Meet Steve, A Recently Discovered Atmospheric Phenomenon

steve aurora

Steve is an atmospheric phenomenon recently spotted by aurora watchers.


The group of Borealis enthusiasts, known as the Alberta Aurora Chasers, were recently combing through old photos of their favorite light phenomenon when they came across a few images of something they had not noticed before. Several of their photos had a bright purple streak that had not yet been identified. They have chosen to call this new phenomenon “Steve”.

What is Steve?

The AAC is a Facebook page that attracts membership interested in the night sky, especially the Aurora Borealis. They take photographs of an atmospheric phenomenon and share them on the page. Many of the photos are viewed by experts in the field, who also share the amateur’s passion. One of those experts is Eric Donovan from the University of Calgary.

While looking through the photos one evening, Donovan discovered the strange arc of purple light. He had not noticed it before in pictures. It reappeared in several other photographs taken by the group. The AAC had been referring to the atmospheric phenomenon as a “Proton Arc”. Donovan was not so sure, and in order to confirm his suspicions, he was able to use the European Space Agency’s Swarm satellites. This is a trio of devices in orbit that examine Earth’s magnetic field.

He discovered that the event is due to a sudden change in temperature far above the Earth’s surface, almost 3000 degrees Centigrade. This causes the gasses in the air beneath it to travel at speeds close to six kilometers per second, as opposed to the ten meters per second of the surrounding gasses. It also creates the purple streak, which Swarm has recorded several times since then.

“It turns out that Steve is actually remarkably common, but we hadn’t noticed it before.”
This is according to Professor Donovan, who stated that, together with his team, he would continue studying Steve and even try to release a paper on it.
The name of the phenomenon was chosen by the Facebook group, mostly as a joke. They would refer to “Hey, there’s Steve.” whenever they saw the event in a photo. This is a reference to the movie “Over the Hedge”. One even went so far as to develop an acronym, “Sudden Thermal Emission from Velocity Enhancements”.
Image Source: Wikimedia

Easter Can Come With A Number Of Dangers For Pets

pest during easter

Easter can come with many threats and dangers for our pets.

Easter is a time of joy and rebirth, but for our beloved pets, it can also be a period riddled with almost unbelievable dangers. Anything from chocolate to the decorations used to celebrate the holiday can potentially turn into a problem.

Pet and especially dog owners should keep a careful watch over their animal friends. Dogs are known to have a sweet tooth when it comes to chocolate. As such, the Easter baskets filled with chocolate eggs or candies could be quite an enticing treat. However, they can also be a cause of great, even fatal problems for a dog or a cat. Over the last years, dark chocolate has been gaining favor as it is considered a “healthier treat”. Nonetheless, this too should be offered in limited quantities.

Chocolate contains a caffeine-like stimulant that, in pets, can lead to vomiting, hyperactivity or even an increased pulse. It can even lead to seizures, in more severe cases.

“In addition, the fat content in candy and chocolate can cause harm to a pet’s pancreas.”

This is according to the Central California Animal Disaster Team, which released a reminder about the dangers to pets brought on by Easter.

Pets Should Also Be Kept Away From Easter Decorations, Which Wil Be For Their Own Good

This spring holiday also comes with a number of other threats, besides the increased presence of chocolaty treats. More exactly, the Easter decorations themselves were listed on the “be careful” category.

The pink, green or blue colored plastic grass used in most baskets can reportedly seem appetizing to our four-legged friends. However, if ingested, these plastic materials can cause blockages in the intestines. This can lead to dehydration or vomiting.

A pet could also take a bite out of plastic foam eggs. These may also lead to problems as it may potentially affect the animal’s digestive tract. Stuffed animals should also be kept away from alive ones as pets could potentially ingest the toys’ tiny components.

A complete list of potential threats for a pet throughout Easter was posted by the ASPCA or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Image Source: Wikimedia

NASA Is Offering Parts Of Earth Up For Adoption

offering parts of the world map

NASA will be offering parts of Earth up for virtual adoption as part of its newest campaign.

