Mysterious stone circle is unearthed within Castilly Henge

A mysterious stone circle has been unearthed at the centre of a prehistoric ritual site in Cornwall.

Archaeologists said the discovery at Castilly Henge, near Bodmin, made it only the second henge with a stone circle in the county.

It was uncovered following a series of surveys as part of a project to conserve and better understand the site, which is believed to have been built during the late Neolithic period (3,000 – 2,500 BC).

Defined by an external bank and an internal ditch, Castilly Henge would have formed an amphitheatre-like setting for gatherings and ritual activities. 

Previous researchers have suggested that the site was used as a theatre in the Middle Ages, and then as a battery during the English Civil War.

Discovery: A mysterious stone circle has been unearthed at the centre of a prehistoric ritual site near Bodmin in Cornwall

Discovery: A mysterious stone circle has been unearthed at the centre of a prehistoric ritual site near Bodmin in Cornwall

Archaeologists said the discovery at Castilly Henge, near Bodmin, made it only the second henge with a stone circle in the county

Archaeologists said the discovery at Castilly Henge, near Bodmin, made it only the second henge with a stone circle in the county

It was uncovered following a series of surveys as part of a project to conserve and better understand the site, which is believed to have been built during the late Neolithic period (3,000 – 2,500 BC)

It was uncovered following a series of surveys as part of a project to conserve and better understand the site, which is believed to have been built during the late Neolithic period (3,000 – 2,500 BC)

Ann Preston-Jones, heritage at risk project officer at Historic England, said: ‘The research at Castilly Henge has given us a deeper understanding of the complexity of this site and its importance to Cornish history over thousands of years. 

‘It will help us make decisions about the way the monument is managed and presented, so that it can be enjoyed by generations to come.’

The opportunity to apply modern survey methods to the intriguing monument arose in 2021 when it was included in a Monument Management Scheme (MMS), a partnership between Historic England and the Cornwall Archaeology Unit (CAU) to conserve and repair monuments on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register.

Volunteers coordinated by the CAU cleared the site of vegetation which threatened below-ground archaeological deposits. 

This work enabled teams from Historic England to carry out the first detailed topographic and geophysical surveys of Castilly Henge.

The surveys, which will be shared in more detail in a Historic England report released later this year, revealed traces of a long-buried stone circle in the centre of the henge, making this only the second henge with a stone circle in Cornwall.

They also uncovered detailed information about the henge’s original form and its modification over time.

Defined by an external bank and an internal ditch, Castilly Henge would have formed an amphitheatre-like setting for gatherings and ritual activities

Defined by an external bank and an internal ditch, Castilly Henge would have formed an amphitheatre-like setting for gatherings and ritual activities

The opportunity to apply modern survey methods to the intriguing monument arose in 2021 when it was included in a Monument Management Scheme

The opportunity to apply modern survey methods to the intriguing monument arose in 2021 when it was included in a Monument Management Scheme

Volunteers coordinated cleared the site of vegetation which threatened below-ground archaeological deposits

Volunteers coordinated cleared the site of vegetation which threatened below-ground archaeological deposits

This work enabled teams from Historic England to carry out the first detailed topographic and geophysical surveys of Castilly Henge

This work enabled teams from Historic England to carry out the first detailed topographic and geophysical surveys of Castilly Henge

Peter Dudley, senior archaeologist at Cornwall Archaeological Unit, said: ‘The help of the local volunteers has been invaluable in removing the bracken and scrub obscuring the henge. 

‘Over the winter, thirteen people gave 111 hours of their time and now the monument is looking so much better. 

‘The project has also re-fenced the field and the farmer is happy to start grazing again, improving the long term management of this amazing archaeological site.’

Castilly Henge is on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register because its location makes it difficult to look after, and as a result the earthworks and part of the interior were heavily overgrown with bracken.

As part of the MMS, volunteers have removed the bracken and other damaging vegetation from the monument, making it visible in the landscape again. 

The late Neolithic henge monument has now been fenced, allowing it to be grazed.  

Castilly Henge is located at the centre of Cornwall, overlooking a major junction on the A30 trunk road with the A391 to St Austell and A389 to Bodmin.

It has well-preserved earthworks and survives as an oval enclosure measuring 223ft (68m) long by 203ft (62m) wide, with a level interior measuring 157ft (48m) long by 91ft (28m) wide. 

The surrounding ditch is 24ft (7.6m) wide and 5.9ft (1.8m) deep, with an outer bank up to 5.2ft (1.6m) high.

Britain began the move from ‘hunter-gatherer’ to farming and settlements about 7,000 years ago as part of the ‘Neolithic Revolution’

The Neolithic Revolution was the world’s first verifiable revolution in agriculture.

It began in Britain between about 5000 BC and 4500 BC but spread across Europe from origins in Syria and Iraq between about 11000 BC and 9000 BC.

The period saw the widespread transition of many disparate human cultures from nomadic hunting and gathering practices to ones of farming and building small settlements.

Stonehenge, the most famous prehistoric structure in Europe, possibly the world, was built by Neolithic people, and later added to during the early Bronze Age

Stonehenge, the most famous prehistoric structure in Europe, possibly the world, was built by Neolithic people, and later added to during the early Bronze Age

The revolution was responsible for turning small groups of travellers into settled communities who built villages and towns.

Some cultures used irrigation and made forest clearings to better their farming techniques.

