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As Arcturus Grows, Los Angeles Wastewater Coronavirus Grows



Coronavirus levels have risen in Los Angeles County sewage, possibly as a result of a more contagious sub-variant of Omicron dubbed Arcturus.

The latest strain, officially known as XBB.1.16, is likely responsible for the rise in coronavirus cases in India, where there have been a number of anecdotal reports of what has been a rare symptom of COVID-19, especially in children: pink eye.

Arcturus invented higher percentage of coronavirus cases nationwide. It was estimated to account for 10% of US cases in the week ending Saturday; the previous week was about 6%; and the week before it was 3%.

California Department of Public Health estimates Arcturus accounts for about 7% of coronavirus cases in the same week. The agency said Thursday that at least three cases of Arcturus have been identified in Los Angeles County.

It’s still too early to tell if Arcturus is associated with higher rates of conjunctivitis than older variants of the coronavirus.

But the health agency said people “should be aware that itchy, watery, or red eyes can be a sign of a COVID-19 infection, and these symptoms shouldn’t be simply ignored due to pollen or seasonal allergies, especially if someone is more vulnerable to it.” be diagnosed with a serious illness.

pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, can cause eye damage if left untreated. Officials are urging people to use home coronavirus tests to determine if they are infected.

Rising sewage levels in Los Angeles County could be an early sign of an increase in the spread of coronavirus, health officials said, although reported cases are still relatively stable, as are hospitalizations and deaths. There have been 54 COVID-19 deaths in Los Angeles County in the past week. There were 44 deaths in the previous week and 59 the week before.

Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said that because Arcturus is associated with recent strains of the coronavirus, COVID vaccines and therapeutics such as Paxlovid are expected to continue to be reasonably effective against severe illness and death.

“While we are facing the reality that a new strain of Omicron is becoming dominant and it is not yet possible to predict the consequences, I am confident that the tools available to us, including vaccines, therapies and testing, can limit poor outcomes,” Ferrer said. in a statement on Thursday.

However, it is still important that people get the updated COVID-19 vaccine. Only about 40% of Los Angeles County seniors aged 65 and over received the updated COVID-19 vaccine, which was introduced in September.

COVID-19 remains a major cause of death, even as the intensity of the pandemic has declined significantly. In 2022, COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in Los Angeles County, after coronary heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease, according to a preliminary data analysis by the Department of Public Health.

Remainder of main causes of death in Los Angeles County last year were stroke, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, unintentional drug overdose, hypertension, and pneumonia/flu.

However, COVID-19’s third place represents an improvement from 2021, when the disease was the leading cause of death. In 2020, COVID-19 was the second leading cause of death after coronary heart disease.

These results show how the risk of contracting COVID-19 has decreased for the general population. By mid-2021, there was a lot of vaccination, and by mid-2022, therapeutic drugs against COVID.

About 260,000 COVID-19 death were registered nationally in 2022. There were about 472,000 deaths in 2021 and about 355,000 deaths in 2020. The country has recorded over 40,000 deaths from COVID-19 this year.

Older people who are not vaccinated or have not been vaccinated are the most likely to die from COVID-19.

While some health experts are less likely to wear masks given the lower levels of transmission of the coronavirus, they say they are still trying to take sensible steps to avoid infection. Reducing the risk of infection is especially important if you are older, in a high-risk group, or have an underlying medical condition.

If you contract a coronavirus infection, “you still have to self-isolate for five days, so it’s kind of a bummer,” the doctor said. Peter Chin-Hong, infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco.

However, Chin-Hong said he no longer had problems eating at closed restaurants.

“And probably the only time I can wear a mask is in the hospital,” he said, and possibly on the plane, noting that he wore the mask on a recent flight when he was next to a group of returning passengers. from Europe. “And they were all sneezing and coughing, and none of them were wearing masks.”

