Four Dwarfs of the Apocolypse

The shattered remains of planets that bear a striking resemblance to our own Earth have been found around white dwarf stars – offering a vision of what will one day happen to our planet.

University of Warwick astrophysicists found four white dwarves surrounded by the dust of shattered planets.

White dwarfs are the final stage of life of stars like our Sun – once the thermonuclear furnace inside a star ‘burns out’.

 Using the Hubble Space Telescope to carry out the biggest survey to date of the chemical composition of the atmospheres of white dwarf stars, the researchers found that the most frequently occurring elements in the dust around these four white dwarfs were oxygen, magnesium, iron and silicon — the four elements that make up roughly 93 percent of the Earth.

It’s evidence that the small, dense stars are surrounded by the ‘corpses’ of worlds they’ve ‘eaten’.

At least one of the stars is in the process of sucking in the planet’s core – rich in iron, nickel and sulphur – at a rate of around a million kilos a second. 

Professor Boris Gänsicke of the Department of Physics at the University of Warwick, who led the study, said the destructive process which caused the discs of dust around these distant white dwarfs is likely to one day play out in our own solar system.

‘What we are seeing today in these white dwarfs several hundred light-years away could well be a snapshot of the very distant future of the Earth.

‘As stars like our Sun reach the end of their life, they expand to become red giants when the nuclear fuel in their cores is depleted.

‘When this happens in our own solar system, billions of years from now, the Sun will engulf the inner planets Mercury and Venus. It’s unclear whether the Earth will also be swallowed up by the Sun in its red giant phase — but even if it survives, its surface will be roasted.

‘During the transformation of the Sun into a white dwarf, it will lose a large amount of mass, and all the planets will move further out. This may destabilize the orbits and lead to collisions between planetary bodies as happened in the unstable early days of our solar system.

‘This may even shatter entire terrestrial planets, forming large amounts of asteroids, some of which will have chemical compositions similar to those of the planetary core. In our solar system, Jupiter will survive the late evolution of the Sun unscathed, and scatter asteroids, new or old, towards the white dwarf.

However an even more significant observation was that this material also contained an extremely low proportion of carbon, which matched very closely that of the Earth and the other rocky planets orbiting closest to our own Sun.

This is the first time that such low proportions of carbon have been measured in the atmospheres of white dwarf stars polluted by debris.

This clear evidence that these stars once had at least one rocky exoplanet which they have now destroyed, the observations must also pinpoint the last phase of the death of these worlds.

The atmosphere of a white dwarf is made up of hydrogen and/or helium, so any heavy elements that come into their atmosphere are dragged downwards to their core and out of sight within a matter of days by the dwarf’s high gravity.

Given this, the astronomers must literally be observing the final phase of the death of these worlds as the material rains down on the stars at rates of up to 1 million kilograms every second.

Not only is this clear evidence that these stars once had rocky exoplanetary bodies which have now been destroyed, the observations of one particular white dwarf, PG0843+516, may also tell the story of the destruction of these worlds.

This star stood out from the rest owing to the relative overabundance of the elements iron, nickel and sulphur in the dust found in its atmosphere. Iron and nickel are found in the cores of terrestrial planets, as they sink to the center owing to the pull of gravity during planetary formation, and so does sulphur thanks to its chemical affinity to iron.
Therefore, researchers believe they are observing White Dwarf PG0843+516 in the very act of swallowing up material from the core of a rocky planet that was large enough to undergo differentiation, similar to the process that separated the core and the mantle of the Earth.

The University of Warwick led team surveyed more than 80 white dwarfs within a few hundred light-years of the Sun, using the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph onboard the Hubble Space Telescope.

Empathetic Canines

Your dog might understand you more than you think.

It appears dogs can ‘catch’ yawns from humans – but it seems to work best when there’s a bond between dog and man.

Dogs yawn even when they only hear the sound of their owners doing the same, researchers have found.

A study found that nearly half of all dogs yawned when played a recording of a human being making such a noise.

But when the yawn played belonged to their owners, the canines were five times more likely than if the voice belonged to a stranger.

