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This Cosmic Timekeeping Method Proposes to Synchronize All Clocks on Earth – ScienceAlert

Modern technology pulses with a heartbeat measured in microseconds. From global positioning systems to communications networks, it’s vital every component falls into near-perfect synch.

Based on standards determined by a specialized task group, signals sent through optic fiber or down from an orbiting satellite tend to ensure time-sensitive technology matches moments down to the nanosecond.

Yet this isn’t always going to be the case. Reliant on fallible electronics, separated by vast distances, hidden beneath waves and stone, it’s easy for vital pieces of a network to lose the beat.

According to University of Tokyo geophysicist Hiroyuki Tanaka, it might be high time we looked elsewhere for a more reliable, more accessible timekeeper. Like to the sky, and above.

“It’s relatively easy to keep time accurately these days. For example, atomic clocks have been doing this for decades now,” says Tanaka.

“However, these are large and expensive devices that are very easy to disrupt. This is one reason I have been working on an improved way to keep time.”

Called cosmic time synchronization (CTS), Tanaka proposes we use the subatomic fireworks that shower down from collisions between high energy cosmic rays and our atmosphere.

Those collisions generate a variety of particles, one of which is the heavyweight cousin of the electron – the muon.

These beefy bits of matter shoot towards the planet’s surface at close to the speed of light, respecting little in its path. Hold out your hand and you can expect a muon to punch through your palm once a second.

Even the rock beneath your feet struggles to block its path, a feature that makes them perfect for shining a light on the insides of dense structures like the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Crucially, every shower of muons rains down in a slightly unique fashion, providing a signature explosion that can be detected independently by sensors spread across several square kilometers.

By sharing details of each event and working backward, a network can use a series of cosmic muon fireworks to synchronize their watches with split-second precision.

CTSSensorSystem(Hiroyuki K. M. Tanaka)

“The principle is robust, and the technology, detectors, and timing electronics already exist. So we could implement this idea relatively quickly,” said Tanaka.

It’s easy to imagine a web of muon-catchers on the ocean floor or scattered in remote regions, conscientiously synchronized to align observations that could help pinpoint earthquakes or warn against tsunamis.

According to Tanaka, the technology could also have an added advantage of serving as the basis for a new kind of global positioning system by mapping muons back to their source.

Whether such technology could augment current methods, serve as an alternative in select situations, or replace it altogether, is yet to be seen.

“Thomas Edison lit up Manhattan starting with a single light bulb,” says Tanaka.

“Perhaps we should take that approach, starting with a city block, then a district, and eventually we’ll synchronize the whole of Tokyo and beyond.”

This research was published in Scientific Reports.

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Glencore Reaches Settlements With U.S., U.K., Brazil on Bribery, Market Manipulation – The Wall Street Journal


The Justice Department in Washington, D.C. The settlement of the investigations removes a distraction for Glencore.

Photo: Ting Shen for The Wall Street Journal

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Reference genomes provide first insights into genetic roots of mustelid physiological and behavioral diversity – Science Daily

Mustelids are the most ecologically and taxonomically diverse family within the order Carnivora. From the tayra in the neotropics to the wolverine in the subarctic, they inhabit a variety of ecological niches and developed corresponding species-specific traits related to their diet, reproductive strategy and morphology. An international team of scientists led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) conducted a comparative analysis of whole genomes of several mustelids to obtain insights into the molecular basis of these adaptations. The team found that multiple sources of genomic variation contributed to candidate genes, including those that change the number, position, orientation or size of genes in a species’ genome. The latter forms of genomic variation are frequently neglected in genome studies of wildlife species, and the authors argue that this needs to change.

The Mustelidae are the most ecologically and taxonomically diverse family within the mammalian order Carnivora and includes the badgers, ferrets, weasels and otters. Even closely related mustelids often inhabit different ecosystems where they face very different challenges. Consequently, they evolved a large variety of species-specific behavioural, morphological and physiological adaptations related to diet and reproduction. As recent developments in sequencing technologies and analytical methods permit the construction of draft genomes for many wild species, mustelids provide wildlife geneticists with the opportunity to unravel the roots of this diversity by identifying regions in the genome associated with ecologically relevant traits.

“We focused on the subfamily Guloninae, within which several species occupy a variety of ecological niches, ranging from the omnivorous tayra (Eira barbara) in the neotropics to the carnivorous wolverine (Gulo gulo) in the resource-scarce subarctic,” says Lorena Derežanin, a PhD student at the Department of Evolutionary Genetics of the Leibniz-IZW and first author of the paper. “This is the first study comparing the genomes of ecologically disparate species within this diverse subfamily and sheds light on how these species evolved,” says Klaus-Peter Koepfli, a Senior Research Scientist at George Mason University in the US and a co-author on the study.

The research team produced the first reference genome of the tayra and compared it to the available genomes for the wolverine and the sable (Martes zibellina), two other members of the Guloninae that are ecologically quite different. They found that not only do the “single nucleotide variants,” essentially single “letter” changes in the genetic code, contribute to species differences in genes associated with ecologically relevant traits, but that large scale changes known as structural variants were also important, affecting parts of specific genes or multiple genes. “Our results are important, as they demonstrate that many types of processes responsible for genomic variation need to be considered, including those that can rapidly change the number and function of genes in a genome,” says Derežanin. “If we use the metaphor of a book to represent the DNA sequences in a genome, then the kind of changes we are talking about are akin to deleting, moving, or duplicating large chunks of text, on a scale of paragraphs, pages or even whole chapters,” adds Daniel Förster, a scientist at the Leibniz-IZW and senior author of the paper.

