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There’s a Lost Continent Hiding Beneath Europe

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There’s a lost continent hidden below southern Europe. And researchers have created the most detailed reconstruction of it yet.

The lost continent “Greater Adria” emerged about 240 million years ago, after it broke off from Gondwana, a southern supercontinent made up of Africa, Antarctica, South America, Australia and other major landmasses, as Science magazine reported

Greater Adria was large, extending from what is now the Alps all the way to Iran, but not all of it was above the water. That means it was likely a string of islands or archipelagos, said lead author Douwe van Hinsbergen, the chair in global tectonics and paleogeography in the Department of Earth Sciences at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. It would have been a “good scuba diving region.”

Related: In Images: How North America Grew As a Continent

Hinsbergen and his team spent a decade collecting and analyzing rocks that used to be part of this ancient continent. The mountain belts where these Greater Adrian rocks are found span about 30 different countries, Hinsbergen told Live Science. “Every country has their own geological survey and their own maps and their own stories and their own continents,” he said. With this study, “we brought that all together in one big picture.” 

Earth is covered in large tectonic plates that move relative to each other. Greater Adria belonged to the African tectonic plate (but was not a part of the African continent, since there was an ocean between them), which was slowly sliding beneath the Eurasian tectonic plate, in what is now southern Europe. 

Around 100 million to 120 million years ago, Greater Adria smashed into Europe and began diving beneath it — but some of the rocks were too light and so did not sink into Earth’s mantle. Instead, they were  “scraped off” — in a way that’s similar to what happens when a person puts their arm under a table and then slowly moves it underneath: The sleeve get crumpled up, he said. This crumpling formed mountain chains such as the Alps. It also kept these ancient rocks locked in place, where geologists could find them.

Hinsbergen and his team looked at the orientation of tiny, magnetic minerals formed by primeval bacteria in these rocks. The bacteria make these magnetic particles in order to orient themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field. When the bacteria die, the magnetic minerals are left behind in the sediment, Hinsbergen said. 

With time the sediment around them turns into rock, freezing them in the orientation they were in hundreds of millions of years ago. Hinsbergen and his team found that in many of these regions, the rocks had undergone very large rotations.

What’s more, Hinsbergen’s team pieced together large rocks that used to belong together, such as in a belt of volcanoes or in a big coral reef. Moving faults scattered the rocks “like pieces of a broken plate,” he said.

It’s like a big jigsaw puzzle, Hinsbergen said. “All the bits and pieces are jumbled up and I spent the last 10 years making the puzzle again.” From there, they used software to create detailed maps of the ancient continent and confirmed that it moved northward while twisting slightly, before colliding with Europe. 

After many years working in the Mediterranean region, Hinsbergen has now moved on to reconstruct the lost plates in the Pacific Ocean. “But I’ll probably return — probably in 5 or 10 years from now when a whole bunch of young students will demonstrate that parts are wrong,” Hinsbergan said. “Then I’ll come back and see if I can fix it.”

The findings were published Sept. 3 in the journal Gondwana Research.

Originally published on Live Science.

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China launches four ‘technology experiment satellites’ – Spaceflight Now

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A Chinese Long March 2D rocket lifted off Wednesday with four technology experiment satellites, according to Chinese state media. Credit: Xinhua

A Chinese Long March 2D rocket carried four “technology experiment satellites” into orbit Wednesday from the Xichang space center in southwestern China, according to the country’s state-run media.

Few details about the satellites were disclosed by China’s government-owned media. The country’s Xinhua news agency said the satellites will be mainly used to test “new Earth-observation technology.”

The two-stage Long March 2D launcher lifted off from the Xichang space base in southwestern China’s Sichuan province at 2107 GMT (4:07 p.m. EST) Wednesday, according to Xinhua. The launch occurred at 5:07 a.m. Thursday Beijing time.

The four satellites — designated XJS C, D, E and F — separated from the Long March 2D rocket in their planned orbit, state media said. The satellites were expected to be deployed into low Earth orbit.

