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Hackers hijack more than 1,200 accounts in Roblox and flood it with Trump 2020 propaganda

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Hackers have taken over more than 1,200 Roblox accounts, flooding the popular children’s video game with Trump 2020 campaign propaganda.

Initially, a handful of players reported that they were receiving strange messages in game supporting Donald Trump‘s reelection campaign, and later other players began noticing avatars wearing Trump-inspired apparel. 

This included donning red pants, a white shirt with an American flag and bald eagle graphic, and a red baseball cap with white lettering.

A coordinated pro-Trump hacking campaign appears to be targeting the kids video game Roblox, redesigning avatars in MAGA wear and sending messages that encourage kids to tell their parents to vote Trump in 2020

A coordinated pro-Trump hacking campaign appears to be targeting the kids video game Roblox, redesigning avatars in MAGA wear and sending messages that encourage kids to tell their parents to vote Trump in 2020

A coordinated pro-Trump hacking campaign appears to be targeting the kids video game Roblox, redesigning avatars in MAGA wear and sending messages that encourage kids to tell their parents to vote Trump in 2020

In the ‘About’ field of each hacked player’s main profile page, the message ‘Ask your parents to vote for Trump this year!#MAGA2020’ has replaced the original biographical information. 

‘Why is my avatar this?’ one hacked player posted, according to a report from BBC ‘I’m not even American.’

‘A Trump supporter hacked my Roblox account and messaged my friends to vote for him,’ another young player reported, in a post on Twitter. 

The hacking campaign appears to have begun in late June, when around 500 accounts were compromised, and within a week the number has more than doubled. 

Some players say they’ve been able to reclaim their hacked accounts, but Roblox has not commented on the hacking campaign or any investigative steps they’ve taken to stop it.

The Trump-inspired apparel relies on the creative combination of clothing options already available in the game.

More than 1,200 accounts appear to have been affected by the hacking campaign, which overwrites the 'About' field of each player's profile with the message: 'Ask your parents to vote for Trump this year!#MAGA2020'

More than 1,200 accounts appear to have been affected by the hacking campaign, which overwrites the 'About' field of each player's profile with the message: 'Ask your parents to vote for Trump this year!#MAGA2020'

More than 1,200 accounts appear to have been affected by the hacking campaign, which overwrites the ‘About’ field of each player’s profile with the message: ‘Ask your parents to vote for Trump this year!#MAGA2020’

The ‘American Eagle’ t-shirt was first introduced in 2008 as a customized player creation that was rarely seen or worn before the hacking campaign.

The red baseball cap is an official item designed by the game’s developers, Roblox Corporation, and says ‘Running of the Bulls’ in white lettering, a reference to the famous Sanfermines festival in Pamplona, Spain.

The white lettering becomes hard to read when the camera is panned back to its normal in-game view, and in conjunction with the t-shirt and the ‘MAGA2020’ slogan, the impression suggests a clear tie to Trump.

The hacking effort appears to be targeting players around the world. 'Why is my avatar this? I¿m not even American,' one hacked player wrote on Twitter

The hacking effort appears to be targeting players around the world. 'Why is my avatar this? I¿m not even American,' one hacked player wrote on Twitter

The hacking effort appears to be targeting players around the world. ‘Why is my avatar this? I’m not even American,’ one hacked player wrote on Twitter

The avatars are all made to wear the same obscure t-shirt featuring an American flag and bald eagle, a rarely-seen in-game item that was designed by a player in 2008

The avatars are all made to wear the same obscure t-shirt featuring an American flag and bald eagle, a rarely-seen in-game item that was designed by a player in 2008

The avatars are all made to wear the same obscure t-shirt featuring an American flag and bald eagle, a rarely-seen in-game item that was designed by a player in 2008

In lieu of an actual MAGA hat, hackers have used a hat originally designed by the Roblox Corporation themselves, which was originally designed to commemorate the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain

In lieu of an actual MAGA hat, hackers have used a hat originally designed by the Roblox Corporation themselves, which was originally designed to commemorate the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain

In lieu of an actual MAGA hat, hackers have used a hat originally designed by the Roblox Corporation themselves, which was originally designed to commemorate the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain

Roblox is an open-ended game where players create their own avatars and develop their own simple games to play with others in the game world, kind of a cross between Minecraft and Second Life.