Others stored food for times of hunger, and farming eventually created different roles and divisions of labour in societies as well as trading economies.

In the UK, the period was triggered by a huge migration or folk-movement from across the Channel.

The Neolithic Revolution saw humans in Britain move from groups of nomadic hunter-gatherers to settled communities. Some of the earliest monuments in Britain are Neolithic structures, including Silbury Hill in Wiltshire (pictured)

The Neolithic Revolution saw humans in Britain move from groups of nomadic hunter-gatherers to settled communities. Some of the earliest monuments in Britain are Neolithic structures, including Silbury Hill in Wiltshire (pictured)

Today, prehistoric monuments in the UK span from the time of the Neolithic farmers to the invasion of the Romans in AD 43.

Many of them are looked after by English Heritage and range from standing stones to massive stone circles, and from burial mounds to hillforts.

Stonehenge, the most famous prehistoric structure in Europe, possibly the world, was built by Neolithic people, and later finished during the Bronze Age.

Neolithic structures were typically used for ceremonies, religious feasts and as centres for trade and social gatherings.

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX launches 53 more Starlink satellites into orbit

Elon Musk’s SpaceX launches 53 more Starlink satellites into orbit before Falcon 9 rocket lands on a boat to be used again

  • SpaceX launched its latest fleet of 53 Starlink internet satellites into orbit today
  • Used two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carried payload into space before landing at sea
  • Booster launched from NASA’s Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida
  • It landed on a SpaceX droneship in the Atlantic Ocean nine minutes after lift-off 

Elon Musk‘s SpaceX has successfully launched its latest fleet of more than 50 Starlink internet satellites into orbit.

A used two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carried the payload into space before landing at sea earlier today (Wednesday).

It was launched from NASA‘s Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 06:59 ET (11:59 BST), about 39 minutes later than SpaceX initially planned.

‘Falcon 9 has successfully lifted off carrying our 53 Starlink satellites into space,’ SpaceX production manager Jessie Anderson said during a live webcast.

Elon Musk's SpaceX has successfully launched its latest fleet of more than 50 Starlink internet satellites into orbit

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has successfully launched its latest fleet of more than 50 Starlink internet satellites into orbit

A used two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carried the payload into space before landing at sea earlier today (Wednesday)

A used two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carried the payload into space before landing at sea earlier today (Wednesday)

The Falcon 9 rocket returned to Earth nine minutes after lift-off, landing on SpaceX’s droneship ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas’ in the Atlantic Ocean.

The recovery vessel catches falling boosters and returns them to port to save on costs. 

It was the company’s third Starlink mission in a week and the 121st successful landing for a SpaceX booster.

The ability to re-use the first-stage of its rockets helps SpaceX keep the cost per launch down, and makes them competitive against the older launch companies. 

Today’s mission marked the fifth for this particular Falcon 9 first stage. 

Musk has previously said all re-usable components of the Falcon 9 should be able to be used at least 100 times.

The rocket was launched from NASA's Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 06:59 ET (11:59 BST), about 39 minutes later than SpaceX initially planned

The rocket was launched from NASA’s Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 06:59 ET (11:59 BST), about 39 minutes later than SpaceX initially planned

'Falcon 9 has successfully lifted off carrying our 53 Starlink satellites into space,' SpaceX production manager Jessie Anderson said during a live webcast

‘Falcon 9 has successfully lifted off carrying our 53 Starlink satellites into space,’ SpaceX production manager Jessie Anderson said during a live webcast

Starlink is a constellation of more than 2,300 satellites that aims to provide internet access to most of the Earth, particularly underserved rural areas

Starlink is a constellation of more than 2,300 satellites that aims to provide internet access to most of the Earth, particularly underserved rural areas

After launch, the satellites were put into an orbit just shy of 200 miles above the Earth. 

They will now extend solar arrays and use thrusters to get to their operational altitude — which is 335 miles above the planet. 

Starlink is a constellation of more than 2,300 satellites that aims to provide internet access to most of the Earth, particularly underserved rural areas.  

As part of its beta service, Starlink internet is already available in 23 countries around the world, including the UK

As part of its beta service, Starlink internet is already available in 23 countries around the world, including the UK

As part of its beta service, Starlink internet is already available in 23 countries around the world, including the UK

However, next-generation Starlink constellations could have a whopping 42,000 Starlink satellites in low-Earth orbit, Musk hopes. 

He has previously said the venture could give three billion people who currently do not have access to the internet a cheap way of getting online.

Musk’s rival Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, also plans to launch a constellation of 3,000 low Earth-orbit satellites to provide broadband access to remote areas, as part of its Project Kuiper.

So far no Kuiper satellites have been launched, although Amazon previously stated plans to have KuiperSat-1 and -2 prototypes in orbit by the end of this year.

However, astronomers have raised concerns about the light pollution and other interference cased by these satellite constellations. 

ELON MUSK’S SPACEX SET TO BRING BROADBAND INTERNET TO THE WORLD WITH ITS STARLINK CONSTELLATION OF SATELLITES

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has launched more than 2,000 of its ‘Starlink’ space internet satellites into orbit and hopes to have 12,000 in the sky by 2026.

They form a constellation designed to provide low-cost broadband internet service from low Earth orbit. 

While satellite internet has been around for a while, it has suffered from high latency and unreliable connections.

Starlink is different. SpaceX said its goal is to provide high-speed, cable-like internet all over the world. 

Musk has previously said the venture could give three billion people who currently do not have access to the internet a cheap way of getting online.

