A previously undetected asteroid entered the Earth’s atmosphere and exploded over the Atlantic Ocean, 2,200 miles off the coast of Venezuela yesterday.
The rock, the size of a car is estimated to have had an impact energy of around 750 tons of TNT. Small in cosmic terms but enough to have caused massive problems if it had hit a population center.
It has been named 2014AA, a number letter combination that indicates it was the first asteroid discovered this year, sadly it was discovered somewhat late…like after it exploded.
This incident serves to remind us all that the mission to map all space debris, junk and rocks that are likely to pose a threat to the planet is far from complete.
In other space news sunspot AR1944 is now twice the size of Earth and contains a dozen dark cores with the magnetic energy to throw off powerful flares. The spot is so big it can be seen at sunset with the naked eye.
« Last Edit: Jan 4th, 2014, 02:41am by Equalizer »
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9768 on: Jan 4th, 2014, 10:20am »
Rise of the exorcists in Catholic Church
Forty years after The Exorcist scared the wits out of cinema audiences around the world, the Roman Catholic Church is training up a new generation of priests to meet a growing demand for exorcisms.
4 January 2014 By Nick Squires, Rome 4:04PM GMT
Dioceses across Italy, as well as in countries such as Spain, are increasing the number of priests schooled in administering the rite of exorcism, fabled to rid people of possession by the Devil.
The rise in demonic cases is a result of more people dabbling in practices such as black magic, paganism, Satanic rites and Ouija boards, often exploring the dark arts with the help of information readily found on the internet, the Church said.
The increase in the number of priests being trained to tackle the phenomenon is also an effort by the Church to sideline unauthorised, self-proclaimed exorcists, and its tacit recognition that belief in Satan, once regarded by Catholic progressives as an embarrassment, is still very much alive.
The trend comes four decades after the 1973 release of The Exorcist, the American horror film based on the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl and attempts to exorcise her by two priests.
The diocese of Milan recently nominated seven new exorcists, the bishop of Naples appointed three new ones a couple of years ago and the Catholic Church in Sardinia sent three priests for exorcism training in Rome, amid concern that the Mediterranean island, particularly its mountainous, tradition-bound interior, is a hotbed of occultism.
In Spain, Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, the archbishop of Madrid, chose eight priests to undergo special training in May to confront what he described as “an unprecedented rise” in cases of “demonic possession”. The Church in Spain was coming across many cases that “go beyond the competence of psychologists” and they were occurring with “a striking frequency”, the archbishop said.
“Diabolical possessions are on the increase as a result of people subscribing to occultism,” said Fr Francesco Bamonte, the president of the Italy-based International Association for Exorcists. “The few exorcists that we have in the dioceses are often not able to handle the enormous number of requests for help,” he told La Repubblica last month.
The association was founded in 1993 by Fr Gabriele Amorth, who served as the Vatican’s chief exorcist and claims to have conducted thousands of exorcisms.
He has written several books on the subject, including The Last Exorcist — My Fight Against Satan.
A controversial figure, he has claimed that yoga is “evil” because it leads to a worship of Hinduism and other Eastern religions.
During the papacy of Benedict XVI he said that the sex abuse scandals which engulfed the Church in the US, Ireland, Australia and other countries were proof that the Antichrist was waging a war against the Holy See.
The Church insists that the majority of people who claim to be possessed by the Devil are suffering from a variety of mental health issues, from paranoia to depression. Priests generally advise them to seek medical help.
But in a few cases, it is judged that the person really has been taken over by evil, and an exorcism is required.
The need for exorcisms is “rare, very rare”, said Fr Vincenzio Taraborelli, a priest in a church which lies just a few hundred yards from the Vatican. “In the cases where a mental illness is apparent, we try to send them to a doctor.”
Don Gianni Sini is a priest in Sardinia, an island with a reputation for spiritualism — its interior is dotted with mysterious stone-built structures called nuraghi, which predate Carthaginian and Roman occupation.
“People come to me thinking that with an exorcism they can resolve all the problems they have in their lives. A child is doing badly at school? With an exorcism we can make him study. They see exorcists as a last resort. Out of 100 people that I receive, there will be one who has need of me as an exorcist.”
“Demonic” possession manifests itself in people babbling in languages foreign to them, shaking uncontrollably and vomiting nails, pieces of metal and shards of glass, according to those who believe in the phenomenon.
They must undergo the official Catholic rite of exorcism, which involves a consecrated priest invoking the name of God, as well as various saints and the Archangel Michael, to cast out their demons. The growth in the number of priests being trained is “a response to public demand, but it’s also about quality control”, said John Allen, an expert on the Vatican from the National Catholic Reporter.
