Massive Volcanism

Massive Volcanism Sent Great Waves of Carbon Into the Oceans Over Thousands of Years – Far Outpaced by Humans Now – SciTechDaily

Living Foraminifera

A living foraminifera, a type of marine plankton, that researchers grew in laboratory culture. To reconstruct past climate, fossilized specimens are collected from deep sea sediments. Credit: Bärbel Hönisch/Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

The closest analog to modern times is no longer very close, study finds.

A new study of an ancient period that is considered the closest natural analog to the era of modern human carbon emissions has found that massive volcanism sent great waves of carbon into the oceans over thousands of years — but that nature did not come close to matching what humans are doing today. The study estimates that humans are now introducing the element three to eight times faster, or possibly even more. The consequences for life both in the water and on land are potentially catastrophic. The findings appear this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory examined ocean conditions 55.6 million years ago, a time known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). Before this, the planet was already considerably warmer than it is today, and the soaring CO2 levels of the PETM drove temperatures up another 5 to 8 degrees C (9 to 14 degrees F). The oceans absorbed large amounts of carbon, spurring chemical reactions that caused waters to become highly acidic, and killing or impairing many marine species.

Bärbel Hönisch Offshore Sampling

Study coauthor Bärbel Hönisch captures foraminifera eight miles off Puerto Rico, near the ocean surface. Specimens were brought back to the lab to be incubated in controlled conditions. Credit: Laura Haynes/Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Scientists have known about the PETM carbon surge for years, but until now, have been shaky on what caused it. Aside from volcanism, hypotheses have included the sudden dissolution of frozen methane (which contains carbon) from ocean-floor muds, or even a collision with a comet. Researchers have also been uncertain about how much carbon dioxide was present in the air, and thus how much the oceans took in. The new study solidifies both the volcano theory, and the amount of carbon that was released into the air.

The research is directly relevant to today, said lead author Laura Haynes, who did the research as a graduate student at Lamont-Doherty. “We want to understand how the earth system is going to respond to rapid CO2 emissions now,” she said. “The PETM is not the perfect analog, but it’s the closest thing we have. Today, things are moving much faster.” Haynes is now an assistant professor at Vassar College.

Up to now, marine studies of the PETM have relied on scant chemical data from the oceans, and assumptions based on a certain degree of guesswork that researchers fed into computer models.

The authors of the new study got at the questions more directly. They did this by culturing tiny shelled marine organisms called foraminifera in seawater that they formulated to resemble the highly acidic conditions of the PETM. They recorded how the organisms took up the element boron into their shells during growth. They then compared these data with analyses of boron from fossilized foraminifera in Pacific and Atlantic ocean-floor cores that span the PETM. This allowed them to identify carbon-isotope signatures associated with specific carbon sources. This indicated that volcanoes were the main source — probably from massive eruptions centered around what is now Iceland, as the North Atlantic ocean opened up, and northern North America and Greenland separated from northern Europe.

The researchers say the carbon pulses, which others estimate lasted for at least 4,000 to 5,000 years, added as much as 14.9 quadrillion metric tons of carbon to the oceans — a two-thirds increase over their previous content. The carbon would have come from CO2 emitted directly by the eruptions, the combustion of surrounding sedimentary rocks, and some methane welling up from the depths. As the oceans absorbed carbon from the air, waters became highly acidic, and remained that way for tens of thousands of years. There is evidence that this killed off much deep-sea life, and probably other marine creatures as well.

Today, human emissions are causing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to skyrocket, and the oceans are again absorbing much of it. The difference is that we are introducing it much faster than the volcanoes did — within decades instead of millennia. Atmospheric levels have shot up from about 280 parts per million in the 1700s to about 415 today, and they are on a path to keep rising rapidly. Atmospheric levels would already be much higher if the oceans were not absorbing so much. As they do, rapid acidification is starting to stress marine life.

“If you add carbon slowly, living things can adapt. If you do it very fast, that’s a really big problem,” said the study’s coauthor Bärbel Hönisch, a geochemist at Lamont-Doherty. She pointed out that even at the much slower pace of the PETM, marine life saw major die-offs. “The past saw some really dire consequences, and that does not bode well for the future,” she said. “We’re outpacing the past, and the consequences are probably going to be very serious.”

Reference: 14 September 2020, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Massive Virgo

Massive “Bang” in LIGO and Virgo Gravitational-Wave Detectors: Fabric of Space-Time Shaken by Binary Black Hole Merger – SciTechDaily

Two Black Holes Merge

Numerical simulation of two black holes that inspiral and merge, emitting gravitational waves. The black holes have large and nearly equal masses, with one only 3% more massive than the other. The simulated gravitational wave signal is consistent with the observation made by the LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave detectors on May 21st, 2019 (GW190521). Credit: Credit: N. Fischer, H. Pfeiffer, A. Buonanno (Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics), Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) Collaboration

A binary black hole merger likely produced gravitational waves equal to the energy of eight suns.

For all its vast emptiness, the universe is humming with activity in the form of gravitational waves. Produced by extreme astrophysical phenomena, these reverberations ripple forth and shake the fabric of space-time, like the clang of a cosmic bell.

