Connect with us


Young rings of Saturn and newly discovered satellites have attracted the attention of the starry sky



Saturn is the jewel of the solar system, with its magnificent rings and a retinue of strange moons. This is the best of the planets visible to the naked eye – technically Uranus . bright enough to see, though you need good eyesight and a very dark place, but still pretty easy to pick out among the stars.

If you’re an early riser (or a late party), now is a good time to look for Saturn, not because it’s brighter or closer to Earth than usual, but because it’s been in the news recently. New research shows that its rings are relatively young from a cosmic point of view, and astronomers have also just announced the discovery of a number of tiny moons of Saturn that make the planet the current record holder for the most moons.

Saturn currently rises above the horizon early in the morning local time and about an hour later rises high enough to be seen low in the southeastern sky. If you get up just before dawn, it will be about 25 degrees above the horizon, or about 2.5 times the width of your outstretched fist—a universal unit of measurement among astronomers. Don’t confuse it with the nearby star Fomalhaut, which is closer to the horizon than Saturn and has nearly the same brightness. Jupiter is closer to the eastern horizon (below and to the left of Saturn for observers from the Northern Hemisphere), but it is 15 times brighter and much easier to see.

If you’d rather avoid watching before dawn, then waiting is fine too: Saturn’s rings and moons won’t disappear (at least not on a human time scale). And with the onset of summer, the planet rises earlier and rises higher in the sky at a more reasonable time. For example, by the end of June in many places it rises around midnight, and by the end of August it reaches the sky, watching the golden spot: it rises at sunset and does not sleep all night.

Through binoculars, Saturn may appear elongated or oval due to its rings. A sharper image in a small telescope will allow the rings to be seen more clearly. Using one of them, you could even detect a couple of the planet’s moons; its largest, Titan, is larger than Mercury and usually appears as a dim “star” adjacent to Saturn.

If you can stand the early hours to look at the gas giant, take a moment to contemplate what you really see. Pale, sparkling ball, so small in our sky, a giant that is nine times wider than Earth and 95 times more massive. And despite centuries of observation, we are still learning about this ring-shaped marvel.

Saturn is iconic among its planetary siblings because of its rings, of course. Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune also have rings, but they are thin, faint, and difficult to see without spaceships or powerful telescopes. Saturn’s rings stretch an incredible 175,000 miles (282,000 kilometers) across – three-quarters the distance between Earth and our Moon!

Although they appear solid, Saturn’s rings are actually made up of countless chunks of near-pure water ice, likely the remains of a broken moon. The largest pieces are probably less than ten meters across…most of them are more like the size of ice cubes you put in drinks.. While the rings do not appear to have changed at all since humans began observing them through telescopes in the 1600s, their age and lifespan were contentious issues among experts for much of that time.

Recently, evidence has been accumulating that the rings are much younger than the planet itself, at about 4.5 billion years. The Cassini mission provided most of the data for this; the spacecraft orbited the planet for 13 years and sent a huge amount of information to Earth.

new research just published in the Journal of Planetary Science Icarus, reinforces the notion that rings are not only young, but won’t last forever.

Micrometeoroids—tiny space rocks hurtling through the solar system—were the key to this new chronology. When they collide with particles in Saturn’s rings, there are two general consequences. First, micrometeoroid dust contaminates and darkens the intact water ice of the rings. Second, these small collisions drain the orbital energy of the ring particles, which in turn move inward toward Saturn. Together, these effects should cause the particles of the rings to become dirty over time and eventually rain down on Saturn itself.

With the Cassini data in hand, the scientists estimated these effects and found that the rings are probably no more than 120 million years old, which is quite young for a planetary system. they would have seen Saturn without the rings!

The researchers also found that the rings are breaking down at a rate that means they will disappear somewhere between 15 and 400 million years. This is a long time by human standards, but still only a fraction of the age of the solar system.

Ironically, although Saturn’s rings are disappearing, it seems to have a growing number of moons. It’s not so literal or physical – we’re just getting better at finding them.

Scientists have just announced a new passage of 62 satellites around Saturn, bringing the planet’s total to over 140, surpassing Jupiter’s previous record of around 90.

Researchers did spot many of these satellites in observations made in 2019. using smart technology to improve their visibility, but these tiny satellites were very faint and barely moved between observations. To confirm them, astronomers needed more data. Over the past two years, they have done just that and fixed the reality of satellites, most of which are only a few kilometers in diameter.

