The Lunar Surface Has Plenty of Caverns which Can Work as Shelters for Future Colonists

Cavern on the surface of the Moon

The caverns beneath the Moon’s surface can shelter future colonists

Researchers have hoped for quite a long time that the surface of the Moon is hiding caverns which can shelter possible colonists. Now, a team of researchers from the United States and Japan managed to find evidence that lava actually carved such formations, highlighting a great future for the next exploration missions.

Lava formed caverns beneath the Moon’s surface

While studying the surface of the Moon, scientists uncovered some elaborate caverns close to Marius Hill. It turns out these formations used to be lava tubes and, besides offering great resources of study and the perfect place to study the composition of the surface, they can be perfect for sheltering future colonists.

The Moon is surrounded by no atmosphere. This means that its surface and everything standing on it remains exposed to the harsh rays of the Sun, as well as other extreme conditions. However, the elaborate caverns provide instant protection against all these factors.

For quite a long time, researchers have been studying these formations. They have always assumed they were created by lava, but had no solid proof in favor of the hypothesis. The Moon used to have an intense volcanic activity and, when the lava dried, it left these formations under its surface. Now, the new research reveals that the caverns not only exist, but they can also provide stable shelter.

The caverns can offer shelter to future colonists

With the help of radar observation, researchers detected the hollow tubes under the lunar surface. The radar rays were launched by SELENE, a lunar observation spacecraft launched by JAXA, and, after bouncing on the surface, they returned with information on the composition and geological history of the Moon.

As soon as the radar bursts met the entrance to the caverns, they issued an echo. Then, judging from the pitch and the tone of the echo, they could tell the formations had a volcanic origin. All these caverns are located in areas where NASA had previously identified missing masses of land. Therefore, they are real, and might offer a much more welcoming shelter than we would have thought.

The study has been published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Image Source: NASA Scientific Visualization Studio

Russia Used Pokemon Go to Spread Racial Hate Among Americans

Digital Pokeball on a grey surface

Russia interfered even with Pokemon Go to spark controversies in the American society

Russia’s attempts to spark controversy and conflicts in the United States are well-known, but it seems they used more weapons than we would have expected. Also, some of these weapons sound extremely unlikely. Apparently, they made use of Pokemon Go to create some racial tension.

Pokemon Go, the most unlikely tool for Russian hackers

A recent report has just revealed how Russia used Pokemon Go to create controversy in the United States, and to give rise to some racial issues. In July 2016, a Tumblr page, which is now known to belong to Russia’s Internet Research Agency, sent a message to all Pokemon Go players who supported the Black Lives Matter cause.

The page told these people to go play the game in areas where police brutality instances have occurred. Also, the players were encouraged to change their current usernames and, instead, use the names of popular black people who fell victims to abusive policemen. However, Russia’s interventions didn’t stop here.

The group sparked racial controversies by using the popular game

The same Tumblr page also promoted a movement, which closely mimicked the activities of Black Lives Matter groups. This movement was called Do Not Shoot Us, had a website, and many pages across all social media platforms. They also used the slogan “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”. Facebook managed to find out the movement’s page was related to Russia, and it was taken down the platform shortly after that.

On the Tumblr page, there was a post regarding a player who named his character Eric Garner. This man died after a New York Police officer put him in a chokehold. The same post proposed a contest to Pokemon Go players, and the prize consisted of gift cards on Amazon.

It’s not clear if someone actually entered or won this contest, but this Tumblr page is still active. However, it changed its focus on different posts, mostly about Palestine. The Russia YouTube account is, also, still active, but all the other social media pages have been taken down.
Image Source: Pixabay

The Lystrosaurus and Its Survival Skills Can Teach Us a Valuable Lesson about Mass Extinctions

Green Lystrosaurus

The Lystrosaurus survived the biggest mass extinction on Earth

About 252 million years ago, a mass extinction shook our planet, and led to the disappearance of 70 percent of the vertebrates living on land. However, a tusked mammal was among the survivors. This mammal, called Lystrosaurus, might hold the secret of survival in case another mass extinction hit planet Earth.

Earth was shaken by many mass extinction events

At the end of the Permian era, Earth was shaken by the mass extinction known as “The Great Dying”. Since so many species were wiped out and biodiversity suffered a massive blow, our planet was dominated by disaster faunas. This means that there were few species living in certain ecosystems, and the Lystrosaurus was one of them.

