Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Study Identifies Key Barriers to Wildfire Recovery

Tree nurseries in Colorado and across the nation would need to increase seedling production by an additional 1.7 billion each year to meet climate, jobs and wildfire-recovery goals – according to a new study published in the science journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change. Collecting pine cones during mass seeding seasons once every five to ten years is a key part of the reforestation pipeline. Nationally, researchers say an additional 1.7 billion seedlings are needed to restore just half of lands available for reforestation by 2040. Greater investment also is needed for seed storage, tree-nursery expansion, workforce development and improved planting practices. In addition to the value wooded areas provide outdoor-recreation economy, healthy forest ecosystems filter and keep water clean, and provide critical wildlife habitat. (Public News Service)


More Students Skip Buying Textbooks During Pandemic

A survey of more than 5,000 students at 82 colleges and universities found course materials remain unaffordable and inaccessible, especially for food-insecure students, and drastically hinder students’ ability to participate in classes they’ve already paid tuition for. Students are concerned not buying course materials will negatively impact their grades. While textbooks have been one of the highest out-of-pocket costs for students for several years, there’s a new problem: access codes. Those offer temporary access to homework assignments, course readings, quizzes, and tests, but they’re hidden behind a paywall. Unlike a used textbook, access codes deny students cheaper options and make their ability to pass a class reliant on their finances. Broadband access is an additional barrier to class participation during the pandemic, noting among students without reliable internet, 30% reported not buying an access code. Ninety percent reported being significantly or somewhat concerned, while 79% of students reported being impacted in some way by COVID-19. (WUSF)


Burger King tweets ‘women belong in the kitchen,’ sparking backlash

Burger King sparked major backlash on Twitter Monday after promoting its new scholarship program with the tweet: “Women belong in the kitchen.” The post went live at 2:01 a.m. MT on International Women’s Day. It states: “Women belong in the kitchen … If they want to, of course. Yet only 20% of chefs are women. We’re on a mission to change the gender ratio in the restaurant industry by empowering female employees with the opportunity to pursue a culinary career. #IWDWe are proud to be launching a new scholarship programme which will help female Burger King employees pursue their culinary dreams!” Twitter users have called on the fast-food franchise to delete the tweet. In response to KFC Gaming, Burger King said: “Why would we delete a tweet that’s drawing attention to a huge lack of female representation in our industry, we thought you’d be on board with this as well? We’ve launched a scholarship to help give more of our female employees the chance to pursue a culinary career.” Burger King defended its tweet to several users.  (KUTV)


Record credit card debt paid

For certain Americans, the coronavirus pandemic may have been good for their wallets. New research cited shows that consumers are saving more than they have in decades, as well as repaying a record $83 billion in credit card debt in 2020. Others have been able to pay overdue bills thanks to stimulus checks, while some are taking advantage of low interest rates to refinance and lower monthly bills. (Wallet Hub)


Extreme Regeneration

Scientists have announced the discovery of two species of sea slugs capable of decapitating themselves and regenerating their entire bodies, including internal organs. It’s believed to be the most extreme example of self-amputation and regeneration ever observed in animals. Once detached, the heads freely move around feeding on algae, with the self-inflicted wound healing within a day. Almost equally impressive, the creatures are able to subsist without vital organs by hijacking chloroplasts from the algae and performing photosynthesis internally (a feature known as kleptoplasty). A near-replica of the original body returns after three weeks, while the headless discarded body stays alive for months. Exactly how and why the animals ditch their bodies is unknown. Stem cells are believed to be involved at the breakpoint, and the process may be triggered by the presence of internal parasites. Future studies are expected to advance the field of regenerative medicine for humans. (Live Science)


SpaceX seeks approval to connect its Starlink space-based internet network to cars, boats, and other vehicles

SpaceX is seeking regulatory approval to connect its rapidly growing network of internet-beaming Starlink satellites to cars, trucks, shipping boats, and aircraft. The request, filed with the Federal Communications Commission, asked for “a blanket license authorizing operation” of Starlink terminals on so-called Earth Stations in Motion, an umbrella term for cars, trucks, maritime vessels, and aircraft. “No longer are users willing to forego connectivity while on the move, whether driving a truck across the country, moving a freighter from Europe to a U.S. port, or while on a domestic or international flight,” the filing read. Smaller passenger vehicles may have to wait. “Not connecting Tesla cars to Starlink, as our terminal is much too big,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted on earlier this week, responding to an article on the FCC filing. “This is for aircraft, ships, large trucks & RVs.” (The Verge)


Scientists uncover the mechanism allowing squids to tune the color and brightness of their skin; the animal’s cell membranes have a controllable accordion-like structure that reflects different colors of light

Squids have long been a source of fascination for humans, providing the stuff of legend, superstition and myth. And it’s no wonder — their odd appearances and strange intelligence, their mastery of the open ocean can inspire awe in those who see them. Like their cephalopod cousins the octopus and cuttlefish, squids have specialized pigment-filled cells called chromatophores that expand to expose them to light, resulting in various shades of pigmentary color. Of particular interest to researchers is the squids’ ability to shimmer and flicker, reflecting different colors and breaking light over their skin. It’s an effect that is thought to mimic the dappled light of the upper ocean, the only feature in an otherwise stark seascape. By understanding how squids manage to fade themselves into even the plainest of backgrounds, or stand out, it may be possible to produce materials with the same, light tuning properties for a variety of applications. (The Current)


