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Earth’s CO2 Passes the 400 PPM Threshold–Maybe Permanently

‘In the centuries to come, history books will likely look back on September 2016 as a major milestone for the world’s climate. At a time when atmospheric carbon dioxide is usually at its minimum, the monthly value failed to drop below 400 parts per million.That all but ensures that 2016 will be the year that carbon dioxide officially passed the symbolic 400 ppm mark, never to return below it in our lifetimes, according to scientists…’

Source: Scientific American

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A new report confirms that Donald Trump was too lazy to seriously practice for the debate

bloviate_2‘The Times reports that Trump really, really didn’t like traditional debate prep — the format where you stand up at a podium and, you know, practice debating. So he instead focused “mostly on conversations and discussions with advisers.” When the campaign did try to plan a more traditional debate prep, the reporters write, “Mr. Trump found it hard to focus during those meetings, according to multiple people briefed on the process who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.” …’

Source: Vox

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Some of Vox.com’s First-rate Debate Coverage

Source: Vox.com

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What Happens the Day After We Find Out We’re Not Alone?

‘So, let’s say that day has arrived, and we finally detect inarguable evidence of an extraterrestrial civilization. What happens next? The distance will be too great to traverse for the foreseeable future, so it’ll still be just us here, but with a mind-boggling piece of new information. How will we react?

…Stuart Langfield spoke to Seth Shostak, senior astronomer for the SETI project in California, who’s no doubt spent a considerable amount of time pondering this very question. After all, it’s likely to be him, a colleague, or someone like them who’ll have to break the news to the rest of us someday…’

Source: Big Think

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‘NASA changed all the astrological signs and I’m a crab now’

‘According to a post on NASASpacePlace, everything we thought we knew about the influence the heavens have over our Earthly lives has been thrown into chaos. NASA has announced that the celestial sphere above us contains not twelve canonical zodiacal constellations, but 13. The heretofore overlooked constellation, Ophiuchus, is purported to guide and command events surrounding humans born between November 29 and December 17—so, if you used to be a Sagittarius, then congratulations: you’ve got a new sign, baby!

The addition of Ophiuchus—the snake bearer, in case you were wondering—has obvious and far-reaching implications for the entire western Babylonian-derived zodiac calendar. For one thing, squeezing it in means changing the effective dates of all the other signs. According to Yahoo News, the new 13-sign calendar plays out like this:

  • Capricorn: January 20-February 16
  • Aquarius: February 16-March 11
  • Pisces: March 11-April 18
  • Aries: April 18-May 13
  • Taurus: May 13-June 21
  • Gemini: June 21-July 20
  • Cancer: July 20-August 10
  • Leo: August 10-September 16
  • Virgo: September 16-October 30
  • Libra: October 30-November 23
  • Scorpio: November 23-November 29
  • Ophiuchus: November 29-December 17
  • Sagittarius: December 17-January 20

The changes are as sweeping as they are staggering. For example, I woke up this morning firmly believing that I was an outgoing, courageous, independent, generous Leo. However, now I have to come to grips with the fact that I am in fact a stupid, sulky, inconsiderate, pessimistic Cancer. I have gone from lion to crab, and it weighs heavily upon me…’

Source: Ars Technica

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Why This Arctic Language Doesn’t Use an Alphabet

‘So before you feel tricked by a technicality: Inuktitut does have a written language, but it’s just not an alphabet. Instead, as Tom Scott explains, it uses a related system of symbols to express sounds called an abugida.This writing system is in use in the far north of Canada and was originally invented by Christian missionaries. Inuktitut—which can use one compound word to say the equivalent of an English sentence—is built on consonant/vowel pairs. In order to accommodate the language’s sounds and structure, a new set of symbols was developed. (Because different parts of the Arctic were colonized at different times though, Inuktitut is only somewhat comprehensible by people in Alaska or Greenland.)

In written Inuktitut, a letter’s shape determines the consonant sound while its rotation shows the vowels that follows it, e.g. ᐃ or ᐊ. Diacritical marks tell a reader if the vowel sound is long or short, and superscripted symbols show how the sound ends, like the ᖅ in that stop sign image.

This writing system is in use in the far north of Canada and was originally invented by Christian missionaries. Inuktitut—which can use one compound word to say the equivalent of an English sentence—is built on consonant/vowel pairs. In order to accommodate the language’s sounds and structure, a new set of symbols was developed. (Because different parts of the Arctic were colonized at different times though, Inuktitut is only somewhat comprehensible by people in Alaska or Greenland.)In written Inuktitut, a letter’s shape determines the consonant sound while its rotation shows the vowels that follows it, e.g. ᐃ or ᐊ. Diacritical marks tell a reader if the vowel sound is long or short, and superscripted symbols show how the sound ends, like the ᖅ in that stop sign image…’

Source: Gizmodo