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Better Earth

Pulitzer-winning scientist warns wildlife face a 'biological holocaust' - Half the planet should be set aside for wildlife

© Independent
A small portion of the Yellowstone buffalo herd graze in Yellowstone National Park.
Half the planet should be set aside solely for the protection of wildlife to prevent the "mass extinction" of species, according to one of the world's leading biologists.

The radical conservation strategy proposed by Dr E.O. Wilson, the hugely-influential 85-year old Harvard University scientist, would see humans essentially withdraw from half of the Earth.

Dr Wilson, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, warned that we are facing a "biological holocaust" as devastating as the extinction of the dinosaurs unless humans agree to share land more equally with the planet's 10 million other species.

Outlining his audacious "Half Earth" theory, he said: "It's been in my mind for years that people haven't been thinking big enough - even conservationists.

"I see a chain of uninterrupted corridors forming, with twists and turns, some of them opening up to become wide enough to accommodate national biodiversity parks, a new kind of park that won't let species vanish," he told the journal of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

Dr Wilson, who is considered the world's preeminent advocate of biodiversity, wants to create a series of "Long Landscape" wildlife chains to help species to respond to the effects of climate change by moving around.
Sun

Greenland ice study shows 'unexpected link between solar activity and climate change'

Lund University have published a reconstruction of solar activity vs snow accumulation in Greenland, which indicates a strong correlation between solar minima and a colder climate.

'The study shows an unexpected link between solar activity and climate change,' Dr Muscheler said in a press release.

'It shows both that changes in solar activity are nothing new and that solar activity influences the climate, especially on a regional level. 'Understanding these processes helps us to better forecast the climate in certain regions.'

According to the study abstract;
http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo2225.html

"We find that during the Last Glacial Maximum, solar minima correlate with more negative δ18O values of ice and are accompanied by increased snow accumulation and sea-salt input over central Greenland. We suggest that solar minima could have induced changes in the stratosphere that favour the development of high-pressure blocking systems located to the south of Greenland, as has been found in observations and model simulations for recent climate9, 10. We conclude that the mechanism behind solar forcing of regional climate change may have been similar under both modern and Last Glacial Maximum climate conditions."
Boat

Game changer? Futuristic Chinese 'supersonic' sub could reach US shores in under two hours

Chinese submarine
© Reuters/Guang Niu
Traveling from Shanghai to San Francisco in under two hours may sound like a fantasy, but China believes it's figured out how to design an underwater vehicle that can make the idea a reality.

More worryingly, though, is the possibility that the technology will be used to develop even more dangerous weaponry.

According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the super-fast technology was developed by scientists at the Harbin Institute of Technology, and would allow underwater submarines or torpedoes to exceed the equivalent speed of sound under water - about 3,600 miles per hour.

The idea is based on the old Soviet concept of supercavitation, which involves creating a large air bubble around an object so that it could avoid facing too much friction and travel through water quickly.

Professor Li Fengchen said that when the vessel hits the water, one of its mechanisms continuously sprays a "special liquid membrane" all over the object's surface. This membrane eventually wears off, but by the time the vessel reaches 46 miles per hour, it's going fast enough to enter supercavitation state and generate an air bubble capable of helping it cover previously unknown distances.

"Our method is different from any other approach, such as vector propulsion," Li told SCMP. "By combining liquid-membrane technology with supercavitation, we can significantly reduce the launch challenges and make cruising control easier."
Comet 2

New Comet: C/2014 Q3 (BORISOV)

Cbet nr. 3936, issued on 2014, August 24, announces the discovery of a comet (magnitude ~17) by G. Borisov (Observatory MARGO, Nauchnij) on CCD images obtained with a 0.3-m f/1.5 astrograph telescope on 2014, August 22.02. The new comet has been designated C/2014 Q3 (BORISOV).

We performed follow-up measurements of this object, while it was still on the neocp. Stacking of 10 unfiltered exposures, 60-sec each, obtained remotely on 2014, August 23.4 from H06 (iTelescope network - Mayhill) through a 0.50-m f/6.8 astrograph + CCD + f/4.5 focal reducer, shows that this object is a comet: coma about 7" in diameter elongated toward PA 215 (the comet was about +21 degree above the horizon at the moment of the imaging session).