This Lystrosaurus was one of the earliest mammal ever known, and its fossils have been found spread all over Africa, Antarctica, Russia, India, and China. A team of researchers decided to study the evolution of this species and of biodiversity in general, and looked at the changes suffered by a number of 900 species which lived on the ancient supercontinent Pangaea starting 260 million years ago, up until 175 million years ago.

The Lystrosaurus survived one of the biggest mass extinctions on Earth

During this period, two mass extinctions took place, and it also coincided with the rise and fall of dinosaurs. However, these extinctions didn’t only lead to the disappearance of a huge number of species. The entire globe came to be dominated by the few survivors left.

Such events play an important role in the evolution of species, and contributed to their ability to survive similar future occurrences. By looking at the survival mechanism of the Lystrosaurus, researchers can find out how animal distribution changes when facing natural disasters of huge extent.

Because of the intense human activity which destroys natural habitats, our planet is again passing through a mass extinction event. Therefore, the Lystrosaurus can show us a possible model of the ecological changes which are to come. The details of the study have been published in the journal Nature Communications.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

This Is How Little You Need to Exercise to Keep Depression at Bay

Young women exercising on a beachA recent study involving 34,000 adults shows that you don’t have to do much to dramatically curb the risk for depression. Researchers found that just one to two hours of exercise per week can cut the risk in half.

Participants who exercised on a weekly basis were healthy and in a good mood after eleven years of follow-up. Volunteers who failed to exercise were 44 percent more likely to suffer from depression.

Another piece of good news is that the workout was low to moderate intensity. Researchers found that none of the subjects had to sweat and get fatigued as long as they kept a constant weekly pace.

Study authors couldn’t tell why exercising helps against the depression, but they have some theories. They explained that after exercise, the brain releases endorphins, i.e. hormones that boost the general mood. As a result, participants tend to have a better self-esteem. These factors paired with constant peer support and social interaction may explain the positive health outcomes.

Peer Support is Critical

Experts recommend additional steps to stave off depression, which can be a debilitating disease. First, you should keep stress in check. Stress can easily lead to depression especially over prolonged periods of time.

Ensure you have enough peer support, be it family or friends. When you feel gloomy you can always call a loved one for an instant mood booster.

What’s more, don’t forget to exercise 150 minutes per week. You can dance, bike, walk, or o whatever activity that makes you move.

If you suspect you may be depressed you should seek medical help immediately. Depression is often paired with a sense of hopelessness and sadness, and in most severe cases with suicidal thoughts. Psychotherapy is the best option to go, but in severe cases, your psychiatrist may prescribe medication too.
Image Source: Flickr

Touchscreen Systems in Cars Put Drivers in Danger By Getting Them Distracted

Touchscreen menu in a car

Touchscreen systems in cars are great distractions for drivers

A recent study developed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed a new risk for drivers. It’s not something coming from the road, but rather a tool placed in many modern cars. We are talking about touchscreen displays and systems operating inside vehicles, which might turn out a bit too distracting for drivers.

Touchscreen systems in a car capture the driver’s attention

For this study, researchers selected a number of 30 cars released over the past years, and found out that all of them contain distracting systems. Some of them have higher chances of capturing the driver’s attention and keeping him from looking at the road, while others are a little less dangerous. Even so, the distraction is present.

The number of deadly car accidents has increased over the past few years, and most of them occurred after drivers got distracted. Also, the number of crashes resulting after drivers directed their attention to something else increased by 8.8 percent over the past few years, and reached 3,477 in 2015.

All the tested car models are distracting to a certain degree

The AAA Foundation split the 30 car models in three groups, according to their distraction levels. Twelve of these had a huge amount of touchscreen systems inside, and were found to contain a very high level of distraction. Eleven other models were situated in the high group, while the other seven were in the moderate category.

Such systems are usually helpful, as they can display directions and localizations. However, they also contain music services, phone, or radio, which can easily capture the driver’s attention. This is why the foundation wants to urge carmakers to improve these systems, and prevent people from using them while the car is moving.

Among the most distracting car models, belonging to the very high group, there are Audi Q7 QPP, Chrysler 300 C, Dodge Durango GT, Ford Mustang GT, or GMC Yukon SLT.
Image Source: Flickr

Researchers Spot Fourth Gravitational Wave with an Italian Detector

The formation of a gravitational wave after two black holes collide

The Virgo detector spotted the fourth gravitational wave in space

With the help of the Italian Virgo detector, researchers managed to spot the presence of a fourth gravitational wave present in space. They found out the phenomenon resulted after the collision of two black holes. When such events take place, the clash issues some ripples which disturb space and time, and these ripples are known as gravitational waves.

