Tourists flock to Princess Juliana International Airport on the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten to catch a glimpse of jets nearly skimming the beach on their ultra-low takeoffs and landings. Numerous signs warn the tourists not to get too close, lest they get blown to their deaths by the landing jet’s air blasts. Guess what happened yesterday?
Sadly, a 57-year-old woman from New Zealand ignored numerous signs directly warning her that exactly what she was doing could get her killed yesterday when she held on to a fence as a Boeing 737 took off directly above her. She was blown back from the fence from the force of the plane’s engines, struck her head on concrete and died shortly thereafter, as the New Zealand Herald reports.
The Herald spoke with Rolando Brison, director of tourism for the island of St Maarten, who explained that the family knew what was going on:
“I met with the family of the deceased this evening and while they recognised that what they did was wrong, through the clearly visible danger signs, they regret that risk they took turned out in the worst possible way.
“At this time I only wish to express my deepest sympathy to the family and loved ones while we continue to investigate what transpired just hours ago.”
The Herald continued, speaking to an aviation expert on just how extremely and obviously bad of an idea this was:
Aviation commentator Peter Clark said jet blast was “incredibly dangerous”, particularly if someone was standing behind a large aircraft.
“There’s less than 50m from the end of the runway to the water. It’s a normal runway but it’s just very much, it’s a very tight runway . . . the planes come right over that beach, virtually to touch down.”
He said thrill seekers liked to stand by the end of the runway so the jet blast could throw them into the water.
“People know the dangers . . . it would pick you up like a piece of paper.”
Again, here’s what those warning signs look like, even illustrating how you would get blown to your demise.
We humans are so small and weak compared to modern jets. Please be safe when you’re traveling, y’all.
Earlier this week, a remarkable scene played out at Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area. An orphaned leopard cub, desperate for a meal, approached a lioness who happened to be lactating. It’s a rare—and extremely precious—example of cross-species nursing in the wild.
“This is a truly unique case,” noted Luke Hunter, the president of Panthera, at the organization’s blog. “I know of no other example of inter-species adoption or nursing like this among big cats in the wild. This lioness is known to have recently given birth to her own cubs, which is a critical factor. She is physiologically primed to take care of baby cats, and the little leopard fits the bill—it is almost exactly the age of her own cubs and physically very similar to them.”
Hunter says Nosikitok, who’s wearing a GPS collar for tracking purposes, wouldn’t be nursing the cub if she “wasn’t already awash with a ferocious maternal drive,” which he says is typical of lionesses.
“Even so, there has never been another case like it, and why it has occurred now is mystifying. It is quite possible she has lost her own cubs, and found the leopard cub in her bereaved state when she would be particularly vulnerable,” he wrote.
It seems like a match made in heaven, except that it probably isn’t. The leopard cub’s future prospects look bleak, according to Hunter. “The natural odds are stacked against this little fellow,” he told AP, saying the cub will likely be killed by other lions who don’t recognize it as one of their own. And in fact, the cub was nowhere to be seen the day after the pictures were taken.
“In order for the [cross-species] relationship to be sustained, I believe both parties will need to benefit in some way,” said Jill Goldman, an applied animal behaviorist, in aninterview with National Geographic. “How we define benefit is another matter. Social companionship in some cases may actually be enough of a benefit so long as it is not outweighed by competition [or] threat.”
In this case, an orphaned cub being accepted by a potentially grieving lioness, it sure seems possible there’s some “mutual benefit” going on.
By Jeanna Bryner, Live Science Managing Editor | July 12, 2017 08:56am ET
One of the largest icebergs ever recorded, packing about a trillion tons of ice or enough to fill up two Lake Eries, has just split off from Antarctica, in a much anticipated, though not celebrated, calving event.
A section of the Larsen C ice shelf with an area of 2,240 square miles (5,800 square kilometers) finally broke away some time between July 10 and today (July 12), scientists with the U.K.-based MIDAS Project, an Antarctic research group, reported today.
