Nintendo’s Miitomo Still Stands Strong

Miitomo has reached four million downloads since its release.
Miitomo has reached four million downloads since its release.

Nintendo has recently released its first chat application meant for iOS devices, and Miitomo has recorded great success until now. While many expected the app to be some sort of a game, Miitomo rather falls into the social media category.

Users of the app can create a cartoonish version of themselves, which is customizable, but also answer various questions about themselves to give their Mii more personality. In this way, they can build connections with other users and start conversations.

Since it’s release in the United States in late March, the app has recorded over four million downloads, and it does not seem it will stop anytime soon. However, Miitomo is not quite what everyone was expecting it to be.

You have the option of meeting new people and adding them to the app, but most people end up connecting to their Twitter and Facebook pals, which makes Nintendo’s social platform like a cover for those two. In spite of being allowed to create a colorful avatar complete with extravagant outfits, much of your time is spent either writing or reading chunks of text.

The questions of Miitomo get up close and personal, and thus interact with the users in a way Facebook or Twitter never did. Furthermore, there are no feeds of messages or status updates, but you can comment and like a public response, which in turn can lead to the start of a discussion. In this way, Miitomo can be considered a big Q&A session, featuring your friends or complete strangers.

Users can gain in-game currency that can be spent on various features and avatar outfits. However, you can also buy gold coins in bundles that sell for $75.

The Miifoto editor is meant to create funny photos that you can share with your friends even across other social networks. With the editor, you can choose from a wide variety of facial expressions and poses and the results usually turn up quite surprising. If you wish to check out previous creations, you can search for the #Miifoto hashtag on Twitter.

While the experience on Nintendo’s first chat app for mobile devices is truly enthralling at the beginning, many users hope the company will introduce new features to keep their interest high in Miitomo.

Image Source: Flickr

Proof of Exoplanet Dated to 1917

Evidence of exoplanets has existed since 1917.
Evidence of exoplanets has existed since 1917.

It appears that clues about exoplanets have emerged earlier than we thought since astronomer Walter Adams had made notes on such a celestial object back in 1917. Exoplanets were finally declared valid by science during the 1990s.

A new study has found evidence on the mysterious planets dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century, that everyone seems to have overlooked until now. It appears that noted astronomer Walter Adams found evidence of some planetary debris floating near a dwarf star. This alone points out the existence of an exoplanet in the proximity of the star and makes the notes of Adams the first on the matter of exoplanets in history.

The information was found after a team of researchers sifted through the astronomical glass collection located at the Carnegie Observatories. One plate held a spectral image of an ancient star named a white dwarf, which is very dense. Just to understand its weight, astronomers have previously declared that a teaspoonful of the material of the star is equivalent to the weight of an adult elephant.

The study involved John Mulchaey, assistant researcher and Carnegie Observatories chief. He has noted that the plate contained the first piece of evidence of such a white dwarf, but also its layers of gas. Mulchaey was astonished by the fact that the discovery has remained hidden for almost a century, especially since astronomer Walter Adams was quite well-known in his time.

In more details, Adams managed to identify a chemical blueprint of the white dwarf, and this revealed items that do not usually dwell near such ancient stars. The nearby clouds are made out of magnesium, iron and calcium, and should have thus fallen into the white star because of their weight. However, the chemical elements have pointed out that the universe contains tons of debris that approach the white dwarf systematically. Such phenomena were first studied twelve years ago.

In spite of the clues leading to the existence of an exoplanet, the team has yet to discover a fully-fledged such celestial object near the star. According to the lead author of the study Jay Farihi, who is also a researcher at the University College London, this process could not take place unless there were other planets present in the area.

The findings were published in the New Astronomy Reviews journal.

Image Source: Pixabay

Profile Videos And Animated Selfies Introduced on Facebook

Facebook Video Profile
Video profiles on Facebook can now be customized to your heart’s desire.

Facebook has announced at its annual F8 conference that it will soon give its users the option of making profile videos, which will be further customized through various features. The option was first introduced last year when people could use looping videos instead of profile pictures.

