Did western Antarctica’s ice fall into the sea 120,000 years ago?

One of the bigger risks we’re running with our planetary warming experiment is the melting of the vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet, raising sea levels much more rapidly than we expect. It’s a scenario scientists assess both by studying present conditions and by examining the past.

One time period of particular interest is the previous interglacial—a warm intermission between ice ages—about 120,000 years ago. Sea level appears to have been 5 to 9 meters higher during this time when the configuration of Earth’s orbit made for a little more summer sunshine (and warmer temperatures) in the Northern Hemisphere.

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is a candidate to have supplied about 3 meters of that sea level rise. Unfortunately, evidence of its history is hard to come by, as the regrowth of the ice sheet destroyed some of it and now conceals even more. Sediment cores show the ice sheet shrank drastically in the past, but it’s unclear when in the past.

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Watch the Scripps Spelling Bee champs school Jimmy Kimmel


The 2015 Scripps Spelling Bee ended in a tie for the second year in row. In the spirit of competition, however, co-champions Vanya Shivashankar and Gokul Venkatachalam teamed up for the 12th annual Jimmy Kimmel Live Spelling Bee, playing against none other than the host himself

Despite official pronouncer Guillermo's purposeful attempts to throw off the competition, the Spelling Bee champs held their own, O-B-V-I-O-U-S-L-Y.

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Stephen Hawking says he ‘would consider assisted suicide’


LONDON — Physicist Stephen Hawking says he would consider ending his life if he felt he had nothing more to contribute or had become a burden to those around him.

The 73-year-old Cambridge professor, who has a form of motor neurone disease, made the comments in an interview with Dara Ó Briain for a forthcoming BBC One documentary.

"I would consider assisted suicide only if I were in great pain or felt I had nothing more to contribute but was just a burden to those around me," Hawking said, according to the Daily Telegraph. However, he added: "I am damned if I'm going to die before I have unravelled more of the universe.” Read more...

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The evolution of the spacewalk in pictures


June 3, 1965

Astronaut Edward H. White II, pilot for the Gemini-Titan 4 space flight, floats in space during America’s first spacewalk. The extravehicular activity (EVA) was performed during the Gemini 4 mission on June 3, 1965. White spent 23 minutes maneuvering around his spacecraft as Jim McDivitt remained inside the spacecraft. White is attached to the spacecraft by a 25-foot umbilical line and a 23-foot tether line, both wrapped in gold tape to form one cord. In his right hand, White carries a Hand-Held Self Maneuvering Unit (HHSMU), which he used to help move him around the weightless environment of space. Read more...

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Giant new telescope set to break ground in Chile later this year


The world's soon-to-be largest optical telescope is coming together.

The Giant Magellan Telescope — a tool designed to peer into the atmospheres of alien planets and see the first galaxies that formed in the early universe — will start being built on a mountain in northern Chile later this year

The telescope will be the first in a new generation of huge eyes on the sky that can look at the universe more deeply than ever before


A rendering of the telescope in Chile.

Image: GMTO

"We build it to discover new things, to open new windows," astronomer Patrick McCarthy, director at the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMT), told Mashable in an interview. Read more...

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‘Skylanders SuperChargers’ revs up with land, air and sea-based vehicles


The heroes of Skylands are getting some sweet new ridesSkylanders SuperChargers, the next installment in Activision's multi-billion dollar video game/action figure franchise will introduce land, air and sea-based vehicles when it launches on Sept. 20 in North America.

SuperChargers is the fifth game in the mega-popular Skylanders series, which has raked in over $3 billion in sales and sold over 175 million toys since its its debut in 2011. It will be available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, Nintendo 3DS and iPad.

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Synaptics adds capacitive touch to your spacebar, because why not?

Synaptics thinks your spacebar is "underutilized," and it wants to fix the problem by adding another touch interface to your PC. Its new "SmartBar," announced today at Computex, is a touch-capable capacitive spacebar with support for several gestures and customizable virtual buttons.

The SmartBar isn't intended as a replacement for a trackpad, but it could potentially save you some trips to the trackpad if it works well. You can program swipe gestures to select words you just typed, allowing you to quickly delete or replace them. You can use both of your thumbs together to perform a pinch-to-zoom gesture. And "up to five" virtual buttons can be programmed on the spacebar to perform macros, replacing common keyboard shortcuts. Other use cases, demonstrated in the graphic above, include using your thumbs to summon and interact with a custom app menu and scrolling vertically through documents or Web pages using only your thumbs.

Synaptics says the SmartBar is available for OEMs to use now, and it will apparently be compatible with both desktops and laptops. ThermalTake is planning a gaming keyboard with a SmartBar—the competitive gaming circuit requires the mastery of vast numbers of keyboard shortcuts, something the SmartBar could hypothetically help with if it can manage to be accurate enough.

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Pharmacy Delivery Startup PillPack Locks In $50 Million To Take On Walgreens

PillPack_Pharmacy-d8456ad5e8360e33596b5c2a1987543d Pharmaceutical delivery startup PillPack has raised a $50 million growth round in Series C financing to start building retail pharmacies and take on other retail drugstores like RiteAid and Walgreens. The startup launched in 2014 as a way to ship medications on a regular basis straight to someone’s door instead of making them go pick it up at the pharmacy every time. PillPack… Read More

‘It’s brilliant for world football': Key reactions to Sepp Blatter’s resignation


LONDON — Many thought it would never happen, but the self-confessed mountain goat that keeps on going and going and going eventually stopped and quit.

Sepp Blatter resigned as president of FIFA Tuesday, announcing the news at a hastily organised press conference in Zurich to which barely any press were invited, and the world of football was quick to react.

The verdict seemed pretty much unanimous; the "belated" resignation was welcomed worldwide.

How one paper in Britain marked the news.

How one paper in Britain marked the news.

Michel Platini, president of UEFA

"It was a difficult decision, a brave decision, and the right decision." Read more...

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