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Uber sends 600k Clorox packages to encourage riders to sanitize

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Uber will send out more than a half-million packages of Clorox wipes to se drivers in several major cities in the US. 

According to the ride-hailing giant, the company will distribute nearly 600,000 canisters of disinfecting wipes to drivers in Chicago, Atlanta, and New York City as part of a partnership with Clorox.

As a part of that initiative, riders will also be notified when their ride is carrying wipes and encourage them to disinfect the space.

Uber will also notify riders when their car contains Clorox wipes and send a checklist of precautions before they enter the vehicles (pictured)

Uber will also notify riders when their car contains Clorox wipes and send a checklist of precautions before they enter the vehicles (pictured)

Uber will also notify riders when their car contains Clorox wipes and send a checklist of precautions before they enter the vehicles (pictured)

‘Cleanliness is a shared responsibility and riders should also be making an effort to sanitize the frequently touched areas in the back of the car to help create a cleaner environment for themselves, the driver, and the next passenger,’ Uber said in a statement.  

Uber said it will deliver 200,000 Clorox wipes per month and may potentially expand their use to other cities.  

Uber is also giving guidelines on ‘high-touch’ areas so that riders and rivers can, ‘identify the key spots to clean before and after every trip.’

According to Uber, drivers should focus on the front cabin of the car, including the steering-wheel, gear shifts, cup holders, and door handles.

Uber recommends that riders focus on seat belt buckles, window controllers, and door handles. 

Uber has made several broad policy shifts in an effort to protect drivers and passengers from COVID-19.

In addition to requiring all drivers to wear masks, the company is also requiring passengers to wear protective gear. 

Uber also requires drivers to go through a safety checklist, confirming they have followed safety protocols, like disinfecting the car, and is even confirming that drivers are wearing a face cover by making them take a selfie with a mask on.  

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Scientists confirm first marine fish extinction of modern times

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Scientists have made a depressing discovery – the first marine fish of modern times has been declared extinct.

The smooth handfish has officially been wiped from the southeastern Australian waters due to habitat decline, pollution and destructive fishing practices.

The bottom-dweller was one of 14 species of handfish, which use highly modified pectoral fins to ‘walk’ along the seabed.

Smooth handfish were first discovered in the early 1800s during a scientific exploration, but the only thing left of the species is a preserved specimen collected during that dive.

Scientists have made a depressing discovery – the first marine fish of modern times has been declared extinct. The smooth handfish has officially been wiped from the southeastern Australian waters due to habitat decline, pollution and destructive fishing practices

Scientists have made a depressing discovery – the first marine fish of modern times has been declared extinct. The smooth handfish has officially been wiped from the southeastern Australian waters due to habitat decline, pollution and destructive fishing practices

Scientists have made a depressing discovery – the first marine fish of modern times has been declared extinct. The smooth handfish has officially been wiped from the southeastern Australian waters due to habitat decline, pollution and destructive fishing practices

Jessica Meeuwig, a professor at the University of Western Australia and director of the university’s Center for Marine Futures, told Mongabay: ‘Some claim that the ocean is too vast for marine wildlife to go extinct.’

‘But ocean industrialization from fishing, mining, oil and gas exploration, shipping and infrastructure development is catching up with the scale of industrialization on land and with it the risk of extinction for marine wildlife.’

There are still 13 species of handfish living in the Australian waters, all of which range in size, shape and color.

The all have fins along their backs and small eyes on the sides of their point head.

Smooth handfish were first discovered in the early 1800s during a scientific exploration, but the only thing left of the species is a preserved specimen collected during that dive

Smooth handfish were first discovered in the early 1800s during a scientific exploration, but the only thing left of the species is a preserved specimen collected during that dive

Smooth handfish were first discovered in the early 1800s during a scientific exploration, but the only thing left of the species is a preserved specimen collected during that dive

But what makes these creatures so unique is their lack of swim bladder that helps them control their buoyancy.

Instead, their front fins are flat, allowing them to use them as feet to walk on the seafloor.

Handfish also have flamboyant antenna-like features growing out of the top of their head to lure prey, since they are unable to swim.

Humans have hunted different marine animals into extinction, including the monk seal that was wiped out in 1952, but this is the first time a marine fish species has disappeared from our planet in modern times.

Researchers at Fauna and Flora International, a non-government conservation group, said:’ ‘The story of the smooth handfish should stop us in our tracks and make us think long and hard about what price we’re willing to pay for our seafood, about what lies behind the notion of ‘sustainable’ fisheries.’

The bottom-dweller was one of 14 species of handfish, which use highly modified pectoral fins to 'walk' along the seabed

The bottom-dweller was one of 14 species of handfish, which use highly modified pectoral fins to 'walk' along the seabed

The bottom-dweller was one of 14 species of handfish, which use highly modified pectoral fins to ‘walk’ along the seabed

The team believes fishing activities had a large hand in the extinction of the smooth handfish.

The scientists note in their Redlist assessment that ‘this species was probably impacted, through both direct mortality as bycatch and destruction of habitat, by the large historical scallop fishery that was active in the region through the 20th century until the fishery collapsed in 1967.’

However, fishermen were not hunting the smooth handfish specifically, the unlucky creatures were collected in scallop nets.

However, only four of the 13 handfish species have been spotted in the past 20 years leading experts to believe many more may have been lost to extinction. Pictured is the Ziebell's handfish, which is a critically endangered species

However, only four of the 13 handfish species have been spotted in the past 20 years leading experts to believe many more may have been lost to extinction. Pictured is the Ziebell's handfish, which is a critically endangered species

However, only four of the 13 handfish species have been spotted in the past 20 years leading experts to believe many more may have been lost to extinction. Pictured is the Ziebell’s handfish, which is a critically endangered species

The red handfish is one of the handfish species that is still thriving in the Australian waters

The red handfish is one of the handfish species that is still thriving in the Australian waters

The red handfish is one of the handfish species that is still thriving in the Australian waters

Jemina Stuart-Smith, a research fellow at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, told Mongabay: ‘I think people should be concerned about the extinction of any species, especially ones that humans are likely to have caused.’

‘We don’t know enough about handfish to know what their ecological role is [and if extinction] will impact the ecosystems that they are a part [of], or whether it [the underlying causes] will lead to other extinctions.

‘The smooth handfish became extinct before we had a chance to study them.’

However, only four of the 13 handfish species have been spotted in the past 20 years, leading experts to believe many more may have been lost to extinction.

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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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