The game currently has more than 100 million players around the world and is available on iOS and Android devices as well as Windows, MacOS, and Xbox One.

It was originally released in 2004, under the name Dynablox, but changed its name to Roblox in 2006 and has steadily grown into one of the most popular children’s games in the world.

The game has been a frequent target of hackers over the years, including a 2018 incident when hackers filled the game world with pornographic scenarios using the game’s crude avatars.

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US Weather: July 4 heatwave could merge ‘ring of fire’ systems

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A weather phenomenon known as the ‘ring of fire’ could be experienced over central parts of the United States this July 4th weekend as temperatures soar. 

A blast of heat over the Midwest portion of the nation coupled with weather systems at opposite ends of the country could lead to some violent storms in the the center creating a ‘ring of fire pattern’.

It would see storms circulating along the edges of the heat dome leading to some powerful thunderstorms, particularly over the northern Plains.

The National Weather service warned of severe thunderstorms on Friday night in Montana and the western Dakotas, while excessive rainfall could cause flash flooding over northern New Jersey, southern New York and western Connecticut. 

The jet steam has moved northwards allowing an incredible amount of heat to move in  across a vast chunk of the country

The jet steam has moved northwards allowing an incredible amount of heat to move in  across a vast chunk of the country

The jet steam has moved northwards allowing an incredible amount of heat to move in  across a vast chunk of the country

The initial blast of heat is likely to linger for several weeks as summer takes hold with temperatures forecast to be far higher than usual

The initial blast of heat is likely to linger for several weeks as summer takes hold with temperatures forecast to be far higher than usual

The initial blast of heat is likely to linger for several weeks as summer takes hold with temperatures forecast to be far higher than usual

The National Weather Service tweeted out a warning over high temperatures and strong winds

The National Weather Service tweeted out a warning over high temperatures and strong winds

The National Weather Service tweeted out a warning over high temperatures and strong winds

Beachgoers sunbathe as beaches are reopened with restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus as places like Miami Beach, pictured, endured record temperatures

Beachgoers sunbathe as beaches are reopened with restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus as places like Miami Beach, pictured, endured record temperatures

Beachgoers sunbathe as beaches are reopened with restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus as places like Miami Beach, pictured, endured record temperatures

‘The first half of July looks to have well-above-normal temperatures, at pretty high probabilities, beginning around the Fourth of July or slightly before,’ Jon Gottschalck, chief of the Operational Prediction Branch at the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, told NBC News. 

Gottschalck said several regions will come under heat advisories and excessive heat watches as the warmth continues well into the evenings.  

‘Our models indicate that this is going to be somewhat persistent through the first two weeks of July, and potentially longer,’ he said.   

The heat is sticking around due to the jet stream moving further north which has creating a ‘ridging effect’ which allows for warm, drier conditions on the ground.

The Ring of Fire refers to storms that move around a large area of high pressure and sees high temperatures as shown in this map for Friday July 3

The Ring of Fire refers to storms that move around a large area of high pressure and sees high temperatures as shown in this map for Friday July 3

The Ring of Fire refers to storms that move around a large area of high pressure and sees high temperatures as shown in this map for Friday July 3

Storm clusters that run through the flow between the weather systems can be strong and contain gusty winds and locally heavy rain

Storm clusters that run through the flow between the weather systems can be strong and contain gusty winds and locally heavy rain

Storm clusters that run through the flow between the weather systems can be strong and contain gusty winds and locally heavy rain

Hotter than normal temperatures are likely to be seen across main body of the U.S. for weeks

Hotter than normal temperatures are likely to be seen across main body of the U.S. for weeks

Hotter than normal temperatures are likely to be seen across main body of the U.S. for weeks

This also creates a ‘ring of fire’ weather pattern system in which storms ride along the periphery of the heat dome and trigger severe thunderstorms across the northern Plains, he said.

