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Life on Earth may have received a boost from the Sun’s megahysterics



How exactly living beings arose on Earth remains a mystery. Now, a new experiment has shown that explosions of solar particles could kick start the process, creating some of the basic components of life.

time in the sun

Even before the first microbe appeared, it was believed that amino acids were formed in one of the primordial oozes of the early Earth. Previously, it was believed that lightning could accelerate the formation of amino acids. However, Kensei Kobayashi of Yokohama National University in Japan, along with astrophysicist Vladimir Airapetian of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and a team of researchers from both institutes, have come up with another possibility: superflares from the young Sun likely contributed to the origin of life.

“[Galactic cosmic rays] another [solar energetic particle] Young Sun events represent the most efficient sources of energy for the prebiotic formation of biologically important organic compounds,” the researchers said in a study recently published in Life.

There is no exact answer to the question of when life began, although scientists believe that the first organism on Earth appeared somewhere during the Hadean eon (between 4 and 4.6 billion years ago). In 1953, Stanley Miller and Harold Urey of the University of Chicago conducted experiments that showed that lightning a collision with the Earth during that era set the stage for chemical reactions that led to the formation of amino acids. At the time, it was thought that the early Earth’s atmosphere consisted mainly of water, hydrogen, ammonia, and methane. Miller and Urey simulated a lightning strike on gas molecules in the laboratory and obtained amino acids.

Problems with the lightning hypothesis began to arise when later research showed that Gadea’s atmosphere did not contain as much methane or ammonia as Miller and Urey had assumed. Instead, there was much more carbon dioxide and molecular nitrogen. These gases must be broken down in order for the chemical reactions to occur to form amino acids, and lightning cannot destroy them so easily. This would mean much fewer amino acids.

High Energy Chemistry

By studying observations of young distant stars as part of NASA’s Kepler mission, the researchers found out how the nascent sun most likely behaved: it threw mass tantrums. They blew up the Earth with enough energy to destroy the atmospheric gases that existed at the time.

The Hadean Sun was young and temperamental. It will explode with superflares – even X-class solar flare nothing about these phenomena. Now superflares occur once every hundred years or so, but then they probably happened at least once a week. Although on earlier research Airapetian suggests that our star was 30 percent dimmer during the Hadean eon, and the frequent superflares were still powerful enough to trigger chemical reactions.

Kobayashi then studied the consequences galactic cosmic raysor radiation from outside the solar system, could have impacted the Earth’s atmosphere billions of years ago.

Kobayashi reached out to Hayrapetyan after reading the study. Together they used particle accelerators at the University of Yokohama to investigate how protons from solar superflares could interact with Earth’s atmosphere. Their team simulated both solar radiation and lightning bombarding gas particles in a mixture that mirrored the early Earth’s atmosphere. These results were also compared with previous work by Kobayashi, which used particle accelerators to study reactions driven by galactic cosmic radiation.

The researchers found that the protons they fired into these gases, which were as close as possible to the plasma clumps that would have erupted from the young Sun during a superflare, were more efficient at creating amino acids and one of their components, carboxylic acids, than lightning or galactic cosmic rays.

“We have experimentally shown for the first time that the rate of production of amino acids and carboxylic acids … due to proton irradiation can significantly exceed the rate of production of these molecules through [galactic cosmic rays] another [lightning]”, the researchers said.

Hadean Earth was also colder because the Sun was dimmer, meaning that lightning flashes, which Miller and Urey believed were catalysts for amino acids, were less frequent than they are today. The researchers also believe that high-energy solar particles may have had some role in the formation of amino acids on Earth. Mars. before that lost most of its atmosphere, ancient Mars was warmer, weatherier and had a denser atmosphere. Perhaps it was at least a temporary refuge for life.

What turned chemicals into living organisms still eludes us. The sun may not have infected the Earth with life, but life somehow became what it is thanks to the biomolecules it helped create.