It could also help fund a future city on Mars.

Helping humanity reach the red planet is one of Musk’s long-stated aims and was what inspired him to start SpaceX.

Musk’s rival Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, also plans to launch a constellation of low Earth-orbit satellites to provide broadband access to remote areas, as part of its Project Kuiper.

However, astronomers have raised concerns about the light pollution and other interference cased by these satellite constellations. 

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Australia’s rainforest trees are dying faster than ever, study finds 

Trees in the Australian rainforest are dying twice as fast as they were in the 1980s due to climate change, a new study says.

An international group of researchers studied almost 50 years of data on tree numbers in the moist tropical regions of North Queensland

They found death rates of tropical trees have doubled since 1984, likely due to global warming, and that trees are also living around half as long. 

The researchers think the atmosphere of North Queensland and other parts of the world has more ‘drying power’ now compared to in the 1980s. 

As the atmosphere warms, it draws more moisture from plants, resulting in loss of water in trees and ultimately higher risk of death. 

Researchers have studied almost 50 years of data on tree numbers in the moist tropical regions of North Queensland (pictured). They found death rates of tropical trees have doubled since 1984, due to global warming, and that trees also live around half as long

Researchers have studied almost 50 years of data on tree numbers in the moist tropical regions of North Queensland (pictured). They found death rates of tropical trees have doubled since 1984, due to global warming, and that trees also live around half as long

WHAT’S CAUSING TREE DEATH? 

Researchers think Earth’s atmosphere has more ‘drying power’ now compared to in the 1980s. 

As the atmosphere warms, it draws more moisture from plants, resulting in increased water stress in trees and ultimately increased risk of death. 

Greater temperatures likely increased the ‘atmospheric evaporative demand’ – defined as the loss of water from Earth’s surface due to factors like temperature and humidity. 

Because trees suck up carbon, an increase in tree mortality will increase carbon in the atmosphere, which in turn could cause the planet to heat up even more. 

The new study was conducted by researchers from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and Oxford University, and French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD).

‘It was a shock to detect such a marked increase in tree mortality, let alone a trend consistent across the diversity of species and sites we studied,’ said Dr David Bauman from the IRD, who led the study.

‘A sustained doubling of mortality risk would imply the carbon stored in trees returns twice as fast to the atmosphere.’  

The team analysed patterns of tree death between 1971 and 2019, using a dataset that represented 74,135 trees from 81 different species and 24 forest plots in North Queensland. 

They found that annual tree death risk has, on average, doubled across all plots and species over the period. 

An increase in tree mortality still stood after the team accounted for natural occurrences such as cyclones and other forms of wind damage. 

The increase seems to have started in the 1980s, indicating the Earth’s natural systems may have been responding to changing climate for decades. 

Unsurprisingly, trees in drier local climates were found to have a higher average mortality risk. 

Trees living around half as long is a pattern consistent across species and sites across the region, they also found.  

Researchers studied data on trees in 24 forest plots in North Queensland. This graph shows annual percentage of tree death per plot. Black triangles indicate wind damage from cyclones

Researchers studied data on trees in 24 forest plots in North Queensland. This graph shows annual percentage of tree death per plot. Black triangles indicate wind damage from cyclones

Northeast Australia’s tropical rainforests are some of the oldest and most isolated rainforests in the world

Northeast Australia’s tropical rainforests are some of the oldest and most isolated rainforests in the world

WHAT IS A CARBON SINK? 

A carbon sink is anything that absorbs more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases. 

The ocean, atmosphere, soil and forests are the world’s largest carbon sinks.  

In contrast, ‘a carbon source’ is anything that releases more carbon into the atmosphere than it absorbs – for example, the burning of fossil fuels or volcanic eruptions. 

Source: ClientEarth

Forests are widely recognised as important ‘carbon sinks’ – ecosystems that are capable of capturing and storing large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2). 

However, tree deaths reduce carbon storage, making it increasingly difficult to keep global temperatures well below climate targets set out by the Paris Agreement. 

Adopted in 2016, the Paris Agreement aims to hold an increase in global average temperature to below 3.6°F (2°C) and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 2.7°F (1.5°C). 

Recent studies in the Amazon have also suggested tropical tree death rates are increasing, weakening the carbon sink. 

Professor Bill Laurance at Queensland’s James Cook University, who was not involved in the study, said ‘something peculiar is happening to rainforests in North Queensland and possibly globally’. 

‘We’ve found similar trends in the Amazon basin, where rates of tree death have also risen markedly in recent decades,’ he said. 

‘Sadly, it’s really not that hard to kill a rainforest tree – just warm things up a bit and quite a few species will just drop their leaves and die standing.’

Forests are widely recognised as important 'carbon sinks' – ecosystems that are capable of capturing and storing large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2)

 Forests are widely recognised as important ‘carbon sinks’ – ecosystems that are capable of capturing and storing large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2)

In their study, published today in the journal Nature, the authors call for ‘better assessment of tree health methods’. 

An example they give is remote sensing of water content in leaves, which could help preserve trees on the edge of death.

‘Such intensified monitoring programmes should improve representation of mortality risk in vegetation models, a crucial advance to better predict the future pathway of the tropical forest carbon sink,’ they say. 

THE PARIS AGREEMENT: A GLOBAL ACCORD TO LIMIT TEMPERATURE RISES THROUGH CARBON EMISSION REDUCTION TARGETS

The Paris Agreement, which was first signed in 2015, is an international agreement to control and limit climate change.

