If you’re unfamiliar, narwhals, also known as “unicorns of the sea” (no, we’re not kidding), are whales that live in Arctic waters and have one massive defining characteristic: they have giant tusks.
Or, rather, the males do. They look like this:
But researchers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada have discovered male narwhals will herd arctic cod, get super close and then “hard tap” them with their tusks to stun them. The narwhals then suck their prey into their mouths and have themselves a meal.
The narwhal’s tusk has long been a mystery to scientists. There have been hypotheses that the porous horn acts like a sensor.
There’s been a lot of news lately about what’s going on at the ringed planet Saturn, including NASA’s Cassini spacecraft’s heart-stopping flight through the relatively small gap that separates the planet’s rings and the top of Saturn’s atmosphere.
While Saturn was grabbing the limelight, we thought, Hey! What about poor little giant gaseous Jupiter? What’s happening at the largest planet in the solar system?
On May 5, as seen in the video above, NASA released an enhanced-color view of Jupiter’s south polar area, taken Dec. 11 by the orbiting Juno spacecraft.
Based on initial data transmitted back to Earth, scientists are even more challenged and have more questions than before about the makeup of Jupiter’s atmosphere and its interior.
“The whole inside of Jupiter is just working differently than our models expected. I didn’t expect all the theories to be wrong, but there’s motion going on in the planet we did not anticipate,” said Juno mission principal investigator Scott Bolton, according to New Scientist.
Juno was launched on Aug. 5, 2011, and reached the planet on July 4, 2016. In addition to discovering how Jupiter’s giant magnetic field is much stronger and more irregular than previously thought, Juno’s onboard JunoCam has captured images of swirling cyclones that are as big as Earth, seen in this image:
If you can’t get enough of Jupiter by just reading about it, why not have your own interactive experience with the king of all the planets in our solar system?
For the rest of this week, Jupiter and the moon are performing a celestial “dance” with each other shortly after the sun goes down. If you have clear skies in your area, look toward the southeast, where the full moon will make its presence known Wednesday night. Jupiter won’t be far away, and, in fact, on Thursday, as midnight approaches, ringed Saturn will muscle its way onto the dance floor, glowing to the lower left of the moon-Jupiter couple.
With binoculars, you should have no problem seeing the four main moons of Jupiter, and with a medium-power telescope, Saturn’s rings will be visible. Get more info on this week’s great skywatch at skyandtelescope.com.
Life on Earth might have started billions of years ago on land, not in the sea, according to a new study.
A group of researchers found that the red rocks of the Pilbarra in Western Australia contain terrestrial hot spring deposits, and in them, the earliest known remnants of life on land.
Dating back 3.5 billion years, the finding (published in the journal Nature on Tuesday) moves back evidence of life on land by 580 million years. And not only that, it hints at the possibility that life on Earth began not in the ocean, as commonly thought, but on land-based hot springs. *Mind blown*
Scientists involved in the study discovered signs of the stromatolite fossils (formed by cyanobacteria) in the remains of the freshwater hot spring located in the Dresser formation area of the Pilbarra, concluding that exposed land first appeared on Earth 130 million years earlier than previously thought.
Co-author and PhD candidate Tara Djokic of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) told the ABC, “To actually find hot spring deposits is like a smoking gun for the story of a terrestrial hot spring setting for early life on the planet.”
In the past, the area was thought of as the remains of a shallow coral reef, but as co-author Van Kranendonk of UNSW told the news outlet, the fossilised remains of gas bubbles could have only been produced by microbial material. “It’s an absolute one-to-one comparison, and we’re completely convinced that this is a hot spring deposit; there can’t be anything else it can be,” he said.
“We have this incredibly delicate texture preserved, with all these shapes and fabrics and some of those include overlaps of layers that are characteristic of what we see in modern hot springs where there’s a pool and a rim that accretes out over the pool.”
Every single time I go back to my parents’ home I try to get them to cancel their home phone line. And every time I fail.
I don’t know how much they pay for their phone bill off the top of my head, but whatever it is, it’s too much — especially since they rarely use it, and they have smartphones which I generously pay for.
According to a recently published U.S. Health Department finding, 50.8 percent of American homes don’t have a landline and have a cellphone instead.
