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Surfing, falconry and other summer vacation pursuits

CNN - 3 hours 36 min ago
Catch a wave off the California coast, pedal a mountain bike in Utah's red rock canyons or try your gloved hand at falconry in Vermont.

They thought the US would welcome them with open arms

CNN - 3 hours 43 min ago
They fled terror, tyranny and persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their families. They believed that the United States would offer them that life -- that the country formed by immigrants would welcome them with open arms.

Magnetosphere of Uranus opens and closes daily

Futurity.org - 3 hours 44 min ago

Uranus’ magnetosphere—the region defined by the planet’s magnetic field and the material trapped inside it—gets flipped on and off like a light switch every day as it rotates along with the planet.

It’s “open” in one orientation, allowing solar wind to flow into the magnetosphere; it later closes, forming a shield against the solar wind and deflecting it away from the planet.

“Uranus is a geometric nightmare.”

The findings come from Voyager 2 data, which sped past the icy planet more than 30 years ago.

This is much different from Earth’s magnetosphere, which typically only switches between open and closed in response to changes in the solar wind.

Earth’s magnetic field is nearly aligned with its spin axis, causing the entire magnetosphere to spin like a top along with the Earth’s rotation. Since the same alignment of Earth’s magnetosphere is always facing toward the sun, the magnetic field threaded in the ever-present solar wind must change direction in order to reconfigure Earth’s field from closed to open. This frequently occurs with strong solar storms.

Don’t freak out about Earth’s magnetic field flipping

But Uranus lies and rotates on its side, and its magnetic field is lopsided—it’s off-centered and tilted 60 degrees from its axis. Those features cause the magnetic field to tumble asymmetrically relative to the solar wind direction as the icy giant completes its 17.24-hour full rotation.

Rather than the solar wind dictating a switch like here on Earth, the researchers say Uranus’ rapid rotational change in field strength and orientation lead to a periodic open-close-open-close scenario as it tumbles through the solar wind.

“Uranus is a geometric nightmare,” says coauthor Carol Paty, associate professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “The magnetic field tumbles very fast, like a child cartwheeling down a hill head over heels. When the magnetized solar wind meets this tumbling field in the right way, it can reconnect and Uranus’ magnetosphere goes from open to closed to open on a daily basis.”

Paty says this solar wind reconnection is predicted to occur upstream of Uranus’ magnetosphere over a range of latitudes, with magnetic flux closing in various parts of the planet’s twisted magnetotail.

Reconnection of magnetic fields is a phenomenon throughout the solar system. It occurs when the direction of the interplanetary magnetic field—which comes from the sun and is also known as the heliospheric magnetic field—is opposite a planet’s magnetospheric alignment. Magnetic field lines are then spliced together and rearrange the local magnetic topology, allowing a surge of solar energy to enter the system.

No one’s sure why Uranus is so stormy

Magnetic reconnection is one reason for Earth’s auroras. Auroras could be possible at a range of latitudes on Uranus due to its off-kilter magnetic field, but the aurora is difficult to observe because the planet is nearly 2 billion miles from Earth. The Hubble Space Telescope occasionally gets a faint view, but it can’t directly measure Uranus’ magnetosphere.

The researchers used numerical models to simulate the planet’s global magnetosphere and to predict favorable reconnection locations. They plugged in data collected by Voyager 2 during its five-day flyby in 1986. It’s the only time a spacecraft has visited.

The researchers say learning more about Uranus is one key to discovering more about planets beyond our solar system.

“The majority of exoplanets that have been discovered appear to also be ice giants in size,” says Xin Cao, the Georgia Tech PhD candidate in earth and atmospheric sciences who led the study. “Perhaps what we see on Uranus and Neptune is the norm for planets: very unique magnetospheres and less-aligned magnetic fields. Understanding how these complex magnetospheres shield exoplanets from stellar radiation is of key importance for studying the habitability of these newly discovered worlds.”

The paper appears in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics.

Source: Georgia Tech

The post Magnetosphere of Uranus opens and closes daily appeared first on Futurity.

Assad climbs into Russian jet

CNN - 3 hours 44 min ago
Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad is seen climbing into a Russian jet at Hmeimim Air Base in Syria.

