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Brood X cicadas are coming for the first time in 17 years — and it's going to get loud. How worried should you be? – Yahoo Lifestyle



Click above on your computer or phone to put a Brood X cicada into your space using Yahoo’s augmented reality.

The cicadas are coming and according to scientists, it’s a sight — or really, a sound — to behold.

Periodical cicadas — which are found in the Northeast, typically in the central and eastern parts of the U.S. — make an appearance every 17 years. The forthcoming group, known as Brood X, is expected to emerge from the ground in the billions by late April or May when soil levels warm up to about 64 degrees.

Brood X is made up of three different species of cicadas. “But they all act like one group, one population,” Nancy Hinkle, professor of entomology at the University of Georgia, tells Yahoo Life.

(Credit: USDA Forest Service)(Credit: USDA Forest Service)

The Brood X cicada zones are depicted in yellow. (Credit: USDA Forest Service)

How worried should I be about the cicada drone?

The group will crawl out of the ground at night — likely to avoid predators, says Hinkle — in waves over several days. “They’ll crawl up on sticks or tree trunks or fence posts and allow their bodies to harden,” explains Hinkle. “Underground they’re nymphs and have soft bodies. So they have to shed their skin [or exoskeleton] so their wings will be free. It takes an hour or two [for their adult skin] to harden.”

And once it hits a certain temperature, says Hinkle, the “singing” starts — and it’s not quiet either. In fact, cicadas are one of the noisiest insects. Their singing can be as loud as 100 decibels — the equivalent of a lawnmower about three feet away. But don’t worry about the singing keeping you up at night — cicadas sing during the day. 

“Periodical cicadas do not call at night, unless it is very hot during the night,” Chris Simon, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut, tells Yahoo Life. “Since these are spring cicadas, this is less likely.”

Not all cicadas can carry a tune, though. “Only the males sing and they sing for sex,” says Hinkle. “That’s how they attract the female.” Each species of male cicadas also makes its own distinct sound. “You can learn to differentiate between each species just by their sound,” she explains.

The serenading tends to get noisier right before the sun goes down, which is when cicadas call it a night. “One last shout out before sunset,” says Hinkle. Think of it as last call at the bar.

What’s the best way to deal with incessant cicada singing?

But if the singing is bothersome during the day, especially with so many people now working from home, there are steps you can take. Using noise-canceling devices, machines and apps “make more sense because the cicadas’ sounds are similar to white noise to begin with,” Dr. Steven Holfinger, a sleep medicine physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Yahoo Life.

Holfinger explains that there are two general categories of noise-canceling — active or passive. “Passive noise-canceling is when you try to reduce the volume of sounds, for example using earplugs,” he explains. “Active noise-canceling is when headphones play the opposite sound wave to cancel the incoming noise. The point of either passive or active noise-canceling is to make the sound that would be bothersome quieter, while white noise is meant to drown out the sounds by making the environment louder. Overall, for cicadas, I would consider wearing a comfortable set of headphones that provide either active or passive noise reduction if the cicadas are too loud.”

However, Holfinger says that “many people will likely adjust to the sound because it is fairly consistent, similar to white noise, which our minds can drown out if it is not excessively loud.” Or as Hinkle puts it: “People pay money for white noise generators — here you get it for free!”

What makes Brood X cicadas so special?

Of course, not everyone is a fan of bugs — especially so many at once — but Hinkle suggests embracing the rareness of this event. “This is our generation’s equivalent of Halley’s Comet,” Hinkle says. “This is something that only occurs only every 17 years. The chance is strong you’ll probably only experience this only four or five times in your entire life.”

Simon shares Hinkle’s enthusiasm: “They are one of the most amazing natural phenomena in the world!” And unlike some insects, cicadas are “perfectly harmless,” says Hinkle. “They can’t bite and sting. And they’re lousy flyers. They’re pretty lumbering. Kids can catch them and hold them. When they try to sing, they will vibrate in your hand.”

If you live near or within driving distance of where cicadas typically emerge, Hinkle says, “It’s a great opportunity for grandparents to take their grandkids out in nature and experience it together. And when those grandkids grow up they can take their kids.”

Even scientists who have studied cicadas for years find the musical insects captivating. Hinkle shares that she still finds it fascinating that cicadas know to emerge from underground after exactly 17 years. “It is a mystery,” she says.

Produced by Kat Vasquez

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Oldest human footprints in North America found in New Mexico – CTV News



Fossilized footprints discovered in New Mexico indicate that early humans were walking across North America around 23,000 years ago, researchers reported Thursday.

The first footprints were found in a dry lake bed in White Sands National Park in 2009. Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey recently analyzed seeds stuck in the footprints to determine their approximate age, ranging from around 22,800 and 21,130 years ago.

The findings may shed light on a mystery that has long intrigued scientists: When did people first arrive in the Americas, after dispersing from Africa and Asia?

Most scientists believe ancient migration came by way of a now-submerged land bridge that connected Asia to Alaska. Based on various evidence — including stone tools, fossil bones and genetic analysis — other researchers have offered a range of possible dates for human arrival in the Americas, from 13,000 to 26,000 years ago or more.

