Tag: science

This is what an extreme sea level rise scenario looks like for U.S. cities

New Orleans under an "extreme" sea level rise scenario.

Until recently, it seemed that we would be able to manage global warming-induced sea level rise through the end of the century. It would be problematic, of course, but manageable, particularly in industrialized nations like the U.S.

However, troubling indications from the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets show that melting is taking place faster than previously thought and that entire glaciers if not portions of the ice sheets themselves are destabilizing. This has scientists increasingly worried that the consensus sea level rise estimates are too conservative.

With sea level rise, as with other climate impacts, the uncertainties tend to skew toward the more severe end of the scale. So, it’s time to consider some worst-case scenarios.

Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published an extreme high-end sea level rise scenario, showing 10 to 12 feet of sea level rise by 2100 around the U.S., compared to the previously published global average which is closer to 8 feet in that time period.

The research and journalism group Climate Central took this projection and plotted out the stark ramifications in painstaking, and terrifying, detail.

The bottom line finding?

“By the end of the century, oceans could submerge land [that’s] home to more than 12 million Americans and $2 trillion in property,” according to Ben Strauss, who leads the sea level rise program at Climate Central.

Here’s what major cities would look like with so much sea level rise:

New York City


New Orleans: Gone.


San Francisco International Airport


Bienvenido a Miami.


In an online report, Climate Central states that the impacts of such a high amount of sea level rise “would be devastating.”

For example, Cape Canaveral, which is a crown jewel for NASA and now the private sector space industry, would be swallowed up by the Atlantic. Major universities, including MIT, would be underwater, as would President Trump’s “southern White House” of Mar-a-Lago. In the West, San Francisco would be hard-hit, with San Francisco International Airport completely submerged.

“More than 99 percent of todays population in 252 coastal towns and cities would have their homes submerged, and property of more than half the population in 479 additional communities would also be underwater,” the analysis, which has not been peer-reviewed, found.

Image: climate central

In New York City, the average high tide would be a staggering 2 feet higher than the flood level experienced during Hurricane Sandy. More than 800,000 people would be flooded out of New York City alone.

Although the findings pertain to sea level rise through the end of the century, in reality sea levels would keep rising long after that, with a total increase of about 30 feet by 2200 for all coastal states, Climate Central found.

As for how likely this extreme scenario really is, here’s what the report says:

“The extreme scenario is considered unlikely, but it is plausible. NOAAs report and Antarctic research suggest that deep and rapid cuts to heat-trapping pollution would greatly reduce its chances.”

More specifically, the NOAA projection says this high-end outlook has just a 0.1 percent chance of occurring under a scenario in which we keep emitting greenhouse gases at about the current rate.

While a 1-in-1,000 chance outcome might seem nearly impossible to occur, recent events suggest otherwise.

For example, Hurricane Sandy slammed into the Mid-Atlantic in 2012 while following a track that was virtually unprecedented in storm history. In addition, California is estimated to have had just a 1 percent chance of climbing out of its deep drought in a one to two-year period, and it did just that this winter.

Also, Donald Trump is president, people.

Robert Kopp, a sea level rise researcher at Rutgers University, whose projections formed the basis of the NOAA scenarios, said it’s difficult to put exact odds on the extreme scenario.

“I would say that our knowledge about marine ice-sheet instability is too deeply uncertain for us to answer that question right now,” Kopp said in an email. “We can come up with a physically plausible pathway that gets us to 2.5 meters [or 8.2 feet], we know it is more likely under higher emissions, but we don’t have a good way of putting a probability on it.”

A paper published in the journal Nature in March found that if emissions of global warming pollutants peak in the next few years and are then reduced quickly thereafter, then there is a good chance that the melting of the Antarctic Ice Sheet would be drastically curtailed.

However, with the U.S., which is the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, backing away from making significant cuts under the Paris Climate Agreement, adhering to such an ambitious timetable is looking less realistic.

Image: climate central

In order for NOAA’s extreme scenario, and therefore Climate Central’s maps, to turn into reality, there would need to be decades more of sustained high emissions of greenhouse gases plus more melting from Antarctica than is currently anticipated.

However, recent studies have raised questions about Antarctica’s stability, as mild ocean waters eat away at floating ice shelves from below, freeing up glaciers well inland to flow faster into the sea.

“What’s new is that we used to think 6- to 7 feet was the max *plausible* or *possible* sea level rise this century, and now we’ve roughly doubled that,” Strauss said in an email. “The new Antarctic science says it’s plausible.”

“If you were to survey ice sheet experts today, instead of something like 5 to 10 years ago, I suspect you’d get a significantly higher probability than 0.1 percent,” he said.

A study published in the journal Nature Climate Change last week found that sea level rise could prompt a wave of internal migration within the U.S., especially as people move from the hardest-hit states such as Florida, Louisiana and New York.

It’s long been known that Florida is ground zero for sea level rise impacts, but the Climate Central projections are even more pessimistic. The report shows that a whopping 5.6 million Floridians would be at risk before the end of the century under an extreme sea level rise scenario, about double the amount simulated in the study last week.

WATCH: Serene underwater footage shows whale’s-eye view of Antarctica

Plastic-eating bugs? Its a great story but theres a sting in the tail | Philip Ball

Breeding wax moth caterpillars to destroy our waste sounds great. But they are able to criticize bee settlements too, and eventually settled pastures at risk

Caterpillars that they are able munch up plastic bags have just been identified, fuelling energized speculation that this could one day remove world-wide pollution from plastic waste. The chance discovery, first make use of a scientist and amateur beekeeper whose plastic pocket had been chewed through by the moth caterpillars, was reported the coming week by researchers at Cambridge University and the Spanish National Research Council.

How thoughtful of quality to offer defects that snack our debris. Is this the end of landfill, turtles with plastic-congested tummies, and trees adorned with tattered ribbons of shopping bags?