The research team identified modifications in many genes that could be associated with the species’ different ecologies. For example, in the genome of the tayra, the only Guloninae species that breeds throughout the year, they found many modifications of pregnancy-related genes. In the wolverine, a circumpolar carnivore that must cope with seasonal food scarcity, many modified genes were associated with diet and body condition. “In a sense, starving for longer periods is part of the wolverine lifestyle, and we identified candidate genes that allow them to cope with this,” says Jörns Fickel, head of the Leibniz-IZW Department of Evolutionary Genetics. “Generating further genomes for species from this diverse mammalian family will be a strong foundation to help us understand how genomes evolve in response to different environmental challenges.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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Zimbabwe Crumble In Final T20I As Namibia Seal Historic Series Win – 263chat.com

Namibia – 127-8 in 20 overs (Craig Williams 48, Ruben Trumpelmann 19*, Jan Frylinck 15; Wessly Madhevere 2/15, Luke Jongwe 2/16, Sikandar Raza 2/18)

Zimbabwe – 95 all out in 19.1 overs (Tony Munyonga 28, Innocent Kaia 12, Sikandar Raza 12; Gerhard Erasmus 2/9, Jan Frylinck 2/25, Ben Shikongo 1/9)

Namibia won by 32 runs

Zimbabwe suffered a 32-run defeat at the hands of Namibia in the fifth and final T20I match at Queens Sports Club on Tuesday, giving the tourists an historic series victory.

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Going into the match level at two wins apiece, the hosts won the toss and decided to put the visitors in to bat first.

For three overs Namibia made a strong showing, with Craig Williams and Michael van Lingen rattling up 31 runs to give them a cracking start.

But then van Lingen, who hit two fours and scored 12 off seven balls, was caught at the wicket by Richmond Mutumbami off Brad Evans, and Namibia were never to have it so good again.

Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton stayed in with Williams to score nine off 10 balls, 17 runs coming off the next three overs before he was bowled by Jongwe for nine.

Jongwe then struck a major blow when he had Gerhard Erasmus, the hero of Sunday’s match, caught at the wicket second ball without scoring, and wickets continued to fall steadily.

Williams played a superb innings, but four middle-order batters came and went for single-figure scores – two wickets to Jongwe and two to Sikandar Raza.

Jan Frylinck then came in at 84 for five in the 12th over and played with more stability.

At 97, Williams’ fine innings came to an end at 48 with a run-out, Donald Tiripano fielding the ball, after he had faced 39 balls and hit five fours.

Frylinck was then stumped off Wessly Madhevere for 15 off 21 balls, and in the 17th over Namibia were in deep trouble at 106 for eight.

The bowlers could not finish off the innings, though, as Ruben Trumpelmann hit out boldly, while Bernard Scholtz held his end up in support.

Trumpelmann scored 19 not out off 14 balls, with a six and a four, while the partnership added 21 vital runs.

The innings finished at 127 for eight, giving Zimbabwe a target they should be able to reach.

There were two wickets each to Jongwe, Raza and Madhevere, all for less than 20 runs, which was commendable bowling.

Zimbabwe began the chase comfortably enough, with Madhevere and Innocent Kaia scoring 23 together for the first wicket.

However, when Madhevere fell lbw to Frylinck for 10 in the fourth over, disaster struck.

The same bowler bowled out the new man, Regis Chakabva, with his next delivery, and then Kaia was run out for 12.

Three wickets had gone down in four runs, and Zimbabwe were reeling at 27 for three.

The experience of Raza and the cool head of Tony Munyonga now had to repair the damage and put Zimbabwe on the right path again.

For the most part they scored in singles, waiting for the bad balls to look for boundaries.

They added 26 in 4.3 overs before Namibia broke through again, and Raza was caught at the wicket off Ben Shikongo for 12 – 53 for four in the ninth over.

One run later, Mutumbami was bowled by Scholtz, and Zimbabwe were now in serious trouble at 54 for five.

Tiripano batted usefully for three overs, as he and Munyonga scored mainly in singles, until he was caught off Erasmus for 11 off 15 balls, the score now being 72 for six in the 13th over.

Jongwe now joined Munyonga, but the bowling and fielding was too tight for them to score easily, and the run rate rose steadily to more than 10 an over.

Effectively the last nail was hammered into the home side’s coffin when Munyonga was bowled by Wiese after 17 overs for a fine fighting innings of 28 off 31 balls – the only Zimbabwe batter to score more than 12 runs in the match.

The score was now 88 for seven, with 40 runs needed off the final three overs.

Jongwe was then run out for seven, Brad Evans bowled by Erasmus for two, and finally Brandon Mavuta was caught off Trumpelmann to complete the rout for 95 runs with five balls left unbowled.

All six bowlers used took at least one wicket, with Frylinck and Erasmus picking up two.

This is Namibia’s first T20I series victory against a Full Member.

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