These words make political tweets go more viral

Futurity.org - 3 hours 50 min ago

Political messages shared on Twitter that contain emotional or moral language are more likely to be shared by others online—but mostly within the ideological networks of the sender, a new study suggests.

The study, which examined Twitter messages related to gun control, climate change, and same-sex marriage, points to both the potential and limits of communicating on social media.

“The content that spreads the most may have the biggest impact on social media, so individuals, community leaders, and even political elites could see their influence enhanced by emphasizing morality and emotion in their online messaging,” explains William Brady, the lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in New York University’s psychology department.

“However, while using this type of language may help content proliferate within your own social or ideological group, it may find little currency among those who have a different world view,” he adds.

Online social networks have become a popular medium for discussing moral and political ideas. However, the field of moral psychology has largely overlooked why some moral and political beliefs spread more widely than others.

To help address this question, the researchers studied more than 560,000 tweets pertaining to an array of contentious political issues: gun control, climate change, and same-sex marriage. Here, they separated tweets containing words that were both moral and emotional (e.g., “greed”), emotional only (e.g., “fear”), and moral only (e.g., “duty”). They relied on previously established language dictionaries to identify emotional and moral terms.

The researchers examined how many times each category of messages was retweeted as well as the political ideology of both the sender of the original messages and of the retweeted ones. Ideology was calculated using an algorithm—based on previous research that shows users tend to follow those with a similar ideology—that analyzed the follower network of each user.

Their results showed that, across all three political topics, the presence of language defined as being both moral and emotional increased retweets by 20 percent per moral-emotional word. By contrast, the impact of exclusively moral or exclusively emotional language was not as consistently associated with an increase in retweets.

Politics buffs aren’t hiding on Facebook

In addition, the uptick in retweets was limited to like-minded networks—a much smaller effect was found among accounts with an ideology conflicting with the sender’s.

There were also some differences among the three issues in the types of moral-emotional messages that were retweeted.

For example, in contrast to same-sex marriage, in which people were more likely to retweet positive messages (e.g., tweets using the hashtag “#lovewins”), when discussing climate change people were more likely to retweet negative messages, such as those referring to environmental harms caused by climate change.

“In the context of moral and political discourse in online social networks, subtle features of the content of your posts are associated with how much your content spreads socially,” observes Jay Van Bavel, an associate professor in NYU’s department of psychology and one of the study’s coauthors.

Are we wrong to blame the internet for polarized politics?

“However, these results also highlight one process that may partly explain increased differences between liberals and conservatives—communications fusing morality and emotion are more likely to resemble echo chambers and may exacerbate ideological polarization.”

The study appears in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Grants from the National Science Foundation supported the research in part.

Source: New York University

The post These words make political tweets go more viral appeared first on Futurity.

Something very interesting happened on the Senate steps

CNN - 3 hours 55 min ago
On Monday night, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Georgia Rep. John Lewis walked from the House side of the US Capitol to the steps in front of the Senate. There, with Booker live-streaming on his Facebook page, they started talking about the health care bill the Senate is currently debating. Three and a half hours later, in front of a cheering crowd numbering more than 100, Booker brought the whole thing to an end by insisting "this is a moral moment ... this is not a political moment."

DNA solves ancient animal riddle that Darwin couldn't

CNN - 3 hours 57 min ago
After the last of its kind died out about 12,000 years ago, a strange animal that stumped Charles Darwin is finally being added to the tree of life, according to a new study in the journal Nature Communications.

Most 2014 World Cup head impacts didn't receive concussion protocols, study says

CNN - 3 hours 59 min ago
More than 3 billion people around the world tuned in to watch soccer's 2014 FIFA World Cup, during which there were 81 head collisions. And only 15% of those injured players received a concussion assessment from health care personnel, according to a report published Tuesday in JAMA.

New York Today: New York Today: Celebrating the Strand

NY Times - 4 hours 14 min ago
Tuesday: A bookstore turns 90, the South Ferry subway station reopens, and a selection of beach reads.

