TIME Philippines

A Philippine Volcano May Be About to Blow and 12,000 Have Been Evacuated

PHILIPPINES-VOLCANO
Charism Sayat — AFP/Getty Images Volcano Mount Mayon spews a thick column of ash 500 metres (1,600 feet) into the air, as seen from the city of Legazpi, albay province, southeast of Manila on May 7, 2013.

Quakes and rockfalls at Mount Mayon have sparked serious concern

An ominous glow from the Philippines’ most active volcano has prompted the evacuation of more than 12,000 people from its surrounding areas.

There have been a series of quakes and rockfalls at Mount Mayon in the country’s Bicol region, sparking fears of a possible eruption, Reuters reports.

“We are now raising the alert status of Mayon Volcano from alert level 2 to 3,” said Renato Solidum, head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, on Tuesday.

Joey Salceda, governor of the Albay province where the mountain is located, said the evacuees would be housed in temporary shelters for up to three months. Salceda said that as of now the 6 to 8 km “danger zone” around the volcano had been cleared, and if it erupts, then villagers facing the southeastern crater rim would also be moved to safer areas.

Mayon has erupted nearly 50 times in the past 600 years. Its worst eruption, in 1841, killed 1,200 people.

[Reuters]

TIME psychology

Kanye West: Narcissist of the Day

Oh, sit down: Kanye in Sydney, where everyone must stand
Mark Metcalfe; Getty Images Oh, sit down: Kanye in Sydney, where everyone must stand

Jeffrey Kluger is Editor at Large for TIME.

Insisting that your audience members stand before you'll perform is just bad form—especially when some of them can't stand

Memo to Kanye West: The “O” in “standing O” doesn’t stand just for ovation; it also stands for optional. That’s worth remembering the next time you insist that your entire audience—every single one of them—stand up before you’ll even begin a song, especially if, as is often the case, there are people in that same audience who, you know, can’t stand up.

Precisely that unseemly scene played out over the weekend in Sydney, Australia, when West stopped his show and informed the crowd—who had, as is the custom, paid money to see him perform—that, “I decided I can’t do this song, I can’t do the rest of the show until everybody stands up.” There would, he allowed, be exceptions: “Unless you got a handicap pass and you get special parking and sh*t.”

So everyone stood up, except for two people who, as it turned out, did have “special parking and sh*t.” One was in a wheelchair; the other had a prosthetic limb, which initially did not stop the crowd from booing them and chanting, “Stand up, stand up, stand up,” as West egged them on. “This is the longest I’ve had to wait to do a song,” he griped. “It’s unbelievable!”

Finally, the woman removed her prosthesis and waved it over her head and West polled the people around the wheelchair-bound man: “Now if he is in a wheelchair, that’s fine. He in a wheelchair, there? Only if he’s in a wheelchair.” At last, the fabulously rich entertainer agreed to perform for the disabled audience members.

Yes, there is cellphone camera footage of this; yes, West surely knew there would be. And no, he didn’t give a fig.

This is, as I write in my book The Narcissist Next Door, the same Kanye West who famously interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV awards to announce that Beyonce should have won the award; the West who responded on his blog to the B+ score Entertainment Weekly had given one of his concerts with this blast: “What’s a B+ mean? I’m an extremist, its either pass or fail! A+ or F-! You know what, f**k you and the whole f*****g staff!” And the West who had this to say (in the third person, of course) about, well, Kanye West: “I think what Kanye West is going to mean is something similar to what Steve Jobs means. I am undoubtedly, you know, Steve of Internet, downtown, fashion, culture. Period. By a long jump.”

West is hardly the entertainment world’s only raging narcissist. Indeed, it’s an industry-wide affliction. Narcissism is measured by the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, a 40-question survey with a theoretical bottom score of 0 and high score of 40. But only a few points either way can make a difference. The average American weighs in at about 15.5, depending on age, gender and a few other variables. Inmates convicted of violent crimes score from 21.5 to 23. Celebrities don’t fall far shy of those stratospheric highs, coming in at 18.27, according to one study of 200 stars by pop psychologist Drew Pinsky.

But just which kind of celeb you are makes a difference. Reality show stars—no surprise—top the list at 19.45, followed by comedians at 18.89, actors at 18.45 and musicians at 16.67. That last, comparatively low figure makes sense because, as University of Georgia psychologist Keith Campbell told me, “If you’re a musician, you’ve got to play in a band.” Subsuming the individual into the group—the me into The Who, say—is not something the most florid narcissists would permit.

