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California crews wrap trees fireproof blankets

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This photo provided by the Southern Area Blue Incident Management Team on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2021, shows the giant sequoia known as the General Sherman Tree with its base wrapped in a fire-resistant blanket to protect it from the intense heat of approaching wildfires at Sequoia National Forest in California.

Southern Area Blue Incident Management Team via AP

California firefighters are wrapping fireproof aluminum blankets around the bases of several giant trees in Sequoia National Park, including the 275-foot General Sherman, the largest tree in the world, to protect them from the rapidly worsening KNP Complex Fire.

The park shut down earlier this week after the fire, sparked by lightning strikes, began to burn through steep canyons. The western U.S. has suffered several large fires this season, including the Dixie Fire, California’s second-largest ever, and scientists and firefighters say climate change is extending the fire season and helping those fires burn faster and hotter than in previous decades.

“Crews are preparing the Giant Forest before the fire reaches that area, by removing fuel and applying structure wrap on some of the iconic monarch sequoias that characterize the most famous area of Sequoia National Park,” the National Park Service said in a statement. “The fire continues to grow in all directions.”

Crews also used fireproof wrapping to cover the Ash Mountain Entrance, the park’s entrance sign that invites travelers into Sequoia National and is carved out of blocks of sequoia wood.

Firefighters cover a sign at Sequoia National Park, California, U.S., in this picture obtained by Reuters on September 17, 2021.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National | via Reuters

Crews are also prepping to conduct burnout operations in areas at risk. Prescribed burns involve igniting ground fires that reduce the amount of fuel available near the area in order to protect the land from larger, less-controlled blazes.

The KNP Complex had burned 11,365 acres and was zero percent contained as of Friday, according to the federal InciWeb incident information system. At least 28 fires have ignited in California and 129 across other western states since June, according to data from Inciweb.

While California’s endangered giant trees are adapted to withstand wildfires, record heat and drought are threatening the sequoia population.  

Last year, the Castle fire scorched Sequoia National Park and destroyed at least one-tenth of the world’s sequoia trees, according to a draft report by scientists with the National Park Service.

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A neuroscientist shares the 4 brain-changing benefits of exercise—and how much she does every week

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When we think about the benefits of exercise, we usually think of better sleep, more energy, maintaining a healthy weight, stronger muscles or a healthier heart.

These are all true. But we rarely consider the immediate effects that physical activity can have on the most important organ in our bodies: the brain.

Through my years of research as a neuroscientist, I’ve found that exercising is one of the most transformative things you can do to improve cognitive abilities, such as learning, thinking, memory, focus and reasoning — all of which can help you become smarter and live longer.

How exercise boosts your brain health

1. It decreases feelings of anxiety

Studies have shown that every time your move your body, a number of beneficial neurotransmitters, including dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin and acetylcholine, gets released into your brain.

These substances can decrease feelings of anxiety and depression. (Think of them as a neurochemical “bubble bath” for your brain.)

It only takes between 10 and 30 minutes of daily physical activity to instantly life your mood. No gym membership? Take a short walk, or use the stairs instead of the elevator.

When I’m crunched for time, I’ll simply pace a few laps around my dining room table.

2. It improves your focus and concentration

In one of my lab experiments, I found that a single workout can help improve your ability to shift and focus attention.

This is an immediate benefit that can last for at least two hours after 30 minutes of exercise. I recommend activities that increase your heart rate, such as brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, playing tennis or jumping rope.

Studies have also shown that one workout session can improve your reaction times — which means, for example, that you’re going to be much faster at catching that cup of coffee before it falls off the table.

3. It promotes the growth of new brain cells

One of the most significant benefits of exercise, scientists have found, is that it promotes neurogenesis, or the birth of new brain cells. This is essential to improving cognitive function.

Researchers have shown in rats and mice that running ramps up the creation of new brain cells in the hippocampus, a small seahorse-shaped part of the brain devoted to memory formation and storage.

Exercise also can improve the health and function of the synapses between neurons in this region, allowing brain cells to better communicate.

4. It protects your brain from aging and neurodegenerative diseases

Imagine your brain as a muscle: the more workout you put into it, the stronger and bigger it gets.

Longitudinal studies in humans suggest that regular exercise can increase the size of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, both of which are susceptible to neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

So while exercising won’t completely prevent or cure normal cognitive decline in aging, doing it consistently can help reduce or delay the onset of it. In many ways, exercise is like a supercharged 401(k) for your brain — and it’s even better, because it’s free.