“There are all these guys, some of them priests, who have set themselves up as exorcists. A lot of it is fairly dodgy theologically — they are self-appointed exorcists running around purporting to be acting on behalf of the Church.
“Now there is an attempt to ensure that all this is done in accordance with the Church’s official teaching. The hierarchy don’t want it going on outside the official channels.” Monsignor Bruno Forte, a theologian and the archbishop of Chieti-Vasto, said the Church teaches that evil exists and that in extreme cases it can take possession of a person.
“God has the power to beat his adversary, but Satan never ceases to work. There are people who experiment with subjection to the Devil, even a state of diabolical possession, for which the help of an exorcist can be necessary,” he told La Repubblica.
“When Christians recite the Our Father prayer, they ask for delivery from evil. In every diocese the bishop chooses one or two priests to act as exorcists — they have to be well balanced and discreet.
“The great majority do not have need of an exorcism, but medical treatment. But with those who are possessed we begin a course of conversion, help them to return to prayer, to the sacraments, to enable them to throw off the possession.”
Belief in black magic and Satanism may have been spread by the internet, but there has been a streak of popular superstition in the Catholic Church for centuries. “I’m not sure it ever really went away,” said Mr Allen. “After the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, there was a great deal of embarrassment among 'enlightened’ Catholics about exorcisms and other aspects of the supernatural. It was seen as a medieval anachronism.
“But at the grassroots level there has always been a very strong streak of popular religion, a fascination with the occult and the powers of the Devil.
“We know that Pope Francis is a strong believer in popular religion such as Marian devotion, but that also includes belief in the Devil.”
In May it was claimed that Pope Francis had performed an exorcism during a Mass in St Peter’s Square.
Television images show him laying his hands on a wheelchair-bound man, who appears to go into convulsions with his mouth open before slumping down into his chair. The encounter was shown by TV2000, a channel owned by the Italian bishops’ conference, which quoted experts as saying that there was no doubt the Pope had performed an exorcism.
Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, later dismissed the claims, saying Pope Francis “did not intend” to perform an exorcism — an ambivalently-worded denial that left many convinced that he had indeed done so.
Pope Francis has not publicly commented on exorcisms, but many of his sermons and homilies feature references to the Devil.
During a Mass in November in the Casa Santa Marta, the Vatican residence where he lives, he said that although “God created man to be incorruptible”, the Devil entered the world and there are those “who belong to him”.
At a Mass days before, he talked of the dangers of worldliness, warning that: “When we think of our enemies, we really think of the Devil first, because it’s the Devil that harms us. The Devil enjoys the atmosphere, the lifestyle of worldliness.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9769 on: Jan 4th, 2014, 10:28am »
The NSA Is Building a Quantum Computer? We Already Knew That
By Robert McMillan 01.03.14 3:29 PM
The internet is abuzz over revelations that the NSA is building its own quantum computer, a machine that could crack the computer encryption codes exponentially faster than any machine available today. But this should come as no surprise.
“It’s an interesting topic,” says Scott Aaronson, a theoretical computer scientist at MIT who has followed quantum computing efforts for a good eight years. “But as far as I can see, there is no big new revelation here.”
The NSA has openly sponsored quantum computing research for close to a decade, helping to create something called the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland. And nearly five years ago, the head of the NSA, General Keith Alexander, predicted that the era of quantum computing was on the way — and that it would take the spy agency into new territory.
“I think we can see clearly out three to five years. Beyond that, things like a quantum computer start to bump up there,” Alexander told attendees at an Omaha Nebraska Cyberspace Symposium, saying that true quantum computing could be anywhere from three to 25 years away. “And when that hits, that’s a game changer. So things like that are there that we’re going to have to look at.”
The NSA documents leaked to the Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden confirm the agency’s interest in quantum computing, though the Post reports that the agency is funding classified work at a University of Maryland laboratory called the Laboratory for Physical Sciences. We don’t know if the agency is any closer to actually completing a quantum computer than anyone else. In fact, the Post speculates that it’s probably not.
Christopher Monroe, a University of Maryland professor and a fellow at the Joint Quantum Institute, agrees there’s “nothing very interesting” in the Posts‘s documents. “I saw this story and was amused that somebody at the Post was trying a little too hard to make a story out of nothing, probably because everybody is intrigued by this fellow Snowden,” he said in an email interview. The NSA’s involvement in quantum information science, he adds, “is well known.”
Like the Laboratory for Physical Sciences, the Joint Quantum Institute, or JQI, is a University of Maryland institution that receives NSA funding for quantum computing research, but the JQI does not do classified research.
