Science & Technology

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Risk of a monster quake and tsunami off California's North Coast is greater than researchers once thought

© Matthew Crawford/For The Times
A man rides his bicycle in 2004 in Crescent City, where a 1964 earthquake spawned a deadly tsunami.
If a 9.0 earthquake were to strike along California's sparsely populated North Coast, it would have a catastrophic ripple effect.

A giant tsunami created by the quake would wash away coastal towns, destroy U.S. 101 and cause $70 billion in damage over a large swath of the Pacific coast. More than 100 bridges would be lost, power lines toppled and coastal towns isolated. Residents would have as few as 15 minutes notice to flee to higher ground, and as many as 10,000 would perish.

Scientists last year published this grim scenario for a massive rupture along the Cascadia fault system, which runs 700 miles off shore from Northern California to Vancouver Island.

The Cascadia subduction zone is less known than the San Andreas fault, which scientists have long predicted will produce The Big One. But in recent years, scientists have come to believe that the Cascadia is far more dangerous than originally believed and have been giving the system more attention.

The Cascadia begins at a geologically treacherous area where three tectonic plates are pushing against each other. The intersection has produced the two largest earthquakes in California in the last decade - Sunday's 6.8 temblor off Eureka and a 7.2 quake off Crescent City in 2005. The area has produced six quakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater in the last 100 years, the California Geological Survey said.

Asteroid 163 Erigone to blot out Leo star Regulus March 20

© Bob King with help from photos by the ESO/NASA
Illustration showing asteroid 163 Erigone about to cover Leo’s brightest star Regulus around 2:07 Eastern Daylight Time Thursday morning March 20, 2014. As the asteroid’s shadow passes over the ground, observers will see Regulus disappear for up to 14 seconds.
How does a tiny asteroid make one of the brightest stars in the sky disappear? By passing directly in front of it. Upwards of 20 million people will have the opportunity to watch asteroid 163 Erigone occult the bright star Regulus for up to 14 seconds next Thursday morning March 20. Billed as the best and brightest occultation ever predicted for North America, the sight of Regulus vanishing in plain sight should be a jaw-dropper.

Only thing is, you just have to be in the right place to see it. Check the map. If you live within the band, which cuts a swath some 45 miles (73 km) wide from northern Ontario to New Jersey, you're in! While the northern reaches of the occultation occur over sparely populated tundra, the southern half encompasses all of New York City plus a few nibbles of New Jersey and Connecticut. All the rest of us will have to travel to the centerline much as we would to see a total eclipse of the sun.

New gully appears on Mars: Water can't have formed it, so what did?

Gully on Mars
© NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
At right, a new gully appears in pictures of the same region of Terra Sirenum on Mars. The picture at left was taken in November 2010, and the right in May 2013. Pictures obtained from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Check out the groove! In the blink of a geological lifetime, a new gully has appeared on the planet Mars. These images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show a new channel in the southern hemisphere region of Terra Siernum that appeared between November 2010 and May 2013.

While there's a lot of chatter about water on Mars, this particular feature is likely not due to that liquid, the agency added.

"Gully or ravine landforms are common on Mars, particularly in the southern highlands. This pair of images shows that material flowing down from an alcove at the head of a gully broke out of an older route and eroded a new channel," NASA stated.
Bizarro Earth

NASA-funded scientists show that society is doomed because catastrophic socio-economic collapse is inevitable

There's never been a shortage of doomsday scenarios. From the dreaded Mayan Apocalypse of 2012 (remember that?) to the havoc wreaked in the movie The Day After Tomorrow, people have been predicting the end of civilization for as long as there has been a civilization.

The trouble is, they're sometimes correct: The Roman Empire fell spectacularly, as did the Mayan civilization, the Han Dynasty of China, India's Gupta Empire and dozens of other once-mighty kingdoms.

But how, exactly, do powerful empires collapse, and why? Researchers now believe they've found an answer, one that has troubling implications for today - because we're clearly on the road to ruin.

Comment: In other words, collapse can be mitigated or avoided through an 11th-hour transition - via peaceful, humanist, secular, and socialist revolution - firstly in America, then spread throughout its empire - to a just, sustainable and egalitarian global society.

That's not going to happen.

So total and catastrophic collapse is inevitable.


Boeing Model 777 Airplanes: Protection from Unauthorized Internal Access

Special Conditions: Boeing Model 777-200, -300, and -300ER Series Airplanes; Aircraft Electronic System Security Protection From Unauthorized Internal Access

A Rule by the Federal Aviation Administration on 11/18/2013


Final Special Conditions.


