It’s Windy up There

A huge tornado five times the size of Earth erupted on the sun’s surface, with superheated gases whirling at more than 100,000 miles per hour.

The tornado is up to two MILLION degrees celcius.

Dr. Huw Morgan, co-discoverer of the solar tornado, adds, ‘This unique and spectacular tornado must play a role in triggering global solar storms.’

‘This is perhaps the first time that such a huge solar tornado is filmed by an imager,’ says Dr. Xing Li, of Aberystwyth University.

Superheated gases as hot as 50,000 to 2,000,000  Kelvin (89,500 to 3,600,00F) were sucked from the root of a dense structure, called a prominence, and spiral up into the high atmosphere and travel about 200,000 kilometers (124,000 miles) for at least three hours.

 The tornadoes were observed on 25 September 2011.

The hot gases in the tornadoes have speeds as high as 300,000 km per hour (186,000 mph). Gas speeds of terrestrial tornadoes can reach 150 km/h (93 mph).

The tornadoes often occur at the root of huge coronal mass ejections. When heading toward the Earth, these coronal mass ejections can cause significant damage to the Earth’s space environment, satellites, even knock out the electricity grid.

The solar tornadoes drag winding magnetic field and electric currents into the high atmosphere. It is possible that the magnetic field and currents play a key role in driving the coronal mass ejections.

SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory)was launched in February 2010. The satellite is orbiting the Earth in a circular, geosynchronous orbit at an altitude of 36,000 kilometers (22,360 miles).

It monitors constantly solar variations so scientists can understand the cause of the change and eventually have a capability to predict the space weather.

Attribution: Daily Mail

Feeling the Heat

As promised, here’s the follow-up to “None of the Above”.

Current theories of the causes and impact of global warming have been thrown into question by a new study which shows that during medieval times the whole of the planet heated up.

It then cooled down naturally and there was even a ‘mini ice age’.

A team of scientists led by geochemist Zunli Lu from Syracuse University in New York, has found that contrary to the ‘consensus’, the ‘Medieval Warm Period’ approximately 500 to 1,000 years ago wasn’t just confined to Europe.

In fact, it extended all the way down to Antarctica – which means that the Earth has already experience global warming without the aid of human CO2 emissions.

At present the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) argues that the Medieval Warm Period was confined to Europe – therefore that the warming we’re experiencing now is a man-made phenomenon.

However, Professor Lu has shown that this isn’t true – and the evidence lies with a rare mineral called ikaite, which forms in cold waters.

‘Ikaite is an icy version of limestone,’ said Lu. ‘The crystals are only stable under cold conditions and actually melt at room temperature.’

It turns out the water that holds the crystal structure together – called the hydration water – traps information about temperatures present when the crystals formed.

This finding by Lu’s research team establishes, for the first time, ikaite as a reliable way to study past climate conditions.

The scientists studied ikaite crystals from sediment cores drilled off the coast of Antarctica. The sediment layers were deposited over 2,000 years.

The scientists were particularly interested in crystals found in layers deposited during the ‘Little Ice Age,’ approximately 300 to 500 years ago, and during the prior Medieval Warm Period.

Both climate events have been documented in Northern Europe, but studies have been inconclusive as to whether the conditions in Northern Europe extended to Antarctica.

Lu’s team found that in fact, they did.

They were able to deduce this by studying the amount of heavy oxygen isotopes found in the crystals.

During cool periods they are plentiful. During warm periods there aren’t.

‘We showed that the Northern European climate events influenced climate conditions in Antarctica,’ Lu says. ‘More importantly, we are extremely happy to figure out how to get a climate signal out of this peculiar mineral. A new proxy is always welcome when studying past climate changes.’

The research was recently published online in the journal Earth And Planetary Science Letters and will appear in print on April 1.

As evidence mounts that neither CO2 nor man is the cause of planetary warming, the question becomes; how long will the alarmists and false prophets continue to push this fallacy?

Attribution: Daily Mail

Bullseye

For most professional athletes the Olympic Games is the pinnacle of achievement, their ultimate goal.

And there is one archer who is quite literally chomping at the bit to get to London 2012.

Jeff Fabry, of Tulare, California, is one of the world’s best at his sport, a five-time Special Games world champion, and three-time Paralympics medallist.