The iceberg was expected, though scientists didn’t know when the crack in the ice sheet would finally release the floating chunk. The rift in the Larsen C ice shelf — the fourth-largest shelf in Antarctica — has been around for decades, but it wasn’t until November 2016 that satellite measurements revealed it had grown to more than 300 feet (91 m) in width and 70 miles (112 km) in length. The most recent measurements from this summer put the rift at 124 miles (200 km) long, with the now-calved iceberg hanging on by a thread; just 3 miles (5 km) of ice connected it with the rest of the ice shelf.
Even though the towering berg weighs more than 1.1 trillion tons (1 trillion metric tons), it won’t have a direct impact on sea-level rise. That’s because the ice was already floating on the sea. Even so, when an iceberg like this one calves, it can speed up the collapse of the rest of the ice shelf — the new iceberg reduced the area of the Larsen C ice shelf by 12 percent. Also, the ice shelf serves as a barrier to the land-based glacier that feeds the ice shelf; as that barrier diminishes, there’s more of a chance for the ice behind it to collapse into the sea, MIDAS researchers said.
And it’s this once-land-based ice that would impact sea levels, researchers say.
“Although this is a natural event, and we’re not aware of any link to human-induced climate change, this puts the ice shelf in a very vulnerable position,” Martin O’Leary, a Swansea University glaciologist and member of the MIDAS project team, said in a statement. “This is the furthest back that the ice front has been in recorded history. We’re going to be watching very carefully for signs that the rest of the shelf is becoming unstable.”
As for what will happen to this huge chunk of ice, nobody knows at the moment.
“The iceberg is one of the largest recorded and its future progress is difficult to predict,” Adrian Luckman of Swansea University, lead investigator of the MIDAS project, said in the statement. “It may remain in one piece, but is more likely to break into fragments. Some of the ice may remain in the area for decades, while parts of the iceberg may drift north into warmer waters.”
Editor’s Note: This article was updated to clarify when the rift in the ice sheet first showed up.
The eight-legged micro-animal called a tardigrade could survive nearly all the way until the death of the sun, a new study suggests — long after humans are history.
The study, from Harvard and Oxford universities, detailed the threats to life on Earth over billions of years, finding that Earth-pummeling asteroids, nearby supernova blasts and gamma-ray bursts would be unlikely to completely sterilize Earth (taking out the little tardigrades in the process).
“‘A lot of previous work has focused on ‘doomsday’ scenarios on Earth — astrophysical events like supernovas that could wipe out the human race,” David Sloan, a co-author on the new work and researcher at Oxford, said in the statement. “Our study instead considered the hardiest species — the tardigrade. As we are now entering a stage of astronomy where we have seen exoplanets and are hoping to soon perform spectroscopy [on those planets], looking for signatures of life, we should try to see just how fragile this hardiest life is.”
“To our surprise, we found that although nearby supernovas or large asteroid impacts would be catastrophic for people, tardigrades could be unaffected,” he added. “Therefore, it seems that life, once it gets going, is hard to wipe out entirely. Huge numbers of species, or even entire genera may become extinct, but life as a whole will go on.”
The researchers detailed what would happen with each of those threats in a new paper, released today (July 14) in the journal Scientific Reports.
How might Earth die?
Gamma-ray bursts, the most powerful explosions in the universe, are jets of radiation likely released when a star collapses into a black hole after emitting an ultra-powerful supernova blast. If one of those blasts occurred close enough to Earth, heading straight toward the planet, it could take out Earth’s ozone layer, leaving Earthlings exposed to deadly radiation levels, the researchers wrote in the paper. But life that lived below ground or in large bodies of water would be shielded from harm and could survive, including the tardigrade.
To boil away Earth’s oceans, the researchers wrote, a gamma-ray burst would have to occur less than 40 light-years away, if it were aimed right toward Earth.
An ordinary, less-powerful supernova would pose the same radiation danger, but it would have to be just 0.14 light-years from Earth to vaporize the oceans and sterilize the planet. One light-year, the distance that light travels in a year, is about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).
