Wednesday, February 26, 2020

CDC Says Shave Beard To Protect Against Coronavirus

Posted By on Wed, Feb 26, 2020 at 8:44 AM


Bad news for Elvis impersonators, Civil War reenactors and our bearded brethren across the world...but good news for Gillette. 

The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention recommends shaving your beard to protect yourself from a potential coronavirus outbreak. Beards and mutton chop side burns can interfere with the seal of a facepiece respirator mask, according to a new CDC infographic.

The circle beard, the fu-manchu and the chinstrap are other facial hair styles recommended for shaving by the CDC. 

The bottom line is facial hair should not make any contact with the respirator seal's surface, according to the infographic.

The CDC also urged the American public to start preparing for potential future outbreaks during a press conference on Tuesday.

“As we’ve seen from recent countries with community spread, when it has hit those countries, it has moved quite rapidly," Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said at the conference. "We want to make sure the American public is prepared."

Messonnier also noted the increased risk of a domestic outbreak due to travel between countries like Italy, South Korea and Iran, all of which have seen recent coronavirus outbreaks. 

“As more and more countries experience community spread, successful containment at our borders becomes harder and harder," Messonnier said.

There are currently 80,000 cases of coronavirus globally, with the majority being in mainland China. Domestically, there has been 53 confirmed cases of U.S. citizens with the virus; 14 cases from people who recently traveled to China, and another 39 Americans who have been affected abroad. 

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Friday, September 6, 2019

New rules expand hunting on most national wildlife refuges in Arizona

Posted By on Fri, Sep 6, 2019 at 12:57 PM

hunters - BIGSTOCK
  • Bigstock
  • hunters
WASHINGTON – Hunting groups are applauding new federal rules creating longer seasons, extended hours and expanded methods for hunting and taking different types of game on national wildlife refuges.

The changes, announced last week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, affect 1.4 million acres of federal land, more than 800,000 of which are in Arizona where seven of nine national wildlife refuges would be included in the changes.

Zack May, president of Southern Arizona Quail Forever, said the changes reduce contradictions between state and federal hunting rules while making national public land more accessible to sports enthusiasts.

“Anything that improves public access to public land is a good thing,” he said.

While hunters cheered the changes, environmentalists groups greeted them with a shrug. Brett Hartl, government affairs director for the Center for Biological Diversity, called the expansions “relatively minor and somewhat silly,” pointing to Kofa as an example.

“The reality is that there’s not that many hunters that go there,” Hartl said. “It’s hotter than hell 98 percent of the year.”

Kofa, at more than 660,000 acres, is the largest of the wildlife refuges affected by the changes.

The Interior Department said the new rules open hunting and fishing on 77 national wildlife refuges and 15 hatcheries. The rules also remove or revise more than 5,000 hunting regulations “to more closely match state laws,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in a new release announcing the change.

The department says the rules open or expand twice as much land as had been opened in the previous five years, and brings the number of refuges allowing hunting to 381. Affected refuges now have expanded season dates, longer hours or more hunting take methods for several bird and big game species, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The hunting and fishing changes unveiled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service affect 77 national wildlife refuges and 15 fish hatcheries. (Photo by Bureau of Land Management/Creative Commons)

May, who hunts primarily in Buenos Aires and Cibola national wildlife refuges, said he has experienced “minor issues” with conflicting state and federal regulations and credited the new rules to a good working relationship between the two governments.

The final rule specifies that Fish and Wildlife officials will work with the Arizona Game and Fish Department on opening more opportunities in the next three years, including the two refuges not included in this year’s changes.

Hartl questioned the need for further expansion, characterizing the fanfare in the Interior Department’s announcement as a move to appease President Donald Trump’s political base.

“It’s such a modest thing,” Hartl said. “There’s no pent-up demand. It’s not as if this has been a contentious issue.”

A May Fish and Wildlife Service report estimates that only about 3% of Kofa’s 95,404 visitors visited the refuge for hunting during the 2017 fiscal year.

But others see the rules as a sign the federal government is listening to the real owners of the land: the public.

