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Galaxy collision : Cosmic hit-and-run gives galaxy starry tail
The News - Science-Astronomy
June 24, 2010
galaxy collision hit
A cosmic hit-and-run between two speeding galaxies has left one with a wispy tail speckled with stars, according to a new snapshot from a NASA space observatory.

The new galaxy tail photo reveals the aftermath of a collision between the galaxy IC 3418 and a member of its neighboring Virgo galaxy cluster.

The galactic smash-up occurred 54 million light-years from Earth and was spotted by NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) observatory. These new observations from GALEX will help give astronomers a better understanding of how stars form, researchers said. 

"The gas in this galaxy is being blown back into a turbulent wake," said Janice Hester of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., lead author of a recent study that was published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. 

 
Earthquake Moved California City 31 Inches
The News - Natural Disasters
June 24, 2010

The powerful earthquake that struck Baja California and the southwestern United States in April actually moved an entire California border city, NASA radar images show.

Calexico, Calif., near the U.S.-Mexico border, moved as much as 2 1/2 feet (80 cm) south and down into the ground due to the magnitude-7.2 earthquake on April 4.

Called the El Mayor-Cucapah earthquake, the temblor was centered 32 miles (52 km) south-southeast of Calexico and was the strongest quake to strike the region in nearly 120 years. Two people were killed and hundreds more were injured. [ LIVE SCIENCE ]

 
Why Was the Canadian Earthquake Felt So Far Away?
The News - Natural Disasters
June 23, 2010

The 5.0-magnitude earthquake that struck near the Ontario-Quebec border of eastern Canada on Wednesday was felt hundreds of miles away - much farther than if a similar quake had occurred in the more earthquake-prone West Coast.

The temblor struck at 1:42 p.m. ET (17:42 UTC) about 38 miles (60 kilometers) north of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada's capital, at a depth of 12 miles (19 km) below the Earth's surface, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).Reports of people feeling the shaking have been pouring in from as far away as Ohio, Michigan, Massachusetts and into Pennsylvania, said Bruce Presgrave, a USGS geophysicist. He said such widespread reports of quake shaking are not unexpected in this case.

"For a quake of this size, this is not unusual," he told Life's Little Mysteries.

 
More oil gushing into Gulf after problem with cap
The News - Climate-Environment
June 23, 2010
more oil gushing
Tens of thousands of gallons more oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday after an undersea robot bumped a venting system, forcing BP to remove the cap that had been containing some of the crude.

The setback, yet another in the nine-week effort to stop the gusher, came as thick pools of oil washed up on Pensacola Beach in Florida and the Obama administration tried to figure out how to resurrect a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling.

When the robot bumped the system just before 10 a.m. Wednesday, gas rose through the vent that carries warm water down to prevent ice-like crystals from forming, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said.

Crews were checking to see if crystals had formed before putting it back on. BP spokesman Bill Salvin could not say how long that might take. [ ASSOCIATED PRESS ]

 
Magnitude-5.0 earthquake reported in Canada
The News - Natural Disasters
June 23, 2010
A magnitude-5.0 earthquake struck at the Ontario-Quebec border region of Canada on Wednesday, shaking homes and businesses from Toronto to the states of New York and Michigan, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The midday quake was felt in Canada and in a number of U.S. states, including Michigan, Vermont and parts of upstate New York.

The USGS said the quake occurred at a depth of about 12 miles (19.2 kilometers). The agency initially said the quake had a 5.5 magnitude, but later reduced it to a magnitude-5.0. The quake occurred at 1:41 p.m. EDT (1741 GMT), the USGS said.

 
2010 Hurricane Season Forecast / Update
The News - Natural Disasters
June 22, 2010
hurricane forecast 2010

Hurricane Season 2010 - Update and Possible Development Later This Week.

Forecasters are keeping an eye near the Yucatan Peninsula as an area of strong thunderstorms has formed. 

Computer models bring this area of storms and associated surface low pressure center into the Gulf Of Mexico within a week.

