Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pythons have stranglehold on Florida Everglades ecosystem

USA TODAY - It sounded like a joke when the news first hit in 2000: Giant Burmese pythons were invading the Everglades. Now scientists have measured the real impact of the arrival of this voracious species, and the news is troubling. In areas where the pythons have established themselves, marsh rabbits and foxes can no longer be found. Sightings of raccoons are down 99.3%, opossums 98.9% and white-tailed deer 94.1%, according to a paper out Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "What if the stock market had declined that much? Think of the adjectives you'd use for that," says Gordon Rodda, an invasive-species specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) who published research in 2008 showing that Burmese pythons could conceivably expand across the southern portion of the United States.


Monday, January 30, 2012

SKYWATCH: Chance of Auroras

NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of minor geomagnetic storms on Jan. 30th in response to a possible glancing blow from a coronal mass ejection (CME). The CME is from last Friday's off-center X-flare. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

On Jan. 28th, pilot Brian Whittaker was flying 34,000 feet over Greenland when he saw the Moon shining down on a vibrant blanket of auroras:


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Researchers find cancer in ancient Egyptian mummy

CAIRO (AP) — A professor from American University in Cairo says discovery of prostate cancer in a 2,200-year-old mummy indicates the disease was caused by genetics, not environment.

The genetics-environment question is key to understanding cancer.

AUC professor Salima Ikram, a member of the team that studied the mummy in Portugal for two years, said Sunday the mummy was of a man who died in his forties.

She said this was the second oldest known case of prostate cancer.

"Living conditions in ancient times were very different; there were no pollutants or modified foods, which leads us to believe that the disease is not necessarily only linked to industrial factors," she said.

A statement from AUC says the oldest known case came from a 2,700 year-old skeleton of a king in Russia.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Baltic Sea ‘UFO’ Back in Mainstream News

On January 26, 2012, CNN filed a report and video–posted below–on the mysterious disk shaped ‘UFO’ object–60 meters across, the size of a jumbo jet–discovered on sonar in the Baltic Sea, June 19, 2011. The object, 285 feet below the surface of the Bothnia Gulf between Sweden and Finland with what looks to be a 985 foot ‘track’. The salvage team that discovered the object and a smaller, similar object ‘nearby’ will have to wait until May, in calmer seas, to solve the mystery of what’s on the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

[Photo-Image: Mystery Circular Object discovered on the bottom of Baltic Sea, June 19, 2011]


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Solar storm's effects to lash Earth until Wednesday

By Paul Rincon Science editor, BBC News website - Our planet is being bombarded by high-energy particles unleashed by the strongest solar storm since 2005, scientists say. The charged particles are mostly a concern for satellites - which they can disrupt - and astronauts. But they can also cause communication problems for aircraft travelling near the poles. The geomagnetic storm has been caused by a potent flare that erupted from the Sun at 0400 GMT on Monday. The effects are likely to be felt on Earth throughout Wednesday. A more benign effect of the outpouring of particles is the ability to see aurorae, or "Northern lights", farther south than is usually possible.


Monday, January 23, 2012

SOLAR ALERT: Radiation Storm In Progress

Solar protons accelerated by this morning's M9-class solar flare are streaming past Earth. On the NOAA scale of radiation storms, this one ranks S3, which means it could, e.g., cause isolated reboots of computers onboard Earth-orbiting satellites and interfere with polar radio communications.

SKYWATCH: Tornadoes Strike Alabama

Sean Breslin, weather.com - It was a twisted reminder of April's tornado outbreak for many in Alabama Monday morning, as tornadoes made their return to the state in the wee hours. Deaths were confirmed and towns near Birmingham saw widespread damage. Here is a photo from the area that took the brunt of these severe storms.


2012 January 23 20:50:14 UTC -
1246 km (774 miles) ESE of Miami, Florida
Location 19.572°N, 70.073°W
Depth 7.4 km (4.6 miles)
Monday, January 23, 2012 at 20:50:14 UTC
Monday, January 23, 2012 at 04:50:14 PM at epicenter

Thursday, January 19, 2012

SKY ALERT: Earth-directed solar flare

Active sunspot 1401 erupted today, Jan. 19th, between 15:15 and 16:30 UT. The long-duration blast produced an M3-class solar flare and a CME that appears to be heading toward Earth.
NASA's twin STEREO spacecraft recorded an impressive CME emerging from the blast site. Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab confirm that the CME is heading for Earth, and they say strong geomagnetic storms are possible when the cloud arrives during the late hours of Jan. 21st. Their animated forecast track predicts an impact on Jan. 21st at 22:30 UT,


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mars rocks fell in Africa last July

WASHINGTON (AP) — Scientists are confirming a recent and rare invasion from Mars: meteorite chunks from the red planet that fell in Morocco last July.

This is only the fifth time scientists have confirmed chemically Martian meteorites that people witnessed falling. The small rock refugees were seen in a fireball in the sky six months ago, but they were not discovered on the ground in North Africa until the end of December.

Scientists and collectors of meteorites are ecstatic, and already the rocks are fetching big money because they are among the rarest things on Earth.

