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Donít talk to aliens, warns Stephen Hawking
The News - Weird-Strange
April 25, 2010
stephen hawking aliens
THE aliens are out there and Earth had better watch out, at least according to Stephen Hawking. He has suggested that extraterrestrials are almost certain to exist - but that instead of seeking them out, humanity should be doing all it that can to avoid any contact.

The suggestions come in a new documentary series in which Hawking, one of the world’s leading scientists, will set out his latest thinking on some of the universe’s greatest mysteries.

Alien life, he will suggest, is almost certain to exist in many other parts of the universe: not just in planets, but perhaps in the centre of stars or even floating in interplanetary space.

Hawking’s logic on aliens is, for him, unusually simple. The universe, he points out, has 100 billion galaxies, each containing hundreds of millions of stars. In such a big place, Earth is unlikely to be the only planet where life has evolved. [ TIMES ONLINE ]

 
9 killed as tornado strikes Miss.; others injured
The News - Natural Disasters
April 25, 2010
Mississippi official say the death toll has risen to nine from a devastating tornado that flattened homes and businesses in the state. More than a dozen others have been injured.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said five people were killed in Choctaw County, 3 in Yazoo County and 1 in Holmes County. No names have been released and details are not available.

Two of those dead in Choctaw county are children.

Gov. Haley Barbour told The Associated Press there was "utter obliteration" in parts of Yazoo County, an area where he is from. More than 15 other counties were also damaged.

The swath of debris forced rescuers to pick up some of the injured on all-terrain vehicles. [ YAHOO NEWS ]

 
Number of tornadoes, hail, and wind reports at decade low
The News - Natural Disasters
April 24, 2010

tornado decade low
tornado season 2010

[ Monthly and Annual U.S. Tornado Summaries ]

 
Favorite Hubble Pictures! 56k Warning :)
The News - Science-Astronomy
April 24, 2010

Celebrate Hubble & 20 years of beautiful images! [ Share your favorite pictures on our forums ] - Everyone must have a favorite, so why not share some of yours? Also, if ya got time, a brief explanation of why you like it.


hubble deep field
eta carine hubble exploding star
rose hubble
orions belt hubble
 
Deadly fungus spreading in US & Canada
The News - Climate-Environment
April 23, 2010

A potentially deadly strain of fungus is spreading among animals and people in the northwestern United States and the Canadian province of British Columbia, researchers reported on Thursday. The airborne fungus, called Cryptococcus gattii, usually only infects transplant and AIDS patients and people with otherwise compromised immune systems, but the new strain is genetically different, the researchers said.

"This novel fungus is worrisome because it appears to be a threat to otherwise healthy people," said Edmond Byrnes of Duke University in North Carolina, who led the study. "The findings presented here document that the outbreak of C. gattii in Western North America is continuing to expand throughout this temperate region," the researchers said in their report, published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Pathogens found here.

Our findings suggest further expansion into neighboring regions is likely to occur and aim to increase disease awareness in the region." The new strain appears to be unusually deadly, with a mortality rate of about 25 percent among the 21 U.S. cases analyzed, they said.

 
The Sun as you've never seen it - More amazing pictures
The News - Science-Astronomy
April 22, 2010
sdo sun pictures nasa
Soaring tens of thousands of miles away from the Sun's surface, a solar flare explodes with the energy of 100 megaton hydrogen bombs. The fiery plasma, heated to tens of millions of degrees celsius, throws out particles into space at near the speed of light.

It is just one of the spectacular images from a new satellite which it says could give fresh insight into how the Sun works.

The pictures were taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which is the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the Sun.

[ DAILY MAIL UK ]

 
US weighs Iran military option
The News - War-Draft
April 22, 2010
iran war ww3
If Iran decides to go for nuclear weapons, the US may not be able to permanently stop this from happening unless it is willing to occupy the country.

This is the candid conclusion of one army general testifying in front of the Senate but one that seems to have gone mostly unnoticed amid a flurry of statements on Iran over the past few days in Washington.