Current forecasts show that a so-called ‘heat dome’ could stick around well into the month.

The extreme weather is the first major heatwave of the season and is expected to last for several weeks, stretched from eastern New Mexico and Colorado across the central Plains and into the Northeast.

Although the presence of high temperatures comes with its own set of issues, the Climate Prediction Center has been working alongside the Federal Emergency Management Agency in order to manage heat waves during the pandemic.

People visit the beach in Huntington Beach, California in May

People visit the beach in Huntington Beach, California in May

People visit the beach in Huntington Beach, California in May

Dealing with the heatwave may be even more problematic this year due to the coronavirus  which means many cooling centers aimed at providing relief may not even open

Dealing with the heatwave may be even more problematic this year due to the coronavirus  which means many cooling centers aimed at providing relief may not even open

Dealing with the heatwave may be even more problematic this year due to the coronavirus  which means many cooling centers aimed at providing relief may not even open

Some cities that might normally have provided assistance such as cooling centers for those who are vulnerable may not be able to do so this year because of social distancing guidelines.

‘We’re dealing with such a unique situation, where even if some areas can open up cooling centers and things like that, they’re likely to have limited capacity,’ said Julie Caron, a climate scientist to NBC. 

‘So now, you could have a vulnerable population that has to make a choice to either stay home and risk the heat or go to a cooling center and risk exposure to the virus.’ 

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Red glow at Milky Way centre from highly energised hydrogen

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A red glow at the centre of the Milky Way has been detected for the first time and it could help astronomers discover what powers the centre of our spiral galaxy.

The red light shines out of an area known as the ‘Tilted Disk’ – named for its orientation – that sits in the central bar region of the Milky Way, astronomers said.

A team from the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Florida used the Wisconsin H-Alpha Mapper (WHAM) telescope in Chile to make this dramatic discovery. 

The faint beacon is only just visible from Earth – peaking through a hole in the dust and is a telltale sign of ionised hydrogen gas – coming from newly forming stars. 

Being able to identify and measure this ionised gas allowed the astronomers to compare the centre of the Milky Way to other spiral galaxies more easily.  

The next stage is to find out the source of energy that is powering this newly discovered ionisation at the centre of the galaxy, according to the study authors.

The faint red beacon (highlighted in this artist impression) is only just visible from Earth - peaking through a hole in the dust and is a telltale sign of ionised hydrogen gas - coming from newly forming stars at the centre of the Milky Way

The faint red beacon (highlighted in this artist impression) is only just visible from Earth - peaking through a hole in the dust and is a telltale sign of ionised hydrogen gas - coming from newly forming stars at the centre of the Milky Way

The faint red beacon (highlighted in this artist impression) is only just visible from Earth – peaking through a hole in the dust and is a telltale sign of ionised hydrogen gas – coming from newly forming stars at the centre of the Milky Way

The team say the source of this red beacon of light was found by comparing other colours of visible light coming from ionised nitrogen and oxygen. 

Co author Dr Lawrence Haffner said that without an ongoing source of energy, free electrons usually find each other and recombine to return to a neutral state.

The Embry-Riddle researcher said this happens in a relatively short amount of time.

‘Being able to see ionised gas in new ways should help us discover the kinds of sources that could be responsible for keeping all that gas energised,’ said Haffner.

His colleague Professor Bob Benjamin, of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, was looking at two decades’ worth of WHAM data when he spotted the ‘red flag’.

