TIME intelligence

Former CIA Chief Petraeus to Plead Guilty to Mishandling Classified Materials

Former CIA Director David Petraeus Speaks At USC Dinner For Veterans And ROTC Students
Kevork Djansezian—Getty Images Former CIA director and retired four-star general General David Petraeus makes a public speech at the University of Southern California dinner for students Veterans and ROTC students on March 26, 2013 in Los Angeles, Calif.

Stunning downfall for America's former top general

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — The U.S. Department of Justice says former CIA Director David Patraeus has agreed to plead guilty to mishandling classified materials.

A Justice Department statement says a plea agreement has been filed in U.S. District Court in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Associated Press was not immediately able to access the documents.

The agency says the former top Army general was charged with one count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material. The statement says Petraeus had signed an agreement pleading guilty to the single criminal count.

Petraeus’ lawyers David Kendall and Robert Barnett in Washington declined to comment.

The case was filed in Charlotte, the hometown of Paula Broadwell, the general’s biographer and former mistress.

TIME human behavior

The Weird Reason Humans Shake Hands as a Greeting

It's to smell each other

It may not be as undignified as two dogs greeting each other but a handshake may amount to the same thing, according to a new study.

Researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science found that people use the traditional greeting of shaking hands to surreptitiously smell each other.

The researchers secretly filmed subjects to see how frequently they touched their own faces, and if that number changed significantly after shaking someone’s hand. When people received a handshake from someone of the same gender, face-touching with the right hand increased by more than 100 percent.

Nasal catheters were fitted to subjects to measure airflow, which proved they weren’t just touching their hands to their faces. They were sniffing them.

“It is well-known that we emit odors that influence the behaviour and perception of others but, unlike other mammals, we don’t sample those odors from each other overtly,” Professor Noam Sobel, Chair of Neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute of Science, said in a press release.

Interestingly, hand-sniffing only increased on the right hand, used for the hand shake, among subjects of the same gender. When people shook hands with someone of the opposite sex, they were more likely to smell their left hand.

 

TIME Research

Humans Are Genetically More Similar to Their Fathers, Study Finds

Sorry mom

Every parent wants their child to be just like them, but new research shows that dads may have an advantage at least from a genetic standpoint.

According to a study by the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine and published in the journal Nature Genetics, mammals use more DNA from the father than the mother when undergoing mutations — the genetic process that makes us who we are.

The researchers, led by genetics professor and senior author Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, tested the genetic mutations of specially crossbred mice to see which mutations altered gene expression. Of the 80% that did, several hundred genes showed a “genome-wide expression imbalance in favor of the dad,” first author James Crowley told Science Daily. “This imbalance resulted in offspring whose brain-gene expression was significantly more like their father’s.”

The authors believe a similar bias would exist for human subjects. Pardo-Manuel de Villena called the results “an exceptional new research finding that opens the door to an entirely new area of exploration in human genetics.”

[Science Daily]

TIME archeology

The Fabled ‘City of the Monkey God’ Has Been Found in the Honduran Rain Forest

Evidence of an ancient settlement was found in the most inaccessible forest in Central America

An ancient lost city from a mysterious culture has been discovered in the eastern Honduran rain forest.

Legend speaks of a “White City” or “City of the Monkey God” so remote that no one has ever found it, reports National Geographic.

That is until a team of American and Honduran archaeologists returned from deep within the Central American nation’s jungle last week.

The scientists found evidence of settlements and remnants of an unknown civilization that thrived thousands of years ago.

Stone sculptures, ceremonial seats, carved vessels decorated with snakes and other animals made up a cache of 52 artifacts that lay on the surface. Archaeologists believe much more lies below the ground.

Read more at National Geographic.

TIME animals

So This Baby Weasel Decided to Hitch a Ride on a Flying Woodpecker’s Back

The battle for survival just got airborne

An amateur photographer in the U.K. captured the snap of his lifetime on Monday when he witnessed a weasel clinging onto a woodpecker’s back mid-flight.

Martin Le-May from Essex near London said he was first alerted to the bird’s “distressed squawking” at Hornchurch Country Park after the tiny carnivore apparently pounced on it in search of a meal.

“The bird flew across us and slightly in our direction,” he told ITV News. “Suddenly it was obvious it had a small mammal on its back and this was a struggle for life.”

