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Cat Nights: See Lions and a Lynx in the Evening Sky

They’re sharing space with three big cats, Leo, Leo Minor, and Lynx, which are all found relatively close together. The United States cat population is significantly higher than the dog population (82 million versus 72 million), according to Hal Herzog, a professor of psychology at Western Carolina University. Two centuries ago, some star atlases depicted a cat: Felis, the creation of an 18th-century Frenchman, Joseph Jerome Le Francais de Lalande (1732-1807). The starry sky has worried me quite enough in my life, so that now I can have my joke with it.”

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Source: Cat Nights: See Lions and a Lynx in the Evening Sky

UrtheCast Cameras Outside Space Station Send First Data Home

The two commercial cameras that will keep a constant watch over Earth from outside the International Space Station have beamed their first bits of test data back home. The Vancouver-based company UrtheCast has not publicly released any pictures of videos showing its cameras’ view of the planet just yet. But company officials announced this week that they have successfully downlinked camera data to the ground station in Moscow from both their high-resolution camera and medium-resolution camera. They’ve even acquired test imagery from the medium-resolution device.

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Source: UrtheCast Cameras Outside Space Station Send First Data Home

Tornadoes in February? Why That’s Not Uncommon

An outbreak of severe weather battered parts of the midwestern and southern United States yesterday (Feb. 20) with damaging winds and strong storms, including several tornadoes reported in Illinois and Georgia. The same system is working its way over the East Coast today (Feb. 21), with several tornado warnings and watches issued already. But it’s February, not April, when tornado season usually gears up, so what gives? While the main tornado season typically stretches from spring to early summer, wintertime twisters are not altogether uncommon, said Greg Carbin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla.

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Source: Tornadoes in February? Why That’s Not Uncommon

‘Priceless’ Dinosaur Track Stolen Near Moab

A three-toed dinosaur track has vanished from public lands in Utah, and Bureau of Land Management officials are looking for help recovering the fossil. “They’re priceless to us,” said Rebecca Hunt-Foster, a paleontologist at the BLM field office in Moab. The BLM became aware of the theft on Tuesday night, when a local outfitter who gave tours of the area noticed a triangular slab of rock about 1 foot long and 3 feet wide (30 by 90 centimeters) missing. “There are at least three different types of dinosaurs that have left tracks there,” Hunt-Foster told Live Science.

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Source: ‘Priceless’ Dinosaur Track Stolen Near Moab

Deadly ‘Sneaker Waves’ Get Warnings, Thanks to Forecaster

That’s the pervasive message along the coasts of Northern California and parts of Oregon, and for good reason: On a seemingly perfect sunny day, when tame-looking waves are lapping the sand, the unwary beachgoer can be bowled over and pulled into the cold Pacific waters by an unexpectedly large wave surging up the beach. Sneaker waves, as they are colloquially known, can strike seemingly without warning and have been responsible for numerous deaths in recent years. “For much of the West Coast, sneaker waves kill more people than all other weather hazards combined,” Troy Nicolini, a forecaster with the National Weather Service office in Eureka, Calif., said during a presentation on the threat at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society, held in Atlanta earlier this month. Nicolini, a California native who has worked in the Eureka area for 15 years, initially thought that the deaths that resulted from these stealthy waves were a matter of people being careless near a dangerous ocean, but in time he started to notice a pattern in the accounts of those who survived the onslaught: The larger waves were always preceded and followed by a calm ocean, disappearing just as quickly as they …read more

Source: Deadly ‘Sneaker Waves’ Get Warnings, Thanks to Forecaster

Smartphone-Piloted Drones Could Support US Troops on Front Lines

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, is developing a military drone capable of assisting troops while avoiding hostile threats on the ground, such as ambushes and improvised explosive devices or IEDs. The so-called Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System (ARES) drones could transport cargo to and from the front lines of battle, deliver or pick up troops from out-of-the-way areas, or extract casualties, as well as conduct intelligence-gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance. The program aims to provide troops with more practical and accessible alternatives to helicopters, which remain in limited supply in the military, said DARPA program manager Ashish Bagai.

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Source: Smartphone-Piloted Drones Could Support US Troops on Front Lines

New Maps Show How Habitats May Shift with Climate Change

As regional temperatures shift with climate change, many plants and animals will need to relocate to make sure they stay in the range of temperatures they’re used to. Now, a team of 21 international researchers has identified potential paths of these twists and turns by mapping out climate velocities— the speed and intensity with which climate change occurs in a given region — averaged from 50 years of satellite data from 1960 through 2009, and projected for the duration of the 21st century. “We are taking physical data that we have had for a long time and representing them in a way that is more relevant to other disciplines, like ecology,” said co-author Michael Burrows, a researcher at the Scottish Marine Institute. The resulting maps indicate regions likely to experience an influx or exodus of new species, or behave as a corridor or, conversely, a barrier, to migration.

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Source: New Maps Show How Habitats May Shift with Climate Change

12-Year-Old Invents Braille Printer Using Lego Set

A 12-year-old student from California has created a Braille printer by repurposing parts from a Lego set. Shubham Banerjee, a seventh-grade student from Santa Clara, Calif., developed the Braille printer using toy construction Lego pieces. The low-cost invention could be an accessible solution for blind and disadvantaged people across the globe, Banerjee said. The printer, dubbed Braigo (short for Braille with Lego), was created from the Lego Mindstorms EV3 set, which retails for $349.

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Source: 12-Year-Old Invents Braille Printer Using Lego Set

Bears Use Wildlife Crossings to Find New Mates

As more and more roads cut across the territories of wild animals, wildlife crossings are being built to bridge these barriers. Now, a team of researchers at Montana State University has compared the genetics of grizzly bears and black bears at road crossings in the Canadian Rockies, finding the bears do indeed move across the Trans-Canada Highway, and breed with mates on the other side. The study provides the first proof that wildlife crossings maintain genetic diversity, the researchers say. “Roads connect human populations, but fragment wildlife populations,” wrote the authors of the study, detailed today (Feb. 18) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. …read more

Source: Bears Use Wildlife Crossings to Find New Mates

Asian Elephants Console Each Other When in Distress

Asian elephants reassure other distressed elephants by touching them and “talking” to them, which suggests they are capable of empathy and reassurance, according to new research. “There is 50 years of behavioral observational research out of Africa that elephants are highly social, they have empathy and they can think about their social relationships and make specific social decisions that impact themselves and others,” said study researcher Josh Plotnik, of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. …read more

Source: Asian Elephants Console Each Other When in Distress

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