Now researchers have detected a signal from what may be the most massive black hole merger yet observed in gravitational waves. The product of the merger is the first clear detection of an “intermediate-mass” black hole, with a mass between 100 and 1,000 times that of the sun.

They detected the signal, which they have labeled GW190521, on May 21, 2019, with the National Science Foundation’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), a pair of identical, 4-kilometer-long interferometers in the United States; and Virgo, a 3-kilometer-long detector in Italy.

The signal, resembling about four short wiggles, is extremely brief in duration, lasting less than one-tenth of a second. From what the researchers can tell, GW190521 was generated by a source that is roughly 5 gigaparsecs away, when the universe was about half its age, making it one of the most distant gravitational-wave sources detected so far.

As for what produced this signal, based on a powerful suite of state-of-the-art computational and modeling tools, scientists think that GW190521 was most likely generated by a binary black hole merger with unusual properties.

Almost every confirmed gravitational-wave signal to date has been from a binary merger, either between two black holes or two neutron stars. This newest merger appears to be the most massive yet, involving two inspiraling black holes with masses about 85 and 66 times the mass of the sun.

GW19src521 Massive Black Hole Merger

: This artist’s concept illustrates a hierarchical scheme for merging black holes. LIGO and Virgo recently observed a black hole merger with a final mass of 142 times that of the sun, making it the largest of its kind observed in gravitational waves to date. Credit: LIGO/Caltech/MIT/R. Hurt (IPAC)

The LIGO-Virgo team has also measured each black hole’s spin and discovered that as the black holes were circling ever closer together, they could have been spinning about their own axes, at angles that were out of alignment with the axis of their orbit. The black holes’ misaligned spins likely caused their orbits to wobble, or “precess,” as the two Goliaths spiraled toward each other.

The new signal likely represents the instant that the two black holes merged. The merger created an even more massive black hole, of about 142 solar masses, and released an enormous amount of energy, equivalent to around 8 solar masses, spread across the universe in the form of gravitational waves.

“This doesn’t look much like a chirp, which is what we typically detect,” says Virgo member Nelson Christensen, a researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), comparing the signal to LIGO’s first detection of gravitational waves in 2015. “This is more like something that goes ‘bang,’ and it’s the most massive signal LIGO and Virgo have seen.”

The international team of scientists, who make up the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) and the Virgo Collaboration, have reported their findings in two papers published today. One, appearing in Physical Review Letters, details the discovery, and the other, in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, discusses the signal’s physical properties and astrophysical implications.

“LIGO once again surprises us not just with the detection of black holes in sizes that are difficult to explain, but doing it using techniques that were not designed specifically for stellar mergers,” says Pedro Marronetti, program director for gravitational physics at the National Science Foundation. “This is of tremendous importance since it showcases the instrument’s ability to detect signals from completely unforeseen astrophysical events. LIGO shows that it can also observe the unexpected.”

In the mass gap

The uniquely large masses of the two inspiraling black holes, as well as the final black hole, raise a slew of questions regarding their formation.

All of the black holes observed to date fit within either of two categories: stellar-mass black holes, which measure from a few solar masses up to tens of solar masses and are thought to form when massive stars die; or supermassive black holes, such as the one at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, that are from hundreds of thousands, to billions of times that of our sun.

However, the final 142-solar-mass black hole produced by the GW190521 merger lies within an intermediate mass range between stellar-mass and supermassive black holes — the first of its kind ever detected.

The two progenitor black holes that produced the final black hole also seem to be unique in their size. They’re so massive that scientists suspect one or both of them may not have formed from a collapsing star, as most stellar-mass black holes do.

According to the physics of stellar evolution, outward pressure from the photons and gas in a star’s core support it against the force of gravity pushing inward, so that the star is stable, like the sun. After the core of a massive star fuses nuclei as heavy as iron, it can no longer produce enough pressure to support the outer layers. When this outward pressure is less than gravity, the star collapses under its own weight, in an explosion called a core-collapse supernova, that can leave behind a black hole.

This process can explain how stars as massive as 130 solar masses can produce black holes that are up to 65 solar masses. But for heavier stars, a phenomenon known as “pair instability” is thought to kick in. When the core’s photons become extremely energetic, they can morph into an electron and antielectron pair. These pairs generate less pressure than photons, causing the star to become unstable against gravitational collapse, and the resulting explosion is strong enough to leave nothing behind. Even more massive stars, above 200 solar masses, would      eventually collapse directly into a black hole of at least 120 solar masses. A collapsing star, then, should not be able to produce a black hole between approximately 65 and 120 solar masses — a range that is known as the “pair instability mass gap.”

But now, the heavier of the two black holes that produced the GW190521 signal, at 85 solar masses, is the first so far detected within the pair instability mass gap.

“The fact that we’re seeing a black hole in this mass gap will make a lot of astrophysicists scratch their heads and try to figure out how these black holes were made,” says Christensen, who is the director of the Artemis Laboratory at the Nice Observatory in France.

One possibility, which the researchers consider in their second paper, is of a hierarchical merger, in which the two progenitor black holes themselves may have formed from the merging of two smaller black holes, before migrating together and eventually merging.