But Fabry’s achievement is made all the more impressive by the fact that he has only one arm and one leg, having lost the two other limbs in a horrific motorcycle accident at the age of 15.

His life-changing injuries inspired him to learn how to fire arrows using his teeth, pulling them back by biting on a mouthpiece that he made from a nylon dog leash.

“My buddies were out hitting the hills hunting and I was stuck at home and I was like, no, I don’t like this, so I figured out a way to shoot and it happened to be with my teeth,” he told Fox News.

“It was trial and error to find what I considered to be the perfect mouthpiece, where I could be proficient.”

It’s the kind of thing that would give a dentist nightmares, but Fabry insisted: “I’ve been doing this for 13 years and my teeth still look and feel the same the first day I started. Everything is going good, luckily.”

Fabry will compete on the U.S Paralympics Team in London this summer but international success is not his only goal.

He teaches the sport he loves to members of the Wounded Warriors Project, the nonprofit whose mission is to help injured service members cope in civilian society.

“What I’m really proud of is being able to work with our vets who are coming back from the sandbox with different disabilities,” he said.

I got hurt before I could join the military, and this is kind of a way that I can give back to my country by helping our heroes.”

Jim Castaneda is one veteran to have benefited from Fabry’s passion and skill. A member of the Wounded Warriors, Castaneda suffered a traumatic brain injury and a stroke while stationed in the Philippines with the Navy.

He told the news channel:’It’s changed my life completely … I found something that I can do and I really enjoy it and love something now.’

“I’m not just sitting there anymore, like watching my life go by and feeling sorry for myself. Now I’m actually getting up and doing something for myself and trying something else.”

Fabry is gearing up to coach Team Navy Coast Guard in archery at the Warrior Games in Colorado Springs.

Teams from the Marines, Navy and Coast Guard, Army and Air Force compete against each other in a U.S Department of Defence competition that is similar to the Olympics.

Arribution: Daily Mail

Affordable Light Bulbs

Government Stupidity Defies Satire When a $50 Light Bulb Wins an Affordability Prize

 by: Daniel J. Mitchell

I’ve written about the government’s war on consumer-friendly light bulbs (and also similar attacks on working toilets and washing machines that actually clean), so I’m generally not surprised by bureaucratic nonsense.

But even I’m shocked the federal government gave an affordability award for a light bulb that costs $50. I’m not making this up. Here’s a blurb from ABC News.

The U.S. government has awarded appliance-maker Philips $10 million for devising an “affordable” alternative to today’s standard 60-watt incandescent bulb. That standard bulb sells for around $1. The Philips alternative sells for $50. Of course, the award-winner is no ordinary bulb. It uses only one-sixth the energy of an incandescent. And it lasts 30,000 hours–about 30 times as long. In fact, if you don’t drop it, it may last 10 years or more. But only the U.S. Government (in this case, the Department of Energy) could view a $50 bulb as cheap.

Isn’t that wonderful? My tax dollars were used to reward a company that produced a light bulb I can’t afford.

Lisa Benson has a very good cartoon about this light bulb, as well as the less-than-shocking news that Obamacare will be more costly than originally forecast.

Ok, I’m in Love!!

Anyone familiar with guns knows of the classic American pistol, the 45 cal. M1911 & the M1911A1. It’s still one of the most widely known and loved pistols, used in The Korean, Vietnam and both World Wars. John M. Browning designed the firearm which was the standard-issue side arm for the United States armed forces from 1911 to 1985.

The Colt pistol was formally adopted by the Army on March 29, 1911, thus gaining its designation, M1911 (Model 1911). It was adopted by the Navy and United States Marine Corps in 1913.

Originally manufactured only by Colt, demand for the firearm in the first World War saw the expansion of manufacture to the government-owned Springfield Armory.

Battlefield experience in the First World War led to some small external changes, completed in 1924. The new version received a modified type classification, M1911A1.

The differences in the M1911 and the upgraded M1911A1 were minor and consisted of a shorter trigger, cutouts in the frame behind the trigger, an arched mainspring housing, a longer grip safety spur,to prevent hammer bite, a wider front sight, a shorter spur on the hammer, and simplified grip checkering by eliminating the “Double Diamond” reliefs. You can spot the differences in the above picture. The internal components were all interchangable.

