Friday, October 9, 2020

Enormous T. Rex skeleton sold at auction for $32M

A nearly complete skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex, named Stan, has sold at auction for a record-breaking $31.8 million. Auction house Christie’s, which handled the sale, said in a statement of “Stan,” as the skeleton is known, the “impressive fossil skeleton stunned its virtual audience and smashed the previous world auction record.” The $31.8 million price tag, which includes fees, is nearly four times the original estimate of $8 million. The skeleton, which stands 13 feet high and 40 feet long and is comprised of 188 bones, had been studied since its discovery. It was purchased by an unidentified buyer after a nearly 20-minute telephone bidding war. It’s believed that the holes in the ferocious T. rex’s skull and neck vertebrate may have signified it was a ferocious warrior, surviving attacks from other Tyrannosaurs. Scientists also theorize that the dinosaur weighed nearly 8 tons. Although finding a dinosaur skeleton at auction is rare, it’s not unheard of. In 1997, a T. rex skeleton known as Sue was sold at auction for a then-record $8.36 million. (The New York Times)


Fed warns on ‘tragic’ economic risks

Without more government support, the U.S. economy risks a prolonged period of weakness that could perpetuate job losses and exacerbate disparities, the Federal Reserve Chair warned. The recovery could still slip into a downward spiral, after job losses have already hit women, people of color and low-wage workers especially hard. President Trump announced Tuesday (10/6) that he would put off efforts to reach a new coronavirus relief deal until after the election, but later called on Congress to approve additional aid for airlines and small businesses. (Reuters)


Is it time for a Big Tech breakup?

Big Tech in America may be on the verge of some sweeping changes. Following a 16-month investigation, the House Judiciary Committee said Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple have “too much power” and that they have turned from smaller startups into “the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons.” In addition, the committee criticized U.S. antitrust agencies for not reining them in sooner. The Democratic-led House panel recommends forcing these tech behemoths to restructure some of their businesses along with reforming the government’s antitrust laws. (The Wall Street Journal)


Nobel Prize in Chemistry Goes to Discovery of ‘Genetic Scissors’ Called CRISPR/Cas9

This year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded for the discovery of the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system, which has enabled scientists, for the first time, to make precise changes in the long stretches of DNA that make up the code of life for many organisms, including people. The prize was shared by Emmanuelle Charpentier, director of the Berlin-based Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, and Jennifer A. Doudna, a professor and biochemist at the University of California at Berkeley. The scientists will split the prize money of 10 million Swedish kronor, or just over $1.1 million dollars. This CRISPR tool, often described as “genetic scissors,” has been used by plant researchers to develop crops that withstand pests and drought, and could transform agriculture. In medicine, the method is involved in clinical trials of new cancer therapies, and researchers are trying to use it to cure certain inherited diseases. (Scientific American)


Grandparents abducted, taken to Canada and ransomed for cocaine or $3.5M

Five alleged drug dealers are accused of kidnapping an associate’s 70-year-old grandparents from their northern New York home, ferrying them into Canada, and holding them hostage until police arrived, all in an alleged attempt to recover just over 100 pounds of cocaine, U.S. officials recently announced. Four men from Quebec and one from Plattsburgh, N.Y., face charges of kidnapping, forcible confinement and extortion for the abduction of James and Sandra Helm of Moira, a town of 3,000 residents about 15 miles south from the Canadian border, authorities said. Officials said the son who reported the couple missing received a phone call from a man who said he and his associates had the couple and wanted to exchange them for 50 kilograms, or roughly 110 pounds, of cocaine they believed someone whom court papers identified as “Individual-1” had stolen. As an alternative, they would accept $3.5 million, the cocaine’s value, authorities said. He also received a series of additional calls and text messages as well as a photo of his mother sitting in a chair with her husband standing beside her, authorities said. The Quebec provincial police traced the cellphone’s locations and found the house in Magog where the elderly couple was being held. They arrested four Canadian men. At the house, investigators recognized the chair and some trees seen in the “proof of life” photo. The court document doesn’t identify “Individual-1” or specify his relationship to the elderly couple. But the couple’s 28-year-old grandson and his mother had been arrested by DEA agents in South Burlington, Vermont, a week earlier. Court documents say they were transporting a duffle bag of cocaine for a larger organization. The bust wasn’t publicized, so the traffickers didn’t know the DEA had seized the cocaine, according to reports. (United States Department of Justice)


Woman Discovers New Species Of Spider In Backyard

A woman in Australia discovered a new species of spider right in her backyard. She first saw the eight-eyed creature over 18 months ago, but it was only recently that she managed to find the spider again, capture it and send it to an expert for identification. Being a nature lover, she had no idea that she had come across a new species of Jotus brushed jumping spider one year ago. The spider had a vibrant blue face with eight eyes. She quickly snapped some pictures of the spider and uploaded them on the Facebook group ‘Backyard Zoology’. The post was brought to the attention of a spider expert, who asked her to catch the spider. Finally, after months of searching, she came across the spider again two weeks ago. She managed to coax it into an empty container. She also found another spider, and that went into a separate box because “jumping spiders can eat each other”. The two spiders were sent to the expert in Melbourne, who specialises in jumping spiders. The spider will be formally named and described when Museums Victoria opens its labs again. (NDTV)