First proposed in 1985 by a British physicist named David Deutsch, a quantum computer is a machine that operates according to the principles of quantum mechanics — the physics of very small things like electrons and photons. With a traditional computer, a transistor stores a single “bit” of information. If the transistor is “on,” it holds a “1,” and if it’s “off,” it holds a “0.” But with a quantum computer, information is held in a “qubit” that can exist in two states at the same time, thanks to the superposition principle of quantum mechanics.
That means a quantum computer can perform far more calculations at one time than any machines that obeys classical physics — something that would be incredibly useful in cracking the encryption code that protect computer data stored and sent by governments, terrorists, and large corporations. But first you have to build one.
The NSA has been simultaneously open and vague about its quantum computing intentions. Last year, it published an explainer paper on quantum computing, talking about its potential to quickly solve mathematical problems that would be impossible on today’s digital computers. But that’s pretty much what you hear from other quantum researchers. What’s interesting about the Post’s documents is the extent to which they spell out the NSA’s ambitions to use quantum computing to crack the basic infrastructure of the internet.
The NSA declined to comment for this story, but the according to a top secret Sept. 21, 2011 document, the “NSA is pursuing more than just basic, unclassified research.” It has also been secretly working on a quantum computer, which it sees as a first step toward building large scale quantum systems that could eventually “attack high-grade public key encryption systems,” the documents state.
The Post report names two NSA programs: The $80 million Penetrating Hard Targets, which includes the classified research at the Laboratory for Physical Sciences. There’s also the ominously named Owning the Net initiative, which is run out of the Laboratory for Telecommunications Sciences.
Because quantum computing promises the theoretical capacity to do math at levels that would be impossible using today’s digital computers, it’s an extremely exciting field of computer science. But it’s one that’s fraught with difficulties too.
Academics have been toying with quantum systems for a long time, but nobody is close to building the type of practical quantum computer envisioned by the NSA. Outside the agency, the furthest along is a Canadian company called D-Wave Systems. It built a machine that is now being tested by Google and NASA, but the jury is still out on exactly what type of work the D-Wave computer can actually do.
It’s also a delicate thing. Because any interference can render quantum calculations useless, it must be delicately calibrated — the computer shared by Google and NASA takes about a month to boot up — and any attempt to observe quantum calculations in process renders them useless.
According to Monroe, practical quantum computing remains in the distant future, despite the NSA’s funding. “[T]his area is still very speculative, and even optimists don’t believe that cracking codes this way will happen in the next 20 years,” he said. “That the NSA conducts and funds such research in the open tells us more than anything about how close they are.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9773 on: Jan 5th, 2014, 10:47am »
Japanese team uncovers beer-maker’s tomb in Luxor
AFP-JIJI 5 January 2014
CAIRO – Egypt said Friday a Japanese archaeological team has discovered the tomb of a leading beer producer from the pharaonic period in the famed temple city of Luxor.
The tomb of Khonso Em Heb, who lived 3,200 years ago, was “one of the most important discoveries made in the city of Luxor . . . at the Thebes necropolis,” said Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim.
The tomb’s walls and ceilings bear landscapes and diverse sculptures that “revealed many details of daily life during the ancient Egyptian times,” Ibrahim added, including scenes that depict family relationships and religious rituals.
One piece of artwork shows Khonso Em Heb, who also headed the royal storehouses in the pharaonic Ramesside period, making offerings to the gods, along with his wife and daughter.
The archaeologists discovered the site while cleaning the courtyard of “another tomb belonging to a top official from the reign of King Amenhotep III of the 18th dynasty,” said Jiro Kondo, head of the team from Waseda University.
The tomb will be placed under tight security until the excavation work is completed, the ministry said.
Luxor, a city of around 500,000 on the banks of the Nile, is an open-air museum of intricate temples, tombs of pharaonic rulers and landmarks, such as the Winter Palace Hotel where crime novelist Agatha Christie is said to have written “Death on the Nile”.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9774 on: Jan 5th, 2014, 10:54am »
England’s Stonehenge gets a makeover
It’s about time the monument was renovated. Look forward to modern facilities among its ancient grandeur and $44 million price tag.
By: Jill Lawless The Associated Press
STONEHENGE, ENGLAND—It has been standing for thousands of years, so Britain’s ancient Stonehenge monument was due for a makeover.
New visitor facilities and landscaping are designed to “restore the dignity” of the mysterious stone circle, and transform the way more than 1 million visitors a year see it.
The $44 million (U.S.) renovation, now open, includes a new building 2.4 kilometres from the stones where visitors can watch an exhibition about Neolithic life. They can then walk to Stonehenge down an ancient processional walkway, or take a shuttle bus.
In June, a section of busy highway that has run for decades beside the stones, 130 kilometres southwest of London, will be closed for good.
