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Scientists narrow age estimate for fossils of human ancestor – Rhyl Journal

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Scientists say they have finally calculated the age of the youngest known remains of Homo erectus, which is generally considered an ancestor of our species.

The fossilised skull fragments and other bones were uncovered on the Indonesian island of Java in the 1930s. Determining their age has been a scientific challenge, and a wide range has been proposed by numerous studies.

In a report released by the journal Nature, scientists conclude the remains are between 108,000 and 117,000 years old.

The Solo River in Java, Indonesia near the site where Homo erectus fossils were found (Kira Westaway/Macquarie University via AP)

Researchers used five dating techniques on sediments and fossil animal bones from the area, combining 52 age estimates for the analysis. The project took 13 years to complete.

Paleoanthropologist Russell Ciochon of the University of Iowa, an author of the study, said: “I don’t see any way to date this site more thoroughly.”

Homo erectus arose in Africa about 2 million years ago and spread widely there and in Asia, and possibly into Europe. It reached Java more than 1.5 million years ago, and the new dates suggest it died out at least 35,000 years before the arrival there of our own species, Homo sapiens.

Professor Russell Ciochon holds a cast of a Homo erectus skull
Professor Russell Ciochon holds a cast of a Homo erectus skull (Tim Schoon/University of Iowa via AP)

Homo erectus may have been doomed on Java by climate change that turned its open woodland environment into rainforest, Mr Ciochon said. Still, it evidently existed longer on Earth than any other species on our “Homo” branch of the evolutionary tree.

Susan Anton, a New York University anthropologist who did not participate in the work, called the dating effort “heroic”. But she said she considered the reported age range to be too narrow. She said she preferred a span of less than 550,000 years old to more than 100,000 years old.

That is roughly what she and co-authors proposed in a paper published in 2011. The younger end of the range in that paper was as recent as 120,000 years, which she said is virtually the same as the new result.

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One in 10 young Black adults have contracted COVID-19 in Canada: survey – Montreal Gazette

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It’s almost three times as much as the general population.

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At least one in 10 young Black adults across Canada has reported contracting the coronavirus during the pandemic — a rate that is two and a half times that of the general population, a new survey has found.

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Researchers from McGill University and the Black Community Resource Centre of Montreal commissioned the Léger polling firm to conduct a national survey in January of 346 Black-identifying Canadians between the ages of 18 and 35. Most of the respondents of the online survey came from Ontario, 43 per cent, followed by Quebec at 35 per cent.

The survey sought to assess family and peer support among young Black adults during the twin crises of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement following the choking death of George Floyd by a police officer.

“Regarding participants’ experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic, 10 per cent reported having contracted the virus and 36 per cent reported that someone they knew personally had contracted the (coronavirus),” the study notes. “Furthermore, 36 per cent of participants reported being an essential worker — for example, nurses, physicians, psychologists, etc — and another 35 per cent reported that a family member was an essential worker.”

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Richard Koestner, one of the authors of the study and the director of the McGill Human Motivation Lab, said the 10-per-cent figure among Black Canadians is likely an under-estimate. The preprint of the study is under review by the Journal of Black Psychology.

To date, testing has confirmed COVID-19 in 3.75 per cent of the Canadian population, according to the latest government figures. In Quebec, the rate is 4.38 per cent.

The findings of the study add to a body of research that the pandemic has disproportionately harmed racialized communities around the world. Koestner and his colleagues alluded to U.S. research that found that COVID-19 infection rates in Black communities have been twice as high and death rates three times as high as the general population.

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“There is growing concern that racial and ethnic minority communities around the world are experiencing a disproportionate burden of morbidity and mortality from (COVID-19),” conclude the authors of a separate study that examined the impact of the pandemic on U.S. veterans.

And in a study released this month by the Public Health Agency of Canada, the authors renew calls for the collection of racial data not only to better study COVID-19 but to go “beyond the scope of the pandemic to identify disparities in health care and find solutions to minimize this gap.”

