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School culture war spreads to climate change



IIf you take an Ohio college-level earth science course in the coming years, you can learn about how climate change is causing heat waves, floods, and record-breaking hurricanes, and how humanity’s window is narrowing to drastically cut emissions. and prevent worse outcomes. consequences. But your instructor may also be forced to spend a lot of time telling stories that a few largely discredited fossil fuel-funded researchers and lobbyists don’t think there’s a big problem.

That’s because just last week, the state senate began debating Ohio Higher Education Enhancement Act, which will tie the hands of college and university professors who cannot effectively teach subjects that the state legislature has called “controversial,” including climate change. These institutions would have to ensure that they “encourage[ing] students to draw their own conclusions” on issues that also include topics such as the right to abortion. Schools are also required “not to seek to impose on students any social, political, or religious point of view.” Higher education institutions will also be prohibited from implementing sustainability initiatives. Diversity or equity programs will also be banned.

Class politics were at the center sharp national debate for years, and much of this controversy has centered on sexual orientation, gender identity, race, and American history. Climate science is also sometimes thrown into the debate. Idaho, for example, went through the legislative equivalent knock down drag out the fight due to a proposal to include climate change in the state’s academic standards as early as 2019. These tensions have recently flared up over a statement by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. more and more zealous Attempts to remake the state’s school system and universities in opposition to what conservatives have called “wakefulness.” Now Ohio’s education bill may signal that a renewed conservative educational push has spilled over into climate science as politicians seek to insert proven lies into college science courses.

This conservative crusade comes at a time of increased attention from educators and progressive politicians to include more climate science in the classroom to help children understand the accelerating change in the world around them. New Jersey became the first state to include climate change in its education standards back in 2020, followed by Connecticut. last year. New Jersey standards entered into force last fallwhen educators introduce children to climate change, starting in kindergarten, as well as in science classes and less obvious subjects such as art and physical education. Proponents of this policy point to studies that show how climate education can instill sustainable habits and even help increase parent involvement on the issue.

Many schools mention climate change in science classes, but in the absence of such an effort as in New Jersey, the curriculum can be far behind modern science and relevance. For example, during a recent visit to several DC charter schools, a colleague of mine was surprised at how little climate knowledge was part of the curriculum. She asked one class of 11th graders if any of them were worried about how climate change would affect their own lives; only one hand went up, and this student was more focused on what would happen if the polar ice caps melted in 100 years. Several 9th ​​graders had heard of Greta Thunberg but didn’t quite understand what she stood for. Several other 11th graders from another school, when asked, admitted that DC’s heatwave had intensified over the past few years, likely due to climate change, but the solution, they said, was more air conditioning. Other classes were more informed, but this appears to have been due to the efforts of individual teachers rather than the curriculum.

The Ohio state law proposes to go in exactly the opposite direction, preventing educators from teaching the established facts of climate change as such and forcing them to add the misleading arguments of climate change skeptics. Supporters say the measure is intended to protect intellectual diversity on an important issue. “What I find controversial is the different views that exist on the magnitude of climate change and the decisions that are being made to try to influence climate change,” said Republican Senator Jerry Sirino, the bill’s lead author. in conversation with Energy News Network. This would seem to mean that educators need to reinforce the view that climate change poses a minimal threat, or that there is little we can do about it, both of which are wrong.

Classroom debate, in which students are encouraged to argue and draw their own conclusions on important issues, is an important part of education. But schools and colleges are also places for learning, and it is the job of teachers and educators to determine which topics are a place for a lot of opposing views and which are for hard facts. Climate science is well established, but by presenting the core concepts of the field as a topic worthy of heated debate, these legislators are actually promoting false ideas. Theses about the fossil fuel industry— who erroneously say that humans aren’t the cause of the warming, or that change won’t necessarily be all that bad — and put it on par with real science in the minds of these students. This could serve the interests of a few hardline state legislators who don’t follow the latest UN climate reports. But this is a major disservice to students who will have to deal with the realities of global warming in the coming years.

A version of this story also appears in The climate is everything Newsletter. To register click here.

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British scientists have found one of the largest black holes ever discovered



British astronomers have discovered one of the largest black holes ever discovered.

A team led by Durham University used gravitational lensing to find a supermassive black hole.

Gravitational lensing occurs when a celestial object has such a massive gravitational pull that it bends time and space around it, bending light from a more distant object and magnifying it.

They also used supercomputer simulations on the DiRAC integrated supercomputer facility, which allowed the researchers to study how light is bent by a black hole inside a galaxy hundreds of millions of light-years away.


Artist’s impression of a black hole, where the black hole’s strong gravitational field distorts the space around it. This distorts the background light images almost directly behind it into sharp, circular rings. This gravitational “lensing” effect offers an observational method to infer the presence of black holes and measure their mass based on how large the deflection of light is. The Hubble Space Telescope is targeting distant galaxies whose light travels very close to the centers of intermediate foreground galaxies, which are expected to host supermassive black holes a billion times the mass of the Sun. (ESA/Hubble, Digitized Sky Survey, Nick Reisinger (, N. Bartmann)

A university release says the group has simulated light traveling through the universe hundreds of thousands of times, with each simulation involving a black hole of a different mass that changes the light’s path to Earth.