Well, its never that simple-minded, is it? Attempts to commandeer quality to do our dirty work never seem to turn out as hoped, whether these make the form of embed trees to soak up carbon dioxide, or feeing invasive categories for pest see, or exercising micro-organisms to clean up petroleum accidents. Remember the Australian cane frog debacle? The toads were introduced in the 1930 s to restrict pasture pests but instead gorged themselves on other neighbourhood wildlife and spread across the country.

These characters, the larvae of the greater wax moth (< em> Galleria mellonella ), can destroy polyethylene, which along with the closely related polypropylene is the main type of plastic may be in waste. But youd involve an abominable lot of them to make a significant dent on the plastic waste trouble. The UK alone discards roughly 2m million tonnes this stuff every year. At the rate of intake reported by the researchers one louse gets through about two milligrams of plastic a date youd motive billions of caterpillars feeing always all time round to deal with that.

Quite aside from how and where youd farm all these defects, theres something about them that news reports have failed to mention. Wax moths, which are knew throughout the world, are so-called since they are snack wax. Solely, they love to eat the wax from which bees making such a honeycombs and so they can devastate bee settlements. The two common categories of wax moth, of which Galleria mellonella is one, are thought to movement more than 4m worth of damage annually in the United States alone.

With bee populations once under severe stress, we are able to want to think twice about spawning one of their common airborne enemies in big quantities. Photo: Peter Komka/ EPA

With bee populations once under severe stress from pesticides, habitat loss and piranhas, we are able to want to think twice about spawning one of their common airborne enemies in big quantities even if the intention was to somehow keep them in plastics-processing cores. The doctrine that if bees recede then humankind will follow four years later, universally misattributed to Albert Einstein, might be a touch hyperbolic. But without their pollinating succour, pasture gardening would be in deep trouble.

Polyethylene sits around in the environmental issues because its molecules are so hard to break down. Ordinary grime micro-organisms dont have the resources for it. These plastics are built up from the hydrocarbon molecules in petroleum, and ideally united become them back into petroleum after we had employed them, regenerating a invaluable essence rather than relinquishing it as waste. Pharmacists have been working long and hard to do that, exercising special catalysts to induce the chemical reaction. But its hard, and merely very recently have they started to see progress. Its precisely because wax is chemically similar to polyethylene that the wax moth caterpillars can biodegrade it.

A far easier and less hazardous solution to the plastic trouble could be found in bacteria, however. After all, it seems you can find bacteria that will eat almost anything. Some blithely devour noxiou substances, such as perchlorate( weed killer ); others thrive amid radioactive waste. And indeed last year a team of Japanese scientists recognized a bacterium existing in the mad that they are able feed upon another common plastic, polyethylene terephthalate, which is used to clear bottles for soft drinks and water.

Its probable that bacteria might, in fact, be responsible for the plastic-digesting ability of Galleria mellonella larvae. Another wax-eater, the Indian mealmoth, was may be in 2014 to home bacteria in its digestive lot that they are able break down polyethylene. Galleria might prove to have such nerves bacteria too.

Those bacteria could offer the ideal mixture. They could be brewed up in fermenting tubs that would dissolve plastics without anyone having to contemplate spawn vast wax moth settlements. Alternatively, it might be possible to extract the particular enzymes the caterpillars use and make them to work on their own a kind of centralize of gastric juices.

These are the real reasons why the brand-new disclosure is promising, and not because well soon be feeding plastic bags to caterpillars. As normal with science, you dont get the mixture on a illustration, but have to follow clues with composure and care. It doesnt make for enormous headlines. But candidly, the bees would thank you for it.

Global warming is sharply raising risk of ‘unprecedented’ weather events

An Indian boy takes bath in an ornamental fountain on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, April 18, 2017.
Image: RAJAT GUPTA/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Around the world, global warming is making unprecedented weather and climate events far more likely to occur, with the planet now teetering on the edge of a new era of routinely damaging global warming-related extremes, a new study found.

The study, published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that in addition to making extreme events more likely across broad swaths of the globe, climate change is also making such events more severe.

The study is rooted in an emerging field of climate detective work, in which scientists seek to detect the role that human-caused climate change may have played in often damaging extreme events.

However, this study differs from many other so-called “climate attribution” studies by looking at how climate change is tipping the scales in favor of unprecedented events worldwide, rather than focusing on one or two extreme occurrences in particular.

Every weather event that occurs today takes place in an environment modified by human activities, with more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere making the air and seas warmer, pumping more moisture into the atmosphere and providing more energy to storm systems.

As a result, heat waves are becoming more intense and longer-lasting, and heavy precipitation events are occurring more frequently in many areas.

A washed out road in Boulder, Colorado following major flooding in 2013.

Image: Linsley/AP/REX/Shutterstock

The new study takes such findings a step further by looking at how global warming is shifting the odds and severity of unprecedented climate events, such as the historically hottest month, hottest day, driest year, and wettest 5-day period on record for a given location.

What the researchers found was surprising: The influence of global warming is already clear globally, with the greatest certainty concerning hot weather records.

The study is important because policy makers and individuals need to make risk management decisions now to prepare for future climate impacts. And extreme weather events are some of the most costly ways both in monetary terms and human lives in which climate change is manifesting itself.

How they did it

The study is particularly ambitious in that it uses multiple methods to probe the climate for signs of global warming-related trends, from statistical examinations of climate data to the use of sophisticated computer models.

Using weather observations and a group of climate models known as an ensemble, the researchers from Stanford University and the University of California at Los Angeles found that the warming-to-date has already caused the severity and probability of the hottest month and hottest day of the year to increase at more than 80 percent of weather observing sites.

“The world isnt at the point where every extreme hot event has a human component, but its getting close, said Noah Diffenbaugh, a climate scientist at Stanford University and lead author of the study.