Our confirmation image (click on it for a bigger version)
C/2014 Q3 (Borisov)
© Remanzacco Observatory
M.P.E.C. 2014-Q38 assigns the following parabolic orbital elements to comet C/2014 Q3: T 2014 Nov. 19.24; e= 1.0; Peri. = 48.40; q = 1.63; Incl.= 90.49

This is the third comet discovered by Gennady Borisov (previous were C/2013 N4 & C/2013 V2).
Snakes in Suits

Difference between psychopaths and anti-social people lies in brain activity


Psychopaths react to human emotion differently to other people
The difference between otherwise similar people with anti-social personality disorder (APD) and psychopaths is the way the latter's brain reacts when confronted with human emotion, a new study has found.

Researchers at the University of Michigan, US, set out to uncover why both people with APD and psychopaths both act on impulse and display a disregard for others - but psychopaths also callously manipulate others.

Luke Hyde, an assistant psychology professor told Pacific Standard magazine that because many studies had been done on criminals with very high levels of psychopathy, the team wanted to better understand adults with lower levels of anti-social and psychopathic traits.

The participants in the study were tested using a technique that experts hoped would distinctly measure the difference between people with APD and psychopaths, while confirming how the two groups also overlap in many ways.

To make their findings, published earlier this year in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, researchers recruited 103 adults from a database of psychologically profiled people managed by the University of Pittsburgh's Adult Health and Behaviour project.
Books

Google is building a massive fact database

© forbes
The search giant is automatically building Knowledge Vault, a massive database that could give us unprecedented access to the world's facts

Google is building the largest store of knowledge in human history - and it's doing so without any human help.

Instead, Knowledge Vault autonomously gathers and merges information from across the web into a single base of facts about the world, and the people and objects in it.

The breadth and accuracy of this gathered knowledge is already becoming the foundation of systems that allow robots and smartphones to understand what people ask them. It promises to let Google answer questions like an oracle rather than a search engine, and even to turn a new lens on human history.

Knowledge Vault is a type of "knowledge base" - a system that stores information so that machines as well as people can read it. Where a database deals with numbers, a knowledge base deals with facts. When you type "Where was Madonna born" into Google, for example, the place given is pulled from Google's existing knowledge base.

Comment: Related...

Stephen Hawking warns of possible dire threat to mankind from artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence system diagnoses illnesses better than doctors

Evil Rays

Research proves you can smuggle weapons past naked body scanners

© AFP Photo / Chip Somodevilla
Remember to 'Opt out' at the airports!
Weapons are easily smuggled through so-called naked body scanners, according to new research released Thursday. The devices are no longer used at airports in the United States but remain in other government facilities worldwide.

The Rapiscan Secure 1000 Single Post "backscatter" scanner - called the "naked scanner" by critics because of the images it produced of those inside - cannot detect a weapon hidden on the side of one's body, according to the team of researchers from the University of California-San Diego, University of Michigan, and Johns Hopkins University.

"We performed several trials to test different placement and attachment strategies. In the end, we achieved excellent results with two approaches: carefully affixing the pistol to the outside of the leg just above the knee using tape, and sewing it inside the pant leg near the same location. ... In each case, the pistol is invisible against the dark background, and the attachment method leaves no other indication of the weapon's presence."

In 2012 a Florida man, Jonathan Corbett, filmed himself successfully passing through the backscatters with metal at two different US airports using the same method. At the time, the TSA responded to Corbett's efforts saying the "machines are safe."


Comment: Evidence suggests the machines are not safe, the levels of radiation they emit are well above background.



Corbett, who is now suing the TSA over the backscatters, has encouraged those who did not believe him to "try it."

Comment: Opt out! Opt your kids out and encourage others to do the same.

Satellite

Behold the space debris "Liquidator": Russia joins the international efforts to develop means to collect "space junk"

© NASA
Most orbital debris is in low Earth orbit, where the space station flies.
The Russian space agency is allocating around $297 million to design and construct a spacecraft that would clean circumterrestrial space of disabled communication satellites and upper-stage rockets currently cluttering up the geostationary orbit.

