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Nobody knows just how many dogs there are in the United States, but there are plenty—and many of them live (and pee) in human cities. Turns out, canine bathroom breaks may have more of an impact on the environment than you might think.

In a new study, a team of Columbia University undergraduate and graduate researchers led by ecologist Krista McGuire looked at the impact of pee on the urban soil microbiome. They found evidence that the nitrogen content and low pH of the urine can make city soil both harder and less absorbent of rainwater, while making the soil microbiome less diverse.

The project was born out of McGuire’s observations with colleagues during other research on green infrastructure in NYC. In sites like unfenced tree pits, “the soils seemed barren, compacted, and the water from rainfall didn’t seem to penetrate very well,” she says.

The team suspected soil’s characteristics had something to do with all the dogs that urinated on those sites, so they designed an experiment to check. “We obtained soil from the city environment,” says McGuire, along with one species of commonly-used plant from the same nursery the city uses.

Both of these factors replicate what’s used out in the real world. Getting actual dog pee turned out to be harder. They approached animal shelters, which mostly turned them away, while the one shelter that acquiesced didn’t yield enough pee—the experiment required a whopping 40 gallons.

“Despite visiting the shelter twice a week for a couple months, less than 40mL [1.35 oz] of urine was collected due to difficulty in predicting when the dogs will urinate and the dogs’ refusal to continue urinating when a collecting bowl was brought near them as they were about to urinate,” the paper states.

“Ultimately, we decided to use coyote urine since coyotes are very closely related to domestic dogs, and their urine is commercially available,” McGuire says. If you’re not a gardener looking to repel deer from your tulips, you may not be aware of this, but yes, you can buy 40 gallons of coyote pee pretty easily.

Over the course of a month, they ran a greenhouse experiment, watering the plants at regular intervals with either straight water or water mixed with urine at different concentrations. They checked the soil each week. The results were dramatic: the bacterial community diversity decreased by up to a third during the experiment, and the kinds of bacteria in the microbiome changed. Meanwhile, the “runoff” from pots increased significantly, signifying that the soil was becoming less absorbent.

Outside the lab (say, outside your door), “a variety of different events can affect the impact of urine deposition,” says Gary King, a Louisiana State University biology professor who studies urban microbiomes. This experiment doesn’t address those factors—like, what if it’s raining, or what if some other pollutant has recently entered the soil?

But the results point to an important direction of research, he says. “There is a huge gap in our knowledge about basic microbial functions in the soils that are part of the system in our own built environment.”

To keep this from happening, cities like New York are investing lots of money in building and maintaining green infrastructure, from street trees to deliberately designed water capture landscapes called “bioswales.” But as this research indicates, our furry friends’ bathroom breaks may be making these interventions less effective.

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Welcome To Dogeliens, The Dog

It’s the meme coin battle again, and this time, Dogeliens (DOGET) plans to slug it out with fellow dog-based tokens, Shiba Inu and Dogelon Mars, in a fight for a top 50-coin launch.

While Shiba Inu and Dogelon Mars are exemplary meme coins to follow, Dogeliens is aiming even higher. The new Metaverse project will lean on its attractive protocol to pool users from all over the crypto space during its presale event.

Read on to discover its intricate features and how they will affect meme coins.

Dogelon Mars: Elon Musk’s Biggest Fan

Dogelon Mars (ELON) is a futuristic interplanetary crypto platform that aims to facilitate future trade between humans and extraterrestrials. For now, the coin will strive to provide utility to its community amid its rough start after its launch.

Developers are working on a new token that will be distributed to users for staking on the platform. Dogelon Mars is a fork from the Dogecoin network; hence it shares some characteristics with the pioneer meme coin project. However, the token runs a proof of stake protocol in contrast to Dogecoin.

This move was also crucial for the equitable distribution of the tokens to the community. To boost the token’s cryptocurrency price, the developers have burned half of the initial token supply to a public wallet owned by Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum. The rest has been locked on UNISWAP to ensure the developers don’t withdraw from it.