“This event opens more questions than it provides answers,” says LIGO member Alan Weinstein, professor of physics at Caltech. “From the perspective of discovery and physics, it’s a very exciting thing.”

“Something unexpected”

There are many remaining questions regarding GW190521.

As LIGO and Virgo detectors listen for gravitational waves passing through Earth, automated searches comb through the incoming data for interesting signals. These searches can use two different methods: algorithms that pick out specific wave patterns in the data that may have been produced by compact binary systems; and more general “burst” searches, which essentially look for anything out of the ordinary.

LIGO member Salvatore Vitale, assistant professor of physics at MIT, likens compact binary searches to “passing a comb through data, that will catch things in a certain spacing,” in contrast to burst searches that are more of a “catch-all” approach.

In the case of GW190521, it was a burst search that picked up the signal slightly more clearly, opening the very small chance that the gravitational waves arose from something other than a binary merger.

“The bar for asserting we’ve discovered something new is very high,” Weinstein says. “So we typically apply Occam’s razor: The simpler solution is the better one, which in this case is a binary black hole.”

But what if something entirely new produced these gravitational waves? It’s a tantalizing prospect, and in their paper the scientists briefly consider other sources in the universe that might have produced the signal they detected. For instance, perhaps the gravitational waves were emitted by a collapsing star in our galaxy. The signal could also be from a cosmic string produced just after the universe inflated in its earliest moments — although neither of these exotic possibilities matches the data as well as a binary merger.

“Since we first turned on LIGO, everything we’ve observed with confidence has been a collision of black holes or neutron stars,” Weinstein says “This is the one event where our analysis allows the possibility that this event is not such a collision.  Although this event is consistent with being from an exceptionally massive binary black hole merger, and alternative explanations are disfavored, it is pushing the boundaries of our confidence. And that potentially makes it extremely exciting. Because we have all been hoping for something new, something unexpected, that could challenge what we’ve learned already. This event has the potential for doing that.”

Read Quick ‘Bang’ Signals the Most Massive Gravitational-Wave Source Ever Detected for more on this research.


“GW190521: A Binary Black Hole Merger with a Total Mass of 150  M⊙” by R. Abbott et al. (LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration), 2 September 2020, Physical Review Letters.

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.125.101102

“Properties and Astrophysical Implications of the 150 Solar Mass Binary Black Hole Merger GW190521” by R. Abbott, T. D. Abbott, S. Abraham, F. Acernese, K. Ackley, C. Adams, R. X. Adhikari, V. B. Adya, C. Affeldt, M. Agathos … and LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration, 2 September 2020, Astrophysical Journal Letters.

DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aba493

This research was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

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Apple Massive

Apple’s Massive iPhone 12 Upgrade Suddenly Confirmed – Forbes

The release of Apple’s iPhone 12 range may be shrouded in mystery, but we now know their increased price tags will be matched by an equally massive upgrade. 

Apple, iPhone, new iPhone, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 release date, 5G iPhone, iPhone 12 Pro,

iPhone 12 Max, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 12 proportional renders, based on new leaks


MORE FROM FORBESDid Apple Accidentally Leak The iPhone 12 Launch Date?By Gordon Kelly

In a new exclusive, major YouTuber Filip Koroy (aka EverythingApplePro) has partnered with prolific leaker Max Weinbach to reveal Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max will have the biggest display ever seen on an iPhone and the highest resolution. But he also has leaked images of the device and it does not look like everyone expected

Addressing the display, Koroy states that the iPhone 12 Pro Max will jump to a 6.7-inch, 2788 x 1284 pixel screen, up from the 6.5-inch, 2688 x 1242 iPhone 11 Pro Max. Due to its larger size, the new phone’s pixel density will be the same as the iPhone 11 Pro Max (451ppi), while Koroy confirms there will be no return for 3D Touch. 

But what will really get Apple fans talking, is the new iPhone’s design. Koroy has attained real world images of an iPhone 12 Pro Max PVT (Product Validation Test) model, the last version of a device before it enters mass production. And, despite multiple rumors to the contrary, it shows Apple will retain the same large notch first introduced with the 2017 iPhone X. There is also little evidence from the images that the range will have significantly thinner bezels, so the iPhone 12 Pro Max may be even larger than anticipated though 120Hz clearly still remains in the balance.

Apple, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, new iPhone, iPhone 12 release,

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max real world PVT model shows the same last notch as recent years, while 120Hz … [+] support remains uncertain


One thing that will be smaller, however, is the box because Koroy shows off material that reveals Apple is upgrading the iPhone 12 range’s fast charger from 18W to 20W (as recently certified), but it will be “sold separately”. This move will keep prices down as Apple adds expensive new 5G modems into the iPhone 12 line-up, but it does mean users will have to pay more for phones which seemingly will not last as long

Despite this, the iPhone 12 still looks set to sell like hot cakes, thanks to a new chassis design, clever camera tech and barnstorming performance. A cheaper model is on the horizon, however, so keep this in mind when Apple eventually launches these devices following tease after tease


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Massive Stone

Massive stone structures in Saudi Arabia may be some of oldest monuments in the world – Live Science

Mustatils have been found in a wide variety of environments in Saudi Arabia including six examples seen here on the slope of a volcano.