“Increased risk of COVID-19 infection has frequently been linked with socioeconomic factors such as poor housing and precarious employment,” the authors add. “The intersection of race, socioeconomic status and health is of particular importance to racialized persons, who consistently report higher rates of working poverty, below-standard housing and lower income.”

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Seeta Ramdass, a longtime patient-rights advocate in Montreal, noted that unconscious bias often creeps into health care. She cited as an example the pulse oximeter placed on a patient’s finger to detect oxygen saturation in the blood. Such devices are considered less accurate when measuring black and brown skin.

“The refusal and failure to collect sociocultural data is systemic racism,” Ramdass said. “By failing to acknowledge and to document the inequitable experiences of racialized and marginalized people, how can you even begin to put the corrective measures in place that will make society more inclusive and responsive toevery person of every community?”

  1. A new study looked into how the coronavirus pandemic affected Canada's Black population specifically.

    The grim impact of COVID-19 on Black Canadians

  2. As of mid-February, Quebec expects more than 700,000 vaccine doses over next seven weeks.

    Montreal groups to call for release of race-based COVID-19 data

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NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has discovered water vapor on Jupiter's ocean moon Ganymede for the first time – Yahoo News

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Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter and the largest moon in the Solar System, 2001. Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Astronomers have discovered evidence of water vapor in the atmosphere of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede for the first time.

Ganymede, the largest moon in the solar system, is covered in an icy crust. Scientists believe Ganymede may have a liquid ocean 100 miles beneath its surface, and that such an ocean could host aquatic alien life.

On Monday NASA announced that, by looking through the last two decades of data from the Hubble Space Telescope, researchers had discovered evidence of water vapor in the Jupiter moon’s thin atmosphere. This water probably doesn’t come from the underground ocean, though. Instead, it’s likely ice vaporizing from the moon’s surface.

Even though it doesn’t say much about the moon’s potential for alien life, this water vapor adds to scientists’ understanding of Ganymede’s atmosphere. Previously, they only knew that it contained oxygen.

“So far only the molecular oxygen had been observed,” Lorenz Roth of the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, who led the team who found the vapor, told NASA. “This is produced when charged particles erode the ice surface.”

The research and datasets were published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX Lands $178 Million Contract With NASA For Mission To Jupiter's Moon Europa – Mashable India

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It has recently come to light that Elon Musk’s SpaceX, an American aerospace manufacturer, space transportation services and communications company, was awarded a $178 million launch services contract for NASA’s first mission focusing on Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.

SEE ALSO: SpaceX Announces All-Civilian Mission. Here’s How To Enter To Win A Seat.

As reported by Reuters, the Europa Clipper mission is due for blastoff in October 2024 on a Falcon Heavy rocket owned by SpaceX from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA hasn’t revealed any details yet as to whether other companies may have also bid on the Europa Clipper launch contract.

Europa Clipper mission’s objectives include the production of high-resolution images of Europa’s surface, determine its composition, look for signs of geologic activity, measure the thickness of its icy shell and determine the depth and salinity of its ocean.

The report notes that it was back in April that SpaceX was awarded a $2.9 billion contract to build the lunar lander spacecraft for the planned Artemis program that would carry NASA astronauts back to the moon for the first time since 1972. However, the contract got suspended after two rival space companies, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics Inc, protested against the SpaceX selection.

SEE ALSO: Elon Musk’s Starlink Internet Launch In India Is Under Scrutiny Even Before Beta Services Get Underway: Here’s Why

In other SpaceX related news, Elon Musk recently said that SpaceX’s Mars-bound starship might launch a vehicle that can ‘chomp up’ space debris with the help of its door. This seems like a good idea as space debris is posing a major problem where the European Space Agency or ESA has claimed that there are 34,000 objects greater than 10cm in diameter and 900,000 that measure between one and 10cm circling the Earth.

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