It hopes to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2°C (3.6ºF) ‘and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F)’.

It seems the more ambitious goal of restricting global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) may be more important than ever, according to previous research which claims 25 per cent of the world could see a significant increase in drier conditions. 

The Paris Agreement on Climate Change has four main goals with regards to reducing emissions:

1)  A long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels

2) To aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change

3) Governments agreed on the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognising that this will take longer for developing countries

4) To undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science

Source: European Commission 

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Moth species not seen since 1912 found in luggage at Detroit airport

A species of moth not seen since 1912 was rediscovered last year at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Customs and Border Protection announced this week. The “very flashy” moths were found in the luggage of a traveler arriving from the Philippines, authorities said. 

The encounter began in September 2021, when agriculture specialists examined the passenger’s bag and found seeds that he said were for a medicinal tea, CBP said in a statement. Looking closer, the specialists found “apparent insect exit holes,” and larvae and pupae — moths in the early stage of their development — were gathered for analysis.  

While in quarantine, several of the pupae hatched to reveal “very flashy” moths with raised black bristles, CBP said. Officials couldn’t identify the moths’ species, so they were sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where an etymologist confirmed that they belonged to a species that had not been seen since the animals were first described in 1912. 

moth2.jpg
A photograph of the moth that was intercepted at the Detroit airport. 

Customs and Border Protection


“Agriculture specialists play a vital role at our nation’s ports of entry by preventing the introduction of harmful exotic plant pests and foreign animal diseases into the United States,” Port Director Robert Larkin said in the statement. “This discovery is a testament to their important mission of identifying foreign pests and protecting America’s natural resources.”

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Galaxy is used as a ‘cosmic telescope’ to study young universe’s heart

Astronomers have used a galaxy as a giant magnifying glass to peer into galactic nurseries at the heart of the young universe.

The ‘cosmic telescope’ gave them the first in-depth view of the enormous gas clouds which slowly condensed to fuel the formation of stars and galaxies shortly after the Big Bang.

These clouds of neutral diffuse gas, known as Damped Lyman-α systems (DLAs), can still be observed today, but it isn’t easy. 

An international team of researchers had to use a unique new instrument, coupled with a powerful telescope and a little help from nature to observe them.

‘DLAs are crucial in understanding how galaxies were formed, but have traditionally been extremely difficult to observe,’ said study author Professor Jeff Cooke, of Swinburne University of Technology in Australia.

‘By using the powerful capabilities of the W.M. Keck Observatory, some fortuitous alignments of galaxies, and Einstein’s general relativity, we are able to observe and study these massively important objects in a completely new way, giving us insight into how the stars and planets around us were formed.’

Astronomers have been able to peer into galactic nurseries at the heart of the young universe thanks to a powerful telescope and a little help from nature. This artist's rendering shows how experts were able to zoom in on a projected image and map out the gas of two giant Damped Lyman-α systems that are two-thirds the size of the Milky Way

Astronomers have been able to peer into galactic nurseries at the heart of the young universe thanks to a powerful telescope and a little help from nature. This artist’s rendering shows how experts were able to zoom in on a projected image and map out the gas of two giant Damped Lyman-α systems that are two-thirds the size of the Milky Way

WHAT ARE DLA CLOUDS?

Damped Lyman-α systems (DLAs) contain most of the cool gas in the Universe and are predicted to contain enough gas to form most of the stars we see in galaxies around us today, like the Milky Way.

However, this prediction has yet to be confirmed.

DLAs currently have little ongoing star formation, making them too dim to observe directly from their emitted light alone.

Instead, they are usually detected when they happen to fall in the line of sight to a more distant bright object and leave an unmistakable absorption signature in the background object’s light.

Previously, astrophysicists have used quasars – supermassive black holes that emit light – as ‘backlight’ to detect the DLA clouds.

Although this method does allow scientists to pinpoint DLA locations, the light from the quasars only acts as small skewers through a massive cloud, hampering efforts to measure their total size and mass.

The new study found a way around the problem, using a gravitationally lensed galaxy and integral field spectroscopy to observe two DLAs – and the host galaxies within – that formed around 11 billion years ago, not long after the Big Bang.

Integral field spectroscopy enables spectra of many positions in a galaxy, for instance, to be measured simultaneously. 

‘Gravitationally lensed galaxies refers to galaxies that appear stretched and brightened,’ said fellow author Rongmon Bordoloi, an assistant professor of physics at North Carolina State University.

‘This is because there is a gravitationally massive structure in front of the galaxy that bends the light coming from it as it travels toward us. 

‘So we end up looking at an extended version of the object — it’s like using a cosmic telescope that increases magnification and gives us better visualisation.’

The bending and magnification of the galaxy light is due to general relativity. 

Bordoloi added: ‘The advantage to this is twofold: One, the background object is extended across the sky and bright, so it is easy to take spectrum readings on different parts of the object. 

‘Two, because lensing extends the object, you can probe very small scales. 

‘For example, if the object is one light year across, we can study small bits in very high fidelity.’

Experts say DLAs are not only massively important, they are also massive. 

With diameters greater than 17.4 kiloparsecs, they’re more than two-thirds the size of the Milky Way galaxy today. 

It would take light more than 50,000 years to travel across each of them.

After the Big Bang, DLAs served as galactic nurseries, fuelling the formation of galaxies comprised of stars and gas. 