NASA will be offering parts of Earth up for virtual adoption as part of its newest campaign. This will be held as part of the Earth Day 2017 celebration, which will occur on April 22nd. The aerospace agency’s specially set website states that there are 64,000 pieces of land that will be waiting to be adopted.

Virtually Offering Parts Of The Earth May Help People Gain More Information On The Planet

NASA stated that each virtual parcel would correspond to a real one averaging around 55 miles wide. Also, according to the aerospace agency, after they are all “adopted”, the space administration will be looking to offer them up for adoption yet again.

According to NASA, its purpose will be to offer people to chance to learn more about the planet. They will do so as they will be offered access to the same information and resources presently available to scientists. More exactly, after “adopting” the piece of land, the respective user will have access to data layers.

These will represent a wide variety of climate variables, for example, carbon monoxide levels or relative humidity ones. They may also offer information on sea ice or chlorophyll, among others.

As it is offering parts of the Earth, the agency also pointed out that not all of them will come with such additional information. It also offered an explanation for these possible absences.

“It may be a data gap. […] Another reason for no data is that some satellites only take measurements at specific atmospheric heights or a given scene may not include what they’re looking for, […]”

Yet another offered explanation points out the fact that some satellites do not cover areas situated in the far polar regions. Also, not all the data from such transmissions come at the same time or date. This is because the various Earth parts are covered by different satellites.

Besides offering parts of Earth up for adoption, NASA also lets users share this fact, which may show their support for Earth Day 2017.

Image Source: Pixabay

Science Is Looking For The First Picture Of A Black Hole

black hole

Astronomers are trying to capture the first actual photo of a black hole, more exactly, Sagittarius A

Astronomers have set their telescopes towards a new target. They are trying to capture the first actual photo of a black hole. More exactly, they will be looking to snap a picture of Sagittarius A. This latter is the supermassive black hole situated at the center of the Milky Way.

This Could Be The Astronomers’ First Actual Look At A Black Hole

In order to achieve this feat, the specialist will be using the ALMA in Chile and seven other radio telescopes situated across the world. One of them, for example, can be found at the South Pole. ALMA or the Atacama Millimetre Array, as well as the seven others, will be targeting the same patch of night sky. They will be monitoring it for 10 days straight.

Spotting Sagittarius A will be quite a challenging task. Allegedly, astronomers would need a telescope 1,000 stronger than the Hubble Space Telescope so as to actually ‘see’ this black hole.

In order to achieve this goal, an international team of researchers united in a project known as Event Horizon Telescope. Through this, the astronomers will be trying to create a ‘virtual telescope’. This will actually be a collection of the observatories named above, all targeting the same patch in perfect timing.

Even if the project is successful, scientists will not actually take a picture of a black hole. This cannot be done as not even light can escape from it. Instead, the team is hoping the snap a photo or see the “swirling hot material around the black hole”. They are also hoping to see a ‘silhouette” imprinted in such a glow.

“The silhouette, that black region, that’s the actual black hole.”

This is all according to Dr. Alan Duffy. He is a Swinburne University astrophysicist involved with the project. Dr. Duffy compared the Event Horizon’s task to finding a CD on the Moon, although this black hole is about 3 to 4 million times bigger than the Sun.

Image Source: Wikimedia

Volkswagen to Pay for Californian Clean Air Standards

volkswagen logo

Volkswagen settled another one of its cases that regard the Californian clean air standards.

On September 18th, 2015, the United States Environmental Protection Agency found that Volkswagen bypassed the Clean Air Act. The automaker installed engine control units in an inappropriate way. Two years afterward, the emissions scandal is still unraveling its large array of consequences. The company has to cover a settlement to a total of 10 states, including Washington. This is the first time these states managed to demand prejudices according to the Clean Air Standards legally.

The Infringement of Clean Air Standards Demands $157 Million Settlement

On Thursday, Volkswagen managed to solve another hurdle of its 2015 emissions scandal. The German automaker agreed on its settlement with 10 American states, leaving behind another series of lawsuits. Thus, the company is going to cover prejudices amounted to $157 million. The multi-million funds will go to Oregon, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Washington. All these regions adopted the Californian clean air standards.