Life, 2023. DOI: 10.3390/life13051103

Elizabeth Rein is a creature that writes. Her work has appeared on SYFY WIRE,, Live Science, Grunge, Den of Geek and Forbidden Futures. When she’s not writing, she’s either shape-shifting or painting or cosplaying a character no one has ever heard of. Follow her on Twitter @quothravenrayne.


Three states reach an agreement on the Colorado River to reduce water consumption



Seven states that use the Colorado River for electricity and drinking water have reached an agreement to cut costs to keep the drought-stricken river flowing.

Three states – Arizona, California and Nevada – have agreed on a plan to conserve at least 3 million acres of water by 2026, roughly equivalent to the amount of water it would take to fill 6 million Olympic-size swimming pools.

The Biden administration, which helped broker the deal, announced the consensus deal. Monday in the newscast.

Seven states that depend on the Colorado River are on the brink of crisis after decades of overuse. Before the winter snowfall, officials were concerned that the levees on Lakes Mead and Powell were approaching “dead puddle” status – when the flow would be cut off to the lower reaches of the river as the water level dropped too low to pass through the dams.

About 40 million people use the Colorado River as a source of drinking water. Utilities depend on it to generate electricity at the dams at Lake Mead and Powell and provide power to several states.

The deal could avert a short-term crisis and put states on a more sustainable water trajectory, but it requires less savings than some scientists say is needed to stabilize the river after more than two years of drought. The deal averts a political quandary for the Biden administration, which would have been forced to unilaterally impose cuts if the states could not agree among themselves.

Home Secretary Deb Haaland said in a press release that the announcement is “a testament to the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to working with states, tribes and communities across the West to find coherent solutions in the face of climate change and sustainable drought.”

Once reviewed and formally approved by the Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the dams at Lake Mead and Powell, the new agreement will run until 2026.

“It’s a big deal,” said Robert Glennon, professor emeritus in water law and policy at the University of Arizona, adding that the challenges the states faced were “truly historic and potentially catastrophic if Lake Powell or Lake Mead were to die.” pool.”

As part of the agreement, the administration will use funds from the Inflation Reduction Act to compensate some farmers and other water users who have temporarily agreed to the reduction.

In reviewing the new deal, the Biden administration agreed to temporarily withdraw its plans for drastic cuts in case talks with the state failed.

Glennon said the federal government’s proposal, which lays out competing proposals with serious consequences if states can’t find common ground, “focused the minds” of negotiators and forced them to find acceptable cuts. Federal dollars from the Inflation Reduction Act will provide compensation for more than three-quarters of the water saved by the deal.

“Without this money, this deal will not take place,” Glennon said.

Federal money will go to fund water conservation programs to compensate farmers, tribal communities, cities and other water users who take steps to voluntarily and temporarily reduce their water use, said Dave White, an Arizona State University professor and leader of Arizona Water. innovation initiative. Such programs may encourage farmers to grow less water-intensive crops, use more efficient irrigation methods, or temporarily fallow their fields.

The governors of California, Arizona, and Nevada — the lower basin states that agreed to the cuts — welcomed the deal.

“California has stepped up to significantly reduce its water use, and now this historic partnership between California and other Lower Basin states will help maintain critical water supplies for millions of Americans as we work together to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Colorado River. A system for decades to come,” said the governor of California. This was announced by Gavin Newsom in a press release.

Negotiators from four upper basin states — Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — said they supported the decision to submit the new plan to the federal government and avoid the emergency measures imposed by the federal government.

In a letter to the Bureau of Reclamation, the governors of California, Arizona, and Nevada said they hope the new agreement will allow talks to “turn to discuss post-2026 operations that will address the impact of climate change on water system availability and existing water redistribution.”

According to a press release from the Home Office, the Bureau of Reclamation will open this process in the coming weeks.

Glennon said California, Arizona and Nevada have strengthened their positions in future negotiations, or if the federal government needs to introduce additional cuts later.

“We will have plenty of time to later ask the upper basin states to take on a larger share,” Glennon said.