The musician rule is less applicable, of course, if you’re an individual performer like Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber or West, because you are the sole—or at least central—star on the stage. West’s star was surely tarnished by his stunt in Sydney—judging at least by the Internet blowback it’s received. But will he care? No he won’t. Will he change? Not a bit. Audiences, of course, could respond on their own, choosing to remain seated—or better yet, not showing up at all. Even a narcissist would notice an empty hall—and, worse, an empty till.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Iceland

Watch Iceland’s Bardarbunga Volcano Spew Lava Into the Air

Bardarbunga has been erupting since Aug. 31

These beautiful images, filmed by Nature Explorer, capture the moment Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano shoots lava into the air.

Bardarbunga has been spewing out fountains of molten magma over the Holuhraun lava field since it started erupting on Aug. 31.

But the volcano is also emitting noxious gases, like sulfur dioxide, which are putting the health of scientists working at the site at risk, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Residents living in the region have reported a stench in the air.

“It smelled like old redfish,” 68-year-old Unni Johansen, told the Journal.

Children and those with respiratory problems are being advised by Iceland’s health authorities to stay indoors, as scientists have traced the volcano’s toxic gases as far afield as Norway and Finland.

[WSJ]

TIME astronomy

Strong Solar Flare Headed Toward Earth

Late Summer Flare captured by Solar Dynamics Observatory
Solar Dynamics Observatory/ESA/NASA A flare erupting on the left side of the sun on August 24, 2014.

Traveling at 2.5 million miles per hour

A strong solar flare is barreling toward Earth at 2.5 million miles per hour, but scientists say its worst effects will likely bypass the planet when it expectedly arrives by the weekend.

Solar flares from the sun occur with frequency and, when unleashed toward Earth, can cause so-called solar storms. This particular one is categorized as a low-level X-class flare, the most severe of the three classes.

A storm of this size hasn’t headed toward Earth in several years, Tom Berger, the director of the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo., told the Associated Press. But, he added, “we’re not scared of this one.”

Earth’s atmosphere largely protects people on the ground from the radiation effects of a solar flare, but such blasts do have the potential to knock out power systems and disrupt satellite communications. Berger told the AP that the one heading toward Earth could slightly disturb some satellite and radio communications.

Storms categorized as “Extreme” have the potential to cause massive damage to electrical and communication systems and even pose a health hazard to passengers and crew in high-flying planes.

Here’s video footage from NASA of the solar flare in the middle of the sun on Wednesday:

TIME Dinosaur

The Biggest, Baddest Dinosaur Ever Has Been Discovered

Spinosaurus at National Geographic
Bill Clark—CQ-Roll Call Pedestrians walk past the newly erected replica of the Spinosaurus, the largest predatory dinosaur to ever roam the Earth, in front of the National geographic Society in Washington on Sept. 8, 2014.

Most of North Africa is no more than a sun-scorched desert today, but 95 million years ago the landscape was crisscrossed by rivers, dotted with marshes and populated with all sorts of reptilian monsters. The German paleontologist Ernst Stromer stumbled on this lost world back in 1912. Among the fossils he brought back to Munich were a few bones from a strange-looking predator he called Spinosaurus aegyptiacus—notably a long, thin jawbone studded with sharp teeth and a backbone festooned with enormous spines. The animal was clearly a predator, and the bones were so huge that this new creature could, he thought, be even bigger than T. Rex.

Unfortunately, most of Stromer’s fossil collection was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid during World War II, leaving just his drawings and descriptions. That record has obsessed University of Chicago paleontologist Nizar Ibrahim since he read about them as a child, and, says Nizar, “I always wanted to go back to do the same thing Stromer did a century ago.”

A few years ago, he did. The results have just appeared in a new report in Science. And it turns out that Spinosaurus was even stranger than Stromer realized. “There are so many ways it was unusual,” says Ibrahim, “that it’s hard to come up with my top three favorites.” At nearly 50 ft. long, he says the creature was in fact bigger than T. Rex—the biggest predatory dinosaur ever found, by about nine feet. “It had a long snout like a crocodile,” he says. “It had a big sail on its back.”

And perhaps most important from a scientific perspective, Spinosaurus is the first swimming dinosaur ever discovered (ichthyosaurs weren’t dinosaurs, so they don’t count). “It had relatively puny hind legs,” says Ibrahim’s University of Chicago colleague Paul Sereno, who co-authored the new paper, “with wide feet and flat claws that are ideal for paddling.”

