Similarly to how an ‘unknown’ planet is referred to as planet X, now there is a placeholder for a yet unknown disease threat and it is represented as DISEASE X! This highlights the fact that it could result in a potential global catastrophe and such a risk should not be taken lightly.
Humanity could be at risk from any number of currently unknown pathogens.
The World Health Organization has highlighted the potential danger of a deadly, as-yet-unknown pathogen.
Each year, the global health body convenes a meeting of senior scientists in an effort to put together a concise list of the most likely diseases to cause a major international public health emergency.
While it isn’t surprising to see viruses such as Zika and Ebola make it on to the list, this time around something unexpected has been added – a mysterious malady referred to only as ‘Disease X’.
As it turns out however, this unspecified disease is actually a placeholder.
“Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease,” WHO said in a statement.
With the potential for gene editing to produce a disease far deadlier than anything ever seen before, it is not difficult to see why health authorities are being advised to expect the unexpected.
“History tells us that it is likely the next big outbreak will be something we have not seen before,” said John-Arne Rottingen, chief executive of the Research Council of Norway.
“It may seem strange to be adding an ‘X’ but the point is make sure we prepare and plan flexibly in terms of vaccines and diagnostic tests.”
“We want to see ‘plug and play’ platforms developed which will work for any, or a wide number of diseases; systems that will allow us to create countermeasures at speed.”
Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 NIAID
Over 200 Earthquakes Detected at Yellowstone Supervolcano
Regular earthquakes are bad enough. Volcanoes too. But an earthquake swarm at a supervolcano? That really sounds like it could be scary, and scientists say they’ve just detected such a phenomenon at the site of Yellowstone caldera.
According to geophysicists with the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the past fortnight has seen Yellowstone supervolcano shaken by a swarm of over 200 earthquakes since February 8, accompanied by innumerable smaller tremors too faint to accurately record.
Despite how alarming this cavalcade of seismic activity might seem – considering its unnerving proximity to one of nature’s most potentially devastating powder kegs – scientists say we shouldn’t be panicked.
Researchers Mike Poland and Jamie Farrell from Yellowstone Volcano Observatory explain in a USGS update that swarms like this account for more than half of the seismic activity at Yellowstone, and they’ve never actually been known to contribute to volcanic activity at the caldera.
Small earthquake swarm at @YellowstoneNPS, Feb 8-present, 180 events located thus far by @UUSS_Quake_Info. Location similar to last summer’s swarm. This is a common area of swarm seismicity. No other changes noted in Yellowstone activity. pic.twitter.com/n1ZfCjtdrx
— USGS Volcanoes🌋 (@USGSVolcanoes) February 18, 2018
“This is what Yellowstone does; this is Yellowstone being Yellowstone,” Poland told Live Science.
“It experiences swarms all the time.”
Case in point: last June, the region experienced an epic earthquake swarm that was 10 times more turbulent, breaking Yellowstone records on its way to ultimately producing some 2,400 quakes by September.
Ordinarily, the caldera sees around 1,500–2,000 earthquakes per year, with about half taking place during swarms. In the current swarm, the largest earthquake reached a magnitude of 2.9 on the Richter scale, whereas last year’s quakes topped out at a magnitude of 4.4.
These events might not produce fiery eruptions from Yellowstone’s expansive magma chambers, but they’re still a valuable opportunity for scientists to study the behaviour of the caldera system.
The latest outbreak took place in an area around 13 kilometres (8 miles) north-east of West Yellowstone, Montana, close to last year’s 2,400-strong swarm. The researchers say it’s possible the new flare-up is actually a continuation of the 2017 incident.
That might seem like a long stretch, but on the vast timescale over which seismic activity plays out, it’s actually just a blip – and the researchers even say both the 2017 and 2018 swarms may actually hark back to a quake from the previous century.
“One of the potential explanations for why this area is so swarmy is that the whole crust in the area is still adjusting to the big earthquake in 1959,” Poland told Live Science.
That episode, which induced the surrounding landscape to plummet by several metres and provoked seiches (standing waves) on Hebgen Lake for 12 hours, was the largest historic earthquake in the region, killing dozens of people in a landslide.
The 7.3-7.5 magnitude earthquake was due to stresses along faults under the region, but Yellowstone is also susceptible to pressure changes beneath the surface due to the buildup and withdrawal of fluids like magma and hydrothermal water, plus gases too.
For now, there’s no indication that these suspected after-effects are actually a sign of any impending greater seismic activity to come – nor a prelude to an eruption, but if (or when) a volcanic outburst is next unleashed at Yellowstone, it likely won’t be the cataclysm many fear, the researchers say.
“If Yellowstone erupts, it’s most likely to be a lava flow, as occurred in nearly all the 80 eruptions since the last ‘supereruption’ 640,000 years ago,” Farrell told Newsweek last June.
“A lava flow would be a big deal at Yellowstone, but would have very little regional or continental effect.”
Of course, that’s just likelihood being talked about there. One year or another – although it could be countless millennia away – the supervolcano will inevitably undergo another of its incredibly rare, but unimaginably catastrophic super-eruptions.
To give you an idea of how bad that (hopefully very far-off) explosion could be, NASA estimates the global consequences could be graver than a planet-devastating asteroid strike, with ash clouds likely to starve Earth of sunlight in a choking, years-long volcanic winter.
