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Latest Posts

Earth days getting longer due to Moon

Washington :
Days on the Earth are getting longer, thanks to the movement of the Moon away from the planet, according to a study which found that 1.4 billion years ago a day lasted just over 18 hours.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reconstructs the deep history of our planet's relationship to the Moon. It shows that 1.4 billion years ago, the Moon was closer and changed the way the Earth spun around its axis.

"As the Moon moves away, the Earth is like a spinning figure skater who slows down as they stretch their arms out," said Stephen Meyers, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US.

It describes a tool, a statistical method, that links astronomical theory with geological observation (called astrochronology) to look back on Earth's geologic past, reconstruct the history of the solar system and understand ancient climate change as captured in the rock record.

"One of our ambitions was to use astrochronology to tell time in the most distant past, to develop very ancient geological time scales," Meyers said.

"We want to be able to study rocks that are billions of years old in a way that is comparable to how we study modern geologic processes," he said.

Earth's movement in space is influenced by the other astronomical bodies that exert force on it, like other planets and the Moon.

This helps determine variations in the Earth's rotation around and wobble on its axis, and in the orbit the Earth traces around the Sun.

These variations are collectively known as Milankovitch cycles and they determine where sunlight is distributed on Earth, which also means they determine Earth's climate rhythms.

Scientists have observed this climate rhythm in the rock record, spanning hundreds of millions of years.

However, going back further, on the scale of billions of years, has proved challenging because typical geologic means, like radioisotope dating, do not provide the precision needed to identify the cycles.

The solar system has many moving parts, including the other planets orbiting the sun. Small, initial variations in these moving parts can propagate into big changes millions of years later; this is solar system chaos, and trying to account for it can be like trying to trace the butterfly effect in reverse.

Researchers combined a statistical method that Meyers developed in 2015 to deal with uncertainty across time - called TimeOpt - with astronomical theory, geologic data and a sophisticated statistical approach called Bayesian inversion that allows them to get a better handle on the uncertainty of a study system.

They then tested the approach, which they call TimeOptMCMC, on two stratigraphic rock layers: the 1.4 billion-year-old Xiamaling Formation from Northern China and a 55 million-year-old record from Walvis Ridge, in the southern Atlantic Ocean.

With the approach, they could reliably assess from layers of rock in the geologic record variations in the direction of the axis of rotation of Earth and the shape of its orbit both in more recent time and in deep time, while also addressing uncertainty.
They were also able to determine the length of day and the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

Now famous people can use Facebook Pages to raise funds

San Francisco :
Facebook has just announced a slew of measures to make fundraising on its platform easier including an initiative to allow brands and public figures to use their Facebook Pages to raise money for nonprofit causes.

"Brands and public figures use their Facebook Pages to connect with followers and fans, and now they can rally support around nonprofits as well," Facebook said in a statement.

The social network now also allows people to invite friends to manage a fundraiser together, helping to expand their network of supporters.

"Just like you can add a co-admin or moderator to a Facebook Group or a co-host to your Facebook Event, you can now add up to three friends to be organisers of your fundraiser to help you manage it and rally more supporters to reach your fundraising goals," Facebook said.

Nonprofits can now also start fundraisers on their Pages for their own causes, it said. 
"Each of these new features is aimed to help nonprofits raise more from their supporters through Facebook Fundraisers, and we'll continue to work on tools to make fundraisers even more meaningful," the statement added.

15,000 lightning strikes recorded in 4 hours across Britain

London :

Around 15,000 lightning strikes were recorded in four hours across Britain, the BBC Weather said on Sunday.

Many people got out their cameras to photograph and video the electrical storm on Saturday, which was called “utterly insane” and “like being under a strobe light”.

Others remarked that they had “never seen a storm quite like this” and said the flashes were “stunning”.

The lightning strikes were followed by thunderstorms and torrential rains.

The thunderstorms swept northwards across the south of England, the Midlands and Wales and are expected to continue throughout Sunday and continue into the early hours of Monday, according to the Met Office.

It has issued a yellow warning for heavy rain and flooding.

