Jupiter’s Moon Count Hits 79; One New Find Is Tiny ‘Oddball’

Astronomers are still finding moons at Jupiter, 400 years after Galileo used his spyglass to spot the first ones.

The latest discovery of a dozen small moons brings the total to 79, the most of any planet in our solar system.

Scientists were looking for objects on the fringes of the solar system last year when they pointed their telescopes close to Jupiter’s backyard, according to Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institute for Science in Washington. They saw a new group of objects moving around the giant gas planet but didn’t know whether they were moons or asteroids passing near Jupiter.

“There was no eureka moment,” said Sheppard, who led the team of astronomers. “It took a year to figure out what these objects were.”

They all turned out to be moons of Jupiter. The confirmation of 10 was announced Tuesday. Two were confirmed earlier.

The moons had not been spotted before because they are tiny. They are about one to two kilometers across, said astronomer Gareth Williams of the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center.

And he thinks Jupiter might have even more moons just as small waiting to be found.

“We just haven’t observed them enough,” said Williams, who helped confirm the moons’ orbits.

The team is calling one of the new moons an “oddball” because of its unusual orbit. Sheppard’s girlfriend came up with a name for it: Valetudo, the great-granddaughter of the Roman god Jupiter.

Valetudo is in Jupiter’s distant, outer swarm of moons that circles in the opposite direction of the planet’s rotation. Yet it’s orbiting in the same direction as the planet, against the swarm’s traffic.

“This moon is going down the highway the wrong way,” Sheppard said.

 Scientists believe moons like Valetudo and its siblings appeared soon after Jupiter formed. The planet must have acted like a vacuum, sucking up all the material that was around it. Some of that debris was captured as moons.

“What astonishes me about these moons is that they’re the remnants of what the planet formed from,” he said.

Telescopes in Chile, Hawaii and Arizona were used for the latest discovery and confirmation.

Galileo detected Jupiter’s four largest moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, in 1610. The latest count of 79 known moons includes eight that have not been seen for several years. Saturn is next with 61, followed by Uranus with 27 and Neptune with 14. Mars has two, Earth has one and Mercury and Venus have none. 

From: MeNeedIt

Jupiter’s Moon Count Hits 79; One New Find Is Tiny ‘Oddball’

Astronomers are still finding moons at Jupiter, 400 years after Galileo used his spyglass to spot the first ones.

The latest discovery of a dozen small moons brings the total to 79, the most of any planet in our solar system.

Scientists were looking for objects on the fringes of the solar system last year when they pointed their telescopes close to Jupiter’s backyard, according to Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institute for Science in Washington. They saw a new group of objects moving around the giant gas planet but didn’t know whether they were moons or asteroids passing near Jupiter.

“There was no eureka moment,” said Sheppard, who led the team of astronomers. “It took a year to figure out what these objects were.”

They all turned out to be moons of Jupiter. The confirmation of 10 was announced Tuesday. Two were confirmed earlier.

The moons had not been spotted before because they are tiny. They are about one to two kilometers across, said astronomer Gareth Williams of the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center.

And he thinks Jupiter might have even more moons just as small waiting to be found.

“We just haven’t observed them enough,” said Williams, who helped confirm the moons’ orbits.

The team is calling one of the new moons an “oddball” because of its unusual orbit. Sheppard’s girlfriend came up with a name for it: Valetudo, the great-granddaughter of the Roman god Jupiter.

Valetudo is in Jupiter’s distant, outer swarm of moons that circles in the opposite direction of the planet’s rotation. Yet it’s orbiting in the same direction as the planet, against the swarm’s traffic.

“This moon is going down the highway the wrong way,” Sheppard said.

 Scientists believe moons like Valetudo and its siblings appeared soon after Jupiter formed. The planet must have acted like a vacuum, sucking up all the material that was around it. Some of that debris was captured as moons.

“What astonishes me about these moons is that they’re the remnants of what the planet formed from,” he said.

Telescopes in Chile, Hawaii and Arizona were used for the latest discovery and confirmation.

