The Daily Flash -Eco, Space, Tech (6/04)

20099_period_pal_map_10_image Tethys -The Vanished Ocean A sea change in Earth's prehistory

For 250 million years, the mighty Tethys Ocean separated South America, Africa and India from North America and Eurasia. When those continents took up their present positions just 5.5 million years ago, Tethys was squeezed out of existence, leaving thick layers of sediment scattered around continents and sea floors. Oceanic sediments are Dorrik Stow's field, and in the first half of his new book, Vanished Ocean, we follow him around the globe as he uses these sediments to trace Earth's geological history. His surprise finding is that the shrinking of Tethys reached a critical point 65 million years ago. As the continents moved closer, they blocked global oceanic circulation, causing the Earth to become cooler. Stow contends that these changes, not an asteroid impact, caused the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event. It's a well argued contribution to one of the great scientific debates of the last 30 years.

Florida-pensacola-beach What Happens When the BP Oil Disaster Hits Florida's Shores?

Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi shores have already been hit with oil from the BP disaster, and now Florida residents are gearing up for the inevitable arrival of the slick stuff on the beaches of Pensacola sometime this week. But what happens when oil starts showing up in the tourism and fishing-heavy state? The Florida Department of Environmental Protection tells us that oil showing up on Florida's shoreline will wash up in the form of tar balls, oil sheen, tar mats, or mousse–a brown, rust, or orange-colored pudding-like mix of oil and water. So far, the Department of Health claims that there aren't any oil-related health risks, but that could quickly change as more oil washes ashore. The NOAA also recently extended the boundaries of the closed fishing area in the Gulf of Mexico up to the state water line in Alabama and the western tip of the Florida Panhandle, but as of today, the closures haven't impacted Florida proper.

Rdio-660x583 Skype Founders Launch Twitter-Like Music Service Rdio

Rdio offers instant access to more than 5 million tracks from all the major labels and several indies to listeners in the United States and Canada through a web browser, downloadable software or mobile app. It’s available for free for three days and then for fees of $5 (web only) or $10 (web plus mobile). Rdio will distinguish itself from the field with features borrowed from Twitter and Facebook. It’ll let you see what people you trust are listening to, what they like and who they know, through real-time feeds, activity streams and profile pages that display the most-played music by a given user graphically with different-sized bubbles.“It is an intrinsically social service, kind of like Twitter meets music,” said Rdio COO Carter Adamson, formerly general manager of Skype’s desktop division. “And just as on Twitter, you’re not only following your friends [but] people you respect for news, humor or whatever it is, here, you’re following people who you respect for their taste in music.”

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