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Tue, 25 Oct 2016
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Bizarro Earth

Study finds hidden connection between two dangerous fault zones in San Francisco

The longer a fault stretches, the bigger the earthquake it can produce.
The most dangerous earthquake fault in the San Francisco Bay Area is connected to another, which means both could rupture simultaneously and unleash major devastation, a new study finds.

The Hayward Fault has long been considered a threat because it runs under densely populated neighborhoods east of San Francisco. The new work found that beneath San Pablo Bay, it joins with a second, less active underground fracture to the north.

Scientists had already considered the possibility of both faults rupturing at once, whether they are connected or not. So the discovery doesn't change the estimated earthquake hazard much, although it confirms suspicions that the stage is set for what could be a massive quake.

If the Hayward and Rodgers Creek faults broke simultaneously along their combined 118 miles, they could produce a magnitude 7.4 quake, said scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey.


Map shows which parts of the US are at the highest risk from a devastating solar storm

© Getty Images
Solar storms have the ability to disrupt Earth’s magnetic field and wreak havoc on our electric power grid.
Be ready.

Scientists have drawn up the first ever map of areas of the US that would be at the biggest risk if a catastrophic geomagnetic storm - generated by solar energy erupting from the Sun - were to strike Earth.

While these kinds of intense geomagnetic storms are very rare, when they do hit, a stream of highly charged particles carried on the solar wind can disrupt Earth's magnetic field, causing havoc for electric power grids on the surface.

A particularly powerful solar ejection could potentially send us back to the Dark Ages for months or even years by causing widespread power outages around the planet, with a damage bill estimated to be as high as US$2.6 trillion.

So knowing which particular power grids stand to be hardest hit by such an intense solar storm is a pretty good idea - and that's the thinking behind the new map developed by researchers at the US Geological Survey.

"Power grids are grounded, so they can pick up electric fields generated deep inside the Earth," geophysicist Jeffrey Love told Dave Mosher at Business Insider. "But that geoelectric activity depends on the geology, and that's different from one region to the next."

In particular, areas at a higher latitude - and therefore closer to Earth's magnetic poles - receive the greatest barrage of particles during a solar storm.

Comment: Interesting that the team can't seem to get Congressional funding for charting what, in human terms, is far and away the most vulnerable area of the United States - but they can enact Executive orders extracting resources from citizens if such an eventuality should occur. See: New Executive Order points to devastating space event, unprecedented government response - and public's lack of preparedness


A new inflatable 'weapon' in Russia's arsenal

© James Hill for The New York Times
Deep in the Russian countryside, the grass sways in a late-summer breeze. In the distance, the sun glistens off the golden spires of a village church. It is, to all appearances, a typically Russian scene of imperturbable rural tranquillity.

Until a sleek MIG-31 fighter jet suddenly appears in a field, its muscular, stubby wings spreading to reveal their trademark red star insignia. A few moments later, a missile launcher pops up beside it.

Cars on a nearby road pull over, the drivers gaping in amazement at what appear to be fearsome weapons, encountered so unexpectedly in this serene spot. And then, as quickly as they appeared, the jet and missile launcher vanish.

"If you study the major battles of history, you see that trickery wins every time," Aleksei A. Komarov, the military engineer in charge of this sleight of hand, said with a sly smile. "Nobody ever wins honestly."


No signal yet from ExoMars lander after descent to Red Planet

Scientists at the European Space Agency have received no signal from the Schiaparelli module since it attempted a risky landing on the surface of Mars. ESA scientists are waiting for data from a probe in Mars' orbit to confirm whether the craft landed safely.

The ground module of the joint European-Russian mission was supposed to land at 14:47 GMT, and the most immediate confirmation of success was to come through an array of radio telescopes located in India, but so far they have failed to provide a clear signal from the Schiparelli probe. The ESA has cautioned that this method of detection was still "experimental," however.


Are pilots days numbered? - First robot-manned flight has just happened

© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Mike Hopkins, Eric Hahn and Robert Griffin work on the legs of the ESCHER robot while preparing for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Robotics Challenge at the TREC (Terrestrial Robotics Engineering and Controls) Lab at Virginia Tech April 9, 2015 in Blacksburg, Virginia.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has just successfully completed the first robot-manned flight yesterday at a small airport in Virginia on a turboprop plane.

The robot, which was part of a two man crew where it acted as an assistant pilot, looked simple with metal rods and tubes that acted as its hands and feet. However, its simplicity belies the complexity of its internal make-up, which allows it to do the flying during the demonstration. The robot expertly maneuvered the throttle and successfully completed the flight.

DARPA has been working with the program called Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) in collaboration with Aurora Flight Sciences. They have started the program in response to the growing need for pilots in both commercial and military flights.

Asked how reliable the robots are, John Langford, CEO and chairman of Aurora, said that it is like a "human pilot with 600,000 hours of experience." He added that it can do better than a human pilot because it can react faster and smarter because it carries with it every information about the aircraft system.

Fireball 5

Are dark comets an extinction threat to the Earth?

© The Extinction Protocol
There are many cosmic catastrophes that could do us in, completely irrespective of anything that happens here on Earth. A star could pass into our Solar System and swallow up our planet whole, or eject us from our orbit and cause us to permanently freeze over. A supernova or gamma ray burst could go off too close to us, disintegrating all life on the Earth's surface. Or, as we know it did at least once before some 65 million years ago, a large, fast-moving object like a comet or asteroid could have a catastrophic collision with Earth. At least if we're prepared, we ought to see one coming and be able to take preparations. But what if there's no chance; what if an incoming comet is somehow unseeable? David Bertone heard about that possibility, and wants to know!

