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NASA The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) Awesome pictures
The News - Science-Astronomy
February 18, 2010

A wispy comet, a star-forming cloud and the grand Andromeda galaxy are the first cosmic characters to be unveiled by Nasa's latest hi-tech space telescope.

The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), which was launched into orbit in December 2009, is scanning the entire sky in infrared light.

The satellite has already beamed back more than a quarter of a million raw, infrared images. These first processed pictures show a sample of the mission's targets from individual comets and asteroids to huge galaxies. (Source : DAILYMAIL UK )

galaxy
 
On the brink of extinction – 25 of our closest relatives
The News - Current Events
February 18, 2010
25 species extinction

Have a good look at the photos and drawings. Look at the faces. Take in the unusual names. They may not be around much longer. These are humanity's vanishing relatives.

Today a group of the world's leading zoologists reveals the 25 most endangered members of the primates – the biological order which contains monkeys, tarsiers, lemurs, gibbons and the great apes, including, of course, humans.

We may be doing fine, at least in terms of numbers: at 7pm last night, the human population of the world had reached 6,803,362,494. It hit 6 billion in 1999 and will hit 7 billion possibly as soon as next year. But our primate cousins are in a very different position.

 
Americans prepare for end of the world
The News - Natural Disasters
February 17, 2010

Tess Pennington, 33, is a mother of three children, and lives in the sprawling outskirts of Houston, Texas. But she is not taking the happy safety of her suburban existence lightly.

Like a growing army of fellow Americans, Pennington is learning how to grow her own food, has stored emergency rations in her home and is taking courses on treating sickness with medicinal herbs.

"I feel safe and more secure. I have taken personal responsibility for the safety of myself and of my family," Pennington said. "We have decided to be prepared. There all kinds of disasters that can happen, natural and man-made."

Pennington is a "prepper", a growing social movement that has been dubbed Survivalism Lite. Preppers believe that it is better to be safe than sorry and that preparing for disaster – be it a hurricane or the end of civilisation – makes sense.

Unlike the 1990s survivalists, preppers come from all backgrounds and live all over America. They are just as likely to be found in a suburb or downtown loft as a remote ranch in the mountains. Prepping networks, which have sprung up all over the country in the past few years, provide advice on how to prepare food reserves, how to grow crops in your garden, how to hunt and how to defend yourself. There are prepping books, online shops, radio shows, countless blogs, prepping courses and prepping conferences.

 
Fears of new quake keep Haitians from weak homes
The News - Natural Disasters
February 17, 2010

Hundreds of houses that survived Haiti's killer quake stand empty even as quake victims desperate for shelter crowd the streets. The reason is fear: Nobody is sure they can withstand another quake.

 
Mississippi Delta Earthquake : America's version of Haiti?
The News - Natural Disasters
February 15, 2010
mississippi delta earthquake

One of the strongest series of earthquakes ever to hit the United States happened not in Alaska or along California's San Andreas fault, but in southeast Missouri along the Mississippi River.

In 1811 and 1812, the New Madrid fault zone that zig zags through five states shook so violently that it shifted furniture in Washington, D.C., and rang church bells in Boston. The series of temblors changed the course of the Mississippi River near Memphis, and historical accounts claim the river even flowed backward briefly.

Geologists consider the New Madrid fault line a major seismic zone and predict that an earthquake roughly the magnitude of the Haiti earthquake (7.0 on the Richter scale) could occur in the area during the next 50 years.

That forecast is of particular concern because the New Madrid zone sits beneath one of the country’s most economically distressed areas – the Delta. In many counties in the Mississippi Delta, the poverty level is triple the national average.

Moreover, the area is comparatively less prepared to deal with a huge earthquake than are other seismically active areas in the US, says Mark Ghilarducci, vice president of James Lee Witt Associates, a crisis and emergency management consulting company in Washington.

“There have not been enough resources applied for retrofitting that there could be,” Mr. Ghilarducci says. “I would like to see far more retrofit programs, strengthening of buildings, especially masonry buildings, tying down bridges. That builds resiliency in a community.
 
World may not be warming... (aka we don't know jack)
The News - Climate-Environment
February 15, 2010
iceberg world not warming

The United Nations climate panel faces a new challenge with scientists casting doubt on its claim that global temperatures are rising inexorably because of human pollution.

In its last assessment the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the evidence that the world was warming was “unequivocal”.

It warned that greenhouse gases had already heated the world by 0.7C and that there could be 5C-6C more warming by 2100, with devastating impacts on humanity and wildlife. However, new research, including work by British scientists, is casting doubt on such claims. Some even suggest the world may not be warming much at all.

“The temperature records cannot be relied on as indicators of global change,” said John Christy, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a former lead author on the IPCC.(TIMES ONLINE)


THERE has been no global warming for 15 years, a key scientist admitted yesterday in a major U-turn.

