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Sat, 18 Nov 2017
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Astronomers discover comet shaped like a giant pink fire-extinguisher

© NASA/JPL-Caltech/IAU
Previously known as C/2017 U1 (PANSTARRS) and A/2017 U1, approaching from above, it was closest to the Sun on 9 September. Traveling at 44 kilometres per second, the comet is headed away from the Earth and Sun on its way out of the solar system.
A newly discovered object from another star system that's passing through ours is shaped like a giant pink fire extinguisher, astronomers have revealed.

Astronomers who have been observing this first-ever confirmed interstellar visitor have named it Oumuamua, which in Hawaiian means a messenger from afar arriving first.

Scientists are certain this 600-foot-long, pale pink asteroid or comet originated outside our solar system.

'I'm surprised by the elongated shape - nobody expected that,' said astronomer David Jewitt of the University of California, Los Angeles, who led the observation team that reported on the characteristics.


Carbon dioxide and climate change

© Royal Society from Zachos 2008
Strap yourself down - a puzzle you never knew existed has finally been solved!

Nov 16, 2017: Scientists Solve 22 Million-Year-Old Climate Puzzle -"Paleoclimate Events Can Predict Earth's Future"

Solved yesterday, settled today! That's a rapid fire consensus... (they actually use the word "settled" in the title of the paper)

Study Settles prehistoric puzzle, confirms modern link of carbon dioxide and global warming

Finally poor Miocene researchers can sigh with relief as the first study in years shows what they *knew* was the right answer and now they can issue press releases, rest their weary minds, and stop trying to think of excuses as to why their results didn't fit with The Climate Model Testaments.

Who knew there were large discrepancies and carbon dioxide did not fit the temperature theory for a million years or so? Not the public.

Where were the press releases?

Research Shows A High Temperature World Had Nothing To Do With CO2

Study shows temperatures fell dramatically, CO2 stayed the same

Study shows models have no freaking clue what controls the climate

Exactly, never.


China's space odyssey: Beijing reveals ambitious goals for its space exploration program

© China Stringer Network Reuters
People watch the launch of the Long March-5 Y2 rocket from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in Wenchang, Hainan Province, China, July 2, 2017.
China has revealed its long-term roadmap for the country's space exploration program, including some extraordinarily ambitious goals set between now and 2045. Some magnificent milestones appear on that trajectory.

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), China's answer to SpaceX, hopes to have fully developed its expendable, low-cost, 'Long March' rocket series by the end of the decade. It released the details in a statement on state news channels Thursday.

Long March 5 and 7 are almost fully operational, but CASC hopes to have its #8 rockets carrying out full-scale commercial missions by 2020. The 8 will be the company's springboard towards competing in the commercial space sector, by providing launch services to trade partners.


SpaceX scraps launch of top secret US government payload over safety concerns

© SpaceX / Facebook
Falcon 9 rocket and 'Zuma' vehicle on Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
SpaceX has scrapped the launch of a top secret US government payload at the 11th hour citing safety concerns raised by another, anonymous, customer. The company has a backup launch window but is unlikely to take unnecessary risks.

The launch was initially planned for a two-hour primary launch window starting at 8pm EST on Thursday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida. The company was due to attempt recovery of the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket at the LZ-1 landing pad at Cape Canaveral some 15 minutes after launch. A backup launch window was announced before the entire launch was pulled.


NASA expert outlining search for extraterrestrials says we will find alien life within 20 years

© UIG via Getty Images
The detection of water completely changed scientists' opinions on the two icy moons, explains research scientist Morgan Cable. 'We thought Enceladus was just boring and cold until the Cassini mission discovered a liquid water subsurface ocean,' said Cable.
Alien life could be found within the next few decades, according to NASA scientists leading the exhaustive search.

In recent years, capabilities have snowballed; the discovery of Pluto in 1930 was once thought a once-in-a-lifetime feat, yet not even 100 years later, over 3,500 exoplanets from thousands of star systems have since been located.

Experts say the search is heavily guided by characteristics of our own planet, helping scientists to weed out inhospitable worlds from those that may have promise for life, such as the icy moons Enceladus and Europa.

Comment: Before going off and looking for alien life on other planets, perhaps these scientists should look in their own backyard: Prominent Ufologist Stanton Friedman: 'Aliens are here and will quarantine us'


Bellringers to create dazzling light show at Durham Cathedral

© Ian Forsyth/Getty Images
Lights inside the cathedral during a preview of the Lumiere festival
Thursday 16 November 2017 07.00 GMT

As darkness falls on Thursday evening, the bells of Durham Cathedral will ring out across the city - and continue for the next six hours while brilliant flashes light up sections of the enormous building, inside and out. The bellringers will literally be playing the cathedral, sensors on each bell directly triggering the flashes of light, with Cuthbert, the great 17th-century tenor bell, illuminating the central tower.

"It's never been done in the world before," the bell major Christopher Crabtree said. "We're excited - but it's going to be hard work."

It's also going to be hard work for any local residents who don't relish the sound of 6.5 tonnes of bronze sounding for six hours on each of the four nights of the Lumiere festival. "We are very grateful for the warmth and tolerance of our neighbours," the dean, Andrew Tremlett, said. There will be noisy nights in the deanery yards from the bell tower, but he is full of excitement about the project, which was partly devised in passionate discussions around his table.