State epidemiologist D. Erica Peng said in a recent briefing that if she sees an increase in the incidence of COVID-19, she will probably still check on her family before they dine indoors with her parents.

And in an interview last week, Ferrer said that while she now eats in a closed restaurant more often than before, she would like to do so in a well-ventilated area with few people. She said she feels comfortable going to sporting events and concerts, although she may wear a mask if it is very crowded or if she is inside.

“I, like everyone else, have activities that I enjoy and people that I enjoy spending time with. And I want, as far as possible, to find ways to do that,” Ferrer said. “I am one of those categories of people who are at increased risk. So I want to be smart about it and reduce the risks where possible, but still be able to do a lot of the things that I really love to do.”

With widespread access to updated COVID vaccines and therapeutics, “which is different now, I think we have a lot more protection,” Ferrer said. “So we need to balance reducing our risk and not staying too isolated from the people or activities we love.”

Deciding how much risk to take is a personal choice, she said.

“None of us should be judgmental,” Ferrer said. “For people at higher risk, it remains important to reduce risk in reasonable ways when they see fit.”

Spring is a time when there are usually few cases of coronavirus.

This “means that your chances of running into someone who tests positive for COVID-19 are reduced,” Ferrer said. “And if you go to a well-ventilated restaurant that isn’t very crowded, your chances of being exposed are certainly much less than when our transmission rates are higher.”

Testing is important to control spread, especially if you have symptoms.

When the national public health emergency ends on May 11, the federal requirement for health insurance companies to reimburse insurers for eight over-the-counter rapid COVID tests per month will also be lifted.

But even after May 11, many Californians will still have access to tests that must be reimbursed by their insurance company. thanks to SB 510 another SB 1473, each person insured under health plans administered by the state Department of Managed Health will still be required to cover the cost of eight over-the-counter rapid tests per month. This includes health insurance, which many people get from their employers, as well as Medi-Cal managed plans and Covered California plans.

Beginning Nov. 11, insurers regulated by the State Department of Managed Health will still have to pay for COVID tests if provided online, but may charge for tests purchased out of network.

Free home tests also available at a number of locations in Los Angeles County, including county libraries, vaccination sites run by the County Department of Public Health, food banks, and nursing centers. Los Angeles County seniors aged 65 or older, or people who cannot leave their home, may request two free tests be mailed to them.

Los Angeles County residents who need help accessing COVID-19 resources can call (833) 540-0473 seven days a week from 8:00 am to 8:30 pm.

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54,000 years ago humans and Neanderthals may have inhabited Europe together | The science



Flint glasses by Grotte Mandrin in France and Ksar Akil in Lebanon
Drawings and measurements by Laura Metz and Ludovic Slimac.

Grotto Mandrin is not a vast cave; it’s just a deep canopy in the south of France providing protection from the weather. But from the shelter, located inside the cliff, there is a wide view of the Rhone Valley, once teeming with deer, buffalo and horses. Thus, Neanderthals found the place attractive enough to call home, at least seasonally, for tens of thousands of years. And they were not the only species that settled here. A broken molar and complex stone tips suggest that the first known humans in Europe may have lived here 54,000 years ago, subsequently alternating settlement with Neanderthals over thousands of years of European prehistory.

Now the striking resemblance between these finds and tools from the Middle East, posted Wednesday at PLOS Onemade the Grotte Mandrin the epicenter of an intriguing theory that could write new chapters in the history of how humans populated Europe and what their arrival meant for the Neanderthals who lived on the continent.

A provocative new theory suggests that modern humans colonized Europe in three separate waves of migration from the Middle East, intermittently interacting with Neanderthals over thousands of years as they tried to gain a foothold. French archaeologist Ludovic Slimac believes that the complex stone tools found in France were made using systematic technical methods very similar to those homo sapiens in Lebanon that they must have come from the same culture.

