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Ice Cube

Indian space scientists fear the return of a 'mini ice age'

© Zmescience.com
The fewer sunspot activities on the Sun witnessed since the last two solar cycles might lead to a "mini ice age-like situation" in coming years, Shrinivas Aundhkar, the director of Mahatma Gandhi Mission, Centre for Astronomy and Space Technology, Nanded, said here on Tuesday.

"The sunspots that can be seen on the Sun have comparatively less temperature compared to other surfaces on it (Sun)," he said while addressing a gathering for a lecture, Get Ready for Little Ice Age, held as part of the Narendra Dabholkar lecture series.

Aundhkar, who has worked with scientists across the world on Sun-Earth connection, said, "The Sun undergoes two cycles that are described as maximum and minimum. The activity alternates every 11 years, and the period is termed as one solar cycle. At present, the Sun is undergoing the minimum phase, reducing global temperatures."

He said winter temperatures have dropped in the northern polar cap and is leading to severe winters. "This has also triggered the jet stream, which is active in the northern parts of the globe to shift in inter tropical climate zone like India. As a result, cold wind conditions were witnessed during the last two years. The unseasonal hailstorms in November and December are a result of the influence of the jet stream. This has also led to steady weakening of magnetic energy of the Sun, leading to mini ice age like situation," he said.

"The Sun, our energy source, goes through phases of violent (maximum phase) and quiet (minimum phase) activity every 11 years, which is called one solar cycle. The effects of minimum activity of a solar cycle are seen for about a year. However, it has been revealed that the minimum activity was seen for more than four years in the recently concluded solar cycle. Thus, it was the longest and quietest minimum phase in the past 100 years," the scientist said.

Comment: SOTT has been saying this for years. See also:

Nebula

Milky Way could in theory be a galactic worm hole transport system

Based on the latest evidence and theories our galaxy could be a huge wormhole (or space-time tunnel, have you seen the movie "Interstellar?") and, if that were true, it would be "stable and navigable." This is the hypothesis put forward in a study published in Annals of Physics and conducted with the participation of SISSA in Trieste. The paper, the result of a collaboration between Indian, Italian and North American researchers, prompts scientists to re-think dark matter.

"If we combine the map of the dark matter in the Milky Way with the most recent Big Bang model to explain the universe and we hypothesize the existence of space-time tunnels, what we get is that our galaxy could really contain one of these tunnels, and that the tunnel could even be the size of the galaxy itself. But there's more," explains Paolo Salucci, astrophysicist of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste and a dark matter expert. "We could even travel through this tunnel, since, based on our calculations, it could be navigable. Just like the one we've all seen in the recent film 'Interstellar'." Salucci is among the authors of the paper recently published in Annals of Physics.
Galaxy

New findings at odds with standard supernova theory

© ALMA / ESO / NAOJ / NRAO / Alexandra Angelich, NRAO / AUI / NSF
Scientists plumbing the depths of the ocean have made a surprise finding that could change the way we understand supernovae, exploding stars way beyond our solar system.

They have analysed extraterrestrial dust thought to be from supernovae, that has settled on ocean floors to determine the amount of heavy elements created by the massive explosions.

"Small amounts of debris from these distant explosions fall on the earth as it travels through the galaxy," said lead researcher Dr Anton Wallner, from the Research School of Physics and Engineering.

"We've analysed galactic dust from the last 25 million years that has settled on the ocean and found there is much less of the heavy elements such as plutonium and uranium than we expected."

The findings are at odds with current theories of supernovae, in which some of the materials essential for human life, such as iron, potassium and iodine are created and distributed throughout space.
Airplane

First round-the-world solar flight to begin in February

Solar Impulse 2 aircraft
© Reuters/Denis Balibouse
The dismantled Solar Impulse 2 aircraft is pictured before being loaded into a Cargolux Boeing 747 cargo aircraft at Payerne airport.
A plane powered by the sun will attempt an unprecedented flight around the world next month, the project's founders said, seeking to prove that flying is possible without using fossil fuel.

Solar Impulse 2 is set to take off from Abu Dhabi with stopovers in India, Myanmar and China before crossing the Pacific Ocean and flying across the United States and southern Europe to arrive back in Abu Dhabi.

On its five-month journey of 35,000 km (22,000 miles), the engines will be powered only by solar energy. The two Swiss pilots will take turns at the controls in the tiny cabin for five consecutive days and nights in the air.
Cassiopaea

Supernova mystery found at the bottom of the sea

Ocean
© Discovery News
One of the least likely places you might think astronomers would learn about ancient supernovae is at the bottom of the ocean, but in new research scientists have done just that.

Through the careful analysis of ocean sediment, tiny particles that originated from deep space have settled on the seabed, locking the chemical secrets to supernova processes that would have otherwise remained a mystery.

"Small amounts of debris from these distant explosions fall on the earth as it travels through the galaxy," said lead researcher Anton Wallner, of the Australian National University.

"We've analyzed galactic dust from the last 25 million years that has settled on the ocean and found there is much less of the heavy elements such as plutonium and uranium than we expected."

Supernovae are powerful explosions triggered when massive stars reach the ends of their lives. During these powerful events, many elements are forged, including elements that are essential for life to thrive - such as iron, potassium and iodine.

