Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8970 on: Aug 14th, 2013, 08:58am »
Dozens killed across Egypt as security forces, protesters clash
By Yasmine Saleh and Tom Finn
CAIRO | Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:58am EDT
(Reuters) - Egyptian security forces killed at least 29 people on Wednesday when they moved in to clear a camp of protesters demanding the reinstatement of deposed President Mohamed Mursi, in a dramatic dawn swoop aimed at ending a six-week standoff in Cairo.
Troops opened fire on demonstrators in clashes that brought chaos to areas of the capital and looked certain to further polarize Egypt's 84 million people between those who backed Mursi and the millions who opposed his brief rule.
In the streets around the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in northeast Cairo, where thousands of Mursi supporters have staged a sit-in, riot police wearing gas masks crouched behind armored vehicles, tear gas hung in the air and burning tires sent plumes of black smoke into the sky.
The unrest spread beyond the capital, with the Nile Delta cities of Minya and Assiut, and Alexandria on the northern coast, also hit by violence. Nine people were killed in the province of Fayoum south of Cairo. Five more died in Suez.
Seven hours after the initial operation, crowds of protesters were still blocking roads, chanting and waving flags as security forces sought to prevent them from regrouping.
At a morgue near the mosque, a Reuters reporter counted 29 bodies, including that of a 12-year-old boy. Most had died of gunshot wounds to the head.
"At 7 a.m. they came. Helicopters from the top and bulldozers from below. They smashed through our walls. Police and soldiers, they fired tear gas at children," said teacher Saleh Abdulaziz, 39, clutching a bleeding wound on his head.
"They continued to fire at protesters even when we begged them to stop."
The West, notably the United States which gives the Egyptian military $1.3 billion each year, has been alarmed by the recent violence, and on Wednesday the European Union urged security forces to show "utmost restraint" in a nation that has a peace treaty with Israel and controls the vital Suez Canal waterway.
MILITARY TIGHTENS GRIP
The move to break up the camps appeared to dash any remaining hopes of bringing the Brotherhood back into the political mainstream, and underlined the impression many Egyptians share that the military is tightening its grip.
The operation also suggested the army had lost patience with persistent protests that were crippling parts of the capital and slowing the political process.
It began just after dawn with helicopters hovering over the camps. Gunfire rang out as protesters, among them women and children, fled Rabaa, and smoke rose into the air. Armored vehicles moved in beside bulldozers which began clearing tents.
"Tear gas (canisters) were falling from the sky like rain. There are no ambulances inside. They closed every entrance," said protester Khaled Ahmed, 20, a university student wearing a hard hat with tears streaming down his face.
"There are women and children in there. God help them. This is a siege, a military attack on a civilian protest camp."
A second, smaller camp near Cairo University was swiftly cleared in the early morning.
The government issued a statement saying security forces had showed the "utmost degree of self-restraint", reflected in low casualties compared to the number of people "and the volume of weapons and violence directed against the security forces".
It added that it would press ahead with implementing an army-backed political transition plan in "a way that strives not to exclude any party from participation".
The government, which envisages holding new elections in about six months to return democratic rule to Egypt, urged the protesters not to resist the authorities, adding that Muslim Brotherhood leaders must stop inciting violence.
"The government holds these leaders fully responsible for any spilt blood, and for all the rioting and violence going on," the statement added.
CONDEMNATION, RISING CONCERN OVERSEAS
Security officials said senior Muslim Brotherhood politician Mohamed El-Beltagi had been arrested during Wednesday's crackdown. A grouping of the movement's allies denied the assertion, but said Beltagi's daughter had been shot dead.
The Interior Ministry issued a statement saying Brotherhood leaders had instructed their followers to attack police stations throughout the country.
Live television footage on several channels appeared to show hooded Brotherhood gunmen brandishing what appeared to be small automatic rifles and firing them in the direction of soldiers.
The latest crackdown came after international efforts failed to mediate an end to the political standoff between Mursi's supporters and the army-backed government which took power after his ouster on July 3.
Iran condemned Wednesday's violence and said it increased the likelihood of civil war in Egypt.
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called on the U.N. Security Council and Arab League to take immediate steps to stop a "massacre" in Egypt, and the European Union said reports of protesters being killed were "extremely worrying".
Mursi became Egypt's first freely elected leader in June 2012, but failed to tackle deep economic malaise and worried many Egyptians with apparent efforts to tighten Islamist rule.