The researchers said it was further proof that dogs empathize with their owners and understand what they are going through.

In her report behavioral biologist Karine Silva, the lead researcher, said: ‘These results suggest that dogs have the capacity to empathize with humans’.

Previous studies have found that dogs are among the few non-human animals to yawn – others include macaques, baboons and chimpanzees.

When somebody ‘catches’ another person’s yawn it has long been taken as a sign you understand what they are going through – and are tired as well.

To see if canines do the same researchers from University of Porto in Portugal tested 29 dogs which had lived with their owners for at least six months.

They recorded the owners yawning and played the recordings to their dogs, along with the yawn of an unfamiliar woman and a control sound, which was a yawn noise played backwards.

The dogs were given two sessions one week apart and the number of yawns for each noise was monitored.

The results showed that when dogs heard their owners they were by far more likely to yawn than under any other set of circumstances.

Scientists who were not involved in the study said it gave new insight into human and dog relations.

Evan McLean, a Ph.D. student at Duke University’s Canine Cognition Center in Durham, North Carolina, told Science Now: ‘This study tells us something new about the mechanisms underlying contagious yawning in dogs.

‘As in humans, dogs can catch this behavior using their ears alone’.

But Ádám Miklósi, an ethologist at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, raised a note of scepticism and said that previous studies showed dogs looked guilty even when they were not.

He and said: ‘Using behaviors as indicators will only show some similarity in behavior, but it will never tell us whether canine empathy, whatever this is, matches human empathy.

‘Dogs can simulate very well different forms of social interest that could mislead people to think they are controlled by the same mental processes, but they may not always understand the complexity of human behavior.’

The research will be published in the July issue of Animal Cognition.

Attribution: Daily Mail

This Just In…Lenin Murdered!

The founder of Russian communism Vladamir Lenin died after being poisoned by his political successor Joseph Stalin, according to a sensational new theory.

Russian historian Lev Lurie, believes that while Lenin was already in poor health having suffered several strokes, Stalin may have finished him off after a bitter feud.

Lenin, who had initially supported Stalin’s rise to power, later began aligning himself with Leon Trotsky.

In notes dictated before his death, Lenin criticizes Stalin’s rude manners and ambitious nature.

He even suggested that Stalin should be removed from his position of General Secretary of the Communist Party.

Poisoning would later become Stalin’s preferred method for dealing with his enemies, Lurie points out.

He added: ‘The funny thing is that the brain of Lenin still is preserved in Moscow, so we can investigate.’

Popular theory maintains that Lenin died from the sexually-transmitted disease syphilis.

His embalmed body still lies on public display in a Red Square mausoleum almost 20 years after the collapse of the communist state he helped bring to life.

Mr Lurie and UCLA neurologist Dr. Harry Vinters reviewed Lenin’s records for an annual conference at the University of Maryland School of Medicine on famous people’s deaths.

Dr Vinters put forward a separate theory, maintaining that stress or a family medical history could have accounted for Lenin’s death

Prior to his death, the 53-year-old Soviet leader’s health had been growing worse over time.

In 1921, he forgot the words of a major speech and he had to learn to speak again and write with his left hand after one stroke.

A subsequent major stroke later left him paralyzed on one side and unable to speak.

An autopsy found blood vessels in his brain were extremely hardened, results that have been difficult to understand, said Dr. Philip Mackowiak, who organizes the yearly event.

‘Number one, he’s so young and number two, he has none of the important risk factors,’ Mackowiak said.

Lenin didn’t smoke – he never let smokers near him. He also didn’t have diabetes, wasn’t overweight and the autopsy didn’t find any evidence of high blood pressure, Mackowiak said.

There was ‘considerable suspicion’ among Russians at the time of Lenin’s death that syphilis was to blame, Mackowiak said.

However, family history appears to have worked more against Lenin, Vinters said.

Lenin’s embalmed body still lies on public display in a Red Square mausoleum almost 20 years after the collapse of the communist state he helped bring to life.

Lenin was treated for syphilis using the primitive medications available at the time, and while the sexually transmitted disease can cause strokes, there is no evidence from his symptoms or the autopsy that was the case with Lenin, Vinters said.