Dogelon Mars (ELON) exists on the Ethereum blockchain, where the token plans to harness the DApps present on the platform to enhance its blockchain.

Shiba Inu: The First Ethereum-Based Meme Coin

Shiba Inu (SHIB) was the first Ethereum-based meme coin to launch in the cryptocurrency market. It experienced a boost shortly after its launch to become one of the highest-trending tokens in 2023. However, it has hit a plateau since 2023 due to the crypto collapse and lack of a valuable protocol.

The Shiba Inu (SHIB) platform is a proof of stake protocol that features network staking for security. The platform has a decentralized exchange, Shibaswap, and an NFT incubator for creating NFT assets from videos, pictures, audio, and texts. However, it cannot conduct NFT trade because it lacks a marketplace for sales and exchange.

Shiba Inu launched over one quadrillion tokens, a vast supply, and over half that number is in circulation. The developers are working on launching a fully functional NFT marketplace and integrating smart contracts into the platform’s operations. These features are already commonplace in the cryptocurrency market, and they will boost the token’s reputation and popularity in the cryptocurrency market.

Dogeliens: Learn, Sell, Buy And Talk

Dogeliens (DOGET) is a versatile token, as it sports cross-chain features that enable users from other networks to deposit their assets on the platform.

The Dogeliens Metaverse comprises a two-part ecosystem with a Metaverse hub/NFT incubator and an E-learning unit. The Metaverse hub is a typical feature of most Metaverses, and it is closely associated with the NFT store to enable users to add their NFTs to the marketplace easily. The NFTs minted on the platform can also be placed on the NFT store for sales and exchange.

The last part of the ecosystem is the University of Barkington, a virtual learning platform designed to make DeFi-literates of the Dogeliens community. The platform allows users to sign in as tutors or students, so the more experienced traders can put the beginners through DeFi tools and learn how to use them profitably.

The Dogeliens (DOGET) presale is ongoing, and here is a chance to join the next Metaverse sensation.

For more information:

An Iceberg The Size Of Delaware Just Broke Off Of Antarctica

In a harbinger of future sea-level rise that could pose a serious threat to coastal communities, an iceberg the size of Delaware has broken free from an Antarctic ice shelf, leaving the rest of the shelf vulnerable to collapse.

The break in the Larsen C ice shelf — the most northern major ice shelf in the region—occurred Wednesday, according to Project MIDAS, a UK-based monitoring group.

Ice shelves are the thick, floating ice at the edge of the continent, and they serve as buttresses, keeping onshore glaciers from sliding into the sea. Researchers have been monitoring the rift in the Larsen C shelf for years and became alarmed in December when the breach widened dramatically. At one point this spring, the rift grew by 11 miles in less than a week, leaving only eight miles left and raising fears that a complete break was imminent. More than six months later — in the middle of the Antarctic winter — the break has occurred.

“The situation with the Larsen ice shelf is a combination of fascinating and troubling, a tangible piece of a larger slow-motion disaster unfolding in front of our eyes,” said Michael Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University. “We are seeing a microcosm of the future… a future that may already be inevitable and, if not, will likely be so if we transgress the 2º C warming target.”

Larsen C is about 1100 feet thick and rests at the edge of West Antarctica, blocking the glaciers that feed into it. All of the region’s ice shelves, including Larsens A, B, and C, impede the movement of Antarctic glaciers, which, if they float into the ocean, can hasten sea-level rise.

When ice shelves disintegrate, glaciers move out to sea. Ted Scambos and Michon Scott, National Snow and Ice Data Center

The Larsen A ice shelf collapsed in 1995 and the Larsen B shelf suddenly crumbled in 2002 after a similar rift developed.

“One of the processes causing the disintegration of the Larsen… is also implicated in the rapid changes in the Amundsen Sea area of West Antarctica — Thwaites glacier, Pine Island glacier,” said Oppenheimer, a long-time participant in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He explained that the loss of ice shelves will likely allow land-based ice into the ocean, causing additional sea-level rise.

