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New Prehistoric 'Sea Dragon' Species Discovered By Fossil Hunter Near UK Coastline – LADbible



Scientists have discovered the fossil of a mysterious marine reptile from 150 million years ago belongs to a previously undiscovered species.

The well-preserved reptile was found in a Late Jurassic deep marine deposit along the English Channel coastline in Dorset.

Experts say the aquatic reptile was part of a group known as ichthyosaurs, which were streamlined marine predators from the Late Jurassic period.

Paleontologist Megan L. Jacobs, a Baylor University doctorial candidate in geosciencses and co-author of a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, said: “This ichthyosaur has several differences that makes it unique enough to be its own genus and species.

“New Late Jurassic ichthyosaurs in the United Kingdom are extremely rare, as these creatures have been studied for 200 years.

“We knew it was new almost instantly, but it took about a year to make thorough comparisons with all other Late Jurassic ichthyosaurs to make certain our instincts were correct.

“It was very exciting to not be able to find a match.”

Credit: The Etches Collection

Jacobs named the specimen ‘Thalassodraco etchesi‘, which means ‘Etches sea dragon’ – which is a nod to fossil collector Steve Etches MBE, who found the specimen in 2009 after a cliff crumbled along the seaside.

Since being discovered, the specimen has been housed in The Etches Collection Museum of Jurassic Marine Life in Kimmeridge, Dorset.

Study co-author David Martill, Ph.D., professor of paleontology at the University of Portsmouth in Portsmouth, said: “Now that the new sea dragon has been officially named, it’s time to investigate its biology.

published at4 months ago

“There are a number of things that make this animal special.”

The creature is estimated to have been about 2.5 metres (eight feet) long, and appears to share some similarities with sperm wales with an ‘extremely deep rib cage’.

This may have allowed for larger lungs and additional space for internal organs so that they weren’t crushed under pressure.

Credit: Megan Jacobs/David Martill
Credit: Megan Jacobs/David Martill

Along with large eyes, which allowed it to see in low light, it also had hundreds of tiny teeth – indicating its diet may have consisted of squid and small fish.

Jacobs continued: “They still had to breathe air at the surface and didn’t have scales.

“There is hardly anything actually known about the biology of these animals.

“We can only make assumptions from the fossils we have, but there’s nothing like it around today.

“Eventually, to adapt to being fully aquatic, they no longer could go up onto land to lay eggs, so they evolved into bearing live young, tail first.

“There have been skeletons found with babies within the mother and also ones that were actually being born.”

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Earth's magnetic field controls space weather, shields us from solar wind: new study – UCalgary News



Researchers in the Faculty of Science have made an important contribution to new findings about Earth’s magnetic field and its role in shielding our planet from solar wind, the continuous stream of charged particles emanated by the sun.

In the discovery, published in Nature Communications, a team of Alberta-based scientists found that electromagnetic energy originating in the solar wind shows a clear preference to head toward Earth’s northern polar regions rather than their southern counterparts.

The new findings suggest that, in addition to acting as a shield from incoming solar particles, the magnetic field also actively controls how the energy is distributed and channeled into Earth’s atmosphere.

International research collaboration helps yield new discovery

Using information from the European Space Agency’s (ESA)’s Swarm satellite constellation, researchers in the University of Alberta’s Department of Physics analyzed data from electric field instruments (EFIs) designed and operated at the University of Calgary by a team led by Dr. David Knudsen, PhD, and Dr. Johnathan Burchill, PhD, both in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Lead author Dr. Ivan Pakhotin at the University of Alberta and co-authors at both universities discovered the “surprising” imbalance in how Earth’s magnetic field responds to space weather driven by the sun.

The high-calibre international partnership between the two universities and the ESA reflects the research excellence in space science in Alberta. The University of Calgary has been Canada’s most prolific university-based provider of space instrumentation, with more than 20 instruments developed and launched into space over the university’s 50-plus-year history, according to Knudsen.

While the terms “North Pole” and “South Pole” conjure images of polar bears and penguins, they refer to the north and south poles of our planet’s magnetic field, and loosely line up with Earth’s rotational axis. Earth’s magnetic field is visible in action when the aurora borealis or northern lights appear in the northern night skies, the result of its interaction with charged atomic particles from the sun.

While the dancing ribbons of light are a beautiful sight, they’re representative of a constant bombardment of charged particles in the solar wind, and can have significant impacts on some of our most important systems like communication networks and navigation systems (like GPS and satellites). In severe cases, solar storms can cause communication and electrical systems and even satellites to fail.