Liberals and young Egyptians staged huge rallies demanding that he resign, and the army said it removed him in response to the will of the people.
More than 300 people have already died in political violence since Mursi's overthrow, including dozens of supporters killed by security forces in two separate earlier incidents in Cairo.
The unrest has extended political and economic turmoil since a 2011 uprising that ended 30 years of autocratic rule by U.S.-backed President Hosni Mubarak, and the country is now more deeply divided than any time for many years.
(additional reporting by Michael Georgy, Tom Perry, Shadia Nasralla, Omar Fahmy and Ashraf Fahim in Cairo and Adrian Croft in Brussels; Writing by Mike Collett-White)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8971 on: Aug 14th, 2013, 09:07am »
Crumpled and Abused Photo Paper Makes for New Landscape Photography
By Rebecca Horne 08.14.13 6:30 AM
Klea McKenna is a landscape photographer, but not a landscape photographer as most people think of it. Her abstract images, which seem pock-marked and scorched, are almost indecipherable until the process behind them is known. By exposing light-sensitive paper to the elements or placing dirt and grass directly onto photographic paper, McKenna lets the landscape come to her.
She is not looking for horizons and vistas to reinforce the familiar. Instead, McKenna embraces the unpredictable. She’ll use handmade cameras, and crumples film and photo paper before exposing it. As such, she rarely “takes” photos, but instead seeks to transform the quotidian into images that are textured, ambiguous and sculptural. The resulting images are time-specific and irreplicable.
“I want to make an imprint of a place — both visual and emotional — rather than just pictures of it,” says McKenna. “I can interact directly with the landscape to reveal something unexpected.”
McKenna grew up in a one-room house her family built on the volcanic slopes of Mauna Loa in Hawaii. She says her off-the-grid childhood shaped her intimate and daring approach to landscape. Her parents were ethno-botanists and unconventional intellectuals who encouraged McKenna to make thoughtful observations of nature. Her father, Terence McKenna, wrote about the role of hallucinogenic plants and the development of human consciousness. The intense, turbulent landscape of the Big Island has never left McKenna’s mind.
“I was just a fearless little kid. I was really absorbing it all, watching the life cycles of bugs and the hiking out in the lava fields,” she says. “That place has a kind of visual drama that I just can’t get over and I try to channel that even when I’m working abstractly.”
In her series Paper Airplanes, Grassland and Rain Studies there is no fussing over composition — the sun and the rain are unschooled collaborators. For Paper Airplanes, McKenna made paper airplanes using light-sensitive photographic paper, put them inside a box with a hole in it, and exposed them to the sky at a WWII anti-aircraft lookout post in Tennessee Cove, California. Soldiers had manned the San Francisco Bay lookout posts during World War II, but the enemy never came.
“The soldiers became unlikely observers of the sea and sky,” says McKenna. “They saw the light change and must have watched hundreds of sunsets.”
The 44 photo-planes, exposed consecutively over a period of 12 hours, are a meditation on the combat-absent service of those soldiers. Charting sunrise to sunset, they are a record of one day of observations that were once military and now civilian.
The cameras McKenna prefers are as simple as possible, often variations on pinhole cameras and cardboard boxes that can be thrown away. For example she used a cookie tin pierced with a small hole for her Paper Airplane series. Lately, with her photogram work, she has dispensed with the camera altogether. She says, “I expose these outdoors at night, in which case the world becomes my darkroom.”
For now, digital photography holds no attraction for McKenna and film still promises years of experimentation.
“Analog photographic materials are uniquely capable of recording the concrete, intricate details of our physical world,” she concludes.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8973 on: Aug 14th, 2013, 09:15am »
Super-Fast Quantum Computers? Scientists Find Asymmetry in Topological Insulators
Aug. 13, 2013 — New research shows that a class of materials being eyed for the next generation of computers behaves asymmetrically at the sub-atomic level. This research is a key step toward understanding the topological insulators that may have the potential to be the building blocks of a super-fast quantum computer that could run on almost no electricity.
Scientists from the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory contributed first-principles calculations and co-authored the paper "Mapping the Orbital Wavefunction of the Surface States in 3-D Topological Insulators," which appears in the current issue of Nature Physics. A topological insulator is a material that behaves as an insulator in its interior but whose surface contains conducting states.