“There is a relatively small amount of ice behind the Larsen, so even if it all disintegrated, the contribution to sea-level rise would be modest, a few inches,” he said. Still, even a few inches of sea-level rise is meaningful, especially when combined with storm surge in low-lying areas.

Break away. Climate Signals

And what is happening with Larsen C is not an isolated problem. Cracks in other Antarctic ice shelves also have developed.

“There is several meters worth of ice behind the other ice shelves and more behind vulnerable ice shelves in East Antarctica. So what we are seeing is a vivid demonstration of what warm water and warm air can do to an ice shelf and the land-based ice sheet that the shelf has been restraining,” Oppenheimer said.

With the break, Larsen C lost more than 10 percent of its area, leaving the ice front at the most retreated position on record, according to Project Midas, a UK-based Antarctic research effort.

“This is just the latest empirical evidence for what scientists have increasingly concluded in recent years,” said Michael Mann, professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University and director of its Earth System Science Center. “Namely, that the West Antarctic ice sheet is less stable with respect to global warming than once thought, and its demise is occurring ahead of schedule, and with it, so is global sea-level rise.”

Kevin E. Trenberth, a senior climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said there have been conflicting theories surrounding the impact of climate change on the region.

“Warming of the atmosphere means that moisture can be carried farther inland, and one prospect that has been mentioned is that more snow could occur in Antarctica, which could contribute to lowering of sea level, countering trends elsewhere,” he said. “Observations of precipitation are poor, and we do not have good information on this aspect.”

Trenberth explained that waters around Antarctica are warming more than anywhere, undermining ice shelves. “This has gained support from various studies over time, so once again the outcome is more icebergs breaking away from Antarctica.”

Antarctica Josh Landis

“The key question is, ‘What does this mean overall?’” he said. “Is the West Antarctic ice sheet unstable and may become ungrounded, resulting in it melting and 20 feet of sea-level rise ultimately? The uncertainties are huge and the topic is important.”

Richard Alley, a glaciologist at Pennsylvania State University, agreed. Alley believes the shrinking of Antarctic Peninsula ice shelves is likely due to warming, though uncertainties abound.

“Think of all the ceramic coffee cups you have ever seen dropped on the floor,” he said. “Some have bounced, some chipped, some broken in two, some smashed. We all know that dropping a ceramic coffee cup on the floor risks breakage, but we would be hard-pressed to predict exactly what one cup will do. Exactly where this break will go on Larsen C, and how it will affect the probability of additional breaks behind it, fall into the category of predicting one break.

“We can surely improve our data, our understanding of the setting, and our models, and reduce the uncertainties for similar events in the future,” he said. “But there will always be some uncertainty. If one wishes to avoid really costly breakage… leading to meters of sea-level rise, the approach… is to leave a wide safety margin, which would mean limiting warming.”

As for the fate of the breakaway iceberg, climate scientists have developed models that can predict its journey. Researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research have figured out how Antarctic icebergs drift through the Southern Ocean.

This map shows the trajectory of Antarctic icebergs of different sizes. Class 1 icebergs are the smallest. Class 5 are the largest. Thomas Rackow

When it comes to huge icebergs like the Larsen C, its motion is largely dictated by its weight and by the fact that the surface of the Southern Ocean is not flat but typically leans to the north. The sea level can be up to half a meter higher on the southern edge of the Weddell Sea or along the Antarctic Peninsula than at its center. How far it will drift depends on whether it remains intact or breaks up into smaller pieces, the researchers said. The iceberg also could run aground for a while.

“If it doesn’t break up, chances are good that it will first drift for about a year through the Weddell Sea, along the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula,” said Thomas Rackow, a climate modeler at the Wegener Institute and first author of the study. “Then it will most likely follow a northeasterly course, heading roughly for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.”

Because it is so heavy, Larsen C likely will survive for eight to ten years, according to the scientists’ computer models, a period regarded as the maximum life expectancy for even the largest of icebergs.