The good news is, that’s probably not what this earthquake swarm is all about.
Right now, we can be thankful that Yellowstone is being sleepy – especially since, even while it’s napping, it remains a bizarre and unpredictable place, at turns deadly, surprising, and confounding.
As long as it’s not super-erupting, we’ll take what we can get – and in any case, the latest swarm looks like it could be over for now.
“It’s slowly petering out, although these things wax and wane, so it’s a bit difficult to say that it’s ending,” Poland told Newsweek.
“Yellowstone is just a very swarmy place.”
Apocalypse to start on April 11 claims David Meade
Serial predictor David Meade, who previously claimed the world would end on September 23 and November 19 in 2017, says the new date of the apocalypse is now April 11.
Mr Meade begins an article on Planet X News by saying: “The fat lady is about to sing. It’s all over.”
Mr Meade gives a list of reasons as to why he believes this will be the date of the end of the world, also adding this will be the year the Antichrist finally reveals himself to usher in the apocalypse.
The conspiracy theorist said the Great American Eclipse which took place on August 21 last year, was a “harbinger of a seven-year Tribulation period”.
Mr Meade added the solar eclipse began in Oregon, the 33rd State, and ended in South Carolina, which is in the 33rd parallel – a circle of latitude which is 33 degrees north of the equatorial plane.
Mr Meade said: “The last eclipse of this nature was 99 years ago (33 x 3)”.
Three is significant in Biblical terms as it represents the Holy Trinity. Thirty three is how old Jesus was he died.
He goes on to say the “crazy people of the United Nations” declared on December 21 that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.
This was followed 42 days later by the blood red blue supermoon.
Following this, Mr Meade says “Ron Reese, a Bible scholar of many years … says the Tribulation begins on or around April 11, 2018.”
Mr Meade says the Antichrist will step out of the shadows following this date and “I think I know who it is but there is no way I’m releasing that information.”
He said North Korea will commence World War III later this year and that the fabled Planet X – a mythical planet that is allegedly heading towards our solar system and will knock Earth off its axis and cause widespread destruction – will appear.
Mr Meade said: “Halfway through the Tribulation the Antichrist declares himself in the rebuilt Hebrew temple in Jerusalem. There’s major trouble from that point forward. Everything escalates a hundredfold.
“The Antichrist’s time is brief (a full 3.5 years) but he wrecks havoc on the earth in that time. He creates nuclear wars and as a result there is famine and pestilence.”
Scientists think we all may be dead by 2050
According to research around the future of Artificial Intelligence, the human race could vanish within our lifetime.
At last, some good news, then.
Jeff Nesbit, former director of legislative and public affairs at the National Science Foundation and author of more than 24 books, has examined the latest thinking on AI capabilities.
He concludes that the human race could cease to exist by 2050 – or that we become immortal.
Nesbit explains the theory known as ASI, or ‘artificial super-intelligence’, which posits that AI will evolve into a supercomputer which learns so quickly that it surpasses human intelligence, and solves all problems.
On the one hand, you have the hopefuls like Ray Kurzweil imploring us not to fear artificial intelligence, pointing instead to the older and more pressing threats like bioterrorism or nuclear war.
In fact, Kurzweil argues that mental capabilities are enhanced by AI, and he points out that global rates of violence, war and murder have declined dramatically.
He also argues that AI has helped to find cures for diseases, developed renewable energy resources and, cared for the disabled, among other benefits to society.
Kurzweil puts the date of ‘human level AI’ at 2029, which gives us just enough time to “devise ethical standards”.
Then there’s Rollo Carpenter, creator of the Cleverbot software, which has gained high scores in the Turing test – that is to say, many people have mistaken it for human when communicating with it.
I believe we will remain in charge of the technology for a decently long time, and the potential of it to solve many of the word problems will be realised.
He explains that the ability to develop algorithms necessary for achieving full artificial intelligence is still a few decades away, and explains:
We cannot quite know what will happen if a machine exceeds our own intelligence, so we can’t know if we’ll be infinitely helped by it, or ignored by it and sidelined, or conceivably destroyed by it.
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, pioneer of digital money and electric cars, has told students in an interview that we are “summoning the demon” with AI.
Speaking at the AeroAstro Centennial Symposium at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Musk made the following remarks:
If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that [artificial intelligence]. So we need to be very careful.
With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy wih the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like – yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Doesn’t work out.
In a 2015 open letter, Musk and Professor Stephen Hawking wrote on the idea that AI could allow development of autonomous weapons, which would revolutionise warfare – and not for the better.
Autonomous weapons are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilising nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group.
Starting a military AI arms race is a bad idea, and should be prevented by a ban on offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control.
Hawking, who is able to communicate via a technology that uses a basic form of AI, also had this cheery proclamation for the BBC:
The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.
He, too, considers the possibility and potential dangers of ASI, explaining that AI could take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate.
Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.
But all of them agree on one thing – sometime in the next 30 years or so, a supercomputer will replicate the human brain and evolve into super-intelligence, or ASI.
Tim Urban, author of ‘Wait, But Why?’ blog, outlines the future:
While most scientists I’ve come across acknowledge that ASI would have the ability to send humans to extinction, many also believe that used beneficially, ASI’s abilities could be used to bring individual humans, and the species as a whole, to…species immortality.
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