Science & Technology


Ulysses Flyby of the Sun's North Pole

Consider it a case of exquisite timing. Just last week, solar physicists announced the beginning of a new solar cycle and now, Jan. 14th, the Ulysses spacecraft is flying over a key region of solar activity--the sun's North Pole.


Evolution of Counting Is No Simple Operation

You may not realize it, but when you tell the grocer you'd like a half-dozen eggs for your family of six, you're using a primitive numbering system. Anthropologists believe that such object-specific counting, in which words like "half-dozen" and "six" denote the same quantity but refer to different objects, preceded abstract counting systems, in which any number can describe any object. Now, a study of Pacific Island languages suggests that counting systems can also evolve in reverse, becoming more object-specific.

People on the Polynesian island of Mangareva take object-specific counting to the extreme. They tally some things, such as unripe breadfruit, using one type of number sequence, whereas they count ripe breadfruit and octopus using another. At the same time, the islanders add up various other objects using an abstract counting system similar to the one English speakers use.

The search for a 'humane' execution

In the US all executions by lethal injection have been temporarily halted while experts examine whether it is a "humane" form of execution. How does it compare to other forms, and for supporters of capital punishment, is there a more benign method?

The United States is one of 55 countries that practise the death penalty as the ultimate sanction on convicted criminals. But in the majority of US states the procedure is frozen while the Supreme Court decides whether lethal injection is a "cruel and unusual" form of punishment that violates the constitution.

"Unexplained" Forces Keep Mars Rovers Moving

It has been said that "In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is King." In the world of space science, if a collective blindness has robbed investigators of their sight, it is their inability or unwillingness to ever think or speak in electrical terms, even when electrical events are impossible to deny -- or quite obvious to those who work regularly with electricity.
Cloud Lightning

Changes in the Sun's Surface to Bring Next Climate Change

Today, the Space and Science Research Center, (SSRC) in Orlando, Florida announces that it has confirmed the recent web announcement of NASA solar physicists that there are substantial changes occurring in the sun's surface. The SSRC has further researched these changes and has concluded they will bring about the next climate change to one of a long lasting cold era.

©The Independent
Between 1645 and 1715 sunspots were rare. It was also a time when the Earth's northern hemisphere chilled dramatically

Comment: See also: NASA's Long Range Solar Forecast

SOTT has some doubts about the authenticity of the outfit offering this "warning." That is not to say that the warning itself is in question. If you read the NASA report, you notice that the main difference is the predicted timing. So, whether or not it happens in this coming sun cycle or the next one doesn't affect the fact that the experts are saying it is going to happen!

If you check this page that tells you about this "research center", you will read:

'Headquartered in Orlando, Florida, the Space and Science Research Center (SSRC) is the leading science and engineering research company internationally, that specializes in the analysis of and planning for climate changes based upon the "Relational Cycle Theory."'

What is "Relational Cycle Theory"? The site explains it this way:
1) There exists a family of solar activity cycles that has a profound and direct influence on the Earth's climate.

(2) These cycles are 'relational cycles' since their effects can be experienced or 'related' to during one or two human lifetimes.

(3) There is a "Centennial Cycle" of 90-100 years duration, which manifests itself with solar activity minimums and associated low temperatures with episodes lasting a few years to 1-2 decades.

(4) There is a "Bi-Centennial Cycle" of about 206 years that is the most powerful of the relational cycles and has significant effects on the climate of the Earth lasting many decades resulting in the most extreme variations in solar activity and in the Earth's temperatures.

(5) These cycles are correlated strongly to all past major temperature lows.

(6) There is remarkable regularity and hence the predictability of these oscillations, such that the theory may be a powerful tool in forecasting of major temperature and climatic cycles on Earth, many decades in advance.

(7) There may be other relational cycles of shorter duration accounting for lesser solar and climatic events which may be revealed in subsequent research.

However, these are well known as the Gleissberg and deVries-Suess solar cycles (whose resonances explain the Dansgaard-Oeschger events - ice rafting).

Then, there is this statement:

"All records of sunspot counts and other proxies of solar activity going back 6,000 years clearly validates our own findings that when we have sunspot counts lower then 50 it means only one thing - an intense cold climate, globally."