But observing them has been hard as they are made predominately of hydrogen, which doesn’t shine or glow. 

Researchers used the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii (pictured) to help spot the DLA clouds

Researchers used the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii (pictured) to help spot the DLA clouds

Spectrum readings allow astrophysicists to ‘see’ elements in deep space from their atomic signatures that are not visible in images. 

This helps understand the extent of the gas, its motion, and the elemental composition of the DLAs.

Normally, gathering the readings is a long and painstaking process. But the team solved the issue by performing integral field spectroscopy with the Keck Cosmic Web Imager that can gather spectra over many parts of the DLAs simultaneously.

This innovation, combined with the stretched and brightened gravitationally lensed background galaxy, allowed the researchers to map out the diffuse gas in the two DLAs.

‘By utilising the latest technology at Keck and a little luck with the alignment of gravitationally lensed galaxies, we have greater insight into the workings of our Universe than ever before,’ Professor Cooke said.

The research has been published in the journal Nature.

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Train swept off its tracks as deadly floods slam northeast India while much of the country bakes in a heat wave

New Delhi — While a huge swathe of India bakes under record-breaking heat, the vast country’s northeast is being devastated by floods. Heavy rains started lashing the Indian states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh last week, triggering floods and mudslides that have washed away houses, fields of crops and bridges.

So far 11 deaths have been blamed on the flooding, and more than 400,000 people have been displaced as 700 villages have been inundated in Assam alone. At least 200,000 people in Assam’s Dima Hasao district were cut off on Wednesday, with all roads and bridges in and out blocked.

INDIA-ASSAM-NAGAON-FLOOD
A woman wades through flood water after heavy downpours in the Kampur area in Nagaon district of India’s northeast state of Assam, May 17, 2022.

Str/Xinhua/Getty


On Tuesday, authorities sent army troops to help with rescue and relief operations. Air Force helicopters evacuated people from a train that was left stranded on waterlogged tracks at a station.

“People don’t have drinking water, there’s limited food in stock, all forms of communications have been cut off and we don’t have any means of transportation as all the roads have been washed away by floods and landslides,” India’s prominent 10-year-old climate change activist Licypriya Kangujam, who lives in the Himalayan region, told CBS News. She spoke on the phone Wednesday from the tiny island nation of East Timor, where she was addressing lawmakers on climate change.

The Indian Meteorological Department has forecast “very heavy to extremely heavy” rain in the region for the next three days, which is expected to hamper the relief efforts.

A dramatic video posted on social media, shared by Kangujam and India’s Northeast Frontier Railway, shows the moment a mudslide washed away an empty train at Assam’s New Halflong station.

“A real climate emergency”

Flooding is common in northeast India, much of which sits in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas. Two years ago, flash floods in Uttarakhand state killed nearly 200 people.

Scientists say the Earth’s warming climate is speeding the rate at which Himalayan glaciers are melting, resulting in frequent floods.

“This is a real climate emergency,” Kangujam, India’s young climate activist, told CBS News.

Inspired by Greta Thunberg, she began campaigning for environmental action in 2018. The following year she spent a week outside India’s parliament, pressing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to put a law on the books aimed at curbing climate change. She didn’t succeed in that bid, but she addressed a United Nations Climate Change Conference the same year, pushing other world leaders to take immediate action.

“World leaders are just delivering beautiful speeches with no real concrete climate actions yet,” she told CBS News. “Empty, false promises will not solve the global climate crisis.”

She said rich countries need to do more to fight climate change and accused world leaders of putting their political interests above the environment.

“Losing our planet is not like losing an election,” she told CBS News.


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Just friends? Women are more jealous than men of their spouse’s opposite-sex friends, study reveals

Just friends? Women are more jealous than men of their spouse’s opposite-sex friends, study reveals

  • Participants read scenarios involving their spouse meeting a new friend
  • The friend was either attractive or unattractive, and male or female
  • Feelings of jealousy were higher when the spouse’s friend was the opposite sex
  • Women reported higher levels of jealously overall than men

From Harry Potter to My Best Friend’s Wedding, many blockbuster films feature friendships between men and women.

Now, a new study has shed light on the ‘green-eyed monster’ when it comes to these friendships.

Researchers from the University of Texas in Austin claim that women are more jealous than men of their spouse’s opposite-sex friends.

From Harry Potter to My Best Friend's Wedding (pictured), many blockbuster films feature friendships between men and women

From Harry Potter to My Best Friend’s Wedding (pictured), many blockbuster films feature friendships between men and women

Researchers from the University of Texas in Austin claim that women are more jealous than men of their spouse's opposite-sex friends

Researchers from the University of Texas in Austin claim that women are more jealous than men of their spouse’s opposite-sex friends

Did we evolve to be jealous? 

Researchers from the University of California recently pinpointed jealousy in the brain of monkeys, and claimed we inherited the trait to help protect our most valuable resources.

The researchers found two key areas of the brain are stimulated by jealous feelings – the cingulate cortex and lateral septum – which are geared toward maintaining a bond in the face of external challenge. 

The team found feeling jealous could actually be an evolutionary advantage, and we may have inherited it from our ancestors because it helps us protect resources such as our homes and children. 

While previous studies have focused on sex differences in jealousy, the researchers set out to assess whether men and women differ when it comes to jealousy of their spouse’s opposite-sex friends.