As the storm nears, the National Hurricane Center has stated that they will issue the proper warnings if needed.  Some forecasters at the center have told said that they fully expect the area to develop within the next few days after it crosses over the peninsula. [ NOAA ] [ ACCUWEATHER VIDEO ] **Click Image to Enlarge**

Tropical system in the Caribbean may move into the Gulf Of Mexico this weekend and impact the oil area next week. Judging by the overall weather pattern and ideas from several computer models, the odds are increasing for tropical cyclone formation in the western Atlantic Basin before the end of the month.

At the very least, a period of rough seas and strong thunderstorms will affect part of the Gulf of Mexico next week. AccuWeather.com Hurricane and Long Range Expert Meteorologist Joe Bastardi assimilates the current weather pattern in the Atlantic Basin to a "tropical brew that is ready to boil over."

2010 hurricane season forecast predictions
Stories of hurricane winds and rain lashing the coasts of Florida, Louisiana and other southeastern states pop up in the news constantly during the summer, but warnings of Pacific storms such as Jimena are few and far between.

How many hurricanes will there be in 2010?

AccuWeather.com Chief Hurricane Meteorologist Joe Bastardi has upped his original forecast from 16-18 storms, to 18-21, with at least eight impacts and six hurricanes, and two or three of those hurricanes will have major landfalls. Only five years in the 160 years of records had 18 or more storms in a season.

"The hurricane season should have several hits on the U.S. coast from July through September, mainly in the Southeast and Gulf," said Bastardi.

 
‘Monster’ black holes result of galaxies’ collision
The News - Science-Astronomy
June 22, 2010
galaxy collision monster black holes
Enormous black holes, some of the most powerful sources of radiation in the universe, apparently switch on after galaxies collide, researchers have found.

The centers of as many as a tenth of all galaxies generate more energy than can be explained by stars, with some of these "active galactic nuclei" releasing more radiation than the entire Milky Way galaxy combined, but from a space no larger than our solar system. Astronomers suspect this energy is released when matter falls into giant, supermassive black holes that are up to billions of times the mass of our sun at these galaxies' cores.

"These monster black holes evolve in a way that is strongly related to the amount of dark matter that surrounds them and that is intimately related to the probability of galaxies to merge," said study lead author Nico Cappelluti, an astrophysicist at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany.[ MSNBC ]

 
Danger of Tsunamis From Methane?
The News - Natural Disasters
June 22, 2010
methane tsunami

A new and less well known asymmetric threat has surfaced in the Gulf of Mexico oil gusher. Methane or CH4 gas is being released in vast quantities in the Gulf waters. Seismic data shows huge pools of methane gas at the location immediately below and around the damaged "Macondo" oil well. Methane is a colourless, odourless and highly flammable substance which forms a major component in natural gas. This is the same gas that blew the top off Deepwater Horizon and killed 11 people. The "flow team" of the US Geological Survey estimates that 2,900 cubic feet of natural gas, which primarily contains methane, is being released into the Gulf waters with every barrel of oil. The constant flow of over 50,000 barrels of crude oil places the total daily amount of natural gas at over 145 million cubic feet. So far, over 8 billion cubic feet may have been released, making it one of the most vigorous methane eruptions in modern human history. If the estimates of 100,000 barrels a day -- that have emerged from a BP internal document -- are true, then the estimates for methane gas release might have to be doubled.

Older documents indicate that the subterranean geological formation below the "Macondo" well in the Gulf of Mexico may contain the presence of a huge methane deposit. It has been a well known fact that the methane in that oil deposit was problematic. As a result, there was a much higher risk of a blow out. Macondo shares its name with the cursed town in the novel "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by the Nobel-prize winning writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

By some geologists' estimates, the methane could be a massive bubble trapped for thousands of years under the Gulf of Mexico sea floor. More than a year ago, geologists expressed alarm in regard to BP and Transocean putting their exploratory rig directly over this massive underground reservoir of methane. Warnings were raised before the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe that the area of seabed chosen might be unstable and inherently dangerous.
 