The study also found that global warming has boosted the probability of the driest year at 57 percent of studied areas, while the wettest 5-day period has become more likely at 41 percent of the observed areas. Diffenbaugh says the lower probabilities associated with precipitation extremes is due in large part to the greater variability, or “noisiness,” in precipitation data.

As global warming continues it’s becoming easier for locations to set all-time records, particularly temperature records, because the baseline climate is shifting so significantly and quickly.

This is similar to a basketball game in which the floor is steadily rising, making it easier for players to dunk the ball.

With temperature events the mean [average] warming has been so strong… that it doesnt take as big a departure from the new mean to set the record as it wouldve without that trend, Diffenbaugh said.

The tropics have been especially hard-hit by global warming so far, with a four-fold increase in the probability of setting a record for hottest month, and at least a factor of 2 increase in the odds of the driest year.

Kevin Trenberth, a climate researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, said he has “some qualms” about the new study, but that “it adds to the literature and is useful.” Trenberth was not involved in the new study.

A boy plays in a fountain in Moscow during a record-shattering heat wave in July, 2010.

Image: Kochetkov/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

He criticized the computer models used in the study for their inability to simulate extreme events as well as other models can. “The results seem quite reasonable, although I suspect they are conservative (low),” he said in an email.

Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University who was not involved in the new research, said the study focuses on extreme events that have four different lines of evidence supporting their links to climate change, including statistically significant historical trends.

“Whenever an extreme event occurs, the number one question we scientists are asked is, is this natural or is it human induced climate change? And my answer always is: there is a human component in nearly every event these days, and that componentis somewhere between zero and 100 percent,” she said.

Hayhoe used a human health analogy to help explain the relationship between global warming and extreme weather and climate events.

“A heart attack is usually some combination of genetic risk and lifestyle choices,” she said in an email.

“Similarly, these days, an extreme event is usually some combination of natural risk and lifestyle choices but in this case, what matters is not what we eat, but rather how we get our energy.”

WATCH: 2016 was Earth’s warmest year on record, continuing a three-year streak

These tiny creatures could be the key to solving the Earth’s plastic bag problem

This little thing could be a solution to our plastic suitcase question .

Image: Cesar Hernandez/ CSIC_Gusanos

A Spanish biologist and amateur beekeeper may have discovered a course to deal with some of the trillion plastic bags humen use and toss annually and the answer lies in the humble caterpillar.

Or, more specifically, the Galleria mellonella , or wax moth.

Federica Bertocchini, from Spain’s Institute of Biomedicine& Biotechnology of Cantabria, was actually labor away at her area hustlebeekeepingwhen she made the breakthrough that could make a huge dent in Earth’s plastic problem.

Finding a bunch of wax moths in her beehives, where the latter are hectic munching on the wax that her bees is a requirement to clear honeycomb, she dropped the pesky critters in a plastic suitcase. On her return, she detected they’d snacked their way out of the bag.

Teaming up with biochemists Paolo Bombelli and Christopher Howe, she aimed to find out ifand howthe individuals were truly grasping the plastic. Their answers were published in Current Biology Monday, and could have important ramifications in the fight against environmental waste.

Essentially, the team detected “the fast bio-degradation of polyethylene( PE) by larvae of the wax moth Galleria mellonella , inducing ethylene glycol.”

When a film of PE was left with wax worms, excavations started emerging within 40 instants. As the graphic below shows, a high street grocery suitcase was riddled with excavations after only 12 hours in the presence of some 100 worms. Overall, 92 mg of plastic disappearedfar more than the previous record for bacteria, 0.13 mg. The team also slandered the unsavory-sounding “worm homogenate” onto PE cinemas, which demonstrated the special enzymes produced by the worms helped break down the plastic.

“What allows the wax worm to degrade a chemical bond not generally prone to bio-degradation? ” the study asks.

“The answer may lie in the ecology of the wax snake itself. They feed on beeswax, and their natural niche is the honeycomb; the moth lays its eggs inside the beehive, where the worms ripen to their pupa theatre, snacking beeswax. Beeswax is composed of a highly diverse combination of lipid complexes, including alkanes, alkenes, fatty battery-acids and esters.”

In other oaths, these worms are been established to devour complexes similar to those found in plastic bags. But forget notions of huge armies of worms unleashed into your thrown-away grocery bags.

“The idea would be to not use the worms, ” Bertocchini says. Maybe we can find the molecule and display it at high-scale rather than working thousands and thousands of worms in a plastic bag.

Maybe we can find the molecule and display it at high-scale rather than working thousands and thousands of worms in a plastic bag.

However , not everyone is impressed with the breakthrough. Marine biologist Tracy Mincer from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute told National Geographic he reputed increasing plastic product and increasing recycling was more important than finding ways to break it down after the event.

Polyethylene is a high-quality resin that can be up-cycled in many ways and can fetch up to $500 per tonne, he told the publication. In my opinion, although this is an amazing natural history fib and extraordinary academic utilization, it is not a answer for setting of polyethylene as this is throwing away money.

Another researcher from Michigan State University also singer relate. Ramani Narayan told The Atlantic the evidence that waxworm glue renders ethylene glycol is “tenuous at best.”

The fight against our plastic infestation continues.

WATCH: Scientists have created edible spray orbs that can help replace plastic bottles

Feel the burn: why do we love chilli?

Its not just about the flavour or even the pain. In this extract from his new book, Bob Holmes uncovers the pharmacology and psychology behind humanitys heat-seeking desire

Ive been procrastinating. On my dining room table I have lined up three hot peppers: one habanero, flame-orange and lantern-shaped; one skinny little Thai birds eye chilli; and one relatively innocuous jalapeo, looking by comparison like a big green zeppelin. My mission, should I choose to accept, is to eat them.