“Because the south magnetic pole is further away from Earth’s spin axis than the north magnetic pole, an asymmetry is imposed on how much energy makes its way down toward Earth in the north and south,” explains Pakhotin, the paper’s lead author and postdoctoral fellow in UAlberta’s Department of Physics.

While researchers aren’t yet sure what the effects of this asymmetry might be, the findings suggest that it could also point to an asymmetry between the aurora australis in the south and the aurora borealis in the north. Further, they suggest that the dynamics of upper atmospheric chemistry may vary between the hemispheres, particularly when geomagnetic activity is strong.

UCalgary contribution to Swarm satellite constellation essential to new findings

Knudsen and Burchill specialize in near-Earth space research, and have extensive experience in the development of space instrumentation. Knudsen serves as lead scientist for the EFIs on the Swarm satellites; Burchill has responsible for their operation since launch in 2013.

Each EFI contains two sensors known as thermal ion imagers. Initially developed at UCalgary with support from ESA and the Canadian Space Agency, and built by Ontario-based COM DEV Canada (now Honeywell), the thermal ion imagers use the same technology used in digital cameras — CCD detector technology — to detect charged particles. The sensors then produce precision measurements of ionospheric winds and temperatures. “This information is used to calculate the electric field, an important counterpart to the magnetic field,” Knudsen explains.

Understanding Earth’s electric and magnetic field environment helps scientists design better electrical grids and early warning systems when solar disturbances like mass coronal ejections or solar storms occur and affect Earth. However, the primary motivation of this research is to understand the fundamental behaviour of the charged-particle gases (plasmas) surrounding Earth, and the causes and consequences of the northern and southern lights, key aspects of which remain unexplained. 

Swarm’s three satellites return information about how the magnetic field protects Earth from the dangerous particles in solar wind, along with how the field is generated and how the position of Earth’s magnetic north changes over time.

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NASA's Orion spacecraft is ready to fly to the Moon – Yahoo Movies Canada