Hunting groups such as Safari Club International contend that people should be able to utilize public space, regardless of its popularity. Benjamin Cassidy, director of government affairs, said giving hunters the opportunity to hunt in places like Kofa “should be commended.”

“I think it continues in the tradition of listening to the American people and seeing how we can improve the experience on public lands,” he said. “Americans own these public lands.”

National wildlife refuges in the Southwest U.S. saw over 7 million visitors in 2017, according to recent Fish and Wildlife Service reports.

Nick Wiley, chief conservation officer for Ducks Unlimited, called the changes a “fresh look” at access to public lands – Arizona included.

“There’s a strong hunting interest from the people in Arizona and the hunting community,” Wiley said.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Phoenix Sky Harbor switches to desert landscape to save water, money

Posted By and on Tue, Jul 23, 2019 at 12:15 PM

Xeriscaping, which uses native plants to conserve water, is expected to save Phoenix $400,000 annually and give Sky Harbor travelers a look at desert flora. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PHOENIX SKY HARBOR INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
  • Photo courtesy of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
  • Xeriscaping, which uses native plants to conserve water, is expected to save Phoenix $400,000 annually and give Sky Harbor travelers a look at desert flora.

PHOENIX – Some of the landscaping at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has changed from front-lawn green to desert tan. The airport recently finished replacing nearly 11 acres of turf with native flora as part of a water conservation project that’s expected to save nearly half a million dollars a year.

The landscaping approach is known as xeriscaping, which uses native, drought-resistant flora arranged in ways that promote efficient water usage. The airport project incorporated 435 water-sipping trees, 75 saguaros, 275 other large cactuses and about 2,900 plants and shrubs for groundcover, according to a release from Sky Harbor.

The xeriscaping project is expected to save the city $400,000 annually, in addition to reducing water usage by more than 5 million gallons per year.

“You see in people’s houses, you see it in other natural landscaping because it fits here,” Sky Harbor public information officer Greg Roybal said. “I think the water services director said it best when she said we honor our environment when we plant things that belong here.”

The redesign, completed in June, is part of the airport’s 2015 Sustainability Management Plan, which aims to reduce water consumption by 10% by 2020. Sky Harbor currently uses an average of 30 million gallons of water per month.

Phoenix’s chief sustainability officer, Mark Hartman, said the converted areas were not near pedestrian spaces.

“You want to be very strategic about where you use your water,” he said. “Like, there’s not that many people who walk to the airport and walk along beside the freeway, so having grass there might not be a good spot for grass.”

The xeriscape project is one of seven initiatives in the airport’s sustainability plan, which also focuses on air quality, energy use and waste management.

Because less maintenance is needed on those 11 acres, the project also falls in line with Phoenix’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gases by 30% by 2025.

“It fits in perfectly with not only our overall goals but with the city’s goals and the community’s goals,” Hartman said. “I think it’s going to be looked at as a prime project to model after.”

This story is part of Elemental: Covering Sustainability, a new multimedia collaboration between Cronkite News, Arizona PBS, KJZZ, KPCC, Rocky Mountain PBS and PBS SoCal.

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Monday, May 6, 2019

As If the Normal Monday Morning Wasn't Bad Enough: UN Report Highlights How We Are Destroying the Planet

Posted By on Mon, May 6, 2019 at 11:20 AM

Planet of the Apes 1968. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Planet of the Apes 1968.

New York magazine sums up the UN's new report on biodiversity:
Human beings are more prosperous and numerous than we’ve ever been, while the Earth’s other species are dying off faster than at any time in human history.

These two conditions are related. But if the second one persists long enough, we will be following our fellow organisms into the dustbin of geological history.

This is the primary takeaway from a new United Nations report on our planet’s rapidly diminishing biodiversity. Humanity is reshaping the natural world at such scale and rapidity, an estimated 1 million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, according to the U.N. assessment. Climate change is a major driver of all this death, but burning fossil fuels is far from our species’ only method of mass ecocide. We are also harvesting fish populations faster than they can reproduce themselves, annually dumping upward of 300 million tons of heavy metals and toxic sludge into the oceans, introducing devastating diseases and invasive species into vulnerable environments as we send people and goods hurtling across the globe, and simply taking up too much space — about 75 percent of the Earth’s land, and 85 percent of its wetlands, have been severely altered or destroyed by human development.