Gen James Cartwright, one of America's top uniformed officers, slowly edged towards that conclusion during a Senate testimony last week, underscoring the difficult choices facing the Obama administration as it weighs what do about Iran. [ BBC NEWS ]

 
Happy 20th anniversary Hubble!
The News - Science-Astronomy
April 21, 2010
hubble 20th anniversary birthday
In the last 20 years, the Hubble Space Telescope has revolutionized the way humanity views the universe. In many ways, it may have been the most influential telescope since Galileo peered at the night sky with one four centuries ago.

The greatest insights often make the world seem like a larger place than it was before. In Hubble's case, the most important and perhaps most confounding discovery it helped find accomplished just that, by revealing the universe was expanding faster than anyone had known. 

NASA launched the Hubble Space Telescope, a joint effort by NASA and the European Space Agency, on April 24, 1990 aboard the space shuttle Discovery to much fanfare that soon fell flat. A flaw in the telescope's optics gave it blurry vision and turned the iconic space telescope into a potential boondoggle in orbit.

Favorite Hubble Links : [ Hubble Site Gallery ] - [ Hubble Heritage Project ] - [ NASA Hubble ]

 
Iceland volcano - Lucky we weren't wiped out
The News - Natural Disasters
April 21, 2010
iceland volcano humans lucky

The volcanic ash cloud from Eyjafjallajokull has caused travel chaos and misery. But we were lucky. An eruption in the future could wipe out the human race .

Great volcanoes have a habit of prompting profound changes to the world - very much greater in extent than the most savage of earthquakes and tsunamis , even though the immediate lethality of the latter is invariably much more cruel. Though ground-shaking events are generally fairly local in extent, their potential for killing can be terrific: 250,000 died after the Tangshan earthquake in China in 1975; and a similar number died in the Indian ocean tsunami of 2004. Volcanoes seem by contrast relatively benign: the accumulated total number of deaths in all of the great volcanoes of the last 300 years has probably not exceeded a quarter of a million: the total number of casualties from a hundred of the biggest recent eruptions has been no more than those from a single giant earthquake.

But there is a signal difference. Earthquakes and their aftershocks, once done, are done. Volcanoes, however, often trigger long-term and long-distance ill-effects, which history indicates generally far outweigh their immediate rain of death and destruction. Emanations of particles from the tiniest pinprick in the earth's crust, once lifted high into the skies by an explosive eruption, can wind themselves sinuously and menacingly around the entire planet, and leave all kinds of devastation in their train. They can disrupt and pollute and poison; they can darken skies and cause devastating changes in the weather; they can and do bring about the abrupt end to the existence of entire populations of animals and people.

Earthquakes and tsunamis have never been known to cause extinctions ; but volcanoes and asteroid collisions have done so repeatedly – and since the earth is today still peppered with scores of thousands of volcanoes ever yearning to erupt, they and the dramatic long-term effects of their eruptions are in fact far more frequent, far more decisive, and far greater than those that are triggered by any other natural phenomenon on the planet. [ GUARDIAN UK ]

 
SDO: Solar Dynamics Observatory returns first images
The News - Science-Astronomy
April 21, 2010
turbulent sun

Nasa's Solar Dynamics Observatory has provided an astonishing new vista on our turbulent star.

The first public release of images from the satellite record huge explosions and great looping prominences of gas. The observatory's super-fine resolution is expected to help scientists get a better understanding of what drives solar activity.

Launched in February on an Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral, SDO is expected to operate for at least five years. Researchers hope in this time to go a long way towards their eventual goal of being able to forecast the effects of the Sun's behaviour on Earth.

Solar activity has a profound influence on our planet. Huge eruptions of charged particles and the emission of intense radiation can disrupt satellite, communication and power systems, and pose a serious health risk to astronauts. [ BBC NEWS ]

 
Will Katla Volcano erupt? - Threat of larger eruption looms
The News - Natural Disasters
April 20, 2010
katla volcano eruption
For all the worldwide chaos that Iceland's volcano has already created, it may just be the opening act.

