It is easy to tell the difference between a rock and a fossil—all you have to do is lick it!

It is easy to tell the difference between a rock and a fossil—all you have to do is lick it!

Paleontologists are approached by dozens of people each year who think that they have stumbled upon the fossilized remains of a dinosaur or some other age-old creature. With great excitement, they ask which dinosaur it originates from and whether the museum would be interested in buying it from them. Needles to say, most of the time it is just a rock.

But it does bring up the question: how would one tell the difference between a rock and a fossil? First, one would start with common sense. You will never find a dinosaur egg, or any remains of a dinosaur for that matter, while you are mowing your lawn on a Saturday afternoon. Real fossils are found in particular rock formations.

But let us assume that, regardless of how you got your hands on it, you have what you believe to be a real piece of fossil bone. A rock is solid and looks the same on the inside and on the outside, but if a fossil is broken you will be able to see the canals of the bone.

Finally, you could do the "tongue test." Due to the porous nature of a fossil, your tongue will slightly stick to it if you lick it. If you feel compelled to try this, have a glass of water handy!


from OMG Facts


Sun’s ‘Long-Lost Sibling’ Star Identified By Texas Astronomers

The sun may no longer be considered an only child.

A University of Texas astronomer has identified a star 110 light-years from Earth as a probable “solar sibling.” The star likely originated in the same star cluster as the sun, and that could yield fresh insights not only into how our home star was born about 4.5 billion years ago but also into how life on Earth got started.

We want to know where we were born,” the astronomer, Ivan Ramirez, said in a written statement. “If we can figure out in what part of the galaxy the sun formed, we can constrain conditions on the early solar system. That could help us understand why we are here.”

Star HD 162826 is located in the lower leg of the constellation Hercules. Though not visible to the naked eye, the star — which is 15 percent more massive than the sun — can be seen with binoculars. Skywatchers can look toward the star Vega to spot the sun’s sibling star.

(Story continues below.)
University of Texas at Austin astronomer Ivan Ramirez identified star HD 162826 as a probable “solar sibling.” (Ivan Ramirez/Tim Jones/McDonald Observatory)

To find HD 162826, Ramirez and his team studied 30 stars that other astronomers had identified as potential solar siblings. Using the Harlan J. Smith Telescope at the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, Texas, and coordinating with researchers at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, Ramirez narrowed the list by analyzing the orbit and chemical makeup of each star. Under the research, HD 162826 was the only star in the group that satisfied the team’s “dynamical and chemical criteria for being a true sibling of the Sun.”

Evidence suggests sibling stars may host Earth-like exoplanets that might be capable of supporting life — so by investigating the origins of the sun, researchers may also be advancing the search for extraterrestrial life.

“The idea is if a planet has life, like Earth, and if you hit it with an asteroid, it will create debris, some of which will escape into space,” astronomer Mauri Valtonen of the University of Turku in Finland told in 2012. “And if the debris is big enough, like 1 meter across, it can shield life inside from radiation, and that life can survive inside for millions of years until that debris lands somewhere. If it happens to land on a planet with suitable conditions, life can start there.”

Ramirez’s findings are slated for publication in the June 1 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

from Green – The Huffington Post

The Climate Post: Federal Climate Assessment Report Pegs Climate Change as Culprit for Rising Temperatures, Seas

A new federal scientific report, out Tuesday, concluded that global warming is affecting the United States in profound ways and that human activity, namely the burning of fossil fuels, is the primary cause of warming over the past 50 years.

Mandated by Congress and written by a federal advisory panel, the more than 800-page National Climate Assessment further says that the average U.S. temperature has increased 1.3 to 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit since record keeping began in 1895 and that 44 percent of that rise has occurred since 1970. It projects that temperatures will continue to rise 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit in coming decades.

“Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the report notes. “Americans are noticing changes all around them. Summers are longer and hotter. … Rain comes in heavier downpours.”

The report also suggests that human-induced climate change has already increased the number and strength of some extreme events, such as heavy rain. In the Northeast, the amount of precipitation falling in heavy events increased by 71 percent between 1958 and 2012 but only by 5 percent in the West.

