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Gov't Shutdown Science: Why Human Nature Is to Blame
The News - Science-Astronomy
October 02, 2013
government shutdown science
The failure of Congress to reach the agreement needed to avoid a government shutdown, in some ways, can be seen as the result of human nature, and the way people act when they form groups such as political parties, psychologists and sociologists say.

Humans are very tribal beings, and like to form groups, which is great for cooperation and community building, but can have negative consequences in terms of conflict, said Matt Motyl, a doctoral student in social psychology at the University of Virginia. "We become better able to fight off other tribes," when we form groups, Motyl said. Problems arise when one group perceives that its members or values are threatened in some way. When this happens, people in parties may act in ways that they wouldn't act as individuals, experts say.
 
Supervolcanoes ripped up early Mars
The News - Science-Astronomy
October 02, 2013
mars supervolcano
Mars may have had giant explosive volcanoes in its ancient past that spewed billions upon billions of tonnes of rock and ash into the sky. Vast areas of collapsed ground in a region of the planet called Arabia Terra are their likely remains, believe Joe Michalski and Jacob Bleacher.

The two scientists report their findings in this week's Nature journal. They say such supervolcanoes would have had a profound impact on the early evolution of Mars. Their gases would have influenced the make-up of the atmosphere and perturbed the climate. And the ashfall would have covered the landscape across great swathes of the planet. It is quite likely some of the deposits the rovers are now encountering on Mars have their origin in colossal blasts.
 
5 Ways the World Might End
The News - Humor
October 01, 2013
SPACE VIRUS
For all of humanity's moxie, optimism, and drive to build a better future, a lot of us spend an extraordinary amount of time imagining how we're going to snuff it en masse. This modern-day parlor game has created armies of "armchair survivalists" -- people who aren't really motivated to do anything proactive to save their own skins, but are really committed to DVRing television shows about preppers prepping. We've become pretty good at imagining what we might do in a variety of apocalyptic events -- if we weren't too lazy to live.

There are plenty of humanity-ending scenarios where there's a relative consensus for the best place to ride it out. Zombie outbreak? Shopping mall. New Ice Age? New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. Kingdom of spiders? Hunting lodge by Shatner's side. Mayan apocalypse rain date? John Cusack's limo. Here are a few still up for debate. [CRACKED]
 
Scientists pinpoint volcanic explosion EIGHT times bigger than Krakatoa
The News - Natural Disasters
October 01, 2013
samalas volcano indonesia 8 times
  • Eruption thought to be from Samalas volcano on Indonesia's Lombok Island
  • Blast was so large that it left its mark in ice of the Arctic and the Antarctic
  • Historical evidence shows how it disturbed the climate for at least two years
  • Mystery city, preserved in same way as Pompeii, may be buried on the island

An Indonesian volcano is thought be the source of a massive ‘mystery eruption’- the largest that has occurred in the last 3,700 years. The enormous blast, which took place nearly 800 years ago, may have created a ‘Pompeii of the Far East’, according to researchers. They believe this mystery city may lie buried waiting to be discovered on an Indonesian island.
 
What happened to hurricane season? And why we should keep forecasting it…
The News - Natural Disasters
October 01, 2013
2013 hurricane season
As we wrap up September, there have been just two short-lived Category 1 hurricanes in the Atlantic. Yet seasonal forecasts predicted an extremely active season. What’s going on? Before diving into the seasonal forecasts, let’s take inventory on where the season stands.

In an average season,  8 tropical storms, 4 hurricanes, and 1 major (category 3 or higher) hurricane form by this date. This year, we’ve experienced 10 tropical storms, 2 hurricanes, and no major hurricanes. Though we’ve had close to the average number of total storms, most have been short-lived and/or weak. If you went out for a cup of coffee at any time this hurricane season, you would’ve missed many of them. [WP]
 
Could your smartphone detect earthquakes?
The News - Natural Disasters
September 30, 2013
detect earthquake smartphone
  • Sensors can detect earthquakes greater than a magnitude of 5
  • The chip is used in smartphones to change the orientation of the screen
  • The technology will soon be advanced enough to detect smaller quakes

Collecting accurate, real-time data on earthquakes has always been a problem for seismologists. But a tiny sensor found in smartphones could help fill in the gaps by instantly turning your mobile phone into an earthquake sensor. The chip, originally intended to change the orientation of the screen, can detect earthquakes greater than a magnitude of 5, according to a new study.
 