The water of the Colorado River is distributed among the seven states, 30 tribes and Mexico. The river has been over-allocated, meaning users are collectively entitled to more water than normally flows through it each year, as its use was divided up in the 1922 Colorado River Treaty and subsequent agreements. The effects of climate change, which is warming and drying up the Colorado Basin, are further squeezing water supplies.

Addressing the long-term imbalance in the supply of Colorado rivers remains a challenge.

“We need to cut demand by 3 million acre feet per year to balance our current supply and demand. This is only a part, maybe a third of what is probably needed, but it is an important step,” White said.

As water levels have dropped in recent years, heavy snowfall this winter has prevented the worst of the consequences. Many western-western states received twice as much snow as the average for the year. The snowpack, which is now rapidly melting and draining into key bodies of water, has given state negotiators additional months to reach an agreement on cuts.

The winter rainfall “was a gift we didn’t want to waste,” said Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatske, who was involved in the talks.

Busatzke said negotiators must continue to push for permanent solutions.

“The stakes for the 40 million people and farmland dependent on this water are too high,” Busacke said. “We can’t stop, take a long break, breathe a sigh of relief and say we’ve fixed our problems because it won’t be for long.”

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How much COVID is in my community? It’s getting harder to say



As large-scale interventions against COVID-19 are long gone, officials and experts continue to preach the importance of individual decision making in assessing and managing health risks.

However, tracking the status of the coronavirus has become increasingly difficult as data collection and reporting have either been reduced or stopped altogether in the post-emergency phase.

Part of that is by design. The collective experience with coronavirus has allowed some incomplete indicators, such as officially reported cases, to be replaced in favor of others, such as sewage monitoring, which can give a clearer picture of the circulation of the virus in the community.

But declining data is making it harder to assess the trajectory of the virus in specific areas, as well as making it harder for people to adjust their attitudes and behaviors — a potentially worrisome development for those who remain at the highest risk of serious illness.

And the public knowledge gap could widen in the coming months as metrics collection becomes increasingly decentralized after the COVID-19 public health emergency ends, and more residents lose access to resources like free testing.

“Now it will be a little harder to track down. Over the past few months, this has already become more of a challenge as states and localities have begun to reduce the frequency of their reports,” the doctor said. Mario Ramirez, ER physician and managing director of Opportunity Labs, a nonprofit research and consulting firm.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made several efforts to pack the terms of the pandemic into digestible pieces, including the release of the agency’s COVID-19 community level map in February 2022.

What counties sorted by system across the country into one of three categories—low, medium, or high—depending on incidence rates and certain rates of hospitalization. For each category, the CDC has issued specific guidance on measures such as wearing masks, testing, and avoiding crowds.

However, officials on Thursday abandoned the system. Due in part to case count restrictions that are becoming increasingly unreliable due to the prevalence of home testing, officials also acknowledged the growing difficulty of providing a snapshot on site. . Many states and counties have stopped collecting or sharing data about COVID-19.

On Thursday, the CDC’s COVID data tracker stopped reporting cumulative cases and removed data on positive test results. The old tracker listed weekly COVID-19 deaths; new version says percentage of COVID-related deaths among all reported deathsbased on preliminary death certificate data to indicate the trend in COVID mortality.

The tracker’s leading data point was the number of people who first admitted to hospital with a lab-confirmed coronavirus infection in the previous week.

Hospitalization data is offered down to the district level, with districts sorted into one of three levels: green, yellow, or orange. Much of the country is now on the green, with fewer than 10 coronavirus-positive hospital admissions per week for every 100,000 residents. The worst level, orange, is when the bet is 20 or more.

On Thursday, Los Angeles County reported 2.8 coronavirus-positive hospital admissions for every 100,000 residents.

V weekly trend of coronavirus hospitalizations available for each state on the CDC website. In the week ending May 6, California reported 1,284 coronavirus-positive hospitalizations, the lowest since last spring’s lull.

The all-time low for this indicator was 870 for the week ending April 16, 2022. The all-time peak of 16,663 occurred in the week ending January 9, 2021, at the height of California’s deadliest wave of COVID-19. At the time, Los Angeles hospital mortuaries were so overcrowded that the National Guard was called in to temporarily store the bodies.