Galileo detected Jupiter’s four largest moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, in 1610. The latest count of 79 known moons includes eight that have not been seen for several years. Saturn is next with 61, followed by Uranus with 27 and Neptune with 14. Mars has two, Earth has one and Mercury and Venus have none. 

From: MeNeedIt

Jupiter’s Moon Count Hits 79; One New Find Is Tiny ‘Oddball’

Astronomers are still finding moons at Jupiter, 400 years after Galileo used his spyglass to spot the first ones.

The latest discovery of a dozen small moons brings the total to 79, the most of any planet in our solar system.

Scientists were looking for objects on the fringes of the solar system last year when they pointed their telescopes close to Jupiter’s backyard, according to Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institute for Science in Washington. They saw a new group of objects moving around the giant gas planet but didn’t know whether they were moons or asteroids passing near Jupiter.

“There was no eureka moment,” said Sheppard, who led the team of astronomers. “It took a year to figure out what these objects were.”

They all turned out to be moons of Jupiter. The confirmation of 10 was announced Tuesday. Two were confirmed earlier.

The moons had not been spotted before because they are tiny. They are about one to two kilometers across, said astronomer Gareth Williams of the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center.

And he thinks Jupiter might have even more moons just as small waiting to be found.

“We just haven’t observed them enough,” said Williams, who helped confirm the moons’ orbits.

The team is calling one of the new moons an “oddball” because of its unusual orbit. Sheppard’s girlfriend came up with a name for it: Valetudo, the great-granddaughter of the Roman god Jupiter.

Valetudo is in Jupiter’s distant, outer swarm of moons that circles in the opposite direction of the planet’s rotation. Yet it’s orbiting in the same direction as the planet, against the swarm’s traffic.

“This moon is going down the highway the wrong way,” Sheppard said.

 Scientists believe moons like Valetudo and its siblings appeared soon after Jupiter formed. The planet must have acted like a vacuum, sucking up all the material that was around it. Some of that debris was captured as moons.

“What astonishes me about these moons is that they’re the remnants of what the planet formed from,” he said.

Telescopes in Chile, Hawaii and Arizona were used for the latest discovery and confirmation.

Galileo detected Jupiter’s four largest moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, in 1610. The latest count of 79 known moons includes eight that have not been seen for several years. Saturn is next with 61, followed by Uranus with 27 and Neptune with 14. Mars has two, Earth has one and Mercury and Venus have none. 

From: MeNeedIt

Twitter Suspended 58M Accounts in Last Quarter of ’17, AP Says

Twitter suspended at least 58 million user accounts in the final three months of 2017, according to data obtained by The Associated Press. The figure highlights the company’s newly aggressive stance against malicious or suspicious accounts in the wake of Russian disinformation efforts during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

Last week, Twitter confirmed a Washington Post report that it had suspended 70 million accounts in May and June. The huge number of suspensions raises questions as to whether the crackdown could affect Twitter’s user growth and whether the company should have warned investors earlier. The company has been struggling with user growth compared with rivals like Instagram and Facebook.

The number of suspended accounts originated with Twitter’s “firehose,” a data stream it makes available to academics, companies and others willing to pay for it.

The new figure sheds light on Twitter’s attempt to improve “information quality” on its service, its term for countering fake accounts, bots, disinformation and other malicious occurrences. Such activity was rampant on Twitter and other social media networks during the 2016 campaign, much of it originating with the Internet Research Agency, a since-shuttered Russian “troll farm” implicated in election disruption efforts by the U.S. special counsel and congressional investigations.

Twitter declined to comment on the data. But its executives have said that efforts to clean up the platform are a priority, while acknowledging that its crackdown has affected and may continue to affect user numbers.

Twitter has 336 million monthly active users, which it defines as accounts that have logged in at least once during the previous 30 days. The suspensions do not appear to have made a large dent in this number. Twitter maintains that most of the suspended accounts had been dormant for at least a month, and thus weren’t included in its active user numbers.

Following the Post report, which caused Twitter’s stock to drop sharply, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal took to Twitter to reassure investors that this number didn’t count in the company’s user metrics. “If we removed 70M accounts from our reported metrics, you would hear directly from us,” he tweeted last Monday.

