UN: Zika virus will be ‘way down’ before Olympics

first_imgGENEVA (AP):The head of the World Health Organization’s Zika response team is predicting that Brazil will host a “fantastic Olympics”, and that the mosquito-borne virus will be “way down” by the time the Summer Games begin in Rio de Janeiro on August 5.Dr Bruce Aylward, WHO’s executive director for outbreaks and health emergencies, said yesterday at a news conference that the mosquito population is expected to drop off around when Rio hosts the games, since it will be winter in the southern hemisphere.Rio’s Olympic venues are also in a relatively confined area, he noted, making it easier for authorities to control the local mosquito population.”Brazil is going to have a fantastic Olympics and it’s going to be a successful Olympics and the world is going to go there,” Aylward said. “I just wish I was going there, but there’s not going to be a lot of problems there by then, so I’ll be somewhere else.”Aylward also pointed to the “probability” that the Zika virus will have “gone through” a large slice of the country’s population by then, so many Brazilians might have developed an immunity to the disease by the time of the August 5-21 games.Zika, however, is just the latest cloud hanging over Brazil ahead of South America’s first Olympics. The country is coping with its worst recession in 100 years, impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff and a wide-ranging corruption scandal centred on the state-controlled oil-and-gas giant Petrobras.Brazil has recorded more than one million suspected Zika infections in recent months amid strong concerns that the virus could be linked to a spike in the number of babies born with abnormally small heads microcephaly and to a rare neurological syndrome that can cause temporary paralysis in people of all ages.In Brazil yesterday, ministers, state governors, health authorities and members of the armed forces visited schools throughout the country to involve students in the nationwide campaign to eradicate the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads the Zika virus.WHO has declared a global health emergency due to the virus, saying it could produce as many as 4 million cases in the next year. The mosquitoes that spread Zika which also spread dengue and yellow fever are entrenched across the region and in a wide belt around the globe, mostly in tropical areas.last_img read more

Humboldt State’s losing streak extended to six games with loss to Stanislaus State

first_imgArcata >> As Calvin Young II whizzed a pass from the halfcourt line through the lane and out of bounds to completely miss his intended target, Tyler Green, Humboldt State head coach Steve Kinder could only look down at the floor and throw his hands up into the air in frustration.It was the kind of reaction that summed up the entire evening for Kinder and his squad.A painful 30-plus minutes on the offensive end of the floor equaled doom for the Humboldt State men’s basketball team, as …last_img read more

3 things: Giants’ Rodriguez dominated by Yankees’ reserve bats in sweep finale

first_imgEvery Giant was outmatched by his … Interleague play began back in 1997, and since then the mighty Yankees have yet to hand the Giants a series sweep.That is, until this weekend.Here are three observations from the Giants’ 11-5 loss to the Yankees on Sunday afternoon that sealed the sweep.Dereck Rodriguez loses his command, controlThis series wasn’t particularly fair. Even with their most potent bats injured, the Yankees were playing at a level lightyears ahead of the home team.last_img read more

What does 49ers deadline deal with Nick Bosa mean?

first_imgSANTA CLARA — Signing NFL draft picks to contracts is mostly a formality thanks to the 2011 installation of a pay scale, and, as a result, the 49ers have not had a top draft pick hold out even a full day before signing.Nick Bosa, this year’s No. 2 overall draft pick, will not buck that trend.A day before the 49ers start training camp, Bosa signed a four-year deal Thursday, as did wide receiver Deebo Samuel, a wide receiver.Bosa missed almost all of the organized team activities after …last_img read more