Mustatils have been found in a wide variety of environments in Saudi Arabia including six examples seen here on the slope of a volcano.

(Image: © Gary Rollefson)

They number in the hundreds, can be larger than an NFL football field and are found across Saudi Arabia, including on the slope of a volcano. Sprawling stone structures reported in 2017 now appear to be some of the oldest monuments in the world, dating back some 7,000 years, archaeologists now report. 

A new study of the mysterious stone structures — once called “gates” but now referred to as “mustatils,” the Arabic word for “rectangle” —suggests they were used for rituals; and radiocarbon dating of charcoal found within one of the structures indicates people built it around 5000 B.C., a team of researchers report in an article recently published in the journal The Holocene

Related: See photos of the mysterious stone structures in Saudi Arabia

“The mustatil phenomenon represents a remarkable development of monumental architecture, as hundreds of these structures were built in northwest Arabia,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “This ‘monumental landscape’ represents one of the earliest large-scale forms of monumental stone structure construction anywhere in the world.” 

Ritual use

The structures are made from low stone walls that form what often looks like a field gate from above (hence their former name). They range in size with some measuring less than 49 feet (15 m) long and the largest measuring about 2,021 feet (616 m) long. 

When first constructed, many of the mustatils would have had a platform on either end of the “rectangle,” the researchers found when analyzing some of the structures. On the platform of one mustatil, they discovered a painting with geometric designs on it. The design of the painting “is not currently known from other rock art contexts” in the region, the team wrote in the journal article. 

Related: Spectacular new photos of the ‘gates’ in Saudi Arabia

It “is quite possible that these structures would have been visually spectacular, and perhaps quite extensively painted,” study lead author Huw Groucutt, the leader of the Extreme Events Group at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Germany, told Live Science. 

Few artifacts were found within the mustatils, suggesting that the structures were not occupied or used year-round. Also, the “the long walls [of the mustatils] are very low and typically lack obvious entry points, and therefore do not seem to be obviously functional as something like animal corrals,” the team wrote. 

Still, if the mustatils were in fact the sites of rituals, it’s still not clear what kinds of rituals would have taken place there. 

Image 1 of 4

This painting with geometric motifs was found on the platform of one of the mustatils.

This painting with geometric motifs was found on the platform of one of the mustatils. (Image credit: The Holocene)

Image 2 of 4

The largest mustatil discovered so far is 2,src21 feet (616 meters) in length and covers an area of more than 236,srcsrcsrc square feet (22,srcsrcsrc square m). Research team members can be seen on the right for scale.

The largest mustatil discovered so far is 2,021 feet (616 meters) in length and covers an area of more than 236,000 square feet (22,000 square m). Research team members can be seen on the right for scale. (Image credit: The Holocene)

Image 3 of 4

Mustatils have been found in a wide variety of environments in Saudi Arabia including six examples seen here on the slope of a volcano.

Mustatils have been found in a wide variety of environments in Saudi Arabia including six examples seen here on the slope of a volcano. (Image credit: Gary Rollefson)

Image 4 of 4

A stone platform on one end of the mustatil can be seen in the foreground.

A stone platform on one end of the mustatil can be seen in the foreground. (Image credit: The Holocene)

Territorial markers?

Today, the structures are found in a number of very arid places including the southern Nefud Desert (where Groucutt’s team conducted their fieldwork) as well as barren, inhospitable lava fields.

But if the structures were indeed crafted around 5000 B.C., they would have been in use when the climate in Saudi Arabia was wetter than it is today. “Between 10,000 and 6,000 years ago, “the Arabian Peninsula saw the most recent of the ‘Green Arabia’ periods, when increased rainfall transformed this generally arid region,” the researchers wrote in the paper. 

The largest mustatil discovered so far is 2,src21 feet (616 meters) in length and covers an area of more than 236,srcsrcsrc square feet (22,srcsrcsrc square m). Research team members can be seen on the right for scale.

(Image credit: The Holocene)

At the time, people in the region tended to be pastoralists — relying on herds of domesticated animals for food — while also hunting some wild animals, the researchers wrote in the paper. As such, the mustatils could have been a way for the people to mark their territory, the researchers said.

The mustatils may “represent one manifestation of the increasing territoriality that developed, induced by factors such as competition for grazing land in the challenging and unpredictable environments of Arabia,” they wrote. 

Even when the climate in Arabia was at its wettest, “the environment would have been highly seasonal and droughts would have occurred,” they added. 

Researchers react

Yorke Rowan, a senior research associate with the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, praised the research but noted that there are older examples of large-scale monumental stone construction noting that “kites” (massive stone structures used to hunt animals) appear to be older. 

Gary Rollefson, an emeritus professor at Whitman College in Washington, who was not involved with this research, called the finds “absolutely enthralling.” He noted that, in addition to mustatils, there are other types of rock structures in the area that may have also been places for ritual activity. 