How many moons does Saturn actually have? Well, it depends on what you mean by “moon”. Of course, there are hundreds of them, maybe thousands more than a kilometer or so. But if we consider each ring particle as a moon, then the answer is: trillions. The problem here is that we don’t have a good definition of what makes a moon, especially as to what the lower size limit might be. So in that sense, trying to decide which planet has the most of them is a bit silly.

But still, if you get out early and look at Saturn in the predawn spring sky, remember that you are now armed with knowledge that astronomers would have envied just a few decades ago. Hundreds of mountain-sized moons surround Saturn. His rings are young and fleeting. In a very real sense, we are lucky that we see them at all.


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 the coronavirus has allowed some incomplete indicators, such as the officially reported number of 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 a 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 tracking will be a little harder. 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 made several efforts to package the pandemic conditions into digestible pieces, including releasing a map of community levels of COVID-19 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.”

Continue Reading


Stop Slouching: Here’s Why You Should Correct Your Poor Posture



Did you get yelled at as a teenager because of your posture? Parents and teachers can sometimes seem a little obsessed with standing up straight.

And they may be right: bad posture can do real harm, and good posture can be almost miraculous.

bad posture

Poor posture can cause a lot of physical problems, and some of them may not be what you expect. Pain in the neck? Surah Back pain? Oh yeah! But constipation, urinary incontinence and heartburn?

Yes, these problems, along with difficulty breathing and decreased energy, are also among the unfortunate consequences of not holding yourself upright.

Read more: Chronic pain makes you think differently

Consequences of bad posture

The damage from poor posture can also be cumulative. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), prolonged slouching can even make your spine brittle and more vulnerable. As we get older, decades of neglecting our posture can lead to reduced flexibility and balance problems, which can increase the risk of falls.

But not all of the harmful effects of constant slouching are physical. Have you ever squared your shoulders and lifted your chin in preparation for a presentation or before walking into your boss’s office to ask for a raise? There’s a reason we tend to do this, and not just because our moms told us not to slouch.

Pose for confidence

One study, researchers have shown that straight posture increases self-confidence by making us think better of ourselves. In a press release announcing these results, Richard Petty, professor of psychology at Ohio State University and one of the authors of the study, explained how it works.

“Most of us have been taught that standing upright makes a good impression on other people,” he said, “but it turns out that our posture can also affect how we think about ourselves. judging by the posture you’re in.”

Anxiety and posture

You may want to keep your head straight and your back straight the next time you go to math class. A 2018 study found that good posture can help with math anxiety. Students with math anxiety had more difficulty completing a math task if they slouched than if they sat up straight. Why does posture matter in math class? The authors of the study suggest that “upright head postures may facilitate access to positive and inspiring thoughts and memories, thereby helping students perform better.”

Much like the effect of posture on self-confidence, the benefits of working on math problems seem to trick you into thinking you have it. The authors suggest that this approach should work not only in mathematics, but in almost any situation where nerves can get the better of you – for example, in sports achievements.

Read more: What is anxiety and how can anxiety overcome us?

What is correct posture?

So you’re convinced your mom was right all along and you want to improve your posture. What can you do?

Even experts don’t always agree on what constitutes good posture, especially when it comes to the modern world’s favorite pastime: sitting in an office chair. In 2012 survey of nearly 300 physical therapists, posture specialists were asked to determine the best sitting position to prevent lower back pain.

The two most commonly recommended postures were almost exactly opposite of each other. (Though it’s worth noting that neither involved bending the body into a comma shape and falling onto the keyboard.)

How to fix bad posture

Luckily, experts agree on how to fix bad posture. And the offers are pretty much what you’d expect.

  • Keep your head more or less in line with your spine without hanging or leaning back.

  • Imagine that a string stretches from your tailbone to the top of your head. Try to keep this string as straight as possible. This will naturally pull your shoulders back, pull your stomach in, and lift your head.

  • Keep your core muscles in good shape.

  • If you spend a lot of time sitting at your desk, arrange your workspace so that you can comfortably sit upright. If you can afford it, invest in an ergonomic work chair.

Now stop slouching and stand up straight!

Read more: The Science of Healthy Habit Formation

Continue Reading


SpaceX: Was the first attempt to launch a Starship rocket a failure?



Starship is the biggest rocket ever to fly – and exploded


Below is an excerpt from our monthly Launchpad newsletter, featuring resident space expert Leah Crane as she travels through the solar system, the galaxy, and beyond. You can register for Launchpad for free here.

This month saw the first attempt to launch SpaceX’s massive Starship rocket, the largest and most powerful rocket ever to fly. But shortly after the launch on April 20, it exploded. Not perfect, but definitely exciting!

There were many…

Continue Reading