Professor Phil Jones, who is at the centre of the “Climategate” affair, conceded that there has been no “statistically significant” rise in temperatures since 1995.

The admission comes as new research casts serious doubt on temperature records collected around the world and used to support the global warming theory. (DAILY EXPRESS)

 
Amazing Volcano Eruptions pictures
The News - Natural Disasters
February 12, 2010

Most people would think themselves unlucky if they passed a volcano as it erupted, but this counts as a good day at the office for one photographer.

Martin Rietze is part of a select group of volcano-chasers who seek out the exploding phenomena, and braves huge electric storms and boiling lava to get the perfect shots.

The 45-year-old travels around the world's volcano hotspots, from Costa Rica to Italy, in his pursuit of Earth's greatest fiery spectacle.( SOURCE : DAILY MAIL )

volcano eruption pictures
 
Haiti raises earthquake's death toll to 230,000
The News - Natural Disasters
February 09, 2010
Haiti's government has raised the death toll for the Jan. 12 earthquake to 230,000 from 212,000 and says more bodies remain uncounted.

The government initially estimated 150,000 dead on Jan. 24, apparently from bodies being recovered in the rubble of collapsed buildings in Port-au-Prince, the capital that was near the epicenter.

Communications Minister Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue said Tuesday the government now counts 230,000 deaths.

But she says the new figure is not definitive. She says it does not include bodies buried by private funeral homes in private cemeteries or the dead buried by their own families.

The new figure gives the quake the same death toll as the 2004 Asian tsunami.

 
Baby Boomers Bankrupt Social Security?
The News - Economy
February 08, 2010
As the record federal budget deficit draws increasing scrutiny from Washington to Wall Street to Main Street, deficit hawks may take aim at entitlement programs including Social Security.

 
And, the nearly 80 million Baby Boomers phasing into retirement will set in motion a dynamic that—if not addressed by Congress—could result in the next generation getting fewer benefits.

However, despite fears that Boomers will trigger a collapse of Social Security, experts say the system can and will survive for decades and generations to come.

Congress made significant fixes to Social Security during the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1990s, and there appears to be a slowly gathering political will to make it solvent for the next 75 years.

 
Asteroid Strike sent England into a mini ice-age?
The News - Science-Astronomy
February 07, 2010
england ice age asteroid

A giant meteorite that broke in two as it crashed off Australia, could have been responsible for a mini-ice age that engulfed Britain in 535AD.

The claim was made by marine geophysicist Dallas Abbott at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union last month.

She found evidence of two substantial impact craters in the Gulf of Carpentaria, off the northern Australian coast.

In the mid-sixth century, Europe and Asia experienced the most severe and protracted episode of cooling of the last 2,000 years.

Sources from the time refer to widespread crop failures and famines as the unseasonal weather took hold. The Gaelic Irish Annals recorded 'a failure of bread' from 536 to 539AD.

Tree ring analysis by Mike Baillie from Queen's University in Belfast also suggested a cool period. He found the Irish oak showed abnormally little growth in 536 and 542. This phenomenon was noted in trees in Sweden and Finland as well.

 
Snowpocalypse Seen from Space
The News - Current Events
February 07, 2010
snowpocalypse

The results of the weekend storm that buried many Eastern U.S. locations in 2 feet or more of snow stands out starkly in a new satellite image.

The image from space reveals how the storm swept through Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia but largely spared New York City. The landscape is largely snow-free just north of Manhattan.

Nicknamed "snowpocalypse" and "snowmageddon," the blizzard dumped a record-breaking 32 inches at Dulles International Airport in the nation's capital, according to news reports.

 
Inside the structure of the Yellowstone Caldera supervolcano
The News - Science-Astronomy
February 05, 2010

With all the talk of the current Yellowstone earthquake swarm, I thought it would worth it to write a post on the the structure and caldera - and why we get earthquake swarms that are structurally rather than magmatically-related.

First off, lets think about why calderas formed. This is relatively simple - at least superficially. The land (or volcano) above a magmatic system is partially supported by that magma, especially because magma is hot and buoyant. The isostatic support by the magma holds up the land surface or volcanic edifice, so when an eruption expels a large volume of magma, this support is removed. This collapse forms the caldera - the negative topographic expression of the eruption. The collapse of the land surface plays a dual role - not is it a result of the eruption, but also helps the eruption along, like a piston pushing of hot gas out of a cylinder. After the eruption, the collapsed caldera continues to subside as the isostatic equilibrium is reached. After the caldera-forming eruption {caution, large PDF}, the system may have eruptions that produce resurgent domes in the middle of the caldera as the last dregs of the caldera-forming magmatic system leak out. This is referred to as the "caldera cycle", originally defined by Howell Williams for the collapse of Mt. Mazama ~7,700 years b.p. (see below). (SOURCE : SCENCEBLOGS.COM )

 
Monster snow storm warning across the East
The News - Climate-Environment
February 05, 2010
end is near snow
Life in the nation's capital ground to a halt Friday as steady snow fell, the beginning of a storm that forecasters said could be the biggest in modern history.