Yesterday, Facebook announced its partnership with six apps focused on video making which is meant to facilitate the customization of profile videos. In this respect, the “Profile Expression Kit” was introduced, which includes various animations and creative art, ready to spice up your videos. The feature was launched yesterday, and now all users have the option of creating a video profile through one of the partner video apps, which are Vine, Boomerang, Cinemagraph Pro, MSQRD, Lollicam, and BeautyPlus.

The new tool truly does simplify the process of customizing Facebook profiles and making them more personal. However, the feature is also meant to encourage people to create original content since the social media platform has recorded a decline in the matter. The company has made this change after it witnessed the popularity of profile videos and has opted to partner with third-party apps for a fun, creative and simple process.

According to Ryan Houx, product marketing manager of Facebook,

“Profiles are the version of you you choose to curate and put out into the world. Videos are big on Facebook, and we want to give people a way to express themselves in a fun way. This lowers barriers for creative expression.”

It appears that thirty million photos and videos are uploaded daily on the social media platform. Keeping this in mind, Facebook has purposely chosen different video apps which are popular in various parts of the world. For instance, Lollicam and BeautyPlus are used mainly in Asia. Additionally, these apps have different features, so Facebook users will have a wide variety of options to choose from: MSQRD can make people look like animals or martians.

Furthermore, the profile videos can also be shared on other social media platforms, like Tinder or Spotify, thus becoming a crucial part of the users’ identity. A timer can be added to the video profiles in order to make them temporary, and a thumbnail can be selected for places where the video cannot autoplay.

Image Source: Pixabay

Smokers Are Not Scared by Graphic Warning Labels

Smoking

Researchers have discovered that smokers are not scared by graphic warning labels and thus a different approach to convincing them to quit should be pursued. It appears the only effect those images have is to make smokers feel that their freedoms are being stepped upon.

University of Illinois researchers have conducted a study on the matter and found out that not only do the pictures make people feel infringements upon their liberties, but they also encourage some of them to keep this bad habit.

Labels on cigarette packages have long showcased horrendous images of possible outcomes of smoking for long periods of time, including diseased body parts and people dying. However, in other countries this has worked along with the introduction of severe taxes, regulations and restrictions which in the end have led to a decrease in the number of smokers.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has approved back in 2012 of even more graphic labels that are also set to be larger. Unfortunately, this has not come to pass because of several lawsuits that prevented them from becoming a reality.

The newest study on smoking involved 435 undergraduate students, aged from 18 to 25. 17.5 percent of them were smokers. Half of the non-smokers and half of the smokers were presented with cigarette packs featuring either graphic pictures or warning texts. Next, they had to complete a survey regarding their personality and their reaction when they saw the package.

The results published in the Communication Reseach journal showed that most individuals recorded negative reactions upon seeing the images. Both non-smokers and smokers argued that the label was an affront to freedom of choice, thus making reference to the government that is constantly trying to enter their personal lives and manipulate them.

According to Nicole LaVoie, University of Illinois doctoral student, this belief is shared by people who are prone to resisting ideas, especially when they are told what to do by others. This high psychological reluctance is often observed in smokers. LaVoie added that

“If these individuals see things as freedom threats, they are going to be more attracted to perform the threatened behavior. We might actually be doing harm to a group that might need the most help if they’re battling an addiction to smoking.”

As smokers are not scared by graphic warning labels, others methods will be necessary for convincing, not coercing them into thinking their habit is seriously damaging. However, this must be done without any sort of manipulation, since each person must retain their freedom to manage his or her life as they please.

Image Source: Fact Slides

Ecosystems Might Be Saved by Fear

A new study has proven that ecosystems might be saved by fear.

A new experiment on racoon populations has shown that ecosystems might be saved by fear. At the moment this species poses a great threat to smaller animals and thus manages to decimate entire populations in the wildlife. However, scientists may have found a new way to keep them from destroying entire ecosystems.