Scientists fear tremors at the Eyjafjallajokull (ay-yah-FYAH-lah-yer-kuhl) volcano could trigger an even more dangerous eruption at the nearby Katla volcano - creating a worst-case scenario for the airline industry and travelers around the globe.

How big would a Katla eruption be?

A Katla eruption would be 10 times stronger and shoot higher and larger plumes of ash into the air than its smaller neighbor, which has already brought European air travel to a standstill for five days and promises severe travel delays for days more.

The two volcanos are side by side in southern Iceland, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) apart and thought to be connected by a network of magma channels.

Katla, however, is buried under ice 550 yards (500 meters) thick - the massive Myrdalsjokull glacier, one of Iceland's largest. That means it has more than twice the amount of ice that the current eruption has burned through - threatening a new and possibly longer aviation standstill across Europe. Katla showed no signs of activity Tuesday, according to scientists who monitor it with seismic sensors, but they were still wary. [ BREITBART ]

 
Five biggest volcano eruptions in modern times
The News - Natural Disasters
April 20, 2010
biggest volcano recently

Five largest volcano eruptions in modern history.

The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland is having a major impact on travel and commerce in Europe and worldwide. However, as a volcanic event (in terms of scale), it barely is worth mentioning.

By the measure of the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) - a sort-of Richter scale for eruptions - the current outburst is probably a 2 or a 3, experts say. In other words, eruptions like Eyjafjallajökull happen virtually every year somewhere in the world. It's a regular occurance.

The biggest eruption of the past millennium , by contrast, was a 7. Given that each number on the scale represents an eruption 10 times more powerful than the previous, that means Eyjafjallajökull is 10,000 times less powerful than one in Indonesia's Sunda Islands in 1815. [ CSM ] [ Worst Disasters by death toll ]

Top 5 : Tambora , Krakatoa, Novarupta, Pinatubo and Santa Maria.

 
MORE BUNKERS! Shanghai leaders stress the date of 2012 is purely a coincidence
The News - Current Events
April 20, 2010

A 15-second-long piece of news broadcast on a local television channel has raised the uneasy question of whether the municipal government is anticipating some calamitous natural disasters in 2012.

A short news segment on Dragon TV disclosed that the construction of up to three underground emergency shelters will be completed by 2012. The segment touched the nerves of many people who, apparently, fear the premise of the Hollywood movie 2012 that the world will end by then.

"I was intrigued when I saw that broadcast," wrote yuxiqingchen, a netizen on Tianya.cn, a popular Chinese online forum. "Is there anything our government isn't telling us?" The post has been forwarded to many other major online forums, especially in the Shanghai region.

"The whole thing smells fishy. Why emphasize 2012? What will happen then?" one netizen asked. After the huge success of the film 2012, many people have indulged in the game of establishing a link between the recent earthquakes and doom prophesies. [ China Daily ]

 
Will the Katla volcano erupt next?
The News - Current Events
April 19, 2010
katla volcano erupts

The word on everyone’s lips right now is ‘volcano.’ The eruption of the long-dormant Eyjafjallajökull on March 21st has absolutely devastated travel across the UK and most of Europe. Most websites on the internet cannot cope with the amount of traffic from people trying to find ways home - the P&O Ferries website has actually crashed due to so many people trying to catch a boat. And phone systems are ringing off the hook.

 But is this only the beginning to the main event?

Katla is another volcano in Iceland. Situated to the north of Vík í Mýrdal and partly covered by the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, Katla’s peak reaches 1,512 metres. Katla last had a major eruption in 1918 and the one word used to describe that has been ‘vicious.’ Since 1999, geologists have been uneasy around the Katla volcano as it showed signs of waking up and historically, every time the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupts, Katla soon follows. The past two days has seen an increase of 200% in Katla’s activity. This isn’t something to just worry the residents of Iceland, but of the whole world too. Smog, famine, floods and freezing were just some of the things the last Katla eruption caused. Let’s hope that travel disruption is the worst of it.