In the paper, researchers explain how the materials act differently above and below the Dirac point and how the orbital and spin texture of topological insulator states switched exactly at the Dirac point. The Dirac point refers to the place where two conical forms -- one representing energy, the other momentum -- come together at a point. In the case of topological insulators, the orbital and spin textures of the sub-atomic particles switch precisely at the Dirac point. The phenomenon occurs because of the relationship between electrons and their holes in a semiconductor.
This research is a key step toward understanding the topological insulators like bismuth selenide (Bi2Se3), bismuth telluride (Bi2Te3), antimony telluride (Sb2Te3), and mercury telluride (HgTe) that may have the potential to be the building blocks of a quantum computer, a machine with the potential of loading the information from a data center into the space of a laptop and processing data much faster than today's best supercomputers.
"The energy efficiency should be much better," said NREL Scientist Jun-Wei Luo, one of the co-authors. Instead of being confined to the on-and-off switches of the binary code, a quantum computer will act more like the human brain, seeing something but imagining much more, he said. "This is entirely different technology."
Topological Insulators are of great interest currently for their potential to use their exotic properties to transmit information on electron spins with virtually no expenditure of electricity, said Luo. NREL's Xiuwen Zhang is another co-author as are scientists from University of Colorado, Rutgers University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the Colorado School of Mines. Luo and Zhang work in NREL's Center for Inverse Design, one of 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers established around the nation by the Energy Department's Office of Science in 2009 to accelerate basic research on energy.
The finding of orbital texture switch at Dirac point implies the novel backwards spin texture -- right-handed instead of left-handed, in the short-hand of physicists -- comes from the coupling of spin texture to the orbital texture for the conserved quantity is total angular momentum of the wave function, not spin. The new findings, supported partly by observations taken at the Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, were surprising and bolster the potential of the topological insulators.
"In this paper, we computed and measured the profile of the topological states and found that the orbital texture of topological states switches from tangential to radial across the Dirac point," Zhang said. Equally surprising, they found that phenomenon wasn't a function of a unique material, but was common to all topological insulators.
The topological insulators probably won't be practical for solar cells, because at the surface they contain no band gap. A band gap -- the gap between when a material is in a conducting state and an inert state -- is essential for solar cells to free photons and have them turn into energy carrying electrons.
But the topological insulators could be very useful for other kinds of electronics-spintronics. The electrons of topological insulators will self-polarize at opposite device edges. "We usually drive the electron in a particular direction to spatially separate the spin-up and spin-down electrons, but this exotic property suggests that electrons as a group don't have to move," Luo said. "The initial idea is we don't need any current to polarize the electron spins. We may be able to develop a spin quantum computer and spin quantum computations."
In theory, an entire data center could operate with virtually no electricity. "That's probably more in theory than reality," Luo said, noting that other components of the center likely would still need electricity. "But it would be far more energy efficient." And the steep drop in electricity would also mean a steep drop in the number of coolers and fans needed to cool things down.
Luo cautioned that this is still basic science. The findings may have limited application to renewable energy, but Luo noted that another of NREL's key missions is energy efficiency.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8974 on: Aug 15th, 2013, 10:00am »
New York Daily News
Obama rodeo clown invited to perform in Texas after being banned from Missouri State Fair
A clown mocking the President caused such uproar in Missouri that he is no longer welcome at the event, and all of the other clowns had to attend sensitivity training. To Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, that is liberals run amok and he's not about to have it.
By Trudi Bird
A rodeo clown who caused controversy by wearing a mask of President Obama has been invited to perform in Texas by lawmaker Steve Stockman.
The unidentified clown wore the mask at the Missouri State Fair on Saturday along with an upside down broom attached to his backside.
He was introduced by another clown who asked if the crowd wanted to see "Obama run down by a bull," before he got chased by bulls around a pen.
The act caused uproar from elected officials in Missouri who deemed it disrespectful.
But The Hills reported how Congressman Stockman disagreed, saying: "They want to crush dissent by isolating and polarizing anyone who questions Obama, even if it's a rodeo clown with a harmless gag.
"The idea is to create a state of fear and make people afraid to trivialize Obama. No one tried to personally destroy the rodeo clown who wore a George H.W. Bush mask."
The Hills added that the performer has been banned indefinitely from performing at the Missouri State Fair, and officials have mandated sensitivity training for future performers.
Stockman took advantage of the mandate issuing a news release on Wednesday inviting the clown to perform in Texas.
"Disagreeing with speech is one thing. Banning it and ordering citizens into re-education classes for mocking a liberal leader is another.
