and be aware of possible threats from flowing lava.


In 2010, an eruption killed 347 people and displaced 20,000 villagers.

The 2,968-metre (9,737-foot) mountain is about 30 kilometres from Yogyakarta, an ancient centre of Javanese culture and the seat of royal dynasties going back centuries. About a quarter million people live within 10 kilometres of the volcano.

Several other active volcanoes also blew up this weekend, prompting authorities to evacuate thousands of residents, said Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation in a statement released on social media platform X, formerly Twitter. No casualties were reported, it said.

The agency said Mount Lewotobi Laki Laki in East Nusa Tenggara province spewed hot clouds as high as 700 metres (2,300 feet) into the air on Sunday, as more than 6,500 people fled to shelters.


Also on Sunday, Mount Marapi in West Sumatra province erupted again, its third biggest flare-up this month, albeit without discharging lava. About 500 residents living near it were evacuated. Last month, it erupted, killing 23 climbers and injuring several others.

Mount Semeru in East Java province released searing gas clouds and rivers of lava on Saturday, as did Mount Ibu on Halmahera island in North Maluku province which shot a column of hot ashes as high as 1,300 metres (4,265 feet) into the air.

In December 2021, Mount Semeru, the highest volcano on Java island, erupted, leaving 48 people dead and 36 missing.

Indonesia, an archipelago of 270 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity because it sits along the “Ring of Fire,” a horseshoe-shaped series of seismic fault lines around the Pacific Ocean.

— Associated Press writer Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this reported.
Mount-merapi-1-scaled-e1705866577252[1].jpg
 

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Doomsday Clock at 90 seconds to midnight amid nuclear and AI threats
Author of the article:Washington Post
Washington Post
Adela Suliman, The Washington Post
Published Jan 24, 2024 • 3 minute read

The world remains the closest it has ever been to the symbolic hour of the apocalypse, with the Doomsday Clock set once again to 90 seconds to “midnight” for 2024.


Wars in the Middle East, Ukraine, a spiraling climate crisis and the rise of artificial intelligence are among the threats continuing to put human existence under pressure, according to the people who run the clock.


The clock, which has been used for seven decades, was created by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1947 amid Cold War nuclear tensions – and is seen as “a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to global catastrophe caused by man-made technologies,” the group said Tuesday.

“Make no mistake: resetting the Clock at 90 seconds to midnight is not an indication that the world is stable. Quite the opposite,” CEO Rachel Bronson said in a statement, a year after Russia’s war in Ukraine drove the same dire forecast in 2023. “It’s urgent for governments and communities around the world to act.”


The Chicago-based nonprofit focused this year in part on the rise of AI, saying in a statement that sophisticated chatbots such as ChatGPT “led some respected experts to express concern about existential risks arising from further rapid advancements in the field.” It called for greater global governance of what it termed a “disruptive technology.”

It also said AI had “great potential to magnify disinformation and corrupt the information environment on which democracy depends,” as well as exacerbate misinformation on topics such as nuclear risks, pandemics and climate change.

“Military uses of AI are accelerating,” it added. “Extensive use of AI is already occurring in intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, simulation, and training. Of particular concern are lethal autonomous weapons, which identify and destroy targets without human intervention.”


Other threats cited by the atomic scientists include the deterioration of nuclear arms reduction agreements as well as wars in Ukraine and the Middle East. The Israel-Gaza war has left tens of thousands of people dead, according to authorities in both places, and the conflict threatens to spill over in the region.

The Earth also experienced its hottest year on record in 2023, along with devastating floods, wildfires, and extreme-weather impacting millions of people globally, it added, which contributed to its decision.

Former California governor and executive chair of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Jerry Brown, likens the situation to being on the ill-fated Titanic ship.

“Leaders are steering the world toward catastrophe – more nuclear bombs, vast carbon emissions, dangerous pathogens and artificial intelligence,” Brown said. “Only the big powers like China, America, and Russia can pull us back. Despite deep antagonisms, they must cooperate – or we are doomed.” The Bulletin makes the annual decision in consultation with its board of sponsors, which includes several Nobel Laureates.


The clock was set at two minutes to midnight in 2019 and at 100 seconds to midnight in 2022. It was the furthest from “midnight” in 1991, when it was wound back to 17 minutes after the Cold War was officially declared over.

Science educator Bill Nye, who took part in the 2024 announcement, said it was “time to act.”

“For decades, scientists have been warning us of the dangers facing humankind. We could be facing catastrophe unless we better manage the technologies we’ve created,” Nye said.