A comparison of thousands of tools and one amazing human tooth led Slimak to theorize that human migration from the Middle East began about 10,000 years earlier than previously thought. And because gun technology went through three very similar stages in each region, Slimak believes it spread from the Middle East to Europe in three different waves of migration. He suggests that it was not until after the third wave, around 45,000–42,000 years ago, that Neanderthals began to die out.

“All this time H. sapiens were there, and we just didn’t see it, because human remains are absolutely rare,” says Slimak from the French National Center for Scientific Research. “Therefore, we were unable to really paint the real story of what happened during the migrations and interactions between homo sapiens and Neanderthals.”

Slimak’s research will no doubt spark controversy and lay the foundation for further research that has much to say about how humans came to power in Europe, what our ancestors’ relationship with Neanderthals was like, and why these Neanderthals, the original inhabitants of Europe, eventually disappeared.

“What I’m suggesting here is predictive, not a definitive demonstration,” he says, noting that future research will determine whether these predictions are correct.

The exposed rock Grotto Mandrin stands out on a hill in France.

Ludovic Slimak

Since excavations began in 1990, the dated archaeological layers of the Grotte Mandrin have created intriguing records of Neanderthal occupation of the site for over 80,000 years. Numerous tools and nine teeth from at least seven people were found in the rock shelter. While most of the teeth appear to be Neanderthal, one 54,000-year-old molar is clearly human. This is surprising because, before this tooth was described in 2022, the earliest widely accepted evidence of modern humans in Europe were tooth and bone fragments from a Bulgarian cave called Bacho Kiro, which contained human DNA dating back to about 45,000 years ago.

Not everyone is entirely convinced that the Grotte Mandrin tooth is definitely human, and not perhaps an unusually shaped young Neanderthal tooth. “It would be so cool if it were true… but it’s not a joke,” said Shara Bailey, a paleoanthropologist at New York University. The science in 2022. And, at least for now, scientists have not been able to recover DNA that could confirm the origin of a molar.

But the tooth is also from a short time layer, about 54,000 years ago, which contains complex stone tools called Neronian, very different from the typical Neanderthal tools found in the surrounding layers, both older and younger. Slimak believes that the nature of the tools and their systematic production represent a completely separate line of evidence from the tooth, which also points to their human origin.

The small, complex flint points are unlike anything else known in Europe at that time. They show standardized technical development, unlike Neanderthal tools, which tend to be more unique than uniform. In a 2023 study, Slimak and others even used local flint to create replicas of various arrowheads and tested their effectiveness using them on dead goats. They found that the smaller ones only proved useful when delivered at the speed of a bow and arrow, although the next evidence of European archery does not appear until 40,000 years later.

Since there was no evidence of human presence in France at the time, some have suggested that the Neanderthal population of the region may have included a unique group that adapted to the production of these complex tools. But at the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, Slimack stumbled upon a treasure trove of ancient artefacts from Ksar Akil, Lebanon — a key Paleolithic site a few miles from Beirut — leading him to a very different conclusion.

“You can read flint like a book,” he says. “This is not just a final product, you can see the technical stages of production. When I opened these boxes, I was very surprised: it was the same technical process. All production steps were the same as in the Grotto Mandrin.”

There are countless ways to emphasize flint, and Slimak emphasizes that it is extremely unlikely that two unrelated groups will use the same system of steps and techniques. “It’s almost impossible, unless you are the same people,” he says. “It was very clear to me that I was facing the same people and the same culture.”

“I think the data for this first phase, its links between the neron at Grotto Mandrin and the lower Upper Paleolithic sequence at Ksar Akil, work very well,” says Gilbert Tostevin, a University of Minnesota archaeologist who was not involved in the study. study.