Rising global sea levels will threaten water supplies and cause flooding. By 2100, the report projects a sea level increase of 1 to 4 feet. More dire news on sea levels came this week from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. In their Nature Climate Change study, institute researchers saidthat East Antarctica is at a higher risk of melting earlier than previously thought, triggering an unstoppable sea level rise of up to 4 meters (13 feet).

The National Climate Assessment report did find some benefits from climate change–at least in the short term. Crop-growing seasons as well as shipping seasons on the Great Lakes could lengthen. But these benefits will likely be counteracted as food production is hit by rising temperatures and water demands increase.

The report comes just weeks before the Obama administration is set to release proposed rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants–an announcement that has the fossil fuel industry paying attention.

Republican Voice for Climate Action

On Tuesday, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman offered a viewpoint on climate change that contrasts with that of many Republicans. In an opinion piece in the New York Times, he counseled the Republican party to “get back to [its] foundational roots as catalysts for innovation and problem solving” and urged it to tackle the problem of climate change. Huntsman recalled the party’s instinct to hedge against risk and to “do now . . . what we have always done well: combine our ingenuity and market forces” to keep greenhouse gas emissions on a trajectory of reductions. He noted that current climate change debate in the party had been “reduced to believing or not believing, as if it were a religious mantra.”

Carbon Dioxide Levels Exceed 400 ppm throughout April

The average level of CO2 in the atmosphere topped 400 parts per million (ppm) throughout April, breaking another record, according to data from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

CO2 broke the daily average of 400 for the first time in May 2013. Though largely symbolic, the 400 parts per million mark was last hit consistently when humans did not exist.

“The rise of carbon dioxide levels above 400 parts per million is an indicator that the problem of global warming is getting worse, not better,” said Mark Jacobson, a Stanford atmospheric scientist and environmental engineer. “This means we need to focus more heavily on solutions to this problem, namely converting to wind, water and solar power for all purposes.”

The average for April was reported at 401.33 ppm at the Mauna Loa monitoring station in Hawaii. Concentrations of CO2 are rising roughly 2 to 3 ppm a year. The United Nations suggests the concentration of all greenhouse gases should be allowed to peak no higher than 450 ppm this century to maximize chances of limiting global temperature rise.

Department of Energy Debuts Regional Gas Reserves

By late summer, two “gasoline reserves” in New York and New England will be set up to provide short-term relief to first-responders and consumers in the event of extreme weather. The reserves are intended to prevent the fuel shortages experienced in the region after Hurricane Sandy nearly two years ago.

“We think we can help mitigate some of the impacts of sudden, unexpected climate disruptions,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “The issue of fuel resiliency is certainly one of the important parts of that preparation for extreme weather.”

Each of the reserves will hold 500,000 barrels in leased commercial storage terminals. The Department of Energy will maintain the reserves for at least five hurricane seasons. Moniz said the gasoline held in the reserves “will be turned over as part of commercial transactions. We cannot store the same molecules for five years.”

The Climate Post offers a rundown of the week in climate and energy news. It is produced each Thursday by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

from Green – The Huffington Post

Watch Damon Albarn Play ‘Photographs’ on an Austin Rooftop

After 20 years as the leader of beloved groups like Blur and Gorillaz Damon Albarn dropped his first solo album ever last month writing for the first time from a very personal perspective “It’s pretty direct” he told Rolling Stone “Everything but one verse in the song ‘Photographs’ happened – and…

from All News
via RollingStone

‘SNL’ Star Jay Pharoah Updates Drake Beat With ‘Draft Night’ Freestyle

Saturday Night Live castmember Jay Pharoah has earned hip-hop credentials for his dead-on impersonations of Jay Z and Lil Wayne but now the versatile comedian has entered the rap game on his own merits As the NFL Draft concluded Thursday night Pharoah marked the occasion by posting a four-minute freestyle…

from All News
via RollingStone

Dr. Dre Calls Himself ‘First Billionaire in Hip-Hop’ After Beats Deal

While neither Apple nor Beats Electronics have confirmed the reported $32 billion deal between the two companies one person close to the situation seems to have solidified the buyout news 7 Things You Should Know About Beats Music A new video posted Friday shows Beats founder Dr Dre in the studio with…

from All News
via RollingStone

Once A Walmart Boycotter, Obama Now On Cozier Terms With Retailer

WASHINGTON — There was a time when President Barack Obama refused to shop at Walmart.

