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Did you know Brazil’s President has a new approach to saving the environment?

Marcos Hernandez Article

When asked about the affect agriculture and deforestation have on greenhouse gas production, President Jair Bolsonaro had a novel suggestion: eat less food and poop every other day.

He said, “That will be better for the whole world,” after blaming the enviromental impact on population growth.

His comments come after his recent firing of the director of the National Institute of Space Research, the agency which reported an increase in deforestation.

The rate of deforestation was found to have increase 278% over the previous year.

President Bolsonaro might not know that the frequency human’s poop varies widely, from 3x/day to 3x/week. There are lots of reasons this plan won’t work, from physcial activity to consumption of liquids, all of which impact how often a person poops.

Did you know native Hawaiians oppose a massive telescope project?

Marcos Hernandez Article

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) derives its name from it’s planned thirty meter mirror. 

The TMT has drawn criticism from Native Hawaiians because of it’s proposed placement on the mountain Mauna Kea on the big island, sacred land in Hawaiian culture. The mountain is already home to multiple other observatories; these are viewed as previous desecrations.

The telescope’s construction was initially approved by Hawaii’s Board of Land and Natural Resources in 2014 but construction was put on hold until October 2018 by the Supreme Court of Hawaii. Construction was set to begin July 15th2019 but protestors blocked access to the mountain. 

Protests continue into August, causing the delayed project to look to Spain as an alternative. 

If built, it would be the world’s second largest, behind the Extremely Large Telescope under construction in Chile (astronomers must be too busy studying the stars to come up with creative names). These telescopes are being built with hopes of finding earth-like planets around other stars.

Did you know United States forces captured a Seminole leader through deceit?

Marcos Hernandez Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, and a Great American Land Grab

Osceola, a Seminole leader during the Second Seminole War, was taken prisoner after showing up to peace talks under a white flag of truce. This was a deliberate breach by US forces of accepted laws of war. The perpetrator, General Thomas Jessup, was supported by the US government and received no punishment for the deceit.

The Second Seminole War was the result of the United States attempt to force the Seminole tribe to leave their Florida lands and relocate west of the Mississippi River.

Rumor has it that when a few (but not all) Seminole chiefs signed the treaty to relocate, Osceola stabbed the document with his knife.

The incident which began the war were 1) when Osceola killed the US Indian agent and six others outside Fort King, and 2) the killing of 100 US troops by a group of Seminoles in an event known as the Dade Massacre.

After Osceola’s deceitful capture he was visited in prison by a famous portrait artist, who created an iconic picture of the former leader, complete with headdress, which is the basis for Indian statues outside cigar stores.

Osceola died in prison three months after his capture but his likeness/legacy lives on through numerous landmarks, towns, forests, counties, and lakes. Chief Osceola is also the mascot for the Florida State University Seminoles.

Did you know Australia has a feral cat problem?

Marcos Hernandez Article

Colonizers first brought cats to the island in the 18thcentury. Their numbers have grown so large–estimates range from 2-6 million–that they are decimating native wildlife. Per day, cats are estimated to feed on millions of birds, reptiles, and small mammals throughout the continent.

Feral cats are attributed to approx. 750 native animals deaths per year. Additionally, domesticated cats (pets) also contribute to the death toll with approx. 75 native animals each year. This combined total accumulates; up to 2 billion small animals native to Australia are killed by cats each year. 

Strategies authorites use in an attempt to control the population of feral cats include shooting, trapping, and poisonous sausages. The hope is to cull up to 2 million cats by 2020.

Airplanes drop the sausages, which contain one of two poisons, over large areas of land populated by the feral cats. 

One poison uses a substance derived from a native Australian plant, poisonus to the invasive cats but innocous to the native animals because evolution has equipped them with the necessary resistance. 

Another lethal compound, called Curiosity, comes in hard pellets. Studies have shown that native species avoid the hard pellets but they are swallowed whole by cats.

These measures may seem extreme but this is just anohter example of the damage that can be done by invasive species when left unchecked.

Did you know scientists have created a contact lens which can zoom based on blinks?

Marcos Hernandez Article

The contact lens was developed by scientists at the University of California San Diego. Double blinks control the level of zoom.

It works like this: the polymers which make up the lens change their shape when an electric current is applied. Electrodes around the eye detect when users blink, expanding of contracting the polymers, which makes the lens more concave or convex. This changing shape is what causes the lens to zoom in and out.