While coronavirus-positive hospitalization rates are vital in illustrating the pressure COVID-19 is putting on hospitals, some experts point out that they only provide a limited view of transmission.

“It will be much broader strokes than the predictive analytics we have become accustomed to over the past few years,” Ramirez said on Tuesday. during the panel hosted by the COVID-19 Vaccine Education and Equity Project. “And so I’m worried that by the time the data comes back, it’s usually two, three, four weeks old, especially because hospitalization is a lagging indicator, and of course, death. We will be weeks behind the increase in cases, if that is what is happening.”

This is not to say that hospital-focused metrics are out of place. According to the California Department of Public Health, hospitalization rates for COVID-19 patients “showed a 99 percent match” with population levels.

“We are studying how our data collection and reporting will change after the end of the federal emergency and will keep the public informed of any changes that may occur,” the department said in a statement to The Times.

California currently publishes weekly data on cases and deaths from COVID-19 on its website. online panel and also monitors the number of patients with coronavirus hospitalized throughout the state. This information is available at

Los Angeles County releases case and death data weekly every Thursday. Officials also report an average percentage of coronavirus-related emergency room visits, and the rate has remained stable at around 3% over the past month. In late March and early April, this figure was 4%.

Appreciating the county’s progress, Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer noted that “every day, thousands of people in Los Angeles County continue to suffer from COVID-19, whether they are forced to miss work due to illness, need in hospital or are in critical condition. effects of prolonged COVID.

“[The Department of] Public health remains committed to work that reduces the likelihood of transmission and ensures the county is prepared for the possibility of periodic changes in transmission,” she said Thursday. “We continue our work to make sure there are no barriers to those who want to access life-saving vaccines, therapeutics and tests.”

The state also supports model – CalCAT, California Infectious Disease Assessment Tool – for a rough estimate of the extent of coronavirus transmission. This tool uses the available data to arrive at an estimated effective reproductive rate, which shows how many people, on average, an infected person transmits the coronavirus.

However, this model is also not immune to changes in the availability of pandemic data.

“Overall, case rates, including R-effective, are less reliable in the face of changes in testing regimens, including increased use of home/antigen testing versus PCR-confirmed testing,” state health officials wrote in response to an earlier request from the Times. . .

However, they added that “because R-effective represents the rate of change, it can still be useful for identifying trends in COVID-19, especially when combined with hospitalization data.”

For example: The latest statewide R-efficiency score was 1.06, indicating that the spread of COVID-19 is likely to be stable. Accordingly, the number of hospitalized patients with coronavirus across the state has decreased since the beginning of the month – from 1,282 on May 1 to 1,182 on Wednesday.

Another key focus both during the pandemic and in the future is wastewater surveillance. Officials say this provides a more complete picture of how widespread the virus is in a given area than testing alone, and could help identify and track any potentially worrying mutations.

In California, the Department of Public Health expects “wastewater monitoring to become a regular part of public health surveillance for COVID-19” and “plays a potential role in monitoring other pathogens of public health importance, such as smallpox and influenza.”

“At the local health department level, wastewater surveillance can also add useful localized information to health systems, institutions, or campuses that need to track COVID-19 or other diseases of public health importance,” the department wrote in a statement last week. .

Updated data from the State Wastewater Surveillance Network Cal-SuWers. regularly online.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health also regularly reports wastewater data in its reports. weekly news releases. District on Thursday informed its levels were only 11% of last winter’s peak, according to the most recent data available.

And last week, San Francisco International Airport announced that it had become the first airport in the country start off CDC’s program to monitor wastewater samples from international flights.

However, whatever the current extent of the coronavirus, officials say there are a few things residents can do to protect themselves.

“Even though COVID emergencies are ending, the virus is still with us,” the state health department said in a statement. “It’s important for Californians to continue using the tools we have to fight COVID, including vaccines, testing, and treatments.”

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