MastersConnection 2020
Issue 513 In This Issue February 18th, 2017

Editors Corner

Did you know that there are certain beaches around the world where the waves glow with an eerie blue light? Apparently it looks as though stars are washing up on shore. It is believed that this is a defense mechanism, used "to startle or distract fish and other potential predators". Click here

Speaking of water, are you aware that NASA intends on launching an artificial cloud forming rocket into space? Apparently it's supposed to help better understand the aurora borealis. Click here

Back on the subject of things that glow, have you heard of the 'firefall' phenomenon at Yosemite National Park? It's where a waterfall there appears to glow during sunset. Apparently it's quite spectacular but only happens under very specific conditions during mid to late February. Click here

There's more but I will leave the rest for you to discover and enjoy. Have a wonderful week.

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The articles published in these MastersConnection2020 newsletters, or on or, only represent the views or opinions of the person or entity whose name appears as the author and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the MastersConnection2020 or any of its affiliates.
Earth Watch

Zealandia: Study confirms Earth has hidden continent
Earth has a concealed continent called ‘Zealandia’ hidden in the Pacific Ocean and attached to New Zealand, according to newly published research. A team of 11 researchers found that New Zealand and New Caledonia are actually part of a huge 4.9 million sq km (1.89 million square-mile) single slab of continental crust that is separate from Australia. The study, published by the Geological Society of America, found that the region is 94 percent submerged, mostly as a result of crustal thinning before the supercontinental break-up, using upgraded satellite-based elevation and gravity map technology. "The scientific value of classifying Zealandia as a continent is much more than just an extra name on a list," the scientists wrote. "That a continent can be so submerged yet unfragmented makes it a useful and thought-provoking geodynamic end member in exploring the cohesion and breakup of continental crust."

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Scientists discover immense pool of molten carbon beneath the Western United States
In what could be some of the worst news for climate change since the election of Donald Trump, a group of scientists have discovered a massive reservoir of melting carbon hidden deep under the Western United States. Researchers used the world’s largest array of seismic sensors to map the reservoir, which covers an area of about 695,000 square miles and challenges everything scientists have previously thought about the amounts of carbon trapped inside the Earth. To make a long story short, there’s way more than anyone has ever predicted before. Located about 217 miles beneath the planet’s surface, the reservoir is made up of carbonates that are melting under temperatures as hot at 7,230 degrees Fahrenheit. According to Science Daily, carbonates are a large group of minerals – including magnesite and calcite – which contain a specific carbon ion that when molten is believed to be responsible for the electrical conductivity of the Earth’s mantle.

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Climate anomaly responsible for glacial growth in New Zealand
A new research carried out by scientists from the Victoria University of Wellington and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) shows that regional climate variability caused an “unusual” period in which some of New Zealand’s glaciers grew bigger, while glaciers worldwide were shrinking. At least 58 New Zealand glaciers advanced between 1983 and 2008, with Franz Josef Glacier (Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere) advancing nearly continuously during this time. “Glaciers advancing is very unusual - especially in this period when the vast majority of glaciers worldwide shrank in size as a result of our warming world,” says lead author Associate Professor Andrew Mackintosh from Victoria’s Antarctic Research Centre. “This anomaly hadn’t been satisfactorily explained, so this physics-based study used computer models for the first time to look into it in detail.

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Technology Watch

NASA to launch artificial cloud forming rocket into space
NASA could be launching an artificial cloud forming rocket into space in order to better understand the aurora borealis. Dependent upon clear skies and auroral activity, the near simultaneous launch of two NASA sounding rockets will take place in Alaska, on February 13 or March 3 between 7:00 pm and midnight local time. Two 56-foot long Black Brant IX rockets will fly for 10 minutes, one of which will be decorating the sky with white luminescent artificial clouds, in an effort to “understand the height-dependent processes that create localized neutral jets within the aurora,” NASA says. The lower altitude rocket will be forming the artificial clouds at an apogee of about 107 miles, the other is scheduled to fly for 201 miles apogee. “Flying the two similar payloads simultaneously to different altitudes will provide researchers unprecedented vertical measurements within an aurora,” NASA wrote. The lower altitude rocket will form the clouds by deploying trimethyl aluminum (TMA), which will react with the oxygen in the atmosphere to produce a white cloud that will allow scientists to visually track auroral winds.