What are gravitational waves?

The most recent ripples were issued on August 14th, around the hour 10:30 GMT. Then, researchers discovered they were produced by the collision of two black holes situated 1.8 billion light-years away. The holes were massive, as they both were between 25 and 31 times bigger than the Sun. Apart from producing the gravitational waves, the two black holes merged into an even bigger hole, being 53 times bigger than the Sun.

Such an event occurs extremely rarely, but it comes with one more unique thing to it. This was the first phenomenon of the type which was captured with the help of the Virgo detector. It is kept underground and, using laser light, can detect gravitational waves and track their trajectory. The Virgo detector is an Italian instrument and, although it doesn’t have the same precision as the American instruments, it works just fine.

European and US researchers collaborated for the Virgo project

Two weeks after the detector became functional, it managed to spot the gravitational wave. The other waves detected so far have been found by only two instruments coming from the US. This equipment was present in two LIGO unites (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatories). These two units were located in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana.

For the Virgo project, hundreds of researchers, coming from both Europe and the US, worked together. They also started a collaboration with LIGO, and hope to continue this project and spot more unique space phenomena.
Image Source: NASA

Researchers Manage to Decode Some of the Secrets of Cosmic Rays

Three cosmic rays hitting Earth

Cosmic rays do not originate in the Milky Way

A team of researchers at the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina managed to trace back thousands of cosmic rays containing high energy particles, and shed some light on their mysterious origin. It seems these peculiar rays have not been produced within our own Milky Way, and they seem to have traveled far, from other galaxies.

Cosmic rays don’t come from inside the Milky Way

There are plenty of particles traveling through space and around all the cosmic objects, and these particles have different electric charges. Those with lower energy are known to come from the sun, and to be part of solar winds. However, these particles have some high energy siblings, called cosmic rays, whose origin has remained unknown so far.

Researchers analyzed the trajectory these cosmic rays had as they approached Earth, and concluded they are originating in Milky Way. Their direction shows they have traveled quite a lot, as they’ve been produced somewhere outside our galaxy. After twelve years of intense study, the 1,600 particle detectors at Pierre Auger Observatory managed to determine the origin of the high energy particles.

Finding the origin of high energy particles can tell a lot about the origin of the universe

Finding out the secrets of cosmic rays is of crucial importance for revealing how galaxy formation works. Also, it might shed light on a new perspective on the Big Bang. However, telling which is their exact origin remains a difficult task. As they are charged with high levels of energy, the magnetic fields they met on their way could have deviated their trajectory.

The study on the cosmic rays has been published in the journal Science. It reveals how most of the high energy particles which reach Earth are coming from regions opposed to the center of Milky Way. These might be galaxies with black holes in their center, which could have generated the cosmic rays.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

New Study Suggests Link Between Lack Of Vitamin D And MS

daffodil in sunshine and vitamin d

A new study suggests that the lack of vitamin D or the ‘sunshine vitamin’ might be tied to MS.

According to the results of a new study, low levels of vitamin D might possibly be linked and act as a potential prediction method for multiple sclerosis or MS.

Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients for the human body in that it is essential for the health of its bones. Sometimes also called ‘the sunshine vitamin’, it is produced by the skin in response to its exposure to sunshine. It can also come from foods that are naturally rich in it.

Vitamin D, a Useful Tool in Spotting or Preventing MS?

Multiple sclerosis, a neurological condition, affects the nerves and causes the immune system to stop working properly. In doing so, it disrupts the flow of information between the brain and the body and affects the motor functions.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston researchers are behind a new study on the matter. This analyzes the disease’s connection to the so-called sunshine vitamin. Research was based on a repository of blood samples from over 800,000 living in Finland and which took part in a prenatal testing.

An average nine years later, 1,092 women were identified to have developed MS. Information from them was compared to that from 2,123 participants that were disease-free.

Based on this, the study team noted that some 58 percent of the patients that had the disease also presented a vitamin D deficit. This lack of the sunshine vitamin was somewhat lower in the other group, with only 52 percent of them presenting a deficit.

A deficit of vitamin D was determined as having fewer than 30 nanomoles/liter or nmol/L. Adequate levels were defined as being 50 nmol/L or higher.