Naturally, as cellphones have become ubiquitous, the number of landlines in homes have declined and will continue to fall. There’s simply no need to have a home phone and cellphone — it’s an unnecessary duplication.
Most of the concerns for keeping a landline around (I’ve heard them all, thank you very much dad) usually involve “It’s got better call quality and calls almost never drop” and “I still need it for international calls.” These are just excuses for people who don’t want to break old habits and dump the ol’ telephone.
But hey, who am I to try to save you money. It’s your money and you can spend it paying your telephone company if you want to.
Seriously though, if you want to stop paying for a home phone line, but still want a reliable fixed calling device at home, the Echo/Echo Dot’s new Alexa calling and messaging features makes for a good alternative. It’s basically VoIP.
I just tested the new Alexa calling feature using an Echo Dot and an iPhone with the newly updated Alexa app and it works as advertised. After granting the Alexa app access to my contacts, it showed which of them have the Alexa app installed on their phones or have Echo devices set up. These are the only people you’ll be able to call and send voice messages to through Alexa.
Right off the bat, I noticed the call quality was good. Like really good. My colleague Brett said it sounded just as clear as a regular phone call, which is great because if I’m ever to convince my parents to get rid of their home phone for an Echo, the call quality needs to be excellent.
There were no issues when Brett called my Echo Dot using the Alexa app on his iPhone. And while I had an initial software issue with my Echo Dot (it wasn’t running the latest software build), once it was fixed, making calls was as simple as saying “Alexa, call Brett” and ending calls was an easy “Alexa, end call.” While on a call, the Echo’s light ring lights up green. It’s extremely satisfying to be able to make calls with Alexa—it made me want to call everyone I know.
Saying “Alexa, message Brett” sent a voice message to his Alexa app, which he saw either as a text or could play back as a voice message.
Voice messages sent from others to your Echo can be read out loud by Alexa or viewed within your own Alexa app. Your Echo’s light ring will glow green to let you know you’ve got unread voice messages.
Though I’ve only just played with the calling and voice messaging features briefly, it’s solid enough that I can see it as a legitimate landline replacement. It’s not hard to imagine hands-free Echo-to-Echo, Echo-to-iPhone/Android, and iPhone/Android-to-Echo calls.
For $50 I could set up an Echo Dot in my parents’ house, toss out the landline, and save them from ever having to pay a monthly home phone bill ever again. They’ll even get the added bonus of using the Echo Dot to control their lights.
I know my dad will love never pulling out his phone book and punching in the phone number digits for his brother or sister ever again. Instead, he can just use voice commands.
That said, there are some limitations and concerns. If your friends don’t have an Echo at home, you won’t be able to use your Echo or phone to call them.
Sure, they could just install the Alexa app on their smartphones, but if they don’t want to, it’s all pointless.
Wanna call somebody in Asia? That’s not gonna happen.
International calling is also severely limited to wherever Echos are sold and Alexa is supported. Right now, that’s a few English-speaking countries in Europe. Wanna call somebody in Asia? That’s not gonna happen.
Another valid point a colleague brought up: calls placed through an Echo are projected on speaker phone. If you live in an apartment, you may not want your neighbors listening in on your private conversations.
Equally concerning is privacy. Do you trust Amazon enough to connect your calls through what is essentially a free VoIP service? And do you trust Amazon with logging all of your voice messages? I found no way to delete specific voice messages, only entire conversations. And even then, I’m not sure the messages are really deleted or if they’re still stored on Amazon’s servers somewhere.
Fears aside, my point is, if you really need a stationary calling device at home, the Echo and its new calling features can do the trick. The Echo and Alexa calling isn’t going to outright kill the landline overnight, but in another decade, things could be different.
Mom … dad … enjoy your home-phone-that-you-never-use while you can because you’re getting an Echo Dot replacement for Christmas whether you like it or not.
We’d consider being made fun of by John Oliver on Last Week Tonight an honour, but of course, there are people who don’t quite appreciate the joke.
Like New Zealand’s Prime Minister and creator of the world’s most disgusting pizza, Bill English. Turns out he does not think the British comedian is that funny, what with his impression of a New Zealand accent and political party criticism.