Some have criticized the clock as fearmongering or questioned its usefulness. In a 2015 essay, a University of Oxford researcher in global catastrophic risk cast doubt on the clock as a measurement of “actual risk,” writing that it was more a reflection of the “strong feeling of urgency” about the risks among the team who operate it.


The group said there was always hope to prevent despair. “The Clock could be turned back,” the Bulletin said. It added that it felt particularly “inspired – in seeing the younger generations leading the charge.”

“Everyone on Earth has an interest in reducing the likelihood of global catastrophe,” they added. The group also pointed at leaders from the United States, China and Russia as global powers to “take responsibility for the existential danger the world now faces. They have the capacity to pull the world back from the brink of catastrophe. They should do so, with clarity and courage, and without delay.”
 

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Majority of land hermit crab species now use trash for shells
Author of the article:Washington Post
Washington Post
Frances Vinall, The Washington Post
Published Jan 26, 2024 • 2 minute read

The majority of terrestrial hermit crab species worldwide have used trash as shells, according to a study by experts at two Polish universities to be published next month.


The study analyzed publicly available images of hermit crabs online and past scientific literature. It found 386 examples of the crustaceans encased in garbage instead of a seashell, of which about 85 percent were using plastic caps and the remainder using metal and glass. They included individuals from 10 of the 16 species of hermit crab that live on land, and were found throughout the tropics from Africa to Central America.


“We confirm for the first time that the use of artificial materials by hermit crabs is a behaviour occurring on a global scale,” the study authors wrote in the paper, which will appear in the Science of the Total Environment journal.

“Plastic is the most pervasive element of marine waste, with harmful impact on wildlife,” they wrote.


The authors posited that hermit crabs may be choosing plastic homes because they make for better camouflage in a polluted environment, or that there may be more pieces of trash than fitting seashells available on some coasts.

Other factors may include using a unique shell in sexual signaling to attract a mate, the fact that artificial shells may be less heavy, and odour cues, they wrote.

A 2021 study found that hermit crabs seem to be attracted to a chemical emitted by plastic.

Plastic can be dangerous for hermit crabs. A 2019 study of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, a remote Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, found that over half a million of the islands’ hermit crabs had crawled inside items such as bottles, gotten stuck, and died. The researchers discovered that 414 million pieces of trash had washed onto the shores of the minimally populated islands.


Unlike most crabs, which have naturally calcified abdomens, hermit crabs are born with soft bodies. They evolved to find seashells to live inside, which they can retract into for protection or extend their legs from and scuttle around. They find bigger shells and move into them as they grow.

Massive amounts of human-generated trash in the oceans could set hermit crabs on a new course, the study’s authors wrote, using the proposed term for our present geological epoch as defined by human activity. “Are artificial shells setting the scene for a novel evolutionary trajectory in hermit crabs,” they wrote, “or are they an ecological and evolutionary trap of the Anthropocene?”
 

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Ontario plans major nuclear refurbishment to meet growing electricity demand
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Allison Jones
Published Jan 30, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 4 minute read

PICKERING, Ont. — Ontario Power Generation is moving ahead with a plan to extend the life of the aging Pickering Nuclear Generating Station by decades, as the province tries to secure more electricity supply in the face of increasing demand.


Energy Minister Todd Smith had asked OPG in 2022 to study the feasibility of refurbishing four of the units at the nuclear plant, which have been operating since the 1980s, and he announced Tuesday that the project will proceed.


“Our province still needs this station and its workers,” he said at a news conference outside the nuclear plant. The construction phase will create about 11,000 jobs, he said, and provide about 6,000 jobs for decades.

OPG plans to spend $2 billion on engineering and design work and securing key components for the project that is expected to be completed in the mid-2030s.

Neither Smith nor OPG officials would give an estimate for how much the entire refurbishment will cost.

“It would be irresponsible at this point in time to put a number out there, because it’s this essential design and scoping and engineering work that is going to get us to the place where we can have a number,” Smith said.


OPG said a refurbishment at its Darlington Nuclear Generating Station is costing $12.8 billion and is on time and on budget.

Ken Hartwick, CEO of OPG, said the Darlington refurbishment as well as one at Bruce Power will help guide the Pickering life extension.

“We have learned a lot about what it takes to refurbish a nuclear station the right way with thousands of lessons learned from Darlington and Bruce Power that we will apply to Pickering,” Hartwick said.

The four units produce about 2,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to power two million homes.

The Independent Electricity System Operator has said Ontario’s electricity demand is expected to grow by about two per cent each year, but could be even higher. A promise to build 1.5 million homes by 2031 and several large-scale manufacturing investments such as electric vehicle battery plants are helping to push demand higher.


The province needs more supply particularly starting in the mid-2030s, the IESO has said.