The peculiar shape poking out of the Milky Way’s dark, dusty centre was ionised hydrogen gas which appears red – and was moving in the direction of Earth.

Optical Milky Way image with an emission line associated with the Tilted Disk showing the location of the 'red light' discovered by the astronomers

Optical Milky Way image with an emission line associated with the Tilted Disk showing the location of the 'red light' discovered by the astronomers

Optical Milky Way image with an emission line associated with the Tilted Disk showing the location of the ‘red light’ discovered by the astronomers

The position of the feature couldn’t be explained by known physical phenomena such as galactic rotation, according to the research team.

Dr Haffner said: ‘Being able to make these measurements in optical light allowed us to compare the nucleus of the Milky Way to other galaxies much more easily.

‘Many past studies have measured the quantity and quality of ionised gas from the centres of thousands of spiral galaxies throughout the universe.

‘For the first time, we were able to directly compare measurements from our galaxy to that large population.’

Lead author Dhanesh Krishnarao, a graduate student at University of Wisconsin-Madison, leveraged an existing model to predict how much gas there should be.

Raw data from the WHAM telescope allowed him to refine his calculations until the team had an accurate 3-D picture of the structure.

The study, published in the journal Science Advances, also found that around half of the hydrogen has been ionised by an unknown source.

‘The Milky Way can now be used to better understand its nature,’ Krishnarao said. 

‘Close to the nucleus of the Milky Way gas is ionised by newly forming stars, but as you move further away from the centre, things get more extreme,’ he said.

Further from the centre the gas becomes similar to a class of galaxies called LINERs, or low ionisation (nuclear) emission regions.

The peculiar shape poking out of the Milky Way's dark, dusty centre was ionised hydrogen gas which appears red - and was moving in the direction of Earth. Artists impression

The peculiar shape poking out of the Milky Way's dark, dusty centre was ionised hydrogen gas which appears red - and was moving in the direction of Earth. Artists impression

The peculiar shape poking out of the Milky Way’s dark, dusty centre was ionised hydrogen gas which appears red – and was moving in the direction of Earth. Artists impression

The structure appeared to be moving toward Earth because it was on an elliptical orbit interior to the Milky Way’s spiral arms, the researchers found.

LINER-type galaxies such as the Milky Way make up roughly a third of all galaxies. 

They have centres with more radiation than galaxies that are only forming new stars, yet less radiation than those whose supermassive black holes are actively consuming a tremendous amount of material.

‘Before this discovery by WHAM, the Andromeda Galaxy was the closest LINER spiral to us,’ said Dr Haffner, adding that ‘it’s still millions of light-years away.’ 

‘With the nucleus of the Milky Way only tens of thousands of light-years away, we can now study a LINER region in more detail.

This is an optical image of the Milky Way galaxy and to the left of the central bright area is a red spark of light that is made of ionising (highly energetic) hydrogen gas that astronomers hope to be able to use to determine the source of energy that powers our galactic heart

This is an optical image of the Milky Way galaxy and to the left of the central bright area is a red spark of light that is made of ionising (highly energetic) hydrogen gas that astronomers hope to be able to use to determine the source of energy that powers our galactic heart

This is an optical image of the Milky Way galaxy and to the left of the central bright area is a red spark of light that is made of ionising (highly energetic) hydrogen gas that astronomers hope to be able to use to determine the source of energy that powers our galactic heart

‘Studying this extended ionized gas should help us learn more about the current and past environment in the center of our Galaxy.’

The researchers now plan to figure out the source of the energy at the centre of the Milky Way that is driving this newly discovered beacon.

Being able to categorise the galaxy based on its level of radiation was an important first step toward that goal, according to Haffner.

‘In the next few years, we hope to build WHAM’s successor, which would give us a sharper view of the gas we study,’ he said.

‘Right now our map `pixels’ are twice the size of the full moon. WHAM has been a great tool for producing the first all-sky survey of this gas, but we’re hungry for more details now.’