Evidently, he’s evolved.

The president is scheduled to appear at a Northern California Walmart store Friday morning. The gathering is meant to tout energy efficiency, but it seems to have brought more attention to Walmart’s wages — and to Obama’s new comfort level with the world’s largest retailer.

Labor groups and progressives aren’t happy about it.

“The president’s visit sends a terrible message to workers across America,” Joe Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which has battled Walmart for years, said in a statement. “He is lending credibility to a bad actor when he should be joining the calls for Walmart to change.”

The progressive online advocacy group CREDO declared the visit “outrageous” and called on the White House to scrap it. Pam Ramos, a Walmart worker employed at the very store Obama is visiting, wrote an op-ed in Salon asking the president to “tell Walmart to pay us enough to cover the bills.”

In a Facebook post, Robert Reich, the former labor secretary under Bill Clinton, wondered, “What numbskull in the White House arranged this?”

And on Friday, protesters from the workers’ group OUR Walmart flocked to the store in Mountain View, California, to voice their displeasure.

UFCW and its allies may feel slighted by the visit, but they shouldn’t be surprised. The Obama administration has publicly lauded Walmart for its practices numerous times in the past. The only difference now is that the White House has lately made income inequality its stated top concern and pushed for a raise in the minimum wage. The proposal has gotten a huge boost from the strikes and protests carried out by workers at retailers including Walmart.

Despite criticizing the company on his first presidential campaign trail, Obama has been happy to align with the world’s largest retailer on common causes while in the White House.

In 2011, Michelle Obama teamed up with Walmart to promote her “Let’s Move” campaign against childhood obesity. When the retailer announced a five-year plan to reduce salt and fat contents in its food, the first lady stood in front of Walmart banners in Washington, D.C., and called the move “a victory for families” and “a victory for our children.”

In 2013, the Obama administration was praising the world’s largest retailer again, this time for its commitment to hiring veterans. The president and vice president joined Walmart U.S. CEO Bill Simon in an event at the White House, applauding the retailer’s decision to offer a job to any honorably discharged soldier within a year of their ending active duty.

At the time, the AFL-CIO publicly criticized Obama for taking part in what it saw as essentially a Walmart public-relations campaign. Richard Trumka, the union federation’s president, said the president’s support was symbolic of “an acceptance of economic failure out of line with America’s history or future.” (This time, the AFL-CIO is quiet on Obama’s visit to the Mountain View Walmart. The labor federation declined comment to HuffPost.)

The White House’s coziness with Walmart was a little harder to imagine around the time of Obama’s first presidential run. Back then, candidate Obama took the standard progressive line of denouncing Walmart as a low-wage boogeyman. In 2007, the then-senator declared to an AFL-CIO town hall forum that he wouldn’t shop at Walmart stores. “As profitable as they are, there’s no reason they can’t afford to pay” their workers a higher wage, he said.

During Obama’s bruising primary with Hillary Clinton, he even lambasted his opponent for her work on Walmart’s board of directors. “If [Clinton staffers] want to defend her service to one of the least environmentally-friendly, least labor union-friendly companies in the country, they’re welcome to do that,” an Obama spokesman said at the time.

But Walmart ties are apparently less damning these days. The president chose Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who was once head of the Walmart Foundation, the retailer’s charitable arm, to be his director of the Office of Management and Budget in 2013. Last month, he nominated Burwell to succeed Kathleen Sebelius as health secretary.

from Green – The Huffington Post

Celebrating Orangutan MOMs on Mother’s Day

Photo courtesy of Orangutan Outreach. 2014 Banner for Orangutan Outreach’s MOM — Missing Orangutan Mothers. This year’s poster girl is Astrid and her baby boy Astro. They are now living in a safe forest in the Heart of Borneo.