By the way, hammer bite describes the action of an external hammer pinching or poking the web of the operator’s shooting hand between the thumb and fore-finger when the gun is fired. Some handguns prone to this are the M1911 pistol and the Browning Hi-Power. It can be quite painful.

So how could a classic handgun such as this be improved upon?

Just Watch!

The Big Fat Oily Lie

Just today President Obama warned supporters that they would likely soon hear Republican calls of “drill, drill, drill” as election season heats up, and but warned that solely relying on new oil exploration would not solve America’s energy woes.

The President exclaimed to his uninformed supporters, “America uses more than 20 percent of the world’s oil. If we drilled every square inch of this country …. we would still have only 2 percent of the world’s known oil reserves.

“If you have got 2 and you need 20, there is a gap.”

Let’s put this myth to bed, once & for all. To be more accurate, I should say, let’s put this lie to bed. He is lying and he knows it. It’s that, or he is the most illinformed world leader on the planet. I’m sure it’s the former.

 

Scarce Oil? U.S. Has 60 Times More Than Obama Claims

By John Merline of Investors Business Daily [emphasis addded]

When he was running for the Oval Office four years ago amid $4-a-gallon gasoline prices, then-Sen. Barack Obama dismissed the idea of expanded oil production as a way to relieve the pain at the
pump.

“Even if you opened up every square inch of our land and our coasts to drilling,” he said. “America still has only 3% of the world’s oil reserves.” Which meant, he said, that the U.S. couldn’t affect global oil prices.

It’s the same rhetoric President Obama is using now, as gas prices hit $4 again, except now he puts the figure at 2%.

“With only 2% of the world’s oil reserves, we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices,” he said. “Not when we consume 20% of the world’s oil.”

The claim makes it appear as though the U.S. is an oil-barren nation, perpetually dependent on foreign oil and high prices unless we can cut our own use and develop alternative energy sources like algae.

But the figure Obama uses — proved oil reserves — vastly undercounts how much oil the U.S. actually contains. In fact, far from being oil-poor, the country is awash in vast quantities — enough to meet all the country’s oil needs for hundreds of years.

The U.S. has 22.3 billion barrels of proved reserves, a little less than 2% of the entire world’s proved reserves, according to the Energy Information Administration. But as the EIA explains, proved reserves “are a small subset of recoverable resources,” because they only count oil that companies are currently drilling for in existing fields.

When you look at the whole picture, it turns out that there are vast supplies of oil in the U.S., according to various government reports. Among them:

At least 86 billion barrels of oil in the Outer Continental Shelf yet to be discovered, according to the government’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

About 24 billion barrels in shale deposits in the lower 48 states, according to EIA.

Up to 2 billion barrels of oil in shale deposits in Alaska’s North Slope, says the U.S. Geological Survey.

Up to 12 billion barrels in ANWR, according to the USGS.

As much as 19 billion barrels in the Utah tar sands, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

Then, there’s the massive Green River Formation in Wyoming, which according to the USGS contains a stunning 1.4 trillion barrels of oil shale — a type of oil released from sedimentary rock after it’s heated.

A separate Rand Corp. study found that about 800 billion barrels of oil shale in Wyoming and neighboring states is “technically recoverable,” which means it could be extracted using existing technology. That’s more than triple the known reserves in Saudi Arabia.

All told, the U.S. has access to 400 billion barrels of crude that could be recovered using existing drilling technologies, according to a 2006 Energy Department report.

When you include oil shale, the U.S. has 1.4 trillion barrels of technically recoverable oil, according to the Institute for Energy Research, enough to meet all U.S. oil needs for about the next 200 years, without any imports.

And even this number could be low, since such estimates tend to go up over time.

Back in 1995, for example, the USGS figured there were 151 million barrels of oil in North Dakota’s Bakken formation. In 2008, it upped that estimate to 3 billion barrels, then to 4.3 billion barrels — a 25-fold increase. Now, some oil analysts say there could be as much as 20 billion barrels there.

And USGS in 2002 quadrupled its oil estimate in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve.

To be sure, energy companies couldn’t profitably recover all this oil — even at today’s prices — and what they could wouldn’t make it to market for years. But from the industry’s perspective, the real problem with domestic oil is that the government has roped off most of these supplies.