This settlement is not the same one with a 2016 agreement that was made with a total of 44 states for $603 million. Last year, the lawsuit involved products with 2-liter engines. This time, the settlement regarded vehicles with diesel engines with six cylinders and a capacity of three liters.

The Case Will be Used as Precedent in Future Federal Lawsuits

Eric Schneiderman, the New York Attorney General, stated that this victory marks the first time when the ten states above received penalties according to their own emissions laws. This is not just a one-time case. This settlement will mark a historical precedent. Experts are sure that this case will prove to be an unfailing pillar in the future federal endeavors. This is because the President of the United States expects fund cuts for environmental enforcements, leaving California and New York alone in their fight against infringements of clean air standards.

Since the outbreak of its 2015 emissions scandal, Volkswagen had to cover a total of $20 billion expenses. These costs went to car repairments, bought back vehicles, and a series of lawsuits and civil fines related to the environmental impact of its products. The silver lining in all these clouds is that EPA allowed the company to put on the market a series of cars with 2015 model diesel engines. These proved to have everything in order according to the clean air standards.

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A Certain Type of Exercise Is a Youth Elixir in Disguise

aerobic class

One type of exercise can prove to be a real youth elixir especially for senior people.

Aging has been providing an inexhaustible source of research for the scientific world. This life process that all humans are convicted to is barely the accumulation of changes that we go through. A new study highlights the importance of exercises. Instead of adding to the spectrum of changes, this preoccupation keeps the body strong and fortifies it against deterioration. While all types of physical activities are good, there is a particular one that scientists found it to be a real youth elixir.

The Youth Elixir is the High-Intensity Interval Training

The journal Cell Metabolism has just published a research paper that tackled once more the relationship between an active lifestyle and aging. The findings of the study encourage people to pursue all types of physical activities. However, the article praises the high-intensity interval training above all. This kind of exercise is capable of reversing the effects of aging. The process works at a cellular level.

The study was extremely careful to provide accurate results for both young and old groups. Thus, there were two groups of participants selected by age. All of them had to put in practice a strict schedule of high-intensity interval training. The results were spectacular. The young group recorded a 49% increase in mitochondrial capacity. On the other hand, the seniors saw a greater boost of 69%.

HIIT Is the Only Exercise that Can Activate Mitochondrial Capacity

The mitochondrial capacity or biogenesis is triggered whenever there is acertain boost of energy throughout the body. Once the process is activated, cells start to inflate their mitochondrial mass. Moreover, they begin to increase their cell metabolism and feed the body with more energy than usual.

Studies showed that the mitochondrial capacity is slowing down as people are aging. Its performance deterioration can lead to serious health issues such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes. However, the new research paper shows that HIIT is capable of reversing the majority effects of this degradation.

The senior author of the study, Dr. Sreekumaran Nair, is impressed by the results. He claimed that the power of HIIT exercises has no other equivalent that is known to the scientific world.

“Based on everything we know, there’s no substitute for these exercise programs when it comes to delaying the aging process. These things we are seeing cannot be done by any medicine.”

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Three Armed Individuals Arrested After Trying to Rob the Rolex Store from Bellagio Casino

Bellagio tower

Three heavily-armed individual including one wearing a pig mask tried to rob the Rolex store from the Bellagio Casino on Saturday.

You know the saying ‘What happens in Vegas, staying in Vegas.’ Well, the recent Vegas happening is so out of this world, that it would have been a pity not to be shared with the rest of the world. According to the Las Vegas Police Department, a squad of police officers dressed in full tactical gear was dispatched on Saturday at the Bellagio Casino, after a called declared that he heard a couple of gunshots and saw a man wearing a pig mask and dragging around a sledgehammer.

Bellagio Incident – Police Report

According to the Las Vegas Police Department, on Saturday morning, an individual dialed 911 and told the operator that he heard a couple of gunshots. The authorities moved in and arrested three heavily armed suspects who broke into the Rolex store. LVMPD declared that the suspects were taken down without the use of firearms.