"Liberals have targeted this man for personal destruction to create a climate of fear."
Josh Earnest, a spokesman for the White House, described the incident as "not one of the finer moments" for his home state of Missouri, The Hills reported, but said he had not spoken about it with President Obama.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8975 on: Aug 15th, 2013, 10:03am »
After Disaster, the Deadliest Part of Japan's Nuclear Clean-up
The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is preparing to remove 400 tons of highly irradiated spent fuel from a damaged reactor building, a dangerous operation that has never been attempted before on this scale.
By Aaron Sheldrick and Antoni Slodkowski
TOKYO (Reuters) - The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is preparing to remove 400 tons of highly irradiated spent fuel from a damaged reactor building, a dangerous operation that has never been attempted before on this scale.
Containing radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima 68 years ago, more than 1,300 used fuel rod assemblies packed tightly together need to be removed from a building that is vulnerable to collapse, should another large earthquake hit the area.
Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) is already in a losing battle to stop radioactive water overflowing from another part of the facility, and experts question whether it will be able to pull off the removal of all the assemblies successfully.
"They are going to have difficulty in removing a significant number of the rods," said Arnie Gundersen, a veteran U.S. nuclear engineer and director of Fairewinds Energy Education, who used to build fuel assemblies.
The operation, beginning this November at the plant's Reactor No. 4, is fraught with danger, including the possibility of a large release of radiation if a fuel assembly breaks, gets stuck or gets too close to an adjacent bundle, said Gundersen and other nuclear experts.
That could lead to a worse disaster than the March 2011 nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant, the world's most serious since Chernobyl in 1986.
No one knows how bad it can get, but independent consultants Mycle Schneider and Antony Froggatt said recently in their World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013: "Full release from the Unit-4 spent fuel pool, without any containment or control, could cause by far the most serious radiological disaster to date."
Tepco has already removed two unused fuel assemblies from the pool in a test operation last year, but these rods are less dangerous than the spent bundles. Extracting spent fuel is a normal part of operations at a nuclear plant, but safely plucking them from a badly damaged reactor is unprecedented.
"To jump to the conclusion that it is going to work just fine for the rest of them is quite a leap of logic," said Gundersen.
The utility says it recognizes the operation will be difficult but believes it can carry it out safely.
Nonetheless, Tepco inspires little confidence. Sharply criticized for failing to protect the Fukushima plant against natural disasters, its handling of the crisis since then has also been lambasted.
Last week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered the government to take a more active role in controlling the overflow of radioactive water being flushed over the melted reactors in Units 1, 2 and 3 at the plant.
The fuel assemblies are in the cooling pool of the No. 4 reactor, and Tepco has erected a giant steel frame over the top of the building after removing debris left behind by an explosion that rocked the unit during the 2011 disaster.
The structure will house the cranes that will carry out the delicate task of extracting fuel assemblies that may be damaged by the quake, the explosion or corrosion from salt water that was poured into the pool when fresh supplies ran out during the crisis.
The process will begin in November and Tepco expects to take about a year removing the assemblies, spokesman Yoshikazu Nagai told Reuters by e-mail. It's just one installment in the decommissioning process for the plant forecast to take about 40 years and cost $11 billion.
Each fuel rod assembly weighs about 300 kilograms (660 pounds) and is 4.5 meters (15 feet) long. There are 1,331 of the spent fuel assemblies and a further 202 unused assemblies are also stored in the pool, Nagai said.
Almost 550 assemblies had been removed from the reactor core just before the quake and tsunami set off the crisis. These are the most dangerous because they have only been cooling in the pool for two and a half years.
"The No. 4 unit was not operating at the time of the accident, so its fuel had been moved to the pool from the reactor, and if you calculate the amount of cesium 137 in the pool, the amount is equivalent to 14,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs," said Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute.
Spent fuel rods also contain plutonium, one of the most toxic substances in the universe, that gets formed during the later stages of a reactor core's operation.
"There is a risk of an inadvertent criticality if the bundles are distorted and get too close to each other," Gundersen said.
He was referring to an atomic chain reaction that left unchecked could result in a large release of radiation and heat that the fuel pool cooling system isn't designed to absorb.
"The problem with a fuel pool criticality is that you can't stop it. There are no control rods to control it," Gundersen said. "The spent fuel pool cooling system is designed only to remove decay heat, not heat from an ongoing nuclear reaction."