A special committee of meteorite experts, which includes some NASA scientists, confirmed the test results Tuesday. They certified that 15 pounds (7 kilograms) of meteorite recently collected came from Mars. The biggest rock weighs over 2 pounds (1 kilogram)

Astronomers think millions of years ago something big smashed into Mars and sent rocks hurtling through the solar system. After a long journey through space, one of those rocks eventually landed on Earth. It plunged into Earth's atmosphere, splitting into smaller pieces, and one chunk shattered into shards when it hit the ground.

This is an important and unique hands-on look at Mars for scientists trying to learn about the planet's potential for life. So far, no NASA or Russian spacecraft has returned bits of Mars, so the only Martian samples scientists can examine are those that come here in a meteorite shower.

Most other samples had been on Earth for millions of years, or at the very least for decades, which makes them tainted with Earth materials and life. These new rocks, while still likely contaminated because they have been on Earth for months, still are purer and better to study.

The last time a Martian meteorite fell and was found fresh was in 1962. All the Martian rocks on Earth add up to under 240 pounds (110 kilograms).

The new samples were scooped up by dealers from those who found them. Even before the official certification, scientists at NASA, museums and universities scrambled to buy or trade these meteorites.

"It's a free sample from Mars, that's what these are, except you have to pay the dealers for it," said University of Alberta meteorite expert Chris Herd, who heads the committee that certified the discovery.

He already has bought a chunk of meteorite and said he was thrilled just to hold it, calling the rock "really spectacular."

One of the principal decisions the scientists made Tuesday was to connect these rocks officially to the July fiery plunge witnessed by people and captured on video. The announcement and naming of these meteorites — called Tissint — came from the International Society for Meteoritics and Planetary Science, which is the official group of 950 scientists that confirms and names meteorites.

Meteorite dealer Darryl Pitt, who sold a chunk to Herd, said he charges from $11,000 to $22,500 an ounce, and he has sold most of his already. At that price, the new Martian rock costs about 10 times more per ounce than gold.



The Meteoritical Society: http://bit.ly/xDh6zz Tony Irving's list of Martian meteorites: http://bit.ly/yl7jBD

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How to speak Apocalypse: A terminology primer

By Aaron Sagers, a New York-based entertainment writer and nationally syndicated pop-culture columnist. - It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel confused. Instead of a lone doomsday-sayer on a city street corner with a sandwich board, the news media and popular culture have taken to talking about the end being nigh. Especially with the 2012 Mayan calendar predictions, the big one has become big business. But not all end-of-days scenarios are equal within the world of dedicated apocalypse nerds. There are multiple theories that go beyond the zombocalypse or rise of the machines, and even the words themselves that are used to describe humanity’s last hurrah have different meanings, depending on the groups that use them. To understand the nuances of the language of the end times, we compiled the following key phrases from the nerd set as a glossary to go out on, along with the help of John R. Hall, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Davis, and author of “Apocalypse: From Antiquity to the Empire of Modernity.”
Apocalypse - In Greek, "apocalypse" means something like “disclosure of things previously hidden.” “That being the title of the [Christian] Book of Revelation, it’s often taken to mean the revelation of the last things before God’s final judgment,” Hall said. Apocalyptic movements emerge many times through history where profound changes are said to occur and a new world is dawning. But, Hall added, “those movements are not generally about the end of the world in the ultimate sense.”
Armageddon - “End times” is simply a popular usage for talking about the end of the world, and the same thing can be said for “doomsday.” "Armageddon" is a specific reference to the Book of Revelation or apocalypse in the Bible's New Testament. Said Hall: “It is the final battle between good and evil that comes just before God’s judgment at the end of the world.”


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

ALERT: Powerful quake hits off western Indonesia

(AP) – 25 minutes ago JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A powerful earthquake has hit waters of western Indonesia, prompting local officials to issue a tsunami warning. The U.S. Geological survey said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.3 and struck 260 miles (420 kilometers) off the coast of Aceh province. It was centered 18 miles (30 kilometers) beneath the ocean floor. Arief Akhir, an official with Indonesia's geological agency, said a tsunami warning has been issued. Indonesia is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin. A giant quake off the country on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people, half of them in Aceh.

Monday, January 9, 2012

John 3:16 message delivered by Tim Tebow's arm

January 9, 2012 - John 3:16 was the Bible verse that Tim Tebow was once banned from painting in tiny script onto his eye black. But the Denver Broncos quarterback nonetheless delivered that Biblical message to the masses Sunday during an overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The score was 29-23. But the game was significant for other -- some might say supernatural -- game-time numbers: He passed for 316 yards against the Steelers, and set an NFL playoff record with 31.6 yards per completion. For Christians, John 3:16, of course, is arguably the single most important verse in the Bible. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 was the most Googled search term for much of Sunday evening and into Monday morning, as sports fans and non-sports fans alike tried to make sense of the statistical coincidences (and maybe brush up on the Bible). Oddly enough, Tebow himself did not seem to make a connection between his game stats and the Bible verse that he used to paint in white on top of his eye black until the National Football League barred all such personal messages. But he did praise the Lord, as he has done throughout his career, a practice that has gained him plenty of fans and critics. "First and foremost I just want to thank my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. He’s done so much in my life," Tebow said to the media after the game. Although he can no longer paint John 3:16 on his game face, Tebow still keeps it close, using it to sign off a message to fans on his website.