Robots coming for white collar jobs

The automation of white collar jobs is accelerating under the radar, with those doing repetitive and even cognitive tasks at risk. Automation software companies are springing up to do basic accounting, purchase orders, approving expenses and even reading X-rays. And while automation has always helped spur the economy and, eventually created more jobs overall, this time may be different. (The New York Times)


Oldest-known mummification manual decoded; the 3,500-year-old medical text suggests precise embalming recipes were in use for thousands of years

Egyptologists have recently translated the oldest-known mummification manual. Translating it required solving a literal puzzle; the medical text that includes the manual is currently in pieces, with half of what remains in the Louvre Museum in France and half at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. A few sections are completely missing, but what’s left is a treatise on medicinal herbs and skin diseases, especially the ones that cause swelling. Surprisingly, one section of that text includes a short manual on embalming. The manual includes recipes for resins and unguents used to dry and preserve the body after death, along with explanations for how and when to use bandages of different shapes and materials. Those recipes probably used some of the same ingredients as ointments for living skin, because plants with antimicrobial compounds would have been useful for preventing both infection and decay. Although the basic principles of embalming survived for thousands of years in Egypt, the details varied over time. By the New Kingdom, when the Papyrus Louvre-Carlsberg was written, the art of mummification had evolved into an extremely complicated 70-day-long process that might have bemused or even shocked its pre-Dynastic practitioners. And this short manual seems to be written for people who already had a working knowledge of embalming and just needed a handy reference. (Ars Technica)


FDA warns against using head lice drug ivermectin to treat coronavirus

The Food and Drug Administration is warning Americans against using ivermectin, a drug that kills parasites, to treat COVID-19. “Taking large doses of this drug is dangerous and can cause serious harm,” the FDA said. Ivermectin is used to treat head lice and some skin conditions like rosacea in humans, and is used to treat internal and external parasitic infections in animals. Some researchers have touted ivermectin as a potential treatment for COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, but the jury is still out on whether it is an effective treatment. (United States Food and Drug Administration)


Thief steals empty safe from fabric store in Czechia. When caught by police he claimed he only fell asleep inside

A peculiar case of robbery occurred in the Czech Republic’s second city of Brno. A 28-year-old man broke into a fabric store near the city center, Tydenik police said. He managed to get in through a window and started searching for valuables. After looking inside drawers and lockers, the man found a safe he didn’t know was empty. He put it in his bag along with three textile samplers.  Unfortunately for him, the store owner was watching the whole incident thanks to CCTV inside the shop. He immediately called the police who arrived at the scene in a few minutes. As the owner confirmed the thief is still inside, the officers made a detailed check of the premises. Eventually, they found the man near the entrance door hidden under layers of textile. The thief pretended to be confused and claimed that he hadn’t robbed anything, that he just fell asleep under the fabrics. The man is now facing a trial for robbery and might soon return to prison from which he was released a few months ago. (Squeekly)


Yard sale find turns out to be artifact worth up to $500,000

In a tale the stuff of yard-sale legend, a small porcelain bowl sold at its $35 asking price has turned out to be a rare, 15th-century Chinese artifact worth up to half a million dollars. An unidentified Connecticut man bought the bowl from a yard sale near New Haven last year, and later emailed photos to Sotheby’s seeking an evaluation. Appraisers determined it dates back to the Ming dynasty of the early 1400’s, and estimated its worth at between $300,000 and $500,000. The bowl, which Sotheby’s calls “exceptional and rare,” will be available to the highest bidder as part of the firm’s Important Chinese Art auction in New York later this month. (The Associated Press)


IA Reporter Trial Renews Calls to Protect Press Freedoms

A court case involving an Iowa-based reporter is drawing international attention. The reporter, whose trial started this week, was arrested last year while covering a Black Lives Matter demonstration. A number of media and human-rights groups call the charges against her an attack on the free press. Her case has become the focal point for those raising concerns about the treatment of the press by authorities. She pleaded not guilty, saying she repeatedly told police she was a member of the press when officers were attempting to disperse the crowd. She pleaded not guilty, saying she repeatedly told police she was a member of the press when officers were attempting to disperse the crowd. According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, nearly 130 journalists were arrested last year as social-justice protests unfolded across the country. Of those arrested, nearly a dozen still face charges, including hers. (Public News Service)


Wednesday Sums Up The Day With:

  • Blueberry Popover Day
  • Discover What Your Name Means Day (Wednesday of First Full Week)
  • International Bagpipe Day
  • International Day of Awesomeness
  • Isra Al Mi’Raj
  • Land Line Telephone Day
  • Mario Day
  • Pack Your Lunch Day
  • Registered Dietitian Day (2nd Wednesday)
  • Salvation Army Day
  • Sterile Packaging Day (2nd Wednesday)
  • US Paper Money Day
  • Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day