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Flu Season Is Already Off to a Bad StartFlu season is underway in the United States, and a new report shows that flu activity is already higher than typical for this time of year. The new CDC report, published Dec. 7, also said that during the week of Thanksgiving, the percentage of people visiting the doctor for flu-like illness was 2.3 percent, which is slightly above the "national baseline" for flu visits — the threshold for what's typically seen in the off-season — which is 2.2 percent. "Influenza activity in the United States … has been increasing since early November," the researchers wrote in their report.


Scientists finally know why meteors explode just before hitting Earth

Mankind hasn't had to deal with much in the way of deadly meteors over the years, but on the few occasions when one of the pesky space rocks does target Earth, they often self-destruct in the air before it even reaches the ground. For years, researchers have puzzled over why that happens, but a new study published in the Meteoritics & Planetary Science suggests the first concrete explanation.

Using a recent meteor explosion event — the rock that detonated in the sky above Chelyabinsk, Russia — as an example, scientists attempted to explain why the massive object seemed to cut its life short before striking ground. Using computer simulations to model the incoming path of the large meteor, the data revealed that it wasn't necessarily the friction of the upper atmosphere the caused the explosion, but rather the pressure difference between the air in front of the rock and the air behind it.

"There's a big gradient between high-pressure air in front of the meteor and the vacuum of air behind it," Jay Melosh, a professor with Purdue University and co-author of the study, explains. "If the air can move through the passages in the meteorite, it can easily get inside and blow off pieces."

With the contrasting pressures surrounding the rock, and air seeping into the rock as it careened towards the ground, even a relatively strong chunk of rock would grow unstable and begin to fall apart. Given the speed at which meteors come flying in, that rapid disintegration takes the form of an explosion, and the resulting shockwave becomes the real damage-dealer for us here on the surface.

This might sound like a preferable outcome for any creatures that call Earth home, but that's only if you've allowed images of asteroid strikes from disaster movies cloud your judgment. In reality, a fast-moving space rock exploding in the air above a city can cause just as much — and in some cases more — damage than a ground strike. The meteor that detonated over Chelyabinsk exploded with the force of a small scale nuclear weapon, and injuries numbered in the hundreds.

The study is also quick to note that this type of airborne disintegration is only likely to happen with smaller objects, while particularly large and strong "planet killer" rocks will almost certainly remain unaffected.


Cosmic Car Crash Could Be A New Way to Form Stars, Study FindsPure chaos - but in a cool way.


Ocean plastic: clean it up, but avoid the mistakes of global climate policyWe should look instead at the successful fight to save the ozone layer.


Baby formula maker calls global recall over salmonella fearsPARIS (AP) — Baby milk maker Lactalis and French authorities have ordered a global recall of millions of products over fears of salmonella bacteria contamination.


Trump to start process of sending Americans back to moon: White HouseU.S. President Donald Trump on Monday will sign a directive aimed at sending Americans back to the moon and eventually to Mars, the White House said. Trump will sign "Space Policy Directive 1" that orders NASA "to lead an innovative space exploration program to send American astronauts back to the Moon, and eventually Mars," spokesman Hogan Gidley said. Gidley said Trump's move is based on recommendations from the National Space Council.


Suspect in Custody After 'Terror-Related Incident' in New York CityOne suspect is in custody following an explosion early Monday at New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal near Times Square, police said.


Bitcoin Futures Are Wall Street's New Big Thing — And They're Up 26%Here's what all the fuss is about


A 3D-printed, solar-powered lab-in-a-box could change how we combat disease outbreaksThe desperate need for mobile labs in Africa was made clear during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Testing for Ebola could take up to five days, as symptoms that initially presented as flu or malaria quickly turned deadly. Mobile labs sped the diagnostics process up to mere hours, but were only in place…


France to name winners of anti-Trump climate change grantsSeveral U.S.-based climate scientists are about to hit the jackpot, as French President Emmanuel Macron prepares to award them multi-year, all-expenses-paid grants to relocate to France. The "Make ...


Monsanto is Giving Cash to U.S. Farmers to Use its Controversial WeedkillerMonsanto is Giving Cash to U.S. Farmers to Use its Controversial Weedkiller


Here’s how one company is helping farmers get more from their landRabobank has launched Kickstart Food — a three-year programme focusing on four areas considered key to addressing the world’s sustainable food challenge. Nutrition: ensuring everyone has access to diets with balanced nutritional value. United Nations forecasts suggest that by 2050 the world population will be almost 9.8 billion people — a rise of more than 2 billion on current levels.


US Nobel laureate fears US politics could undermine scienceAn American researcher who shared this year's Nobel Prize for medicine has bluntly criticized political developments at home in his address at the awards' gala banquet in Sweden


Britain has a new highest mountain but you can’t climb it in BritainMount Hope is much taller than Ben Nevis.