However, as pointed out by an Australian National University press release, even heavier elements like lead, gold and radioactive elements like uranium and plutonium can be created. But it appears that the formation processes for the heaviest elements are at odds with current astrophysical theory.
Question

Mysterious radio burst seen in real time

Cosmic Radiowave
© The Independent, UK
The mysterious ‘blitzar’ has been heard since 2007, but scientists have caught it live for the first time.
As live performances go, a mysterious pulse of radio waves emanating from deep in the universe has to be up with the greats. And scientists have finally caught it.

The blitzars last only about a millisecond - during which time they give out as much energy as the sun does in a million years, according to the New Scientist - and have only ever been heard on historical data.

The source must be "huge, cataclysmic and up to 5.5 billion light years away," one scientist told the New Scientist.
Cookie

Zombie Cookie: The unkillable tracking cookie

zombie cookies
© David Sleight & Hannah Birch
[Editor's note: This story has been updated. See end of article]

An online ad company called Turn is using tracking cookies that come back to life after Verizon users have deleted them. Turn's services are used by everyone from Google to Facebook.


An online advertising clearinghouse relied on by Google, Yahoo and Facebook is using controversial cookies that come back from the dead to track the web surfing of Verizon customers.

The company, called Turn, is taking advantage of a hidden undeletable number that Verizon uses to monitor customers' habits on their smartphones and tablets. Turn uses the Verizon number to respawn tracking cookies that users have deleted.


Comment: Bad enough the cellphone companies can track users, considering the information is funneled straight to government monitoring agencies. To re-exploit that for commercial gain in a way that consumers have no control over is worse.


"We are trying to use the most persistent identifier that we can in order to do what we do," Max Ochoa, Turn's chief privacy officer, told ProPublica.

Turn's zombie cookie comes amid a controversy about a new form of tracking the telecom industry has deployed to shadow mobile phone users. Last year, Verizon and AT&T users noticed their carriers were inserting a tracking number into all the Web traffic that transmits from a users' phone - even if the user has tried to opt out.

Users complained that the tracking number could be used by any website they visited from their phone to build a dossier about their behavior - what sites they went to, what apps they used.
Black Magic

Google-funded university aims to make DNA a consumer product

DNA
© unknown
Over the past five years we've seen technologies like 3D printing go from making plastic cubes, to making plastic firearms. It's a huge game changer that allows the individual to make tools that once required a factory full of workers to build. It has essentially lowered the barrier to entry for the manufacturing industry, and as this technology progresses, it could fundamentally change the world we live in.

But does 3D printing stand alone in this regard? Are there other emerging technologies that might democratize fields beyond manufacturing, such as medicine or energy production? Surely, we could benefit from devices that allow the every man to diagnose their own ailments, or cheaply produce all their energy needs. But what about genetic engineering? What if everyone could access the tools required to modify DNA, and do so in the comfort of their own home?

Comment: The evil ramifications of this device are too numerous to list. Anyone ever read Margaret Atwood's Oryx & Crake series?

Comet 2

Comet Finlay surprise outburst, visible in binoculars ... again!

Comet Finlay
© Michael Mattiazzo
Comet Finlay’s up to its old shenanigans again. Here we see it in outburst with a bright, compact head and a half-degree-long tail pointing northeast on Friday, January 16th.
Lost sleep at night, fingers tapping on the keyboard by day. Darn comets are keeping me busy! But of course that's a good problem. Comet 15P/Finlay, which had been languishing in the western sky at dusk at magnitude +10, has suddenly come to life ... for a second time.

Two nights ago, Australian comet observer Michael Mattiazzo took a routine picture of Finlay and discovered it at magnitude +8. Today it's a magnitude brighter and now joins Comet Lovejoy as the second binocular comet of 2015. Comet-wise, we've gone from zero to 60 and the new year's fewer than 3 weeks old!
Fish

Scientists warn ocean life on massive verge of extinction caused by humans

© Marco De Swart/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
A dead whale in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in 2011. As container ships multiply, more whales are being harmed, a study said.
A team of scientists, in a groundbreaking analysis of data from hundreds of sources, has concluded that humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them.

"We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event," said Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an author of the new research, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science.

But there is still time to avert catastrophe, Dr. McCauley and his colleagues also found. Compared with the continents, the oceans are mostly intact, still wild enough to bounce back to ecological health.

"We're lucky in many ways," said Malin L. Pinsky, a marine biologist at Rutgers University and another author of the new report. "The impacts are accelerating, but they're not so bad we can't reverse them."

Scientific assessments of the oceans' health are dogged by uncertainty: It's much harder for researchers to judge the well-being of a species living underwater, over thousands of miles, than to track the health of a species on land. And changes that scientists observe in particular ocean ecosystems may not reflect trends across the planet.

Comment: This is another sign that humans are expanding far beyond what the Earth can handle. One way or another, Mother Nature is going to balance out, and unfortunately right now that is happening through the loss of flora and fauna. How long before humanity becomes a victim of its own excess? Based on how the world's weather has been lately, it might not be long before earth changes intervene to halt the sprawl of humanity.

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