Parked cars can hit deadly temperatures in just an hour

Los Angeles :

The inside of a car parked in the Sun can reach temperatures of 46 degrees Celsius in just an hour, and could prove fatal for a child trapped inside, a study has found.
On average, 37 children in the US die each year due to complications of hyperthermia - when the body warms to above 40 degrees Celsius and cannot cool down - after being trapped in overheated, parked cars.

Researchers from University of California San Diego and Arizona State University in the US found that if a car is parked in the sun on a summer day, the interior temperature can reach 46 degrees Celsius and the dashboard may exceed 73 degrees Celsius in approximately one hour - the time it can take for a young child trapped in a car to suffer fatal injuries.

The study, published in the journal 'Temperature', compared how different types of cars warm up on hot days when exposed to different amounts of shade and sunlight over different periods of time.

Researchers also took into account how these temperature differences would affect the body of a hypothetical two-year-old child left in a vehicle on a hot day.

“Young children are vulnerable to the impacts of extreme heat with increased emergency department visits found during heat waves. Internal injuries can begin at temperatures below 104 degrees (40 degrees Celsius),” said Jennifer Vanos, assistant professor at UC San Diego.

“As compared to adults, children have a quicker rise in core temperature and a lower efficiency at cooling,” said Vanos.

Researchers used six vehicles for the study: two identical silver mid-size sedans, two identical silver economy cars and two identical silver minivans.

“We’ve all gone back to our cars on hot days and have been barely able to touch the steering wheel,” said Nancy Selover, research professor at Arizona State University.
“Imagine what that would be like to a child trapped in a car seat on a hot day, either in the sun or shade,” said Selover.

The researchers found that, for vehicles parked in the Sun during a simulated shopping trip, the average temperature inside the vehicles hit 46 degrees Celsius, dashboards 69 degrees Celsius, steering wheels 52 degrees Celsius, and seats 50 degrees Celsius in one hour.

For vehicles parked in the shade, interior car temperatures were closer to 37 degrees Celsius, dash boards averaged 47 degrees Celsius, steering wheels 41 degrees Celsius and seats 40 degrees Celsius after one hour.

“We found that a child trapped in a car under the study’s conditions could reach a body temperature of 40 degrees Celsius in about an hour if a car is parked in the sun, and just under two hours if the car is parked in the shade,” said Vanos.

“This body temperature could be fatal to infants and children - and those who survive may sustain permanent neurological damage,” she said.

The different types of vehicles tested in the study warmed up at different rates, with the economy car warming at the fastest rate and the minivan the slowest due to relative air volumes.

However, when addressing the overall heat gain from temperature, radiation and other factors, a person’s age, weight, existing health problems and other factors, including clothing, will affect how and when heat becomes deadly.

College students in India check smartphones over 150 times a day

New Delhi :
On an average, a college student in India checks his mobile phone over 150 times a day, according to a study conducted by Aligarh Muslim University and the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR).
The research, titled "Smartphone Dependency, Hedonism and Purchase Behaviour: Implications for Digital India Initiatives", has been conducted in 20 central universities, where 200 students each were interviewed.
"Anxiety and fear of missing out on information make university students check their mobile devices as many as 150 times a day on an average, an activity, which could have adverse effects on the students' health as well as academics.
"Only 26 per cent of the respondents said they use smartphones primarily to make calls. The remaining respondents use smartphones for other purposes such as accessing social networking sites, Google searches and for entertainment such as watching movies," said Mohammed Naved Khan, the Project Director.
At least 14 per cent of the students use smartphones for three hours or less in a day while around 63 per cent of them use it for four to seven hours daily.
"It came as a shock to us that around 23 per cent (of students) use the devices for more than eight hours a day," Khan added.
According to the study, eighty per cent of the students own a mobile phone and most of them prefer smartphones owing to convenience in the installation of applications, host of features, and ease of use and also work as affordable substitutes for a computer.
The study conducted by researchers at AMU has been funded by the ICSSR with an aim to understand various facets of smartphone dependency and addiction among college-going students.

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