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Nuclear Bombs Could Save Earth from Asteroids
The News - Science-Astronomy
June 29, 2010
asteroid impact nuclear explosion

If a massive asteroid is hurtling toward Earth and threatening to sterilize the entire planet, blasting it to pieces with nuclear bombs might seem fit for a Hollywood movie. But, it could, in fact, be a viable solution to the potentially apocalyptic event , according to scientists who have studied asteroids and possible solutions to prevent Earth impacts .

There are some strings attached: The interloping space rock would have to pose a definite asteroid threat to Earth in a relatively short timeframe to justify such a drastic option, the scientists said. And blowing up an asteroid runs the risk of creating more debris to worry about later, they added.

If an asteroid was expected to collide with Earth within the next 50 years , using nuclear explosives to divert or disperse the hostile space rock could be the best alternative, explained David Dearborn, a research physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif.

Alex to become hurricane, delay oil spill efforts
The News - Natural Disasters
June 28, 2010
Tropical storm Alex was set to become a hurricane on Tuesday, delaying BP Plc's efforts to increase siphoning capacity at the gushing oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico while some companies pulled workers from the area.

Forecasters said Alex was moving slowly away from Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

It is not expected to hurt current oil-capture systems at the BP oil spill or the company's plans to drill a pair of relief wells intended to plug the leak by August, a BP executive told reporters in Houston. [ YAHOO NEWS ]

First 2010 Atlantic season tropical depression forms in the Caribbean
The News - Current Events
June 26, 2010
tropical depression one
he weather system that might threaten efforts to stop the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, or drive ashore what's already spread, is now the season's first tropical depression - and as early as today, may be its first Tropical Storm: Alex.

The depression - denoting a tighter, more defined system - is far from South Florida, and mostly of interest only to those who keep box scores, though it is expected to steer rain to the area. But there is the threat to the gulf, so it's getting more attention than any of the many waves and depressions that come and go in June.

According to the National Hurricane Center's 6 p.m. tropical weather outlook, "Tropical Depression One" has become better organized as it approaches the Yucatan Peninsula, and is "expected" to become a tropical storm tonight or Saturday.

It has sustained winds of about 35 miles per hour, with higher gusts, the outlook said. It is still moving west-northwest at about 10 miles per hour, and should continue on that track "for the next couple of days," the forecast said. [ PALM BEACH POST ] Click image to enlarge.

2010 Atlantic hurricane season - update 2
The News - Natural Disasters
June 25, 2010
The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season is predicted to be much more active than usual, according to the nation's top two hurricane forecasting teams.

Colorado State University's research team, the nation's oldest and most well-known hurricane forecasters, predict that 2010 will be an unusually active hurricane season.

They predict that 15 named tropical storms will form in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico this year, of which 8 will become hurricanes. And of those eight, four are expected to be major hurricanes — Categories 3, 4 or 5 — with maximum wind speeds of 111 mph or greater.

Tropical disturbance over the western Caribbean could effect oil spill
The News - Current Events
June 25, 2010

With a storm threatening to disrupt oil-siphoning efforts at BP Plc's blown-out Gulf of Mexico well, the U.S. Coast Guard on Friday said collection efforts would be suspended five days before the forecast onset of gale-force winds.

A tropical disturbance over the western Caribbean could deal a big setback to efforts by BP to contain oil gushing from the well, estimated by the U.S. government at up to 60,000 barrels (2.5 million gallons/9.5 million liters) per day.

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the U.S. government's point man on the oil spill, said it would be necessary five days before gale force winds are forecast to arrive to take down operations involving ships and other equipment siphoning some of the oil spewing from BP's ruptured deep-sea well. During this period, the oil could flow unchecked from the ruptured well into the sea for up to 14 days, Allen said.

Stunning images as storm breaks over Chicago
The News - Current Events
June 25, 2010
double lightning strike

This is the extraordinary moment a photographer captured bolts of lightning striking not one, but two Chicago landmarks at the same time.

Electricity rushed down the lightning rods atop the The Willis Tower and the Trump Tower at the exact same instant last night.

Seen through the rain from the Hancock Tower, the strikes lit up the sky around.

They came as severe storms rolled through the Windy City last night. There were tornado warnings as winds gusted to up to 80mph, and flooding closed some major roads.

The Department of Streets and Sanitation said 450 'tree emergencies' had been reported - but fortunately there were no injuries.

The storms grounded flights at O'Hare International Airport for nearly an hour. 

The Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower, is the city's tallest building at 108 stories and 1,451 feet. It was built in 1973.


Latest blunder feeds frustration in the Gulf
The News - Climate-Environment
June 24, 2010
bp oil spill
Earlier this month, BP boldly predicted the oil gushing from the bottom of the sea would be reduced to a "relative trickle" within days, and President Barack Obama told the nation last week that as much as 90 percent would soon be captured. But those goals seemed wildly optimistic Thursday after yet another setback a mile underwater.

A deep-sea robot bumped into the cap collecting oil from the well, forcing a temporary halt Wednesday to the company's best effort yet to contain the leak. The cap was back in place Thursday, but frustration and skepticism were running high along the Gulf Coast.

BP's pronouncements have "absolutely no credibility," Jefferson Parish Councilman John Young said. The latest problem shows "they really are not up to the task and we have more bad news than we have good news."

Another day of record-breaking temperatures
The News - Climate-Environment
June 24, 2010
Temperatures reached 100 degrees at Reagan National Airport at 3:07 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.Another day of record-breaking temperatures is on the books.

"It's the first time temperatures have reached 100 degrees in June since June of 1997," ABC 7 Meteorologist Alex Liggitt says.Heat index values were between 98 and 104 degrees Thursday afternoon as temperatures rose into the upper 90s. [ WTOP ]

BP Oil Slick Now Threatens 60 Percent of America's Tidal Marshes
The News - Climate-Environment
June 24, 2010

New data has been released showing that the massive BP oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico is already contaminating one major protected North American Marine Ecoregion, containing more than 60-percent of America's tidal marshes, and is threatening at least two more.

The site of the initial explosion that resulted in the BP oil disaster is within the boundaries of the Northern Gulf of Mexico Ecoregion which as described by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation as a marine protected area that:

"... contains over 60 percent of the tidal marshes of the United States, freshwater inputs from thirty-seven major rivers, numerous nursery habitats for fish and the Flower Gardens Banks." [ HuffPost ]

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."

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