How scientists track Hurricane Florence with a 'forecast cone'
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But how exactly do scientists know how close the storm is and where it’s headed?
Every few hours, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) releases updated information regarding the storm’s location and projected path by using the NHC’s “forecast cone.”
The cone “is trying to take in some of the uncertainty and show all areas of risk,” Joel Cline, a meteorologist and tropical storm coordinator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), told Fox News on Tuesday.
“Instead of showing a single, definitive line of a track, the cone takes care of two-thirds of the possible track,” he said.
In other words, scientists recognize that their predictions may not be 100 percent accurate and are subject to change.
Cline used the analogy of a ball and a velcro mitt to explain how the accuracy of meteorologists’ forecasts improve as the storm gets closer. The ball has a greater chance of hitting and sticking to the center of the mitt when the thrower gets closer to the catcher. The same is true when predicting the path of tropical storms.
“Things [can be] uncertain, especially this far out. But as it gets closer, the certainty gets better,” he said. “Our odds of being able to determine the place of impact is greater as the storm gets closer.”
To develop a forecast cone, scientists look at a variety of models that determine the path the storm will most likely take.
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September 12, 2018
k — have been halted since the federal government shut down and about 40 percent of the F.D.A.’s work force was furloughed.</p><p>But Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the agency’s commissioner, said that he was asking employees to return from furlough to conduct some of the inspections and other agency functions involving surveillance of certain drugs, devices and potential outbreaks of food-borne illnesses.</p><p>About one-third of all food safety inspections are for high-risk foods, he said. It was unclear when more routine inspections would resume.</p><p>In an interview, Dr. Gottlieb said he hoped several hundred workers — not just food inspectors but also other employees — would return despite being unpaid. “I can’t tell you that they are not feeling personal hardship, but they are dedicated and want to come back,” he said.</p><p>The Agriculture Department oversees meat and poultry, and its workers have continued inspections without pay. The F.D.A. oversees about 80 percent of the nation’s food supply, as well as imports of foods shipped to the United States.</p><p>In a series of tweets, Dr. Gottlieb said the agency began sampling some high-risk imported produce in the Northeast on Monday. He said workers would begin inspections as early as Tuesday at sites with food considered “high risk” soft cheeses, seafood, custard-filled bakery products, some fruits and vegetables or baby formula.</p><p>While there are an estimated 80,000 food plants in the United States, the F.D.A. inspects about one-tenth of those in a year, according to various reports.</p><p>Dr. Gottlieb said that few inspections had been conducted since the shutdown began Dec. 22 because of the holidays, and only a handful had been scheduled for last week so the shutdown had not affected that many visits by inspectors.</p><p>But as the shutdown wore on, he sought and received permission late last week from the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House to call the furloughed workers back.</p><p>Other monitoring — including of high-risk medical products like compound drugs and problem devices — may resume next week, Dr. Gottlieb said.</p>
ritten, or redistributed. ©2019 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>Thousands of federal food inspectors and public health workers are furloughed and a wide range of scientific projects and tasks are now on hold.</p><p>Meanwhile, the National Weather Service, which is considered critical due to its role in protecting public safety, is still open during the partial shutdown — but the forecasts may not be as good. One NWS manager told The Washington Post that the lack of empathy from the government was like a slap in the face.</p><p>"Federal employees care about what they do,” the manager told the Post. “As much as we can repeat in our minds, ‘It will be okay, eventually,’ you can’t tell your body to stop worrying. One employee got two hours of sleep last night after going through all his bills, trying to figure out where to start."</p><p>Instead of working to make sure that Superfund sites, such as Gowanus Canal in New York, are cleaned up, EPA employees are on leave.</p><p>More than 10 percent of planned participants at the American Astronomical Society meeting that just wrapped up on January 10 in Seattle had to cancel presentations, AAS spokesman Rick Fienberg told Science News. Astrophysicist Jane Rigby at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center was one of them.</p><p>Rigby had to abandon her planned talks about the James Webb Space Telescope because nobody outside of the U.S. space agency had the expertise to cover for her.</p><p>“This is the Super Bowl of astronomy, and we’re not allowed to play,” she said. “It’s not even like we’re benched. We’re not even allowed in the stadium.”</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