The experiment was conducted on the Gulf Islands near the British Columbia coast in Canada. On these islands racoons used to be preyed upon by larger predators like bears, cougars and wolves. However, those species were eliminated because they were deemed dangerous by humans. As a result, racoons thrived and started decimating fish, worms and crabs at a very quick pace. They even stated being active during the day, despite the fact that racoons are nocturnal creatures. Their only current natural enemies are domestic dogs.

In this light, scientists started studying ways to bring back the natural balance, even though the islands have no large carnivorous predators. Since bigger carnivores keep the numbers of racoons constant by either harassing or eating them, the pesky creatures have a natural fear of them. Researchers have decided to exploit this innate fear.

In order to prove their point, they set up several speakers on two areas of the coastline of Gulf Island and broadcasted barks of dogs for multiple consecutive months. The reactions of the racoons were captured on cameras. Furthermore, the researchers collected samples from the creatures that are on the racoons’ menu in order to correctly measure the sizes of their populations, and also compared them to the ones where they did not broadcast any sounds.

The results published in the Nature Communications journal demonstrated that the sounds have determined many racoons to avoid going to the coastline, and 66 percent of the animals have started spending less time foraging. Subsequently, they started becoming more wary of their surroundings and they no longer eat a bit of one fish and a bit of one crab before discarding their unfinished carcasses. As a result, the hunted populations started growing once more.

The new system can be used the same way as a scarecrow, in order to scare numerous animals from destroying their surroundings. The fact that ecosystems might be saved by fear can lead us to repairing entire environments, as well as saving species of animals and vegetation. This also proves once more that animals have an emotional side and are thus vulnerable to psychological attacks.

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Drought Will Impact All U.S. Forests

Drought will impact all U.S. forests, no matter where they are located.

Scientists are sending warnings that drought will impact all U.S. forests, and not just the ones in the western regions as it was previously believed. Many studies are currently being conducted in order to find better ways to manage the whole situation.

It is well known that very dry and warm conditions can have disastrous consequences on the vegetation of various regions and thus on the environment itself. Entire forests can be killed just by drought alone, and the rest that remain are prone to bark beetle infestations. Furthermore, the phenomenon causes unpredictable wildfires that can spread at high speeds.

Scientists believe these effects will spread to the east of the United States thus heavily modifying the biodiversity and species distribution across the whole country. However, no one can determine for sure the extent of the consequences of this drought.

A recent study was published in the Global Change journal last Monday by scientists from the US Geological Survey, the Duke University, the US Department of Agriculture and eleven more institutions. According to the report, even though the forests in the east of the U.S. have yet to go through the changes of the ones from the west, they are also vulnerable to drought. Unfortunately, the changes are occurring too quickly and trees do not have the necessary time to adapt, or in other words to expand their territory into more favorable habitats.

The new research has one major purpose: to understand the effects of climate change in order to find out how to better manage the situation and thus reduce the harmful effects on the surrounding environment.

The lead author of the newest study and Duke University environmental scientist, James Clark, has stated that at the moment scientists can predict the consequences of both drought and climate change on the trees of the U.S. forests.

The report that was released this week is a compilation of various studies on the status of rangelands and forests across the whole country. It is also a part of the US Global Change Research Program and the agriculture department larger report that was published earlier in February.

According to Dr. Clark,

“Ecologists have identified many of the important differences between species that explain how they respond differently to drought. But there’s still uncertainty about what might happen at the species-wide or stand-wide levels, particularly in Eastern forests.”

Drought will impact all U.S. forests whether we like it or not, and we will need to be prepared for the difficult times that will come in the future. These lands are even more important than we thought, since they contribute with $13 billion to the local economies, support over 200,000 jobs and are the primary resource of drinking water for more than sixty million Americans.

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You Can Create Now Your Personal Geofilter on Snapchat

You can create now your personal geofilter on Snapchat in order to have a better virtual experience.
Snapchat has just introduced custom geofilters for the users of the app.

You can create now your personal geofilter on Snapchat, as the company has just announced. With this new feature, users can create custom filters for various events they attend.