The Soviet leader’s father also died at 54 and both may have been predisposed to hardening of the arteries.

Stress also is a risk factor for strokes, and there’s no question the communist revolutionary was under plenty of that, the neurologist said.

‘People were always trying to assassinate him, for example.’ Dr Vinters said.

Dr Vinters, who reviewed autopsy records and the leader’s clinical history, said toxicology tests that might have revealed poisoning were not conducted during the autopsy.

Reports from the time also show Lenin was active and talking a few hours before his death.

‘And then he experienced a series of really, really bad convulsions which is quite unusual for someone who has a stroke,’ Vinters said.

The conference is held yearly at the school, where researchers in the past have re-examined the diagnoses of figures including King Tut, Christopher Columbus, Simon Bolivar and Abraham Lincoln.

Attribution: Mail Online

The Threat of Global Warming…Deniers

By:

In 2006, then climate change enthusiast James Lovelock believed that “before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.” The 92-year-old scientist is now in the recanting phase of his life. He admits that some of the language in his 2006 book Revenge of Gaia had been over the top. He admits that if he were writing today he would be more cautious.

It’s a little late now that laws are being implemented to curtail what was said to be “scientific fact.”

More than a century ago, John William Draper made the unsupported claim that scientific “opinions on every subject are continually liable to modification, from the irresistible advance of human knowledge.”[1] This wasn’t true then and it’s not true today.

In reality, scientists for any number of reasons often oppose many new scientific theories. There is continued scientific debate over the causes or even the reality of human-caused global warming, whether oil is a “fossil” fuel or a renewable abiotic resource, [2] the medical benefits of embryonic stem-cells, and much more. A lot of it has to do with grant money.

These debates can be downright hostile as charges and counter charges are lobbed from scientific strongholds where the claim is made that there is no room for debate. Consider the Inquisition-like reaction to those who question the certainty of global warming:

Scientists who dissent from the alarmism [over global warming] have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse.

Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis. . . . In Europe, Henk Tennekes was dismissed as research director of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Society after questioning the scientific underpinnings of global warming. Aksel Winn-Nielsen, former director of the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization, was tarred by Bert Bolin, first head of the IPCC, as a tool of the coal industry for questioning climate alarmism. Respected Italian professors Alfonso Sutera and Antonio Speranza disappeared from the debate in 1991, apparently losing climate-research funding for raising questions.[3]

Some have gone so far as to propose that “global warming deniers” are aiding and abetting a global holocaust and should be prosecuted. Australian columnist Margo Kingston “has proposed outlawing ‘climate change denial.’ ‘David Irving is under arrest in Austria for Holocaust denial,’ she wrote. ‘Perhaps there is a case for making climate change denial an offense. It is a crime against humanity, after all.’ Others have suggested that climate change deniers should be put on trial in the future, Nuremberg-style, and made to account for their attempts to cover up the ‘global warming . . . Holocaust.’”[4] These arguments are being made by those within the secular scientific community. Follow the money. 

There’s a new Inquisition in operation. If you don’t hold to the agreed-upon theories, then you will not be hired, and if you already have a position, there is a good chance you will lose it if you express your opinion, especially if that opinion goes against a theory that might jeopardize money that flows from government grants. Stephen Jay Gould has written: “The stereotype of a fully rational and objective ‘scientific method,’ with individual scientists as logical (and interchangeable) robots, is self-serving mythology.”[5] Scientists are just like everybody else. They want the same things.

We shouldn’t be surprised that climate scientists might fudge the evidence to keep the grant money coming in. Who’s really getting harmed? Anyway, the kids need new shoes and an investment portfolio so they can get into the best universities to learn how to game the system.

Gary Sutton, writing in an online article for Forbes, makes the point:

You can’t blame these scientists for sucking up to the fed’s mantra du jour. Scientists live off grants. Remember how Galileo recanted his preaching about the earth revolving around the sun? He, of course, was about to be barbecued by his leaders. Today’s scientists merely lose their cash flow. Threats work [6].