A killer asteroid could cloud the sky with debris, killing life that relies on sunlight, or even lead to the loss of Earth’s atmosphere. But life could live on deep in the ocean, or gather sustenance from volcanic vents, the researchers said. Less than 20 known asteroids and dwarf planets, including Vesta and Pluto, would provide enough of a kick to boil off Earth’s oceans with their impacts — and none are headed toward Earth anytime soon.
Calculating the probability of each of those events, and factoring in the heightened temperatures and pressures in which tardigrades can survive, the researchers found an incredibly tiny probability that an ocean-boiling, life-ending event would occur within 10 billion years.
(And even then, the researchers said in the paper, there’s a possibility that a planet’s orbit will be disturbed enough by its star’s expansion that it’ll be knocked away early, wandering the galaxy as a rogue world. Scientists have discussed the possibility that creatures like tardigrades could survive on a free-floating planet for a time.)
Studies suggest that Mars once had better conditions for life, including a thicker atmosphere and lakes and streams. If life that developed on planets like Mars is anything like tardigrades, it would stick around despite the planet’s current inhospitable conditions, the researchers said.
“It is difficult to eliminate all forms of life from a habitable planet,” Avi Loeb, a study co-author and Harvard’s chair of astronomy, said in the statement. “The history of Mars indicates that it once had an atmosphere that could have supported life, albeit under extreme conditions. Organisms with similar tolerances to radiation and temperature as tardigrades could survive long term below the surface in these conditions.”
Similarly, the subsurface oceans on Saturn’s moon Enceladus and Jupiter’s moon Europa may feature volcanic vents that provide heat, similar to the locations where tardigrades can thrive deep under Earth’s sea, he said.
“Tardigrades are as close to indestructible as it gets on Earth, but it is possible that there are other resilient species examples elsewhere in the universe,” added Rafael Alves Batista, a co-author and researcher at Oxford. “If tardigrades are Earth’s most resilient species, who knows what else is out there?”
Chinese Scientists Just Set the Record for the Farthest Quantum Teleportation
By Jesse Emspak, Live Science Contributor | July 14, 2017 05:21pm ET
Chinese scientists have just shattered a record in teleportation. No, they haven’t beamed anyone up to a spaceship. Rather, they sent a packet of information from Tibet to a satellite in orbit, up to 870 miles (1,400 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface.
More specifically, the scientists beamed the quantum state of a photon (information about how it is polarized) into orbit.
Not only did the team set a record for quantum teleportation distance, they also showed that one can build a practical system for long-distance quantum communications. Such a communication system would be impossible to eavesdrop on without alerting the users, which would make online communications much more secure.
Experiments like this have been done before, but Howard Wiseman, director of the Center for Quantum Dynamics at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, told Live Science in an email that this one expands the possibilities for the technology. [10 Futuristic Technologies ‘Star Trek’ Fans Would Love to See]
“This is much more difficult, because it is to a rapidly moving target, and you have your quantum detectors way out in space where they have to work without anyone fiddling with them,” he said. “It is a big step towards global-scale quantum communication.”
The experiment takes advantage of one of several phenomena that describes quantum mechanics: entanglement, or “spooky action at a distance,” as Albert Einstein called it. When two particles are entangled, they remain connected so that an action performed on one affects the other as well, no matter how far apart the two are. In the same vein, when one measures the state of one particle in the entangled duo, you’d automatically know the state of the second. Physicists call the states “correlated,” because if one particle — a photon, for example — is in an “up” state, its entangled partner will be in a “down” state — a kind of mirror image. (Strictly speaking, there are four possible combinations for the two particles to be in).
In June, the same researchers reported another feat in quantum teleportation: They sent entangled photons from the Micius satellite to two ground stations over distances between 994 miles and 1,490 miles (1,600 and 2,400 km), depending on the location of the satellite in its orbit. While this experiment showed that entanglement can happen over long distances, the new experiment uses that entanglement to transmit a photon’s quantum state to a distant location.