Roscosmos is ready to allocate 10.8 billion rubles (about $297 million) from 2016-2025 for the new mission: development of a space scavenger relieving terrestrial space of non-operating satellites and space exploration waste, Izvestia daily reported on Friday.

The announced tech specs of the future unmanned spacecraft, codenamed 'Liquidator', imply a weight of about four tons and the capability to get rid of at least 10 disabled satellites and rocket stages during a single mission that could last up to 6 months.

The 'space cleaner' will be able to run no less than 20 'cleaning missions' during its 10-year lifespan, which means the elimination of up to 200 space objects, which obstruct new space vehicles and communication satellites.

Comment: What should be more "troubling" is the recent huge increase of cometary activity! Is all the sudden hype about '"space junk" a convenient, plausible explanation to cover up the inconvenient fact that our planet is being subjected to cometary fragment bombardment?

Our immediate cosmic environment IS probably littered with junk left there by certain governments who live by the maxim that the ends justify the means. But it is the height of denial to buy into the notion that all these reports of fireballs we've been collecting are man-made objects. This 'space junk' theme is starting to smell strangely like 'anthropogenic global warming', which provides a plausible - but 'not even wrong' - cover story for Earth changes.

Read Pierre Lescaudron and Laura Knight-Jadczyk's new book, Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection, and also the following article to learn more about the "space junk" cover story:

Magnify

Viable microbial ecosystems 800 meters beneath Antarctic ice sheet

LSU's Brent Christner and colleagues document the existence of microbial life below the surface of the West Antarctic ice sheet in Nature publication
© Reed Scherer, Northern Illinois University
LSU’s Brent C. Christner (right) and Alex Michaud retrieve the first water sample from Lake Whillans.
In a finding that has implications for life in other extreme environments, both on Earth and planets elsewhere in the solar system, LSU (Lousiana State University) Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Brent Christner and fellow researchers funded by the National Science Foundation, or NSF, this week published a paper confirming that the waters and sediments of a lake that lies 800 meters (2600 feet) beneath the surface of the West Antarctic ice sheet support "viable microbial ecosystems."

Given that more than 400 subglacial lakes and numerous rivers and streams are thought to exist beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, such ecosystems may be widespread and may influence the chemical and biological composition of the Southern Ocean, the vast and biologically productive sea that encircles the continent.

According to Christner, the paper's lead author and a researcher with the NSF-funded Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling, or WISSARD, project, "hidden beneath a half-mile of ice in Antarctica is an unexplored part of our biosphere. WISSARD has provided a glimpse of the nature of microbial life that may lurk under more than five million square miles of ice sheet."

Analysis of the samples taken from subglacial Lake Whillans, the researchers indicate, show that the water contains a diverse microbial community, many members of which can mine rocks for energy and use carbon dioxide as their source of carbon.
Moon

Electrical sparking may alter evolution of lunar soil

© Credit: Image not to scale. Courtesy of Andrew Jordan.
This illustration shows a permanently shadowed region of the moon undergoing subsurface sparking (the "lightning bolts"), which ejects vaporized material (the "clouds") from the surface. Subsurface sparking occurs at a depth of about one millimeter.
The moon appears to be a tranquil place, but modeling done by University of New Hampshire and NASA scientists suggests that, over the eons, periodic storms of solar energetic particles may have significantly altered the properties of the soil in the moon's coldest craters through the process of sparking -- a finding that could change our understanding of the evolution of planetary surfaces in the solar system.

The study, published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets, proposes that high-energy particles from uncommon, large solar storms penetrate the moon's frigid, polar regions and electrically charge the soil. The charging may create sparking, or electrostatic breakdown, and this "breakdown weathering" process has possibly changed the very nature of the moon's polar soil, suggesting that permanently shadowed regions, which hold clues to our solar system's past, may be more active than previously thought.

Comment: The Electric Universe theory and much more are discussed in Pierre Lescaudron and Laura Knight-Jadczyk's new book, Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection.

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