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Sun, 18 Feb 2018
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Mackinder's Geopolitics vs. Xi Jinping's New Silk Road: Reality is Not a Closed System

"China will continue to hold high the banner of peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit, and uphold its fundamental foreign policy goal of preserving world peace and promoting common development. China remains firm in its commitment to strengthening friendship and cooperation with other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, and to forging a new form of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice, and win-win cooperation."

- Xi Jinping, address to 19th National Congress of the CPC
belt road china world map

China’s Belt and Road Initiative has created a new paradigm of cooperation, inter-connectivity and growth across Eurasia and Africa, and increasingly the Arctic region.
In his recently translated address to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping laid out a grand design and philosophy for short, medium and long-term strategy, for both his country and the world.1 President Xi not only directly challenged the underlying morality of post-modernism and neo-liberalism which has rendered the Western population incapable of planning the future or even maintaining the institutions handed down to us from past generations, but most importantly threw down the gauntlet, challenging the Western powers to release themselves from the ideological crutch of 'geopolitics' and work with China under a new paradigm of 'win-win cooperation'.

Xi Jinping's 'Belt and Road Initiative' and its global manifestations across Africa, Europe and the Americas have been complemented on January 25, 2018 by an extension into the Arctic, dubbed the Polar Silk Road. This Arctic extension gave new life to a project which Russian President Vladimir Putin endorsed as early as April 2007, known as the Bering Strait Rail Tunnel, connecting the Americas with Eurasia.2

Up until recently, Western geopoliticians have attempted to dismiss such initiatives as 'fringe concepts' promoted by Lyndon and Helga LaRouche of the Schiller Institute, but today a very different picture has come to light which reveals that this battle between two opposing paradigms goes much further back in history than most people realize and, as such, a need to revisit some forgotten history is in order. It is, after all, due to this potent conception of history as a struggle between two opposing paradigms that the LaRouches and their allies have been able advance such policies mentioned above for over four decades.

Question

Did ancient ozone holes sterilize forests 252 million years ago?

Dwarf pines
© J. Benca
Modern dwarf pines (shown) become unable to reproduce when irradiated by ultraviolet-B lamps. A similar fate may have befallen forests 252 million years ago, when massive bursts of volcanic gases likely weakened Earth’s ozone shield.
Volcano-fueled holes in Earth's ozone layer 252 million years ago may have repeatedly sterilized large swaths of forest, setting the stage for the world's largest mass extinction event. Such holes would have allowed ultraviolet-B radiation to blast the planet. Even radiation levels below those predicted for the end of the Permian period damage trees' abilities to make seeds, researchers report February 7 in Science Advances.

Jeffrey Benca, a paleobotanist at the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues exposed plantings of modern dwarf pine tree (Pinus mugo) to varying levels of UV-B radiation. Those levels ranged from none to up to 93 kilojoules per square meter per day. According to previous simulations, UV-B radiation at the end of the Permian may have increased from a background level of 10 kilojoules (just above current ambient levels) to as much as 100 kilojoules, due to large concentrations of ozone-damaging halogens spewed from volcanoes (SN: 1/15/11, p. 12).

Info

New form of light created in the lab

New Form of Light
© YouTube
Quantum computing relies on bizarre mechanics like hyper-cooled atoms and quantum superposition to pull off seemingly impossible calculations, but now scientists have made an even weirder breakthrough: they've created a new form of light, which may prove essential for the quantum computer revolution. The discovery came from joint research conducted by MIT and Harvard, with study authors Vladan Vuletic and Mikhail Lukin revealing their results today in Science.

The big takeaway from their research is that photons, which normally don't interact with one another, can be forced to bunch into pairs or triplets when they're passed through a hyper-cooled cloud of rubidium atoms, where the photons bounce from atom to atom like pinballs. These photons temporarily form a "polaritron," a hybrid between a photon and an atom, when passing by the rubidium atoms.

When two photons join with the same atom, they can become tethered together and break away from the atom with their bond still intact, forming tiny groups of photons that "remember" the process that formed them: according to co-author Sergio Cantu, "When photons go through the medium, anything that happens in the medium, they 'remember' when they get out."

Ice Cube

Solar minimum is upon us and 20 years of data shows other stars are exhibiting similar signs

These two large black spots on the sun, known as sunspots, appeared quickly in February 2013, and each is as wide across as six Earths.
© NASA/SDO/AIA/HMI/Goddard Space Flight Center
These two large black spots on the sun, known as sunspots, appeared quickly in February 2013, and each is as wide across as six Earths.
The sun may be dimming, temporarily. Don't panic; Earth is not going to freeze over. But will the resulting cooling put a dent in the global warming trend?