The statistics are compiled in a new book written using the databases of two of the world’s biggest organisations dedicated to logging UFO and alien reportings and encounters across the globe.
“UFO Sightings Desk Reference,” written by Cheryl Costa, 65, and wife, Linda Miller Costa, 62, from Syracuse, New York, used 121,036 eyewitness accounts across the states recorded separately by the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) and the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) between 2001 and 2015 to chart the increase.
The book looks at the timing and location of incidents and types of UFOs seen which include flying circles, spheres, triangles, discs, ovals, and cigars.
According to Cheryl, a former military technician and aerospace analyst, and Linda, a librarian at Le Moyne College and a former librarian at the National Academy of Sciences, NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency, MUFON and NUFORC decided most sightings were explainable, but a small amount can still not be explained.
The key findings from the book were that overall numbers of UFO sightings more than tripled by 2015, from their average levels in 2001.
The book shows that US sightings grew from 3,479 reports in 2001 to 11,868 in 2015.
MUFON and NUFORC say just a fraction of all sightings make their way to them – so there are significantly more.
There is a growing “disclosure” movement in the US that believes that intelligent aliens visit Earth, and the government is not only aware of this, but covers it up.
Disclosure activists, such as Steve Bassett, who runs the Paradigm Research Group (PRG) campaign for an end to this so-called truth embargo.
Mr Bassett believes the fact there are so many more sightings now means the truth will soon come out as the White House will no longer be able to keep a lid on it.
He said: “With this compendium, Cheryl and Linda Costa have reminded the public and the media the extraterrestrial phenomenon continues unabated.”
Cheryl said the pair write the book because: “We wanted to do our bit for disclosure
“It’s something the government should have been doing.
“We’re doing scientific research. What’s crazy is not being willing to look at research.”
Their research found July is the busiest month for UFO sightings, but possibly because more people are outside.
There was a strange spike in sightings in Texas in 2008, and another in New Mexico in September 2015.
So what are their conclusions?
The pair say they have seen UFOs themselves, but draw no firm conclusions from studying the data.
Linda said: “We don’t know, but all these people are seeing these things.”
Sceptics argue that the rise in phone and digital cameras, is responsible for more alleged UFO pictures and videos emerging, and that sharing on social media, makes the subject more well known.
The rise in the use of drones of an array of shapes and sizes, is another explanation offered for the perceived rise in UFO activity.
The shocking “proof” was revealed in a new book by journalist Leslie Kean, who wrote a New York Times number one best seller about UFOs in 2010 called UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go On the Record.
Her latest work Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife, followed lengthy research into the subject and that of spiritual mediums and near death experiences.
The book features 10 chapters written by experts in the fields of reincarnation, out-of-body and near death experiences, mediumship and paranormal investigation.
Ms Kean also carried out two of her own experiments with psychic mediums and witnessed “life-changing events” at a seance conducted by English medium Stewart Alexander.
She wrote: “The seances with Stewart Alexander have changed my life.
“Since I witnessed the materialisation of a human hand, touched it, and felt its life and warmth, a door was opened in me.
Mediums are said to have spirit guides, long dead individuals who help them meet with others in the spirit world.
Ms Kean said she “came to know” Mr Alexander’s spirit guides by “laughing with them and asking them questions”.
She wrote of an encounter with ectoplasm.
She said she was asked during a seance ‘would you like to feel the hand of a man dead to your world for over 100 years?’
She wrote: “I watched it form again into a living hand, which moved close to my hand and touched it.
“I held that materialised hand in mine.
“It felt completely normal and human with joints and bones, and fingernails, but much warmer, than my hand and larger, with sort of stubby fingers and very soft skin. Once again it withdrew.”
The experience has left the author in no doubt spirits live on.
She added: “While exploring the evidence for an afterlife, I witnessed some unbelievable things that are not supposed to be possible in our material world.
“Yet they were unavoidably and undeniably real.
“Despite my initial doubt, I came to realise that there are still aspects of nature that are neither understood nor accepted, even though their reality has profound implications for understanding the true breadth of the human psyche and its possible continuity after death.”
The book has already become the top seller in Amazon’s unexplained mysteries section.