The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980, for example, put a huge swath of land off-limits to drilling. And in 1982, Congress blocked access to most of the oil in the Outer Continental Shelf. Much of the oil on federal lands is also off-limits.

Obama and others say the industry’s claim about lack of access isn’t true, since they aren’t even using many of the offshore leases they already have. The industry counters that this is misleading, since a company needs the lease before it can determine if any oil exists there — a potentially time-consuming process.

In any case, any attempt to get at these vast new oil supplies is sure to face fierce opposition from environmental groups worried about oil production’s direct impact on the environment, as well as global warming worries.

But given today’s prices, most of the public is willing to expand drilling offshore, in ANWR, and in shale oil reserves, according to the latest IBD/TIPP poll.

“This is not a geological problem — it’s a political problem,” said Dan Kish, senior vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research. “We’ve embargoed our own supplies.”

Killer Turbines

From Erica Ritz of The Blaze:

Continuing to survive primarily on federal handouts and subsidies, the wind energy movement has recently come under fire. While it is typically seen as a “clean” and “eco-friendly” alternative to fossil fuels, as the bird carcasses accumulate, the movement is starting to see closer scrutiny. According to Robert Bryce of the Wall Street Journal:

Over the past two decades, the federal government has prosecuted hundreds of cases against oil and gas producers and electricity producers for violating some of America’s oldest wildlife-protection laws: the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Eagle Protection Act.

But the Obama administration—like the Bush administration before it—has never prosecuted the wind industry despite myriad examples of widespread, unpermitted bird kills by turbines. A violation of either law can result in a fine of up to $250,000 and imprisonment for two years…

Last June, the Los Angeles Times reported that about 70 golden eagles are being killed per year by the wind turbines at Altamont Pass, about 20 miles east of Oakland, Calif. A 2008 study funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency estimated that about 2,400 raptors, including burrowing owls, American kestrels, and red-tailed hawks—as well as about 7,500 other birds, nearly all of which are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act—are being killed every year by the turbines at Altamont.

…Bats are getting whacked, too. The Pennsylvania Game Commission estimates that wind turbines killed more than 10,000 bats in the state in 2010.

ExxonMobil pleaded guilty in federal court…to the deaths of 85 birds [not eagles] at its operations in several states, according to the Department of Justice. The birds were protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and Exxon agreed to pay $600,000 in fines and fees. In July, the PacifiCorp utility of Oregon had to pay $10.5 million in fines, restitution and improvements to their equipment after 232 eagles were killed by running into power lines in Wyoming, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

That is far fewer than the estimated 10,000 birds (nearly all protected by the migratory bird law) that are being killed every year at Altamont…

Despite the deleterious effect that the windmills are having on wildlife, the wind industry is pushing to keep both its carte blanche and generous subsidies. According to Eric Glitzenstein, a Washington D.C.-based lawyer who wrote a petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, “It‘s absolutely clear that there’s been a mandate from the top” not to prosecute the wind industry for violating wildlife laws. “To me,” he said, “that’s appalling public policy.”

In 2011, wind energy was the second-largest recipient of the government’s $24 billion in energy subsidies. According CNN Money, proponents say that, “while renewable technologies may be more expensive now, federal support provides a crucial market and…given time and economies of scale, renewable technologies will eventually be able to compete with fossil fuel.”

For the Person who has Everything!

Bet you don’t have one of these? Bet you’ll want one? I know I do. How cool is this?

Could this be the best ever use for a deceased jellyfish? A bright spark has found an ingenious use for the corpses of the sea creatures: making them into glow-in-the-dark lamps.

In Tennesee, ‘The Amazing Jellyfish (theamazingjellyfish.com)’ take the bioluminescent bodies of creatures that have died of natural causes and encase them in resin, thus preserving not just their bodies, but also their incredible glow-in-the-dark properties.

Thanks to the phosphur proteins in their bodies – part of the defence mechanism that they use to frighten predators – jellyfish absorb light naturally, and emit it with an ethereal blueish glow when under darkened conditions.