“The paper by Groucutt et al. is an admirably detailed account of one enigmatic construction type — the mustatil rectangle — although there are several other stunning architectural patterns that reflect large-scale human cooperative ventures that have little apparent utilitarian purpose beyond social identity, social reaffirmation and social memory,” Rollefson told Live Science. 

Originally published on Live Science.

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Massive Tubes

Massive lava tubes on the moon and Mars could be used by astronauts – CNN

(CNN)Lava tubes beneath the surface of Mars and the moon could be, respectively, 100 and 1,000 times wider than lava tubes on Earth, which could provide shelter and create exploration opportunities for astronauts in the future, according to a new study.

Lava tubes are caves created by lava as it flows from a volcanic vent beneath a hardened surface. On Earth, these lava tubes can be found in Hawaii, the Canary Islands, Australia and Iceland. They range in diameter from 33 to 98 feet.
Lunar tubes on the moon and Mars could be longer than 25 miles, according to a new study using satellite images, radar data, spacecraft observations of features called skylights belonging to collapsed lava tubes and digital terrain models of lava tubes on the moon and Mars.
The researchers compared these to lava tubes on Earth and found that lunar caves could reach 1 kilometer in diameter, or 3280.84 feet — which could accommodate the tallest buildings on Earth.
Lower gravity, and how it effects volcanism, the scientists believe, could explain these exceptionally large tubes.
The lava tubes beneath the moon’s surface are so large that they could, in fact, hold Padua’s entire city center, said Riccardo Pozzobon, study coauthor and planetary geologist in the department of geosciences of the University of Padua in Italy.
The study published this month in the journal Earth-Science Reviews.
The lava tubes beneath the surface of the moon have also remained largely intact due to low gravity. Any collapsed lava tubes on the moon are likely due to asteroid impacts, the researchers said. And those skylights could actually provide access to the tubes.
These lava tubes could help shelter astronauts, as well as provide new information about the moon and Mars.
“The existence of stable huge voids below the Moon subsurface, potentially accessible through skylights, could change the paradigm on how we approach planetary exploration in terms of mission design, planetary human outposts and scientific research,” said Pozzobon and Franceso Sauro, study author and professor in the department of biological, geological and environmental sciences at the University of Bologna.
“Accessing these caves and (analyzing) this type of subsurface environment will present new technological challenges but also could provide unexpected scientific discoveries.”

Exploring caves on the moon and Mars

For astronauts exploring the harsh environments and fluctuating temperatures of the moon and Mars, the lava tubes could provide natural shelter from radiation, impacts by micrometeorites and unstable temperatures.
Micrometeorites pose a danger not only to astronauts, but the habitats and life support equipment they’ll need on the moon and Mars. The caves could be used to live in and store equipment.
It’s even possible that the tubes could provide access to water ice reservoirs, the researchers said.
“But the challenges in order to access these caves and sustain human activity are nonetheless massive,” the researchers said.
The caves also present dangers and risks of their own.
The tubes will likely contain boulders, sloping floors and shifting rocky material. If future missions plan to utilize the tubes, cranes or tethered descents may be needed to access the entrances because they’re likely to be more like vertical shafts.
“Once below, we should not be too confident to find a flat floor (although it is possible) but instead piles of collapsed boulders from the ceiling or the walls, which are razor-sharp and could harm inflatable modules and spacesuits,” the researchers said.
Astronauts would also need to be able to properly illuminate their space because the rocks inside the caves will likely be pitch-black. But power is a precious commodity, especially when traveling to the moon or Mars, so developing the right kind of illumination will be key.
Studying the inside of these caves could reveal what volcanic activity was like on the moon and Mars and when it occurred. What’s more, such research could provide key insights about the interior composition of these planetary bodies.
The lava tubes’ interiors could also reveal “niches that could be ideal for hosting life (on Mars) or could have preserved signs of past life, not obliterated by the sterilizing and ionizing UV/cosmic radiation that affects the surface and the near subsurface,” the scientists said.

Preparing astronauts for the journey

Astronauts preparing to explore such caves would need training in traversing vertically developed environments and cave exploration. These expeditions would also require preparation for the challenges of exploring a natural environment with uneven terrain, sharp rocks, rock falls and other unpredictable hazards, the researchers said.
This would involve training for normal exploration operations and emergency situations as well.
Some of this is already being studied and astronauts are training through the European Space Agency’s CAVES and Pangaea programs.
Since 2012, These programs have trained astronauts how to explore underground caves and understand planetary geology, including lava tubes on Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands.
“So far, 36 astronauts from five space agencies have received training in cave hiking; moreover, six astronauts and four mission and operation specialists have received geological field training,” said Jo De Waele, study coauthor and speleologist at the University of Bologna.
Sauro, who is also a speleologist studying caves and the head of the CAVES and Pangaea programs, said the ESA is looking for new technologies that would allow for the future exploration of these caves through the agency’s Sysnova platform.
“It is for sure a big challenge, but it is now clear for all space agencies that while we have already a good knowledge of the surface of the Moon, one of the main steps forward for space exploration would be to demonstrate the capability of exploring the subsurface of a planetary body,” Sauro said.
The call for ideas from universities and the space industry is seeking new technologies that could be developed to land on the moon and explore lunar caves.
Next, the researchers want to learn more about these tubes, including the creation of 3D laser scans and understanding their chemistry.
“When we (have) a figure of their subsurface development through remote sensing, then we will be able to provide the most promising targets for future space robotic or human mission to start the exploration of these features,” the researchers said.