Its tail, unlike that of T. Rex, was flexible, which would have helped propel it through the water, and its nostrils were high up on its head, allowing it to breathe as it searched for its underwater prey—freshwater sharks, among other things. “The skull,” says Ibrahim, “resembles the skull of fish-eating crocodiles, and the tip of the snout, with its slanted, interlocking teeth, is like a fish-catching trap.” The sail—the biggest ever found on a dinosaur—was almost certainly used to attract females, since it didn’t have a rich system of blood vessels that would have marked it as an adaptation for getting rid of excess heat. For that reason, says, Sereno, “It was probably brightly colored.”

If Spinosaurus is the biggest, weirdest predatory dino ever found, and the tale of its discovery a mystery story lasting nearly a century, the way it was reconstructed was almost equally unusual: the scientists digitized Stromer’s old drawings of the bones he’d found, digitized images of the bones they’d found, and merged them with a computer to figure out what the whole creature must have looked like—a process you’ll see, along with the story of Spinosaurus’ discovery and rediscovery, on a National Geographic/NOVA special airing on PBS on Nov. 5 at 9 p.m. You can see Spinosaurus itself, meanwhile, at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C., starting September 12.

And if Spinosaurus itself isn’t strange enough to grab you, there’s plenty more to come. “We’ve collected an entire menagerie of strange predators,” says “Ibrahim, “and we’ll be publishing more papers. I’m interested in Spinosaurus, but also in the world it lived in. Spinosaurus had bizarre adaptations,” he says, “but they make sense once you understand the bizarre river system it ruled.”

 

 

 

 

TIME

See the Effects of Climate Change in 3 Birds

Most North American birds head further north for winter as climate warms

Looking for signs of climate change? You can check the temperatures of the oceans or the density of polar ice caps. Or you can see which birds are gathering outside your window.

A Birds & Climate Change report released this week by the Audubon Society predicts that global warming will severely threaten nearly half of U.S. birds by the year 2100. And birds are already on the move, according to the society’s research. By mapping the historical data used in Audubon’s climate study, we see can that birds have migrated further north by an average of 40 miles in the past 48 years as temperatures increase. The map above highlights three species whose center of abundance has moved by over 200 miles.

The winter migration data is the fruit of the longest citizen science project in existence, called the Christmas Bird Count. Thousands of volunteers across North America head out every winter to track bird locations in over 2,300 designated areas. Audubon scientists aggregate data along conservation regions and state lines and then they account for the varying effort of bird watchers (watch out slackers) to produce an “abundance index” for each species.

The maps reflect this index for three birds that highlight how warmer winters are influencing species differently. Sixty one percent of the 305 Christmas Bird Count species are moving north — some by more than 200 miles, like the Pine Siskin and American Black Duck. Fewer species are going south, as their winter ranges are shrinking on the whole, with the remaining suitable climates now left further south. This pattern is observed in the Peregrine Falcon, though its increased abundance is also due to pesticide bans.

The “all birds” map shows the abundance index of all observed species relative to other areas. Light green areas show where fewer than the average number birds was observed, while darker areas exceed the average. Over time, areas further north illustrate increasing abundance relative to other areas.

Methodology

Data was provided by the Aududon Society, with calculations by Candan Soykan, an ecologist for Audubon. The “abundance index” for the three species shown on the map is based on the number of birds observed, by species, for each survey in the Christmas Bird Count, adjusted for variation in bird watching effort, among other factors.

The relative abundance for the map of bird density standardizes each species’ abundance index to a common scale before combining across species to provide an overall estimate. Standardization prevents abundant or more detectable species from dominating patterns in the map. To accommodate some species dramatically changing in abundance over the 48-year interval, median values are used. These median values for each year are averaged by decade (except in the case of 1966 to 1973) to be used on the time slider and map.

Photos: Getty Images (2);mdc

TIME Environment

Ozone Layer Showing Signs of Recovery, Study Finds

Ozone Rebounds
NASA/AP This undated image provided by NASA shows the ozone layer over the years, Sept. 17, 1979, top left, Oct. 7, 1989, top right, Oct. 9, 2006, lower left, and Oct. 1, 2010, lower right.

Finally, some good news about the environment

The depleted protective ozone layer that has left a gaping hole over Antarctica is showing signs of recovering, a UN panel of scientists said Wednesday.

The report found early indications of an increase in total ozone levels, which stabilized around 2000 after two decades of decline. The hole over Antarctica that appears every year, which grew to about 30 million square km in 2006, has also stopped expanding, according to the report.

