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Though researchers continue to hunt for the mysterious Planet 9, experts have discovered evidence that another planet, residing between Uranus and Saturn, "escaped" billions of years ago.

The research, published in the scientific journal Icarus, suggests that an "ice giant" was "kicked out" in the early days of the solar system by unknown forces.

“We now know that there are thousands of planetary systems in our Milky Way galaxy alone,” the study's lead author, Carnegie Mellon University researcher Matt Clement said in a statement. “But it turns out that the arrangement of planets in our own solar system is highly unusual, so we are using models to reverse engineer and replicate its formative processes. This is a bit like trying to figure out what happened in a car crash after the fact – how fast were the cars going, in what directions, and so on.”

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The Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS) has found a curious metal monolith that looks like it belongs in a science fiction film planted in a remote part of the state's desert. So far no one has an explanation for why, how, or even how long it has been there. It's probably an obscure art installation, but everyone is very aware of the resemblance to the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and wondering if 2020 still has some cards to play.

The discovery was made when a DPS helicopter crew were counting bighorn sheep on a joint mission with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR). The sheep get into some very remote and inaccessible places and the crew was flying far into the desert when one spotted something that definitely didn't belong.

Upon landing the crew found a metal object almost the height of one crew member standing on another's shoulders. Although it might look like it dropped from a passing plane, it is embedded in the ground in a way that suggests deliberate effort.

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In the tense days after the presidential election, a team of Facebook employees presented the chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, with an alarming finding: Election-related misinformation was going viral on the site.

President Trump was already casting the election as rigged, and stories from right-wing media outlets with false and misleading claims about discarded ballots, miscounted votes and skewed tallies were among the most popular news stories on the platform.

In response, the employees proposed an emergency change to the site’s news feed algorithm, which helps determine what more than two billion people see every day. It involved emphasizing the importance of what Facebook calls “news ecosystem quality” scores, or N.E.Q., a secret internal ranking it assigns to news publishers based on signals about the quality of their journalism.

Typically, N.E.Q. scores play a minor role in determining what appears on users’ feeds. But several days after the election, Mr. Zuckerberg agreed to increase the weight that Facebook’s algorithm gave to N.E.Q. scores to make sure authoritative news appeared more prominently, said three people with knowledge of the decision, who were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations.

#facebook #fb #internet #fakenews #hatespeech #martketing

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When you imagine dinosaurs battling it out, the first match-up that comes to mind is Triceratops vs. T. rex. In our collective imagination they are fighting eternally. It's the clash of the titans. But did these battles actually take place?

Yes. Yes they did. We have the fossil to prove it, and for the first time ever, the public will be able to take a look.

The fossil -- nicknamed "Dueling Dinosaurs" -- was initially discovered in 2006, but until now has only been seen by a select few. It shows a T. rex and a Triceratops in mid-battle, literally fighting to the death. The pair are preserved in a fossil going on display for the first time at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, The Charlotte Observer reported on Nov. 17.

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Just after sunset on the evening of Dec. 21, Jupiter and Saturn will appear closer together in Earth's night sky than they have been since the Middle Ages, offering people the world over a celestial treat to ring in the winter solstice.

"Alignments between these two planets are rather rare, occurring once every 20 years or so, but this conjunction is exceptionally rare because of how close the planets will appear to one another," said Rice University astronomer Patrick Hartigan. "You'd have to go all the way back to just before dawn on March 4, 1226, to see a closer alignment between these objects visible in the night sky."

Jupiter and Saturn have been approaching one another in Earth's sky since the summer. From Dec. 16-25, the two will be separated by less than the diameter of a full moon.

"On the evening of closest approach on Dec 21 they will look like a double planet, separated by only 1/5th the diameter of the full moon," said Hartigan, a professor of physics and astronomy. "For most telescope viewers, each planet and several of their largest moons will be visible in the same field of view that evening."

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In August 2019, Iceland held a funeral for the Okjökull Glacier, the first Icelandic glacier lost to climate change. The community commemorated the event with a plaque in recognition of this irreversible change and the grave impacts it represents. Globally, glacier melt rates have nearly doubled in the last five years, with an average loss of 832 mmw.e. (millimeters water equivalent) in 2015, increasing to 1,243 mmw.e. in 2020 (WGMS). This high rate of loss decreases glacial stores of freshwater and changes the structure of the surrounding ecosystem.

In the last 10 years, warming in the Arctic has outpaced projections so rapidly that scientists are now suggesting that the poles are warming four times faster than the rest of the globe. This has led to glacier melt and permafrost thaw levels that weren’t forecast to happen until 2050 or later. In Siberia and northern Canada, this abrupt thaw has created sunken landforms, known as thermokarst, where the oldest and deepest permafrost is exposed to the warm air for the first time in hundreds or even thousands of years.

As the global climate continues to warm, many questions remain about the periglacial environment. Among them: as water infiltration increases, will permafrost thaw more rapidly? And, if so, what long-frozen organisms might “wake up”?