Two of the four satellites were developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, a division of the government-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. The other two spacecraft were developed by the Harbin Institute of Technology and the DFH Satellite Co. Ltd., according to Xinhua.

The launch of the XJS satellites marked the first flight of a Long March 2D rocket from the Xichang space center. Xichang previously hosted flights of the Long March 2C rocket variant, along with launches of the Long March 3 family of rockets.

Past Long March 2D rocket missions have lifted off the Chinese spaceports at Jiuquan and Taiyuan.

Wednesday’s mission was the fourth Chinese orbital launch of 2020, and the 14th space launch to successfully reach orbit worldwide so far this year.

Email the author.

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.





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She Didn’t Want a Pelvic Exam. She Received One Anyway.

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What was most unsettling to Mr. O’Keefe were the racial and socioeconomic disparities apparent in his pelvic exam training.

Mr. O’Keefe’s rotation crossed between two clinics in Philadelphia. On one side of the street was a pearly white high-rise serving patients with private insurance, Penn Medicine Washington Square. On the other side was the more run-down Ludmir Center for Women’s Health, primarily for those on Medicaid and the uninsured. At the private insurance clinic, Mr. O’Keefe said, medical students mostly observed as their residents conducted gynecological procedures. At Ludmir, the quality of care was high, but Mr. O’Keefe noted that students were encouraged to get more hands-on experience, especially by stepping in to perform pelvic exams.

“My first experience doing a pelvic exam was in Ludmir, where it’s expected that medical students will do it,” he said. He recalled anxiously maneuvering his hands as he looked to the resident for guidance.

“It leaves a strange feeling in your gut, because it’s the most obvious example of how there’s different standards of care depending on your insurance status,” he said. “It’s like a tale of two clinics.”

A spokesman for the University of Pennsylvania’s Health System said the Perelman School of Medicine includes a dedicated session on health disparities in its obstetrics and gynecology rotation, and the school’s policy mandates that students can only perform pelvic exams under the direct supervision and at the discretion of an attending or resident physician. The spokesman said that the school “will review this matter to ensure that all patients are treated equally in accordance with our institutional policies and values.”

For medical students, performing unauthorized exams can leave a sense of discomfort that fades with time. But for the patients, the scars can run deeper, sometimes rupturing their sense of trust in health care providers.

One evening in 2007, Ashley Weitz drove to a Salt Lake City emergency room, at Intermountain Healthcare LDS Hospital, suffering from uncontrollable vomiting. She was given an ultrasound and blood work, the standard approach; her attending physician ran through a list of possible ailments. Then he asked if he could run a test for sexually transmitted infections. Ms. Weitz declined, explaining that she was celibate and a childhood abuse survivor, and that she preferred to forgo the exam.



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The Republican Climate Agenda – The New York Times

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Another factor to consider is packaging materials. Is the beer in a glass bottle or a can? In the United States, the most environmentally friendly option is almost always the can. Not only is aluminum lighter to ship, but it’s more likely to be recycled.

According to Georgie Walker, co-author of a sustainability study for the Firestone Walker Brewing Company, her family’s business, it’s also important to look at the number of miles a beer has covered after being bottled. Then, buy local.

“It will be fresher,” Ms. Walker said. “It won’t be sitting in storage as long and won’t have the gas miles behind it.”

Shipping distance can also be an important consideration when choosing climate-friendly wine. A study by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, for example, found that transportation accounted for 13 percent of wine’s emissions in the state.

Generally, shipping by sea is better than train, and train is better than truck.

An easy way to assess the emissions in play is to consider the East Coast, West Coast divide. Wines from Chile, for instance, are often transported in giant vats via ship to the West Coast, where they are bottled and then moved to market. Those wines could be a sustainable option for, say, drinkers in Oregon, but not in New Hampshire.

Easterners, on the other hand, may be better off with French Burgundies that were shipped across the Atlantic. Many wine labels list origin and bottling details.

For wine, though, there is no bigger emissions culprit than bottles.

Manufacturing a 750 milliliter glass bottle accounts for 33 percent of a wine’s life cycle emissions in North America, according to the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable.



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