In ordinary life, Im at least moderately fond of hot peppers. My fridge has three kinds of salsa, a bottle of sriracha, and a jar of Szechuan hot bean paste, all of which I use regularly. But Im not extreme: I pick the whole peppers out of my Thai curries and set them aside uneaten. And Im a habanero virgin. Its reputation as the hottest pepper you can easily find in the grocery store has me a bit spooked, so Ive never cooked with one, let alone eaten it neat. Still, if Im going to write about hot peppers, I ought to have firsthand experience at the high end of the range. Plus, Im curious, in a vaguely spectator-at-my-own-car-crash way.

When people talk about flavour, they usually focus on taste and smell. But theres a third major flavour sense, as well, one thats often overlooked: the physical sensations of touch, temperature and pain. The burn of chilli peppers is the most familiar example here, but there are others. Wine mavens speak of a wines mouthfeel, a concept that includes the puckery astringency of tannins something tea drinkers also notice and the fullness of texture that gives body to a wine. Gum chewers and peppermint fans recognise the feeling of minty coolness they get from their confections. And everyone knows the fizzy bite of carbonated drinks.

None of these sensations is a matter of smell or taste. In fact, our third primary flavour sense flies so far under our radar that even flavour wonks havent agreed on a single name for it. Sensory scientists are apt to refer to it as chemesthesis, somatosensation, or trigeminal sense, each of which covers a slightly different subset of the sense, and none of which mean much at all to the rest of the world. The common theme, though, is that all of these sensations are really manifestations of our sense of touch, and theyre surprisingly vital to our experience of flavour. Taste, smell, touch the flavour trinity.

Sensory scientists have known for decades that chilli burn is something different from taste and smell something more like pain. But the real breakthrough in understanding chilli burn came in 1997, when pharmacologist David Julius and his colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco, finally identified the receptor for capsaicin, the active ingredient in chilli heat. The task demanded a lot of patience: Julius and his team took every gene active in sensory nerve cells, which respond to capsaicin, and swapped them into cultured kidney cells, which dont. Eventually, they found a gene capable of making the kidney cells respond. The gene turned out to encode a receptor eventually named TRPV1, and pronounced trip-vee-one that is activated not just by capsaicin but also by dangerously hot temperatures. In other words, when you call a chilli pepper hot, thats not just an analogy as far as your brain can tell, your mouth really is being burned. Thats a feel, not a smell or taste, and it passes to the brain through nerves that handle the sense of touch.

Like other touch receptors, TRPV1 receptors are found all over the inner layer of your skin, where they warn you of burn risk from midsummer asphalt, baking dishes straight from the oven, and the like. But they can only pick up pepper burn where the protective outer skin is thin enough to let capsaicin enter that is, in the mouth, eyes, and a few other places. This explains the old Hungarian saying that good paprika burns twice.

Further tests showed that TRPV1 responds not just to heat and capsaicin but to a variety of other hot foods, including black pepper and ginger. More recently, several more TRP receptors have turned up that give other food-related somatosensations. TRPA1, which Julius calls the wasabi receptor, causes the sensation of heat from wasabi, horseradish and mustards, as well as onions, garlic and cinnamon. TRPA1 is also responsible for the back-of throat burn that aficionados value in their extra-virgin olive oil. A good oil delivers enough of a burn to cause a catch in your throat and often a cough. In fact, olive oil tasters rate oils as one-cough or two-cough oils, with the latter getting a higher rating. (One reason wasabi feels so different from olive oil is that the sulfur-containing chemicals in wasabi are volatile, so they deliver wasabis characteristic nose hit, while non-volatile olive oil merely burns the throat. Olive oil may also trigger TRPV1 receptors to some extent.) Curiously, TRPA1 is also the heat receptor that rattlesnakes use to detect their prey on a dark night.

Chilli aficionados get pretty passionate about their pods, choosing just the right kind of chilli for each application from the dozens available. The difference among chilli varieties is partly a matter of smell and taste: some are sweeter, some are fruitier, some have a dusky depth to their flavour. But there are differences in the way they feel in your mouth, too.

One difference is obvious: heat level. Chilli experts measure a chillis level of burn in Scoville heat units, a scale first derived by Wilbur Scoville, a pharmacist and pharmaceutical researcher, in 1912. Working in Detroit, Scoville had the bright idea that he could measure a peppers hotness by diluting its extract until tasters could no longer detect the burn. The hotter the pepper was originally, the more youd have to dilute it to wash out the burn. Pepper extract that had to be diluted just tenfold to quench the heat scores 10 Scoville heat units; a much hotter one that has to be diluted one hundred thousandfold scores 100,000 Scovilles.

Nowadays, researchers usually avoid the need for expensive panels of tasters by measuring the chillis capsaicin content directly in the lab and converting that to Scoville units. The more capsaicin, the hotter the chilli.

However you measure it, chillies differ widely in their heat level. Anaheims and poblanos are quite mild, tipping the scale at about 500 and 1,000 Scovilles, respectively. Jalapeos come in around 5,000, serranos about 15,000, cayennes about 40,000, Thai birds eye chillies near 100,000, and the habanero on my table somewhere between 100,000 and 300,000 Scovilles. From there, intrepid souls can venture into the truly hot, topping out with the Carolina Reaper at a staggering 2.2 million Scovilles, which approaches the potency of police-grade pepper spray.

Many chilli heads claim that a peppers heat is defined by more than just intensity. If anyone would know about this it would probably be Paul Bosland, the director of the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University. As a plant breeder by trade, he has a keen professional interest in all the tiny details of how chilli heat differs from one pod to the next.

Bosland says he and his colleagues distinguish four other components to chilli heat in addition to heat level. The first is how fast the heat starts. Most people, when they bite the habanero, it maybe takes 20 to 30 seconds before they feel the heat, whereas an Asian chilli is immediate, he says. Chillies also differ in how long the burn lasts. Some, like jalapeos and many of the Asian varieties, fade relatively quickly; others, like habaneros, may linger for hours. Where the chilli hits you also varies. Usually, with a jalapeo, its the tip of your tongue and lips, with New Mexico pod types its in the middle of the mouth, and with a habanero its at the back, says Bosland. And fourth, Bosland and his crew distinguish between sharp and flat qualities of burn. Sharp is like pins sticking in your mouth, while flat is like a paintbrush, he says. New Mexico chillies tend to be flat while Asian ones tend to be sharp.