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Garmin Massive

Garmin hit with massive outage in suspected ransomware attack – CNN

(CNN)Garmin (GRMN), the GPS and wearable device company, says a widespread blackout has left its fitness devices, website and call centers offline for more than 24 hours in what may be a ransomware attack.

“We are currently experiencing an outage that affects and Garmin Connect,” the company announced on Twitter and the Garmin Connect website. “This outage also affects our call centers, and we are currently unable to receive any calls, emails or online chats.”
Garmin Connect allows users to track and analyze their fitness activities using the Garmin website and app. Since Thursday, however, the outage has prevented new downloads of the app, and the website was still shut down as of midday Friday Eastern Time.
Aviation also appears to have been affected. The tech news website ZDNet reports that pilots were unable to download the newest version of Garmin’s GPS software, flyGarmin, which the FAA requires to be up-to-date. The Garmin Pilot app, which pilots use to plan flight paths, was also down.
Some Garmin employees say the outage is connected to a new strain of ransomware called WastedLocker, according to ZDNet. Garmin did not immediately respond to a request for comment, however, and CNN Business has not been able to independently verify that a virus caused the outage.

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hydroxychloroquine Massive

Massive hydroxychloroquine study raising health concerns about the drug under scrutiny from scientists | TheHill – The Hill

A massive study that raised health concerns over hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug touted by President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation Stocks open mixed ahead of Trump briefing on China The island that can save America MORE as a coronavirus treatment, is coming under scrutiny from scientists who are demanding to see the data behind it.

The scientists expressed concerns over a high-profile study from The Lancet, which surveyed 96,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients across six continents and concluded that the drug was ineffective in fighting the coronavirus and caused serious heart problems and even death for patients who had the disease. 

An open letter from more than 180 scientists around the world raised concerns over what they said was inconsistent data in the report, noting that the average daily doses of hydroxychloroquine were higher than the those recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

They also pointed out that data the magazine said was from Australian patients did not seem to match data from the Australian government, among other things.

Another major concern was that the study’s authors did not release their code or data despite signing a pledge to share information on the coronavirus. 

The report “has led many researchers around the world to scrutinize in detail the publication in question. This scrutiny has raised both methodological and data integrity concerns,” the scientists wrote, adding that they were asking the Lancet to make available the peer review process that “led to this manuscript being accepted for publication.”

The report’s research team corrected some of its data Friday but maintained its conclusions had not changed.

The report in the Lancet was one of several that linked hydroxychloroquine to cardiac issues, but it was the first to link it with a higher rate of deaths. The study found that hospitalized patients who were given hydroxychloroquine were at least 33 percent more likely to die than patients who did not receive the drug.

Two major clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine were put on hold as a result of the study, and the governments of France, Belgium and Italy banned doctors from using it as a coronavirus treatment.

“Many of us in the scientific community were just very angry at seeing a poorly written and executed study published in The Lancet, given loads of publicity, and then having a hugely negative impact on carefully planned clinical trials around the world,” said James Watson, a Thailand-based statistician with the University of Oxford’s Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health who helped draft the letter, in an email to BuzzFeed News.

The Lancet spokeswoman Jessica Kleyn told the outlet that the journal will make available the responses to the study, as well as a statement from the authors.

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Massive Microsoft

Microsoft: “massive” PC hacking campaign used COVID-19, Excel files – SlashGear

Microsoft delivered a news alert today tipping a “massive” phishing campaign using COVID-19 and Excel files to hook in unsuspecting users. Much like MOST phishing campaigns, users could avoid any harmful nonsense by avoiding downloading attached files or entering personal information prompted by email. This email campaign began on May 12, 2020, and posed as the Johns Hopkins Center to deliver a so-called “WHO COVID-19 SITUATION REPORT.”

The situation reported by Microsoft Security Intelligence was described as a “massive campaign that delivers the legitimate remote access tool NetSupport Manager using emails with attachments containing malicious Excel 4.0 macros.” Microsoft Security Intelligence continued, “The COVID-19 themed campaign started on May 12 and has so far used several hundreds of unique attachments.”

We’re tracking a massive campaign that delivers the legitimate remote access tool NetSupport Manager using emails with attachments containing malicious Excel 4.0 macros. The COVID-19 themed campaign started on May 12 and has so far used several hundreds of unique attachments.

— Microsoft Security Intelligence (@MsftSecIntel) May 18, 2020

The user would be tricked into thinking that the Excel file was from a legitimate source. Once the user opened the file, the malicious Excel 4.0 macro downloads and runs a NetSupport Manager RAT. This is particularly devious due to its use of NetSupport Manager, a completely legitimate piece of software that’s SUPPOSED to be used for remote tech support.

This isn’t the first COVID-19-related digital attack here in 2020, and it most certainly won’t be the last. This time of uncertainty and fear for people around the world has resulted in exploitation campaigns of many sorts. Email remains the most common avenue for connecting to unsuspecting future victims of phishing campaigns – that bit wont likely change any time soon.

