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Wicked Blue

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Gender: Female
Hometown: Maryland
Home country: United States
Member since: Tue Aug 11, 2020, 08:58 PM
Number of posts: 5,066

Journal Archives

The return of the spirit horse to Canada

BBC Travel
By Karen Gardiner
27th January 2023

The commonly accepted story of horses in North America is that colonisers introduced them to the continent. But there was a surviving native breed of horse when the Spanish arrived.

It was a bright day in December 2021 and snow was lightly falling over Mādahòki Farm, an Indigenous visitor attraction and event space just outside Ottawa, Canada. I was at the Pibón (winter) festival, and the Anishinaabe artist Rhonda Snow stepped on a small stage that still seemed to tremble from the exuberant footsteps of just-departed pow wow dancers. Nationally renowned for her vivid Woodlands-style paintings, Snow was here to talk about her lifelong work preserving the endangered Ojibwe spirit horse; the breed, also known as the Lac La Croix Indian pony, is the only known indigenous horse breed in Canada.


She travelled around Indigenous communities and heard many stories of Indigenous peoples' reciprocal relationship with the Ojibwe spirit horse, seeing the animals as guides and teachers. Such as the Métis fishermen who partnered with the horses each winter to haul fish off frozen lakes – although the horses were never domesticated back then, they would use their hooves to create ice fishing holes in return for food and shelter from the fishermen. But, having been culled to near-extinction by European settlers who considered the wild animals a nuisance, the horses themselves were few and far between.


In 1977, only four mares remained on an island in Lac La Croix, north-western Ontario. Having deemed the wild animals a health risk, Canadian health officials made plans to slaughter them. But, before they could do so, four Ojibwe men staged a daring rescue. They rounded up the mares, put them on a trailer and spirited them across the frozen lake and over the border to Minnesota, where they were bred with a Spanish Mustang. Careful management and selective breeding has since revived the Ojibwe spirit horse, which now numbers around 180 and is back in Canada.


Egypt archaeology: Gold-covered mummy among latest discoveries

One of four newly discovered tombs at the Saqqara archaeological site south of Cairo

By Kathryn Armstrong
BBC News

Archaeologists say they have found a gold leaf-covered mummy sealed inside a sarcophagus that had not been opened for 4,300 years.

The mummy, the remains of a man named Hekashepes, is thought to be one of the oldest and most complete non-royal corpses ever found in Egypt.

It was discovered down a 15m (50ft) shaft at a burial site south of Cairo, Saqqara, where three other tombs were found.

One tomb belonged to a "secret keeper".

The largest of the mummies that were unearthed at the ancient necropolis is said to belong to a man called Khnumdjedef - a priest, inspector and supervisor of nobles.


Magnetic solution removes toxic "forever chemicals" from water in seconds

Scientists in Australia have developed an intriguing new technique for removing toxic “forever chemicals” from water. Adding a solution to contaminated water coats the pollutants and makes them magnetic, so they can easily be attracted and isolated.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of chemicals that have been in wide use around the world since the 1950s, thanks to their water- and oil-repelling properties. However, more recently PFAS chemicals have been linked to a concerning number of health problems, including increased risks of diabetes and liver cancer. Worse still, a recent study has found that their levels in rainwater almost everywhere on Earth exceed the EPA’s guidelines, and to cap it all off, these stable molecules are very hard to break down, earning them the nickname “forever chemicals.”

Now, researchers at the University of Queensland have developed a technique that could help remove PFAS chemicals from water. The team designed a solution called a magnetic fluorinated polymer sorbent which, when added to contaminated water, coats the PFAS molecules. This makes them magnetic, so then it’s a relatively simple process to use a magnet to attract the pollutants and separate them from the water.

In tests with small samples of PFAS-laden water, the team found that the technique could remove over 95% of most PFAS molecules, including over 99% of GenX – a particularly problematic chemical – within 30 seconds.


Dolphins Make A Splash In The Bronx River For First Time In 5 Years

Dolphins are cavorting in the Bronx River of all places for the first time in at least five years, delighting New Yorkers.

They’re a hopeful sign that efforts to clean up the river, long plagued by pollution, are seeing some success, said city officials.

Local authorities also keep the river stocked with fish, which they believe may have lured in the dolphins.

“This is great news — it shows that the decades-long effort to restore the river as a healthy habitat is working,” the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation noted in a tweet with a video of the dolphins. “We believe these dolphins naturally found their way to the river in search of fish.”


Earth's inner core seems to be slowing its spin

Washington Post
By Carolyn Y. Johnson, January 23, 2023

In the mid-1990s scientists found evidence that Earth’s inner core, a superheated ball of iron slightly smaller than the moon, was spinning at its own pace, just a bit faster than the rest of the planet. Now a study published in Nature Geoscience suggests that around 2009, the core slowed its rotation to whirl in sync with the surface for a time — and is now lagging behind it.

The provocative findings come after years of research and deep scientific disagreements about the core and how it influences some of the most fundamental aspects of our planet, including the length of a day and fluctuations in Earth’s magnetic field.

Three thousand miles below the surface, a scorching hot ball of solid iron floats inside a liquid outer core. Geologists believe that the energy released by the inner core causes the liquid in the outer core to move, generating electrical currents that in turn spawn a magnetic field surrounding the planet. This magnetic shielding protects organisms on the surface from the most damaging cosmic radiation.