Of course, they can be blamed when they claim that they are doing real science, there is no contrary evidence, and what contrary evidence they do find they suppress it. So the next time someone dogmatically asserts that the majority of scientists believe in Global Warming, ask your antagonist how much grant money he’s getting?

Notes:

1.       John William Draper, History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1875), vi. []

2.      Jerome R. Corsi and Craig R. Smith, Black Gold Stranglehold (Nashville, TN: WND Books, 2005). []

3.      Richard Lindsen, “Climate of Fear: Global-Warming Alarmists Intimidate Dissenting Scientists into Silence,” The Wall Street Journal (April 12, 2006): www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110008220 []

4.      Brendan O’Neill, “Global warming: the chilling effect on free speech” (October 6, 2006): www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/1782/ []

5.      Stephen Jay Gould, “In the Mind of the Beholder,” Natural History (February 1994), 103:14. []

Gary Sutton, “The Fiction of Climate Science,” Forbes.com (December 4, 2009). []

To Boldly Go

 More than three decades after launching, NASA’s workhorse spacecraft is now close to the edge of our solar system.

According to recent research published in Geophysical Letters, the probe is now 111 astronomical units from the sun – meaning it is 111 times further from the sun than it is from the Earth.

Voyager 1 has been exploring the fringes of the solar system since 2004 – and it is now close to the very edge of our solar system, affording the first-ever ‘alien’s eye’ view of our planet.

The probe is still detecting ‘spikes’ in the intensity of cosmic ray electrons – which lead scientists to think it’s still within the ‘heliosheath’, the very outer edge of our solar system.

Voyager 1 still has a little way

V’GER

  to go before it completely exits the solar system and becomes the first manmade probe to cross into interstellar space, or the vast space between stars.

 The spacecraft has enough battery power to last until 2020, but scientists think it will reach interstellar space before that – in a matter of several months to years.

Chief scientist Ed Stone of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory said the timing is unclear because no spacecraft has ever ventured this far.

‘The journey continues,’ Stone told a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. For the past year, Voyager 1 used its instruments to explore the new region.

It appeared to be the cosmic doldrums where solar winds streaming out from the sun at 1 million mph have dramatically eased and high-energy particles from outside are seeping in  a sign that Voyager 1 is at the doorstep of interstellar space.

Scientists expect to see several telltale signs when Voyager 1 finally crosses the boundary including a change in the magnetic field direction and the type of wind. Interstellar wind is slower, colder and denser than solar wind.

Even with certain expectations, Stone warned that the milestone won’t be cut-and-dried.

‘We will be confused when it first happens,’ Stone said.

Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, were launched in 1977 to tour the outer planets including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. After their main mission ended, both headed toward interstellar space in opposite directions. Voyager 2 is traveling slower than Voyager 1 and is currently 9 billion away miles from the sun.

Give Me Some Water

I am not a big fan (pardon the pun) of wind turbines but this is pretty cool.

Wind turbines can now provide drinking water in humid climates following a breakthrough by a French engineering firm.

Eole Water modified  typical electricity-generating turbines to allow them to distill drinking water out of the air in a bid to help developing countries solve their water needs.

A prototype in Abu Dhabi already creates 62 liters (16.5 gallons) of water an hour, and Eole hopes to sell turbines generating a thousand liters a day later this year.

Thibault Janin, director of marketing at Eole Water, said: ‘This technology could enable rural areas to become self-sufficient in terms of water supply.
‘As the design and capabilities develop, the next step will be to create turbines that can provide water for small cities or areas with denser populations.’

The turbine works in the same way as the turbines currently seen dotting horizons around the world – and the electricity produced also helps power the water manufacturing process.

Air gets sucked into the nose of the turbine and is directed to a cooling compressor. The humidity is then extracted from the air and condensed and collected.

The water then travels down stainless steel pipes under the forces of gravity into a storage tank, where – with some filtering and purification – it is then ready to drink, wash, or cultivate with.

Mr Janin told CNN that one generator producing 1,000 liters a day is ‘enough to provide water for a village or town of 2,000 to 3,000 people’.

He said communities in Africa and South America, and remote islands in Asia with little access to safe drinking water, would be the types of communities who stood to benefit the most from the technology.