Trickbot remains to be one of the most common payloads in COVID-19 themed campaigns. A new Trickbot campaign that launched on May 18 uses emails that claim to offer “personal coronavirus check”, an iteration of the “free COVID-19 test” we’ve seen in previous Trickbot spam runs.

— Microsoft Security Intelligence (@MsftSecIntel) May 19, 2020

Another recent COVID-19-related security threat reported by Microsoft included hooks like “personal coronavirus check.” If you happen to get any email that suggests basically anything having to do with COVID-19 or coronavirus that’d have you download a file or enter in ANY information, it’s best to stop what you’re doing and check yourself before you wreck yourself. Now is a PRIME time for email-based tricks, malicious hacking campaigns, and phishing aplenty.

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Apple Massive

Apple’s Massive Mistake Drives MacBook Pro Success – Forbes

Update May 18: Apple’s update to the MacBook Pro range continues to look like an update to the keyboard, without pushing the specifications. This weekend’s examination of the MacOS Catalina powered laptop by Notebook Check makes it clear that half of the new laptop portfolio is… boring:

“The entry-level 13.3-inch MBP models stick with Intel’s eight-gen Coffee Lake-based silicon with either the Core i5-8257U (15 W) or Core i7-8559U (28 W), which while they are still decent chips, they aren’t especially exciting… The chips also supply the graphics performance, with the i5 model fitted with Intel’s integrated Iris Plus 645 GPU and the i7 model picking up the integrated Iris Plus 655. Neither of them are anything to write home about though.”

If you are looking at the higher priced models then you are going to pick up Intel’s tenth-generation processors, but if ‘Pro’ means graphics to you, then the hardware is going to be falling short:

“…unless you are planning on adding an eGPU to the equation, CAD designers and video editors will want to step up to the 16-inch MBP models that feature discrete AMD Radeon Pro GPUs.”

If you want a true update to the MacBook Pro, you’ll have to wait until 2021.

The recent launch of Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro completes this round of updates for the MacOS laptops. Hardware wise there’s very little difference between the MacBooks and the equivalent Windows 10 laptops. So why have the new machines been met with resounding critical acclaim?

The keyboard.

The new MacBook Pro 16 inch (2src19)

12 November 2019, US, New York: The new MacBook Pro, recorded at an Apple presentation in New York, … [+] features a redesigned keyboard, a sophisticated sound system, and a 16-inch display. Photo: Christoph Dernbach/dpa (Photo by Christoph Dernbach/picture alliance via Getty Images)

dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

For five years the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air were saddled with the butterfly keyboard. The thinking behind the design was in keeping with Apple’s ideals, it was lighter and slimmer, both welcome features for a laptop. The keys had more stability and allowed for more accurate typing.

But Apple’s implementation was flawed. Dust, crumbs, and other small particles could get trapped in the mechanism. Keypresses would jam and not be registered; or the key would become stuck and double, triple, or quadruple type a letter from a single key press. It was an unpredictable nightmare for anyone working at speed or on large documents.

The keyboard is the primary interface for a laptop. Apple was selling a laptop with a primary interface that was, in my opinion, not fit for purposes. And it kept selling laptops after the problem was documented. It was clear to independent repair specialists that Apple was trying different fixes to make the keyboard work. But the machines being purchased still had sub-standard keyboards. Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal demonstrated this with a wonderful article that allowed you to decide just how broken her keyboard was. Here it is with the ‘e’ and the ‘r’ key broken.

“Nop, I havn’t fogottn how to wit. No did my dito go on vacation.

‘You s, to sha th pain of using an Appl laptop kyboad that’s faild aft fou months, I could only think of on ida: tak all th bokn ltts out of my column. Thn I alizd that would mak th whol thing unadabl. So to…”

Thanks to Apple’s tight control of the ecosystem (including the monopoly it has over MacOS powered hardware) users needing a MacOS laptop for their applications, software development, or media production chain, had little choice but to buy Apple and endure. Of course the keyboards would work as they came out of the box, you could use external keyboards, and not every single keyboard would break… but emotionally every keyboard was a defect waiting to go off.

TEC-Digital Life-Laptop Innovations

FILE – In this Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, file photo, a guest looks at the Touch Bar on a MacBook … [+] computer shown in a demo room following the announcement of new products at Apple headquarters, in Cupertino, Calif. Higher-end models of Apple’s MacBook Pro now come with a narrow touch screen above the regular keyboard for quick access to common settings and tasks. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)


Tim Cook’s Apple has finally decided to do what it should have done a long time ago. Fix an obvious fault in its flagship laptop.

The process started in late 2019, as the 15-inch MacBook Pro picked up a larger screen and became the 16-inch MacBook Pro. The table stakes of expected specifications were met with updates to the processor, storage options, and tweaks for improved performance (notably in thermal control and battery control). In other words, Apple offered a maintenance release of the hardware It stayed in lockstep with the competition, but didn’t push onwards or try to change the landscape.