I recently came across a few articles regarding dark comets, and to say the least it freaked me out! [...] Is Napier right about the dark comets? Are they truly a threat to us [on] earth? We have lots of threats to life on Earth, and getting struck by a large, fast-moving, unexpected object is certainly among them! Bill Napier is a scientist who studies potentially hazardous objects from outer space. He rightly points out that, while most efforts to catalogue the potential dangers to Earth focus on near-Earth objects like the asteroids that leave the main belt and cross Earth's orbit, that might not be a good reflection of what's actually likely to get us. Nor is it necessarily an asteroid orbiting interior to Jupiter or a comet orbiting exterior to the orbit of Neptune, just waiting to get perturbed and flung into the inner Solar System. There are plenty of objects orbiting in between the orbits of the four gas giants, known as centaurs, that could be hurtled inwards without any warning, and most of them have not been catalogued. Napier postulates that many of these centaurs may be invisible to us, even after being flung inwards, until it's far too late.

Comment: Comet Swift-Tuttle may just be one of many visitors from the cosmos during this time of increasing electrical interaction within our solar system. And, it is not only impacts that have ramifications for our planet. It is also what the comets carry with them that may alter our biosphere and Earth's living organisms forever.

Suggested reading: Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection (The Secret History of the World Book 3) by Pierre Lescaudron, Laura Knight-Jadczyk


Ancient cave art solve mystery of the "Higgs bison"

© Carole Fritz and Gilles Tosello
A reproduction of the blurred black charcoal drawing of a steppe bison (Bison priscus) from the Aurignacian period, Chauvet-Pont d'Arc cave (Ardèche, France).
A newly identified hybrid animal has been "hiding in plain sight," according to researchers who spotted its depiction in well-known cave art thousands of years old.

Researchers have identified a previously unknown hybrid species of bison and cattle, with the help of cave drawings dating to at least 12,000 years ago.

Nicknamed the Higgs Bison (a play on the physics term Higgs boson) because of its once mysterious, elusive past, DNA analysis has verified the existence of the hybrid.

A new study published in the journal Nature Communications describes how the animal originated more than 120,000 years ago through the hybridization of the extinct Aurochs, the ancestor of modern cattle, and the Ice Age Steppe bison, which ranged across the cold grasslands from Europe to Mexico.

Higgs Bison eventually became the ancestor of the modern European bison, also called the wisent.

Study co-author Alan Cooper, director of the University of Adelaide's Australian Center for Ancient DNA, said that the Auruchs and the Ice Age Steppe bison were "doing things they are not meant to be doing together and producing a completely new species that survived, which is bizarre because normally that's not meant to happen in mammals."


Mysterious chambers uncovered in Great Pyramid of Giza

© Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters
Two scientists say they've uncovered hidden chambers in the Great Pyramid of Giza. Discovered using an advanced X-ray technique the chambers are completely isolated from all other tombs and passages in the 4,500 year-old structure.

The discovery was made by Scan Pyramids, a research project involving universities and advanced scientific instruments. Using a combination of thermography, 3D simulation and radiography imaging, the team discovered anomalies in the structure indicating the presence of holes beneath the rock.

One was discovered at the north-eastern edge of the pyramid and another on the northern face, where a 2015 study indicated one may exist, according to the research's findings.

"The precise shape, size, and exact position of this void is now under further investigation," the team said. "It should be done with the help of 12 new muon emulsion plates that are installed in the descending corridor, and will be collected by the end of October 2016."


Global warmists attempting to change the definition of a hurricane so we'll have more of them!

Hurricane Joaquin as a category 4 storm in October 2015
This op-ed from IBD points out what we have been saying for years, that even though there is no trend in hurricane frequency of intensity, alarmists like Mashable's Andrew Freedman are trying to get the definition of a hurricane redefined, so that the trend will become a positive one. Recall that hateful science blogger Greg Laden asked Should There be a Category 6 for Hurricanes? after super typhoon Haiyan hit in 2013, something that ABC news opined had "already happened" without one shred of evidence to back up that opinion for a Category 6 storm. They also note:
Only three Category 5s have come ashore in the United States in the past century — the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, Camille in 1969 and Andrew in 1992.

But because of man-made global warming, most hurricane scientists say now we will probably be getting Category 4 and 5 hurricanes more frequently in the coming decades.


Japan: Researchers develop robotic 'babies' to encourage couples to become parents

© Franck Robichon/EPA
So I’m going on a big adventure … right?
Driven by a declining population, a trend for developing robotic babies has emerged in Japan as a means of encouraging couples to become "parents". The approaches taken vary widely and are driven by different philosophical approaches that also beg a number of questions, not least whether these robo-tots will achieve the aim of their creators.

To understand all of this it is worth exploring the reasons behind the need to promote population growth in Japan. The issue stems from the disproportionate number of older people. Predictions from the UN suggest that by 2050 there will be about double the number of people living in Japan in the 70-plus age range compared to those aged 15-30. This is blamed on a number of factors including so-called "parasite singles", more unmarried women and a lack of immigration.

So, what are the different design approaches that are being taken to encourage more people to become parents? These have ranged from robots that mimic or represent the behaviour of a baby through to robots that look much more lifelike. Engineers at Toyota recently launched Kirobo Mini, for example, as a means of promoting an emotional response in humans. The robot does not look like a baby, but instead models "vulnerable" baby-like behaviours including recognising and responding to people in a high-pitched tone and being unstable in its movements.