Farewell to the “Face on Mars” – A Teachable Moment

first_imgESA’s Mars Express orbiter has just sent back pictures of the Cydonia region on Mars.  Objects seen in early Viking images of this region resembled a face, a skull and pyramids that gave rise to a cult following on late-night talk shows.  NASA always discounted these resemblances as coincidental, and when JPL released higher-resolution photos from the Mars Global Surveyor (05/24/2001) it seemed to settle the matter.  The latest high-resolution color photos, showing the view from oblique angles, should put to final rest any speculations that intelligent aliens made the features as monuments.Late night talk show hosts and their so-called experts will probably not be convinced even now.  They will either continue to see intelligent design that isn’t there, or accuse the European Space Agency of conspiracy to fudge the data.  This is the power of belief in spite of evidence.  To show our good will, though, we will offer them a new Mars Odyssey picture loaded with putative faces to dream about, and we’ll even donate some extra pyramids.  The rest of us need not worry about the Martians, though.  They’re our friends.  They even sent us a Happy Face and a Valentine.    Teachers, however, can use this episode as an example of design detection principles.  We all tend to see faces in natural phenomena, but most of the time, we can usually tell when something was designed or not.  Compare Vermont’s erstwhile Old Man of the Mountain with Mount Rushmore.  This can be a fun project.    Finding images on the internet is easy with search engines.  Assemble as many lookalike images as you can and give children a test to see if they can tell which were designed, and which were due to natural causes or chance.  For each picture ask, “Designed or not designed?”  Explain, “That covers all the possibilities, doesn’t it?”  Either something was put together on purpose [by a mind] to say something or to do something, or else natural causes were sufficient to explain it.  Throw in some tricky ones to trip them up and make them think.  Here are some possibilities:Natural bush shapes vs bushes trimmed into animal shapes (topiary)Concretions vs cannonballsCave pearls (or natural pearls) vs ball bearingsArrowhead Springs geological feature vs a carved arrowheadNatural snowflakes vs jewelry shaped like a snowflakeBurrow tracks in rock vs hieroglyphicsBeetle tracks in wood vs graffiti carved on a treeRepresentational art vs abstract art (shows that design detection can produce false negatives, but usually not false positives if the specification is high)Mars “blueberries” vs rover scratch marks (e.g., MER).An archery target vs a uranium radiohaloA spirograph drawing vs the Spirograph NebulaThe “face on Mars” vs desert intaglios or Nazca linesThe “Martian canals” vs Valles MarinerisCave formations vs cave paintingsCave flowstone resembling organ pipes, vs real organ pipes (throw in this complication)Geological columnar basalt vs a stack of steel girdersA cave opening vs a rock-hewn tombA natural rock pile vs an archaeological rock wallRandom binary digits vs the Arecibo MessageRocks in random arrangements vs rocks piled up as a trail markerAlphabet soup at random vs the letters arranged to spell “chance”Lenticular cloud formations vs skywritingCrepuscular rays vs converging railroad tracksMushroom fairy ring vs Indian medicine wheelSaturn’s rings vs an AerobeeA blinking pulsar vs Morse CodeA cyclone, a spiral galaxy and a computer-generated spiralA geological ridge vs the Great Wall of ChinaPyramid-shaped mountains vs the Egyptian pyramidsSand ripples vs sand castlesStratified rock vs stair steps or a block wallA scrambled Rubik’s cube vs a solved one (one chance out of 43 quadrillion)Random Scrabble letters vs a pattern forming crosswordsA face-like rock formation vs Mt RushmoreAn outboard motor and a flagellumA solar eclipse [no correct answer; discuss reason for thinking design/coincidence]Juniors at a recent teaching session found this a lot of fun, and it conveys several important lessons about thinking without jumping to conclusions.  Then show them a bush carved into the shape of an animal, and the real animal.  Why should we infer intelligent design in the former, but not the latter?  This exercise can lead to further discussions about information and functional design (what it says or what it does), and whether Darwin’s mechanism can account for the origin of information.  Pictures like this can be worth thousands of words.Teaching tip: Kids might pay better attention if you make it a game.  Call up volunteers, for instance, to take turns answering “designed or not designed?” for various pictures.  Let the class vote on whether they answered correctly or not, and have them explain why.(Visited 18 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Geological Dates Collapse