Marlene Cimons writes for Nexus Media, a syndicated newswire covering climate, energy, policy, art and culture.

Reddit Is More Dangerous Than The Syrian Electronic Army’s Hackers

About an hour ago, the Associated Press’s official Twitter account, @AP, issued this tweet (it’s since been removed):

Hacked @AP Tweet

Hacked @AP Tweet

I was in the bathroom reading Twitter (I know.) when this first broke, and the first thing I saw wasn’t one of the most respected news sources in the world tweeting that the White House had been bombed. I don’t follow the AP on my personal account, so the first thing I saw was this:

The next three tweets I saw about this possibly breaking news story were as follows: “there’s no way that @AP tweet is real,” “Not believing this,” and “h a c k t i m e.” Not a single person in my feed believed the tweet; the closest was Anil Dash asking for “other sources.” The jokes followed immediately–jokes about those who had bungled coverage of the Boston Bombing (the New York Post, CNN, former Reuters social media editor Matthew Keys, Reddit), and then aggressive ignoring of the tweet. My feed, largely made up of reporters, editors, writers, and other news-types, barely even bothered to make a reasoned rejection, so silly was the AP tweet and so jaded our reaction to news.

That’s the same experience everyone had; within seconds, the balance of those talking about the tweet swung from earnest disbelief to cries of “hacked,” “fake,” and scorn. By five minutes in–an eternity on Twitter!–the conversation was almost entirely about the “AP hack,” not the “news.” Even the stock market, run by alarmist algorithms, snapped back from an absurd drop in minutes.

The Syrian Electronic Army, a largely unknown group which claimed credit for the hack, has been busy the past few days, taking control of the Twitter accounts of NPR, the BBC, @60Minutes, and more. But they’re small-h hackers, nominally political and apparently accomplished at getting access but less concerned with causing real damage than in pranks and delighting in their own cleverness. When they took control of @FIFAWorldCup, they tweeted a few times about a conspiracy against the Syrian national soccer team and then a whole bunch more times saying things like “Twitter #failure” and “Syrian Electronic Army was here.” None of their work suggests that this is a serious political group trying to effect change or even mere chaos; this is probably a handful of dumb teens.

The AP tweet was not hard to pick out as a hoax. The phrasing was wrong; the AP writes “BREAKING” in loud capital letters, whereas the hacked tweet was properly capitalized; it was sent via the web whereas legitimate @AP tweets are usually sent via Social Flow, a marketing service; and the president was referred to simply as Barack Obama, a violation of the AP’s style guide. That’s on top of the fact that, well, if there was a bombing at the White House, it’s pretty doubtful that @AP, fast as they are, would be the first and only source to get the word out; they weren’t nearly the first to tweet about the Boston Bombings, for example, and this hacked tweet was not accompanied by any corroborating eyewitness reports.

Compare the effect of this fake tweet–near-instantaneous dismissal and eye-rolling–with the very worrying case of Sunil Tripathi, a Brown University student who had been missing for a few weeks. At 2:43AM early in the morning of April 19th, one Greg Hughes, an active Reddit contributor, tweeted Tripathi’s name as a possible suspect in the Boston Bombing, citing a mention on the Boston Police Department’s scanner feed. The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal was unable to find anything resembling Tripathi’s name in the scanner’s logs, but it didn’t matter; within hours, Sunil had become the number one suspect in the bombings for Twitter and Reddit.

He was cleared by late afternoon, when the FBI identified the Tsarnaev brothers as the primary suspects. His whereabouts are still unknown.

Hughes’s tweet was earnest; it cited a source assumed to be trustworthy (though it is not, and it doesn’t seem to have come from that source anyway), it came from someone trying to help. It was plausible. The easiest way to fool someone is to have already fooled yourself, and in publishing something he thought was true, Hughes’s tweet became far more powerful than anything a prankster group of Syrian hackers could come up with.

