Thursday, October 1, 2020

Italian scientists say that an underground lake discovered on Mars two years ago is actually part of a network of lakes

They estimate that the lake is between 12 miles and 18 miles across and is one mile beneath the Martian surface. They spotted three smaller bodies of water separated from the main one. The lakes, which are beneath the south pole’s ice cap, could be part of a “system of ancient lakes.” Their research is based on radar observations by the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft, which was launched in 2003. They say that a high concentration of salt keeps the water from freezing amid surface temperatures of -172°F. In a study, the researchers say that future missions to the red planet should target these bodies of water because they could potentially host living organisms. Some scientists believe that, eons ago, Mars was wetter and warmer because the red planet probably had a much thicker atmosphere that retained heat underneath. (SciTech Daily)


Long-term use of acid reflux meds linked to 24% increase in diabetes

Long-term, regular use of medications to treat acid reflux was linked to a 24% increased risk of type 2 diabetes, says a new study. These commonly used medications called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) work by inhibiting certain stomach cells from ‘pumping’ acid into the stomach, according to researchers at Harvard Medical School. While PPIs are generally deemed safe for short-term use, prolonged use may introduce health concerns like bone fractures from calcium malabsorption and enteric (intestinal) infections, among other adverse effects. PPIs were said to have a “major impact on gut microbiome,” which could increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, though the evidence is still unclear. The risk was said to increase along with longer duration of use. Researchers found that the association was stronger among those with a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) or normal blood pressure. “For patients who have to receive long-term PPI treatment, screening for abnormal blood glucose and type 2 diabetes is recommended,” study authors wrote. (Harvard Medical School)


BAT study analyzes the toxicological impact of nicotine pouch products

New research by BAT indicates that modern oral products (MOPs) showed lower toxicity responses in certain assays than traditional cigarettes. Scientists analyzed the toxicological impact of one of BAT’s nicotine pouch products, formerly called Lyft and now known as Velo, in an in vitro laboratory-based test. Velo was compared with a reference cigarette and reference Swedish-style snus pouch. Velo was found to be less biologically active than cigarette smoke and snus, even at greater concentrations of nicotine, across a range of tests. In many cases, Velo failed to elicit a biological response at all, supporting the view that MOPs are likely to be less risky than traditional cigarettes and Swedish-style snus for users who switch completely. (News Medical Life Science)


Americans Want USPS Run Like Public Service

Most Americans said they would like the U.S. Postal Service to be run more like a public service rather than a business. In a recent Washington Post-University of Maryland poll found:

  • Americans by a more than 2-to-1 margin said the USPS, which has come under fire by President Donald Trump and some Republicans for how it plans to distribute and process mail-in ballots for the November election, is better off being run as a public service.
  • 82% of Democrats and 69% of independents said the USPS should be run like a public service.
  • 49% of Republicans said the USPS should be run like a public service, with 51% saying it should be managed more like a business, “even if that limits the services it provides.”

The poll was conducted from Aug. 24-31 among 1,929 Americans. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points. (The Washington Post)


Researchers Find Gratitude Cuts Down On Gossip And Rudeness At Work

In a recent study conducted by the University of Central Florida, researchers asked participants to spend a few minutes each day writing down what they were grateful for. This could include people, things or events. And the result was that their coworkers reported that they gossiped less. They were also participated in less rudeness and in less behaviors that excluded others. “Gratitude exercises are becoming increasingly popular products to improve employee attitudes and well-being, and our study shows managers can also use them to foster more respectful behavior in their teams,” said management professor and co-author of the study in a press release.  Gratitude exercises are “designed to increase your focus on the positive things in your life,” he explained. “That simple action can change your outlook, your approach to work, and the way your co-workers see you.” (PubMed)


Rare albino camel is captured on camera at a nature reserve in China

A wild albino camel has been captured by an infrared camera at a nature reserve in northwest China as the rare animal is believed to be the first of its kind to be spotted in the world. Footage shows the animal with its all-white skin drinking from a puddle with a dozen brown camels at the Annanba Wild Camel National Nature Reserve in Gansu Province. The camel is said to be a Bactrian camel, a critically endangered species, and aged about three to four years old, according to the staff at the Chinese nature reserve. The reserve said that the animal’s white skin was visible because the camels were shedding their fur during this time of the year. It remains unknown if the albino camel’s fur would also be white once it’s grown out. Researchers are also determining whether the camel’s condition is caused by gene mutations or external influences. The Bactrian camel, also known as the Mongolian camel, is a large even-toed ungulate native to the steppes of Central Asia. It has two humps on its back, in contrast to the single-humped dromedary camel. It is listed as critically endangered on the Red List of Threatened Species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. (Daily Mail)


One of the ‘most extreme planets in the universe’ orbits its star every 2.7 days and has a surface temperature hot enough to vaporise Iron