However, there’s more to this story than the official police report. Kira, a 21-year-old woman from California, and Chris, a 50-year-old professional poker player from the city of Las Vegas, were inside the Bellagio Casino when the robbery occurred.

What Really Happened?

According to Kira’s recollection of the events, as she was leaving one of the casino’s bathroom, she saw a robust man, dressed in black apparel, standing outside the luxury watches shop. The man was holding a sledgehammer in his left hand and a pistol in his right hand. Kira recalls hearing the individual shouting “Get Out! Get Out” and pointing his gun towards the people trying to get away.

Before fleeing, the 21-year-old woman managed to take a picture of the assailants who was, indeed, wearing an oversized pig mask and carrying a sledgehammer.

Meanwhile, in another part of the casino, Chris was just about to play another round of poker when he heard a couple of shots. The last thing he remembered was seeing people trying to escape from the casino.

According to the authorities, it would appear that the robbers’ show of force created mass hysteria and some of the casino’s clients were trampled during their escape. Fortunately, no one was injured during the robbery.

After a couple of minutes, the law enforcement officers arrived and took the individual into custody. It appears that at least three heavily-armed individuals were involved in the robbery of the Rolex shops and all of them wore masks to conceal their faces.

Image source: Wikipedia

Costco Brings Fresh Groceries to Your Door

costco store

Costco is partnering up with Shipt to bring fresh groceries from door to door in some U.S. states.

Costco Wholesale Corporation managed to become back in 2015 the world’s second largest retailer. The membership-only warehouse club was encompassed only by Walmart. However, the main competition is between Costco, Sam’s West, and BJ’s Wholesale Club. They are all targeting businesses and large families that are interested in buying quality products in bulk at low prices. To consolidate its position, Costco is ready to deliver fresh groceries from door to door.

The New Delivery of Fresh Groceries Will Start off in Tampa

On Tuesday, Costco announced a new partnership with an ambitious, young startup called Shipt. The two of them are going to work side by side to manage orders from customers. This marks another major effort for brick-and-mortar stores to compete with online services.

The new option for clients will be available in Tampa for starters. If everything goes according to plan, Shipt will be ready to conquer other 50 countries. By the end of the year, the startup projects to cover more than 30 million businesses and households.

Retailers are struggling to remain relevant in an industry with thin margins. Home delivery of fresh groceries represents an expensive way to win customers over. This strategy simulates the activity of an online store that saves the users from making any trips to the local market and from waiting in line.

The Delivery Services Experience a Productive Period

Thus, the delivery sector experienced a boom recently as more traditional companies desire to offer premium services to their customers. Such prosperous solutions are Instacart, Google Express, Amazon Fresh, and FreshDirect.

Moreover, major organizations such as Walmart and Kroger teamed up with behemoths in the transportation domain. Thus, they are testing an innovative delivery approach with Lyft and Uber. In an effort to save customers time, Sam’s Club, one of the main rivals of Costco, launched a drive-by pickup system at its own locations.

The startup Shipt is not at its first major such quest. The delivery service has already signed contracts with Whole Foods Market, Harris Teeter, and H-E-B. At the beginning of the month, Shipt won another contract from the supermarket chain, Meijer. The retailer was content with its development. Thus, the company will rely on Shipt services to deliver fresh groceries in six Midwestern states.

Shipt employs a subscription business format actually. Customers have to pay an annual fee of $99. Once they purchase their membership, they can enjoy unlimited deliveries. They have one hour at their disposal to pick up their order when the package is dropped off.

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Justice Department Is Expected to Charge Yahoo Hackers

yahoo company

Yahoo is going to get the help of Justice Department to catch the culprits of the 2013 and 2014 data breaches.

U.S. officials are ready to pinpoint hackers that are responsible for the greatest security breaches ever reported in the history of the Internet. Even though the incident happened in late 2014, Yahoo reported it two years later on December 14, 2016. The report announced the existence of two hacking assaults. It is estimated that the cyber theft affected over 1 billion users. The aftermath impacted the Verizon deal and it created changes at the level of the leadership. The Justice Department is going to reveal the identity of at least the hackers that participated in one of the massive hacking attacks.

