Sunday, May 18, 2014

Earth's future - and the end of the universe - revealed: Amazing simulation shows how EVERYTHING will end

(DailyMail)  How will the universe end - with a bang or with a whimper?
According to this video it is very much the latter, but only after all life on Earth has long since disappeared.
Host Joe Hanson (@jtotheizzoe) takes us on a journey from near future to far future, and ultimately shows us how the universe might come to an end.In the video called 'The Far Future of the Universe' he starts with the postulation that most people on Earth alive today won’t be around in 100 years.
In 100,000 years the position of Earth in the Milky Way will have changed to such a degree that the constellations will look completely different in the night sky.
Any time in the next 500,000 years, meanwhile, we can expect Earth to be hit by an asteroid large enough to significantly alter our climate.
In 600 million years photosynthesis becomes impossible as too much carbon dioxide gets trapped in Earth's crust.
A billion years from today all multicellular life, including us, will be eradicated as the sun boils our oceans and destroys our greenery according to Hanson.
‘We wouldn’t want to be around for what comes next anyway,’ he jokes. Read More

Seeking Roots of Consciousness, Scientists Make Dreamers Self-Aware

(National Geographic)
The sensation of "Hey, this is a dream!" is known as lucid dreaming. Those who naturally become lucid while dreaming, probably a small segment of the population, also report adventures that are impossible in the real world, such as flying, that feel completely real. Some can even change a dream's narrative twists and turns to make it less scary—or even more exhilarating. (Related: "Why Do We Dream? To Ease Painful Memories, Study Hints.")
Lucid dreaming is exciting not only for dreamers but also for neuroscientists, who consider it a window into the study of consciousness. But until now, researchers have been hampered by how hard it is to provoke lucid dreaming in people who don't do it naturally. A new method published today in Nature Neuroscience might get around this difficulty, making it easier to stimulate lucid dreaming at will.
"We can really quite easily change conscious awareness in dreams," said lead investigator Ursula Voss, a clinical psychologist at Frankfurt University in Germany. She does this, she said, by delivering mild electrical stimulation to the sleeping person's brain. (Related: "Electric Jolt to Brain Boosts Math Skills.") Read More

Historic floods claim lives, wreak havoc in Bosnia, Serbia

(DW) Flooding continues to claim lives and devastate villages in Bosnia and Serbia. Three months' worth of rain has fallen in three days, the worst downpour in 120 years.
Rescue workers on Saturday were evacuating some 10,000 people from the northeastern Bosnian town of Bijeljina on the Serbian border as heavy rain left villages along the Sava River submerged in water.
So far, the floods have claimed more than 20 lives in Bosnia, according to officials. But the toll could rise as the waters recede and additional bodies emerge.
"More than 20 corpses have so far been brought to the city's morgue," Obren Petrovic, the mayor of northern town Doboj, told Bosnia's FTV public broadcaster.
Rescue efforts have been complicated by some 300 landslides, which have buried dozens of houses and cars. Roads have been rendered impassable and bridges have crumbled.
Bosnia's northeastern and central regions have been hit the hardest by the storms. Admir Malagic, a spokesman for the Security Ministry, said that one million people live in the affected area. That's approximately one-fifth of the country's overall population.
According to the Red Cross, Bosnian authorities have declared a state of emergence and evacuated people from 14 municipalities. That includes Doboj, Maglaj, Brcko District, Olovo, Lukavac, Kladanj, Srebrenica, Gradacac, and Zvornik among other communities. Read More

Overwhelming Cause of California Wildfires: Humans

(National Geographic Daily News
Whether the other blazes were set intentionally or by accident, experts say it's highly likely that humans are to blame. Two people were arrested north of San Diego on Thursday on suspicion of arson, though it's not clear if they are thought to be connected to this week's big fires. (Related: What's Behind Early Season Winds Fueling Southern California Wildfires?")
Unlike remote parts of the world where natural events like lightning strikes are prime sources of wildfires, in southern California, such fires are almost always started by people. Ninety-five percent have a human cause, according to Cal Fire, the state's firefighting agency.
The situation may worsen in the face of expected population growth. Metropolitan San Diego's population is expected to reach nearly 4.5 million by 2050, over a million more than today. (Pictures: San Diego Wildfires)
"The probability of fires is increasing because people are increasing," said the U.S. Geological Survey's Jon Keeley, who has spent years studying the history of California wildfires. Read More

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Nowhere to Run: Climate Change Will Affect Every Region of U.S.

[NBC]  No one will be spared.
A new White House report on how climate change will affect the United States is a catalog of doomsday scenarios that could play out in every region of the country — billion-dollar floods in Boston, killer heat waves in Chicago, forest-scorching wildfires in the Rockies and toxic algae in the Great Lakes.
It details how rising sea levels, higher temperatures and extreme weather could change everyday life and local economies in America if they proceed apace.
There will be effects at every level: individual (rain-swamped sewage systems could give your child diarrhea); community-based (a storm surge could wipe out your waterfront condo complex); and sweeping (whole forests changing species).
Could lack of water leave parts of the West uninhabitable as the end of the century nears? Will Phoenix, Arizona, simply become too hot a place to live? Could East Coast flooding turn Manhattan into a place to avoid?
"There will be some population shifts,” said Doug Parker, director of the California Institute for Water Resources.
"But I don't think there will be wholesale (changes) — like no one can live in Phoenix anymore, although people there may eventually begin to ask themselves how much they’re really willing to pay for air conditioning."
The bigger questions will come later, with the most dramatic changes taking place decades from now.
That's why Minda Berbeco of the National Center for Science Education said it's crucial that the adults of tomorrow — who will be forced to contend with the fish-poisoning outbreaks, virus-carrying mosquitos, chronic water shortages and crop losses — are educated on the climate changes happening today.
"It's not only a multigenerational problem — it's a huge opportunity," she said. "For each of the challenges pointed out in the report, there's an opportunity to work with mitigation and adaptation. This isn't just an adult problem. It's an everyone problem."
Here are just some of the worst-case scenarios outlined in the report, region by region: Read More