Keith Stewart, a senior energy strategist with Greenpeace Canada, said the price of wind and solar power with battery storage has “dropped like a stone” and should be more central to Ontario’s energy policy.

“Any credible independent cost-benefit analysis would find that we should be investing in the renewable-powered energy system of the future, rather than pouring billions more into rebuilding nuclear reactors long past their best-before date,” he wrote in a statement.

NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns called on the government to release OPG’s feasibility study.

“It is important that we get energy decisions right, especially when billions in investments are on the line,” he wrote in a statement.


“We can’t assess this project without these details. We want to ensure they are prioritizing the needs of Ontarians over anything else.”

Pickering produces about 14 per cent of the province’s electricity but its current licence to operate the four units in question expires at the end of this year. OPG has asked the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to extend that to 2026, but a public hearing for that application has not yet been scheduled.

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said Greens understand that nuclear power will continue to be part of the energy mix for decades, but the province also needs much more wind and solar power and no more natural gas generation.

“Instead of attracting jobs and investment in low-cost renewables, the Ford government is making Ontario’s grid dirtier and more expensive by prioritizing dirty fossil gas plants and the costly, poor-performing Pickering plant,” he wrote in a statement.


The IESO announced last month that it is looking to add 2,000 megawatts of non-emitting electricity generation online such as wind, solar, bioenergy and hydro to the system. However, it also says natural gas is still required to ensure supply and stability in the short to medium term, though it will also increase greenhouse-gas emissions from the electricity sector.

Ontario’s electricity system was 94 per cent emissions free in 2020, but today that figure has fallen to 90 per cent.

Opposition critics have said Ontario wouldn’t be in as much of a supply crunch if the Progressive Conservative government hadn’t cancelled 750 green energy contracts during its first term.

But Smith vigorously defended the move Tuesday, saying the contracts that paid above-market prices made rates too expensive for Ontarians and drove businesses out of the province.


“We would cancel those projects again, given the opportunity,” he said.

“It was just backwards the way that the previous government operated. What they should have done was built out the storage — which is what we’re doing now — to accommodate adding renewables, but we’re doing it in a competitive way.”

The nuclear safety commission would still have to approve the Pickering refurbishment.

Two other units at Pickering are also set to stop operating at the end of this year. They are part of what’s known as the A units, which came online in the 1970s and were removed from service in 1997. Two of the units were refurbished and began operating again in 2003 and 2005.
 

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Elon Musk says first human patient has received Neuralink brain implant
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Wyatte Grantham-philips and Laura Ungar
Published Jan 30, 2024 • Last updated 2 days ago • 2 minute read

NEW YORK — According to Elon Musk, the first human received an implant from his computer-brain interface company Neuralink over the weekend.


In a Monday post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Musk said that the patient received the implant the day prior and was “recovering well.” He added that “initial results show promising neuron spike detection.”


The billionaire, who co-founded Neuralink, did not provide additional details about the patient. When Neuralink announced in September that it would begin recruiting people, the company said it was searching for individuals with quadriplegia due to cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

This video grab made from the online Neuralink livestream shows the Neuralink disk implant held by Elon Musk during the presentation on Aug. 28, 2020.
This video grab made from the online Neuralink livestream shows the Neuralink disk implant held by Elon Musk during the presentation on Aug. 28, 2020. PHOTO BY NEURALINK /AFP via Getty Images
Neuralink is one of many groups working on linking the nervous system to computers, efforts aimed at helping treat brain disorders, overcoming brain injuries and other applications. There are more than 40 brain computer interface trials underway, according to clinicaltrials.gov.


Neuralink reposted Musk’s Monday post on X, but did not publish any additional statements acknowledging the human implant. The company did not immediately respond to The Associated Press’ requests for comment Tuesday.

Neuralink previously announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved its “investigational device exemption,” which generally allows a sponsor to begin a clinical study “in patients who fit the inclusion criteria,” the FDA said Tuesday. The agency pointed out that it can’t confirm or disclose information about a particular study of this kind.

Neuralink’s device is about the size of a large coin and is designed to be implanted in the skull, with ultra-thin wires going directly into the brain. In its September announcement, Neuralink said the wires would be surgically placed in a region of the brain that controls movement intention. The initial goal of the so-called brain computer interface is to give people the ability to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone.

In a separate Monday post on X, Musk said that the first Neuralink product is called “Telepathy” — which, he said, will enable users to control their phones or computers “just by thinking.” He added that intial users would be those who have lost use of their limbs.



It’s unclear how well this device or similar interfaces will ultimately work, or how safe they might be. Clinical trials are designed to collect data on safety and effectiveness.

— Ungar reported from Columbia, Missouri.
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