[NY Mag]

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

UA Helps Capture First Image of a Black Hole

Posted By on Wed, Apr 10, 2019 at 8:13 AM

A pale orange glow stands as proof of the efforts of a global network of scientists. Today, researchers with the Event Horizon Telescope array revealed the first direct image of a black hole.

“We have seen what we thought was unseeable,” said Event Horizon Telescope director Sheperd Doeleman, speaking from the National Press Club in Washington D.C.

  • Courtesy Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

While humanity’s understanding of physics has long hinted at their existence, before the EHT captured this data, black holes were only able to be visualized via simulation. But this recently released image of a supermassive black hole at the center of the massive Messier 87 galaxy is the first direct visual evidence of a black hole.

The Event Horizon Telescope is an international collaboration formed in 2006, comprising eight radio telescopes across the world, including the Kitt Peak National Observatory southwest of Tucson. By combining the power of eight radio telescopes in multiple countries, researchers essentially created a planet-sized telescope with enough power to penetrate deep space.

"The observations were a coordinated dance in which we simultaneously pointed our telescopes in a carefully planned sequence," said Daniel Marrone, associate professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona. “To make sure these observations were truly simultaneous, so that we could see the same wavefront of light as it landed on each telescope, we used extremely precise atomic clocks at each of the telescopes."

Researchers at the University of Arizona helped coordinate two of the radio telescopes in the EHT. Due to the extreme difficulty of capturing such data, any additional obstacle must be removed if possible. This includes using telescopes located in very dry environments, such as the Sonoran Desert, to avoid water vapor in the atmosphere which could obstruct visuals.

Scientists also built the EHT project to test Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. Einstein's theory implies the existence of black holes, and states spacetime undergoes curvature from gravity. According to Doeleman, these latest discoveries are consistent with Einstein’s predictions.

“As with all great discoveries, this is just the beginning,” Doeleman said.

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Monday, March 11, 2019

UA Planetary Scientist to Study Unopened Moon Samples

Posted By on Mon, Mar 11, 2019 at 2:27 PM

  • BigStock
Astronauts in the Apollo Program not only walked on the moon, but they also collected samples to bring back to Earth. Now, one UA planetary scientist will be among the first to study these previously unopened samples.

Jessica Barnes is starting at the UA next semester as an assistant professor at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. She and her research team have been chosen by NASA to receive funding to study the lunar samples.

  • Courtesy UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
  • Jessica Barnes
Scientists nationwide participating in the Apollo Next Generation Sample Analysis, or ANGSA Program, will study samples that were brought to Earth in the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 programs from 1971 and 1972.

Barnes and her team will be studying rock from Apollo 17, the last mission where humans visited the moon on Dec. 11, 1972. Since the samples were brought to Earth, they have been stored frozen and undisturbed.

"The question we want to answer is, are we measuring the true moon signature? Or are there terrestrial influences that have affected the samples during their storage?'" Barnes said in a release. "The beauty of a frozen sample is that it's been kept curated in a different way from the samples stored at room temperature. We could not do this research without opening the frozen samples."

The research team will encase the samples in resin and slice them microscopically thin to analyze their chemical makeup.

Barnes and her team hope that their research will inform the handling and storage of samples collected by the UA-led OSIRIS-REx mission currently en route to retrieving samples from asteroid Bennu.

Barnes' full team includes Tom Zega, also at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, Jeremy Boyce and Scott Messenger at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Jed Mosenfelder of the University of Minnesota, Carolyn Crow of the University of Colorado Boulder and Maryjo Brounce of the University of California Riverside.

