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Climate change could cause beer shortage, scientists warn

Last week, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that if governments don’t act on climate change within 12 years, there will be additional threats to the global environment.

>> On AJC.com: We have 12 years left to act on climate change, UN warns

Scientists have linked global warming to such environmental events as escalated intensity of hurricanes and melting Arctic ice. Now, a new study from climate researchers in the United States, China and Britain suggests a beer shortage is brewing due to climate change.

>> Read more trending news 

The report, published in the journal Nature Plants, warns that drought and heat will impact barley production, though only 17 percent of the world’s barley is used for beer. But in the United States, Brazil and China, at least two-thirds of the barley goes into six-packs, drafts, kegs, cans and bottles.

>> On AJC.com: How climate change could cause 26,000 more US suicides by 2050

Using a process-based crop model and an economic model, the researchers examined the effects of heat waves and drought, not the general warming that will also affect where barley is grown.

That means beer prices on average would double, even adjusting for inflation. In countries like Ireland, where cost of a brew is already high, prices could triple. Beer is currently the most popular alcoholic drink by volume consumed.

>> On AJC.com: Is chocolate really going extinct because of climate change?

“Although not the most concerning impact of future climate change, climate-related weather extremes may threaten the availability and economic accessibility of beer,” researchers wrote.

“Our aim is not to encourage people to drink more beer now,” study author Dabo Guan of Beijing’s Tsinghua University told the New York Times. “Climate change mitigation is the only way. Everybody in the world needs to fight.”

>> On AJC.com: Climate change will internally displace 143 million people by 2050, scientists warn

As The Associated Press reported: “If emissions of heat-trapping gases from the burning of coal, oil and gas continue at the current rising pace, the likelihood of weather conditions hurting barley production will increase from about once a decade before 2050 to once every other year by the end of the century.”

Read the full study at nature.com.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Astronomers find evidence of moon outside solar system

Aided by the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers said Wednesday they have found evidence of the first known moon outside the solar system, according to NASA.

>> Read more trending news 

The first “exomoon” is as large as Neptune and is more than 8,000 light years away from Earth. It is located in the Cygnus constellation and orbits a gas-giant planet that revolves around a star called Kepler 1625, NASA said.

The study team cautioned that more confirmation is needed, Science magazine reported.

“This intriguing finding shows how NASA’s missions work together to uncover incredible mysteries in our cosmos,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “If confirmed, this finding could completely shake up our understanding of how moons are formed and what they can be made of.”

While searching for exomoons, Columbia University astronomers Alex Teachey and David Kipping analyzed data from 284 Kepler-discovered planets, NASA said. The researchers found an example in planet Kepler-1625b that suggested the presence of a moon.

“We saw little deviations and wobbles in the light curve that caught our attention,” Kipping said.

The astronomers hope to make more observations on the possible exomoon in May and have requested time on the Hubble telescope, Science reported.

“It’s exciting to see the hunt for the first exomoon continue, and with what would be a shockingly large moon,” Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute Technology, wrote in an email to Science.

Which personality type are you? New study reveals 4 core groupings

You may be familiar with Myers-Briggs’ 16 different personality types, but new research published this week in the journal Nature Human Behavior shows there are four distinct personality clusters most individuals around the globe adhere to best.

>> On AJC.com: Hate those job personality tests? Here's how to hack them

Psychologists and engineers at Northwestern University in Illinois sought to “develop an alternative approach to the identification of personality types” from the existing methods, many of which have led to inconclusive results. 

Their research included 1.5 million participants around the globe who answered 44 to 300-question surveys over a span of several decades.

>> On AJC.com: 7 ways introverts can succeed on their strengths in the workplace

Using participant responses and computer-generated algorithms, the researchers grouped together buckets of people with matching Big Five OCEAN traits: extroversion, neuroticism, openness, conscientiousness and agreeableness — traits first endorsed and then widely accepted by the scientific community in the 1990s.