How it Works

After a jellyfish dies, the firm freeze its body using liquid nitrogen, which they then set in crystalline resin – a special sort of epoxy that can withstand working at ultra low temperatures – creating a cast of the body, which is set in an ovoid mould shaped like the resulting lamp.

No extra light is needed – the natural radiance the jellyfish emit in a darkened room has been absorbed during the daylight hours.

However, some of the lamps come with a special base that can add an eerie glow to the jellyfish so that it can also be used as a more traditional light.

For the squeamish, it is worth pointing out that the transparent resin, crystalline epoxy, is strong and shatterproof, so will not break if dropped.

Next Generation Xbox

Anyone who plays video games or has children who do so, may not be thrilled with the next generation Xbox console.

The follow-up to the Xbox 360 is due out next year – and the machine will no longer have a disc drive, according to a source within Microsoft.

Instead, games will download to the hi-tech new console, or gamers can carry them on a memory card.

No exact release date has been revealed, but the leak lends weight to the rumor that Microsoft may show off the new Xbox at the games industry conference E3 in Los Angeles in May.

The 2013 launch date is reportedly ‘confirmed’.

Nintendo will show off its ‘next-generation’ Wii U at the same conference.

The new Wii U console is said to be twice as powerful as Xbox 360, and Nintendo has already shown off ia tablet-style controller with a built-in screen.

Microsoft is reportedly briefing game industry partners with information about its own machine.

The lack of a disc drive is not surprising. Microsoft already sells a huge amount of games via its Xbox Live internet service and offers web-TV and downloadable films via services built into Xbox Live.

The Gaming industry trade magazine MCV reported the leak from an unnamed source, who claimed the information was covered by a strict non-disclosure agreement.

“Although the console will not include a disc drive, it will offer compatibility with some sort of interchangeable solid-state card storage. It is not yet known whether this will be proprietary or a more standard format such as SD,” said MCV’s Ben Parfitt.

“The omission of a disc drive signifies the beginning of a new era for games consoles and represents a potentially savage blow to the already beleaguered video games retail sector.”

Companies that thrive on the sale of new and used discs, such as Gamestop, will most certainly suffer greatly.

One of the benefits of video game discs is being able to trade them in for credit toward a new or used game. Without that perk, this new system may make gaming a more expensive proposition.

The Secrets Out

The U.S Air Force’s highly secret unmanned space plane was supposed to stay in space for nine months, but it’s now been there for a year and three days – and no one knows what it’s doing.

The experimental craft has been circling Earth at 17,000 miles per hour and was due to land in California in December.

However the mission of the X-37B orbital test vehicle was extended – for unknown reasons.

The plane resembles a mini space shuttle and is the second to fly in space.

The first one landed last December at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California after more than seven months in orbit.

The 29-foot, solar-powered craft had an original mission of 270 days.

The Air Force said the second mission was to further test the technology but the ultimate purpose has largely remained a mystery.

The vehicle’s systems program director, Lieutenant-colonel Tom McIntyre, told the Los Angeles Times in December: “We initially planned for a nine-month mission. Keeping the X-37 in orbit will provide us with additional experimentation opportunities and allow us to extract the maximum value out of the mission.”

However, many sceptics think that the vehicle’s mission is defense or spy-related.

There are rumours circulating that the craft has been kept in space to spy on the new Chinese space station, Tiangong.

However, analysts have pointed out that surveillance would be tricky, since the spacecraft would rush past each other at thousands of meters per second.

And Brian Weeden, from the Secure World Foundation, pointed out to the BBC: “If the U.S. really wanted to observe Tiangong, it has enough assets to do that without using X-37B.”

Last May, amateur astronomers were able to detect the orbital pattern of the first X-37B which included flyovers of North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, heightening the suspicion that the vehicle was being used for surveillance.

Other industry analysts have speculated that the Air Force is just making use of the X-37B’s amazing fuel efficiency and keeping it in space for as long as possible to show off its credentials and protect it from budget cuts.

After all, under budget cuts for 2013 to 2017 proposed by the Obama administration, the office that developed the X-37 will be shut down.

 

According to X-37B manufacturer Boeing, the space plane operates in low-earth orbit, between 110 and 500 miles above earth. By comparison, the International Space Station orbits at about 220 miles.

The current flight launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in March.

Attribution: Ted Thornhill