The researchers established that each 50 nmol/L increase in the vitamin levels in the blood could lead to a 39 percent lowering of the risks of developing the disease later in life. Women with a vitamin D deficit also reportedly presented a 43 percent higher risk of having MS than participants with lower or adequate levels.

“More research is needed on the optimal dose of vitamin D for reducing the risk of MS,” said Kassandra Munger, the study author. “But striving to achieve vitamin D sufficiency over the course of a person’s life will likely have multiple health benefits.”

Still, researchers point out that more, larger and more diverse studies are needed to analyze this possible relationship between multiple sclerosis and a vitamin D deficit.

Current research findings are available in a paper in the journal Neurology.

Image Source: Pixabay

A Cancer Pen Can Reportedly Detect The Disease In Seconds

surgical instruments including cancer pen scissors and wires

A team of scientists invented a cancer pen which can place a diagnose in just 10 seconds.

A team of researchers recently presented its latest invention, a so-called cancer pen named the MasSpec Pen which can reportedly diagnose the disease in just a number of seconds.

This handheld device is presented as being both fast and accurate, as it could help improve cancer treatment methods and reportedly reduce its risks of recurrence.

The Cancer Pen Can Place a Diagnosis in 10 Seconds

University of Texas, Austin scientists are behind this new invention, which was designed and led by Livia Schiavinato Eberlin. Their device, the MasSpec Pen, can rapidly and accurately diagnose cancer during surgery. It can reportedly do so in just 10 seconds or some 150 faster than the existing technologies.

The handheld device was already tested on tissue samples removed from 253 human patients diagnosed with cancer. According to reports, the cancer pen was capable of detecting the disease even in marginal regions. Located between cancer tissue and normal one, these presented mixed cellular composition. The pen was also noted to have been 96 percent accurate during these tests.

MasSpec works by releasing a tiny drop of water from its tip to the patient’s tissue. This is quickly recaptured and then sent to a mass spectrometer in the pen. A scientific device, this helps analyze the mass, and chemical composition of the molecules soaked up from the tissue.

“When designing the MasSpec Pen, we made sure the tissue remains intact by coming into contact only with water and the plastic tip of the MasSpec Pen during the procedure,” state the scientists.

The mass spectrometer then helps establish if the tissue is cancerous or not, and returns its results in just ten seconds on a computer screen.

The MasSpec Pen to Begin Real-Time Testing?

This cancer pen can reportedly identify even subtypes of cancer, besides the different types of the disease itself. It can do so as each one of them produces its unique set of biomarkers. Ones that are considered a sort of molecular “fingerprints”.

The team is hoping to start testing their new device during oncological surgeries by 2018. However, they also point out that it might still be years before the MasSpec Pen will start being regularly used.

A paper with the study results and the pen’s specifications is available in the journal Science Translational Medicine.


Image Source: Pixabay 

A Person’s Height Might Determine Their Blood Clot Risks

difference between normal artery and diseased artery

Blood clots appear when the legs are immobilized for a long period of time.

According to a recent article in Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, a publication of the American Heart Association, one’s height can put them at higher risk for blood clots.

Bad News for Tall People

According to Swedish associate professor, Dr. Bengt Zöller, of Lund University, the taller a person is, quite simply, the higher the risk of venous blood clot. The population in general, says, Dr. Zöller, is getting taller. With increase in height, the risks of a blood clot become higher. There isn’t much we can do about height, we can be more aware of the symptoms and overall risks.

Blood clots can occur in veins when patients are immobilized for long periods of time,for example,after surgery. They can occur when travelling long distances in a car or on a plane trip. They can cause pain and swelling in the leg and even fainting. If not treated, the clots can break away and make their way through the veins and in the lungs causing a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism.

Venous blood clots are diagnosed with sonograms of the legs and some blood tests that can determine an excessive amount of clotting in the blood vessels.

The studies did not examine specific other factors such as diet, smoking, estrogen use in women or other genetic factors.

Essentially, while not confirmed medically, blood has to flow against gravity in veins in the legs. Since being tall may be more of a challenge to that physiological activity, that fact may be significant. An increase in surface area of the vein tissue in taller individuals may also play a part in the increase in blood clots in taller people.

Patients should be aware of the symptoms and not delay seeing a physician immediately if they suspect a blood clot in the leg or lung.

Image Source: Wikipedia