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Chief Official White House Photographer Pete Souza's Instagram Account

Good Stuff!

Pres Obama aboard Air Force One w Sen. Claire McCaskill

Pres Obama meets w Pres Sang of Vietnam in Oval Office this am

many more


Is the Universe Gaining Weight?

It started with a bang, and has been expanding ever since. For nearly a century, this has been the standard view of the Universe. Now one cosmologist is proposing a radically different interpretation of events — in which the Universe is not expanding at all.

In a paper posted on the arXiv preprint server1, Christof Wetterich, a theoretical physicist at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, has devised a different cosmology in which the Universe is not expanding but the mass of everything has been increasing. Such an interpretation could help physicists to understand problematic issues such as the so-called singularity present at the Big Bang, he says.

Although the paper has yet to be peer-reviewed, none of the experts contacted by Nature dismissed it as obviously wrong, and some of them found the idea worth pursuing. “I think it’s fascinating to explore this alternative representation,” says Hongsheng Zhao, a cosmologist at the University of St Andrews, UK. “His treatment seems rigorous enough to be entertained.”

Astronomers measure whether objects are moving away from or towards Earth by analysing the light that their atoms emit or absorb, which comes in characteristic colours, or frequencies. When matter is moving away from us, these frequencies appear shifted towards the red, or lower-frequency, part of the spectrum, in the same way that we hear the pitch of an ambulance siren drop as it speeds past.


Scientists discover what triggers allergic reactions to cats


Scientists have discovered the trigger for allergic reactions to cats, paving the way for developing preventative treatments.

A team at the University of Cambridge looked at the immune system's extreme reaction to cat allergens and discovered that the most common cause of severe allergic reactions are because of the Fel d 1 protein found in particles of cat skin, know as cat dander.

In a study published in the Journal of Immunology, researchers found that cat allergens activate a pathway in the body when in the presence of a common environmental bacterial toxin know as LPS.

Now, new treatments could be developed that attempt to block this pathway and inhibit allergic reactions.


Scientists discover what’s killing the bees and it’s worse than you thought

By Todd Woody

As we’ve written before, the mysterious mass die-off of honey bees that pollinate $30 billion worth of crops in the US has so decimated America’s apis mellifera population that one bad winter could leave fields fallow. Now, a new study has pinpointed some of the probable causes of bee deaths and the rather scary results show that averting beemageddon will be much more difficult than previously thought.

Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.

When researchers collected pollen from hives on the east coast pollinating cranberry, watermelon and other crops and fed it to healthy bees, those bees showed a significant decline in their ability to resist infection by a parasite called Nosema ceranae. The parasite has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder though scientists took pains to point out that their findings do not directly link the pesticides to CCD. The pollen was contaminated on average with nine different pesticides and fungicides though scientists discovered 21 agricultural chemicals in one sample. Scientists identified eight ag chemicals associated with increased risk of infection by the parasite.

Most disturbing, bees that ate pollen contaminated with fungicides were three times as likely to be infected by the parasite. Widely used, fungicides had been thought to be harmless for bees as they’re designed to kill fungus, not insects, on crops like apples.

“There’s growing evidence that fungicides may be affecting the bees on their own and I think what it highlights is a need to reassess how we label these agricultural chemicals,” Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the study’s lead author, told Quartz.



Thursday Toon roundup 3- The Rest





Thursday Toon roundup 2- GOP

Thursday Toon roundup 1- Hot Dog

Your Government at Work: Documerica Chronicles 1970s America

David Becker · Jul 24, 2013

The mandate for Documerica was intriguingly broad — “photographically document subjects of environmental concern” — and photographers responded with striking images covering everything from pot-smoking form to toxic smog.

The Environmental Protection Agency launched the Documerica project in 1971 as a way to assess the environmental state of the nation. For five years, more than 70 photographers went around the country capturing our grand mess of national character: greased-pig contests, “no gas” signs, sewage plants, coal miners at work, Jesse Jackson preaching up a storm.

“Smog Hangs Over Louisville And Ohio River, September 1972,” by William Strode

“Michigan Avenue, Chicago” (couple on street),” by Perry Riddle



Birders Go Wild After ‘Best Photobomb in History’

Camera-toting birders are flocking to a remote area of New Mexico to capitalize on what’s being described as “the best photobomb in history.” At least for people who are really into birds.

Matt Daw, a Bureau of Reclamation researcher, was in the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro, N.M., a few weeks ago, shooting video of the common least bittern, when a colorful rufous-necked wood rail wandered into the frame. Seeing as that particular bird has never been seen in the United States before, he got a little excited.

“I dropped my camera , I was so surprised,” Daw said in video interview for the American Birding Association.

“The bittern literally got photobombed,” refuge manager Aaron Mize told the Associated Press. ”This thing came running out of the cattails, and the camera kind of shakes. It’s really kind of funny…In the birding world, they’re saying it’s the best photobomb in history.”

The rufous-necked wood rail is more commonly seen in coastal areas and tropical forests of Centra America.



Picture of lightning storm from the Space Station

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