A ‘hot Jupiter’ exoplanet with a surface temperature hot enough to vaporise iron has been dubbed ‘one of the most extreme planets in the universe’ by astronomers. Using data from the European Space Agency CHEOPS space telescope, astronomers from the University of Bern studied the orbit, size and temperature of WASP-189b. The planet, 322 light years from Earth, was first discovered orbiting its bright host star HD 133112 by the Wide Angle Search for Planets (WASP) project in 2018. CHEOPS was launched by ESA eight months ago to characterise known exoplanets and WASP-189b is the first planet examined by the orbiting spaceship. The gas giant planet is one and a half times the size of Jupiter and has a surface temperature of 5,792 degrees Fahrenheit – it takes just three days to orbit its star. The star, named HD 133112, is the hottest star known to have a planetary system, according to the Swiss astronomers behind the CHEOPS discovery. (Tech Explorist)


Romanian villagers re-elect mayor despite his COVID-19 death

After handing a victory in the election for their local mayor, residents of a small village in southern Romania went to his grave to light candles for him. He was reelected in a landslide for an unprecedented third term as mayor of the village of Deveselu despite having died from COVID-19 complications 10 days prior to the country’s municipal elections. His death came too late to remove his name from the ballot, but the news of his passing spread fast through the village, home to just over 3,000 people. The popular incumbent would have celebrated his 57th birthday on election day. To honor the man they admired, hundreds of Deveselu villagers went to the polling stations and voted for him anyway. (ABC News)


MLB salvages year after big loss

Major League Baseball has lost $3 billion this year and without a clear path forward for the 2021 season, could stand to lose dramatically more. Fans at live games, who bring in nearly half of the league’s revenue, have been absent (save for cardboard cutouts) and bringing them back next season without a vaccinated population is a major logistical challenge. On the positive side, after a number of outbreaks among teams, new rules for players have brought infections under control just in time for the World Series. (The Wall Street Journal)


Gender pay gap shifts to working from home

Has the gender pay gap moved to a virtual one during the pandemic? Just 29% of women say working from home in the last six months has positively affected their career, yet 57% of men agree that it has, per a Qualtrics for Boardlist poll. And while only 9% of mothers have been promoted in this new WFH era, 34% of fathers say they have. With home setups often amplifying work-life conflicts, studies show that being promoted can be particularly tricky for women. (The Wall Street Journal)


President Trump gets third 2020 Nobel Peace Prize nomination

President Trump received his third 2020 Nobel Peace Prize nomination in September, this time from a group of Australian law professors. “What he has done with the Trump Doctrine is that he has decided he would no longer have America involved in endless wars, wars which achieve nothing but the killing of thousands of young Americans and enormous debts imposed on America,” Australian legal scholar David Flint said. “He’s reducing America’s tendency to get involved in any and every war.” Trump was first nominated for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize by a Norwegian Parliament member for his role in the United Arab Emirates-Israel peace deal. Days later, a Swedish Parliament member nominated Trump again after he helped secure a deal for normalized economic relations between Serbia and Kosovo. The Nobel Peace Prize winner will be announced on October 9th. (Sky News)


Disney to lay off 28,000 employees as coronavirus slams its theme park business

In a memo sent to employees, the head of parks at Disney detailed several “difficult decisions” the company has had to make in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, including ending its furlough of thousands of employees. Prolonged closures at Disney’s California-based theme parks and limited attendance at its open parks has forced the company to lay off 28,000 employees across its parks, experiences and consumer products division, the company said. Around 67% of the 28,000 laid off workers were part-time employees, according to a statement. The company declined to break down the layoffs by individual park locations. While Disney’s theme parks in Florida, Paris, Shanghai, Japan and Hong Kong have been able to reopen with limited capacity, both California Adventure and Disneyland have remained shuttered in Anaheim, California. (CNBC)


Hackers attack Nevada school district, publish social security numbers online

Hackers published sensitive data, including the names and social security numbers of staff at the Clark County school district in Nevada, after it refused to pay up, according to a cybersecurity firm. The hackers “posted 100% of the documents that they claim to have stolen” from the Clark County School District (CCSD), totaling about 25 gigabytes of data. The sensitive data has been posted to the regular web and the so-called dark web. The latter is not indexed by search engines and parts of it cater to the cybercriminal underworld where sensitive data is bought and sold. CCSD said it is cooperating with law enforcement but is “unable to verify” many of the claims made in the media. (The Wall Street Journal)


Thursday Skakes Up With:

  • Black Dog Day
  • Book It! Day
  • Bring Your Bible To School Day
  • CD Player Day
  • Fire Pup Day
  • Fruit At Work Day
  • International Coffee Day
  • Hair Day
  • Homemade Cookies Day
  • International Day of Older Persons
  • International Music Day
  • Lace Day
  • Model T Day
  • Vegan Baking Day
  • Walk Your Dog Day
  • Willy Wonka Day
  • World Vegetarian Day

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