If sets of tools from areas about 1800 miles apart are indeed indicative of the first human migrations to Europe, Slimak further suggests that the later evolution of toolmaking in these same disparate regions is in fact also indicative of a second wave of migration. According to Slimak, thousands of younger flints known as “sharp blades” at Xar-Aquil show the same uncanny resemblance to another tool tradition from Burgundy to Spain known as Châtelperron. The Chatelperron industry is often (though not unanimously) considered to be Neanderthal, the level of technological progress showing that Neanderthals were influenced by humans who were then beginning to appear in Europe. But Slimak suggests that this is so closely related to human technology from the Middle East that it is probably also the work of people – those who migrated to Europe during the second wave. This assertion is likely to run into problems.

If evolving tool technologies mirroring each other across Europe and the Middle East are indeed indicative of a second wave of human migration, this idea may have implications for our theories about how Neanderthals adapted to the arrival of humans. “The way we understand the last Neanderthals is that they adapted to a completely different lifestyle before their extinction,” says Slimak. But if they didn’t adapt and embrace change with transitional industries such as Châtelperron, could that point to new reasons why they didn’t survive alongside humans?

Our human ancestors and their Neanderthal relatives not only shared space and time during evolutionary history; they also interbred in different places and at different times. Today, most people living outside of sub-Saharan Africa carry Neanderthal genes, between 1 and 4 percent. But scientists aren’t sure how often these groups actually came into contact, or how much they learned from each other at places like Mandarin Grotto, where archeology suggests they likely met.

Tostevin suggests that while such human-Neanderthal hybridization may or may not have occurred at the Grotte Mandarin, it is a key part of the dynamics of Paleolithic Europe that is not recognized in the new theory. “After this first phase of modern humans, most of the Upper Paleolithic was also created by hybrids, humans and Neanderthals,” he notes. Tostevin points out that many key European sites of the era have provided such evidence, from ancient DNA at Bacho Kiro in Bulgaria and the Cave of Bones in Romania to hybrid teeth left in the Channel Islands off the coast of France. “All these sites show people who are only a few generations removed from the admixture between humans and Neanderthals.”

Other scientists say the new theory opens up many opportunities for future research in a number of areas.

“This model is nothing short of a provocation,” says Christian Tryon, an anthropologist at the University of Connecticut and the Smithsonian Descent of Man who did not author the new report but received Slimak credit for helping with the research. “Archaeologists love to connect dots on a map. There is a lot of empty space between the points on these maps,” says Tryon. “What lines of evidence can we find to really connect these dots?”

Tryon notes that finding more places between Lebanon and France might not be easy, partly because the world has changed in the last 50,000 years. “One of the implications of connecting these dots in Lebanon and France is that there must have been people living along the Mediterranean coast, sea travel that we don’t count,” he says. “The problem is that since the sea level rose about 20,000 years ago, these key coastal sites could be under water.”

Other information can be gleaned from ancient DNA, a technology that is rapidly advancing. Marie Soressy, an archaeologist at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, hopes DNA will help test what she calls an interesting, stimulating and much-anticipated hypothesis. This week Soressi and colleagues published a new method successfully extract human DNA from 20,000-year-old bone and tooth artifacts, revealing who made and processed them in the ancient past. “Applying this new technique to the time period discussed by Slimak will be of great help in testing and developing the theory he put forward,” she says.

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A grandiose global study of moss shows that it is far more important to Earth’s ecosystems than we thought.



Soil moss with fruit bodies (capsules). Credit: David Eldridge

Mosses are one of oldest land plants. They can be found all over the world, from dense rainforests to the driest deserts and even on the windswept hills of Antarctica.

They are everywhere; grows in cracks along roads and paths, on tree trunks, on rocks and buildings, and, last but not least, on soil.

Yet despite this omnipresence, we have relatively little understanding of how important they are, especially the types of mosses that thrive in the soil.

New global soil moss study published today in NatureGeoscience shows that they play a crucial role in sustaining life on our planet. Without soil mosses, the Earth’s ability to produce healthy soils, provide a habitat for microbes, and fight off pathogens would be greatly reduced.

Global overview of soil mosses

The results of a new study show that we may have underestimated the importance of soil mosses.