Simon Thurley, who heads governing body English Heritage, said visitors would be able to see the stones “free from the clutter and rubbish” that have been built up around them.
Stonehenge was built in three phases between 3000 B.C. and 1600 B.C. for a purpose that remains unclear.
Recent research suggests the site may have started as a giant burial ground for elite families. Archeologists have found the remains of dozens of cremated bodies from about 3000 B.C. whose location was marked by bluestones.
The second Stonehenge, which still stands, may have been a place for Druid worship, a giant astronomical calendar, or a place of healing built by nomadic herders.
Evidence suggests the site drew large crowds for the summer and winter solstices, a tradition that continues today. Hundreds of self-styled Druids, pagans and New Age revellers gathered on the site for the winter solstice on Dec. 21, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.
While America collectively freaks out over their impending 'polar vortex', Canada is changing the game when it comes to cold weather phenomenon as reports of 'frost quakes' emerge from around Toronto and across Ontario.
Indeed, as temperatures drop overnight to around -4f around the city hundreds of people are being startled by hearing large booms - causing them to think their homes are being broken into or gunshots are being fired.
In fact, they are merely hearing the after-effects of the frost quakes - or cryoseism - which are more commonly found on a glacier in the polar regions.
Water expands when it freezes and when it expands in frozen soil it literally puts a lot of stress on that dirt and will release that energy all of a sudden, very much like an earthquake releases that energy and shifts the ground,' said meteorologist Natasha Ramsahai to City News. Most frost quakes occur after a heavy rainfall or snow fall when there is a large amount of moisture on the ground.
'We had the ice storm or freezing rain event, then we had warm temperatures, or just about freezing at the surface. Then the temperatures plummeted after that,' said Dayna Vettese, a meteorologist with the Weather Network.
'That's why we've seen a couple of these events between the ice storm and the beginning of 2014.'
Around Toronto just after Christmas there was a thaw after some heavy snow fall that allowed ice to accumulate under the soil.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #9778 on: Jan 6th, 2014, 12:32am »
Google Glass has a rival: Nano-tech contact lenses that work with a pair of glasses and provide wearers with a virtual canvas on which any media can be viewed or application run, projected onto human eyes, are set to be unveiled in the US.
The high-tech contact lens is due to be previewed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week, becoming a rival to "wearable computing" Google Glass, the futuristic glasses that can shoot video or photos literally with a wink of an eye.
The platform, dubbed “iOptik,” is the brainchild of Washington-based group Innovega, whose breakthrough eyewear system is comprised of two key elements: flat-panels or micro-projectors that are integrated into eyeglasses that provide a gateway for any available media; and iOptik contact lenses that not only deliver a view of near-eye rich media, but given that one in two humans require some form of vision correction an improved view of the environment as well.
The contact lenses can be worn in the usual fashion, with or without the Innovega eyewear. When the eyeglasses, fitted with micro-projectors, are worn, any media can be instantly streamed onto a transparent lens, and the wearer's view of their surroundings is not hampered in any way. "The benefit of simultaneously offering vision correction is particularly important to Asian consumer segments where the prevalence of nearsightedness is near twice that of their non-Asian counterparts," Innovega co-founder and CEO Steve Willey said.
The company has thus far been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and by an undisclosed Asian company, according to CNET.com. Willey explained that Innovega was founded to tackle the problem that has proved to discourage consumers across the world, namely that both the quality and quantity of digital media available from mobile devices often exceeds the capability of tiny mobile displays.
"Whatever runs on your smartphone would run on your eyewear," Willey told CNET. "At full HD. Whether it's a window or immersive."
According to Willey, the iOptik contact lens-based approach "has broken this bottleneck," delivering high-performance imagery from compact eyewear by eliminating all the usual magnifying optics from digital eyewear and integrating them into a nano-tech contact lens. The novel contact lens enhances vision and enables wearers to better visualize their digital world. It allows light from the display to pass through the center of the pupil, and light from the surrounding environment to pass through the outer portion of the pupil. Willey was quoted as saying that the contact lenses could generate displays with a screen size "equivalent to a 240-inch television, viewed at a distance of 10 feet."
Right now, the iOptik system syncs with Android smartphones and, according to Willey, will be able to allow developers to design specific tools for any devices in which the iOptik system could be used.
Technology companies across the world have been fighting for a place in the wearable gadgets market, becoming a key growth area. However, when Google Glass was unveiled, many worried that should the device become widely used, privacy would be breached with the help of covert recording. A "Stop the Cyborgs” campaign has been launched in the US, designed "to stop a future in which privacy is impossible and where the iron cage of surveillance, calculation and control pervades every aspect of life."