Scientists realized in the 1970s that chemicals used in refrigerants and aerosol cans known as chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, were wearing down the ozone layer, which helps the Earth repel potentially harmful radiation from the sun. But an international movement to ban or replace CFCs, buttressed by the 1987 Montreal Protocol, has helped reduce the amount of CFC in the atmosphere.

“It’s a victory for diplomacy and for science and for the fact that we were able to work together,” chemist Mario Molina, one of the coauthors of a 1974 study predicting ozone depletion, told the Associated Press.

While past studies have found slowing ozone depletion, the UN report Wednesday is the first to show indications of an increase in total ozone, Geir Braathen, a senior scientific officer with the World Meteorological Organization, which co-produced the report, told Reuters.

TIME space

Spacecraft Snaps Casual Selfie With Passing Comet

ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA The Rosetta spacecraft snapped a ‘selfie’ with comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on Sept. 7, 2014. Two images with different exposure times were combined to bring out the faint details in this very high contrast situation.

Selfies are no longer just a human trend

The Mars Curiosity Rover isn’t the only lunar explorer that knows how to take a selfie these days.

The first of its kind—the Rosetta Spacecraft was designed to orbit and land on a comet in outer-space. This mission, which was launched by the European Space Agency in 2004, has finally approached the comet it was set to land on, and was at a distance of approximately 50 kilometers away from the comet when the selfie was snapped.

A special camera onboard Rosetta’s Philae Lander called CIVA (Comet Nucleus Infrared and Visible Analyzer) captured the image above using multiple exposures to bring out the fine details in both the comet and spacecraft.

Come November, the Rosetta Spacecraft will deploy its Philae Lander and attempt history’s first comet landing.

TIME Archaeology

Stonehenge Was Actually Part of a Huge Ancient Complex, Researchers Discover

2014-08-05_(05.23h)__D7100__0025_f.jpg
From the University of Birmingham, England An undated photo published by the University of Birmingham, England, of Stonehenge

Burial mounds, sun-aligned pits and ancient delights galore

For a disenchanted visitor to Stonehenge in the south of England, the iconic array of 4,000-year-old pillars may have signified little more than a pile of rocks. But a new discovery that Stonehenge was actually the heart of a huge complex of ancient burial mounds and shrines could win over even the most cynical observer.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham have found a host of previously unknown monuments, including ritual structures and a massive timber building that was likely used for burial of the dead during a complicated sequence of exposure and de-fleshing.

“New monuments have been revealed, as well as new types of monument that have previously never been seen by archaeologists,” Professor Vincent Gaffney, the project leader, said in a statement Wednesday. “Stonehenge may never be the same again.”

The project, which made use of remote sensing techniques and geophysical surveys, discovered large prehistoric pits, some of which are aligned with the sun, and new information on Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman settlements and fields.

Stonehenge draws more than 1.2 million visitors a year, including President Barack Obama last week, the Associated Press reports.

 

 

TIME Paleontology

New Dinosaur Species Unearthed in Tanzania

Rukwa Rift Basin Project field team members constructing a litter in order to carry large plaster jacket containing the Rukwatitan skeleton.
P. O’Connor—Ohio University Rukwa Rift Basin Project field team members constructing a litter in order to carry large plaster jacket containing the Rukwatitan skeleton.

The massive, plant-eating sauropod may have weighed as much as several elephants

Paleontologists have unearthed a new species of dinosaur in Tanzania, a long-necked, plant-eating giant that crops up in varied forms on every continent, but rarely ever has been found in the continent of Africa.

The fossils of the newly minted Rukwatitan bisepultus were spotted in in the Rukwa Rift Basin of southwestern Tanzania, embedded into a cliff wall. Paleontologists from the University of Ohio excavated the fossils over several months, unearthing vertebrae, ribs, limbs and pelvic bones.

Eric GorscakA silhouette of Rukwatitan showing the recovered skeleton and general shape of the titanosaurian.

The fossils clearly belonged to a creature within the family tree of sauropods, the long-necked giants that frequently turn up in the soil of South America, but CT scans revealed a distinct species that had developed unique traits from its cousins across the pond. The bones offer new evidence that the flora and fauna of the region, some 100 million years ago, may have been uniquely adapted to the area’s prehistoric environment. “With the discovery of Rukwatitan and study of the material in nearby Malawi, we are beginning to fill a significant gap from a large part of the world,” said study author Eric Gorscak.

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