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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.

Magnify

Traces of marine plankton discovered attached to ISS outer hull

© AFP Photo / NASA / Handout
International Space Station
Russian scientists say they made a "unique" discovery while analyzing samples from the exterior of the International Space Station - traces of tiny sea creatures on the station's windows and walls. It remains unclear how marine plankton ended up in space.The results of the recent experiments prove that that some organisms are capable of living on the outer surface of the International Space Station (ISS), Vladimir Solovyev, head of the Russian segment of the ISS, has revealed.

Some studies suggest that these organisms may even develop in the hostile conditions of spaceflight, which include vacuum, low temperatures, radiation and others, he added.
Cloud Lightning

Illuminatus! Soviet-era Tesla Tower restarted with spectacular lightning bolts

A massive Soviet-built generator - once used for testing the resistance of aircraft to lightning, but now largely mothballed due to prohibitive costs - has staged a striking demonstration test at the behest of RT.

Still from Ruptly video
The 6-Megavolt device, one of the most powerful in the world, is capable of generating 200 meter-long lightning bolts, and was constructed in the 1970s at a closed facility outside Moscow, but fell into disuse after the collapse of the USSR.


The futuristic complex of entangled metal coils hidden in a secured virgin forest made it a cult object for urban explorers. Teams of camera-equipped youths navigated their way and documented the rusting coils and huge locks on their blogs.
Comet 2

Australian amateur Terry Lovejoy discovers new comet

C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy)
© Alain Maury and Joaquin Fabrega
The fuzzy object at center is new comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) discovered by Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy.
It's confirmed! Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy just discovered his fifth comet, C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy). He found it August 17th using a Celestron C8 fitted with a CCD camera at his roll-off roof observatory in Brisbane, Australia.
Magnify

Jellyfish sting captured by microscope for the first time

You've heard of a jellyfish sting, maybe you've even experienced one. But have you ever seen one?

When a jellyfish actually stings someone or something, the action is often too small and too fast to see with the naked eye. This video, however, captures a real-life sting in slow motion!

Destin from SmarterEveryDay visited toxinologist Dr. Jamie Seymour, one of the team members present when Steve Irwin, "The Crocodile Hunter," was fatally stung by a stingray in 2006.

At James Cook University in Australia, researchers used a microscope and high-speed camera to discover what exactly happens when a jellyfish, or in this specific case, an anemone, stings you. They have wanted to capture the process on camera for years, but only now has the technology been able to do so.

Nuke

New solar power plant is scorching birds out of the sky

© Ethan Miller / Getty Images / AFP
A solar receiver and boiler on top of a tower is seen between the backs of heliostats reflecting sunlight towards it at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert in California near Primm, Nevada.
Next generation solar plants are generating more clean energy than ever before, but one in California is torching birds as they fly through the facility's powerful rays, raising concern over a new plant that could prove four times more dangerous to birds.

According to the Associated Press, workers at the BrightSource Energy plant in the Mojave Desert even have a nickname for the singed birds, which burn up into smoke when they fly into heavily concentrated sun rays: "Streamers." When US Fish and Wildlife officials observed the situation in 2013, they witnessed an average of one "streamer" every couple of minutes.

With estimates ranging from 1,000 dead birds a year to 28,000, the agency is seeking an official death toll for one year of operation at the plant. BrightSource is responsible for delivering the lower number, while the higher one was projected by the Center for Biological Diversity. For now, the agency is also calling on the committee in charge of approving new projects to delay BrightSource's latest application.

Opened in February, the plant has been powering 140,000 homes with the electricity it generates. The facility is composed of three 40-story towers, which produce steam and rotate turbines after the water contained inside is boiled by the solar rays reflected onto it by some 300,000 mirrors.