Its time to take the plunge. First up, the jalapeo. As youd expect from its relatively wimpy ranking in the hot pepper standings, it gives only a mild burn, which builds gently and mostly at the front of the mouth. Confronted with such a tame burn, I have plenty of attention left to focus on its thick, crisp flesh and sweet, almost bell-peppery flavour. The Thai birds-eye chilli, second on my list, is much smaller, and its flesh proves to be much thinner and tougher. Despite that, though, it almost immediately lets loose a blast of heat that explodes to fill my mouth from front to back, making me gasp for breath. No gradual build to this one its a sledgehammer blow. If I think hard, I might imagine that the chilli heat is a little bit sharper, pricklier, than the jalapeo. But I could just be fooling myself.

Finally, the one Ive been dreading, the habanero. I cut a tiny slice and start chewing. The first thing that strikes me is how different the flavour is. Instead of a vegetal, bell pepper flavour, the habanero gives me a much sweeter, fruitier impression thats surprisingly pleasant. For about 15 or 20 seconds, anyway and then, slowly but inexorably, the heat builds. And builds. And builds, long after Ive swallowed the slice of pepper itself, until I cant think of much else besides the fire that fills my mouth. It definitely hits farther back in the mouth than the Thai chilli, though theres a late-breaking flare-up on my tongue as well. The whole experience lasts five or 10 minutes, and even a good half hour later its as though coals are gently banked in my mouth.

Having set my mouth afire, Id now like to quench the burn. Surprisingly, scientists cant offer a whole lot of help in this regard. A cold drink certainly helps, because the coolness calms the heat-sensing TRPV1 receptors that capsaicin excites. The only problem as youve no doubt noticed if youve tried to cope with a chilli burn this way is that the effect goes away in just a few seconds, as your mouth returns to normal body temperature. Youve probably heard, too, that sugar and fat help douse the fire, but the researchers themselves arent entirely convinced.

The best thing out there is probably cold, whole milk, says John Hayes of the department of food science at the University of Pennsylvania. The cold is going to help mask the burn, the viscosity is going to mask the burn, and the fat is going to pull the capsaicin off the receptor. When pressed, though, he notes that theres not a lot of data to back that up.

Making a food more viscous has been shown to damp down taste probably just because it provides a competing sensation to distract our attention, Hayes notes, but he cant think of anyone whos tested whether it also reduces chilli burn. And hes not entirely sure that sugar really helps, either. Im not convinced that it actually knocks the heat down, or whether it just makes it more pleasant, he says. Even the value of fats or oils which sounds like they ought to help wash capsaicin, which is fat soluble, off the receptors is in dispute. If youre feeling the burn, says Bruce Bryant of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, the capsaicin has already penetrated your tissue, so a superficial rinse of whole milk or olive oil isnt going to help much.

Millions of people actively seek out the pain of hot chillies as a form of pleasure. The burn features prominently in more than a few of the worlds great cuisines, with more than a quarter of the worlds population eating hot peppers daily. Britain spends 20m annually on hot sauce.

We dont take pleasure in eating food thats still searingly hot from the oven, even though that delivers exactly the same sensation we get from chillies: same receptors, same nerves. We dont choose to chemically burn our tongues with strong acids. So why do we happily, even eagerly, inflict pain by chillies? Whatever the secret is, it seems to be unique to humans. No other mammal on the planet has a similar taste for chillies. (Birds eat them enthusiastically, but only because they lack receptors that respond to capsaicin. To a parakeet, the hottest habanero is as bland as a bell pepper.)

One possible explanation is that chilli lovers simply dont feel the pain as intensely as those who shun hot peppers. In the lab, its certainly true that people who are repeatedly exposed to capsaicin become less sensitive to it. Genetics may play some part, too. Studies of identical twins (who share all their genes) and fraternal twins (who share only half) suggest that genes account for 18-58% of our liking for chilli peppers. Some people may have more sensitive TRPV1 receptors, for example though Hayes, whos looking into that now, says: The jury is really still out on whether there is meaningful TRPV1 variation.

Its abundantly clear, though, that chilli lovers arent immune to the pain. Just ask one. I like it so all my pores open up and tears are rolling down my face, says Hayes. But with two young kids in the house, I dont get that very often. For now, Hayes makes do with a handy bottle of sriracha hot sauce. My kids refer to it as Daddys ketchup, he says.

Its clear from listening to Hayes that he and probably most other chilli eaters actively enjoys the pain. That paradox has drawn the attention of psychologists for several decades now. Back in the 1980s, psychologist and pioneering chilli researcher Paul Rozin of the University of Pennsylvania proposed that chilli eating is a form of benign masochism, like watching a scary movie or riding a roller coaster. After all, most forms of pain are warnings of imminent harm. That baked potato still steaming from the oven is hot enough to kill the cells lining your mouth, potentially causing permanent damage. But chilli burn except at its uppermost, million-Scoville extreme is a false alarm: a way to get the thrill of living on the edge without the risk of exposing yourself to real danger.

A few decades later, Hayes and his student Nadia Byrnes (perhaps the best name ever for a hot pepper researcher) took Rozins ball and ran with it. If chilli heads are looking for thrills, Byrnes and Hayes reasoned, youd expect them to have sensation-seeking personalities. And, sure enough, when they went to the vast arsenal of tests that psychologists have developed to measure facets of personality, they found several measures of sensation seeking, of which the latest and best was the Arnett Inventory of Sensation Seeking. Then they set out to see whether chilli lovers really do crave excitement.