* * *

These two stories show both sides of the crowd-sourced hive mind with which we analyze information on Twitter. On the one hand, the masses came to the right conclusion very quickly in the case of the AP hack; if you looked at literally a single tweet besides the one from @AP, even if you weren’t sure what to think, you’d immediately have to consider the possibility that the tweet was not genuine. It caused no damage, no panic. Nobody was hurt, really; it’s hard to even blame the Associated Press. It could happen to anyone, and the AP was conscientious in conveying what had happened (and getting their Twitter feed temporarily shut down) within minutes. The power of the crowd directed people to the truth.

And yet the painfully earnest computer-chair detective work from Reddit and Twitter may well have destroyed the life of an innocent college kid from suburban Pennsylvania. We don’t know where he is or if he’s okay, we don’t know if he’ll come back or how he’ll recover from being falsely accused of mass murder if he does. When we discuss the problem of oversaturation of news–which we should, repeatedly and at length–we need to remember that. The Syrian Electronic Army’s intentions may have been to hurt, and Reddit’s intentions may have been to help, but it doesn’t matter. Misinformation is misinformation, and Reddit proved a far more effective and destructive source than the hackers.

Setting Up Siri For More Than One User

Siri is an App that can make calls and send text messages for you when you are driving or have your hands full-It can also announce any new messages on your device. It can give necessary suggestions, like texting someone that you will be late for a meeting. Siri can help you set alarms, reminders, and even give directions to a destination.

Apple Music and Siri do work together, which means that you ask Siri to find a song for you and put it on a particular playlist.

It can even suggest your favorite songs for you at the gym; all you have to do is just to tap to play. Nowadays, you can control your appliances and do many things at once with just your voice.

Using the home App, you can create a scene and name it ‘I am home,’ which will automatically open the garage, the front door, and switch on the house lights. Siri can be operated by one or more persons, but it has to be properly configured for it to be operated by many people.

How do you set up Siri to respond to more than one user?

Setting Up Your HomePod for Multiple Users

It’s quite an interesting experience for more than one person to talk to your HomePod (Siri) and get recognized. It will play their choice of music and obey every command placed by them on it. The HomePod can accept up to six people to talk to it and get recognized.

You don’t have to get every member of your family their own HomePod. Instead, you can simply add them to a single HomePod by activating the multiple user features on it.

Requirement for Configuration

All the people you want to add or your family members should have iPhone running on iOS 13.2 or iPad running on iPadOS 13.2, or you just have to make sure their devices are running on the latest version of iOS.

When you update the software in the Home app on your device, it will automatically update your HomePod or all the HomePods you have on your network.

The Configuration

All the people or your family members that you want to be recognized by your HomePod should be a member of your home network on your Home App. If they are not, then you have to do the following:

After that, turn on “Listen for ‘Hey, Siri’” on your HomePod’s section in the Home App.

Then turn on “Listen for ‘Hey, Siri’” on your iPhone or iPad as well.

After that, turn on Personal Request on each member’s Home App and make sure ‘Find My’ is turned on.

Also ‘Location Services’

And finally, make sure your HomePod and iOS device are set to the same language.

After all these configurations have been set up, everybody that you have sent an invitation to will get a notification within their Home App, telling them that their voice is now being recognized by the HomePod.

What if someone does not get this notification? You just have to open that person’s Home App and do the following.

The HomePod may have difficulty in differentiating the voices of two or more young children. However, the HomePod will always ask ‘who are you’ if it can’t recognize your voice. You just have to reply by saying, ‘Hey, Siri, this is … (mention your name).

Final Verdict

Your family members will be thrilled to find out they have access to your HomePod (Siri). They can fill your home with their favorite types of music with just a voice command.

It will also provide learning opportunities for your children as they will be able to ask ‘Siri’ different questions and get quick and accurate answers. As always, we recommend monitoring their activities to make sure that they don’t abuse the use of your HomePod.

Butterflies Drink More Than Nectar—Here’s How To Turn Your Yard Into An Oasis

With heatwaves becoming more common across the US, butterflies are just some of the many wild creatures that may not be getting enough fluids and nutrition. Butterflies, as books and television have shown us, obtain a lot of their hydration from flower nectar. Yet sipping water from muddy soil, known as puddling, provides key nutrients for reproduction that nectar can’t provide.