Forced Evictions in China's Capital Spark a Rare Display of DissentActivists say authorities are using a recent fire to justify a crackdown


Why did climate scientists emit 30,000 tonnes of C02 this weekend? | Peter KalmusAround 25,000 of my colleagues flew to a conference, leaving a colossal carbon footprint in their wake. This weekend, 25,000 Earth, Sun, and planetary scientists from across the US and abroad flew to New Orleans for the annual American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting. As an Earth scientist and AGU member myself, I know the importance of their work.


Forget Mark Zuckerberg's charity – we need corporate tax reformCan philanthropy of the super-rich ever be better than taxation?


Venezuela's Maduro Has Disqualified His Opposition From the Next Presidential ElectionWashington has said President Maduro is behaving like a dictator


Germany's Intelligence Agency Says China Used Fake LinkedIn Profiles to Spy on OfficialsMore than 10,000 German citizens may have been targeted


Mantis shrimp are the inspiration for this new polarized light cameraThanks to Mother Nature's inspiration by way of the mantis shrimp, we may now have a camera that can improve early cancer detection, and potentially help us better understand underwater phenomena.


President Trump's Jerusalem Decision Sparks Attacks, Protests and Fresh Diplomatic RiftsPresident Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital has drawn wide international criticism and sparked violence across the region


The Christmas Island annual crab migration is coming to Google Street ViewThe migration of tens of millions of red crabs across Australia's Christmas Island is a spectacular natural phenomenon, and Google Street View plans to capture it this year as part of their amazing Google Trekker gallery.


Nikki Haley: President Trump's Sexual Misconduct Accusers Should be Heard"Women should always feel comfortable coming forward," Haley said


Video of a 3D-Printed Rocket Engine Feels Like the Future"Time to freak out, people," exclaims the project's backer.


Whales, after deadly year, could become extinctOfficials with the federal government say it's time to consider the possibility that endangered right whales could become extinct unless new steps are taken to protect them


The Secret Life of 'Um'When one person asks another a question, it takes an average of 200 milliseconds for them to respond. This is so fast that we can’t even hear the pause. In fact, it’s faster than our brains actually work. It takes the brain about half a second to retrieve the words to say something, which means that in conversation, one person is gearing up to speak before the other is even finished. By listening to the tone, grammar, and content of another’s speech, we can predict when they’ll be done.


Ancient Egypt: Two Mysterious 3,500-Year-Old Tombs Reveal Mummy and Vast Treasures in New ExcavationIn the southern Egyptian city of Luxor, site of the ancient metropolis of Thebes, two new artifacts have been added to a place that is already crowded with mysteries of Egypt's distant past. The burial sites are located on the western bank of the Nile river, the water source that played such a central role in ancient Egyptian life and culture. The cemetery, or necropolis, in which the tombs are located is a known burial place of top officials from the 18th dynasty, according to the Associated Press.


How Will We Make First Contact With Aliens: Doritos, Lights, or Music?Reaching out to life beyond our planet is a lot messier than you might think.


Potatoes for peace: how the humble tuber stopped conflict in EuropeThe humble potato - drought-resistant, able to thrive in diverse soils, and enjoyed fried, steamed or baked - brought centuries of relative calm and prosperity to Europe after its introduction in the 16th century, a new study says. The blessings that flowed from this agricultural revolution helped ease the economic and societal pressures that can lead to costly and disastrous conflicts, says the report. The introduction of potatoes and the resultant increase in productivity "dramatically reduced conflict" both within and between states for some two centuries, it says.


'You Don't Need to Feel Alone.' Actress Jana Kramer Opens Up About Her MiscarriageShe was expecting a baby with husband Mike Caussin


'She Chose to Treat Them Like Trash.' Woman Pleads Guilty to Hiding Her Dead Babies Under a HouseThe infants were stuffed in trash bags


Tremors Detected Near North Korean Nuclear Test Site Likely AftershocksThe aftershocks could signal damage in the nearby mountainous area


Al Franken Is Not SorryEven as he resigned from the Senate in disgrace this week, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken couldn't resist a parting shot.


Norovirus Outbreak Sickens Students at North Carolina State UniversityAbout 60 students have come down with the illness


The ages people are happiest with their money, their looks, and their life, in one chartResearch has shown that people report the highest levels of happiness after the age of 55 in three key areas: their financial situation, their physical appearance, and their overall well-being. Meanwhile, in all three areas, people reported the lowest levels of happiness between the ages of 45 and 59, according to data from the Centre for Economic Performance, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the General Social Survey.


Assistive tech is progressing faster than ever, and these 7 devices prove itFrom robotic prosthetics to brainwave-reading hearing aids, assistive technology has progressed in leaps and bounds over the past decade. Here's 7 amazing examples of that trend


Research Unveils New Promising BiofuelNew research suggests that young poplar trees could be an economic and fast-growing source of biofuel in the future


Israeli Strikes Kill 2 Hamas Men After Gaza Rocket AttackTrump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital has roiled the region


President Trump Greeted by Protests and Boycotts in MississippiActivists will protest Trump's celebration of the civil right's movement


Man Beat 3-Year-Old Girl to Death Because She Wouldn't Put On Her Pajamas, Police SayThe man threw the 3-year-old to the ground causing head trauma


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