The rods are also vulnerable to fire should they be exposed to air, Gundersen said.
The fuel assemblies are situated in a 10 meter by 12 meter concrete pool, the base of which is 18 meters above ground level. The fuel rods are covered by 7 meters of water, Nagai said.
The pool was exposed to the air after an explosion a few days after the quake and tsunami blew off the roof. The cranes and equipment normally used to extract used fuel from the reactor's core were also destroyed.
Tepco has shored up the building, which may have tilted and was bulging after the explosion, a source of global concern that has been raised in the U.S. Congress.
The utility says the building can withstand shaking similar to the quake in 2011 and carries out regular structural checks, but the company has a credibility problem. Last month, it admitted that contaminated water was leaking into the Pacific Ocean after months of denial.
The fuel assemblies have to be first pulled from the racks they are stored in, then inserted into a heavy steel chamber. This operation takes place under water before the chamber, which shields the radiation pulsating from the rods, can be removed from the pool and lowered to ground level.
The chamber is then transported to the plant's common storage pool in an undamaged building where the assemblies will be stored.
Tepco confirmed the Reactor No. 4 fuel pool contains debris during an investigation into the chamber earlier this month.
Removing the rods from the pool is a delicate task normally assisted by computers, according to Toshio Kimura, a former Tepco technician, who worked at Fukushima Daiichi for 11 years.
"Previously it was a computer-controlled process that memorized the exact locations of the rods down to the millimeter and now they don't have that. It has to be done manually so there is a high risk that they will drop and break one of the fuel rods," Kimura said.
Under normal circumstances, the operation to remove all the fuel would take about 100 days. Tepco initially planned to take two years before reducing the schedule to one year in recognition of the urgency. But that may be an optimistic estimate.
"I think it'll probably be longer than they think and they're probably going to run into some issues," said Murray Jennex, an associate professor at San Diego State University who is an expert on nuclear containment and worked at the San Onofre nuclear plant in California.
"I don't know if anyone has looked into the experience of Chernobyl, building a concrete sarcophagus, but they don't seem to last well with all that contamination."
Corrosion from the salt water will have also weakened the building and equipment, he said.
And if an another strong earthquake strikes before the fuel is fully removed that topples the building or punctures the pool and allow the water to drain, a spent fuel fire releasing more radiation than during the initial disaster is possible, threatening about Tokyo 200 kilometers (125 miles) away.
When asked what was the worst possible scenario, Tepco is planning for, Nagai said: "We are now considering risks and countermeasures."
(Additional reporting by James Topham and Mari Saito; Writing by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8978 on: Aug 16th, 2013, 09:59am »
Sci Fi Movie Page
STARRING: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, William Fichtner
2013, 109 Minutes, Directed by: Neill Blomkamp
Elysium is the equivalent of a fresh rain after a season of drought. Animated offerings aside, this summer’s science fiction films have offered us nothing but superheroes and CGI monsters, with things like plot and character only an afterthought. Oh, some were certainly entertaining, but what was the last science fiction movie that made you think? Pacific Rim? After Earth? Oblivion? Please. The only part of the brain any of these engaged was the part that said, "Look at the cool special effects."
With Elysium writer-director Neill Blomkamp demonstrates that District 9 (2009) was no fluke. Set in the world of 2154, Earth is an oppressive and downtrodden place operating for the benefit of what we might call the 1%, who are living a life of ease in the orbiting space station of the title. This is hardly an original concept. Not only have we seen similar set ups this year in both Upside Down and Oblivion, but it dates back to at least to Metropolis (1927), which also sees a worker revolt against the elites.
Matt Damon is Max, a lowly laborer who has done time in the past but has gone straight. When he gets a fatal dose of radiation doing a job he was ordered to do he is told he has five days to live. Up on Elysium they have health care that can fix him. (Indeed, the technology is so advanced it borders on magic.) However such care is only available to citizens of Elysium and they intend to keep it that way.
Up on Elysium the defense chief Delacourt (a chilling Jodie Foster) does whatever it takes to kill or expel those who illegally try to enter her paradise, including employing the ruthless Kruger (Sharlto Copley). When the president rebukes her she makes plans to overthrow him and enact the security measures she deems necessary. This involves Carlyle (William Fichtner) transporting key software in his brain from Earth to Elysium. However Max rejoins his old outlaw pals who will get him to Elysium if he helps them on a job. Their target is the unsuspecting Carlyle.
