Credit: The Reality Files. Antimatter is, you've guessed it, the opposite of matter. When the two meet, they annihilate each other. According to the Big Bang theory, at the ‘T zero', equal amounts of matter and antimatter were created in the early universe.
Birds have a built-in magnetic sensor to help them find their home and migrate safely - all thanks to proteins in their eyes. Image credits Popular Science Monthly Volume 83 via Wikimedia. Common wisdom holds that iron-rich cells in birds' beaks act as microscopic compasses to help them navigate.
Credit: Pixabay. Without long-term memory, none of us would be functional human beings. In order to make sense of the world, our memory employs all sorts of reference points, anchors if you will. For instance, one very important building block is the memory of places.
A new study has found that at-home DNA testing kits are wrong 40% of the time. Via Pixabay/geralt For those who haven't heard of them, direct-to-consumer genetic tests are genetic tests available that offer information about one's ancestors, risks of certain diseases, and other traits, such as eye color. The demand for this kind of genetic…
Credit: Pixabay. Because of the powerful psychoactive effect of marijuana, many have always assumed that prolonged use can hurt the brain in a similar way to alcohol but while the effects of alcohol on the human brain have been thoroughly documented, the same can't be said about marijuana.
When politics damage climate, civil disobedience should be allowed to save the day, Massachusetts court rules.
For almost a year now, hundreds of Massachusetts locals have fought to thwart the construction of a high-pressure fracked gas pipeline, set to run through five miles of West Roxbury, a Boston neighborhood. The protests got increasingly heated, with people sitting in and refusing to vacate holes that were dug for the pipeline, eventually culminating in some 200 arrests. Many of them faced criminal charges for trespassing and disturbing the peace.
This Tuesday, however, the final 13 protesters facing charges were found not responsible by a Massachusetts judge; the potential environmental and public health impacts of the pipeline - including its potential role in deepening climate change - made the public's disobedience legally necessary, he ruled.
Although environment and climate activists have been using the necessity defense more and more in recent years to tackle fossil fuel infrastructure development, this is the first case where a judge ruled defendants not responsible on the basis of this defense, according to the Climate Disobedience Center.
"We believe this is a first," Marla Marcum, director of the Climate Disobedience Center, told ThinkProgress. "It's pretty powerful, to us, that a judge listened very carefully and determined, essentially, that it was necessary for these people to take this action in an attempt to prevent a greater harm."
The necessity defense is a legal construct through which people can argue that a crime was justified in order to prevent greater harm. However, in the context of climate change action, it's a tool that has found limited use; one of the tenets of the necessity defense is to prove that the threat was imminent, and could not be avoided through legal means, thus warranting the use of non-legal means. The West Roxbury protesters argued that the pipeline constituted a local environmental risk, a catalyst for climate change, and that their elected officials didn't succeed in having the project blocked or rerouted.
Perhaps feeling an unfavorable tide, prosecutors downgraded the charges from criminal to civil during the lawsuit, which prevented the protesters from mounting a full defense in front of a jury. The judge, however, allowed each defendant two minutes to explain their actions against the project, and decided to find them not responsible - the civil equivalent of ‘not guilty' - on the basis of necessity.
While it didn't prevent the pipeline going operational, the company behind it, Spectra Energy, was forced to admit on the record that it didn't have a safety plan in place in the event of a catastrophic failure. It goes to show, however, that while we may feel powerless in the face of huge, daunting issues such as climate change, and even when officials seem uninterested or unable to heed our woes, there are still mechanisms in place for people to express their will. The legal system can make a huge difference in deciding what is right and giving those concerned about the environment a voice.
"I think it's important to continue putting in the laps of people like judges, prosecutors, and juries, the opportunity to make a decision about what is right in this moment," Marcum siad. "People who occupy those roles care deeply and are worried about climate and the future for their children and grandchildren, and occasionally show a feeling of relief or gratitude that some group has brought into their sphere of power the ability to really hear and evaluate based on all of the evidence."
For now, the West Roxbury decision doesn't set any legally binding precedent, but it definitely sets an example for people trying to get courts to take their concerns into account. With a federal government that seems increasingly pandering to business interests, and more inclined to crack down on justified protests with legal consequences, judges will likely face more such cases in the future.
And their decisions, for better or worse, will shape the world for tens of generations to come.
SpaceX's founder and CEO published an academic paper earlier this month outlining his vision for a future where the Red Planet is permanently inhabited. Illustration of Musk's vision for a Mars colony.
A new study found that graduate students are six times more likely to exhibit depression symptoms than the general population. The findings should surprise no one but it's important to have quantitative data about a mental health hazard running rampant in universities across the entire world.
An international team of researchers found that 320,000 years ago humans already developed impressive social structures and technological innovations such as using color pigments and manufacturing more sophisticated tools. The first evidence of human life in the Olorgesailie Basin comes from about 1.2 million years ago. For hundreds of the thousands of years, people living there…
Walmart is making moves on the bee's share of agriculture - the company recently filed a patent for autonomous, robotic bees. "I can't beelieve you're after my job too!" Image credits USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab / Flickr.
A team of Japanese researchers has confirmed the discovery of 15 new exoplanets, orbiting around red dwarfs - including a system of three super-Earths, one of which appears to be located in the star's habitable zone.
Efforts to pull the northern white rhino from the brink of extinction intensify as the last living male declines in health
In Kenya, the last male northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) in the world isn't faring well - the animal is past its prime and in declining health. With time running out, a global team of scientists and conservationists are trying to save the subspecies from extinction with help from the last two surviving females.
Using radio antennas no bigger than a hotel fridge, a small team of astronomers managed to glimpse into the dawn of time, and they published their findings just yesterday. But if that wasn't dramatic enough, a new paper today reports that the same results are a paradigm shift in an even more obscure area - the readings are our first direct evidence of the existence of dark matter and yield important clues on its nature.
A new, comprehensive report from European scientists confirms what many researchers have already been warning about: a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids poses a danger to wild bees and managed honey bees.
Researchers were surprised by how much water vapor they found in a ‘hot Jupiter' - three times more than on Saturn. Credit: NASA, ESA. Although NASA has already confirmed thousands of exoplanets - planets outsides our solar system - what's perhaps most staggering is their sheer diversity.
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