The findings have been published in the journal Science Advances

HOW OLD IS THE OLDEST STAR IN THE MILKY WAY?

Scientists in Spain have discovered one of the oldest stars in the Milky Way

Scientists in Spain have discovered one of the oldest stars in the Milky Way

Scientists in Spain have discovered one of the oldest stars in the Milky Way

A newly discovered star is thought to be one of the oldest in the Milky Way.

Scientists at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) in Spain believe that it might have formed about 300 million years after the ‘Big Bang’.

IAC researcher Jonay González Hernández said: ‘Theory predicts that these stars could form just after, and using material from, the first supernovae, whose progenitors were the first massive stars in the Galaxy.’

Researchers hope the star, known as J0815+4729, which is in line with the Lynx constellation, will help them learn more about the Big Bang, the popular theory about the galaxy’s evolution.

IAC director Rafael Rebolo said: ‘Detecting lithium gives us crucial information related to Big Bang nucleosynthesis. We are working on a spectrograph of high resolution and wide spectral range in order to be able to measure (among other things) the detailed chemical composition of stars with unique properties such as J0815+4729.’

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Miners risked lives for ochre in Mexican caves 12,000 years ago

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Humans living in what is now modern-day Mexico ventured into dangerous caves searching for ochre around 12,000 years ago, a study reveals. 

The red mineral was highly-prized in ancient civilisations as a pigment and it is also believed to have been used as an antiseptic, sunscreen and vermin repellent.  

A series of caves in the Yucatán Peninsula, Quintana Roo, Mexico, which are now underwater, have long been known to divers and they contain remains of Paleoindians, the first people to inhabit the Western hemisphere.  

But the origin of the people entombed here and why they perished in such a treacherous place had long been a mystery.  

Now, archaeologists believe the people who died in the caves were miners searching for the valuable ochre. 

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Pictured, a landmark of piled stone and broken speleothems left 10,000-12,000 years ago by the earliest inhabitants of the Western hemisphere to find their way in and out of the oldest ochre mine ever found in the

Pictured, a landmark of piled stone and broken speleothems left 10,000-12,000 years ago by the earliest inhabitants of the Western hemisphere to find their way in and out of the oldest ochre mine ever found in the

Pictured, a landmark of piled stone and broken speleothems left 10,000-12,000 years ago by the earliest inhabitants of the Western hemisphere to find their way in and out of the oldest ochre mine ever found in the

A diver from Centro Investigador del Sistema Acuífero de Q Roo (CINDAQ A.C.) examines an ochre extraction pit in the oldest ochre mine ever found in the Americas

A diver from Centro Investigador del Sistema Acuífero de Q Roo (CINDAQ A.C.) examines an ochre extraction pit in the oldest ochre mine ever found in the Americas

A diver from Centro Investigador del Sistema Acuífero de Q Roo (CINDAQ A.C.) examines an ochre extraction pit in the oldest ochre mine ever found in the Americas

According to researchers from the University of Missouri who led the study,physical artefacts found inside the caves prove it was mined for ochre. 

Items date back to between 11,400 and 10,700 years ago, the study found.

The caves would have been accessible during the last ice age from around 21,000 years ago, the researchers say. 

However, when the ice age ended and sea levels surged around 8,000 years ago, they dropped below sea level.  

But when they were accessible without SCUBA diving equipment, Paleoindians scoured them for signs of ochre.  