Speaking with the AP, Garry George of the California chapter of the Audubon Society called the bird deaths "alarming."
Info

8,000-year-old mutation key to human life at high altitudes

Tibetans
© Tsewang Tashi, M.D.
This image depicts Tibetan locals living at 4,300m.
In an environment where others struggle to survive, Tibetans thrive in the thin air on the Tibetan Plateau, with an average elevation of 14,800 feet. A University of Utah led discovery that hinged as much on strides in cultural diplomacy as on scientific advancements, is the first to identify a genetic variation, or mutation, that contributes to the adaptation, and to reveal how it works. The research appeared online in the journal Nature Genetics on Aug. 17, 2014.

"These findings help us understand the unique aspects of Tibetan adaptation to high altitudes, and to better understand human evolution," said Josef Prchal, M.D., senior author and University of Utah professor of internal medicine.

For his research, Prchal needed Tibetans to donate blood, from which he could extract their DNA, a task that turned out to be more difficult than he ever imagined. It took several trips to Asia, meeting with Chinese officials and representatives of exiled Tibetans in India, to get the necessary permissions to recruit subjects for the study. But he quickly learned that official documents would not be enough. Wary of foreigners, the Tibetans refused to participate.
Saturn

In space, astronauts' immune systems get totally confused

drawing blood in space
© NASA
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, Expedition 32 flight engineer, poses for a photo after undergoing a blood draw in space
Can an astronaut survive a long-term spaceflight? With NASA looking ahead to missions on Mars and beyond, it's an important question - and one we haven't even come close to answering through practice. The longest space flight ever only lasted 437.7 days, and most astronauts have spent less than a year at the space station during their longest stretches.

But a NASA study published in the Journal of Interferon & Cytokine Research has taken a small step for man's journey to distant planets. NASA scientists analyzed blood samples taken before, during, and after missions to the International Space Station, looking for indications of how astronauts' immune systems handle the unusual environment. The results indicate that things get a little bit wonky.
Light Saber

Five-O: Phone app launched by three teenagers to keep tabs on police brutality

© Reuters / Joshua Lott
Police brutality may seem like a subject best handled by lawmakers and political advocates, but three teenagers from Georgia are hoping to shed light on the problem and promote good behavior with a new app they've developed.

Called "Five-O," the app has been designed specifically for mobile phones and encourages users to record and document every encounter they have with police officers. By doing so, users can submit ratings for local law enforcement, allowing people to see how each area's police departments stack up in terms of civil behavior.

Speaking with Business Insider, 16-year-old Ima Christian of Decatur, Georgia, said her siblings came up with the idea after regularly hearing reports of police abuse around the United States.

"We've been hearing about the negative instances in the news, for instance most recently the Michael Brown case, and we always talk about these issues with our parents," she said. "They always try to reinforce that we should focus on solutions. It's important to talk about the issues, but they try to make us focus on finding solutions. That made us think why don't we create an app to help us solve this problem."

Comment: The Five-O app is available for Android devices here.

Rose

Evil talking plants communicate by DNA

dodder plant
© www.natureworldnews.com
The dodder plant is a parasite that attacks its host.
Scientists have discovered what seems like a new form of plant communication between a "vampire" plant and its prey.

As described in a study recently published in the journal Science, weed science expert Jim Westwood of Virginia Tech took a close look at how the parasitic plant called a dodder attacks his host.

Haustoria diagram
© www.wikipedy.com
The dodder sends suckers called haustoria into a nettle stem to tap its host's tissues.
Westwood specifically looked at how the dodder interacted with two host plants, Arabidopsis and tomatoes. It has long been known that dodders are "vampire-like" parasitic plants. Like a nightmare from an alien horror film, the dodder wraps itself around its host. It then uses a long probe to literally tap into its victim and drain their fluids.

Researchers had done previous work that found that when the dodder first sinks its "fang" into its victim, it also begins to transport RNA - a sort-of DNA translator - between it and its host.

Comment: We've all had relationships like this! In fact, psychopaths, in today's society, operate on the same premise: speak with a silver tongue, sweet-talk the victim, lower defenses, suck the life force out, leave a mess and move on. However, once you learn to recognize the mojo, you can be the one that walks away.

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