e replaced with the best evidence available. </p><p>America is in the midst of a sea change in policies on pot, and we should all be a bit nervous about unintended consequences. </p><p>Vigilance is required. But it should be reasoned and thoughtful. To tackle recent claims, we should use the best methods and evidence as a starting point. </p><p>Crime has gone up in Colorado and Washington since those states legalized marijuana. It’s reasonable to wonder about the connection, but it’s also reasonable to be skeptical about causation.</p><p>“I picked those years because they were after the tremendous crime drop in the early ’90s and most predictive of crime today,” he said. “I ended in 2012 because that’s when Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana.” </p><p>She says some have misinterpreted the report to state that the report’s committee concluded that cannabis causes schizophrenia. It did not.</p><p> “This was stated as an association, not causation,” she said. “We do not yet have the supporting evidence to state the direction of this association.”</p><p>Dr. Cooper, research director of the U.C.L.A. Cannabis Research Initiative, went further: “We as a committee also concluded that a history of cannabis use is associated with better cognitive outcomes in people diagnosed with psychotic disorders. The blatant omission of this conclusion exemplifies the one-sided nature of some articles. Nonetheless, the strong association between cannabis use and schizophrenia means that people with predisposing risk factors for schizophrenia should most certainly abstain from using cannabis.”</p><p>We should be honest about what we do and don’t know. We need more research. It’s true that much of the literature around marijuana focuses on the negative, but that’s “largely due to funding priorities over the last several decades,” Dr. Cooper said. </p><p>In the report she worked on, only 40 of the 450 pages were about the therapeutic effects of cannabis and cannabinoids, she said, while the other sections were related largely to the negative health outcomes.</p><p>She added, “With increased awareness of the clinical potential of cannabinoids, research priorities have shifted to include studying this area” in the last few years. </p><p>It’s perfectly natural to be concerned that as cannabis products become legal in more states, they will affect more people.</p><p>Many of the experts who have done the work highlighted here are still nervous about how we might proceed. No one thinks that children or adolescents should use marijuana. There’s little regulation right now, and there’s potential for the drug to be mixed with other substances to increase its addictive properties. Advertising will probably make claims that will be out of line with reality.</p><p>Anecdotes can make compelling cases, but they don’t necessarily lead to thoughtful outcomes.</p>
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haded area?</p><p>Ten equally spaced dots are joined by semicircles to make this spiral. Is more of it shaded red or orange? By how much?</p><p>The red line, of length 2, is perpendicular to the bases of the three semicircles. What’s the total shaded area?</p><p>The four dots are equally spaced. What’s the shaded area?</p><p>The area of the bottom left square is 5. What’s the area of the blue triangle?</p><p>Catriona prefers devising geometry puzzles because – unlike puzzles from other areas of maths – you can often solve them in your head. “I really like puzzles where a bit of clever thinking can sidestep a whole page of algebra,” she says.</p><p>In other two-dimensional geometry news, this tweet about pizza went viral last week. Who said maths was irrelevant to real life?</p>
riety of ailments, but there’s little proof they help those with heart failure.</p><p>But with respect to heart failure, there is a shockingly small amount of evidence. </p><p>There were no data that showed that salt restriction reduced mortality or cardiac disease; affected whether someone was admitted to the hospital; or influenced how long they had to stay if admitted. Of four outpatient studies, two showed no improvement in heart function, and two did.</p><p>Until then, some will argue that there’s little harm from these recommendations, so why not continue them? One reason to stop them is that there’s a risk of emphasizing salt avoidance at the expense of other — potentially more useful — diet measures, when we really don’t know what’s best.</p><p>It’s important to note that we also lack a strong evidence base from randomized controlled trials where potassium and fiber are concerned. But recommendations for those diet changes don’t seem nearly as vocal or as strident as the push for salt reductions. </p><p>The larger point is that if all of these lack strong evidence, we should admit it and make our advice more equivalent and appropriately less confident.</p>
of his opus-in-progress, “The Art of Computer Programming.”</p><p>For half a century, the Stanford computer scientist Donald Knuth, who bears a slight resemblance to Yoda — albeit standing 6-foot-4 and wearing glasses — has reigned as the spirit-guide of the algorithmic realm. </p><p>Here is your book, the one your thousands of letters have asked us to publish. It has taken us years to do, checking and rechecking countless recipes to bring you only the best, only the interesting, only the perfect.</p><p>Now 80, Dr. Knuth usually dresses like the youthful geek he was when he embarked on this odyssey: long-sleeved T-shirt under a short-sleeved T-shirt, with jeans, at least at this time of year. In those early days, he worked close to the machine, writing “in the raw,” tinkering with the zeros and ones. </p><p>“Knuth made it clear that the system could actually be understood all the way down to the machine code level,” said Dr. Norvig. Nowadays, of course, with algorithms masterminding (and undermining) our very existence, the average programmer no longer has time to manipulate the binary muck, and works instead with hierarchies of abstraction, layers upon layers of code — and often with chains of code borrowed from code libraries. But an elite class of engineers occasionally still does the deep dive.