You don’t have to become a triathlete



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Elon Musk reposted 28-year-old’s meme, it sold as an NFT for $20,000

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It’s no secret that billionaire Elon Musk loves memes. He frequently reposts them on Twitter, where he has 61 million followers.

Though some dislike his reposting, as he often neglects to give the original meme creators credit, others have profited from Musk’s practice, including self-proclaimed “hobby artist” Eva Beylin.

Beylin was thrilled when Musk reposted her meme on Wednesday. “The ultimate prize of memeology is for the ultimate meme lord to use your meme,” Beylin, 28, tells CNBC Make It.

Even though Musk didn’t give her any attribution, “I am over the moon,” she says, adding that she’s a big fan of Musk.

Beylin’s meme, which she named “Love in The Time of Web3,” depicts a cartoon couple admiring the prices of bitcoin and ether, which are $69,000 and $4,200, respectively, in the meme. While the price of bitcoin hasn’t hit $69,000, the numbers are an obvious nod to meme culture.

As the director of The Graph Foundation, which supports blockchain data protocol The Graph, Beylin is passionate about Web3, which is the decentralized iteration of the internet that powers blockchain-based applications like NFTs.

“Love in The Time of Web3” got a lot of attention following Musk’s tweet. That night, Beylin listed it as an NFT, or nonfungible token, on marketplace Zora, and two days later, it sold for five wrapped ether, which is about $19,800 at current pricing, to an anonymous buyer.

“It is surreal,” Beylin says.

Though it was Beylin’s idea to create the meme, she did not design the image of the cartoon couple or edit the prices of bitcoin and ether.

Beylin was inspired to create the meme after seeing a post by another Twitter user who edited the cryptocurrency prices and tweeted it as a joke.

To compensate the user, who is known as @shegenerates, Beylin gave her 20% of the proceeds from the NFT sale. Shegenerates was fine with Beylin using her edit, she tells CNBC Make It.

“Personally, I have [Musk] blocked on Twitter, so I only saw it after Eva [Beylin] posted about him sharing it. I wish I got all those likes myself because I can only imagine how much serotonin my brain would make with all that attention, but memes are permissionless, so it’s just cool to see things I shared around,” Shegenerates says.

Beylin doesn’t know the creator of the image depicting the cartoon couple. And because of the legal gray area that NFTs exist in, it’s not clear whether the use of this image infringes on any potential copyright laws.

With her cut of the sale, Beylin plans to reinvest in other artists by buying their NFTs.

“As a hobby artist, I’d never be able to reinvest in art or have my art paid for [without NFTs]. So, my thing has always been reinvesting back into NFTs,” she says.

The buyer of “Love in The Time of Web3” has already relisted the meme for 69.42 wrapped ether, or about $275,000. Though it’s less than the buyer’s asking price, a bidder already offered 6.94 wrapped ether, or about $27,500, for the meme.

If it resells, Beylin will earn a 15% royalty, she says.

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Don’t miss: This 12-year-old coder helped develop an NFT collection that made over $5 million in 3 weeks



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Xpeng launches flying car that can also operate on roads

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HT Aero, an affiliate of Chinese electric carmaker Xpeng Inc., launched a new vehicle capable of flying in the air and driving on roads. The launch of HT Aero’s 6th–generation model happened at the Xpeng Tech Day on Sunday, October 24, 2021.

Xpeng

GUANGZHOU, China — HT Aero, an affiliate of Chinese electric vehicle maker Xpeng Inc., launched a new flying car on Sunday that it says can also drive on roads.

The company says it plans for a rollout in 2024.

HT Aero’s vehicle will have a lightweight design and a rotor that folds away, the company said. That will allow the car to drive on roads and then fly once the rotors are expanded.

The vehicle will have a number of safety features including parachutes, the company said.

HT Aero is backed by Xpeng and its founder He Xiaopeng. The company raised $500 million last week from a number of outside investors including high-profile venture capital firms.

Flying cars — also called electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles — have garnered a lot of interest from automakers and start-ups.

However, there are a number of challenges for these vehicles to become wide-scale including regulation and safety issues.

HT Aero’s new land and air vehicle was launched at Xpeng’s Tech Day where the company also took the wraps of the latest version of its advanced driver assistance system called XPILOT 4.0.

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