Weird asteroid gives scientists 'very big surprise' by changing color - CNET - Canadanewsmedia
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Weird asteroid gives scientists 'very big surprise' by changing color – CNET

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The Hubble Space Telescope captured this view of asteroid 6478 Gault and its two tails.


NASA, ESA, K. Meech and J. Kleyna, O. Hainaut

Asteroid 6478 Gault is an oddball. It sports a comet-like dust trail and, even more weirdly, it changed color from red to blue. “It is the first time scientists have observed a color-shifting asteroid, in real time,” the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said in a release on Thursday.

The change wasn’t as dramatic to the naked eye as an octopus or chameleon shifting its colors. Astronomers witnessed the asteroid’s activity in the near-infrared spectrum, which isn’t visible to the human eye.

MIT postdoc Michael Marsset called the shift “a very big surprise,” saying, “We think we have witnessed the asteroid losing its reddish dust to space, and we are seeing the asteroid’s underlying, fresh blue layers.” 

The rocky asteroid is located far away between Mars and Jupiter. It has been on astronomers’ radars since it was first discovered in 1988, but it didn’t stand out from the crowd until recently. Observations from late 2018 and early 2019 showed the space rock was kicking out two dust tails, a rarity for an asteroid.

A closer look at 6478 Gault revealed the asteroid’s unexpected color shift. The researchers suspect the asteroid is spinning very quickly and shedding its old surface dust to reveal fresh material below. Kind of like a space snake ditching its skin.

The MIT-led research team published its findings in Astrophysical Journal Letters on Friday.


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Asteroid 6478 Gault may not be long for this universe. NASA said those tails could be “key evidence that Gault is beginning to come apart.” If it does end up disintegrating, then at least it will have gone out in spectacular style.

Originally published Aug. 30, 2:17 p.m. PT. 

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Sea Monsters in the Age of Dinosaurs being presented at Colchester Historeum – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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TRURO, N.S. —

Large creatures that once lived in the oceans and lakes will be the focus of an upcoming event at the Colchester Historeum.

‘Sea Monsters in the Age of Dinosaurs’ is an illustrated presentation by Danielle J. Serrato, curator of the Fundy Geological Museum and an educator in Earth sciences.

“I always had a love for the ocean, although I grew up landlocked in Texas,” she said. “My specialty is marine reptiles.”

Her favourite prehistoric creature is the elasmosaurus, an extremely long-necked being that lived underwater.

During the presentation, Serratos will talk about Mesozoic marine reptiles and their modern counterparts in film and folklore, including the Loch Ness Monster, and the mosasaur in Jurassic World.

“Sometimes changes are made so things will sound better in film,” she said. “In Jurassic Park there’s a lot of talk about velociraptors, but those were only about the height of turkeys. What they created for the film is deinonychus, but that name doesn’t sound as dangerous as velociraptor.”

She thinks people are drawn by the mystery and danger connected with prehistoric creatures.

“A lot of it has to do with the sense of curiosity humans have for world around them,” she said. “There’s a creative component because you have to use your imagination. You don’t have to be 100 per cent accurate because we’ve never seen these things and we never will. It’s probably a good thing we won’t see them because these were apex predators.

“We’re starting to realize how little we know about the soft tissues of these creatures, their colours and textures, whether they had fur, scales or feathers.”

Pictures of old movie posters, reconstructions and fossils will add to the presentation which will take place at the Colchester Historeum on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. The event is free for members, $5 for non-members.

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Sea Monsters in the Age of Dinosaurs being presented at Colchester Historeum – The Vanguard

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TRURO, N.S. —

Large creatures that once lived in the oceans and lakes will be the focus of an upcoming event at the Colchester Historeum.

‘Sea Monsters in the Age of Dinosaurs’ is an illustrated presentation by Danielle J. Serrato, curator of the Fundy Geological Museum and an educator in Earth sciences.

“I always had a love for the ocean, although I grew up landlocked in Texas,” she said. “My specialty is marine reptiles.”

Her favourite prehistoric creature is the elasmosaurus, an extremely long-necked being that lived underwater.

During the presentation, Serratos will talk about Mesozoic marine reptiles and their modern counterparts in film and folklore, including the Loch Ness Monster, and the mosasaur in Jurassic World.

“Sometimes changes are made so things will sound better in film,” she said. “In Jurassic Park there’s a lot of talk about velociraptors, but those were only about the height of turkeys. What they created for the film is deinonychus, but that name doesn’t sound as dangerous as velociraptor.”

She thinks people are drawn by the mystery and danger connected with prehistoric creatures.

“A lot of it has to do with the sense of curiosity humans have for world around them,” she said. “There’s a creative component because you have to use your imagination. You don’t have to be 100 per cent accurate because we’ve never seen these things and we never will. It’s probably a good thing we won’t see them because these were apex predators.

“We’re starting to realize how little we know about the soft tissues of these creatures, their colours and textures, whether they had fur, scales or feathers.”

Pictures of old movie posters, reconstructions and fossils will add to the presentation which will take place at the Colchester Historeum on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. The event is free for members, $5 for non-members.