The same was mostly true of March’s update to the MacBook Air and this month’s update to the MacBook Pro. The specs were raised to meet the competition, but nothing that exceeded the various Windows 10 powered laptops. Arguably the 2020 releases are less effective than the 16-inch MacBoko Pro because the new display sizes many expected were delayed until 2021.

But… the keyboard was changed.

Although Apple has slapped a ridiculous marketing name on it, the Magic Keyboard is a return to the reliable scissor-switch mechanism. With no design flaws reported since the launch of the 16-inch laptop its probably safe to say the keyboard worries are over.

TEC-Digital Life-Laptop Innovations

FILE – This Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, file photo, shows MacBook computers in a demo room following … [+] the announcement of new products at Apple headquarters, in Cupertino, Calif. Higher-end models of Apple’s MacBook Pro now come with a narrow touch screen above the regular keyboard for quick access to common settings and tasks. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)


To me that explains the rapturous response to the new Macs, especially the new 13-inch MacBook Pro. Yes the specs are higher (but then so are specs on Windows 10 laptops), yes the software has been improved (but then the same is true of Windows 10), and yes that all adds up to more performance (but then, well, you get the idea).

The excitement, the digital column inches, the praise all being heaped upon the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro machines, all center on one area.

It took five years to fix the keyboard.

Well played, Apple. Well played.

Now read more about Apple’s plans to reimagine the Mac lineup using the iPhone’s ARM chip…

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China's Massive

China’s massive Long March 5B’s rocket falls out of orbit over Atlantic Ocean – Spaceflight Now

This map illustrates the track of the Long March 5B core stage on its final orbit. The rocket body re-entered over the North Atlantic Ocean, somewhat closer to the coast of Africa on this particular orbit. Credit: Aerospace Corp.

A large rocket stage left in space after the successful launch of China’s heavy-lift Long March 5B rocket May 5 fell into the atmosphere Monday over the Atlantic Ocean, becoming the most massive object in nearly 30 years to perform an uncontrolled re-entry from orbit.

The Long March 5B rocket’s core stage re-entered the atmosphere at 11:33 a.m. EDT (1533 GMT) Monday, according to the U.S. Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron. At that time, the rocket was flying over the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Africa.

The re-entry occurred less than 15 minutes after the rocket body soared almost directly over New York City.

The rocket’s core stage measured around 100 feet (30 meters) long and 16 feet (5 meters) wide, with a mass of approximately 20 metric tons.

The spent rocket was the most massive object to re-enter the atmosphere in an unguided fashion since the Soviet Union’s Salyut 7 space station in 1991, according to Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who tracks global satellite and launch activity.

While the size of the Long March 5B’s core stage made Monday’s unguided re-entry remarkable, most of the rocket was expected to burn up as it plunged back into the atmosphere. Most of the rocket was made up of hollow propellant tanks, but the dense turbomachinery of the core stage’s two YF-77 main engines could have survived the fall from space.

The Long March 5B rocket lifted off May 5 from the Wenchang launch center on Hainan Island in southern China, carrying a prototype for China’s next-generation crew capsule into orbit on an unpiloted test flight.

The launch May 5 marked the debut of a new configuration of China’s heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket. On the Long March 5B, Chinese designers removed the rocket’s second stage and replaced it with a longer volume for payloads.

The Long March 5B is designed to launch modules for China’s planned space station. It launched with four kerosene-fueled strap-on boosters, which dropped off the rocket around three minutes after liftoff, and a hydrogen-fueled cryogenic core stage that entered orbit along with the crew capsule testbed.

Without reignitable engines, the core stage was left in a low-altitude orbit where it quickly succumbed to atmospheric drag.

File photo of a Long March 5 core stage on a previous mission. Credit: Xinhua

Dead satellites and old rocket stages regularly re-enter the atmosphere, but re-entering objects with masses of more than a few tons are rare.

Space agencies, launch operators and satellite companies often try to guide spent rocket stages and aging satellites toward re-entries over the ocean, reducing the risk that debris could fall over a populated area.

Uncontrolled re-entries are difficult to predict, and forecasts issued by the U.S. military narrowed the window for the rocket’s fall back to Earth in the days before re-entry. Ground-based radars tracked the Long March 5B rocket body in space, allowing U.S. military officials charged with monitoring space debris to regularly measure the core stage’s decaying orbit.

A one-minute error in predicting a re-entry time for an object in low Earth orbit changes the location of potential falling debris by nearly 300 miles, or about 500 kilometers, according to the Aerospace Corp.

The Long March 5B rocket body flew in an orbit between 41.1 degrees north and south latitude, meaning the re-entry could have occurred as far north as around New York City, or as far south as Wellington, New Zealand. In the end, any debris from the core stage that survived the re-entry appeared to fall over the sea, well away from populated areas.

China plans to launch at least three more Long March 5B rockets in 2021 and 2022 with modules for the country’s planned space station, so more uncontrolled rocket re-entries are expected in the next couple of years.

The most massive human-made object to re-enter the atmosphere from orbit was Russia’s Mir space station, which made a guided re-entry over the South Pacific Ocean in 2001. NASA and Russia’s space agency have plans to eventually execute a controlled re-entry of the International Space Station at the end of its service life.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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