The Canadian Press

Extremists exploit a loophole in social moderation: Podcasts

Major social platforms have been cracking down on the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories in the leadup to the presidential election, and expanded their efforts in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. But Apple and Google, among others, have left open a major loophole for this material: Podcasts. Podcasts made available by the two Big Tech companies let you tune into the world of the QAnon conspiracy theory, wallow in President Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election and bask in other extremism. Accounts that have been banned on social media for election misinformation, threatening or bullying, and breaking other rules also still live on as podcasts available on the tech giants’ platforms. Conspiracy theorists have peddled stolen-election fantasies, coronavirus conspiracies and violent rhetoric. One podcaster, RedPill78, called the Capitol siege a “staged event” in a Jan. 11 episode of Red Pill News. The day before the Capitol riot, a more popular podcast, X22 Report, spoke confidently about a Trump second term, explained that Trump would need to “remove” many members of Congress to further his plans, and said “We the people, we are the storm, and we’re coming to DC.” Both are available on Apple and Google podcast platforms. Podcasting “plays a particularly outsized role” in propagating white supremacy, said a 2018 report from the Anti-Defamation League. Many white supremacists, like QAnon adherents, support Trump. Podcasting’s an intimate, humanizing mode of communication that lets extremists expound on their ideas for hours at a time, said Oren Segal of ADL’s Center on Extremism. Elsewhere on social media, Twitter,Facebook and YouTube have been cracking down on accounts amplifying unfounded QAnon claims that Trump is fighting deep state enemies and cannibals operating a child-sex trafficking ring. A major talk radio company, Cumulus, told its hosts to tone down rhetoric about stolen elections and violent uprisings or risk termination, although it’s not clear what impact that dictate has had. Google-owned YouTube axed “Bannon’s War Room,” a channel run by Trump loyalist Steve Bannon on Jan. 8 after he spread false election claims and called for the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious-disease expert. But podcast versions of Bannon’s show live on at Apple and Google. Spotify took it down in November, according to one of its hosts. “Podcasts filled with hatred and incitement to violence should not be treated any differently than any other content,” Segal said. “If you’re going to take a strong stance against hate and extremism in the platform in any way, it should be all-inclusive.” Apple, Spotify and Google curate lists of top podcasts and recommend them to users. Apple and Spotify are the dominant players in the U.S., with other players far behind, said Dave Zohrob, CEO of the podcast analytics firm Chartable. Despite its name recognition, Google remains a tiny presence. Spotify said it takes down podcasts that violate its policies against hate speech, copyright violations or break any laws, using “algorithmic and human detection measures” to identify violations. Apple’s guidelines prohibit content that is illegal or promotes violence, graphic sex or drugs or is “otherwise considered obscene, objectionable, or in poor taste.” Apple did not reply to repeated questions about its content guidelines or moderation. Google declined to explain the discrepancy between what’s available on YouTube and what’s on Google Podcasts, saying only that its podcast service “indexes audio available on the web” much the way its search engine indexes web pages. The company said it removes podcasts from its platform “in very rare circumstances, largely guided by local law.” X22 Report and Bannon’s War Room were No. 20 and No. 32 on Apple’s list of top podcasts on Friday. (Experts say that list measures a podcast’s momentum rather than total listeners.) X22 Report said in October that it was suspended by YouTube and Spotify and last week by Twitter. It’s no longer available on Facebook, either. It is supported by ads for products such as survivalist food, unlicensed food supplements and gold coins, which run before and during the podcasts. The website for Red Pill News said YouTube banned its videos in October and that a Twitter suspension followed. The podcast is available on Apple and Google, but not Spotify. Several QAnon proponents affected by the crackdown sued YouTube in October, calling its actions a “massive de-platforming.” Among the plaintiffs are X22 Report, RedPill78 and David Hayes, who runs another conspiracy podcast called Praying Medic that’s available on Apple and Google, but not Spotify. Melody Torres, who podcasts at SoulWarrior Uncensored, self-identifies as a longtime QAnon follower and said in a recent episode that her podcast is “just my way of not being censored.” She said she was kicked off Twitter in January and booted from Instagram four times last year. She currently has Instagram, Facebook and YouTube accounts; her podcast is available on Apple and Google. Spotify removed the podcast Friday after The Associated Press inquired about it. X22 Report, RedPill78 and Hayes did not respond to requests for comment sent via their websites. Torres did not reply to a Facebook message. Podcasts suffer from the same misinformation problem as other platforms, said Shane Creevey, head of editorial for Kinzen, a startup created by former Facebook and Twitter executives that offers a disinformation tracker to companies, including some that host or curate podcasts. Creevey points out that it’s harder to analyze misinformation from video and audio than from text. Podcasts can also run for hours, making them difficult to monitor. And podcasting has additional challenges in that there are no reliable statistics on their audience, unlike a YouTube stream, which shows views, or a tweet or Facebook post, which shows likes and shares, Creevey said. But some argue that tech-company moderation is opaque and inconsistent, creating a new set of problems. Censorship “goes with the tide against what’s popular in any given moment,” said Jillian York, an expert at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital-rights group. Right now, she said, “that tide is against the speech of right-wing extremists … but tomorrow the tide might be against opposition activists.” ___ AP Technology Editor David Hamilton contributed to this article. Tali Arbel, The Associated Press

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NASA to Host Virtual Briefing on February Perseverance Mars Rover Landing – Stockhouse



PR Newswire

WASHINGTON , Jan. 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — NASA is hosting a media briefing on Wednesday, Jan. 27 , at 4:30 p.m. EST to discuss the upcoming landing of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. The event will air live on NASA TV, the agency’s website, and YouTube .

NASA Logo. (PRNewsFoto/NASA) (PRNewsFoto/) (PRNewsfoto/NASA)

Perseverance lands Feb. 18 , carrying new science instruments and technologies, including the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter on its belly. Perseverance will use a drill on the end of its robotic arm to capture rock and regolith (broken rock and dust) samples in metal tubes, which will be deposited on the surface of Mars for a future mission to collect and return to Earth. The rover will seek signs of ancient life on the Red Planet as a primary goal.

Perseverance was built and managed for NASA by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California .

Participating in the briefing are:

  • Thomas Zurbuchen , associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Lori Glaze , director, Planetary Science Division, NASA Headquarters
  • Matt Wallace , Mars 2020 deputy project manager, JPL
  • Allen Chen , Mars 2020 entry, descent, and landing lead, JPL
  • Ken Farley , Mars 2020 project scientist, Caltech
  • Briony Horgan, Mars 2020 science team member, Purdue University

Media who would like to ask questions via phone during the event must provide their name and affiliation by noon EST Tuesday, Jan. 26 , to Rexana Vizza at .

Media and the public also may ask questions on social media during the briefing using #CountdownToMars.

To learn more about Perseverance, visit:


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