Mother’s Day is the perfect day to celebrate not only human mothers — but orangutan mothers, too.

Every year on Mother’s Day Orangutan Outreach teams up with zoos, wildlife sanctuaries and orangutan lovers everywhere for a global event called MOM — Missing Orangutan Mothers. We do this in order to bring attention to the crisis facing orangutans in the wild and encourage people to help protect them. This year marks our seventh annual MOM event and we’re looking forward to it being a very special day!

Why Orangutan Mothers?

Photo courtesy of Jessica McKelson for SOCP. Gober and her twins are being cared for by the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme. Gober was blind when she was rescued from certain death. At the care center she was housed next to a blind male. Several months later the staff had a surprise. Gober gave birth to twins. Following cataract surgery her sight was restored and she could see her babies for the first time.

Orangutan mothers and babies have an incredibly close relationship. In the wild, orangutans stay with their mothers until they are around seven or eight years old. Infants almost never even let go of their mothers for the first few months of their life!

Baby orangutans don’t have an extended family to show them the many life lessons of finding food, building nests and countless other survival skills. Instead, they rely solely on their mothers to teach them everything they need to know about survival in the forest before they eventually set out on their own.

Orangutans vs. Palm Oil

Orangutans are critically endangered in the wild. Thousands of them have been killed over the past few years because of growing international demand for something most people haven’t even heard of: Palm Oil.

Palm oil is in roughly half the items found on grocery store shelves. This unhealthy additive is used in foods such as cookies, crackers, chips, candies, cereals, chocolate and peanut butter, margarine, yogurt and even milk! The list is endless. Most pre-packaged food contains palm oil. In the bathroom you’ll find it in your shampoo, soap, lotions, skin cream, lipstick and cosmetics. Take a look. It’s everywhere.

With such high demand for palm oil, the orangutans’ rainforest home is being wiped out to make way for more oil palm plantations — leaving hundreds of helpless orangutans with nowhere to go. Desperate and starving they end up as easy prey for poachers and hunters.

The rain forests of Borneo and Sumatra are the only place orangutans live, and when the forests are destroyed, most orangutans do not survive. These peaceful, sentient beings are beaten, burned, mutilated, tortured and often eaten. Adult males are shot on site. Babies are literally torn off their dying mothers so they can be sold on the black market as illegal pets. This has been documented time and again.

Large-scale deforestation is also a leading cause of carbon emissions and a major contributor to global warming. When the peat forests of Indonesia are burned they release so much carbon into the atmosphere that Indonesia now ranks third behind only China and the US in carbon emissions. If you’re looking for a sensible way to reduce global warming and help mitigate the effects of climate change, the answer is simple: Save the orangutans’ forests.

Photo courtesy of Annie Musselman. Orphaned baby orangutans being taken to Forest School at BOS Nyaru Menteng. The center cares for approximately 600 orphaned and displaced orangutans.

The orangutans who are lucky enough to survive the destruction of their forest are rescued and brought to special care centers where they are looked after by trained, professional vets and staff until they can be released back into the wild. Orangutan Outreach supports several major rescue centers that are managed by our partners: the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS), International Animal Rescue (IAR) and the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP). Together the centers look after upwards of 1,000 orphaned and displaced orangutans!

Baby Rickina is being cared for at the Ketapang Orangutan Rescue Center in West Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo). The center is operated by International Animal Rescue. When Rickina was confiscated she had a gaping machete wound in her head. She has fully recovered.

It’s all about MOM

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Adams for the Houston Zoo. Cheyenne and Baby Aurora at the Houston Zoo. Cheyenne has been a surrogate mother to many orangutans over the years. Aurora is her latest!

MOM — Missing Orangutan Mothers is a positive way for orangutans in zoos and sanctuaries to be ambassadors for their wild cousins. With tens of thousands of visitors on Mothers Day, this is a perfect teachable moment for conservation and environmental awareness.

Every year we choose a special orangutan mom & baby to be the face of the event. This year’s MOM banner features a new mother named Astrid and her beautiful baby boy, Astro.