The plot gets a bit more complicated with the arrival of Max’s childhood sweetheart Frey (Alice Braga), now a doctor with a dying daughter who is also denied access to Elysium. What should be clear is that with all these conflicting and contrary motives, some of these characters are not going to be getting what they want. Indeed Blomkamp skillfully builds the suspense and action knowing that by providing some substance to the motivation of the characters there’s something at stake when the various battles take place.
Indeed, just as it was a mistake to see District 9 as simply a metaphor for South Africa’s apartheid regime, it would be a mistake to see Elysium as a movie about health care or border security. However by making the film’s issues things that resonate in our real world instead of sheer fantasy, it gives this science fiction thriller some heft. Blomkamp is helped by a solid cast, with Damon and Foster lending their star power to their parts. We expect them to be good and they don’t disappoint. The revelation here is Copley, who was the bumbling enforcer contaminated by the aliens in District 9. Here he is a vicious thug and he is utterly convincing.
Elysium is the sort of science fiction thriller some of us have been craving all summer only to see one film after another fall short. You can go for the action and effects, but be prepared to talk about the issues it raises afterwards.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8979 on: Aug 16th, 2013, 10:13am »
Voyager 1 Has Left the Solar System
Aug. 15, 2013 — Voyager 1 appears to have at long last left our solar system and entered interstellar space, says a University of Maryland-led team of researchers.
Carrying Earthly greetings on a gold plated phonograph record and still-operational scientific instruments -- including the Low Energy Charged Particle detector designed, built and overseen, in part, by UMD's Space Physics Group -- NASA's Voyager 1 has traveled farther from Earth than any other human-made object. And now, these researchers say, it has begun the first exploration of our galaxy beyond the Sun's influence.
"It's a somewhat controversial view, but we think Voyager has finally left the Solar System, and is truly beginning its travels through the Milky Way," says UMD research scientist Marc Swisdak, lead author of a new paper published online this week in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. Swisdak and fellow plasma physicists James F. Drake, also of the University of Maryland, and Merav Opher of Boston University have constructed a model of the outer edge of the Solar System that fits recent observations, both expected and unexpected.
Their model indicates Voyager 1 actually entered interstellar space a little more than a year ago, a finding directly counter to recent papers by NASA and other scientists suggesting the spacecraft was still in a fuzzily-defined transition zone between the Sun's sphere of influence and the rest of the galaxy.
But why the controversy?
At issue is what the boundary-crossing should look like to Earth-bound observers 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) away. The Sun's envelope, known as the heliosphere, is relatively well-understood as the region of space dominated by the magnetic field and charged particles emanating from our star. The heliopause transition zone is both of unknown structure and location. According to conventional wisdom, we'll know we've passed through this mysterious boundary when we stop seeing solar particles and start seeing galactic particles, and we also detect a change in the prevailing direction of the local magnetic field.
NASA scientists recently reported that last summer, after eight years of travel through the outermost layer of the heliosphere, Voyager 1 recorded "multiple crossings of a boundary unlike anything previously observed." Successive dips in, and subsequent recovery of, solar particle counts caught researchers' attention. The dips in solar particle counts corresponded with abrupt increases in galactic electrons and protons. Within a month, solar particle counts disappeared, and only galactic particle counts remained. Yet Voyager 1 observed no change in the direction of the magnetic field.
To explain this unexpected observation, many scientists theorize that Voyager 1 has entered a "heliosheath depletion region," but that the probe is still within the confines of the heliosphere. Swisdak and colleagues, who are not part of the Voyager 1 mission science teams, say there is another explanation.
In previous work, Swisdak and Drake have focused on magnetic reconnection, or the breaking and reconfiguring of close and oppositely-directed magnetic field lines. It's the phenomenon suspected to lurk at the heart of solar flares, coronal mass ejections and many of the sun's other dramatic, high-energy events. The UMD researchers argue that magnetic reconnection is also key to understanding NASA's surprising data.
Though often depicted as a bubble encasing the heliosphere and its contents, the heliopause is not a surface neatly separating "outside" and "inside." In fact, Swisdak, Drake and Opher assert that the heliopause is both porous to certain particles and layered with complex magnetic structure. Here, magnetic reconnection produces a complex set of nested magnetic "islands," self-contained loops which spontaneously arise in a magnetic field due to a fundamental instability. Interstellar plasma can penetrate into the heliosphere along reconnected field lines, and galactic cosmic rays and solar particles mix vigorously.
