This Week on Earth: January 18-24
By Jamie Leventhal and Jamie Schmid
Parts of the Northeast and Mid Atlantic were pounded by blizzard conditions this weekend as Snowstorm Jonas moved over 85 million people.
From Friday to Sunday morning, between 18 – 40 inches of snow fell across the east coast, shutting down public transportation systems and canceling thousands of flights in major cities like Philadelphia and Washington D.C. The storm killed at least a dozen people, as winds reached up to 70 miles an hour and driving conditions proved to be dangerous. In the Southeast, snowfall rates reached 1-3 inches per hour, causing hundreds of thousands of people to lose power.
If You Didn’t See It Before: Flint's Dangerous Water
Residents of Flint, Michigan, have received a lot of media attention lately as their main water source has been contaminated with lead, making it unfit for human use.
In 2013, Flint officials decided to switch their water source from Detroit’s system to Lake Huron in order to save money. During construction of the new water system, the town began sourcing water from the Flint River, starting in April 2014. However, this river was treated as the city’s dumping ground for unwanted items like car parts and refrigerators, and the untreated water caused lead to leach from the city’s aging pipes at high rates. People started to complain about this new water source within a month, but officials didn’t approach the problem until October 2015. The water source was switched back to Detroit’s system, but the pipes were already too damaged to stop leaching lead.
Since Flint has a large black population, many asserted that a lack of response by the media and the government shows an underlying racial bias. The National Guard has been distributing a case of bottled water per person every day since Jan. 12, but many feel that it’s not enough.
Goodbye Pluto, Hello..?
Pluto was kicked out of the picture in 2006 (pour one out), but now it looks like there might be a replacement.
Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology this week discovered a gravitational pull that is interfering with objects in the Kuiper belt. Although, the scientists did not see the planet through a telescope, the strength of this “pull” means it could be a big object, possibly planet-sized.
Researchers said this new planet could be two to four times the size of the earth, making it the fifth- largest planet.
However, NASA tells the public not to overreact just yet. The organization released a video reminding people that Caltech’s findings are not concrete. There could be other explanations for such a force in the system.
Hunter-Gatherers, or Just Plain Old Hunters?
The early Stone Age "Paleolithic era" is normally considered peaceful. Early humans lived in tribes, picked berries, socialized with ooh's and ahh's. Nothing violent, right?
Well, this assumption may have been turned upside down. On Wednesday, an article in the journal Nature discovered a Stone Age mass grave site. The interesting part: all those buried seemed to have died horribly traumatic deaths.
Could this mean violence and civil wars happened even in the "peaceful" hunter-gatherer time?
About 27 people were found in the Kenyan grave. Ten of the corpses sustained injuries resulting in immediate death. Another ten showed signs of head and arrow wounds.
Although anthropologists say that Paleolithic era humans must have had warfare, the question still remains why?
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