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The fountain of youth may be made of air, not water.

Scientists say they’ve successfully reversed the aging process of elderly people through “oxygen therapy” in a first-of-its-kind study.

Researchers from Tel Aviv University used hyperbaric oxygen chambers to target specific cells and DNA linked to shorter lifespans — and found the “Holy Grail” of staying young, according to a press release about the discovery.

During the study, researchers investigated whether the therapy — which involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized environment — could reverse the effects of aging in 35 people over age 64, according to the study, which was published Wednesday in the journal Aging.

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Look up at the night sky and, if you're away from city lights, you'll see stars. The space between those bright points of light is, of course, filled with inky blackness.

Some astronomers have wondered about that all that dark space--about how dark it really is.

"Is space truly black?" says Tod Lauer, an astronomer with the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Arizona. He says if you could look at the night sky without stars, galaxies, and everything else known to give off visible light, "does the universe itself put out a glow?"

It's a tough question that astronomers have tried to answer for decades. Now, Lauer and other researchers with NASA's New Horizons space mission say they've finally been able to do it, using a spacecraft that's travelling far beyond the dwarf planet Pluto. The group has posted their work online, and it will soon appear in the Astrophysical Journal.

New Horizons was originally designed to explore Pluto, but after whizzing past the dwarf planet in 2015, the intrepid spacecraft just kept going. It's now more than four billion miles from home—nearly 50 times farther away from the Sun than the Earth is.

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In a Facebook post Tuesday, the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center said the bird was rescued after the 75-foot Norway spruce was cut down Thursday in Oneonta, roughly 80 miles southwest of Albany and around 170 miles north of its final stop in New York City.

A worker who helped transport and secure the tree discovered the owl and his wife called the center, the post said.

“He’s got the baby owl in a box tucked in for the long ride,” the woman said, according to the post.

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Pfizer Inc and BioNTech could secure emergency U.S. and European authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine next month after final trial results showed it had a 95% success rate and no serious side effects, the drugmakers said on Wednesday.

The vaccine's efficacy was found to be consistent across different ages and ethnicities - a promising sign given the disease has disproportionately hurt the elderly and certain groups including Black people.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration could grant emergency-use by the middle of December, BioNTech Chief Executive Ugur Sahin told Reuters TV. Conditional approval in the European Union could be secured in the second half of December, he added.

"If all goes well I could imagine that we gain approval in the second half of December and start deliveries before Christmas, but really only if all goes positively," he said.

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For almost a century, astronomers have understood that the Universe is in a state of expansion. Since the 1990s, they have come to understand that as of 4 billion years ago, the rate of expansion has been speeding up.

As this progresses, and the galaxy clusters and filaments of the Universe move farther apart, scientists theorize that the mean temperature of the Universe will gradually decline.

But according to new research led by the Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP) at Ohio State University, it appears that the Universe is actually getting hotter as time goes on.

After probing the thermal history of the Universe over the last 10 billion years, the team concluded that the mean temperature of cosmic gas has increased more than 10 times and reached about 2.2 million K (~2.2 °C; 4 million °F) today.

The study that describes their findings, "The Cosmic Thermal History Probed by Sunyaev–Zeldovich Effect Tomography", recently appeared in The Astrophysical Journal.

The study was led by Yi-Kuan Chiang, a research fellow at the CCAP, and included members from the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU), The Johns Hopkins University, and the Max-Planck-Institute for Astrophysics.

For the sake of their study, the the team examined thermal data on the Large-Scale Structure (LSS) of the Universe. This refers to patterns of galaxies and matter on the largest of cosmic scales, which is the result of the gravitational collapse of dark matter and gas.

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An astrophysicist at the University of Bologna and a neurosurgeon at the University of Verona compared the network of neuronal cells in the human brain with the cosmic network of galaxies... and surprising similarities emerged.

In their paper published in Frontiers in Physics, Franco Vazza (astrophysicist at the University of Bologna) and Alberto Feletti (neurosurgeon at the University of Verona) investigated the similarities between two of the most challenging and complex systems in nature: the cosmic network of galaxies and the network of neuronal cells in the human brain.

Despite the substantial difference in scale between the two networks (more than 27 orders of magnitude), their quantitative analysis, which sits at the crossroads of cosmology and neurosurgery, suggests that diverse physical processes can build structures characterized by similar levels of complexity and self-organization.

The human brain functions thanks to its wide neuronal network that is deemed to contain approximately 69 billion neurons. On the other hand, the observable universe is composed of a cosmic web of at least 100 billion galaxies. Within both systems, only 30% of their masses are composed of galaxies and neurons. Within both systems, galaxies and neurons arrange themselves in long filaments or nodes between the filaments. Finally, within both systems, 70% of the distribution of mass or energy is composed of components playing an apparently passive role: water in the brain and dark energy in the observable Universe.

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