There are no sunspot records going back 600 years, let alone 6000 years. They only date from the time of Galileo and his first telescope. Even the proxy records (DC14 records in tree rings and Beryllium-10 from ice cores) don't tell us how many sunspots there were, though these records are proxies for solar activity and a simple model may predict sunspots.

Although the NASA report makes a prediction on sunspot activity in the next two cycles, it does not predict the effect on climate. It should also be noted that John Casey makes no argument as to what physical process would actually cool the earth's climate. A correlation is not a physical connection. The theory is that the sun's magnetic field strength increases, affecting the earth's magnetic field and diverting cosmic rays which would otherwise strike the upper atmosphere, causing clouds to form and this would then cool the planet. But oddly he doesn't mention this as a causal mechanism, nor any causal mechanism for that matter which would explain why the earth would cool in the upcoming cycle. Perhaps it's just a direct reduction in insolation. If he were a climate expert he would have given this background and offered an explanation.

What exactly, we ask, is unique about this "research"?

Even the Anthropogenic Global Warming skeptics over at Climate Audit have their doubts. As Leif Svalgaard, a solar physicist turned computer programmer from Stanford University in California, says:
"The 'Space and Science Research Center' and John Casey should not be relied on for valid research. I know of Mr. Casey and have checked his credentials and they are not legitimate. He has tried to recruit even me into his band of 'experts'. I would not place any value on the ramblings of the press release."
So, again, if it were not for the fact that the information about the solar cycle is backed up by NASA, we would not be carrying this piece. As it is, we don't know who these people are, what their real expertise might be, and whether or not they are legitimate in any way. It could be someone on the "inside" trying to get info out to the public, or someone on the inside setting up a straw man panic to knock down. So, on the off chance that this is a COINTELPRO psy-op, we thought we would keep it in the database for possible future reference.

The bottom line still is: something strange is going on "out there".


NASA's Long Range Solar Forecast

The Sun's Great Conveyor Belt has slowed to a record-low crawl, according to research by NASA solar physicist David Hathaway. "It's off the bottom of the charts," he says. "This has important repercussions for future solar activity."


The Great Conveyor Belt is a massive circulating current of fire (hot plasma) within the Sun. It has two branches, north and south, each taking about 40 years to perform one complete circuit. Researchers believe the turning of the belt controls the sunspot cycle, and that's why the slowdown is important.

The mystery of Planet X; Something weird is going on beyond Neptune, but Pluto is too puny to blame - Time to call in the planet hunters

TWO years ago the solar system lost a planet. Pluto was deemed too insignificant to rank alongside Mars, Jupiter and the rest, and was demoted to dwarf planet status. Pluto's fall from favour left us with only eight bona fide planets. But what the solar system has lost, Patryk Lykawka now hopes to replace.

Evidence Mounts for Sun's Companion Star

The Binary Research Institute (BRI) has found that orbital characteristics of the recently discovered planetoid, "Sedna", demonstrate the possibility that our sun might be part of a binary star system.

A binary star system consists of two stars gravitationally bound orbiting a common center of mass. Once thought to be highly unusual, such systems are now considered to be common in the Milky Way galaxy.

©Red Orbit

Peru: Ancient Fortress Discovered in the Jungle near Cusco

Manco Pata could be part of the Paititi Fortress, a kind of Inca or pre-Inca lost city.

Lima -- A new archeological fortress, known as Manco Pata, was discovered in the town of Kimbiri (Cusco), located in the Apurímac-Ene River Valley (VRAE), announced the mayor of the town, Guillermo Torres.

Internet grows to more than 150 million websites

The Internet continued its rapid growth rate in the final month of last year, adding more than five million websites for a bottom line of more than 150 million.

According to Netcraft's web server survey, web hosters saw an increase of 5.4 million websites during the month of December which resulted in a total of 155,230,051 websites by the end of the month. In 2007, the analysis firm estimates that the Internet has grown by more than 50 million websites, topping the previously recorded absolute growth record of about 30 million sites in 2006.