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Scientists want to 'de-extinct' the woolly mammoth
Research from Harvard University is exciting some scientists about the prospects of being able to recreate the long extinct woolly mammoth. The ice age mammal’s DNA could potentially be spliced with an Asian elephant to create a hybrid. Harvard Geneticist Professor, George Church, briefed the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) about the progress his team has made in the past two years of trying to “de-extinct” the mammoth. “Our aim is to produce a hybrid elephant-mammoth embryo,” said Church. “Actually, it would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits. We’re not there yet, but it could happen in a couple of years.” His team has managed to create a hybrid "mammophant” cell and hopes to reach an embryo within the next two years. They owe some of their credit to the gene-editing tool Crispr, according to the Guardian. However, it will be many more years before a living mammophant could be lumbering around our colder climates.

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3D-Printed 'Laugh' Is 1st Major Artwork to Be Made in Space
Art just made a giant leap into the final frontier. On Friday (Feb. 10), a  (ISS) created a sculpture that represents human laughter, as part of a project called #Laugh. Astronauts have sketched and photographed the vistas from the orbiting lab's windows, and artwork by Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and others has flown to space in the past. But the new 3D-printed piece is the first sculpture to be produced off Earth, #Laugh representatives said.  is a collaboration between Israeli artist Eyal Gever and the California-based company Made In Space, which owns and operates the Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF), the ISS' commercially available 3D printer. The project began Dec. 1, 2016, when Gever and his team launched an app that converts the sound waves of users' laughter into a digital 3D model, or "laugh star." More than 100,000 people generated their own laugh stars throughout December, Made In Space representatives said.

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Nature Watch

Honeybees love to ‘whoop’: Scientists discover vibrational signal is expression of surprise (VIDEO)
Startled after they bump into each other, honeybees emit a vibrational ‘whooping’ pulse, according to newly-published research which has reinterpreted the phenomenon. Published in PLOS journal, the study led by Martin Bencsik from Nottingham Trent University found that the frequency of the signal called into question previous findings that it’s a request for food or a warning to other bees foraging in a dangerous location. The observations carried out at two hives, one in the UK and one in France, reveal that the vibration commonly known as the ‘stop signal’ occurs in a variety of contexts and often at nighttime. Scientists also noted a simple knock on the the wooden wall of the hive can garner a collective ‘whoop whoop’ from the bees within. The ‘whoop’ sound, created when a honeybee vibrates its wing muscles in the honeycomb, can only detected only by accelerometers embedded in the hive and is inaudible to the human ear. Through observing the recordings, the team discovered the signals were being produced at a rate of around six or seven a minute from just a small area of the honeycomb.

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Extremely rare snake emerges in Brazil after 64-year absence
One of the world’s rarest and most elusive snakes has been spotted in Guapiruvu, Brazil by two farmers. The men recognized the rare Cropan’s boa on a dirt road and contacted researchers who have been waiting for this moment for 64 years. The Cropan’s boa, or Corallus cropanii, was first spotted in 1953 in Miracatu, and hasn’t been found alive in its natural habitat since. Weighing 1.5 kilos and measuring 1.7 meters (5.5 feet), the female is longer than its Miracatu predecessor, a male measuring about 1 meter. The find was made possible thanks to the Sete Barras community, who were informed about the rare snake by biologists Bruno Rocha and Daniela Gennari from the USP Zoology Museum and Livia Correa from the Butantan Institute, according to Carta de Noticias. Starting last October, researchers gave lectures and distributed leaflets and posters detailing information about the cropan’s boa, educating people about the importance of conservation of the snake’s natural ecosystem.

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In The News

Biggest fear at Oroville Dam: A 30-foot wall of water barreling downstream
A new storm system forecast for later this week put water officials on a race against time. Bill Croyle, the acting director of the state Department of Water Resources, said they planned to continue discharging flows at a rate of 100,000 cubic feet per second, with the hope of lowering the reservoir level by 50 feet. The biggest concern was that a hillside that keeps water in Lake Oroville — California’s second largest reservoir — would suddenly crumble Sunday afternoon, threatening the lives of thousands of people by flooding communities downstream. With Lake Oroville filled to the brim, such a collapse could have caused a “30-foot wall of water coming out of the lake,” Cal-Fire incident commander Kevin Lawson said at a Sunday night press conference.