In their study, published in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, the researchers, led by Alyssa Sucrese, wrote: ‘Past research in evolutionary psychology has proposed, and found evidence of, sex differences in the adaptive functions of jealousy.

‘However, no research has focused specifically on the output of jealousy adaptations in the context of a spouse’s apparently platonic extramarital friendship.’

A group of 364 participants were recruited for the study, all of whom were married and at least 18 years old.

The participants were randomly assigned into one of four groups, in which they read different scenarios involving their spouse meeting a new friend of varying sex and attractiveness.

They were asked to judge whether they felt any jealousy in the scenario, and to attribute it to emotional or sexual concerns.

The results revealed that feelings of jealousy were higher when the spouse’s friend was the same sex as the participants.

Women reported higher levels of jealously overall than men when imagining the spouse’s friend was female.

This suggests that women’s feelings of jealousy are more associated with attractiveness, according to the researchers.

While previous studies have suggested that men are more jealous of sexual infidelity, the results did not show any sex differences in jealousy about sexual concerns.

However, men were more emotionally upset when their spouse’s friend was attractive – regardless of their sex.

Men may worry that an attractive male is a potential rival, while an attractive female can serve as a ‘wing woman’, according to the team.

Men may worry that an attractive male is a potential rival, while an attractive female can serve as a 'wing woman', according to the team (stock image)

Men may worry that an attractive male is a potential rival, while an attractive female can serve as a ‘wing woman’, according to the team (stock image)

‘Perhaps emotional jealousy functions as an adaptive solution to any situation that threatens diversion of a mate’s resources and investment, not just diversion to a potential mate,’ the researchers concluded.

The study comes shortly after researchers from the University of California pinpointed jealousy in the brain of monkeys, and claimed we inherited the trait to help protect our most valuable resources.

The researchers found two key areas of the brain are stimulated by jealous feelings – the cingulate cortex and lateral septum – which are geared toward maintaining a bond in the face of external challenge. 

The team found feeling jealous could actually be an evolutionary advantage, and we may have inherited it from our ancestors because it helps us protect resources such as our homes and children. 

ARE MEN WITH SHORT AND WIDE FACES MORE LIKELY TO CHEAT?

Researchers from Nipissing University in Canada looked at how different facial features affect sexual behaviours.

The study involved 314 undergraduate students who were in romantic relationships.

Each student completed a questionnaire about their behaviour, sex drive, sexual orientation, the chances they’d consider cheating, and how comfortable they were with the concept of casual sex.

The researchers also took a picture of each student to analyse their facial width-to-height ratios (FWHR).

Scientists have found that men and women with short and wide faces are more sexually motivated and likely to cheat than people with faces of other dimensions. Pictured is footballer, Wayne Rooney, who has previously cheated on his wife, Coleen

Scientists have found that men and women with short and wide faces are more sexually motivated and likely to cheat than people with faces of other dimensions. Pictured is footballer, Wayne Rooney, who has previously cheated on his wife, Coleen

The results showed that men and women with a high FWHR – square and wide faces – reported a greater sex drive than others.

Men with a larger FWHR were also more easy-going when it comes to casual sex and would consider being unfaithful to their partners.

The researchers hope the findings will shed light on the role that facial features play in sexual relationships and mate selection.

Their research builds upon previous studies that have shown that certain psychological and behavioural traits are associated with particular facial width-to-height ratios (FWHR).

Square-faced men tend to be perceived as more aggressive, more dominant, more unethical, and more attractive as short-term sexual partners than men with thinner and longer faces. 


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WhatsApp is testing a feature that lets you quietly leave group chats without alerting other members

WhatsApp is testing a new feature that lets you quietly leave group chats without alerting other members

  • WhatsApp is testing a new feature that lets you silently leave a group chat
  • Admins will still be able to see who exits the group when the feature launches
  • However, other members of the group will not be notified
  • The feature could prevent awkward confrontations with other group members

Ever found yourself stuck in a WhatsApp group chat that has become a bit noisy or irrelevant, but don’t want to leave for risk of offending friends or family?

There could be a solution before too long, after it emerged that WhatsApp is testing a new feature that lets you quietly leave a group chat without sending a notification to other members. 

The new feature was first spotted by independent WhatsApp experts WABetaInfo, which searches early beta versions of the app to identify upcoming features before they are released.

It clarified in a blog post that group admins will still be able to see who exits the group when the feature becomes available, but other members won’t.

The new feature could prevent awkward confrontations with more sensitive group members who might take your departure badly.

WhatsApp is testing a new feature that lets you quietly leave a group chat without sending a notification to other members

WhatsApp is testing a new feature that lets you quietly leave a group chat without sending a notification to other members 

WABetaInfo has obtained a screenshot of a WhatsApp beta on desktop that shows an exit prompt reading: 'Only you and group admins will be notified that you left the group.'

WABetaInfo has obtained a screenshot of a WhatsApp beta on desktop that shows an exit prompt reading: ‘Only you and group admins will be notified that you left the group.’

Other new group features coming to WhatsApp 

Reactions – Emoji reactions are coming to WhatsApp so people can quickly share their opinion without flooding chats with new messages.

Admin Delete – Group admins will be able to remove errant or problematic messages from everyone’s chats.

File Sharing – WhatsApp is increasing file sharing to support files up to 2 gigabytes so people can easily collaborate on projects.

Larger Voice Calls – WhatsApp will introduce one-tap voice calling for up to 32 people with all new design for those times when talking live is better than chatting. 