“It’s mostly male butterflies who puddle, and you often see them in large groups,” says Nathan Brockman, butterfly wing curator at Iowa State University’s Reiman Gardens. The more males at a location, the more likely other males will stop to see if there’s something they should be getting. Watering areas are often muddy soil or… other sources of fluid.

David Mizejewski, naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation and author of Attracting Birds, Butterflies, and Other Backyard Wildlife, said many people “have an image of butterflies being magical creatures that flit around drinking flower nectar.” In reality some butterflies sip liquid from dung, urine, and rotting fruit. Males incorporate salts and minerals from these sources or mud into their sperm. Females absorb those nutrients during mating, increasing egg survival.

By adding a butterfly-friendly watering area near your pollinator garden or flower bed, you can provide butterflies with much-needed moisture and nutrients. Try your hand at one of these three easy-to-build watering areas.

Fill a dish with soil and water

If you like the idea of a contained watering area that roughly mimics a natural mud puddle, a simple dish may be a good option for you. Find a shallow bird bath or a saucer such as the drainage dish that goes under a flowerpot. Any container smaller than the size of a standard bird bath, or 15-20 inches wide, will be difficult for butterflies to find. Add organic garden soil since soil with chemical fertilizers can harm butterfly health. Mix in compost, sand, and even manure, which “sounds kind of gross but it’s got a ton of minerals and other nutrients in it,” says Mizejewski.

[Related: Build a classy, easy bird bath with vintage finds]

Next, add enough water to the mixture so it is muddy but does not have standing pools of water, which can encourage mosquitos to breed. Butterflies also have a hard time landing in water that is more than 1/4 to 1/8-inch deep and can get stuck. Place the dish on the ground or elevate it on a stand in a sunny spot in your yard.

Assemble a fruit feeder

Want to find a good use for overly ripe fruit you didn’t get around to eating? Place rotting bananas, watermelon, oranges, or apples in a shallow bowl or plate. Sprinkle some salt on the buffet to make it even more enticing. Some people add water to the dish to repel ants; if you do this, keep the water shallow, around a quarter-inch in depth. If you keep the water any deeper because it is drying quickly in hot weather, add plenty of rocks to ensure there are places for butterflies to land. Brockman also recommends adding little footholds to smooth dishes by dispensing lines of hot glue perpendicular to where the water line will be so butterflies can climb out. Don’t forget to bring your fruit feeder in at night—raccoons also like rotting fruit.

Create a muddy area in your yard

The most natural way to create a butterfly watering area is to maintain an area of exposed muddy soil in your yard. If you have an area that tends to be too wet, you could plant native wetland plants and turn it into a rain garden designed to absorb rainwater. To be most effective, the area should be roughly 5 feet by 5 feet, but “any little bit can help,” says Mizejewski. Incorporate some areas of bare soil, too. If you don’t have a low-lying wet area or don’t want a muddy spot in your yard, the soil mixture dish or fruit feeder may be better options for you.

What visitors to expect

When butterflies start using your watering area will depend: you may see them within a day, a week, or a month. None may show up if there isn’t enough butterfly habitat, like native host plants for caterpillars and nectar plants, around your yard and neighborhood.

Be prepared to also see many other types of insects such as beetles, wasps, flies, and bees visiting your watering area. All have their roles in your backyard ecosystem. For example, insects are a large part of many songbirds’ diet. Mud is a critical resource for ground-nesting native bees that use it to build a protective chamber wall for their eggs in underground tunnels. By helping native bees, you will also aid the many wildflowers, vegetables, and fruits that they pollinate.

If you want to go further, the watering area you make can be part of an oasis for butterflies, especially when combined with other habitat features such as native plants and places where adults and larvae may safely shelter, such as under leaves, brush piles, and rocks. Whatever you do, large or small, you’re sure to get a close-up view of nature. 

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