Shares recovered somewhat after that tweet. The stock has largely been on an upswing lately, and more than doubled its value in the past year.

Twitter is taking other steps besides account deletions to combat misuse of its service, working to rein in hate and abuse even as it tries to stay true to its roots as a bastion of free expression. Last fall, it vowed to crack down on hate speech and sexual harassment, and CEO Jack Dorsey echoed the concerns of critics who said the company hadn’t done enough to curb such abuse.

From: MeNeedIt

Twitter Suspended 58M Accounts in Last Quarter of ’17, AP Says

Twitter suspended at least 58 million user accounts in the final three months of 2017, according to data obtained by The Associated Press. The figure highlights the company’s newly aggressive stance against malicious or suspicious accounts in the wake of Russian disinformation efforts during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

Last week, Twitter confirmed a Washington Post report that it had suspended 70 million accounts in May and June. The huge number of suspensions raises questions as to whether the crackdown could affect Twitter’s user growth and whether the company should have warned investors earlier. The company has been struggling with user growth compared with rivals like Instagram and Facebook.

The number of suspended accounts originated with Twitter’s “firehose,” a data stream it makes available to academics, companies and others willing to pay for it.

The new figure sheds light on Twitter’s attempt to improve “information quality” on its service, its term for countering fake accounts, bots, disinformation and other malicious occurrences. Such activity was rampant on Twitter and other social media networks during the 2016 campaign, much of it originating with the Internet Research Agency, a since-shuttered Russian “troll farm” implicated in election disruption efforts by the U.S. special counsel and congressional investigations.

Twitter declined to comment on the data. But its executives have said that efforts to clean up the platform are a priority, while acknowledging that its crackdown has affected and may continue to affect user numbers.

Twitter has 336 million monthly active users, which it defines as accounts that have logged in at least once during the previous 30 days. The suspensions do not appear to have made a large dent in this number. Twitter maintains that most of the suspended accounts had been dormant for at least a month, and thus weren’t included in its active user numbers.

Following the Post report, which caused Twitter’s stock to drop sharply, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal took to Twitter to reassure investors that this number didn’t count in the company’s user metrics. “If we removed 70M accounts from our reported metrics, you would hear directly from us,” he tweeted last Monday.

Shares recovered somewhat after that tweet. The stock has largely been on an upswing lately, and more than doubled its value in the past year.

Twitter is taking other steps besides account deletions to combat misuse of its service, working to rein in hate and abuse even as it tries to stay true to its roots as a bastion of free expression. Last fall, it vowed to crack down on hate speech and sexual harassment, and CEO Jack Dorsey echoed the concerns of critics who said the company hadn’t done enough to curb such abuse.

From: MeNeedIt

EPA Proposal to Limit Science Studies Draws Opposition

Democratic lawmakers joined scores of scientists, health providers, environmental officials and activists Tuesday in denouncing an industry-backed proposal that could limit dramatically the scientific studies the Environmental Protection Agency considers in shaping protections for human health.

If adopted by the Trump administration, the rule would allow an EPA administrator to reject study results in making decisions about chemicals, pollutants and other health risks if underlying research data is not made public because of patient privacy concerns or other issues.

Opponents said the move would throw out the kind of public-health studies that underlie enforcement of the Clean Air Act and other landmark environmental controls, since the studies drew on confidential health data from thousands of individuals.

Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko of New York said the proposed rule was “a thinly veiled campaign to limit research … that supports critical regulatory action.”

The rule was proposed by then-Administrator Scott Pruitt before his resignation earlier this month amid mounting ethics scandals.

At the public hearing Tuesday, opponents outnumbered supporters.

It “enables the public to more meaningfully comment on the science” behind environmental regulation, said Joseph Stanko, a representative of industry trade groups and companies affected by what he said were increasingly stringent air-pollution regulations.

Backers have expressed their own worries about how the broadly written rule would apply to confidential trade secrets. Ted Steichen of the American Petroleum Institute said his group supports the initiative to “enhance transparency while ensuring privacy.”

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., said the EPA proposal was the latest version of years of “transparency” legislation for EPA that Congress had rejected. She called it “an administrative attempt to circumvent the legislative process.”