Mark Zuckerberg first revealed the company’s plans to allow users to silently leave groups back in April, when Meta announced the new Communities feature that lets you place several group chats together and message them all at the same time.

However, no details have been forthcoming from the company since then.

Now WABetaInfo has obtained a screenshot of a WhatsApp beta on desktop that shows an exit prompt reading: ‘Only you and group admins will be notified that you left the group.’ 

‘This screenshot is very clear: when you want to exit a WhatsApp group, other people won’t be notified in the chat,’ the company said in a blog post.

‘Only group admins will be able to see who exits the group, but others don’t.’

When you exit a group currently, WhatsApp adds a system message in the chat to inform all participants that you have left the group

The feature is planned to be rolled out to users ‘in a future update’, according to WABetaInfo, but no date has yet been given for the release.

While it is currently under development for WhatsApp Desktop, it is expected to be released on WhatsApp for Android and iOS as well.

WhatsApp Communities allows users to place several group chats together under one topic and share updates with them all

WhatsApp Communities allows users to place several group chats together under one topic and share updates with them all

Last month, WhatsApp unveiled a new tool called Communities that lets you message several groups at once. 

The tool will allow users to organise different group chats together under a single main topic, for example, their children’s school or the street they live on, with Community admins able to share messages with everyone and have control over which groups can be included. 

The Meta-owned messaging app said it would begin rolling out the feature slowly and as a test, but Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg said the change was an ‘important evolution’ for WhatsApp. 

‘In the same way that social feeds took the basic technology behind the internet and made it so anyone could find people and content online, I think community messaging will take the basic protocols behind one-to-one messaging and extend them so you can communicate more easily with groups of people to get things done together,’ he said at the time.

BEST WHATSAPP ALTERNATIVES

If you’re considering deleting WhatsApp, you’ll be happy to hear that there are several alternative apps to choose from:

1. Telegram

With more than 400 million users, Telegram is one of the most popular WhatsApp alternatives. 

While it looks very similar to WhatsApp, what sets it apart is the fact that it gives the option to set messages to self-destruct after a given period of time, leaving no trace. 

Telegram also offers end-to-end encryption.

However, as a WhatsApp spokesperson pointed out, Telegram ‘does not offer end-to-end encryption by default so it’s not necessarily more secure than WhatsApp’.

2. Signal 

Signal is one of the most secure messaging apps, thanks to the fact that it is open-source. 

This means that the code for the app is publicly available to view, making it near-impossible for the app’s creators to sneak in any backdoors that could allow governments or hackers to spy on your messages.

3. iMessage

If you use an iPhone, you may consider simply switching to iMessage, Apple’s own messaging app. 

The app has a number of impressive features included no character limits, the ability to send pictures and videos, and of course Apple’s animated emoji feature, Animoji.

Unfortunately, iMessage is only available for iPhone users, so you’ll struggle to interact with anyone using an Android. 

4. Google Messages

Google’s answer to iMessage is Google Messages, an Android-only messaging service. 

The app replaces your standard SMS app, and integrates with all of Google’s apps and services, making it easy to share images or use Google Assistant. 

5. Facebook Messenger

If you were put off using WhatsApp due to its sharing of data with Facebook, Facebook Messenger may not be the best option for you.

However, the app offers a number of helpful features, including games, secret conversations and video calls. 

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Google’s DeepMind says it is close to achieving ‘human-level’ artificial intelligence

DeepMind, a British company owned by Google, may be on the verge of achieving human-level artificial intelligence (AI). 

Nando de Freitas, a research scientist at DeepMind and machine learning professor at Oxford University, has said ‘the game is over’ in regards to solving the hardest challenges in the race to achieve artificial general intelligence (AGI). 

AGI refers to a machine or program that has the ability to understand or learn any intellectual task that a human being can, and do so without training. 

According to De Freitas, the quest for scientists is now scaling up AI programs, such as with more data and computing power, to create an AGI.

Earlier this week, DeepMind unveiled a new AI ‘agent’ called Gato that can complete 604 different tasks ‘across a wide range of environments’.

Gato uses a single neural network – a computing system with interconnected nodes that works like nerve cells in the human brain. 

It can chat, caption images, stack blocks with a real robot arm and even play the 1980s home video game console Atari, DeepMind claims. 

Scroll down for video 

DeepMind, a British company owned by Google, may be on the verge of achieving human-level artificial intelligence (file photo)

DeepMind, a British company owned by Google, may be on the verge of achieving human-level artificial intelligence (file photo)

Gato uses a single neural network – computing systems with interconnected nodes that work like nerve cells in the human brain - to complete 604 tasks, according to DeepMind

Gato uses a single neural network – computing systems with interconnected nodes that work like nerve cells in the human brain – to complete 604 tasks, according to DeepMind

ARTIFICIAL GENERAL INTELLIGENCE  

Artificial general intelligence (AGI) is the ability of an intelligent agent to understand or learn any intellectual task that a human being can. 

Some commentators think we are decades away from realising AGI, and some even doubt we will see AGI in this century. 

AGI has been already identified as a future threat that could wipe out humanity either deliberately or by accident.  

De Freitas comments came in response to an opinion piece published on The Next Web that said humans alive today won’t ever achieve AGI. 