Most interestingly, drops in solar particle counts and surges in galactic particle counts can occur across "slopes" in the magnetic field, which emanate from reconnection sites, while the magnetic field direction itself remains unchanged. This model explains observed phenomena from last summer, and Swisdak and his colleagues suggest that Voyager 1 actually crossed the heliopause on July 27, 2012.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8980 on: Aug 16th, 2013, 10:38am »
Deadly Sea Lion Mystery Draws Biologists to Remote Island in Search of Clues
By Nadia Drake 08.16.13 9:30 AM
SAN MIGUEL ISLAND, Calif. – It’s late June, and San Miguel Island’s white sand beaches are filled with barking sea lions. More than 100,000 of them. The marine mammals have come to this windy, remote island to breed and give birth – a rowdy, stinky summer extravaganza that last year, enigmatically, ended in disaster.
When the sea lions converged on this most westerly of southern California’s Channel Islands in May 2012, as they do every spring, there was no hint of anything amiss. A year later, thousands of pups – perhaps as many as 70 percent of the newborns – were dead. The struggle to survive led desperate pups from their sandy nursery into the churning, dangerous sea, long before they were ready.
Between January and June, five rescue centers along the southern California coast, from Santa Barbara to San Diego, took in more than 1,500 stranded pups – five times more than normal.
And those are just the ones that survived the journey of more than 50 miles. Many thousands more died on the islands, or along the way.
What happened is still a mystery, but investigating scientists have come to suspect that an unexpected shift in the sea lions’ food source is to blame. Now, as a new generation of pups are being born here, a different question arises: Has the danger passed, or are this year’s pups in peril too?
I went to San Miguel Island to try to find out.
The conduit between the sea lions and me is Sharon Melin, a biologist with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service. Melin has been studying the San Miguel Island sea lions (Zalophus californianus) for more than two decades, tracking their population trends and health. In the summer, she comes to the island for about three months, working at a sun- and wind-powered research station perched on the bluff above Point Bennett.
It’s here, at the westernmost tip of the island, that the bulk of the island’s sea lions converge, nearly 50,000 of them. The breeding colony is among the largest in the world, and the island’s population accounts for just over half of all sea lions in California. They come here because the waters normally brim with fish, and because San Miguel is remote and undisturbed: Located about 60 miles from Ventura harbor, the island’s nine campsites host fewer than 200 visitors per year.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8981 on: Aug 16th, 2013, 10:42am »
see 2 minute, 30 seconds
Published on Aug 15, 2013
YouTuber, Oscar Rivera http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqWUKL... shares a video of unidentified airborne objects recorded during the daytime in a partially clouded sky, apparently over Amozoc de Mota (a city located in the region of Puebla Valley in Mexico). The video was posted on the 12th (August 2013) and offers no description, other then the title, ovni separandose amozoc, or "UFO separating."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8983 on: Aug 16th, 2013, 2:48pm »
Beast of Trowbridge... or Alsatian?
A couple have photographed what appears to be the fabled Beast of Trowbridge, a large black cat that has been the subject of rumoured sightings for years.
By Olivia Goldhill 2:11PM BST 16 Aug 2013
Herbert and Doreen Smith were walking in Murhill Woods, near the village of Winsley, at around 10.30am on Saturday morning when they spotted the creature.
Mr Smith, 71, said he struggled to believe the sight when he first came across the large black animal.
He told the Wiltshire Times: “Our first impression was sheer astonishment, we really could not believe our eyes at what we were seeing. The animal was eating what we believe it had just caught.
“There was a lot of rabbits about so I expect it was having breakfast. I was about 20ft away from it whilst it was eating, it looked up at me for a couple of seconds then resumed eating.
"If it wasn't for my wife tugging at my arm to get me out of there, I would of stayed observing this magnificent animal.”
Over the years, the panther-like creature has been spotted in Trowbridge, Staverton and Westbury Leigh, and was the subject of numerous sightings in 2009.
Other rumoured big cats have been spotted throughout the British countryside, including last month, when Baronet Sir Benjamin Slade spotted a large black animal in his grounds.
The large cats are usually thought to be lynxes, or black cats such as pumas and panthers.
One of the most common theories for the presence alleged “wild alien cats” is that they are the descendants of animals released from captivity when the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976 came into force, which made it illegal to keep untamed cats.