New York state officials and representatives of public and private universities were among others speaking against the proposal.

Opponents also included community health practitioners who had taken time off their jobs to speak at the hearing.

Researcher Pam Miller, who works with Alaska Native communities affected by toxins, said she traveled from Anchorage to speak at the meeting. Hospital nurse Erica Bardwell came from nearby Arlington, Virginia.

Health workers “care about patients and won’t surrender their confidentiality. Which means studies won’t get done,” Bardwell said after her testimony.

“Which is the point” of the proposal, Bardwell added.

Critics said the policy shift is designed to restrict the agency from citing peer-reviewed public-health studies that use patient medical records that must be kept confidential under patient privacy laws.

Such studies include the Harvard School of Public Health’s landmark Six Cities study of 1993, which established links between death rates and dirty air in major U.S. cities. That study was used by EPA to justify tighter air-quality rules opposed by industrial polluters.

While Pruitt introduced the proposal, the EPA is continuing the steps toward its formal adoption under the new acting administrator, former Pruitt EPA deputy Andrew Wheeler.

In an email, EPA spokesman James Hewitt indicated Tuesday that Wheeler wanted to balance transparency and privacy concerns.

“Acting Administrator Wheeler believes the more information you put out to the public the better the regulatory outcome. He also believes the agency should prioritize ways to safeguard sensitive information,” Hewitt said.

The proposal is open for public comment through mid-August before any final EPA and White House review.

From: MeNeedIt

EPA Proposal to Limit Science Studies Draws Opposition

Democratic lawmakers joined scores of scientists, health providers, environmental officials and activists Tuesday in denouncing an industry-backed proposal that could limit dramatically the scientific studies the Environmental Protection Agency considers in shaping protections for human health.

If adopted by the Trump administration, the rule would allow an EPA administrator to reject study results in making decisions about chemicals, pollutants and other health risks if underlying research data is not made public because of patient privacy concerns or other issues.

Opponents said the move would throw out the kind of public-health studies that underlie enforcement of the Clean Air Act and other landmark environmental controls, since the studies drew on confidential health data from thousands of individuals.

Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko of New York said the proposed rule was “a thinly veiled campaign to limit research … that supports critical regulatory action.”

The rule was proposed by then-Administrator Scott Pruitt before his resignation earlier this month amid mounting ethics scandals.

At the public hearing Tuesday, opponents outnumbered supporters.

It “enables the public to more meaningfully comment on the science” behind environmental regulation, said Joseph Stanko, a representative of industry trade groups and companies affected by what he said were increasingly stringent air-pollution regulations.

Backers have expressed their own worries about how the broadly written rule would apply to confidential trade secrets. Ted Steichen of the American Petroleum Institute said his group supports the initiative to “enhance transparency while ensuring privacy.”

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., said the EPA proposal was the latest version of years of “transparency” legislation for EPA that Congress had rejected. She called it “an administrative attempt to circumvent the legislative process.”

New York state officials and representatives of public and private universities were among others speaking against the proposal.

Opponents also included community health practitioners who had taken time off their jobs to speak at the hearing.

Researcher Pam Miller, who works with Alaska Native communities affected by toxins, said she traveled from Anchorage to speak at the meeting. Hospital nurse Erica Bardwell came from nearby Arlington, Virginia.

Health workers “care about patients and won’t surrender their confidentiality. Which means studies won’t get done,” Bardwell said after her testimony.

“Which is the point” of the proposal, Bardwell added.

Critics said the policy shift is designed to restrict the agency from citing peer-reviewed public-health studies that use patient medical records that must be kept confidential under patient privacy laws.

Such studies include the Harvard School of Public Health’s landmark Six Cities study of 1993, which established links between death rates and dirty air in major U.S. cities. That study was used by EPA to justify tighter air-quality rules opposed by industrial polluters.

While Pruitt introduced the proposal, the EPA is continuing the steps toward its formal adoption under the new acting administrator, former Pruitt EPA deputy Andrew Wheeler.

In an email, EPA spokesman James Hewitt indicated Tuesday that Wheeler wanted to balance transparency and privacy concerns.