'Killer 50ft-wide asteroid narrowly misses Earth'
The News - Science-Astronomy
September 30, 2013
near earth asteroid 2013
An asteroid similar in size to the one which injured more than a thousand people in Russia in February has narrowly missed the Earth.

Russian experts claim they spotted the 50ft-wide rock pass above the planet travelling at 16km per second. It is believed to have been similar in scale to the one which exploded in the skies above the town of Chelyabinsk, leaving 1,500 people hurt.
 
Shutdown May Hinder California's Rim Fire Cleanup
The News - Climate-Environment
September 30, 2013
california wildfire government shutdown
One of the worst wildfires in California's history continues to burn in Yosemite National Park, where employees will be furloughed if the government can't pass a budget tomorrow (Oct. 1). The Rim Fire has burned more than 257,000 acres (1,040 square kilometers) and is 92 percent contained. (Containment means the fire can still burn, but the flames are trapped within a perimeter, with little chance of escape.)

Very little is left of the extreme blaze, which consumed entire canyons. Now, a few hot spots char the ground in Yosemite National Park, where Park Service policy allows nonthreatening fires to burn themselves out, renewing the forest. "It's burning at very, very low intensity," said Michelle Carbonaro, fire information officer for the Rim Fire. "We suspect they're not calling it [as] out because there are some unsettled weather patterns coming that could stir up fire activity," Carbonaro told LiveScience.
 
Mystery AD1257 eruption traced to Lombok, Indonesia
The News - Natural Disasters
September 30, 2013
AD 1257 volcano eruption
Scientists think they have found the volcano responsible for a huge eruption that occurred in AD1257. The mystery event was so large its chemical signature is recorded in the ice of both the Arctic and the Antarctic.

European medieval texts talk of a sudden cooling of the climate, and of failed harvests. In the PNAS journal, an international team points the finger at the Samalas Volcano on Lombok Island, Indonesia. Little remains of the original mountain structure - just a huge crater lake.
 
Meteor Sightings in the 1000's across the U.S.
The News - Science-Astronomy
September 30, 2013
2013 meteors
Reports of meteor sightings are coming into the American Meteor Society by the thousands. According to one of the latest reports posted at the American Meteor Society website, “Its been a busy week for the AMS as we are bombarded by fireball reports from all different parts of the country. The latest event took place over Alabama and Georgia last night September 28th 7:30 PM local time. Over 250 witnesses from Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama and Georgia have reported the event so far. Below is a heat map of the witnesses who saw the event. Click the image below for the event detail page and witness reports.”
 
The Sixth Mass Extinction Is Upon Us: Can Humans Survive?
The News - Current Events
September 30, 2013
sixth mass extinction
Over the past four years, bee colonies have undergone a disturbing transformation. As helpless beekeepers looked on, the machinelike efficiency of these communal insects devolved into inexplicable disorganization. Worker bees would fly away, never to return; adolescent bees wandered aimlessly in the hive; and the daily jobs in the colony were left undone until honey production stopped and eggs died of neglect. Colony collapse disorder, as it is known, has claimed roughly 30 percent of bee colonies every winter since 2007.

If bees go extinct, their loss will trigger an extinction domino effect, because crops from apples to broccoli rely on these insects for pollination. At the same time, over a third of the world’s amphibian species are threatened with extinction, and Harvard evolutionary biologist and conservationist E.O. Wilson estimates that 27,000 species of all kinds go extinct per year. Are we in the first act of a mass extinction that will end in the death of millions of plant and animal species across the planet, including us? Proponents of the “sixth extinction” theory believe the answer is yes.
 
Typhoon Wutip prompts Vietnam evacuations
The News - Natural Disasters
September 30, 2013
Typhoon Wutip
Tens of thousands of people in high-risk areas in central Vietnam are being evacuated before a typhoon strikes, Vietnamese officials have said. Local weather forecasts predict Typhoon Wutip, with sustained wind speed of up to 93 miles an hour will hit central Vietnam on Monday.

