DAILY DOSE: Guantanamo Bay prisoners showing signs of accelerated aging; A planet that shouldn’t have rings actually have two.

Ever since the early days of the United States’ “War on Terror” over 20 years ago, the spectre of the Gunatanamo Bay prison has always lurked in the background. In the eyes of the war’s critics, it represented the slippery slope the US had embarked on, particularly as tales of abuse began to emerge. A recent trip by a member of the Red Cross has shown that the abuse continues. Per the Globe and Mail,

“Inmates who have been held for years in the Guantanamo Bay U.S. detention facility in Cuba are showing signs of “accelerated aging”, a senior official of the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Friday.

“We’re calling on the U.S. administration and Congress to work together to find adequate and sustainable solutions to address these issues,” said Patrick Hamilton, the ICRC’s head of delegation for the United States and Canada.

“Action should be taken as a matter of priority.”

Hamilton’s comments came after a visit to the facility in March following a 20-year hiatus. He said he was “struck by how those who are still detained today are experiencing the symptoms of accelerated aging, worsened by the cumulative effects of their experiences and years spent in detention”.

Hamilton called for detainees to receive adequate mental and physical health care and more frequent family contact. https://bit.ly/3NnLCB0

A recent survey has highlighted yet another social effect the Covid-19 pandemic has caused. Per the Associated Press,  

The first years of the pandemic saw a huge decline in high school students having sex, according to a government survey.

Teen sex was already becoming less and less common before COVID-19.

About three decades ago, more than half of teens said they’d had sex, according to a large government survey conducted every two years. By 2019, the share was 38%. In 2021, 30% of teens said they had ever had sex. That was the sharpest drop ever recorded by the survey.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday released reports analyzing the latest findings from the survey that looks into risky youth behaviors, including smoking, drinking, having sex and carrying guns.

More than 17,000 students at 152 public and private high schools responded to the 2021 survey. Participation was voluntary and required parental permission, but responses were anonymous. https://bit.ly/3oQfagt

Just when researchers thought they had a good grasp on which planets should have rings and which shouldn’t, a small planet just outside of our solar system has shattered that idea. Per the New York Times,

“Earlier this year, astronomers announced that a tiny world beyond Neptune with a diameter about one-third that of Earth’s moon possessed a Saturn-like ring that should not be there. It now turns out that there are two such “impossible” rings.

“It was a big surprise,” said Chrystian Luciano Pereira, a doctoral student at the National Observatory in Brazil who led the observations of the world, known as Quaoar. “This implies that Quaoar is a more complex system than we initially thought.”

The new ring, about six miles wide, encircles Quaoar at a distance of about 1,500 miles. The discovery will be published online on Friday in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics Letters. https://bit.ly/449otZ0

Scientists are making great strides in understanding human evolution thanks to the complete sequencing of hundred of other mammals’ genomes. Per Nature,

When they were first published in the early 2000s, the complete genomes of the mouse, human, rat and chimpanzee opened the door for geneticists to compare their sequences and learn more about how mammals evolved.

Now, about two decades later, researchers have amassed and compared the genomes of 240 mammals — showing how far the field has come. From this trove of data — the largest collection of mammalian genetic sequences yet — they have learnt more about why some mammals can smell particularly well, why others hibernate and why some species have developed larger brains. The effort, called the Zoonomia Project, reported these and other findings in a series of 11 papers in Science on 27 April1.

The data highlight not only which areas of the animals’ genomes are similar, but also when, over a period of millions of years, their genetic sequences diverged. “This really wasn’t possible without this scale of data set before,” says Katie Pollard, a data scientist at the University of California, San Francisco, who is a part of the project.


Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.


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