“Acting Administrator Wheeler believes the more information you put out to the public the better the regulatory outcome. He also believes the agency should prioritize ways to safeguard sensitive information,” Hewitt said.

The proposal is open for public comment through mid-August before any final EPA and White House review.

From: MeNeedIt

EPA Proposal to Limit Science Studies Draws Opposition

Democratic lawmakers joined scores of scientists, health providers, environmental officials and activists Tuesday in denouncing an industry-backed proposal that could limit dramatically the scientific studies the Environmental Protection Agency considers in shaping protections for human health.

If adopted by the Trump administration, the rule would allow an EPA administrator to reject study results in making decisions about chemicals, pollutants and other health risks if underlying research data is not made public because of patient privacy concerns or other issues.

Opponents said the move would throw out the kind of public-health studies that underlie enforcement of the Clean Air Act and other landmark environmental controls, since the studies drew on confidential health data from thousands of individuals.

Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko of New York said the proposed rule was “a thinly veiled campaign to limit research … that supports critical regulatory action.”

The rule was proposed by then-Administrator Scott Pruitt before his resignation earlier this month amid mounting ethics scandals.

At the public hearing Tuesday, opponents outnumbered supporters.

It “enables the public to more meaningfully comment on the science” behind environmental regulation, said Joseph Stanko, a representative of industry trade groups and companies affected by what he said were increasingly stringent air-pollution regulations.

Backers have expressed their own worries about how the broadly written rule would apply to confidential trade secrets. Ted Steichen of the American Petroleum Institute said his group supports the initiative to “enhance transparency while ensuring privacy.”

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., said the EPA proposal was the latest version of years of “transparency” legislation for EPA that Congress had rejected. She called it “an administrative attempt to circumvent the legislative process.”

New York state officials and representatives of public and private universities were among others speaking against the proposal.

Opponents also included community health practitioners who had taken time off their jobs to speak at the hearing.

Researcher Pam Miller, who works with Alaska Native communities affected by toxins, said she traveled from Anchorage to speak at the meeting. Hospital nurse Erica Bardwell came from nearby Arlington, Virginia.

Health workers “care about patients and won’t surrender their confidentiality. Which means studies won’t get done,” Bardwell said after her testimony.

“Which is the point” of the proposal, Bardwell added.

Critics said the policy shift is designed to restrict the agency from citing peer-reviewed public-health studies that use patient medical records that must be kept confidential under patient privacy laws.

Such studies include the Harvard School of Public Health’s landmark Six Cities study of 1993, which established links between death rates and dirty air in major U.S. cities. That study was used by EPA to justify tighter air-quality rules opposed by industrial polluters.

While Pruitt introduced the proposal, the EPA is continuing the steps toward its formal adoption under the new acting administrator, former Pruitt EPA deputy Andrew Wheeler.

In an email, EPA spokesman James Hewitt indicated Tuesday that Wheeler wanted to balance transparency and privacy concerns.

“Acting Administrator Wheeler believes the more information you put out to the public the better the regulatory outcome. He also believes the agency should prioritize ways to safeguard sensitive information,” Hewitt said.

The proposal is open for public comment through mid-August before any final EPA and White House review.

From: MeNeedIt

EPA Proposal to Limit Science Studies Draws Opposition

Democratic lawmakers joined scores of scientists, health providers, environmental officials and activists Tuesday in denouncing an industry-backed proposal that could limit dramatically the scientific studies the Environmental Protection Agency considers in shaping protections for human health.

If adopted by the Trump administration, the rule would allow an EPA administrator to reject study results in making decisions about chemicals, pollutants and other health risks if underlying research data is not made public because of patient privacy concerns or other issues.

Opponents said the move would throw out the kind of public-health studies that underlie enforcement of the Clean Air Act and other landmark environmental controls, since the studies drew on confidential health data from thousands of individuals.

Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko of New York said the proposed rule was “a thinly veiled campaign to limit research … that supports critical regulatory action.”

The rule was proposed by then-Administrator Scott Pruitt before his resignation earlier this month amid mounting ethics scandals.