He added: ‘If you think of Indonesia, it has (thousands of) islands and they cannot centralize their water supply … the geographic makeup of the country makes it impossible.

‘This technique could enable them to overcome these problems and make the islands self-sufficient in a way that doesn’t harm the environment.’
But anyone ready to get their checkbook out should note the cost – around $650,000 per turbine. However Janin noted that prices would fall as economies of scale came into play.

He added: ‘We have just started the commercial aspect of this product but the price is not that expensive when you compare it with the long term solution that it gives.’

Eole Water said their priorities in the design were maximum water production, energy independence, low maintenance, logistical flexibility and no environmental impact.

The turbines have a life expectancy of 20 years.

Attribution: Eddie Wrenn

Europa gets Drilled

A laser-powered drill could be used to penetrate the thick layers of ice on Jupiter’s frozen moon Europa, allowing robot probes to explore the oceans beneath.

The problem scientists who hope to study the oceans beneath the crust of Europa have faced has always been the amount of energy needed to melt through the miles of ice.

Batteries would not last long enough, even a small nuclear reactor would be too big, and solar power would be absolutely useless so deep in the depths of the moon’s oceans.

But the VALKYRIE drill would leave its bulky power plant on the surface of the moon, with a high-powered laser shooting down a fibre-optic cable to run the device.

Once it had penetrated icy crust of Europa, it could then explore the oceans beneath collecting and analysing samples before melting its way back to the surface, sealing the hole behind it.

Inventor and explorer Bill Stone unveiled the design yesterday at Nasa’s Astrobiology Science Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

He told Wired Science: ‘Our modest goal over the next three years is to use a 5,000-watt laser to send a cryobot through up to 250 meters of ice.’

‘All the data show there are no show-stoppers for doing that. But from my standpoint, this is child’s play compared to what we could do.’

Dr Stone’s team combined several simultaneous advances in different fields, where researchers weren’t necessarily aware of each others’ work.

Bart Hogan, an optics expert and principal engineer on the project, told Wired: ‘It’s like you have all these groups making lenses for better eyeglasses, and someone says, “Hey, we can put these lenses together and build a telescope,”‘

With a doctorate in structural engineering and 11 patents to his credit, Dr Stone has already designed a range of robot explorers, of which VALKYRIE is just the latest.

His first robot, DEPTHX, descended deep into flooded Mexican hydrothermal springs to to find and collect samples of previously unknown microbial species between 2003 and 2007.

The next, called ENDURANCE, did the same thing in a freshwater lake hidden beneath a permanent ice cap in Antarctica in 2008 and 2009, creating the first 3-D chemistry map of a sub-glacial lake.

It was while testing ENDURANCE in advance of the Antarctic mission that Dr Stone came up with the novel power solution for VALKYRIE.

ENDURANCE used a tiny fibre optic cable – thinner than a strand of human hair – to communicate with the team sitting at the surface.

Dr Stone was suddenly struck with the idea that a much bigger cable could carry immense amounts of energy in the form of photons.

Researching the possibilities, he found that while there had been huge developments in both industrial lasers and fibre optic cables, no one had tried to fire the former down the latter.

Most development in the technology of fibre optic cables had been in the field of telecommunications, which uses very low power, Dr Stone told Wired.

While big industrial lasers, which can be powerful enough to cut a car in half, were usually only used in sealed units, with safety as the overriding concern, he added.

However, whether the new concept works or not, it is unlikely to make a mission to Europa anytime soon.

Nasa still have no clear, high-resolution pictures of what the surface of the moon is like and whether or not it is possible to land a spacecraft on there.

Mr Stone’s team has already built and tested the laser-fibre-optic power system at his laboratory in Texas.

They now plan to test a prototype of VALKYRIE at the Matanuska Glacier, Alaska, in June 2013.

Attribution: Wired Science, Mail Online

The Purposeful Ruination of America

As has been stated many times in the past; The United States can not be defeated by any military or opposing force outside its borders. It must be self-inflicted from within its own borders by its own people.

The following video is a testament to the fine job we are doing.