A record 2 1/2 feet or more was predicted for Washington, where snow was falling heavily by evening, with big amounts expected elsewhere throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Authorities already were blaming the storm for hundreds of accidents and the deaths of father-son Samaritans in Virginia.

The region's second snowstorm in less than two months could be "extremely dangerous," the National Weather Service said. Heavy, wet snow and strong winds threatened to knock out power, clog roads and paralyze the region's transportation and retail.

 
Ireland meteorite video
The News - Science-Astronomy
February 04, 2010

Sightings of a fireball blazing across the sky were reported across Ireland last night.

People from across the country witnessed the spectacle, which happened at around 6pm.

It is thought the fireball was a space rock travelling at a 100,000 miles per hour, or the equivalent of a small atomic bomb blast in the skies.

 
5.9 earthquake rattles Northern California
The News - Natural Disasters
February 04, 2010
A magnitude 5.9 earthquake shook the North Coast today in the area where a stronger temblor hit last month, but there were no reports of injuries or significant damage.

The quake hit at 12:20 p.m. and was centered 28 miles offshore and 7 miles deep, northwest of the small town of Petrolia in Humboldt County, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Residents said they could feel the shaker, but it was nowhere near as disconcerting as the magnitude 6.5 quake that struck the region Jan. 9.

That quake was centered 18 miles offshore and wreaked more than $40 million in damage to roads, buildings and power systems in Eureka, Arcata, Ferndale and other North Coast towns.

 
Hubble catches two asteroids colliding
The News - Science-Astronomy
February 04, 2010

A comet-like object has been created by the collision of two asteroids related to the one blamed for killing the dinosaurs millions of years ago.

The object, known as P/2010 A2, was circling 90 million miles from Earth in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter when it was spotted last week by the Hubble Space Telescope.

'The truth is we're still struggling to understand what this means,' lead scientist David Jewitt with the University of California at Los Angeles. 'It's most likely the result of a recent collision between two asteroids.

two asteroids collide hubble
 
Solar storms could disrupt 2012 Olympics
The News - Science-Astronomy
February 02, 2010
solar storms 2012 olympics

TVs around the world could go on the blink during the 2012 London Olympics, solar physicists warned today.

They were speaking ahead of the launch of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which will blast off on February 9.

Nasa's latest space mission will deliver high resolution images of the Sun ten times better than the average High-Definition television.

A picture using extreme ultra-violet light will be snapped every 0.75seconds. In a day the satellite will transmit the equivalent amount of data as 500,000 song downloads. It will produce more science data than any mission in Nasa history.

British scientists involved in the project said the observatory could help them predict solar storms that could disrupt communications on Earth.

This could prove crucial as solar activity is due to hit a peak in its eleven-year cycle during the Olympics in 2012.

 
New England earthquake watching
The News - Natural Disasters
February 02, 2010

In a one-story brick building built on bedrock, John E. Ebel monitors the size and heft of small earthquakes that rattle parts of New England every year.

For three decades, the Boston College professor and seismologist has recorded quakes around the region, sticking red pins into a large map that displays tremor clusters from Maine to Rhode Island. He distributes the information to a network of seismologists worldwide and worries, always, about what could happen if a damaging earthquake strikes New England.

“We definitely have the potential,’’ said Ebel, 56, director of Boston College’s Weston Observatory, a geophysical research laboratory. “We don’t know when the next earthquake will strike.’’

 
Another Yellowstone earthquake swarm
The News - Natural Disasters
February 01, 2010
yellowstone earthquake swarm super volcano

Yellowstone National Park is shaking again, but jitters seem few so far. Over eight days, more than 1,270 mostly tiny earthquakes have struck between Old Faithful and West Yellowstone. The strongest dozen or so have ranged between magnitudes 3.0 and 3.8.

That's strong enough to feel - barely. The vast majority have been too weak to be felt even nearby.

Likewise, online chatter about an imminent volcanic eruption in Yellowstone hasn't really picked up compared with the attention that a similar quake swarm drew just over a year ago.

"Perhaps we have done a better job in the past year or so helping the public understand that earthquake swarms are not unusual in Yellowstone," park spokesman Al Nash said Monday. The largest quakes in the current swarm have included two of magnitude 3.1 and one of magnitude 3.0 late Sunday and early Monday, according to the University of Utah, which helps monitor seismic activity in Yellowstone.

Those who've felt some of the recent quakes include Tim Townsend, a law enforcement ranger at Old Faithful. Most haven't been alarming, he said, although one last week "had me running to cover, for sure."

One of the world's largest volcanoes slumbers at the core of Yellowstone. The volcano last had a caldera -forming eruption 640,000 years ago and last spewed lava 70,000 years ago. Geologists say Yellowstone could erupt again , although the probability of an eruption within anyone's lifetime is extremely low.

 
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