The success of Snapchat has been previously reported as the app records seven billion views on their videos each day. Its secret lies in the length of these videos (maximum ten seconds) and their expiration time (24 hours) after which they are automatically deleted.

The business is valued at the moment at $16 billion and only last year CEO and co-founder Evan Spiegel has declared that Snapchat has about one hundred million active users per day. Since then the numbers have surely grown.

After capturing various moments from their lives either in pictures or short videos, users have the option of adding a geofilter based on their location. This feature has been introduced about two years ago. In order to add the geofilter, users only need to swipe right to access the collection of locations like Hollywood, Venice Beach, Disneyland and so on. Until today, major brands could make their own custom geofilters.

From now on anyone will be able to create those in exchange for a fee. And they will not only show locations, but also other details about a video. For instance, if you record a video at a concert you will be able to add a filter with the name of the artist. The new feature costs $5 for a period of eight hours that covers 20,000 square feet.

This will turn to be quite useful for medium to high level acts of arenas, theaters and amphitheaters, but small to medium level acts might also experiment with the feature in order to promote their shows. The Snapchat app has ten templates available for both Photoshop and Illustrator. However, users do not need to necessarily use these templates, but only follow the guidelines of the app. The downside seems to be the fact that you will only be able to submit custom geofilters one month in advance to the event.

You can create now your personal geofilter on Snapchat for every event you attend, even music festivals. Last year the company released a special timed filter for Coachella that would place the name of the artist on your video depending on the time it was recorded. This year will surely be even more fun for Snapchap users.

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Raised Awareness for Eating Disorders

The week of raised awareness for eating disorders tries to send an alarming signal.

This week of raised awareness for eating disorders has also come with the results of a new study that sheds light on milder types of the common disorder.

It appears that eating issues are actually more complex than we previously thought. They can also be so subtle that we might not even know we have them, and that is when it can get truly dangerous. According to a recent study, thirty million citizens of the United States are either developing or already suffering from an eating disorder.

Furthermore, even though most of us think of anorexia or bulimia when we hear about eating disorders, there are many more types of eating issues. Raising awareness for binge eating or orthorexia which is obsession over eating only healthy foods is of utmost importance. Numerous people do not even know that they have an eating disorder because of the societal attitude for such behaviors.

This happens because we tend to explain eating patterns in other ways than disorders and we thus normalize them. Someone who is anorexic is usually viewed as a picky eater, while binge eaters are usually considered foodies. Not to mention orthorexics are even praised for being concerned about what they eat.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders contains some of these newly discovered disorders. Binge eating was added three years ago, but still many people do not check such manuals for informing themselves.

The newest study on the matter has shown that 1.6 teenagers and 5.5 adults from the U.S. suffer from the binge eating disorder. BED means that people eat uncontrollably and can also lead further on to gaining weight, anxiety, depression and guilt.

However, there are also numerous milder forms of this disorder, such as using diuretics or restricting food for losing pounds or eating food very late at night. It appears that 70% of those diagnosed with eating disorders have milder types classified as OSFEDs (other specified feeding or eating disorders). The values might be even higher since numerous people do not report those issues.

Another newly discovered disorder refers to workout exaggerating and has been named anorexia athletica. It seems at least half of the cases of eating disorders are linked to this particular issue.

Raised awareness for eating disorders needs to happen more often in order to make people understand that even if they have small issues, these could affect their whole lives and lead to bad medical conditions, especially if they are ignored for many years.

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Supermassive Black Hole Finds Its Peace

We are once again proven that all is possible, since a supermassive black hole finds its peace.

In our very busy and noisy Universe, a supermassive black hole finds its peace. This bizarre phenomenon was discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope from NASA.

NASA has recently published pictures of a certain supergiant elliptical galaxy named NGC 4889. This galaxy contains this unique supermassive black hole, considered by scientists to be abnormally quiet. Situated about three hundred million light-years from our planet, NGC 4889 is part of the Coma Cluster and features an immense black hole, 21 billion times larger than the mass of the Sun in our solar system.