It’s so Slimey and Pink

In Defense of Pink Slime

By: The Common Constitutionalist

By now, we’ve all heard of it, the dreaded Pink Slime. You’ve probably seen it, looking more like soft-serve strawberry ice cream than beef.

It has suddenly become a hot topic and unfortunately has all but put one company, BPI Industries, out of business.

So why now? Why has this become such a hot topic? Believe it or not, this product has been on the market for over 30 years. It is government approved and has not harmed anybody in all that time.

So now, all the sudden, it has become a danger to humans.

Well, of course it isn’t a danger to humans. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. People, with enough time on their hands, will always find something to worry about.

The fact is, the general public doesn’t give a thought to how food is processed and how it makes to the grocery store shelves.

It is only when the public discovers that not all food comes directly from Old McDonald’s Farm, that they get all panicked and overreact.

“The more people are disconnected with their food supply and the sources of their food, the more questions they will have, and we understand that,” said Craig Letch, director of food safety and quality assurance for South Dakota-based Beef Products Inc. “But, We don’t produce ‘pink slime.’ We produce 100 percent quality lean beef. That’s it. That whole thing is a farce. There’s no substance to it.”

So why the uproar, why the outrage?

Just what is this Pink Slime made of and why has it suddenly become the scourge of the American public?

Lean, Finely Textured Beef (LFTB), better known as pink slime, is virtually identical to 90% lean ground beef.

It is actually 100% beef processed from the trimmings of steaks and roasts, that are delivered to BPI industries.

The trimmings are placed in a centrifuge that spins and removes virtually all the fat from the trimmings leaving behind 94 to 97% lean beef.

That doesn’t sound so bad does it? If that is all it is, what is the problem?

The problem is due solely to the slightly elevated level of the chemical ammonium hydroxide and naturally any chemical that is added to our food must therefore be dangerous.

Obviously this is not true. It certainly isn’t true in this case.

Beef already has naturally occurring ammonia in it. Why add more?

Simple. To prevent the growth of the deadly E. coli bacteria. By simply raising the pH level of the meat product with a slight addition of ammonium hydroxide the E. coli bacteria cannot form.

So, as always happens in this country, instead of taking a step back and looking at the facts, the public panics, makes rash decisions and hundreds of people are put out of work.

Only after the damage has been done, are the facts allowed to come out and more often than not, debunk the myth.

Look Back in Time

Nasa’s James Webb Space Telescope is designed to peer back to the dawn of time.

This week the solid state video recorder that will store the images, a sort of cosmic Sky HD box, was delivered to the team building it at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

Built by Colorado-based Seakr Engineering, it’s been hailed as the most reliable ever made.

And it has to be, because it will operate in the most hostile conditions imaginable.
The telescope is being sent to a point in the solar system called the ‘Earth-Sun L2 Lagrange point’, a million miles away.

It won’t be possible to make repairs to it out there, so there will be a lot of fingers crossed back at mission control.

By contrast Hubble sits in orbit a mere 350 miles above the Earth.

Out at the Lagrange point, temperatures can plummet to as low as -411F (-210C).

However, Seakr are bullish about their bit of kit and claim that it’s so reliable there’s no need to include a back-up.

Unlike the Hubble, Webb, which is almost as big as a 737, will use infrared instruments to scan the skies.

What’s more, Webb will have a 6.5 meter diameter primary mirror, which would give it a significantly larger collecting area than the mirrors available on the current generation of space telescopes.

Hubble’s mirror is a much smaller 2.4 meters in diameter.

This will mean that where Hubble can see the equivalent of ‘toddler galaxies’, Webb Telescope will be able see ‘baby galaxies’.

The Big Bang caused the universe (and thus the galaxies in it) to expand, so most galaxies are moving away from each other.

The most distant (and thus youngest) galaxies are moving away so quickly that the light they emit gets shifted towards the red end of the spectrum.

This is very similar to listening to a train whistle shifting from higher to lower frequency as it passes by.

Because visible light from faraway is shifted to the infrared, infrared telescopes, like Webb, are ideal for observing these early galaxies.

Attribution: Mail Online, NASA