Here’s how the scientists defined each trait:
  • Neuroticism: The tendency to frequently experience negative emotions such as anger, worry and sadness, as well as being interpersonally sensitive. 
  • Extraversion: The tendency to be talkative, sociable and enjoy others; the tendency to have a dominant style.
  • Openness: The tendency to appreciate new art, ideas, values, feelings and behaviors.
  • Agreeableness: The tendency to agree and go along with others, rather than assert one's own opinions and choices.
  • Conscientiousness: The tendency to be careful, on time for appointments, to follow rules and to be hard working.

>> On AJC.com: 7 struggles every extrovert understands

At first, the researchers noticed 16 personality clusters overall, but after additional constraints, they narrowed them down to four: average, reserved, role model and self-centered.

The results suggested an individual’s personality type could also shift as they aged. For example, older people tend to lose the neuroticism and gain conscientiousness and agreeableness.

Things to know about each personality type

Average

  • High scores in neuroticism and extraversion
  • Low scores on openness
  • Most common personality type

Reserved

  • Have some of the least socially desirable traits
  • Typically score low when it comes to openness and neuroticism
  • Only cluster with little dependence on age and gender
  • Typically extroverted, but agreeable

Role model

  • Tend to be among the most stable
  • Good leaders, dependable and open to new ideas
  • Have high scores in all traits but neuroticism 
  • Strongly overrepresented group: Age 40 and older
  • Slightly underrepresented group: Age 21 and younger

Self-centered

  • Have some of the least socially desirable traits
  • Typically score low when it comes to openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness
  • Score high in extraversion
  • Strongly overrepresented group: Young males
  • Underrepresented: Women age 15 and up

You can take this online quiz to contribute to the research.

Don’t feel like you fit into one single cluster? No big deal. All the researchers are suggesting is “you can group more people in these four clusters than you’d expect by chance,” study co-author William Revelle wrote in a university article.

>> On AJC.com: Character traits you wouldn't believe give you an edge in your career

Study limitations

While the data is robust, researchers note their samples are not representative of the population. The research also doesn’t conclusively answer the minimum number of items needed to reliably assess personality types.

Still, the data, researchers said, showed there are certainly higher densities of certain personality types.

>> Read more trending news 

“People have tried to classify personality types since Hippocrates’s time, but previous scientific literature has found that to be nonsense,” Revelle said. “The data came back, and they kept coming up with the same four clusters at higher densities than you'd expect by chance, and you can show by replication that this is statistically unlikely. The methodology is the main part of the paper's contribution to science.”

Researchers hope their findings can benefit mental health professionals, hiring managers or even folks looking for a partner in life.

Read the full study at nature.com.

Thieves steal more than $40,000 worth of insects from museum

This is a robbery that is bugging authorities in Philadelphia.

>> Read more trending news 

Police said that current or former employees at the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion stole more than 7,000 insects, WPVI reported.

The heist, which police said happened on Aug. 22 and possibly other days, cleaned out approximately 90 percent of the insects, some of which are rare, the television station reported. CEO John Cambridge, an entomologist, estimated the insects’ value at more than $40,000, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Cambridge said he checked security cameras and saw employees using boxes and plastic containers to carry out insects, the Inquirer reported. Cambridge said he approached the employees and asked them to the return the bugs, waiting a day before calling police, the newspaper reported.

“These are young people," Cambridge told the Inquirer. "We don't want to see this follow them around for the rest of their lives."

Police have conducted searches but no arrests have been made, WPVI reported. Police said some of the insects, including a Mexican fireleg tarantula, have been returned, the television station reported.

Insectarium officials said they are hoping to restock their exhibit of insects in time for the Philadelphia Oddities Expo in November, WPVI reported.

Some Americans smell odors that aren’t there, study says

Have you ever smelled something distinct, like an ash tray or burning, only to realize nothing is there? The condition is pretty common, according to a new report.