By including a supermassive black hole in one of their simulations, they found that the path traveled by light from the galaxy to Earth matches what is seen in real images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

They discovered a supermassive black hole in the foreground galaxy, an object with a mass more than 30 billion times that of the Sun.


Astronaut aboard a spaceship

An astronaut aboard the Atlantis spacecraft took this image from the Hubble Space Telescope on May 19, 2009. (NASA)

Durham University said it was the first black hole discovered using gravitational lensing. Durham University astronomer Professor Alastair Edge first noticed the giant arc of the gravitational lens while looking through images of the galaxy in 2004.

“Most of the largest black holes we know of are in an active state, when matter pulled close to the black hole heats up and releases energy in the form of light, X-rays and other radiation,” says lead author Dr. This is stated in a statement by James Nightingale.

Massive galaxy cluster RX J2129 is captured in this observation by the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope.  Due to gravitational lensing, this observation contains three different images of the same supernova galaxy, which you can see here in more detail.  Gravitational lensing occurs when a massive celestial body causes enough space-time curvature to bend the path of light passing by or through it, almost like an enormous lens.  Gravitational lensing can cause background objects to appear strangely distorted, as seen in the concentric arcs of light in the upper right corner of this image.

Massive galaxy cluster RX J2129 is captured in this observation by the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope. Due to gravitational lensing, this observation contains three different images of the same supernova galaxy, which you can see here in more detail. Gravitational lensing occurs when a massive celestial body causes enough space-time curvature to bend the path of light passing by or through it, almost like an enormous lens. Gravitational lensing can cause background objects to appear strangely distorted, as seen in the concentric arcs of light in the upper right corner of this image. (ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, P Kelly)

“However, gravitational lensing makes it possible to study inactive black holes, which is currently not possible in distant galaxies. This approach could allow us to detect many more black holes outside of our local universe and show how these exotic objects have evolved in cosmic time.” — said the professor of the physics department.


The results were published in a study also involving the Max Planck Institute in Germany, in a journal. Royal Astronomical Society Monthly Notices.

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Study finds vaccines and trust are key to preventing death from COVID



The United States has the dubious honor of suffering the highest COVID-19 death rate of any high-income country in the world. But that national average — 372 deaths per 100,000 people as of last summer — obscures the fact that pandemic outcomes have varied greatly from state to state.

In a comparison that took into account demographic differences between states, Arizona’s COVID-19 death rate of 581 deaths per 100,000 residents was almost four times higher than Hawaii’s, which had 147 deaths per 100,000 residents. The death rate in the hardest-hit US states resembled the death rate in countries with no health infrastructure at all. The top-performing states were on par with countries like Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, which have been working hard to keep the death toll from the pandemic low.

What explains these huge differences? New research offers some intriguing answers.

The researchers found that race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic factors were the strongest predictors of the state’s COVID-19 death toll. The higher the proportion of residents who identified themselves as black or Hispanic, the higher the poverty rate, the higher the proportion of residents without health insurance, and the lower the level of adult education, the more deaths per capita.

This may not be a big surprise. But the researchers also found that the more people in a state trust each other, the lower their collective risk of dying from COVID-19. This result highlights how growing divisions in America have made us especially vulnerable during the pandemic.

“How do we feel about another issue,” said the political scientist Thomas J. Bollyk, one of the lead authors of the study. “Solidarity between people—the feeling that others will do the right thing, and you don’t take advantage of it—is an important factor in your willingness to adopt defensive behavior.”

The report, published last week in the Lancet medical journal, is based on a dataset of the US pandemic from January 2020 to July 2022. Bollike called the event “the most comprehensive statement to date on the factors influencing pandemic outcomes.”

Dozens of researchers across the country have pulled data on state demographics before the pandemic, looking for ways in which their behavior and policies have diverged as the pandemic has evolved. To make direct comparisons across states, they created standardized infection and death rates that accounted for differences in factors associated with COVID, such as age and underlying health conditions of residents.

A map comparing cumulative COVID-19 death rates by state, standardized for differences in residents’ ages and underlying health conditions.

(Bolliki et al., The Lancet)

For example, California’s unadjusted COVID-19 death rate of 291 cases per 100,000 residents was lower than all but 11 states. But once studies took into account that the state has a relatively young population with a low prevalence of conditions that make people vulnerable to severe cases of COVID-19, the death rate has risen to 418 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. The authors of the study found that only 15 states fared worse.

Demographics told only part of the story. Political decisions also mattered.

Most states adopted some sort of mask-wearing and social distancing requirements early in the pandemic, but there were wide variations in how strict they were and how long they lasted. When the researchers assigned each state a “mandate propensity,” they found that states that scored high for implementing public health measures had lower rates of coronavirus infection.