When Byrnes and Hayes tested nearly 250 volunteers, they found that chilli lovers were indeed more likely to be sensation seekers than people who avoided chillies. And its not just that sensation seekers approach all of life with more gusto the effect was specific to chillies. When it came to more boring foods like candy floss, hot dogs or skimmed milk, the sensation seekers were no more likely to partake than their more timid confreres.

Chilli eaters also tended to score higher on another aspect of personality called sensitivity to reward, which measures how drawn we are to praise, attention and other external reinforcement. And when the researchers looked more closely, an interesting pattern emerged: sensation seeking was the best predictor of chilli eating in women, while in men, sensitivity to reward was the better predictor.

Hayes thinks thats because machismo plays a role in the chilli eating of men, but not women. For women, theres no social status to being able to eat the hottest chilli pepper, while for men there is, he speculates. Without the heavy hand of machismo on the scales, womens chilli eating is more strongly governed by their internal drive for excitement.

Incidentally, while chilli lovers laud the rush they get from a spicy dish, and sometimes claim the peppers wake up their palate to other flavours, youll often hear chilli-averse people complain that the burn keeps them from savouring other flavours in their meal. Which is it? The matter has received surprisingly little scientific study, but the bottom line seems to be that if capsaicin blocks other flavours, the effect is small. Most likely, when people complain that they cant taste as well after a spicy mouthful, its largely because theyre paying so much attention to the unfamiliar burn that the other flavours fly under the radar. In other words, its not hot but too hot that interferes with the enjoyment of flavour and the threshold where hot becomes too hot is a very personal one.

Extracted from Flavour: A Users Guide to Our Most Neglected Sense by Bob Holmes (Ebury Press, 20). To order a copy for 17, go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over 10, online orders only. Phone orders min. p&p of 1.99.

This guy channels his inner Bart Simpson by yelling into 10 megaphones lined up in row

File this one under Simpsons mockeries coming to life .~ ATAGEND

If you need a refresher: in the Season 8 bout of The Simpsons “The Secret War of Lisa Simpson, ” Bart takes a field trip to the Springfield Police Department where he subsequently attains a assortment of megaphones, words them up end to aspiration, and then wails “TESTING! “

In the establish, the shockwave been developed by this smashed all the glass in the cities. Well YouTuber TheBackyardScientist became bizarre, as so many of us do, and came up with a perfectly cromulent venture to encounter what the fuck is actually happen.

D’oh n’t try this at home!

Sweet? Naked mole rats can survive without oxygen using plant sugar tactic

Subterranean rodents are able to switch to a fructose-based metabolic organization previously merely complied with in embeds, a new learn reveals

They appear no tendernes, dont get cancer and look like baggy-skinned sausages with teeth: the naked mole rat is already famously mysterious. Now scientists have discovered what could be the subterranean rodents strangest peculiarity hitherto: they can survive without oxygen by switching to a metabolic policy normally used by plants.

By switching from a glucose-based metabolic organization, which depends on oxygen, to one that uses fructose instead, mole rats can cope with virtually twenty minutes in air with 0% oxygen. Under the same conditions, a human would die within minutes.

The naked mole rat has simply rearranged certain basic building-blocks of metabolism to make it super-tolerant to low-grade oxygen milieu, replied Thomas Park, professor of biological sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who did the discovery after studying the categories for 18 years.

The apparently peculiar metabolic policy likely progressed together with the mole rats niche life-style, he replied. The animals live in stuffy, hyper-crowded burrows, with assemblies in which a hundred-odd colony mates sleep together in a heap of hairless bodies.

Scientists were aware that oxygen supplies in the mole rats passageways slip to tiers that would be unsurvivable for other territory mammals, but up to now has not been able to tested the limits of their ability to be dealt with oxygen hardship, or how this works biologically.

In the latest study, published in the journal Science, the team found that mole rats demo no misery consequences after five hours existing air with 5% oxygen somewhat less that oxygen tiers at the summit of Everest. Laboratory mice, by compare, croaked within ten minutes.

In 0% oxygen, both the mouse and mole rats soon lost consciousness. But while the regular mouse did not reclaim, the mole rats could survive in a state of suspended animation for more than 18 minutes.

Although humans, such as free divers, can train themselves not to breathe for more than ten minutes, they only manage to do this by effectively bolstering their oxygen tiers beforehand.

If you throw an regular person into 0 %, it would be merely seconds or minutes, replied Jane Reznick, Parks co-author, located at the Max Delbrck Center of Molecular Medicine in Berlin.

Grant McClelland, a biologist at McMaster University, Hamilton, who was not involved in the exertion, described the findings and conclusions as singular. I wouldnt have predicted this ability for any mammal, he replied.

As oxygen tiers plunged, the animals stopped moving, their beady seeings closeds and their heartbeat and existing dramatically slow-witted. Most curiously, though, metabolic assessments divulged a abrupt spike in high levels of fructose in their blood.

We were very surprised by this finding, replied Reznick.

The team discovered that instead of igniting glucose to raise force, the mole rats had switched to a fructose-based metabolic organization, something merely previously seen in plants.

In aerobic metabolism, which the body naturally relies on, the mitochondria( the cadres artilleries) use broken-down glucose and oxygen to raise a molecule announced ATP, which biologists call the cadres force currency. When oxygen is in short supply, their own bodies permutations to anaerobic metabolism, where glucose is transformed into ATP without oxygen. However, this transition is about twenty times less efficient, and merely ever provides as situations of emergency stop-gap because the production of lactic acid has an inhibitory result on the process, starting the metabolism to grind to a halt.

When mole rats switched to anaerobic metabolism, the scientists discovered, they started utilizing fructose instead of glucose to acquire force and while this was still wasteful, force yield was steady.

Its a bit quantity of energy, but a steady quantity, that can keep it running, replied Reznick.