>> Read more trending news

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health and National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) recently conducted a study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, to examine the prevalence and risk factors for phantom odor perception, which occurs when people smell things that don’t actually exist.

To do so, they gathered data from 7,417 participants over 40 years of age from the 2011-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They used the information to determine whether participants had experienced phantom odor perception with questions like, “Do you sometimes smell an unpleasant, bad, or burning odor when nothing is there?”

>> Hi-tech nose helps sniff out cancer, 16 other diseases by analyzing breath

The analysts then factored in their age, sex, education level, race, socioeconomic status, certain health habits and general health status to find the link between phantom odors and the participant’s characteristics.

After analyzing the results, they discovered that the ability to identify odors decreases with age, while phantom odor perception seems to improve with age. 

Furthermore, they said that one in 15 Americans experience phantom odors. It was most prevalent among adults aged 40-60, and twice as many women as men reported the condition, particularly women under age 60. 

>> On AJC.com: Inability to smell peppermint linked to dementia, study says

“Problems with the sense of smell are often overlooked, despite their importance. They can have a big impact on appetite, food preferences, and the ability to smell danger signals such as fire, gas leaks, and spoiled food,” Judith A. Cooper, acting director of the NIDCD, said in a statement.

The authors also explained that those “who perceive strong phantom odors often have a miserable quality of life, and sometimes cannot maintain a healthy weight.”

>> On AJC.com: This new device may be able to stop ringing in the ears, study says

The scientists do not yet know the causes of phantom odor perception. However, they hypothesized that it could be related to overactive odor sensing cells. 

“A good first step in understanding any medical condition is a clear description of the phenomenon,” co-author Kathleen Bainbridge added. “From there, other researchers may form ideas about where to look further for possible causes and ultimately for ways to prevent or treat the condition.”

Perseid meteor shower 2018: 13 stunning photos of nature's light show

The Perseid meteor shower, which occurs every August due to debris left behind from Comet Swift-Tuttle, peaked this weekend, offering stunning light displays in the night sky.

>> On AJC.com: Perseid meteor shower 2018: How and when to watch the sky’s best show of the year

According to Space.com, the shower peaked overnight Aug. 11-12 and again Aug. 12-13.

>> Read more trending news 

Social media lit up with images of the celestial phenomenon. Here are some of our favorites:

1. Cypress Hills, Saskatchewan 2. Firth of Lorn, Scotland 3. Loch Etive, Scotland 4. Lac d'Ilay, France 5. Jura Mountains, France 6. Oxford Island, Northern Ireland 7. Independence Pass, Colorado 8. Virginia 9. Eccles Pass, Colorado 10. Groesbeck, Texas 11. Sunset Crater, Arizona 12. Addingham, England 13. Stonehenge, England

– Fiza Pirani of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.

NASA launches Parker Solar Probe, begins journey to 'touch the sun'

We have liftoff.

NASA tweeted just after 3:30 a.m. EDT Sunday that it launched the United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket, which was carrying the Parker Solar Probe, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The spacecraft's mission: to "touch" the sun.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: NASA flight to sun delayed 24 hours

According to CNN, the probe is expected to "orbit within 3.9 million miles of the sun's surface" by 2024. This fall, it will reach within 15.5 million miles of the sun, beating Helios 2's 1976 record, The Associated Press reported.

>> Perseid meteor shower 2018: 8 stunning photos of nature's light show

For reference, the Earth is about 93 million miles from the sun.

The successful launch came one day after a "violation of a launch limit" – in this case, an issue with helium pressure – prevented the rocket's takeoff early Saturday, the AP reported.

>> Read more trending news 

NASA's Launch Services Program tweeted about 4:17 a.m. EDT Sunday that it had received data confirming "spacecraft separation." The probe's solar panels also have been deployed, officials said.

 

Read more here.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

NASA flight to sun delayed 24 hours

A technical problem with less than two minutes until launched delayed NASA’s scheduled flight to the sun Saturday morning, NASA said.