Using data from 123 sites on every continent, including Antarctica, we show that soil under mosses contains more nitrogen, phosphorus, and magnesium, as well as higher soil enzyme activity, than bare surfaces without plants.

In fact, mosses affect all major soil functions by increasing carbon uptake, nutrient cycling, and the breakdown of organic matter. These processes are critical to sustaining life on Earth.

Our simulations have shown that soil mosses cover a huge area of ​​the planet, about 9 million square kilometers, which is equivalent to the area of ​​China. And that’s not counting boreal forest mosses, which were not included in the study.

The strength of the influence of mosses on the soil depends on the conditions of their growth. They operate most strongly in natural unproductive environments such as deserts. They are also more important in sandy and saline soils, and where rainfall varies greatly.

Not surprisingly, mosses have the strongest impact on soils where vascular plants– those containing specialized tissues for carrying water and minerals are rare.

Intimate connection

Mosses do not have plumbing, which allows vascular plants to grow tall and draw water from beneath the soil. This makes them relatively short and means they are closely connected to the topmost layers of the soil.

Mosses are extremely absorbent and can attract airborne dust particles. Some of these particles are included in the soil below. It is not surprising, therefore, that they have such a strong effect on soils.

Our simulations show that globally, mosses store 6.4 gigatons more carbon than bare soils.

The loss of just 15% of the global soil moss cover would be equivalent to global carbon dioxide emissions from all land-use changes during the year, such as clearing and overgrazing.

Not all mosses are the same

We have also found that some mosses are more effective at improving soil health than others. Long-lived mosses tended to be associated with more carbon and better control of soil pathogens.

The ability of mosses to provide ecosystem services and support a diverse community of microbes, fungi, and invertebrates was strongest in areas with high matting and sod moss cover, such as sphagnumwhich are widely distributed in boreal forests.

Soils are a huge reservoir soil pathogens, however, there were fewer plant pathogens in the soil under the mosses. Mosses can help reduce pathogens in the soil. This ability could have arisen when the mosses developed like land plants.

Desert Task Force

A special kind of moss thrives in deserts. They either live hard (perennial mosses) or die young (annual mosses).

mosses in the family Pottiaceae uniquely suited to life in dry and harsh environments. Many have special structures that allow them to survive when water is scarce. These include boat-shaped leaves with long hairy tips that help direct water to the center of the plant. Some mosses wrap around their stem to reduce the area exposed to the sun and retain moisture.

Desert mosses also protect the soil from erosion, affect how much water moves through the upper layers and even ages chances of survival of plant seedlings.

Other mosses have special moisture-absorbing cells (papillae) that swell and provide them with a supply of moisture in dry conditions.

Our global study has shown that matting and turf mosses such as Sphagnum have the strongest positive impact on a variety of microbes, fungi and invertebrates, as well as important functions such as nutrient supply. As expected, long-lived mosses contained more soil carbon and were better at controlling plant pathogens than short-lived mosses.

Protect the mosses

Overall, our work shows that mosses influence important soil processes and function in the same way as vascular plants. Their impact may not be as strong, but their overall coverage means mosses are potentially just as significant when added up across the globe.

But mosses are under growing threat around the world; livestock anxiety, overharvestingland clearing and changing of the climate are the biggest threats.

We need greater recognition of the services that soil mosses provide to all life on this planet. This means communicating more about their positive benefits, identifying and mitigating the main threats they face, and including them in regular monitoring programs.

Soil mosses are everywhere, but their future is far from certain. They are likely to play an increasingly important role as vascular plants decline in a predicted hotter, drier and more variable global climate.

Contributed by The Conversation

This article has been reprinted from Talk under a Creative Commons license. Read original article.

quotes: Moss Grand Global Study Shows It’s Much More Important to Earth’s Ecosystems Than We Thought (2023 May 4), retrieved May 4, 2023 from -global-moss- shows-vital.html

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Europe’s new meteorological satellite takes first photos



The first images from the new European weather satellite Meteosat-12 have just been published.