Understanding how the animals switch to alternative solutions metabolic pathway could lead to treatments for patients abiding crises of oxygen hardship, as in heart attack and strokings, the scientists replied. They are now investigating whether human cadres might have a inactive they are able to do the same thing.

Naked mole rats have mesmerized scientists for decades. They can live more than 30 times, are cold-blooded, have a social hierarchy comparable to bees or ants, can run backwards and forwards with equal easy, ingest their own poo, can move their teeth individually like chopsticks and are one of the strangest inspecting beings on the planet.

So how does the latest finding grade among their odd social and physical attributes?

Pretty highly, supposes McClelland. Id suggest joint surface with defiance to cancer.

Rare drone footage enlightens scientists on feeding behavior of blue whales

One big flight for drones provides an opportunity to be one giant stair for discipline … be asking researchers at Oregon State University.

A group of scientists at the university lately captivated uncommon footage of blue-blooded whales feeding in the Southern Ocean off New Zealand via drone.

The startling footage, narrated by Leigh G. Torres, jaunt leader and principal investigator with the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State, provides a great deal of penetration into what whales snack and how the decision is what meat is worthy of their time.

In a press release, Torres excused the footage clearly shows the blue whales’ “lunge-feeding” process of abruptly leaping forward to eat a big compres of krill.

“Our footage reveals this[ lunge-feeding belief] in action, ” remarked Torres. “We can see the whale make-up choices, which is really singular because aerial watchings of blue-blooded whales feeding on krill are rare. The whale beltways sure-fire krill patches apparently because the nutritional payoff isnt sufficient and targets other krill patches that are more lucrative.”

“We think this is because blue whales are so big, and stopping to lunge-feed and then be stepped up again is so energy-intensive, that they try to maximize their struggle, ” Torres continued.

As for the unique position, the reviewer handed a big thumbs up to drone usage, showing they’re a “great way to cinema[ the whales’] action without ruffling their behaviour at all, unlike other aerial approaches like a helicopter or a plane, which cant hover or make a lot of noise.”

’13 Reasons Why’ proves that we still don’t know how to portray suicide

Image: 13 reasons set out above/ netflix

If you listen to the actors, creators, and consultants involved in Netflix’s newest pop, the intense high school drama 13 Reasonableness Why , it’s clear nothing of them want harm.

In a behind-the-scenes occurrence that follows the line finale, they use texts like “truth, ” “honest, ” and “tribute.” They talk about helping people, raising awareness, and making dangerously its own responsibilities of portraying unlawful sexual intercourse and suicide.

They examine the Selena Gomez-produced series as a kind of royal campaign, and they’re right about the vital importance of shedding light on teenage emotional trauma. But professionals say they got something abysmally wrong in their graphic depiction of the prime character’s suicide. Convinced that merely a trace out, gory place could restrain young spectators from envisaging or struggling suicide, the show’s architects immortalized a risky the representatives from self-harm that are able to do more mar than good.

The controversy is a agonizing remember that even the best intents can miscarry us when dealing with a theme like suicide. It also causes a larger topic about what happens next. This place, which professionals add may actually prompt spectators to consider or attempt suicide, can be accessed by countless adolescents and teens for as long as the line living on Netflix. In reply, mental health establishments have issued warnings about the support, and the suicide-prevention groups SAVE and The Jed Foundation published a list of tips-off for deeming and exploring the series.

The fallout means that Hollywood and its imaginatives need to rethink how they present suicide, and why. The disagreement also evades us to heighten the articulations of people who have lived a suicide attempt or loss and can provide a variety of feelings narrations about what those knowledge are like. Instead of treating suicide firstly as a patch maneuver that carries a damaging emotional pierce, we could focus on accounts where it was survive and ultimately lead glad lives, or where family members learn how to navigate heartache and guilt.

These kinds of intricacies have been on filmmaker Lisa Klein’s mind for years. Her friend and papa died by suicide, incidents that mold her forthcoming documentary The S Word . When she embarked cutting the early footage for her cinema, she included attempt survivors talking about the method they used. But then a mental health propose and attempt survivor expected Klein, “What are you going to get out of that? “

“I sat down and looked at the footage and “ve thought about it”, ” does Klein, “and realized[ it would bring] absolutely nothing except distress.”

Klein deleted those incidents from her trailer, and has worked closely with a number of suicide avoidance experts on ensuring that the cinema omits any triggering material.

There’s a good reason for that approach. Research shows that suicide can have what’s known as a “contagion effect.” Both news reports and dramatizations of suicide have been linked to a temporary spike in suicides, and public health officials recommend against stipulating detailed descriptions of the suicide and the method used.

Those recommendations, however, aren’t universally followed by media channels. It doesn’t ever seem feasible to leave out the cause of fatality in large-scale news storeys, such as the most recent suicide deaths among onetime Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez and Cleveland homicide suspect Steve Stephens. Yet, it’s possible to find a balance between trying to inform the public and publicizing gratuitous shows of suicide.

The producers of 13 Reasonableness Why perhaps weren’t familiar with this research, or maybe fantasized their artistic license trumped it. The bible from which the line was adapted didn’t initially end with the prime attribute dying of suicide. But the novel’s scribe, Jay Asher, said his journalists wanted a fatality instead.

The actress Kate Walsh, who discovers her fictional daughter after she’s died by suicide, inkling at the profound detach between arts and reality in her explains about the scene.

“We wanted to attain that minute, especially, as realistic as it could be without ever having experienced that, ” she does in the behind-the-scenes occurrence. “That’s the moment, the pinnacle of the line where you talk about wanting to do honor to the people who’ve actually had to go through this in “peoples lives”. Like you want to pay tribute to them and make it real and authentic.”

“My own sentiment is that I find it reckless that they established the suicide.”

Klein watched the line with her 15 -year-old daughter. They both turned away during the scene.

“It was very important for them to really attain the see uncomfortable, ” she does. “My own sentiment is that I find it reckless that they established the suicide.”