China flood toll rises to 175 dead, more rain forecast
The News - Natural Disasters
June 21, 2010
Torrential rains battering south and central China have left 175 people dead and forced the evacuation of 1.7 million, as washed out roads and railways hampered rescue work Monday.

Premier Wen Jiabao called for greater efforts to battle flooding that has also left 107 people missing since June 13, as more rains are forecast in the next few days, the government said.

"In the coming days another round of heavy rain will hit areas in the south. We are facing a bigger test, so we need to make better preparations to avoid disaster," Wen said on state television. [ YAHOO NEWS ]

 
Can Earth Survive?
The News - Science-Astronomy
June 21, 2010
can earth survive

The millions upon millions of gallons of oil hemorrhaging into the Gulf of Mexico every day is a crude reminder of the many ways humans are fouling the planet. As forests are cleared, cities and suburbs paved and expanded, as the air and sea warm and become increasingly polluted with cancer-causing chemicals and garbage, and with species dropping like flies, the planet’s health is being challenged in ways that have not occurred in its entire 4.5-billion-year existence.

Can Earth survive?

The simple answer is a resounding "yes."

 
Ocean Changes May Have Dire Impact on People
The News - Climate-Environment
June 19, 2010
ocean dire impacts people
The first comprehensive synthesis on the effects of climate change on the world's oceans has found they are now changing at a rate not seen for several million years.

In an article published June 18 in Science magazine, scientists reveal the growing atmospheric concentrations of man-made greenhouse gases are driving irreversible and dramatic changes to the way the ocean functions, with potentially dire impacts for hundreds of millions of people across the planet.

The findings of the report emerged from a synthesis of recent research on the world's oceans, carried out by two of the world's leading marine scientists, one from The University of Queensland in Australia, and one from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in the USA.

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, lead author of the report and Director of The University of Queensland's Global Change Institute, says the findings have enormous implications for mankind, particularly if the trend continues. [ SCIENCE DAILY ]

 
More than a million evacuated in China over flood threat
The News - Current Events
June 19, 2010
Iceberg in an ocean   Image: BBC
More than a million people living along rivers in China's south have been evacuated with water rising to dangerous levels, state media said Saturday, as torrential rains left at least 88 dead.

The government said more than 1.4 million residents living on river banks and in low-lying areas had had to move, according to the official China Daily.

Zhang Zhitong, deputy director of the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, said China's second-largest waterway, the Pearl River, which crosses the south, had breached warning marks on Thursday. [ YAHOO NEWS ]

 
3 killed, dozens injured in Minn. tornadoes
The News - Natural Disasters
June 18, 2010
minnesota tornado june
Police and National Guard soldiers blocked off neighborhoods Friday as city officials organized a cleanup from tornadoes that ripped through the city the night before, part of a turbulent system that fueled twisters across the state and killed at least three people.

Dozens more were injured in Thursday's heavy weather. The National Weather Service collected 36 reports of tornado sightings, with northwestern and southern Minnesota hit hardest. If the sightings are all confirmed, it would exceed the previous state record of 27 in one day, in 1992.

In northwestern Minnesota, a woman was killed in Almora and a gas station owner was killed in Mentor. In southern Minnesota, a woman was killed when her home west of Albert Lea was destroyed.

Wadena, a town of about 4,300 people that lies 70 miles southeast of Fargo, appeared to suffer the most extensive property damage. The storms destroyed or damaged dozens of homes and other buildings, toppled power lines and left a big chunk of the town without trees. Officials met Friday morning to plan the town's next step.  [ YAHOO NEWS ]

 
'World could be plunged into crisis in 2014' - prediction
The News - Weird-Strange
June 17, 2010
world crisis 2014
A "Doomsday " moment will take place in 2014, and will determine whether the 21st century is full of violence and poverty or will be peaceful and prosperous - according to a Cambridge University professor.

In the last 500 years there has been a cataclysmic "Great Event" of international significance at the start of each century, he claims.