From the paper: “The system developed in the current study has the potential to be used in visual prostheses, adjustable glasses, and remotely operated robotics in the future.”

This is straight out of science fiction and a large reason why I read articles about current technology. A large part of my writing consists of the potential implications new technology might have on relationships among individuals and the powers which control their distribution. If this level of tech is already possible it inspires me to wonder what kinds of situations might exist in the future and what ethical boundaries might be blurred by users both good and bad.

Did you know scientists have found a thigh bone longer than most humans are tall?

Marcos Hernandez Article

The 2 meter (6.5 feet) bone belonged to a Sauropod, some of the largest dinosaurs to ever live. It was unearthed in southern France.

Sauropods were a group of dinosaurs characterized by long necks, long tails, and small heads. Perhaps the most famous Sauropod was the Brontosaurus.

These dinosaurs used their long necks to reach plants without moving the rest of their body, allowing the resources they consume to fuel their growth. Imagine how long they had to feed in order to grow as large as they did!

In order to support their massive bodies, the bones of their legs had to grow to massive proportions. Some scientists have speculated that these dinosaurs were able to get into a tripod stance, on their tails and two hind legs, which would place a tremendous requirement on the bones of the hind legs. The bone which was found weighs about 500kg, suggesting the animal it belonged to weighed 40-50 tons.

Did you know life has been found trapped in seawater beneath Alaska’s permafrost?

Marcos Hernandez Article

A team from the University of Washington has researched the pocket of seawater and found marine bacteria. These microbes could have been trapped for as long as 50,000 years. 

The researchers are interested in these pockets because they could provide clues as to how life could be sustained in extremem conditions. This particluar pocket of seawater is extremely salty, cold, and has no light exposure, yet life has thrived. 

The salt concentration is so high that in canned goods microbes wouldn’t be able “do anything,” according to marine microbiologist Jody Deming.

These pockets of seawater, called cryopegs, have been studied in both Alaska and Siberia. In order to study these areas researchers must travel through ice tunnels and be careful to sterilize their equipment so they won’t introduce new microbes to the environment. 

Cryopegs are formed when oceans recede and the waters above freeze over. If these pockets of seawater are able to form on Earth it is thought they could have also formed on other planets and their moons. For example, Mars is speculated to have once had an ocean and Saturn’s moon Titan is made of ice and rock.

Did you know India has launched a mission to the moon?

Marcos Hernandez Article

On July 22nd, 2019, India launched Chandrayaa-2, their second mission to the moon. It’s set to arrive in late August and will launch India into rare company as the fourth country to visit.

While the United States’s Apollo missions flew to the moon in a straight shot with large rockets, Chandrayaa-2 will orbit the earth in increasing orbits until the correct distance from Earth is reached. 

The mission cost India 140 million and the hope is for their rover to land on the moon’s south pole, where it is believed frozen water could be in the shadowed craters.

India’s first moon mission, Chandrayaa-1, also searched for water but didn’t attempt a moon landing.

The United States also has a plan to return to the moon. The plan is to land astronauts on the moon by 2024.

Did you know ocean pollution has caused a young man to run across the United States?

Marcos Hernandez Article

Twenty-two year old Sam Bencheghib plans to run 20 miles a day, 6 days a week, for six months to raise awareness for ocean plastics pollution. The run will cover approx. 3,100 miles. He will use shoes made with up-cycled plastics.

His passion began as a surfer in Bali, where he would paddle in trash alongside his brother. Together they would go on to found Make a Change World to raise awareness about pollution. One way they got peoples attention was to create a kayak out of plastic bottles and used them on a polluted river in Indonesia, a stunt which generated so much buzz the Indonesian President committed to clean up the river in seven years.

During his trip he plans to raise even more awareness by visiting local college campuses and city halls.

The effects of human’s on the environment is becoming more evident as time goes by and this is just the latest in a long line of young people hoping to change the world for the better before it’s too late.

Did you know cows can be genetically modified to produce less methane?

Marcos Hernandez Article

By modifying cows to burp and fart less, scientists hope to cut the amount of methane emissions from cattle.

Methane, a greenhouse gas, is a large problem in the agricultural industry and the contribution from digesting cattle is a major source. 

The rate of methane gas production has been linked to inherited gut microbes and if cattle were bred with these microbes in mind the cows would produce less methane.

Scientist John Wallace told Newsweekover 90 percent of the methane is burped. He went on to say there is the possiblity of cutting methane production by half.