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YU55 - Big Asteroid's Approach in November Excites Astronomers
The News - Science-Astronomy
May 08, 2011
yu55 asteroid november

An asteroid the size of an aircraft carrier will come closer to Earth this autumn than our own moon does, causing scientists to hold their breath as it zooms by. But they'll be nervous with excitement, not with worry about a possible disaster.

There's no danger of an impact when the asteroid 2005 YU55 makes its close flyby Nov. 8, coming within 201,700 miles (325,000 kilometers) of Earth, scientists say. So they're looking forward to the encounter, which could help them learn more about big space rocks.

"While near-Earth objects of this size have flown within a lunar distance in the past, we did not have the foreknowledge and technology to take advantage of the opportunity," Barbara Wilson, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. "When it flies past, it should be a great opportunity for science instruments on the ground to get a good look."  [ yahoo ]
 
Three dead as tropical storm Aere slams into Philippines
The News - Natural Disasters
May 08, 2011
troipcal storm aere Philippines

Tropical storm Aere slammed into the eastern Philippine seaboard on Sunday, bringing heavy rains and landslides that have so far killed three people and left over a thousand stranded, officials said.

The Philippines' state weather bureau said Aere made landfall over the island of Catanduanes before noon, and was expected to take a north-easterly path for the rest of the day. Three people were killed when heavy rains triggered a landslide in the province of Camarines Sur in the eastern Bicol region, where local officials scrambled to launch rescue and relief missions.

"The provincial road going to the (area) is not passable due to flooding," said Inspector Ayn Natuel, a spokesman at the Bicol regional police headquarters.

Aere, the first major weather disturbance of the year, hit Catanduanes, an island of about 250,000 people, with maximum winds of 85 kilometres (52.8 miles) per hour at its centre and gusts of up to 100 kilometres (62.13 miles) per hour.

 
River flooding begins to "wrap arms" around Memphis
The News - Natural Disasters
May 07, 2011
memphis flooding mississippi disaster

Memphis area residents were warned on Saturday that the Mississippi River was gradually starting to "wrap its arms" around the city and rise to record levels as flooding moves south.

"It's a pretty day here, and people get a false sense of security," said Steve Shular, public affairs officer for the Shelby County Office of Preparedness. "The mighty Mississippi is starting to wrap its arms around us here in Memphis."

Nearly 3,000 properties are expected to be threatened. Rising water flooded 25 mobile homes in north Memphis Saturday morning. There were 367 people in shelters in Shelby County Saturday.

"Our community is facing what could be a large-scale disaster," said Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell, Jr., in a statement. [ reuters ]

 
'World's most dangerous' nuclear power plant is closed down
The News - Current Events
May 07, 2011
dangerous nuclear power plant

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has stunned Japan's power industry by asking for the closure of the country's most controversial atomic plant, eight weeks after a huge earthquake and tsunami triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

Mr Kan said the authorities in Japan have long accepted the high probability of a major jolt underneath the Hamaoka complex, about 200km south-west of Tokyo. "This is a decision made for the safety of the Japanese people when I consider the special conditions of the Hamaoka plant," he told reporters.

Some seismologists have called Hamaoka the world's most dangerous nuclear power facility. Government forecasts have predicted an 87 per cent chance of a powerful quake in the area, which sits on two major subterranean faults. A major accident would be likely to force the evacuation of Greater Tokyo, home to 28 million people. [ independent ]

 
Floods swamp tornado-ravaged central US
The News - Natural Disasters
May 06, 2011
tornado flooding disaster

Weary residents in the storm ravaged central United States packed their belongings into moving trucks and prayed for levees to hold Friday as swollen rivers swallowed roads, farms and homes.

"When you see the Mississippi River and it's two miles (three kilometers) wide it's sobering," Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam told CNN.

"We have everything from state prisons to nursing homes that could be in danger from the flooding." [ yahoo ]

 
Mississippi Delta sees flooding from mighty river
The News - Natural Disasters
May 06, 2011
mississippi river flooding

Parts of the Mississippi Delta are beginning to flood, sending white-tail deer and wild pigs swimming to dry land, submerging yacht clubs and closing casino boats, and compelling residents to flee from their homes.

The sliver of land in northwest Mississippi, home to hardship and bluesman Muddy Waters, is in the crosshairs of the slowly surging river, just like many other areas along the banks of the big river.