These special conditions are issued for the Boeing Model 777-200, -300, and -300ER series airplanes. These airplanes, as modified by the Boeing Company, will have novel or unusual design features associated with the architecture and connectivity of the passenger service computer network systems to the airplane critical systems and data networks. This onboard network system will be composed of a network file server, a network extension device, and additional interfaces configured by customer option. The applicable airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for this design feature. These special conditions contain the additional safety standards that the Administrator considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards.

Big Bang - The greatest fairy tale ever told

Big Bang
© Tallbloke Talkshop
There is freedom of choosing religion in our country so there is no problem what you or I believe. On the other hand there is a problem when scientists mix facts supported by evidence and laws of nature with fantasy, unfounded hypotheses and faith.

There is no qualitative difference being a creationist believing that earth and our galaxy was created 6000 years ago or believing that the universe was created from a small cosmic egg 14 billion years ago. From where did this egg originate and what existed before that?

There must have been something more (or rather, less) than a nuclear bomb within it since at that point not even matter are believed to has existed. None of these beliefs are or can be supported by scientific methods or verified experience. Hence, it cannot be classified as science.

Many years ago a saw a "scientific" 600 page book in a book store. It claimed to tell what happened in the first MINUTE after Big Bang. It was loaded with formulae and unverified hypotheses. To me this book represented a peak of human hubris, a pretention that logic and mathematical models without any verified anchoring in reality could give the answer to the eternal mystery of our existence. Evidently the author was religious or crazy.

Legislation abolishing roaming charges goes through European parliament

Roaming charges for using a mobile phone abroad will be abolished from December 2015 in proposals expected to be voted through the European parliament on Tuesday, but operators have warned that bills could rise domestically to pay for the change.

Posting holiday snaps to Instagram or keeping up with emails while abroad should no longer result in unexpectedly high bills under legislation to be approved by members of the European parliament's industry committee on Tuesday, which is due to be rubber stamped by the full parliament on 3 April.
Arrow Down

Forget GMOs, scientists are creating bionic plants

Nano Plants?
© Juan Pablo Giraldo and Nicole M. Iverson
Near-infrared fluorescence of carbon nanotubes (orange) infiltrated inside leaves (green) could boost photosynthesis and enable the detection of biochemicals and pollutants.
Call it the rise of the nanobionic super-plants: Researchers at MIT are giving plants super powers by placing tiny carbon nanotubes deep within their cells.

Some of the altered plants increased their photosynthetic activity by 30% compared with regular old plants. Others were able to detect tiny traces of pollutants in the air.

And that's just the beginning.

"The idea is to impart plants with functions that are non-native to them," said Michael Strano, professor of chemical engineering at MIT.

Strano's lab has been working at the nexus of plant biology and nanotechnology -- an area called plant nanobionics -- for three years, trying to figure out how to give plants new abilities.

Their first challenge was getting the nanotubes into the plants. Watering plants with a solution that had nanoparticles in it seems to be the obvious choice, but it doesn't work because plant roots have a structure that blocks nanotubes from entering.

Instead, Strano's team turned to the stomata -- small pores on the underside of leaves that let carbon dioxide in and oxygen and water out. The researchers found that if they pressurized a solution that included nanoparticles in a syringe, it would enter the plant through the stomata.

Elephants can differentiate between human languages

© AFP/Anna Zieminski
African elephants (Loxodonta africana) are the largest land animals on Earth and are considered a vulnerable species due to habitat loss and illegal hunting for their ivory tusks.
African elephants can differentiate between human languages and move away from those considered a threat, a skill they have honed to survive in the wild, researchers said.

The study suggests elephants, already known to be intelligent creatures, are even more sophisticated than previously believed when it comes to understanding human dangers.

Researchers played recordings of human voices for elephants at Amboseli National Park in Kenya to see how they would respond, according to a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Some of the voices were from local Maasai men, a group that herds cattle and sometimes comes into conflict with elephants over access to water and grazing space. Occasionally, elephants are killed in clashes with Maasai men, and vice-versa.

Have gravitational waves been detected?

Cosmic Microwave
This detailed map of the cosmic microwave background is created from seven years worth of data. The color variations correspond to temperature variations in the young universe: the seeds for stars and galaxies observed today.
Last week the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) stated rather nonchalantly that they will be hosting a press conference on Monday, March 17th, to announce a "major discovery." Without a potential topic for journalists to muse on, this was as melodramatic as it got.

But then the Guardian posted an article on the subject and the rumors went into overdrive. The speculation is this: a U.S. team is on the verge of confirming they have detected primordial gravitational waves - ripples in the fabric of spacetime that carry echoes of the big bang nearly 14 billion years ago.

If there is evidence for gravitational waves, it will be a landmark discovery, ultimately changing the face of physics.

Not only are gravitational waves the last untested prediction of Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, but primordial gravitational waves will allow astronomers to glimpse the universe in its infancy.