Don’t panic. The core’s slowing down isn’t the beginning of the end times. The same thing appears to have happened in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the study authors at Peking University in China suggest it may represent a 70-year cycle of the core’s spin speeding up and slowing down.


Body Found in Van Linked to Monterey Park Ballroom Massacre

Daily Beast

Hours after a gunman turned a California ballroom into a shooting gallery —killing 10 people and wounding 10 others late Saturday—police discovered a body in a van believed to be connected to the escaped suspect.

The deceased individual was found in the driver’s seat, though there was no immediate confirmation that the body was that of the alleged shooter.

“Could it be our suspect?” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna had said of the person in the white van at an earlier press conference. “Possibly.”


People exposed to weedkiller chemical have cancer biomarkers in urine - study

The Guardian

New research by top US government scientists has found that people exposed to the widely used weedkilling chemical glyphosate have biomarkers in their urine linked to the development of cancer and other diseases.

The study, published last week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, measured glyphosate levels in the urine of farmers and other study participants and determined that high levels of the pesticide were associated with signs of a reaction in the body called oxidative stress, a condition that causes damage to DNA.

Oxidative stress is considered by health experts as a key characteristic of carcinogens.

The authors of the paper – 10 scientists with the National Institutes of Health and two from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – concluded that their study “contributes to the weight of evidence supporting an association between glyphosate exposure and oxidative stress in humans”.


Roundup is a commercial form of glyphosphate .

Amazon Fined For Exposing Warehouse Workers To Ergonomic Injuries

By Dave Jamieson
Jan 18, 2023, 03:11 PM EST

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced Wednesday that it was hitting Amazon with a series of fines after investigating the online retailer’s workplace safety practices at three warehouses in Florida, Illinois and New York.

The agency found Amazon employees were at a “high risk” of lower-back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders, which officials attributed to the fast work pace in Amazon facilities. Workers at a warehouse in Florida were also in danger of being struck by heavy products that weighed more than 50 pounds, officials said.

In a letter warning Amazon of certain hazards, the agency noted that several workers had been injured at the Florida facility, including one who was hit in the face with a 61-pound piece of furniture and another whose hand was smashed by a bedframe.

Doug Parker, the head of OSHA, said on a call with reporters Wednesday that the e-commerce company had developed “impressive systems” to get customers their orders as fast as possible but had “failed to show the same level of commitment to protecting the safety and well-being of its workers.”


I hope these fines are more than just slaps on the wrist

Scientists Bred an All-Natural Flame-Resistant Cotton

Daily Beast
Maddie Bender
Published Jan. 18, 2023 2:00PM ET 

If gas stove discourse has exposed you to the wonderful world of everyday exposures to environmental pollution, might I suggest another culprit that is guaranteed to get your knickers in a twist? Flame retardants are chemicals that are used to treat every manner of household item, from mattresses to electronics to building insulation to the clothes on your back. They slow the spread of fire, but at a cost: In recent years, scientists have tied these chemicals (of which there are hundreds) to immune disruption; reproductive harm; cancer; fetal development issues; and neurologic dysfunction.

And that’s all before a fire actually starts. Firefighting foam used to extinguish blazes may contain perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), so-called forever chemicals that can be toxic to humans.

In a surprising development within the field of materials science, researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture have created a kind of cotton that naturally self-extinguishes when set on fire. And they did it by interbreeding existing lines of cotton, meaning that farmers can grow this cotton without a lengthy approval process. A study describing this new line of cotton was published on Jan. 18 in the journal PLoS ONE.

“This is the unexpected cherry on top of a long, fruitful and still ongoing USDA project involving many scientists, years and locations,” Gregory Thyssen, a cotton chemistry researcher at the USDA Agricultural Research Service, told The Daily Beast in an email. While researchers have previously identified natural flame retardant properties in brown-colored cotton, “The new study is the first report of a white cotton line with the property,” he said.


Human Genome Recovered From 5,700-Year-Old Chewing Gum

Modern chewing gums, which often contain polyethylene plastic, could stick around for tens or even hundreds of years, and perhaps much longer in the right conditions. Some of the first chewing gums, made of birch tar and other natural substances, have been preserved for thousands of years, including a 5,700-year-old piece of Stone Age gum unearthed in Denmark.

For archaeologists, the sticky stuff’s longevity can help piece together the lives of ancient peoples who masticated on the chewy tar. The ancient birch gum in Scandinavia preserved enough DNA to reconstruct the full human genome of its ancient chewer, identify the microbes that lived in her mouth, and even reveal the menu of a prehistoric meal.

“These birch pitch chewing gums are kind of special in terms of how well the DNA is preserved. It surprised us,” says co-author Hannes Schroeder, a molecular anthropologist at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. “It’s as well-preserved as some of the best petrous [skull] bones that we’ve analyzed, and they are kind of the holy grail when it comes to ancient DNA preservation.”

Birch pitch, made by heating the tree’s bark, was commonly used across Scandinavia as a prehistoric glue for attaching stone tools to handles. When found, it commonly contains toothmarks. Scientists suspect several reasons why people would have chewed it: to make it malleable once again after it cooled, to ease toothaches because it’s mildly antiseptic, to clean teeth, to ease hunger pains, or simply because they enjoyed it.


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