Pictured, a hammer stone made from a piece of speleothem and used by the Paleoindians. The mine holds some the best-preserved evidence of the earliest inhabitants of the hemisphere and was found in a cave that is now underwater in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula

Pictured, a hammer stone made from a piece of speleothem and used by the Paleoindians. The mine holds some the best-preserved evidence of the earliest inhabitants of the hemisphere and was found in a cave that is now underwater in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula

Pictured, a hammer stone made from a piece of speleothem and used by the Paleoindians. The mine holds some the best-preserved evidence of the earliest inhabitants of the hemisphere and was found in a cave that is now underwater in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula

Ochre was highly-prized in ancient civilisations as a pigment and it is also believed to have been used as an antiseptic, sunscreen and vermin repellent. A series of caves, which are now underwater, have long been known to divers and contain remains of ancient humans

Ochre was highly-prized in ancient civilisations as a pigment and it is also believed to have been used as an antiseptic, sunscreen and vermin repellent. A series of caves, which are now underwater, have long been known to divers and contain remains of ancient humans

Ochre was highly-prized in ancient civilisations as a pigment and it is also believed to have been used as an antiseptic, sunscreen and vermin repellent. A series of caves, which are now underwater, have long been known to divers and contain remains of ancient humans

Pictured, a diver from Centro Investigador del Sistema Acuífero de Q Roo (CINDAQ A.C.) in the oldest ochre mine ever found in the Americas

Pictured, a diver from Centro Investigador del Sistema Acuífero de Q Roo (CINDAQ A.C.) in the oldest ochre mine ever found in the Americas

Pictured, a diver from Centro Investigador del Sistema Acuífero de Q Roo (CINDAQ A.C.) in the oldest ochre mine ever found in the Americas

Oldest use of bows and arrows outside of Africa found in Sri Lanka

Scientists have discovered evidence of the oldest use of bows and arrows by prehistoric humans outside of Africa, in a cave in Sri Lanka. 

Fragments of arrowheads, made from the bone of boar, deer, primates and other creatures, were used to hunt tree-dwelling animals at least 45,000 years ago. 

The preserved shards, found in the cave of Fa-Hien Lena to the southwest of the Asian island, helped hunters catch speedy rainforest monkeys and squirrels.  

An international team of archaeologists say the arrow fragments are older than any evidence of similar technology found in Europe.   

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‘Here, we announce the discovery of the first subterranean ochre mine of Paleoindian age found in the Americas, offering compelling evidence for mining in three cave systems on the eastern Yucatán over a ~2000-year period between ~12 and 10,000 years ago,’ the researchers say in their study. 

Evidence of mining was dated using a combination of radiocarbon dating, calcite formations that form after mining and the documented sea-level rise record.

‘The cave passages exhibit preserved evidence for ochre extraction pits,’ the researchers add. 

‘The sophistication and extent of the activities demonstrate a readiness to venture into the dark zones of the caves to prospect and collect what was evidently a highly valued mineral resource.’

Among the evidence of ancient ochre mining were digging tools, shattered and piled flowstone debris, navigational markers and charcoal made from wood burned by the miners to form torches. 

‘Now that we are alerted to underground ochre mining and its archaeological signatures, additional discoveries are certain to be made in the nearly 2000 km of known cave systems, which will clarify the process and chronology of Paleoindian ochre mining in Quintana Roo,’ the researchers say in their study. 

The full findings are available in the journal Science Advances.  

Artefacts found in the cave date back to between 11,400 and 10,700 years ago. The caves would have been accessible during the last ice age from around 21,000 years ago, the researchers say

Artefacts found in the cave date back to between 11,400 and 10,700 years ago. The caves would have been accessible during the last ice age from around 21,000 years ago, the researchers say

Artefacts found in the cave date back to between 11,400 and 10,700 years ago. The caves would have been accessible during the last ice age from around 21,000 years ago, the researchers say

A series of caves, which are now underwater, have long been known to divers and contain remains of ancient humans. But the origin of the people entombed here and why they were in such a treacherous place had long been a mystery

A series of caves, which are now underwater, have long been known to divers and contain remains of ancient humans. But the origin of the people entombed here and why they were in such a treacherous place had long been a mystery

A series of caves, which are now underwater, have long been known to divers and contain remains of ancient humans. But the origin of the people entombed here and why they were in such a treacherous place had long been a mystery

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