Senate health care state of play: 'Hanging by a thread'

CNN - 4 hours 15 min ago
Tuesday is another critical day for the Senate health care bill as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Mike Pence have a power lunch of sorts with their fellow Republicans to determine the way forward.

Experts: Drug policy needs more science, less punishment

Futurity.org - 4 hours 28 min ago

Drug policy in the United States often goes against the findings of science, instead focusing on cultural attitudes about drug users and addiction, argue neuroscientists and legal scholars.

The team says that basing drug policies on scientific information could benefit the fight against widespread opioid addiction and overdoses.

“Drug policy has never been based on our scientific understanding,” says Robert Malenka, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and a coauthor of the paper. Instead, it is based mostly on culture and economic necessities—and a misguided desire to punish drug users harshly.

The time has come, he and coauthors write in the journal Science, to do better.

“We have an opioid epidemic that looks like it’s going to be deadlier than AIDS, but the criminal justice system handles drug addiction in almost exactly opposite of what neuroscience and other behavioral sciences would suggest,” says Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and one of the leaders of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute’s Neurochoice Big Idea initiative.

Short-term thinking

A central problem, the authors argue, is that drug use warps the brain’s decision-making mechanisms, so that what matters most to a person dealing with addiction is the here and now, not the possibility of a trip up the river a few months or years from today.

“We have relied heavily on the length of a prison term as our primary lever for trying to influence drug use and drug-related crime,” says Robert MacCoun, a professor of law. “But such sanction enhancements are psychologically remote and premised on an unrealistic model of rational planning with a long time horizon, which just isn’t consistent with how drug users behave.”

What might work better, Humphreys says, are smaller, more immediate incentives and punishments—perhaps a meal voucher in exchange for passing a drug test, along with daily monitoring.

The environment in which individuals live matters, too, Humphreys says—especially when that environment pushes alcohol, cigarettes, and prescription painkillers hard. Cigarette advertising, for example, works to make smoking seem like a pleasant escape from the grind of daily life.

Meanwhile, drug companies’ advertising campaigns helped push American doctors to prescribe painkillers at much higher rates than in other countries, a fact that has likely contributed to the country’s growing epidemic of opioid addiction.

Science, not punishment

The scientists argue that basing policy on science rather than on a desire to punish addicts would improve lives, including victims of drug-related crime.

“To learn that addictive drugs distort the choice process is not the same as showing that addicts are incapable of making choices. Addicts already know full well that their behavior is inappropriate and stigmatized,” MacCoun says. “But mostly I think questions of morality distract from very practical questions about what works and what doesn’t work to reduce drug-related harm.”

How 30 opioid pills for surgery turn into a habit

And, the researchers say, the costs of current policy are staggering: on average 78 Americans die every day from opioid overdoses.

Making better policy

The new commentary is timed to appear four days before a much-anticipated report from a presidential commission on drug addiction. While it may not have an impact on that particular report, Humphreys and his coauthors say they hope the commentary and the Neurochoice Initiative it is part of will make a difference in a critical area of public policy.

Cheap heroin replaces painkillers as drug of choice

Professor of psychology Brian Knutson and colleagues, also part of Neurochoice, recently showed that brain scans could help predict which adolescents would initiate excessive drug use in the future. Those are the kinds of results, the authors write, that might guide better laws and practices in the future.

The Stanford Neurosciences Institute and its NeuroChoice project funded the research.

Source: Stanford University

The post Experts: Drug policy needs more science, less punishment appeared first on Futurity.

Fact Check: The GOP's spin on Obamacare premiums

Washington Post - 4 hours 32 min ago
For years, Republicans have run inaccurate attack ads based on President Obama's misleading claim that health-insurance premiums would decline by $2,500.

Fashion Review: American Chic on the Runways of Paris

NY Times - 4 hours 37 min ago
Berluti, Comme des Garçons, Hermès, Junya Watanabe, Louis Vuitton and Valentino solve a fashion problem: dressing the 21st-century man.

Trump demands apology, says Obama 'colluded or obstructed'

CNN - 4 hours 56 min ago
President Donald Trump continued to criticize former President Barack Obama on Monday for his response to alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election -- blasting his predecessor in a series of tweets, then demanding an "apology."
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