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

UA Astronomers Join $242 Million NASA Mission

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2019 at 2:48 PM

NASA's SPHEREx mission is targeted to launch in 2023. SPHEREx will help astronomers understand both how our universe evolved and how common are the ingredients for life in our galaxy's planetary systems. - COURTESY OF CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY VIA UA NEWS
  • Courtesy of California Institute of Technology via UA News
  • NASA's SPHEREx mission is targeted to launch in 2023. SPHEREx will help astronomers understand both how our universe evolved and how common are the ingredients for life in our galaxy's planetary systems.

Astronomers at NASA have embarked on a new space mission to study the evolution of our universe and the commonality of ingredients for life on other planets. Two astronomers from the University of Arizona will participate in the mission.

The mission, called the Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer, or SPHEREx mission was recently given the go ahead by NASA's Explorer program and will launch in 2023.

Elisabeth Krause and Tim Eifler, who both joined the UA as junior faculty members last fall, will be working on the mission over the coming years.

Krause is an assistant professor of astronomy and physics at the UA and is a mission co-investigator on the SPEREx mission. Eifler is an assistant professor of astronomy at the UA and is a SPHEREx collaborator.

Every six months, SPHEREx will survey the entire sky to create a map in 96 different color bands, far more than any other sky map.

"This amazing mission will be a treasure trove of unique data for astronomers," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, in a press release. "It will deliver an unprecedented galactic map containing 'fingerprints' from the first moments in the universe's history. And we'll have new clues to one of the greatest mysteries in science: What made the universe expand so quickly less than a nanosecond after the big bang?"

Until the mission is launched, the SPEREx team will be designing, building and testing the space telescope.

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Friday, January 18, 2019

Flandrau Science Center Provides “Moon Music Serenade” for Upcoming Eclipse

Posted By on Fri, Jan 18, 2019 at 2:58 PM

  • BigStock
Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium at the University of Arizona is off to the moon, hosting its first ever Moon Music Serenade event pairing music, telescopes, and a special moon presentation.

A lunar eclipse will begin on Sunday, Jan. 20, at 8:30 p.m. when the Earth’s shadow starts to cross over the Moon, leading to a full lunar eclipse around 9:40 p.m. when the shadow moves to cover the entire Moon.

“When people see things happening in the skies with their own eyes or through telescopes, it inspires their curiosity about planetary science,” said Shipherd Reed, Associate Director of Communications at the Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium.

Flandrau has partnered with the UA Lunar & Planetary Lab, and Tucson Amateur Astronomers Association for this event. Volunteers from TAAA will provide telescopes for the public to enjoy and participate in the lunar eclipse.

Attendees also have the chance to capture some pictures of the eclipse. TAAA will provide smartphone photography adaptors right on their telescopes, so people can capture pictures of this lunar event.

“It’s a great opportunity to tap into what the UA has to offer the Tucson community,” Reed said.

The event will beheld outside on the UA mall. UA Chamber Winds will accompany the eclipse and the telescope gazing with wind, brass, and percussion instruments. The Chamber Winds, comprised of students from the Fred Fox School of Music, will play music themed by the stars and moon, according to Martin Gaines, a UA doctoral conducting student. Gaines will lead the Chamber Winds group for this event.

The Chamber Winds will play three songs while the lunar eclipse is happening, including Mozart Serenade in C Minor and an André Chaplet piece. The songs are paired just right for the event, according to Gaines.

“We’re doing a piece by Mozart that was written in 1782 and this is a wind serenade that was meant to be played at essentially an outdoors social event,” Gaines said. “I think it’s going to be fun to hear that in kind of the way that it was originally conceived to be performed.”

Steve Kortenkamp, a UA planetary scientist, will present about the Moon prior to the Chamber Winds performance at 7 p.m. His presentation will include talks about the Moon, what we already know and what we want to discover from the NASA research spacecraft that is orbiting the Moon.

The concert, the telescope viewings, and Flandrau exhibits will be free and open to the public. The Moon presentation by Kortenkamp and “Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon” Laser light show are $5 each. The event will start at the same time of the eclipse, at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 20, 2019 on the UA mall just outside of the Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium.

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