Vietnamese disaster official Le Tri Cong said more than 8,000 villagers in Quang Tri province's coastal areas were taken to safe ground on Sunday night and 35,000 others from areas facing serious flooding, landslides and flash floods are being moved. The central floods and storms control committee said on its website on Monday that more than 140,000 people in four other central provinces were scheduled for evacuation on Monday.
 
The Collapse Of Detroit, a Glimpse Of Our Future?
The News - Disaster Preparedness
September 30, 2013
detroit collapse
The city of Detroit was built in the same way our country was built; our country was founded on the belief of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Is the collapse of Detroit a glimpse of our future? On a larger scale the events that have been adding up over the years that are putting Detroit “out of business” resemble the very same events we face on a national level today.

Government corruption funded by corrupt unions and inept government micromanagement took a thriving city and brought it to its knees. [LINK]
 
Earthquake Detection: Smartphone Tech Could Improve Response
The News - Natural Disasters
September 29, 2013
earthquake prediction planning
Small sensors found in most smartphones and laptops are sensitive enough to detect the movement of moderate and large earthquakes, and could vastly expand the information gathered during seismic events in densely populated cities, new research suggests.

The devices, called micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) accelerometers, measure movement in three dimensions and tell the phone's screen to flip from horizontal to vertical when the phone tilts. In laptops, they detect the motion of falling, and force the hard drive into a safe mode prior to impact. Given the widespread use of laptops and smartphones containing these devices, researchers at Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology decided to test whether the sensors could adequately record earthquake movements.
 
Hurricane Season 2013: Year Without a Major Hurricane?
The News - Natural Disasters
September 27, 2013
2013 no major hurricanes
So far this hurricane season, the Atlantic basin has produced nine named storms, two of which have become hurricanes.

Based on long-term averages from 1966-2009, the Atlantic has typically seen nine named storms by Oct. 4 and five hurricanes by Oct. 7. As you can see, the 2013 season is fairly close to average when it comes to the number of named storms, but lagging behind in the hurricane category. Neither of this season's two hurricanes, Humberto and Ingrid, reached major hurricane status, a Category 3 or higher rating on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

Since 1851, roughly 75 percent of all the major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) have formed during the months of August and September. Given that we've almost made it through September, and are headed for the final two months of the hurricane season, this raises the question of how rare it would be to go an entire season without a major hurricane in the Atlantic.
 
Hurricane activity remains historically low
The News - Current Events
September 27, 2013

Heading into October -- 2013 global hurricane activity remains historically low

• North Atlantic tropical cyclone ACE is 71% below normal. 5th lowest since 1950. --> Figure
• Northern Hemisphere ACE is 55% below normal. Lowest since 1977. --> Figure
• Global ACE is 47% below normal. Lowest since 1977. --> Figure

 
Russia, China Hold Large-Scale War Games
The News - War-Draft
September 26, 2013
Russia China War Games 2013
Pentagon intelligence agencies are closely watching Russian and Chinese war games now taking place in Europe and Asia involving tens of thousands of troops.

Meanwhile, NATO military forces are set to conduct large-scale maneuvers in November that will be designed to counter growing concerns of a westward Russian military encroachment, according to U.S. officials.

“The Russians are moving forces closer to Europe, and that is troubling,” said a military official.
 
Causes of Pakistan Earthquake & New Island Revealed
The News - Natural Disasters
September 25, 2013
new island pakistan earthquake
Cartographers might have to put another island on the map after Tuesday's massive earthquake created a new island five kilometres off the southern coast of Pakistan, in the Arabian Sea near Gwadar area.

"It's not a common way for islands to be created," says Andrew Miall, a geology professor at the University of Toronto. "But vertical movement of the crust is really common, and it just so happens that, in this case, the crust was very near the surface of the water."
 
Map reveals the countries with the world's worst air pollution
The News - Climate-Environment
September 25, 2013
air pollution map
  • Nasa used global pollution data compiled by UNC
  • Dark brown areas show where more people die prematurely from air pollution than light brown areas
  • Blue areas are regions where pollution levels have improved since 1850 - such as the southern states of the U.S.
  • The most polluted area is shown over Asia, in particular China, but Eastern Europe also has high levels of damaging soot, dust and car fumes

Air pollution is said to account for 2.1 million premature deaths worldwide, according to new research, and mortality rates can vary widely between certain countries.
 
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