The current study provides a more solid baseline for when humans definitely were in North America, although they could have arrived even earlier, the authors say. Fossil footprints are more indisputable and direct evidence than “cultural artifacts, modified bones, or other more conventional fossils,” they wrote in the journal Science, which published the study Thursday.

“What we present here is evidence of a firm time and location,” they said.

Based on the size of the footprints, researchers believe that at least some were made by children and teenagers who lived during the last ice age.

David Bustos, the park’s resource program manager, spotted the first footprints in ancient wetlands in 2009. He and others found more in the park over the years.

“We knew they were old, but we had no way to date the prints before we discovered some with (seeds) on top,” he said Thursday.

Made of fine silt and clay, the footprints are fragile, so the researchers had to work quickly to gather samples, Bustos said.

“The only way we can save them is to record them — to take a lot of photos and make 3D models,” he said.

Earlier excavations in White Sands National Park have uncovered fossilized tracks left by a saber-toothed cat, dire wolf, Columbian mammoth and other ice age animals.


The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Inspiration4 Lift Off: SpaceX Launches World’s First All-Citizen Mission in Earth’s Orbit –



Tampa, Florida (WFLA) — SpaceX made history on Wednesday night when it launched the world’s first all-civil mission to get going from the Space Coast, Florida.

The Inspiration4 mission took off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center around 8:03 pm on Wednesday. The four crew members on the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft were launched onto a reusable Falcon 9 rocket and later separated from the spacecraft and landed on the drone.

The mission’s five-hour launch window began at 8:02 EST. The window was very large, as the crew was sent to orbit the Earth rather than the International Space Station, and therefore did not have such strict time constraints.

The crew is set to travel 350 miles above the surface of the Earth, about 100 miles higher than the International Space Station.

“This is important and historic, because it’s the best time humans have been in orbit since the Hubble Space Telescope mission,” said Benjireed, SpaceX’s manned spaceflight director.

(Photo provided by SpaceX)

The crew will spend three days in orbit to participate in research experiments on human health and performance. We hope that the results of our research will apply not only to future space flight, but also to human health here on Earth.

Inspiration4’s main goal is to provide and inspire support for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. They want to raise $ 200 million for St. Jude in a three-day mission.

According to SpaceX, each of the four members of the crew was chosen to represent the pillars of a mission of prosperity, generosity, hope and leadership. The Inspiration 4 crew and the pillars they represent are:

  • leadership: 38 years old Jared Isaacman – Founder and CEO of Shift4Payments
  • Hope: 29-year-old Haley Arseno – Doctor assistants and childhood cancer survivors treated with St. Jude
  • Generosity: 41 years old Chris Sembroski – Lockheed Martin US Air Force veteran and aerospace employee
  • prosperity: 51 years old Dr. Cyan Proctor – Entrepreneurs, educators, trained pilots, and the active voice of the space exploration community

SpaceX trained all four crew members as commercial astronauts on Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft. The crew was trained in orbital mechanics, microgravity, weightlessness, other stress tests, emergency preparedness, and spacesuit training.

The mission was funded by Isaacman in a private transaction with SpaceX. Isaacman has also invested $ 100 million towards a funding target for the St. Jude mission.

Inspiration4 Lift Off: SpaceX Launches World’s First All-Citizen Mission in Earth’s Orbit

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'Flying' microchips could ride the wind to track air pollution – Yahoo Movies Canada



Researchers have created a winged microchip around the size of a sand grain that may be the smallest flying device yet made, Vice has reported. They’re designed to be carried around by the wind and could be used in numerous applications including disease and air pollution tracking, according to a paper published by Nature. At the same time, they could be made from biodegradable materials to prevent environmental contamination. 

The design of the flyers was inspired by spinning seeds from cottonwood and other trees. Those fall slowly by spinning like helicopters so they can be picked up by the wind and spread a long distance from the tree, increasing the range of the species. 

The team from Northwest University ran with that idea but made it better, and smaller. “We think we’ve beaten biology… we’ve been able to build structures that fall in a more stable trajectory at slower terminal velocities than equivalent seeds,” said lead Professor John A. Rogers. “The other thing… was that we were able to make these helicopter flyer structures that are much smaller than seeds you would see in the natural world.”  

They’re not so small that the aerodynamics starts to break down, though. “All of the advantages of the helicopter design begin to disappear below a certain length scale, so we pushed it all the way, as far as you can go or as physics would allow,” Rogers told Vice. “Below that size scale, everything looks and falls like a sphere.”

The devices are also large enough to carry electronics, sensors and power sources. The team tested multiple versions that could carry payloads like antenna so that they could wireless communicate with a smartphone or each other. Other sensors could monitor things like air acidity, water quality and solar radiation. 

The flyers are still concepts right now and not ready to deploy into the atmosphere, but the team plans to expand their findings with different designs. Key to that is the use of biodegradable materials so they wouldn’t persist in the environment. 

“We don’t think about these devices… as a permanent monitoring componentry but rather temporary ones that are addressing a particular need that’s of finite time duration,” Rogers said. “That’s the way that we’re envisioning things currently: you monitor for a month and then the devices die out, dissolve, and disappear, and maybe you have to redeploy them.”

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