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A dog's life: New study to investigate aging process in man's best friend – Ottawa Citizen

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Good dogs.


ipet photo / Unsplash

AUSTIN, Texas — A team of researchers is hoping old dogs can teach aging science new tricks. The scientists, with the backing of the U.S National Institute on Aging, have launched an ambitious project in which they want dog owners to enrol canines in a study of aging in man’s best friend, hoping it will help both dogs and humans live longer and better lives.

The “citizen scientists” will answer dozens of questions about their pooches over the lifetime of the animals, such as how much and how often they exercise, what they eat and how much, and their interactions with people or other pets in the household.

“These dogs will be doing what they do normally,” said Daniel Promislow, co-director of the Dog Aging Project.

Dog owners are very well-attuned to changes in their dog’s behaviour, which makes their observations valuable to science. “It’s the power of paying attention,” Promislow said.

As part of the study, a small number of the dogs will provide DNA, blood and urine samples. A select group of middle-aged canines will also be enrolled in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of a drug that has already been shown to increase the lifespan of mice in the hope of determining whether it will have the same effect on dogs.


A 10-year-old chihuahua participates in the Pawlooza’s dog fashion show in London, Ont., earlier this year. As small dogs, chihuahua would normally have longer live expectancy than larger breeds of dogs such as Great Danes.

Max Martin /

Postmedia

In the long run, the study, which has $22.8 million U.S. in funding from the National Institute on Aging, will help the scientists understand the factors that affect “healthspan” — the proportion of life that is spent in good health.

The project was launched last Thursday with a splashy media conference at the annual scientific meeting of the American Gerontological Society in Austin. While the official goal is to enrol 10,000 canines, the researchers aspire to follow as many as 100,000 dogs.

Within a few hours of announcing the project, 16,000 dog owners had “nominated” their pets online.

The hypothesis in gerontology circles is that, if aging can be delayed, it will also delay chronic diseases such as arthritis and Type 2 diabetes, leading to a longer and healthier life, said Dr. Marie Bernard, a geriatrician and deputy director of the National Institute on Aging.

Researchers have already shown they can increase the lifespans of yeast, fruit flies and mice through a number of measures, including caloric restriction, periodic fasting and administering a combination of metformin, which reduces blood sugar, and the immunosuppressant drug rapamycin.

Jay Olshansky, a respected expert in pushing the boundaries of longevity, has estimated that curing cancer, heart disease or both in humans would only extend life expectancy by between three and eight years. However, slowing aging could extend life expectancy by over 30 years, and it would maximize the portion of life free of chronic disease and disability.

“Those years would be spent in fairly good health,”’ said Matt Kaeberlein, co-director of the Dog Aging Project.

“It sounds like science fiction, but it’s science fact.”


A woman walks her dog on Bank Street.

Tony Caldwell /

Postmedia

Nature has figured out how to modify the rates of aging in different species, Kaeberlein said. The naked mole rat, a burrowing rodent native to East Africa, can live to be more than 30 years old, for example, while most mice and rats live only a few years.

The Dog Aging Project’s goal is to understand the genetic and environmental factors behind dog aging. Dogs age about seven times faster than humans, so data on thousands of dogs over their lifespan would yield important information about what correlates with a long and healthy life for a dog over an accelerated time frame.

In general, larger animals live longer than smaller animals, but the reverse is true in dogs. A chihuahua has a longer life expectancy than a Great Dane, for example, said Dr. Kate Creevy, a professor of veterinary medicine at Texas A&M University and a member of the research team. Mixed-breed dogs also live, on average, about a year longer than purebred counterparts.


A black Great Dane.

jsclark89 /

Getty Images/iStockphoto

The researchers will also be searching for dogs who have led exceptionally long lives: the canine equivalent of human centenarians.

The project is an open science initiative. Eventually the raw data, with confidential information scrubbed from it, will be available to any researcher who wants to use it to seek out patterns, including members of the public.

The study is open to dogs of all breeds and ages, but so far funding for the research is limited to dogs in the United States, Promislow said.

Rapamycin has been shown to restore heart function and boost immunity in middle-aged mice. It has already been used on a small number of dogs in a research study and their owners have noted no negative side effects and some positive side effects, including that the dogs were more energetic and affectionate.

“People love their dogs. Our No. 1 priority is the safety of the dogs,” Promislow said.

Rapamycin is approved for a limited number of uses in humans, including preventing rejection in organ transplantation. It appears to dampen the inflammation that comes with aging, but it’s still a long way from being approved as an aging delay drug for humans, Kaeberlein said.

This is a longitudinal study, which means it will follow the subjects over their entire lives. While researcher often have problems keeping in touch with their subjects in longitudinal studies, dog owners involved in research have been remarkably co-operative in previous long-term studies, he said.

“This is the most ambitious project on companion dogs and one of the most ambitious projects on aging,” Promislow said. “We’ll have tons of data.”

Joanne Laucius was awarded a 2019 journalism fellowship in aging by the Gerontological Society of America. The program is funded by the Silver Century Foundation, the Retirement Research Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund and the John A. Hartford Foundation.


A man walks with his dogs.

Sebastian Gollnow /

AP


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