One alternative, she does, would have been to show just the horror on the mother’s face upon discovering her daughter. “When you’re talking about loss … that’s the superpower, ” she does. “You’ve lost somebody you adoration. How they did it and all of that is so irrelevant.”

The show’s architects also seemed to think that spectators needed to experience anguish in order to repudiate suicide as an acceptable alternative, but they may have underestimated their public. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States.

Julie Cerel, a clinical psychologist and president-elect of the American Association of Suicidology, says there’s nationally representative data showing that more than half of Americans know someone who has died by suicide. Many of the young people watching the line possibly have encountered or been hearing the suicide of a loved one, and don’t is a requirement to relive it to understand its tragedy.

Cerel is critical of the idea that aesthetic inclinations should invalidate high-stakes public health regards, drawn attention to widespread agreement that it’s detrimental to glamorize smoking in films made for young spectators.

“I don’t care if it’s more artful we’re affecting boys, ” she does. “This[ evidence] is also intended to boys and young adults, and the last thing I want them to do is praise the idea that suicide will[ resolve] all of their problems.”

Though 13 Reasonableness Why attempted the feedback of mental health professionals, one of those experts seemed to support the depiction. Perhaps others were invalidated. Whatever happened, Cerel says that while psychologists and therapists may give suicidal cases , not all of them have analyzed suicidal action closely or have received specialized training. Amazingly, that isn’t a common facet of graduate programs in the field.

“The genie is out of the bottle. Now it really is about containing it.”

Klein has concerns that merely the behind-the-scenes episode promptings spectators to reach out for help by placing them to a website with crisis information. She conceives each installment is expected to commence and end with that content. Better hitherto, she does, Netflix could inform the line with cast member-led conferences about the special theme, and include practical information about how to be achieved for help and how to talk to people about suicidal feelings.

“There’s got to be assistance around it, ” she does. “The genie is out of the bottle. Now it really is about containing it.”

If the creators, cast, and consultants who delivered 13 Reasons Why to Netflix are absolutely dedicated to preventing suicide, they’ll work hard to minimize the series’ mar, and glitter a light on articulations and knowledge that go far beyond the image of suicide in their show.

If you want to talk to someone or are knowing suicidal recalls, text the Crisis Text Line at 741 -7 41 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Now is a roster of international resources .

WATCH: Dame Gaga FaceTimed with Prince William to discuss a very important issue

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Small Saturn moon has most of conditions needed to sustain life, Nasa says

Space organization finds that hydrogen erupts out of underground ocean on Enceladus, meaning it has the water, chemistry and energy sources life requires

A tiny moon of Saturn has most of the conditions necessary for life, Nasa announced on Thursday, unveiling a discovery from an underground ocean that makes the world a leading candidate for organisms as humans know them.

Scientists stressed that the discovery on a moon named Enceladus is not evidence that life has in fact developed on another world, but they have managed to establish the existence of the water, chemistry and energy sources that are necessary for it.

We now know that Enceladus has almost all of the ingredients that you need to support life as we know it on Earth, said Linda Spilker, a project scientist who said the finding essentially confirmed vents on the moons seafloor.

Chris Glein, another scientist involved in the project, said the discovery showed that the moons ocean contained a potential chemical feast for microbes. We have made the first calorie count on an alien ocean, he said.

Beneath its frozen surface, Enceladus has a saltwater ocean, and the hydrogen produced in a reaction between heated water and rocks indicates that the moon has active energy sources, possibly akin to the undersea vents that teem with life on planet Earth.

We dont know whether theres life out there yet but right now were making a lot of progress, said Thomas Zurbuchen, Nasas associate administrator.

The spacecraft Cassini detected the hydrogen in the fall of 2015, when it flew through a plume of vapor that had been spewed out through cracks in the moons icy surface. The flyby discovered water, ice, traces of methane, salts and other carbon compounds, the researchers said.

Their findings were revealed at a Nasa briefing on Thursday and in a paper published in the journal Science.

Cassini also found silicates and hydrogen, meaning there are energy sources beneath the moons surface, and the chemicals microbes are known to consume on Earth.

This finding does not mean that life exists there, but it makes life more plausible and potentially quite abundant if a fraction of the hydrogen is used to drive biology, said Jeffrey Kargel, a professor at the University of Arizona.

Andrew Coates, a professor of physics at University College London, added: This distant moon now joins Mars and Europa as the best potential locations for life beyond Earth in our solar system.

Nasa has found liquid water on Mars, but solar winds have for eons stripped away its atmosphere and the planet has dried out into its current irradiated state. Like Enceladus, Europa, a moon of Jupiter, has an icy crust and an underground ocean. Nasa hopes to send a probe to the moon in the 2020s, complete with instruments to detect heat and penetrate ice in search of undersea vents. On Thursday the researchers also announced new evidence of plumes around Europa, and of one hot spot in particular on the moon.

Forming shapes like chimneys and geysers, Earths hydrothermal vents gush clouds of heated chemicals in the places that magma and seawater collide in great depths. The formations host whole ecosystems on the ocean floor, and microbes thrive there, using the energy created by these chemical reactions to power their own metabolisms.

Biologists have for decades studied the vents to learn about how life began on Earth about 4bn years ago and how it might begin on an alien world where extreme temperatures and radiation do not stop evolution cold.

If we knew that life had started independently in two places in our solar system, then we could be pretty confident that life also got started on some of the tens of billions of planets and moons around other stars in our galaxy, said David Rothery, a professor of planetary geosciences at the Open University.

Cassini, which is running out of fuel, will end its 20-year mission to Saturn and its moons later this year, with a final journey between Saturns rings and then a fiery disintegration into the planets storms. The scientists plan to destroy Cassini on Saturn in part to prevent the spacecraft from crashing on Enceladus, where it could contaminate life there if, that is, it exists.