China to build world's fastest wind tunnel to test hypersonic weapons

© Unknown
Researchers want new facility to be up and running by 2020 as race to develop hypersonic technology intensifies

China is building the world's fastest wind tunnel to simulate hypersonic flight at speeds of up to 12 kilometres per second.

A hypersonic vehicle flying at this speed from China could reach the west coast of the United States in less than 14 minutes.

Zhao Wei, a senior scientist working on the project, said researchers aimed to have the facility up and running by around 2020 to meet the pressing demand of China's hypersonic weapon development programme.

"It will boost the engineering application of hypersonic technology, mostly in military sectors, by duplicating the environment of extreme hypersonic flights, so problems can be discovered and solved on the ground," said Zhao, a deputy director of the State Key Laboratory of High Temperature Gas Dynamics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

Comment: See also: China reveals model of a 7,680mph hypersonic strike aircraft on state TV


Ex-Google exec to establish an official religion to worship artificial intelligence

© Getty
A former executive at Google has filed paperwork with the IRS to establish an official religion of technology. This religion doesn't just worship scientific progress, but artificial intelligence itself, with the goal of creating a godhead.

The new church of AI will aim "to develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on artificial intelligence and through understanding and worship of the Godhead [to] contribute to the betterment of society," according to IRS documents.

The non-profit religious organization would be called "Way of the Future" (WOTF). According to the website (wayofthefuture.church), the movement is "about creating a peaceful and respectful transition of who is in charge of the planet from people to people + 'machines.'"

"Given that technology will 'relatively soon' be able to surpass human abilities, we want to help educate people about this exciting future and prepare a smooth transition," the site explains. "In 'recent' years, we have expanded our concept of rights to both sexes, minority groups and even animals, let's make sure we find a way for 'machines' to get rights too."

There is an inherent contradiction in creating a deity of artificial intelligence and then worshipping it.

Comment: Well, that sounds interesting, eerily this whole Google, AI, and Drones/Autonomous Killer Robots makes the following sound sensible:

The Beast out of the Sea

13 The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. (West Coast?) And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. 2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. 4 People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?"

Beast, robot?

5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority (speech synthesizer?) for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7 It was given power to wage war against God's holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast-all whose names have not been written in the Lamb's book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

The Beast out of the Earth

11 Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb (antennae?), but it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. 14 Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast (like a large billboard monitor with a simulated avatar?) who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, (like an RFID chip, or cerebral/cell phone implant?) 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.

Very interesting... was Revelations the first Sci-Fi Dystopia Novel? Cyberpunk 200 AD.


Lightning in a bottle: Scientists create ring of plasma in mid air for the first time in history

© Plasma ring Caltech / YouTube

Scientists have created a ring of plasma in mid air, the equivalent of capturing lightning in a bottle, using only a stream of high pressured water and a crystal plate, achieving what was once thought impossible.

Plasma is one of the four most common states of matter on Earth, and is comprised of highly ionized gas. Lightning is a form of plasma, as is the weather phenomenon Saint Elmo's fire, when glowing balls of light appear on pointed objects during storms. Fluorescent light bulbs and neon lights contain other forms of plasma.

Plasma doesn't usually have a defined shape, for instance lightning forms in a fork shape as it follows the path of least resistance through the air. Man-made plasmas have only ever been created in vacuum chambers or electromagnetic fields.

Alarm Clock

Amish people have mutant gene that makes them live 10 years longer

© Mark Wilson/Getty Images
High proportions of Amish people possess the gene
An age-defying mutation found in the genes of Amish people appears to be boosting their lifespan.

Individuals carrying a single non-functional copy of the gene SERPINE1 live an average of 10 years longer than other members of their communities, according to new research.

The study was carried out with the Old Order Amish of Indiana, who generally avoid the trappings of modern society, including electricity, cars and medicine.

"They don't take advantage of modern medicine in general, so the fact that the carriers have a median lifespan of nearly 85 is rather remarkable," said Dr Douglas Vaughan, a cardiovascular specialist at Northwestern University who co-authored the study, published in Science Advances.

Of the 177 people tested, 43 had the mutation.

Ageing is one of the most challenging biological processes to understand, so finding a single mutation that has such a dramatic effect is unusual.

"There's been an enormous challenge in identifying genetic predictors of a long lifespan," said Dr Vaughan.

Ageing comes with numerous symptoms. What is notable about this mutation is that it seems to address so many of those, with effects ranging from protection against diabetes to maintenance of cardiovascular elasticity.

"We're talking about something that appears to have an effect at molecular levels, at hormonal levels, at tissue levels, and plays out with people having a longer lifespan," said Dr Vaughan.

The mutation results in longer telomeres - caps at the end of DNA strands that protect the chromosomes. Shortening of telomeres has been implicated in the process of ageing, which may explain the mutation's life-enhancing effects.

Two copies of this non-functional gene, however, have quite the opposite effect. Instead of protecting individuals from disease, it is linked with excessive bleeding following injury.

As the peoples with two copies - so-called heterozygous individuals - are so healthy, it is unlikely their mutation would have been observed were it not for the homozygous individuals with two copies, who present with this obvious illness.

In the general population, Dr Vaughan said, similar mutations might occur at a rate of around one in 70,000 people.

The fact that Amish people tend to be more interrelated than the wider population owing to their insular communities might explain the relative prevalence of the SERPINE1 mutation.

In terms of learning about the genetics underlying complex processes like ageing, Dr Vaughan suggests that this provides an excellent example for future work.

"Looking at unique populations like this might be more informative than broad genetic studies in normal populations," he said.