Since summer 2012 the team at BOS Nyaru Menteng — the world’s largest primate rescue & rehabilitation center — has been accomplishing something truly amazing. They’ve successfully released more than 100 rehabilitated orangutans into a safe forest in the Heart of Borneo. These orangutans — all of whom were raised by human caregivers — are not only surviving… they’re thriving! How do we know this? A year after the first group was released, the post-release monitoring team had a wonderful surprise. They spotted Astrid one day and she was not alone. Holding onto her with an iron grip was a little orange bundle of joy! Astro is the first wild baby orangutan born to rehabilitated parents. When he grows up he will be the King of the Jungle.

Photo courtesy of BOSF for Orangutan Outreach. Baby Cinta (Indonesian for ‘love’) is being cared for at BOS Nyaru Menteng where she is one of the youngest orangutans in Baby School.

This Mother’s Day we ask you to please take a moment to remember all the orphaned baby orangutans who are missing the love and tenderness of their mothers. Together with our dedicated partners, we’re doing the best we can for them, but we need YOUR help! To learn more and help the orangutans please visit the Orangutan Outreach website.

How can you help? Learn about the crisis facing orangutans. Visit your local zoo and say hello to the orangutans. Adopt a baby for your own MOM. Orangutan adoptions make great gifts! Make a donation, large or small. Spread the word! LIKE Orangutan Outreach on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter.

from Green – The Huffington Post

President Obama Doubles Down on Better Buildings

What a difference leadership makes. Today, President Obama has taken significant action once again to maximize the environmental and economic benefits of better buildings. If there’s one sector where it makes sense to do more and do it faster, it’s in our buildings, and I applaud the president for seeing the same opportunity in buildings that we see.

We know buildings account for 40 percent of our energy use, 71 percent of our electricity use and 40 percent of our climate emissions. But at USGBC we’ve been showing the world how better buildings can make a huge difference in solving our energy and climate challenges. The 20,000+ LEED green commercial buildings and the more than 100,000 residential projects across the country are saving energy, saving water, improving indoor air quality while also saving businesses and homeowners money and helping communities create jobs.

The actions the president has taken today are a big deal. They will help accelerate green building all across the country. Through executive leadership, the president has opened the door for an additional $2 billion in energy efficiency investments in federal buildings. We can’t underemphasize the importance of the president’s decision to double down on energy efficient federal buildings. The president has effectively transformed the vast government building stock into an economic engine. These no-upfront cost investments, which rely on the ESPC model, will create new jobs and save taxpayers money. It’s a tried-and-true solution for efficiency in the federal government, and something former President Clinton has long called the closest thing we have to a “free lunch.”

President Obama has also helped spark a fire in the private sector through his Better Buildings Initiative, launched in 2010. As part of today’s announcement, the president has enlisted hundreds of new public and private partners (many of which are longstanding members of USGBC) to join the Better Buildings Challenge, which is focused on improving the efficiency of commercial, institutional, and multifamily buildings and industrial plants by 20 percent or more over 10 years. More than 300 multifamily housing homebuilder and home improvement organization, rural electric cooperative, commercial sector (including retailers, food service and hospitality), and public sector (including states, cities, school districts) organizations have made commitments.

But the president didn’t stop there. The announcement includes several actions to accelerate solar in our homes, businesses and schools; improve appliance efficiency, strengthen building codes; and facilitate new financing mechanisms the will make investing in these technologies easier.

So I’ll say it again, what difference does leadership make? Well, it makes all the difference. And it’s wonderful to recognize the leadership we’ve seen on display today — from the president and his White House team to the businesses, companies, nonprofits, cities and other stakeholders who stepped up and dedicated themselves to better buildings.

from Green – The Huffington Post

Katie Couric on ‘Fed Up’ and the Perils of Food Politics

The latest documentary to tackle the tangle of American food politics Fed Up focuses its lens on one specific aspect of the you-are-what-you-eat battle childhood obesity rates Directed by Stephanie Soechtig and produced by Katie Couric and Laurie David (An Inconvenient Truth) the film follows four overweight teens to their doctor’s…

from All News
via RollingStone

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