 
Hekla Has NOT Started Erupting
The News - Current Events
April 19, 2010
Despite what many tweets would have, Mt. Hekla has not started erupting.This has been confirmed by Grapevine representatives on location, and the whole of the Icelandic media.

We have no idea how this crazy rumour got started, but we imagine some genius spotted the RÚV webcam of Hekla (their "Hekla watch," which has been ongoing for years, as Hekla is overdue for an eruption), spotted a plume or two and did some pretty awful guesswork. [ SOURCE ]
 
Iceland Volcano Isn't Big Enough to 'Change World's Climate'
The News - Climate-Environment
April 19, 2010
iceland volcano world climate
The volcanic ash spewing from an Icelandic mountain that’s disrupting air travel across Europe may be hundreds of times less than what Mount Pinatubo disgorged in the Philippines in 1991 when it altered the world’s climate.

The impact of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano is likely to be “virtually non-existent” on the global climate because the eruption is too small and gases are not penetrating the upper atmosphere, Blair Trewin, a senior climatologist at Australia’s National Climate Centre in Melbourne, said in an interview.

“In its current form, we wouldn’t expect the eruption to have any significant global climate effects,” Trewin said today by telephone. “In terms of how much material was being put up into the atmosphere, Pinatubo was several hundred times larger than this has been so far.”[ Bloomberg News ]

 
Volcanic ash relentless as tremors rock Iceland
The News - Natural Disasters
April 19, 2010
volcano lightning iceland

  • Ash column above volcano now lower at a height of 4-5 km
  • Farmers, livestock moved indoors as ash falls
  • Icelandic airlines now running flights to Norway

Powerful tremors from an Icelandic volcano that has been a menace for travellers across Europe shook the countryside on Sunday as eruptions hurled a steady stream of ash into the sky.

Ash from the volcano drifted southeast towards the European continent, sparing the capital Reykjavik and other more populated centres but forcing farmers and their livestock indoors as a blanket of ash fell on the surrounding areas.

"We are all doing our utmost to make sure that the farming community in this area survives this disaster," Icelandic President Olafur Grimsson told Reuters Television. [ REUTERS

 
Company plans doomsday bunkers - California
The News - Current Events
April 19, 2010
doomsday bunker

A U.S. company will start building commercial underground bunkers for people who want to survive an apocalypse such as an asteroid hitting the Earth or a nuclear attack , media reported on Monday.

Vivos, a California-based company, said it is planning a business project that offers the hope of surviving a near-extinction-level event , like the one many people say the Mayans predicted will occur in 2012.

Vivos said it plans to set up 20 "multi-level, 20,000 square foot (1,858 square meters) hardened shelter," with each housing up to 200 people across the United States.

The bunkers will be designed to withstand outdoor temperatures of 700 degrees Celsius, winds of 700 kilometers an hour, flooding for 500 hours or a wave of earthquakes over 10 on the Richter scale. Besides, a portion of the bunkers even includes refurbished Cold War-era nuclear shelters.

 
Lyrid meteor shower peaks April 22
The News - Science-Astronomy
April 19, 2010
Anyone who enjoys watching the sky for "shooting stars" will have an opportunity to observe an old and reliable meteor display over the next several days: the April Lyrids. The best time to watch will be for a night or two around the peak, April 22.

These meteors are among the oldest known, with ancient records of them dating back nearly 27 centuries. The Lyrid meteor shower is also the first significant meteor shower to appear since the beginning of the year. While it won't produce a storm of meteors, it's a respectable show for those who are patient.

"The annual Lyrid shower . . . has always been my favorite," says NASA meteor expert Peter Jenniskens. "After the low (meteor) rates in the cold months of February and March, this shower is the proverbial swallow of spring for observers in the northern hemisphere." [ ARMAGEDDON ONLINE ]

 
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