At the public hearing Tuesday, opponents outnumbered supporters.

It “enables the public to more meaningfully comment on the science” behind environmental regulation, said Joseph Stanko, a representative of industry trade groups and companies affected by what he said were increasingly stringent air-pollution regulations.

Backers have expressed their own worries about how the broadly written rule would apply to confidential trade secrets. Ted Steichen of the American Petroleum Institute said his group supports the initiative to “enhance transparency while ensuring privacy.”

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., said the EPA proposal was the latest version of years of “transparency” legislation for EPA that Congress had rejected. She called it “an administrative attempt to circumvent the legislative process.”

New York state officials and representatives of public and private universities were among others speaking against the proposal.

Opponents also included community health practitioners who had taken time off their jobs to speak at the hearing.

Researcher Pam Miller, who works with Alaska Native communities affected by toxins, said she traveled from Anchorage to speak at the meeting. Hospital nurse Erica Bardwell came from nearby Arlington, Virginia.

Health workers “care about patients and won’t surrender their confidentiality. Which means studies won’t get done,” Bardwell said after her testimony.

“Which is the point” of the proposal, Bardwell added.

Critics said the policy shift is designed to restrict the agency from citing peer-reviewed public-health studies that use patient medical records that must be kept confidential under patient privacy laws.

Such studies include the Harvard School of Public Health’s landmark Six Cities study of 1993, which established links between death rates and dirty air in major U.S. cities. That study was used by EPA to justify tighter air-quality rules opposed by industrial polluters.

While Pruitt introduced the proposal, the EPA is continuing the steps toward its formal adoption under the new acting administrator, former Pruitt EPA deputy Andrew Wheeler.

In an email, EPA spokesman James Hewitt indicated Tuesday that Wheeler wanted to balance transparency and privacy concerns.

“Acting Administrator Wheeler believes the more information you put out to the public the better the regulatory outcome. He also believes the agency should prioritize ways to safeguard sensitive information,” Hewitt said.

The proposal is open for public comment through mid-August before any final EPA and White House review.

From: MeNeedIt

Mass Radio Campaign Saves Thousands of Children’s Lives in Africa

A mass radio campaign in Burkina Faso led to a significant rise in sick children getting medical attention and could prove one of the most cost-effective ways to save young lives in poor countries, researchers said Tuesday.

Publishing results of a trial involving a radio campaign in rural areas that promoted treatment-seeking for three of the biggest killers of children under five — malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea — researchers said around 3,000 lives were saved.

“What this study shows is that using mass media to drive people to health centers is actually more cost-effective than almost anything on earth in terms of saving children’s lives,” said Roy Head, who co-led the study.

“And that makes sense — it reaches millions of people at a time — but this is the first time it has been shown in a scientific trial.”

The radio campaign, which the researchers said used a “saturation” method of intensive radio transmissions over an extended period of time to promote behavior change in a population, was run in Burkina Faso between 2012 and 2015.

It was broadcast on seven radio stations at a radius of around 50 kilometers (30 miles), while seven other radio station areas did not broadcast the campaign and acted as controls for comparison.

Routine data from health facilities were then analyzed for evidence of changes in treatment-seeking, with data from over 1.1 million consultations and deliveries evaluated.

The results — published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Global Health on Tuesday — showed a significant increase in the adoption of life-saving behaviors for the specific diseases targeted.

Diagnosis rates for malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea rose significantly in all three years of the study, including a 107 percent rise in diarrhea diagnoses in year 3 and a 56 percent rise in malaria diagnoses in year 1. The researchers said there was no change in detection rates for illnesses not covered by the radio campaign, such as coughs and colds.

Using a mathematical modeling tool, the team estimated a mortality reduction of 9.7 percent in year 1, 5.7 percent in year 2 and 5.5 percent in year 3, translating into about 3,000 lives saved as a result of the campaign.

“Pneumonia, malaria, and diarrhea are three of the biggest killers of children in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Simon Cousens, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who co-led the work. “This research provides evidence that mass media has an important role to play in persuading parents to seek life-saving treatment for children.”

From: MeNeedIt