Permafrost is thawing so fast it’s gouging holes in the Arctic

Global warming has shown that permafrost is not so permanent after all.

Orjan F. Ellingvag/Dagens Naringsliv/Corbis via Getty Images

Residents of the small Alaskan town Kongiganak can no longer bury their dead. Their cemetery has become a marshy swamp, sucking graves into the once frozen ground.

Keep reading

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is here. We need a new education model.

The job market of tomorrow will require people to develop their technical capacity in tandem with human-only skills.

Photo: Kenzie Academy
Sponsored by Kenzie Academy
  • Technological advancements are predicted to take as many as 75 million jobs from humans worldwide before 2022. However, 133 million new jobs are expected to be created in that same time.
  • Software developer jobs are growing more than 4x faster than other occupations, a demand that translates to a median wage of $105,590 per year (or $50.77 per hour).
  • Kenzie Academy, an online software and UX engineering school with an innovative tuition model, teaches technical skills along with soft skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, and team collaboration.
Keep reading

Mystery virus found with mostly unknown DNA

What is it? Really, who knows?

Image source: Rost9/Shutterstock/Big Think
  • A virus has been found whose DNA is 90% absolutely unfamiliar.
  • Scientists have no real idea what it developed from, or how.
  • Viruses used to be thought of as simple, jumbles of things — not so much any more.
Keep reading

Tiny area of brain may be 'engine of consciousness', scientists suggest

A recent study on monkeys found that stimulating a certain part of the forebrain wakes monkeys from anesthesia.

Jon Olav Eikenes via Flickr
  • Scientists electrically stimulated the brains of macaque monkeys in an effort to determine which areas are responsible for driving consciousness.
  • The monkeys were anesthetized, and the goal was to see whether activating certain parts of the brain would wake up the animals.
  • The forebrain's central lateral thalamus seems to be one of the "minimum mechanisms" necessary for consciousness.
Keep reading

Flu kills 12,000 in 4 months. Is coronavirus panic overblown?

The CDC estimates that more than 210,000 people in the U.S. have been hospitalized by the flu this season.

Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • The 2019-2020 flu season, which began in late September, is estimated to have already killed 12,000 to 30,000 people in the U.S., according to the CDC.
  • The death toll for the new strain of coronavirus remains far lower, prompting some people to argue that the public's concern about coronavirus is misplaced.
  • Still, there are valid reasons to be concerned about the new virus.
Keep reading

Scientists discover how to use time crystals to power superconductors

Physicists propose using time crystals to bring about a quantum computing revolution.

Adobe stock.
Surprising Science
  • A team of scientists proposes using time crystals to power topological superconductors.
  • The approach could lead to error-free quantum computers.
  • Time crystals appear to break laws of physics.
Keep reading

'Reaper of death' who fed on other dinosaurs discovered

A new dinosaur species related to Tyrannosaurs found in Canada.

Thanatotheristes degrootorum, seen in this artist's impression, is the first new tyrannosaur species named in Canada in 50 years.

Julius Csotonyi
Surprising Science
  • Scientists in Canada discover a new species of dinosaur.
  • The species is named Thanatotheristes degrootorum, which stands for "Reaper of Death"
  • The dinosaur lived about 79 million years ago.

A new dinosaur species was found in Alberta, Canada. Related to Tyrannosaurs, the Thanatotheristes degrootorum is the oldest dinosaur ever found in the country, roaming its lands about 79 millions years ago.

The newly-discovered species, the first such find in the last 50 years, shares a lineage with the fearsome T.rex, which came about 11 million years later. Thanatotheristes degrootorum, whose name translates ominously as the "reaper of death," had the length of two cars and the height of about 2.4 meters. It lived during the Cretaceous period, when it prayed on herbivorous beasts like the horned dinosaur Xenoceratops and Colepiocephale, who head is shaped like a dome. Remains of these two species were also found at the same fossil site called the Foremost Formation. Millions of years ago it was a plain with swamps on the coast of the Western Interior Seaway, an inland sea that stretched from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.

Darla Zelenitsky, Jared Voris and Francois Therrien, co-authors of the study, with the fossils of the dinosaur species.

Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology

The research was led by Jared Voris, a University of Calgary PhD candidate, who co-authored with study with the research group leader Professor Darla Zelenitsky.

"This animal would have absolutely been an imposing creature in the ecosystem that it lived in and it would very likely have been the apex predator," Voris explained, adding that "It was really nice to have some sort of name that encapsulated that kind of behaviour."

Dinosaurs are alive! Here’s how we know, and why it matters

The Thanatotheristes was indeed the top predator among the three dinosaur species found in southern Alberta so far. The others were more likely to be herbivores. Professor Zelenitsky called T.rex's distant cousin as "relatively rare in the ecosystems," said Professor Zelenitsky," adding "These were probably only a few per cent of the animals."

The scientists are looking for find other specimen of the dinosaur still out there, hoping it will fill out the picture of prehistoric life in the region.