The spacecraft, which is located at an altitude of 36,000 km above the equator, was launched in December and is currently in a testing phase that will last for most of this year.

When the Meteosat-12 data is finally released to the meteorological agencies, it is expected to lead to a dramatic change in forecasting skills.

Warnings about imminent dangerous conditions should improve significantly.

This is what is called “nowcasting” – the ability to say with greater certainty that a strong wind, lightning, hail or heavy rain is about to hit a particular area.

Meteosat-12 should help forecasters identify places where extreme conditions may occur.

Part of this progress will come from Meteosat-12’s increased resolution. For previous generation satellites, storm element detection needed to be at least 1 km across. The new spacecraft will track objects up to 500 meters in diameter.

“Now we can see very beautiful structures,” said Jochen Grandell of Eumetsat, the intergovernmental agency that operates Europe’s weather satellites.

“You may have heard, for example, the term ‘high peak’ which is part of the development of a thundercloud where you can see very strong updrafts and downdrafts. They change very fast and they are also very small. But they are also very strong,” he told BBC News.

Since 1977, Europe has had its own meteorological spacecraft, which is located high above the planet. The new thermal imager is the third iteration in this series.

Meteosat-12 is in a “stationary” position, constantly monitoring Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

It will return a complete picture of weather systems rushing across the surface of the Earth at a speed of one every 10 minutes, five minutes faster than it has been so far. It also views the planet in more wavelengths of light. Sixteen instead of the previously available 12.

Additional strips of light allow for true color images. In other words, the images are much closer to what the human eye can perceive when looking down from the same vantage point.

“The first time we received the data, there were huge emotions because we could see the high quality of the sensor,” recalls Eumetsat colleague Alessandro Burini.

“The optical quality of images, radiometry, navigation – in other words, the accuracy of the position of individual pixels in the image – is really very good.”


Image: The nearly 4-tonne satellite is 36,000 km above the equator.

The new third-generation system will eventually consist of three spacecraft operating in unison.

The second thermal imager will appear in 2026 in order to get images of only Europe faster – every 2.5 minutes. Before that, in 2024, a “probing” spacecraft will be launched to measure temperature and humidity in the atmosphere.

Since spare satellites have already been ordered for the first operational trio, Europe is guaranteed coverage until the 2040s.

The total cost is expected to be around €4.3bn (£3.7bn).

Wavelength Comparison

Wavelength Comparison

If that sounds like a lot of money (and it is), it pales in comparison to the value society derives from accurate weather forecasting in preventing loss of life, damage to infrastructure and economic disruption.

Repeated analyzes have shown that the benefits are in the tens of billions of dollars a year across Europe.

BBC Weather presenter and meteorologist Simon King was thrilled to see the new images.

“It’s like going from standard definition to 4K,” he said. “The increase in resolution is quite noticeable. When you zoom in, you can actually see the structure of the clouds. And it’s not just clouds, you can also see the dust in the atmosphere very clearly, which is important, for example, for the development of hurricanes.”

Natasha Strelets Makhovich works at Eumetsat teaching people how to use data from space. She previously worked as a meteorologist in Croatia.

“Another example that I would call a consequence of higher resolution is fog detection, because now we can see fog even in very narrow valleys,” she explained. “And perhaps another application that I would highlight is the monitoring of forest fires, since [Meteosat-12] will not only see much smaller fires better and see smoke, but also channels on [Meteosat-12] will allow us to see differences even in the intensity of the fire.”

Testing of the satellite and terrestrial systems will continue throughout this year. National forecasting agencies such as the UK Met Office, Météo-France and DWD (German Meteorological Service) are scheduled to enter Meteosat-12 information into their supercomputers regularly in early 2024.

Image Comparison

Image Comparison

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