To points much farther north, thousands face the decision of whether to stay or go as high water kept on rolling down the Mississippi and its tributaries, threatening to soak communities over the next week or two. The flooding is already breaking high-water records that have stood since the 1930s. [ myway ]

 
Mississippi floods force evacuations near Memphis
The News - Climate-Environment
May 05, 2011
mississippi flooding memphis

The rising Mississippi river lapped over downtown Memphis streets on Thursday as a massive wall of water threatened to unleash near record flooding all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Water lapped over Riverside Drive and onto Beale Street in Memphis, and threatened some homes on Mud Island, a community of about 5,000 residents with a river theme park. The island connects to downtown Memphis by a bridge and causeway.

Emergency officials in Millington near Memphis were "going door-to-door, asking people to leave," according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

Large amounts of rain and melt from the winter snow has caused a chain reaction of flooding from Canada and the Dakotas through Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee. It is expected to soon hit Mississippi and Louisiana at the mouth of the Mississippi River. [ reuters ]

 
NASA Announces Results of Epic Space-Time Experiment
The News - Science-Astronomy
May 05, 2011
einstein earth vortex space time theory

Einstein was right again. There is a space-time vortex around Earth, and its shape precisely matches the predictions of Einstein's theory of gravity.

Researchers confirmed these points at a press conference today at NASA headquarters where they announced the long-awaited results of Gravity Probe B (GP-B).

"The space-time around Earth appears to be distorted just as general relativity predicts," says Stanford University physicist Francis Everitt, principal investigator of the Gravity Probe B mission.

"This is an epic result," adds Clifford Will of Washington University in St. Louis. An expert in Einstein's theories, Will chairs an independent panel of the National Research Council set up by NASA in 1998 to monitor and review the results of Gravity Probe B. "One day," he predicts, "this will be written up in textbooks as one of the classic experiments in the history of physics."  [ nasa ]

 
Radiation levels in seabed near Japan plant jump
The News - Climate-Environment
May 05, 2011
japan radiation levels fukushima

Levels of radioactive substances have jumped in the Pacific seabed off Japan near the nuclear power plant crippled by a massive tsunami in March, according to the plant operator.

Seabed samples collected some 15 kilometres (nine miles) from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant contained 1,400 becquerels of radioactive caesium-137 per kilogramme, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said.

The level is more than 600 times higher than a maximum 2.3 becquerels per kilogramme detected in the past off the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima. The samples, taken on Friday, also contained 1,300 becquerels of caesium-134 and 190 becquerels of iodine-131, according to a TEPCO statement issued late Tuesday after the first analysis of seabed soil since the March 11 disaster. [ yahoo ]
 
US on track for most measles cases in a decade
The News - Current Events
May 05, 2011
measles virus outbreak

The United States seems to be on track to have more measles cases than any year in more than a decade, with virtually all cases linked to other countries, including Europe where there's a big outbreak.

Already there have been 89 cases reported so far. The U.S. normally sees only about 50 cases of measles in a year thanks to vaccinations. Health officials are reluctant to make predictions, but acknowledge the pace of reports is unusually hot.

"It's hard to say, but we're certainly getting a lot," said Dr. Greg Wallace, who leads the measles, mumps, rubella and polio team at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Europe, especially France, has been hit hard by measles, with more than 6,500 cases reported in 33 nations. International health officials are blaming it on the failure to vaccinate all children. Just about all U.S. outbreaks were sparked by people bringing it here from other countries. This week, international health officials posted an alert urging travelers everywhere to get the recommended two doses of vaccine before flying overseas. [ ap ]

 
Mississippi River - 500 Year Flood
The News - Natural Disasters
May 04, 2011
mississippi flood flooding

The Mississippi River continues to rise, so much so that its tributaries are starting to flow backwards. At Tom Lee Park, preps for Memphis in May continue knowing that the worst is still yet to come.

It's a site not often seen; the Wolf River and Nonconnah Creek are flowing backwards. The swelling river cannot take on much more water. Gene Rench with the National Weather Service said all eyes are on the Mississippi. The tributaries flowing backwards are a big problem for the adjacent communities.

"Right now the Mississippi river is in the process of going through what we call an epic flood, meaning it's more than historic, it's more than a 100 year flood, it's more like a 500 year flood," he said. "We could flood many homes, businesses, close down factories, people could drown."

The river is more than two feet past flood stage; it rose two feet in the 24 hours following the storms. It's expected to crest at 45 feet around May 10th, right when Barbecue Festival teams are setting up their tents.

 
Meteor Shower from Halley's Comet Peaks Friday
The News - Science-Astronomy
May 04, 2011
halleys comet meteor shower

It has been 25 years since Halley's Comet last passed through the inner solar system, but an annual meteor shower keeps the icy wanderer's legacy on Earth alive this week. 

Halley's Comet takes roughly 75 years to circle the sun, but if you're 30 years old or younger, you either have little or no memory of this famous cosmic vagabond's 1986 trip by Earth. And your next chance will come in the summer of 2061.