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Dozens of dead owls showing up along I-84: 'It's like they fell from the sky'
Dozens of dead owls have been reported by drivers along Interstate-84 in southern Idaho making for an eerie stretch of road. Over the weekend, Nichole Miller and Christina White of Boise were driving home to Boise from Twin Falls when they spotted some road kill along the interstate. "I saw a bird on the side of the road -- I thought it was a chicken," Miller said. "But then we saw more (road kill) and I saw the stripes on the feathers and it was not a chicken." It was definitely, an owl, she said. And it wasn't the only one. Miller said she and Christina lost count after spotting more than 50 dead owls during a 20-mile stretch near Jerome. "There was more and more and more," Miller said. Idaho Fish and Game told KBOI 2News on Monday that they're aware of the dead owls. So, what the heck is going on?

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Weather Watch

California flash flood kills at least 2, swallows cars whole (VIDEO, PHOTO)
At least two people have been killed – one drowned and another electrocuted – in a heavy storm that hit southern California, uprooting trees and sweeping vehicles away. Voluntary evacuations were called, while some highways were closed and numerous flights delayed or cancelled. Two cars were swept away by floodwaters in Victorville, where police discovered one person dead in a submerged car, but were able to rescue another person in a separate car. Los Angeles Fire Department responded to a man in Sherman Oaks who came in contact with downed power lines. The man was found in critical condition and was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Two vehicles were reported to have fallen into a sinkhole in Studio City shortly after 8:30pm local time. Fire and rescue crews are on scene. It started off quiet. The brunt of the storm hit the Golden State Friday morning and is expected to last into Saturday.

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Severe floods hit Saudi Arabia after 3 months worth of rain in 24 hours
At least one person has died, 10 were injured and several are still missing after severe flooding hit Saudi Arabia's Asir region on Wednesday, February 15, 2017. Parts of the region received 3 months worth of rain in just 24 hours. Heavy rain and cold temperatures are expected to continue through Friday. Heavy rain started early Tuesday, February 14, dumping between 60 and 90 mm (2.3 - 3.5 inches) over the next 24 hours. The worst hit areas are in Asir region, around the southern cities of Abha and Khamis Mushayt. Khamis Mushayt recorded 63 mm (2.5 inches) while the city of Abha received 90 mm (3.5 inches), roughly the equivalent of the averages for January through March. Flooding caused road and school closures and the launch of warning sirens in Abha dam area. Officials said one person has died, 10 were injured and 280 rescued, mostly from submerged vehicles. There were more than 900 emergency calls in the two cities alone.

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On The Lighter Side

Seas that glow like stars
As night falls on certain beaches around the world, the waves glow with an eerie blue light: tiny, neon dots that make it look as though stars are washing up on shore. The surreal scene arises not from magic, but from plankton that have evolved to glow in order to startle or distract fish and other potential predators. Some scientists call it the “burglar alarm effect”: by lighting up, the plankton draw even larger predators that, in turn, eat the animal threatening them. The phosphorescence only occurs when the microorganisms, which exist worldwide, are agitated – such as when the water crashes onto the shore, someone steps on the wet sand or a paddle hits the waves. The phenomenon’s effects can vary depending on time of year and weather, so sightings cannot always be predicted. Even so, here are three spots where you’re most likely to see the sea shine with its own light.

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Rare "firefall" phenomenon at Yosemite National Park

The incredible Yosemite ‘firefall’ phenomenon has struck again, and with astounding results. The anomaly takes place once a year in February, but isn’t guaranteed every year as it needs exactly the right conditions to fall into place first.

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Calendar of Events

February 18th @ 8pm: LIVE Best in the Northwest Concert Series
Performers and details on poster below. Doors open 7pm, Starts at 8pm. $15 on-line and $20 at the door.

February 19th & 26th 4pm to 6pm: Auditions---Auditions---Auditions! "12 Angry Men"

February 21st @ 7pm: Scott Mowry fills us in on news here and around the World!!
Don't forget to come get your twice monthly updates in February. Cost is $10.

Every Weekend in March: Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap"

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