The Justice Department Has Its Eyes Set on Four Suspects

On Wednesday, the Justice Department is expected to issue indictments for a part of the people that initiated the hacking attacks on Yahoo. It is rumored that the U.S. officials are going to pinpoint four persons that created large damages when they compromised the security of around 1 billion accounts. The source of the news is an official that received the briefing regarding this case. However, as the matter is not public, the person requested to remain anonymous.

According to the source intercepted by publication Bloomberg, the U.S. is ready to arrest one of the culprits as soon as Tuesday. Moreover, they are also aware of the whereabouts of the other three persons. They are located somewhere in Russia. However, Yahoo, Sunnyvale, and the Justice Department did not comment on this news.

Verizon Lowered Its Price Offer

The new series of indictments are the result of the public disclosure held by Yahoo company. This revelation about major security breaches of historical proportions impelled Verizon Telecommunications Inc. to reconsider the price for its deal. The company intended to acquire major internet assets from Yahoo. These cover even websites like sports, finance, and others. Yahoo will remain with just the 15% owned stake in Alibaba Group, another series of 35% shares in Yahoo! Japan, and other secondary projects.

In light of the disclosure, Verizon asked for a price reduction of $250 million. Thus, the final offer might be of $4.38 billion. Given that the company was once worth $100 billion, the transaction is more than advantageous for the telecommunications company. On the other hand, Verizon is going to share liabilities as a result of the investigations into security breaches.

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A White Dwarf Star Is Living On The Edge Of A Black Hole

white dwarf star

A white dwarf star is orbiting in the extremely close vicinity of a black hole.

Scientists detected an unusual space relation. A white dwarf star is orbiting in the extremely close vicinity of a black hole. During its closest point, the star also loses parts of itself.

The White Dwarf Star Is Caught In A Space Tango With A Black Hole

This close in-stellar couple is also known as a “binary”. They were detected some 15,000 light years away from Earth. Both inhabit the 47 Tucanae globular cluster. The white dwarf star and the black hole were discovered using Chandra. NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory is nonetheless just a part of the study.

This was carried out by Michigan State University and University of Alberta, Canada researchers. They were led by Arash Bahramian, who is part of both. Research results were recently accepted for publication. They will be released in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The paper is called “The ultracompact nature of the black hole candidate X-ray binary 47 Tuc X9”.

Initially, astronomers studied the 47 Tucanea X9 system as a whole. But back in 2015, closer observations revealed something odd about the white dwarf star. At the time, research suggested that it may be circling a small black hole.

The current paper attests this theory and not only that. It also describes it as the closest such relation as yet recorded. This white dwarf star is just some 600,000 miles away from the black hole. It would mean an extremely close encounter in space terms. One that also takes its dues each time the star gets to its closest point.

Bahramian stated that “This white dwarf is so close to the black hole that material is being pulled away from the star […]”. Following this event, observations show that it is “[…] dumped onto a disk of matter around the black hole before falling in”.

Such encounters are also reportedly very common. The star is believed to whip by its black hole almost every 28 minutes. At least according to the orbit – distance estimates. However, the system also seems to be stable, at least for now.

Scientists Are Unsure As To The White Dwarf’s Fate

The team in charge of the study pointed out some facts. Although the system is stable, at least for now, this relation cannot last. As the black hole pulls away material from the star, this will eventually run out. But this is just one possibility.

According to the researchers, the white dwarf star is facing two most likely fates. Its material may be completely sucked in, which will cause it to evaporate. Or the hole’s orbital pull could cause the star to break apart. As it is, the white dwarf may also evolve into “an exotic type of planet”.

The scientists are also unsure how this strange space tango came to be it. They are still debating whether the black hole may not actually be a neutron star. But the captured X-ray emission do not correspond to the latter. For the moment, the team cannot fully disprove this variant. As it is, more research would be needed.

Image Source: FreeGreatPicture