</p><p>“Here at Google, sometimes we just throw stuff together,” Dr. Norvig said, during a meeting of the Google Trips team, in Mountain View, Calif. “But other times, if you’re serving billions of users, it’s important to do that efficiently. A 10-per-cent improvement in efficiency can work out to billions of dollars, and in order to get that last level of efficiency, you have to understand what’s going on all the way down.” </p><p>Or, as Andrei Broder, a distinguished scientist at Google and one of Dr. Knuth’s former graduate students, explained during the meeting: “We want to have some theoretical basis for what we’re doing. We don’t want a frivolous or sloppy or second-rate algorithm. We don’t want some other algorithmist to say, ‘You guys are morons.’” </p><p>Dr. Knuth’s exacting standards, literary and otherwise, may explain why his life’s work is nowhere near done. He has a wager with Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google and a former student (to use the term loosely), over whether Mr. Brin will finish his Ph.D. before Dr. Knuth concludes his opus.</p><p>During summer vacations, Dr. Knuth made more money than professors earned in a year by writing compilers. A compiler is like a translator, converting a high-level programming language (resembling algebra) to a lower-level one (sometimes arcane binary) and, ideally, improving it in the process. In computer science, “optimization” is truly an art, and this is articulated in another Knuthian proverb: “Premature optimization is the root of all evil.”</p><p>Eventually Dr. Knuth became a compiler himself, inadvertently founding a new field that he came to call the “analysis of algorithms.” A publisher hired him to write a book about compilers, but it evolved into a book collecting everything he knew about how to write for computers — a book about algorithms. </p><p>When Dr. Knuth started out, he intended to write a single work. Soon after, computer science underwent its Big Bang, so he reimagined and recast the project in seven volumes. Now he metes out sub-volumes, called fascicles. The next installation, “Volume 4, Fascicle 5,” covering, among other things, “backtracking” and “dancing links,” was meant to be published in time for Christmas. It is delayed until next April because he keeps finding more and more irresistible problems that he wants to present.</p><p>In order to optimize his chances of getting to the end, Dr. Knuth has long guarded his time. He retired at 55, restricted his public engagements and quit email (officially, at least). Andrei Broder recalled that time management was his professor’s defining characteristic even in the early 1980s. </p><p>This decade-long detour took place back in the age when computers were shared among users and ran faster at night while most humans slept. So Dr. Knuth switched day into night, shifted his schedule by 12 hours and mapped his student appointments to Fridays from 8 p.m. to midnight. Dr. Broder recalled, “When I told my girlfriend that we can’t do anything Friday night because Friday night at 10 I have to meet with my adviser, she thought, ‘This is something that is so stupid it must be true.’”</p><p>When Knuth chooses to be physically present, however, he is 100-per-cent there in the moment. “It just makes you happy to be around him,” said Jennifer Chayes, a managing director of Microsoft Research. “He’s a maximum in the community. If you had an optimization function that was in some way a combination of warmth and depth, Don would be it.”</p><p>Of course, all the algorithmic rigmarole is also causing real-world problems. Algorithms written by humans — tackling harder and harder problems, but producing code embedded with bugs and biases — are troubling enough. More worrisome, perhaps, are the algorithms that are not written by humans, algorithms written by the machine, as it learns. </p><p>All the more so if you’re an algorithm versed in Knuth. “Today, programmers use stuff that Knuth, and others, have done as components of their algorithms, and then they combine that together with all the other stuff they need,” said Google’s Dr. Norvig. </p><p>“With A.I., we have the same thing. It’s just that the combining-together part will be done automatically, based on the data, rather than based on a programmer’s work. You want A.I. to be able to combine components to get a good answer based on the data. But you have to decide what those components are. It could happen that each component is a page or chapter out of Knuth, because that’s the best possible way to do some task.”</p><p>Lucky, then, Dr. Knuth keeps at it. He figures it will take another 25 years to finish “The Art of Computer Programming,” although that time frame has been a constant since about 1980. Might the algorithm-writing algorithms get their own chapter, or maybe a page in the epilogue? “Definitely not,” said Dr. Knuth.</p><p>“I am worried that algorithms are getting too prominent in the world,” he added. “It started out that computer scientists were worried nobody was listening to us. Now I’m worried that too many people are listening.”</p>
ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>An invasive tick species, new to the U.S., has already popped up in nine states, and a new study suggests that the species could spread much further.</p><p>Indeed, the suitability of other areas outside the predicted regions was limited due to warmer temperatures in parts of the south, cold temperatures in the north and a dry climate in the west, the study said.</p><p>One concern is that this tick poses a threat to livestock. Unlike most tick species, longhorned ticks can reproduce asexually and lay massive numbers of eggs. A single female longhorn tick can lay up to 2,000 eggs at a time, the CDC said. Due to these large numbers, longhorned ticks can cause severe infestations in livestock, leading to weakness, anemia or even death in the animals.</p><p>There is also concern that the tick could spread diseases, as it does in other parts of the world. But so far, no cases of disease tied to these ticks have been reported in the U.S., according to the CDC.</p><p>Unfortunately, now that the tick has arrived in the U.S., it's probably here to stay, Rochlin said. The longhorned tick "will be difficult to impossible to eradicate" given it's ecological adaptability and ability to reproduce asexually, Rochlin wrote in his paper.</p><p>But studies like these can alert public health officials and veterinary experts as to whether they are in a moderate- or high-risk area for the tick to inhabit.</p><p>"Hopefully, this awareness will lead to increased surveillance and expanded public outreach and education," Rochlin said.</p><p>He noted that the model was intended to determine the potential tick habitat on a large scale but not where the ticks could be at the local level, such as the specific counties at risk. To determine that, "we need to learn more about this tick species' biology, ecology and local distribution," Rochlin said.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>Archaeologists in Egypt uncovered the final resting place of a high priest that dates back more than 4,000 years ago.</p><p>This burial is “one of a kind in the last decades,” said Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, in a statement. "The color is almost intact even though the tomb is almost 4,400 years old."</p><p>The tomb owner served King Neferirkare. In addition to the name of the deceased, hieroglyphs carved into the stone above the tomb’s door reveal his multiple titles.</p><p>The grave’s rectangular gallery is reportedly covered in painted reliefs, sculptures and inscriptions, all in excellent shape considering how much time has passed.</p><p>The reliefs depict Wahtye himself, his wife Weret Ptah, and his mother Merit Meen, as well as everyday activities that include hunting, sailing and manufacturing goods such as pottery, according to National Geographic. The tomb features a total of 45 statues, including large painted statues of the priest and his family.</p><p>The team of Egyptian archaeologists working here found five shafts in the tomb, several of which are sealed and could contain other exciting finds.</p><p>“This shaft should lead to a coffin or a sarcophagus of the owner of the tomb,” said Waziri, indicating his best guess for the location of finds to come. Other shafts might hold the grave goods of the deceased.</p><p>In recent years, Egypt has heavily promoted new archaeological finds to international media and diplomats in the hope of attracting more tourists to the country. The vital tourism sector has suffered from the years of political turmoil and violence that followed a 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
y called Benedicte is the youngest survivor of what is now the world’s second-deadliest Ebola outbreak.</p><p>The ministry posted a photograph of the infant on Twitter this past week showing her surrounded by caregivers who had watched over her 24 hours a day for weeks.</p><p>The baby, who was admitted to an Ebola treatment center six days after birth, has recovered from the virus, medical officials say. Congolese are calling her the “young miracle.”</p><p>The baby’s mother, who also had Ebola, died in childbirth, the ministry said.</p><p>The infant was discharged from the treatment center in Beni on Wednesday. “She went home in the arms of her father and her aunt,” the ministry said.</p><p>Experts have reported high numbers of children with Ebola in the outbreak, which the Health Ministry of the Democratic Republic of Congo says now has 467 confirmed cases, including 255 confirmed deaths.</p><p>“This is my first child,” said the child’s father, identified only Thomas. “I truly don’t want to lose her. She is my hope.”</p><p>Ebola is typically spread by infected bodily fluids. While adults are most likely to be infected with the lethal virus, children have been known to catch the disease when they act as caregivers.</p><p>Few cases of Ebola in babies have been reported, but experts suspect transmission may occur through breast milk or close contact with infected parents.</p><p>The World Health Organization has noted that health centers have been identified as a source of Ebola transmission in the outbreak, with injections of medications “a notable cause.”</p><p>So far, more than 400 children have been left orphaned or unaccompanied in the outbreak as patients can spend weeks in treatment centers, Unicef said. A kindergarten was opened next to one treatment center in Beni “to assist the youngest children whose parents are isolated” there, it said.</p><p>Health experts have said the Ebola outbreak, the 10th in Congo, is like no other: Residents also face the threat of attack from armed groups and resistance from a wary population in a region that had never before faced an Ebola outbreak. Tracking the contacts of Ebola patients remains a challenge in areas controlled by rebels.</p><p>Congo is set to hold a presidential election on Dec. 23, with unrest brewing.</p><p>The latest assessment by the World Health Organization, released on Thursday, calls the circumstances “unforgiving.”</p>