In their latest experiment, the Chinese team, led by Ji-Gang Ren at the University of Science and Technology in Shanghai, fired a laser from a ground station in Tibet to a satellite in orbit. That laser beam carried a photon entangled with another photon on the ground. They then entangled the photon on the ground with a third photon, and measured their quantum states. But the scientists didn’t actually reveal the states themselves. They just asked whether their states (in this case, their vertical or horizontal polarizations) were the same or different. There are four possible combinations: vertical-vertical, vertical-horizontal, horizontal-vertical and horizontal-horizontal. Since the states of the particles on the ground were correlated with the one on the satellite, an observer looking at the satellite’s photon, meanwhile, would know that that photon has to be in one of four possible states that correlate with the two photons on the ground.
If there were a person riding in the satellite, once they were told that the states of the ground-based photons were the same or different, they would know enough to be able reconstruct the state of the ground-based photons and to duplicate it in their single photon on board. The photons on the ground would have had their quantum state teleported to orbit.
While it sounds like information is traveling faster than light, there’s no way to use this property as an instantaneous messaging system. That’s because even though the states of entangled particles are correlated, you can’t know what they are before you measure them, nor can you control the state.
But what entangled particles can do is act as perfect authenticators for messages. The reason is that the act of observing a particle changes its behavior. If an eavesdropper were trying to intercept the transmission between the satellite and the ground in this recent experiment, the quantum states of the photons (as measured by the scientists) would not be correctly correlated.
The Chinese team managed to make entanglement work over distances of 310 miles (500 km) to 870 miles (1,400 km), the maximum distance to the satellite. This is farther than anyone has ever managed to send entangled states. Entangled photons can’t interact with anything else on the way to their destination, because once they do, their states have been “observed” – revealed by the interaction. Hence, the teleportation doesn’t work if the photons are observed before they get to their destination. When scientists conduct experiments like this one, they don’t just send single photons, one at a time; to get the measurements they want, they need to send lots of them. Even in the vacuum of space, out of millions of photons sent, the satellite was only able to reliably receive 911 of them, according to the study.
In quantum physics, entangled particles remain connected so that actions performed on one affect the other, even when separated by great distances. The phenomenon so riled Albert Einstein he called it “spooky action at a distance.”
The rules of quantum physics state that an unobserved photon exists in all possible states simultaneously but, when observed or measured, exhibits only one state.
Spin is depicted here as an axis of rotation, but actual particles do not rotate.
Entanglement occurs when a pair of particles, such as photons, interact physically. A laser beam fired through a certain type of crystal can cause individual photons to be split into pairs of entangled photons.
The photons can be separated by a large distance, hundreds of miles or even more.
When observed, Photon A takes on an up-spin state. Entangled Photon B, though now far away, takes up a state relative to that of Photon A (in this case, a down-spin state). The transfer of state between Photon A and Photon B takes place at a speed of at least 10,000 times the speed of light, possibly even instantaneously, regardless of distance.
A proposed experiment would send one photon of the entangled pair to the orbiting International Space Station, a distance of around 310 miles (500 kilometers). This would be the largest distance that has been experimentally tested.
If these same photons were sent over fiber-optic cables, rather than through space, the connection between the photons would be destroyed by interference from factors such as heat and vibration, or even random interactions with the cable. As such, it could take 380 billion years to get a measurement from an entangled photon. A satellite, on the other hand, is outside of the atmosphere, and there’s much less chance of the entangled photon getting spoiled.
“With fiber you lose many of the photons,” said Bill Munro, a senior research scientist at NTT’s basic research laboratory, in an interview with Live Science. Beaming photons to orbit means that you could build an actual communications system. “You could beam from China to Washington or New York.” The problem of reducing the interference with the signals and getting more photons through, Munro said, is a technical and engineering problem that can be solved.
Both Munro and Wiseman noted that often people think of teleportation as moving an actual object (or a photon) form one place to another. “People have this ‘Star Trek‘ approach,” Munro said. “They think of atoms being teleported. What we’re moving is information from one [quantum] bit to another [quantum] bit. There’s no matter — only information. That’s hard to get your head around.”