Occurring in the middle of the second decade of each century, they include events which sparked wars, religious conflict and brought peace.

Professor Nicholas Boyle of Cambridge University, who carried out the research, has pinpointed the global financial crisis as the trigger for the next 'Great Event'. And he claims the U.S., with its waning economic influence but unrivalled military power, holds the key to determining the course and character of the next 90 years.

 
'Killer space rock' hunt to begin
The News - Science-Astronomy
June 17, 2010
killer asteroid hunt

A new telescope facility in Hawaii designed to search for asteroids and comets which could threaten Earth has been made operational.

The Pan-STARRS 1 telescope will map large portions of the sky each night to track not only close space objects, but also exploding stars (supernovae).

The telescope has been taking science data for six months but is now operating from dusk-dawn each night. Pan-STARRS 1 (PS1) is expected to map one-sixth of the sky every month. The facility boasts a huge digital camera: a 1,400 megapixel (1.4 gigapixel) device that can photograph an area of the sky as large as 36 full Moons in a single exposure. [ BBC NEWS ]

 
Our own extinction is forecast - Aussie Scientist
The News - Science-Astronomy
June 17, 2010

WE humans are about to be wiped out in a few decades. The grandchildren of many of us will not live to old age.

Hear it from Frank Fenner, emeritus professor of microbiology at the Australian National University and the man who helped eradicate smallpox.

"Homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years," he told The Australian this week.

 
Sea creatures flee oil spill, gather near shore
The News - Current Events
June 16, 2010
Dolphins and sharks are showing up in surprisingly shallow water just off the Florida coast. Mullets, crabs, rays and small fish congregate by the thousands off an Alabama pier. Birds covered in oil are crawling deep into marshes, never to be seen again.

Marine scientists studying the effects of the BP disaster are seeing some strange - and troubling - phenomena. Fish and other wildlife are fleeing the oil out in the Gulf and clustering in cleaner waters along the coast. But that is not the hopeful sign it might appear to be, researchers say.

The animals' presence close to shore means their usual habitat is badly polluted, and the crowding could result in mass die-offs as fish run out of oxygen. Also, the animals could easily get devoured by predators.

"A parallel would be: Why are the wildlife running to the edge of a forest on fire? There will be a lot of fish, sharks, turtles trying to get out of this water they detect is not suitable," said Larry Crowder, a Duke University marine biologist. [ AP NEWS ]
 
What's wrong with the sun?
The News - Science-Astronomy
June 16, 2010
where are the sunspots

SUNSPOTS come and go, but recently they have mostly gone. For centuries, astronomers have recorded when these dark blemishes on the solar surface emerge, only for them to fade away again after a few days, weeks or months. Thanks to their efforts, we know that sunspot numbers ebb and flow in cycles lasting about 11 years.

But for the past two years, the sunspots have mostly been missing. Their absence, the most prolonged for nearly a hundred years, has taken even seasoned sun watchers by surprise. "This is solar behaviour we haven't seen in living memory," says David Hathaway, a physicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

The sun is under scrutiny as never before thanks to an armada of space telescopes. The results they beam back are portraying our nearest star, and its influence on Earth, in a new light. Sunspots and other clues indicate that the sun's magnetic activity is diminishing, and that the sun may even be shrinking. Together the results hint that something profound is happening inside the sun. The big question is what? [ NEW SCIENTIST ]

 
French storms and floods kill 19
The News - Natural Disasters
June 16, 2010
french floods kill 19
Flash floods caused by torrential rain killed 19 people and left seven missing near France's Mediterranean coast, an official said on Wednesday, after the worst downpours the region has seen since 1827.

More than 350 mm (14 inches) of rain fell on the Var department in southern France in a few hours on Tuesday.

The sub-prefect for the region said 19 people had died and seven others were missing.

More than 1,000 people found refuge in schools and other buildings after their homes were swamped. Helicopters flew over 450 rescue missions and some 100,000 households were without electricity. [ YAHOO NEWS ]

 
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