Texas Teen Maci Currin Breaks Record For World’s Longest Legs

A 17-year-old teenager from Cedar Park, Texas, has broken two world records thanks to her long legs. Maci Currin was certified by Guinness World Records as having the world’s longest legs (female) and the longest legs on a teenager. The 17-year-old from stands 6 feet, 10 inches tall. Her legs – both of which measure over 4 feet – make up 60% of her total height. According to Guinness World Records, Ms Currin’s left leg measures 53.255 in, while her right leg measures 52.874 in. The teenager has now knocked Russia’s Ekaterina Lisina off the top spot for the Guinness World Record for longest female legs. (Guinness World Records)


Boys and girls who experience puberty earlier have an increased risk of self-harm in adolescence

A study funded by the National Institute for Health Research Bristol Biomedical Research Center (NIHR Bristol BRC) has found that boys and girls who experience puberty earlier than their peers have an increased risk of self-harm adolescence. This is the first study to use the teenage growth spurt to take a gander at the association between the timing of puberty and self-harm. Through this study, scientists aimed to measure puberty because it is based on height measurements taken in research clinics. For the study, scientists examined data from 5,000 individuals. Mixed-effects growth curve models were used to calculate aPHV. Lifetime history of self-harm was self-reported at age 16 and 21 years, and associated suicidal intent was examined at age 16. They also found some evidence that, for girls, this increase in risk persists into early adulthood. The study also looked at the self-report questionnaires completed by participants at ages 16 and 21 years to assess self-harm evidence. One in ten boys and a quarter of girls reported having self-harmed at age 16 years. By the age of 21, the proportion of males reporting having ever self-harmed was 28 percent, and females’ proportion was 35 percent. The research found that for both males and females, the proportion of participants reporting self-harm was highest among those with early aPHV and lowest among those with late aPHV. For females, experiencing aPHV one year earlier was associated with a 15 percent increase in the odds of self-harm at age 16 years; for males, it was associated with a 28 percent increase. The discoveries could be utilized to help identify boys, and girls, who are at increased risk of self-harm and develop early interventions to help diminish this risk. (Tech Explorist)


Derek Chauvin, the ex-police officer charged in the killing of George Floyd, was released on $1m bond

On Tuesday, Derek Chauvin, one of four officers in George Floyd’s death, was released from jail on bond. Derek Chauvin is the only one charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, facing up to 40 years in prison if convicted of second-degree murder. The other three officers have been charged with aiding and abetting murder. Derek Chauvin had been in custody since May and is expected to appear in court in March 2021. (NBC News)


Professional burnout is rising

If you suspect that burnout is on the rise after seven months of dealing with a pandemic, social isolation, work-from-home and school disruptions, you’re right. A data trove of millions of employee-engagement surveys from LinkedIn’s Glint platform shows that while signs of burnout were gradually trending upward year-over-year, that trend accelerated notably after March. Glint’s data also reveals that companies that score highly on seven traits, including good work-life balance and quick action on employee feedback, are registering burnout-signal rates significantly below the nationwide average. (LinkedIn)


California faces yearslong recovery

The pandemic and catastrophic wildfires are shifting the foundations of California’s $3 trillion economy. While new UCLA research shows the effects of the crises mirror what’s unfolding nationwide, rising office vacancies, struggling small businesses and temporary layoffs that are becoming permanent — a deeper dive shows the effects of climate change and the ability to work remotely from cheaper cities may mean a full recovery for the state will take more than two years. California wine country is also taking an unprecedented hit, with wildfires damaging at least 17 Napa wineries. (San Francisco Chronicle)


United States Surgeon General Cited In Hawaii For Breaking Coronavirus Rules

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has received a citation in Hawaii for violating coronavirus safety measures. It happened back in August when Adams took pictures at a park that was closed to prevent gatherings. The Honolulu officer who cited him says Adams told him he wasn’t aware the parks were closed. The Surgeon General is due for a remote court hearing in two weeks. He faces a fine up to $5,000 and one year in prison. (Seattle Times)


The human brain is hardwired to map our surroundings

New findings suggest that one major feature of our spatial recall is efficiently locating high-calorie, energy-rich food. In the study, researchers at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands observed 512 participants follow a fixed path through a room where either eight food samples or eight food-scented cotton pads were placed in different locations. When they arrived at a sample, the participants would taste the food or smell the cotton and rate how much they liked it. Four of the food samples were high-calorie, including brownies and potato chips, and the other four, including cherry tomatoes and apples, were low in calories—diet foods, you might call them. After the taste test, the participants were asked to identify the location of each sample on a map of the room. They were nearly 30 percent more accurate at mapping the high-calorie samples versus the low-calorie ones, regardless of how much they liked those foods or odors. They were also 243 percent more accurate when presented with actual foods, as opposed to the food scents. (Scientific American)


Friday Gets Funky With:

  • International Beer and Pizza Day
  • Leif Erikson Day
  • Chess Day
  • Family Bowling Day (or Kids Bowl Free Day) (2nd Friday)
  • Nanotechnology Day (Honors the Naonometer Scale 10-9 meters)
  • Pro-Life Cupcake Day
  • Nautilus Night (Cephalopods)
  • Shemini Atzeret (at Sundown)
  • World Egg Day (2nd Friday)
  • World Post Card Day

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