first_imgTwo papers in Geology this month cast serious doubt on assumptions used to date rocks.Hundreds, Not Hundreds of ThousandsA “giant ore deposit” in Hungary thought to require hundreds of thousands of years of slow, gradual deposition to form has been re-examined.  Conclusion: it formed in just hundreds of years due to the action of microbes.  The abstract posted today in the journal Geology says it all:The Úrkút (Hungary) manganese (Mn) ore, hosted by Jurassic black shale, was studied using high-resolution mineralogical, microtextural, and chemical methods. Two independent superimposed biostructures were identified consisting of rhythmic laminations that provide important proxies for paleoenvironments and duration of ore formation. Millimeter-scale laminae reflect a depositional series of Fe-rich biomats, mineralized microbially produced sedimentary structures. These biomats formed at the sediment-water interface under dysoxic and neutral pH conditions by enzymatic Fe2+ oxidizing processes that may have developed on a daily to weekly growth cycle. The early diagenetic sedimentary ore is composed of Ca rhodochrosite, celadonite, and smectite, and also shows a 100-μm-scale element oscillation that produces Mn(Ca)-rich and Si(Fe clay)-rich microlaminae. This microlamination may reflect a 10 h to daily rhythmicity produced by the growth of microbial communities. If true, then the giant Úrkút ore deposit may have formed over hundreds of years, rather than hundreds of thousands of years as previously thought.Source: Polgári et al., Microbial action formed Jurassic Mn-carbonate ore deposit in only a few hundred years (Úrkút, Hungary), Geology, 10.1130/G33304.1 v. 40 no. 10 p. 903-906 .Cosmogenic Clock ResetA dating method that relies on constant bombardment by cosmic rays has new troubles.  Geologists had thought that cosmogenic radiation damage in the rocks accumulated at a steady rate.  They overlooked the scrambling of data due to debris flows, reports a Swiss team.  In Geology, the abstract of their paper, “Debris-flow–dependent variation of cosmogenically derived catchment-wide denudation rates” explains the problem:Catchment-wide denudation rates (CWDRs) obtained from cosmogenic nuclides are an efficient way to determine geomorphic processes quantitatively in alpine mountain ranges over Holocene time scales. These rate estimations assume steady geomorphic processes. Here we use a time series (3 yr) in the Aare catchment (central Swiss Alps) to test the impact of spatially heterogeneous stochastic sediment supply on CWDRs. Our results show that low-frequency, high-magnitude debris-flow events significantly perturb cosmogenic nuclide (10Be, 14C) concentrations and thus CWDRs. The 10Be concentrations decrease by a factor of two following debris-flow events, resulting in a doubling of inferred CWDRs. The variability indicates a clear time and source dependency on sediment supply, with restricted area-weighted mixing of sediment. Accordingly, in transient environments, it is critical to have an understanding of the history of geomorphic processes to derive meaningful CWDRs. We hypothesize that the size of debris flows, their connectivity with the trunk stream, and the ability of the system to sufficiently mix sediment from low- and high-order catchments control the magnitude of CWDR perturbations. We also determined in situ 14C in a few samples. In conjunction with 10Be, these data suggest partial storage for colluvium of a few thousand years within the catchment prior to debris-flow initiation.Source: Kober et al., Debris-flow–dependent variation of cosmogenically derived catchment-wide denudation rates, Geology, doi: 10.1130/G33406.1 v. 40 no. 10 p. 935-938.Most of us learn the lesson, “never assume,” the hard way.  Both dating methods assumed simple, uniform, slow-and-gradual processes produced these deposits.  In one case, errors were found at least 3 orders of magnitude, leading to the conclusion that a giant ore deposit took only a few hundred years to form, not hundreds of thousands of years.  In the second case, assumption of “steady geomorphic processes” was exaggerated by a factor of two or more.None of this is to allege that these geologists have changed their minds about the standard evolutionary billions-of-years timeline.  The first authors, for instance, believe the quick deposition of the ore occurred in the Jurassic, over 100 million years ago.  The second authors are only cautioning about calculating dates with steady-state assumptions.  The lesson here concerns philosophy of science: measurements by fallible humans who weren’t there and don’t know all the factors can produce erroneous conclusions that become ensconced in textbooks as The Truth About the World.  No; the second paper states: “it is critical to have an understanding of the history of geomorphic processes to derive meaningful” rates.  But there’s the rub; is this possible?  What human being is capable of gaining “an understanding of the history of geomorphic processes” for any location, when he or she was not there to watch?  There could always be some other geomorphic (landscape-forming) process that was not considered, such as the debris flows discussed here.  What else will be suggested in future studies?  Can anybody except an Eyewitness ever claim that, yes, “now we know” ALL the processes that contributed to a given landscape?  The question answers itself. 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