Scientists could determine its position by making calculations with the data received by using the Hubble Space Telescope. As for the mass of the black hole, they had to use the Gemini North Telescope and various tools from Keck II Observatory. What they did was measure the stars’ velocity, since they depend on the size of the object they are orbiting, in this case the black hole in NGC 4889.

Therefore, astronomers arrived at the conclusion that the event horizon of the supermassive black hole has a 130-billion-kilometer diameter. This is equivalent to a diameter fifteen times bigger than the one of the orbit of Neptune from the Sun.

However, the particularity of this black hole lies in the fact that it has stopped sucking in the surrounding material. Previously it has been fueling itself by using hot accretion, but not it seems to have found its peace.

So what does happen exactly with these black holes? Space gas, dust and other materials slide into an accretion disc, which subsequently falls slowly into the black hole. This happens because of the hole’s gravitational pull, but also because the accretion disc is orbiting it. Thus the accumulation ends up seriously heating up and accelerating.

It appears that the supermassive black hole used to propel the accumulation of space material into energetic jets back when it used to be active. Scientists believe that in the far past, the NGC 4889 galaxy used to be a quasar.

In the end, it is estimated that the disc that used to be drawn into the black hole had to send an immense amount of energy, probably 1,000 times the volume that is emitted by our galaxy, the Milky Way. However, when this supply of dust, gas and other materials was wasted, the black hole became less active until it stopped completely.

Even though a supermassive black hole finds its peace, this does not mean it will not awake once more when it will have the resources. Astronomers will continue to study it and its galaxy in order to better understand how quasars were created.

Image Source: SpaceSky

Thousands of People Have Applied to Become Astronauts

Thousands of people have applied to become astronauts in hope that they will journey to Mars.

Thousands of people have applied to become astronauts for NASA’s next program. The deadline was last Thursday and it seems the space agency will have a lot of work to do when sorting the 18,300 applications.

According to NASA, the number is thrice as much as in 2012. The previous record of applications was back in 1978 when 8,000 people wanted to become astronauts. From the total of 18,000, the agency will choose between eight and fourteen people to fulfill their dream and maybe travel to Mars in the 2030s. The decision is expected to be made before summer 2017, so the applicants will have quite some time to wait.

The reason why so many people decided to send their applications could stand in the fact that the Mars trip is closing in, but also in the new discoveries that have been made lately, from the comet lander to the pictures of Pluto. According to Charles Boden, the administrator of NASA, the number of applications does not truly come as a surprise. Numerous Americans with diverse backgrounds wish to become involved in the incredible journey to Mars.

The applications will be reviewed by the Astronaut Selection Board of NASA during the next eighteen months, which will determine the best qualified candidates.

Taking a look at the past, in 1959 NASA had to select seven astronauts from five hundred military men, all with experience in jet aircraft flight and engineering. However, as the years passed, in 1964 the space agency started to focus on individuals with academic backgrounds. Candidates needed to have an engineering, medicine or natural sciences doctorate degree in order to be eligible.

At the moment, those who wish to become astronauts must have a bachelor’s degree in either engineering, natural sciences or mathematics, but also three years of practical experience in one of the related fields. For instance, pilots need about one thousand flight hours in a jet. However, they also need to fulfill other criteria such as having a height from 62 to 75 inches and 20/20 vision. Furthermore, they must pass various tests, such as the space flight physical for long durations of time.

Applicants who are qualified for the job will then have interviews at the Johnson Space Center. The eight to fourteen candidates that will be selected will go through a rigorous training that lasts for two years and involves spacewalking, learning about spacecraft systems and learning the Russian language. Then, they will begin their jobs at the Houston Astronaut Office after which they will be assigned to one of the following spacecraft: Crew Dragon from SpaceX, Starliner from Boeing or Orion, the International Space Station.

The fact that thousands of people have applied to become astronauts is not a surprise because there are many people in the world who wish to do or become something truly special during their lifetimes.

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