De Freitas tweeted: ‘It’s all about scale now! The Game is Over! It’s about making these models bigger, safer, compute efficient, faster…’ 

However, he admitted that humanity is still far from creating an AI that can pass the Turing test – a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to or indistinguishable from that of a human. 

After DeepMind’s announcement of Gato, The Next Web article said it demonstrates AGI no more than virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, which are already on the market and in people’s homes. 

‘Gato’s ability to perform multiple tasks is more like a video game console that can store 600 different games, than it’s like a game you can play 600 different ways,’ said The Next Web contributor Tristan Greene. 

‘It’s not a general AI, it’s a bunch of pre-trained, narrow models bundled neatly.’ 

Gato has been built to achieve a variety of hundreds of tasks, but this ability may compromise the quality of each task, according to other commentators. 

De Freitas tweeted: 'It's all about scale now! The Game is Over! It's about making these models bigger, safer, compute efficient, faster...'

De Freitas tweeted: ‘It’s all about scale now! The Game is Over! It’s about making these models bigger, safer, compute efficient, faster…’

In another opinion piece, ZDNet columnist Tiernan Ray wrote that the agent ‘is actually not so great on several tasks’. 

‘On the one hand, the program is able to do better than a dedicated machine learning program at controlling a robotic Sawyer arm that stacks blocks,’ Ray said.

‘On the other hand, it produces captions for images that in many cases are quite poor. 

‘Its ability at standard chat dialogue with a human interlocutor is similarly mediocre, sometimes eliciting contradictory and nonsensical utterances.’

For example, when a chatbot, Gato mistakenly said that Marseille is the capital of France. 

Also, a caption created by Gato to accompany a photo read ‘man holding up a banana to take a picture of it’, even though the man wasn’t holding bread. 

DeepMind details Gato in a new research paper, entitled ‘A Generalist Agent,’ that’s been posted on the Arxiv preprint server.  

The company’s authors have said such an agent will show ‘significant performance improvement’ when it’s scaled-up. 

AGI has been already identified as a future threat that could wipe out humanity either deliberately or by accident

Pictured a dialogues with Gato when prompted to be a chatbot. A critic called Gato's ability to have a chat with a human 'mediocre'

Pictured a dialogues with Gato when prompted to be a chatbot. A critic called Gato’s ability to have a chat with a human ‘mediocre’ 

Earlier this week, British firm DeepMind revealed Gato, a programme that can chat, caption images, stack blocks with a real robot arm and even play the 1980s home video game console Atari. Depicted here are some of the tasks that Gato has been tested on in a DeepMind promo

Earlier this week, British firm DeepMind revealed Gato, a programme that can chat, caption images, stack blocks with a real robot arm and even play the 1980s home video game console Atari. Depicted here are some of the tasks that Gato has been tested on in a DeepMind promo

Dr Stuart Armstrong at Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute previously said AGI will eventually make humans redundant and wipe us out. 

He believes machines will work at speeds inconceivable to the human brain and will skip communicating with humans to take control of the economy and financial markets, transport, healthcare and more. 

Dr Armstrong said a simple instruction to an AGI to ‘prevent human suffering’ could be interpreted by a super computer as ‘kill all humans’, due to human language being easily misinterpreted. 

Before his death, Professor Stephen Hawking told the BBC: ‘The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.’ 

During his lifetime, the famous British astrophysicist Professor Stephen Hawking (pictured) said AI 'could spell the end of the human race'

During his lifetime, the famous British astrophysicist Professor Stephen Hawking (pictured) said AI ‘could spell the end of the human race’ 

In a 2016 paper, DeepMind researchers acknowledged the need for a ‘big red button’ to prevent a machine from completing ‘a harmful sequence of actions’.  

DeepMind, which was founded in London in 2010 before being acquired by Google in 2014, is known for creating an AI program that beat a human professional Go player Lee Sedol, the world champion, in a five-game match in 2016.

In 2020, the firm announced it had solved a 50-year-old problem in biology, known as the ‘protein folding problem’ – knowing how a protein’s amino acid sequence dictates its 3D structure. 

DeepMind claimed to have solved the problem with 92 per cent accuracy by training a neural network with 170,000 known protein sequences and their different structures. 

The firm is perhaps best known for its AlphaGo AI program that beat a human professional Go player Lee Sedol , the world champion, in a five-game match. Pictured, Go world champion Lee Sedol of South Korea seen ahead of the first game the Google DeepMind Challenge Match against Google's AlphaGo programme in March 2016

The firm is perhaps best known for its AlphaGo AI program that beat a human professional Go player Lee Sedol , the world champion, in a five-game match. Pictured, Go world champion Lee Sedol of South Korea seen ahead of the first game the Google DeepMind Challenge Match against Google’s AlphaGo programme in March 2016

WHAT IS GOOGLE’S DEEPMIND AI PROJECT?

DeepMind was founded in London in 2010 and was acquired by Google in 2014.

It now has additional research centres in Edmonton and Montreal, Canada, and a DeepMind Applied team in Mountain View, California.

DeepMind is on a mission to push the boundaries of AI, developing programs that can learn to solve any complex problem without needing to be taught how.

If successful, the firm believes this will be one of the most important and widely beneficial scientific advances ever made.

The company has hit the headlines for a number of its creations, including software it created a that taught itself how to play and win at 49 completely different Atari titles, with just raw pixels as input.

In a world first, its AlphaGo program took on the world’s best player at G, one of the most complex and intuitive games ever devised, with more positions than there are atoms in the universe – and won.   

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