But if you don’t want to wait until 2061, you might want to step outside before sunrise during these next few mornings and try to catch a view of some "cosmic litter" that has been left behind in space by Halley's comet - a summer display of "shooting stars." [Video: Meteors from Halley's Comet]

The orbit of Halley's Comet closely approaches the Earth's orbit at two places, creating a rain of striking meteors for skywatchers during both instances. One point is in the middle to latter part of October, producing a meteor display known as the Orionids. The other point comes now, in early May, producing the annual Eta Aquarids meteor shower.

 
Dollar tumbles to 3-yr low, 1 in 7 use food stamps
The News - Economy
May 04, 2011
1 in 7 use food stamps

The dollar slumped to a three-year low against major currencies on Wednesday and its outlook darkened further as surprisingly soft economic data underpinned expectations that U.S. interest rates will remain low this year. [ yahoo ]

Growth in the food stamp program appeared to reach a plateau in February — with 14.3% of the population relying on the safety net program.

The number of food stamp recipients was essentially flat in February, the most recent month available, with 44.2 million Americans receiving benefits, according a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  [ wsj ]

 
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The News - Announcements
March 25, 2011

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Six Planets Now Aligned in the Dawn Sky
The News - Science-Astronomy
May 04, 2011
six 6 planet alignment

If you get up any morning for the next few weeks, you’ll be treated to the sight of all the planets except Saturn arrayed along the ecliptic, the path of the sun through the sky.

For the last two months, almost all the planets have been hiding behind the sun, but this week they all emerge and are arrayed in a grand line above the rising sun. Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter are visible, and you can add Uranus and Neptune to your count if you have binoculars or a small telescope.

Astrologers have always been fascinated by planetary alignments, and the doomsayers of 2012 have been prophesying a mystical alignment on Dec. 21, 2012. The modern tools of astronomers, such as planetarium software, show otherwise: absolutely no alignment at any time in 2012. But they also reveal a beautiful alignment visible during the month of May this year. [ yahoo ]

 
Double waterspouts form off Hawaii shore
The News - Weird-Strange
May 03, 2011
waterspout waterspouts

Two tall and skinny waterspouts appeared off the south shore of Oahu, Hawaii yesterday, as some of the bad weather that has lately assailed the U.S. mainland has now alighted on the Pacific island.

The Star Advertiser reports that the waterspouts appeared during a hail and lightning storm that had reportedly knocked out power for at least 60,000 East Honolulu and Windward Oahu residents Monday evening. The spouts lasted for about 12 minutes. Waterspouts can become twisters if they reach land, but are usually weak.  [ Video can be found here ]

 
Levee blast saves town, flood focus now on Memphis
The News - Climate-Environment
May 03, 2011
levee flooding blast south
Blowing up a two-mile stretch of levee appears to have saved one town from flooding, but rising waters along the Mississippi and its tributaries were flooding other areas and forcing new evacuations, including parts of suburban Memphis, Tenn.

Memphis could see a near-record crest of 48 feet on May 10, just inches lower than the record of 48.7 feet in 1937. Water from the Wolf and Loosahatchie rivers has already seeped into parts of the suburbs, and some mobile home parks were inundated.

Flooding fears prompted Shelby County, which includes Memphis, to declare an emergency for 920,000 residents. Authorities blocked some suburban streets, and about 220 people were staying in shelters. [ msnbc ]

 
A record 226 tornadoes recorded over 24 hours last week
The News - Natural Disasters
May 03, 2011
record 226 tornadoes natural disaster

According to the National Weather Service, 226 tornadoes were recorded from Wednesday morning to Thursday morning, and that's a record for a 24-hour period.

From Wednesday to Friday, 312 tornadoes may have formed.

The previous record for a single weather event was April 3-4, 1974, when 148 twisters were recorded.

Read the details in the preliminary report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

 
World population to pass 7 billion on October 31
The News - Climate-Environment
May 03, 2011
world population 7 billion

The world's population is projected to pass 7 billion on October 31 as it heads toward 10 billion or more by the end of the century, a new U.N. report said on Tuesday.

The report also predicted that the global population would be higher by mid-century than its last edition forecast two years ago, reaching 9.31 billion instead of 9.15 billion. It attributed this to fewer deaths as well as more births than it had anticipated. [ yahoo ]

World population to reach 10.1 billion by 2100

The number of the world's people is expected to grow from nearly 6.9 billion currently to 9.3 billion by 2050 and 10.1 billion by 2100, U.N. population experts said Tuesday.

The projections are used by the United Nations and its many agencies to devise and fund programs for problems ranging from climate change to maternal mortality. [ ap ]

 
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