Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Daily 2 Cents: Yellowstone Supervolcano Larger Than Previously Thought -- One-Way Trip To Mars -- Creepy 'Insectoid' Video


Yellowstone supervolcano 2.5 time bigger than previously thought

The supervolcano that lies beneath Yellowstone National Park in the US is far larger than was previously thought, scientists report.

A study shows that the magma chamber is about 2.5 times bigger than earlier estimates suggested.

A team found the cavern stretches for more than 90km (55 miles) and contains 200-600 cubic km of molten rock.

The findings are being presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco.

Prof Bob Smith, from the University of Utah, said: “We’ve been working there for a long time, and we’ve always thought it would be bigger... but this finding is astounding."

If the Yellowstone supervolcano were to blow today, the consequences would be catastrophic.

The last major eruption, which occurred 640,000 years ago, sent ash across the whole of North America, affecting the planet’s climate.

Now researchers believe they have a better idea of what lies beneath the ground.

The team used a network of seismometers that were situated around the park to map the magma chamber.

Dr Jamie Farrell, from the University of Utah, explained: “We record earthquakes in and around Yellowstone, and we measure the seismic waves as they travel through the ground.

“The waves travel slower through hot and partially molten material… with this, we can measure what’s beneath.” Read more at BBC

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One-way Mars trip is set to launch in 2018

The company aiming to send humans on a one-way Mars trip is set to launch a robotic mission by 2018.

With more than 200,000 applicants signed up for a one-way ticket to Mars, the ambitious Mars One project has been at the receiving end of a fair amount of skepticism since announcing its intentions to have humans living and working on the Red Planet by as early as 2024.

The seemingly infeasible goal has done little to dampen the company's enthusiasm however as this week Mars One have announced plans to send a robotic mission to Mars within just four years.

The mission is aimed at testing out the technologies that will be needed to send humans to Mars and will consist of a lander and a communications satellite. Aerospace company Lockheed Martin will be working on the lander while UK-based company Surrey Satellites has been contracted to work on the satellite.

Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp described the endeavor as "the first step in Mars One's overall plan of establishing a permanent human settlement on Mars." If it goes ahead then it will already be entering the record books as the first ever privately funded mission to another planet. Read more at TheGuardian

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1.34-Million-Year-Old Hominin Found in Tanzania

A 1.34-million-year-old partial skeleton of the Plio-Pleistocene hominin Paranthropus boisei – including arm, hand, leg and foot fragments – found at the Olduvai Gorge site in Tanzania represents one of the most recent occurrences of the hominin before its extinction in East Africa.

Paranthropus boisei was a long-lived species of archaic hominin that first evolved in East Africa about 2.3 million years ago.

The first skull of Paranthropus boisei, dated to 1.75 million years old, was discovered in 1959 at Olduvai by the anthropologist Dr Mary Leakey. A number of hominin’s skull fossils have been discovered over the years, but the build and skeletal adaptations of the rest of the Paranthropus boisei‘s body have been unknown, until now.

During Olduvai excavations in 2010-2011, anthropologist Dr Charles Musiba of the University of Colorado Denver with colleagues unearthed the partial skeleton of a large adult individual who is represented by various teeth and skeletal parts.

“This is the first time we’ve found bones that suggest that this creature was more ruggedly built – combining terrestrial bipedal locomotion and some arboreal behaviors – than we’d previously thought. It seems to have more well-formed forearm muscles that were used for climbing, fine-manipulation and all sorts of behavior,” said Dr Musiba, who is a co-author of the paper published in the journal PLoS ONE.

“We are starting to understand the physiology of these individuals of this particular species and how it actually adapted to the kind of habitat it lived in. We knew about the kind of food it ate – it was omnivorous, leaning more toward plant material – but now we know more: how it walked around and now we know it was a tree climber.”

“The size of the arm bones suggests strong forearms and a powerful upper body. It’s a different branch on our ancestry tree. It came later than the other hominins, so the question now is what happened to it? We’re going to do more work on biomechanics and see what else this creature was doing.”

The Paranthropus boisei individual likely stood 1.0 to 1.4 m tall and possessed a robust frame.

“We know that it was very strong. It’s unprecedented to find how strong this individual was. The stronger you are the more adaptive you are,” Dr Musiba said. - Sci-News

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Creepy 'Insectoid' Video

A man was filming in Russia and caught a large stick-like alien climbing on a building across the way. This thing is huge and quite nimble.

Looks hoaxed to me. Is it a 'Slenderman?' Regardless of the origin, it's still weird...Lon

Click for video or cut/paste http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdscxcSG6P0

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