The woodpecker landed in front of Le-May and his wife, at which point the weasel seemed to get distracted and momentarily let go of its quarry.

“Quickly the bird gathered its self respect and flew up into the trees and away from our sight,” adds Le-May. “The woodpecker left with its life, the weasel just disappeared into the long grass, hungry.”

Read next: Quiz: Is Your Dog Crazy?

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME space

ISS Astronauts Do Their Third Spacewalk in Eight Days

They were helping to set up antenna that future space taxis will use to dock with the ISS

Two U.S. astronauts left the International Space Station on Sunday for a spacewalk — the third time they had left the orbiting station in just over a week.

This time, station commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore and flight engineer Terry Virts were preparing berthing docks for space taxis being developed by Boeing and SpaceX, reports Reuters.

Their job was to rig more than 122 meters of cables for two sets of antennas that the new vehicles will use as navigation tools before they dock at the station. The mission was completed after just 5.5 hours, less than the seven hours originally planned on.

After the spacewalk, Virts found a small amount of water inside his helmet but said it didn’t pose a risk to his safety.

[Reuters]

TIME

Watch the NASA Space Station Spacewalk Live

Think you’d like to walk in space? Don’t be so sure. Yes, the view is great; yes, the weightlessness is fun. But the work is punishing. You’re either too hot or too cold—which is what happens when the temperature goes from 200º F to -200º F (93º C to -129º C) depending on whether you’re in shadow or sun. Then there are the aching hands that come from trying to operate tools while wearing pressurized gloves with all the flexibility of a catcher’s mitt; the fogged visor that can occur when you break a sweat—and make no mistake, you will sweat—and the fact that you cannot scratch your nose or mop your brow for the entire eight or nine hours that you’re inside your suit. And have we mentioned the diaper?

So kudos to commander Barry Wilmore and flight engineer Terry Virts who on March 1 will step outside the International Space Station for their third spacewalk in just over a week to run cable and otherwise prepare the orbiting outpost for the arrival of new commercial crew vehicles in 2017. NASA is streaming the walk live and once you start watching the slo-mo, high-def ballet, it can be hard to stop. Flying in space is much harder than it seems. Watching the men and women who make the trips, however, can be nothing but joy.

TIME remembrance

Check Out an Astronaut’s Tribute to Leonard Nimoy from Space

A touching tribute from a fellow space traveler

Astronaut Terry Virts tweeted a tribute to the late actor Leonard Nimoy from outer space.

Virts, an astronaut currently aboard the International Space Station, photographed the “Live Long and Prosper” hand salute that Nimoy made famous as Spock on Star Trek, framed by the coastline of Nimoy’s home state, Massachusetts.

The actor passed away on Friday aged 83.

TIME Science

This Alien Might Exist on One of Saturn’s Moons, Scientists Say

A methane-based "azotosome" could theoretically exist on Titan

Scientists have modeled a hypothetical alien life form that might exist on Titan, the largest of Saturn’s moons.

Researchers at Cornell University calculated that a methane-based lifeform containing no oxygen might theoretically exist on the orbital moon some 886 million miles away from the Sun.

Although it has an atmosphere, Titan’s frigid temperatures and methane seas would not seem to be hospitable to life as we know it. But the researchers at Cornell theorized a lifeform that could exist from the elements available there. Why Titan? It’s the only known body, other than earth, with bodies of liquid known to stably exist.

Anyone expecting an E.T.-like sentient being, though, may be disappointed: The notional “azotosome” (named for the French word for “nitrogen”) is about the size of a virus.

TIME animals

Wild Giant Pandas Making a Comeback in China

Mother giant panda Juxiao is seen with one of her triplets at Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou, Guangdong province
Reuters Mother giant panda Juxiao is seen with one of her triplets at Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, Dec. 9, 2014.

The population has grown by 268 despite many obstacles

The Chinese government has some good news for panda lovers.

A new survey by China’s State Forestry Administration indicates that the wild giant panda population has grown to 1,864, representing an increase of 268 pandas since 2003. The number of giant pandas in captivity also doubled.

The census, which took some three years to complete, reflects the country’s commitment to protecting an animal with a lot of obstacles against it: Pandas are slow to reproduce and historically have been a target for poachers, and, per the census, now have 832 miles of roads running through their habitats. China’s 27 preserves for pandas account for the growth.

[NBC News]

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