>> Read more trending news 

The launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket, carrying the Parker Solar Probe, was halted with 1 minute, 55 seconds until liftoff, according to The Associated Press. The issue, according to the AP, concerned helium pressure.

NASA said the flight was delayed until Sunday at 3:31 a.m. because of “a violation of a launch limit.” There is a 60 percent chance of favorable weather, NASA said on its website.

Study: Doctors give patients only seconds to explain reason for visit before interrupting

Have you ever felt rushed during a doctor’s visit? Most physicians don’t give their patients adequate time to explain the reason for their visit, according to a new study. 

>> Read more trending news

Researchers from the University of Florida, Gainesville, recently conducted a study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, to explore clinical encounters between doctors and their patients.

To do so, they assessed the initial few minutes of consultations between 112 patients and their medical practitioners between 2008 and 2015. The encounters they reviewed were videotaped in various clinics in the United States.

>> Heart attack sufferers more likely to survive if doctor is away, study says

The scientists observed whether doctors invited patients to set the agenda with questions such as “What can I do for you?” They also took notes on whether patients were interrupted while answering questions and in what manner.

After analyzing the results, they found that 36 percent of patients were able to set the agenda. However, they were interrupted 11 seconds on average after beginning their statements. Those who were not interrupted finished speaking after about six seconds. 

>> Medical errors kill almost as many as heart disease, doctors say

They said primary care doctors allowed more time than specialists as specialists generally know the purpose of a visit. 

“If done respectfully and with the patient’s best interest in mind, interruptions to the patient’s discourse may clarify or focus the conversation, and thus benefit patients,” co-author Singh Ospina said in a statement. “Yet, it seems rather unlikely that an interruption, even to clarify or focus, could be beneficial at the early stage in the encounter.”

>> Doctor burnout can cause major medical errors, study finds

While they are unclear why doctors don’t allow patients to speak longer, they believe time constraints, not enough training on how to communicate with patients and burnout may be factors. 

The scientists now hope to further explore their investigations on the ultimate experience of doctor visits and the outcomes. 

“Our results suggest that we are far from achieving patient-centered care,” she says. 

Longest lunar eclipse of the century coming in July

This month, sky-watchers in several regions of the world will get to witness the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century.

>> Read more trending news

The eclipse on Friday, July 27, will be fully visible for 1 hour and 43 minutes and partially visible for 3 hours and 55 minutes from parts of South Africa and most of Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

According to timeanddate.com, the eclipse will peak at 8:21 p.m. UTC (or 4:21 p.m. EST) and the full eclipse will end at 9:13 p.m. UTC (5:13 p.m. EST).

>> On AJC.com: The next total solar eclipse is only 7 years away — 14 states where you’ll experience totality in 2024

During a lunar eclipse, Earth’s shadow blocks the sun’s light, which otherwise reflects off the moon. A total lunar eclipse occurs when Earth’s dark umbral shadow completely covers the moon.

>> Supermoon 2018: 12 must-see photos capture New Year’s ‘wolf moon’

“Total eclipses are a freak of cosmic happenstance,” Space.com reported. “Ever since the moon formed, about 4.5 billion years ago, it has been inching away from our planet (by about 1.6 inches, or 4 centimeters per year). The setup right now is perfect: the moon is at the perfect distance for Earth's shadow to cover the moon totally, but just barely. Billions of years from now, that won't be the case.”

The July 27 eclipse will be the second lunar eclipse of the year. The first took place Jan. 31 and gave way to a super blue blood moon, which occurred when the full moon passed through the Earth’s shadow for a total lunar eclipse and gave off a reddish tint.

>> On AJC.com: Sun-eating demons? 7 bizarre (but brilliant) myths and superstitions about solar eclipses

Unfortunately, the United States will miss out on the celestial spectacle this month and will have to wait until July 2020 to witness a lunar eclipse, according to NASA.gov.

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