California had the highest propensity for mandates, while Oklahoma had the lowest. The researchers calculated that if Oklahoma implemented masking and social distancing restrictions to the same extent as California, Oklahoma would have 32% fewer cases of coronavirus infection.

However, more aggressive public health measures have not resulted in a reduction in the death rate. The authors suggest that this is likely due to the fact that many elderly and sick people who are most likely to die if infected have taken steps to protect themselves, whether or not their state governments issued strict regulations.

The researchers also found that a state’s propensity to mandate had no effect on the health of its economy, as measured by its major domestic product. States with less mask use and fewer restaurants closed did have higher employment rates, but this additional economic activity came at a cost: every percentage point of increase in state employment was associated with 143 additional deaths per 100,000 residents.

No single factor was more important than “vaccinated man-days” – a measure of how the population of the state was vaccinatedand how early. The researchers estimate that if Alabama, which scores the lowest on this measure, achieved the vaccination coverage seen in Vermont, the highest-ranked state, there would have been 30% fewer infections and 35% fewer COVID deaths during the study period. -19. .

Another noteworthy finding, the authors write, is that vaccination requirements for civil servants, which have caused a lot of legal trouble, have been “distinguished” by their association with lower infection rates and fewer deaths.

Map comparing cumulative coronavirus infection rates by state.

Map comparing cumulative coronavirus infection rates by state, standardized to account for population differences.

(Bolliki et al., The Lancet)

The study highlights the tangible loss of the country’s “us versus them” mentality, which came to full fruition during the debate about mask-wearing in schools and vaccination requirements for government employees. We don’t really trust each other, which makes us less likely to do things to protect each other.

“Interpersonal trust” has been measured since the 1950s, and since the early 1990s, levels of this positive feeling towards others have dropped dramatically in the United States, said Bollike, head of the research center. Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations. This trend was driven by deteriorating economic conditions for low-income people with higher education. It is especially low among black Americans and among those who voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

Trust in the federal government and trust in science have not been reported as major contributors to COVID-19 deaths. But trust in fellow citizens is strongly ingrained, Bollike said.

The links found during the study clearly indicate that the strengths and weaknesses that states use in a national emergency, as well as some of the policies they adopt to respond to a crisis, matter a lot, he said. Lawrence Gostinexpert in public health law at Georgetown University.

“This is strong evidence that governments have taken COVID seriously, used science and mitigated health inequalities,” Gostin said. “Much of the political rhetoric — that mandates don’t work and that justice isn’t important — has turned out to be wrong.”

According to him, the results of the study can be used to save lives long before the next pandemic. Dr. Stephen Wolfresearcher at Virginia Commonwealth University who tracks the health of Americans.

“Many of the same factors are affecting health right now,” Wolfe said.

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T. Rex lost his bite? A menacing growl might be wrong



NEW YORK (AP) – Tyrannosaurus rex is often depicted with massive, sharp teeth like a ferocious creature in Jurassic Park. But a new study suggests that this classic image may be wrong.

The teeth of Tyrannosaurus Rex and other large theropods were probably covered in scaly lips. a study published Thursday in the journal Science. The scientists found that the dinosaur’s teeth did not stick out when its mouth was closed, and even with a wide open bite, you could only see the tips.

The study is the latest in a long correspondence about what dinosaur mouths actually looked like.

Recent images show large teeth protruding from dinosaur jaws even when closed. Some thought the predators’ teeth were too big to fit in their mouths, said study author Thomas Cullen, a paleontologist at Auburn University in Alabama.

When the researchers compared the skulls of dinosaurs and living reptiles, they found that this was not the case. Some large monitor lizards have larger teeth than a Tyrannosaurus rex relative to the size of their skull, Cullen says, and they can still fit under the scaly lips.

The scientists also found clues in the wear patterns of tooth surfaces.

In a creature like a crocodile with teeth sticking out of its mouth, the open part wears out quickly — “like someone put a grinder to the tooth,” said study author Mark Whitton, a paleoartist at the University of England in England. Portsmouth.

But when the researchers analyzed the tooth of Daspletosaurus, a relative of Tyrannosaurus Rex, they found that it was in good condition and didn’t have that uneven pattern of damage.

With this evidence and other clues from dinosaur anatomy, the study provides a good basis for lipped tyrannosaurs, according to University of Maryland paleontologist Thomas Holtz, who was not involved in the study. However, “we are not talking about kissing lips,” he pointed out – they should be thin and scaly, like those of a Komodo dragon, a large lizard.

This isn’t the first time our depictions of dinosaurs have been questioned: other studies have shown that Tyrannosaurus Rex was more hunched over than we’re used to thinking, and that the ferocious Velociraptors likely wore feathers. Most of what we know about dinosaurs comes from their bones, but it can be harder to get clear answers about soft tissues like skin that aren’t usually preserved as fossils.

Adding lips can make dinosaurs less ferocious, but still more realistic, Witton says.

“You don’t really see the monster,” he said, “you see the animal.”


The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science and Education Media Group. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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