A periodic solar event called a "grand minimum" could overtake the sun perhaps as soon as 2020 and lasting through 2070, resulting in diminished magnetism, infrequent sunspot production and less ultraviolet (UV) radiation reaching Earth - all bringing a cooler period to the planet that may span 50 years.

The last grand-minimum event - a disruption of the sun's 11-year cycle of variable sunspot activity - happened in the mid-17th century. Known as the Maunder Minimum, it occurred between 1645 and 1715, during a longer span of time when parts of the world became so cold that the period was called the Little Ice Age, which lasted from about 1300 to 1850.

Comment: Mainstream 'scientists' base their predictions on a demonstrably erroneous belief that human related carbon dioxide emissions cause global warming so their views will inevitably lead to conclusions which are not supported by reality, no matter how much they fiddle the data.

The sun is becoming quiet, other planets are exhibiting unexpected behaviours, Earth is cooling and its climate is cyclical with all signs of an impending ice age up ahead.


Gold Bar

Scientists uncover more about the mystery of the origin of gold

gold veins quartz

Veins of gold in quartz
An international group of scientists, with the participation of the University of Granada (UGR), has shed new light on the origin of gold, one of the most intriguing mysteries for Mankind since ancient times and which even today doesn't have an answer that convinces the scientific community.

Their work, which has been recently published in the renowned Nature Communications journal, has established that the gold came to the Earth's surface from the deepest regions of our planet. Thus, the Earth's set of internal movements would have favored the ascent and concentration of the precious metal.

The researchers have found evidence of said process in the Argentinean Patagonia, which in addition represents the first register of gold found under the South American continent, specifically at a depth of 70 kilometers.

Info

Storm on Neptune is mysteriously fading away

Neptune
© NASA/JPL
Far away on the distant planet of Neptune, an enormous storm is fading away into nothingness.

When the storm was first discovered in 2015, it stretched over 3,100 miles in length, but now, it's shrunk significantly, measuring a mere 2,300 miles long. This goes against computer models of its development, meaning that our current understanding of how storms move on Neptune is woefully flawed.

Storms of this nature have been observed on Neptune regularly since the 1980s, when the Voyager 2 probe gave us a close look at the planet for the first time. Back then, a large storm on Neptune's surface was spotted, and scientists drew similarities to the large circular storm that rages on the much larger planet Jupiter.

Over time, as further photographs of Neptune were taken, it was proven that the planet's storms hardly last as long as those on Jupiter - while the so-called Giant Red Spot has been swirling on the gas giant for two centuries, it seems that only a few years are necessary for storms on Neptune to dissipate.

Sun

Sunspot explodes for more than 6 hours, hurls giant solar flare at earth

CME leaving the sun

CME leaving the sun
We first reported on this possibility a few days ago.

On Feb. 12th, the magnetic canopy of sunspot AR2699 exploded-for more than 6 hours. The slow-motion blast produced a C1-class solar flare and hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) almost directly toward Earth. This movie from the Solar and Heliospheric Observtory (SOHO) shows the CME leaving the sun.

The CME could arrive as early as today, although Feb 15th is more likely. NOAA forecasters say there is a 60% chance of G1-class geomagnetic storms with isolated periods of stronger G2 storming.

Satellite

Farewell to a pioneering pollution sensor - NASA retires failing Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer

tes satellite
© NASA
TES collected spectral "signatures," illustrated here, of ozone and other gases in the lower atmosphere. Credit: NASA
On Jan. 31, NASA ended the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer's (TES) almost 14-year career of discovery. Launched in 2004 on NASA's Aura spacecraft, TES was the first instrument designed to monitor ozone in the lowest layers of the atmosphere directly from space. Its high-resolution observations led to new measurements of atmospheric gases that have altered our understanding of the Earth system.

TES was planned for a five-year mission but far outlasted that term. A mechanical arm on the instrument began stalling intermittently in 2010, affecting TES's ability to collect data continuously. The TES operations team adapted by operating the instrument to maximize science operations over time, attempting to extend the data set as long as possible. However, the stalling increased to the point that TES lost operations about half of last year. The data gaps hampered the use of TES data for research, leading to NASA's decision to decommission the instrument. It will remain on the Aura satellite, receiving enough power to keep it from getting so cold it might break and affect the two remaining functioning instruments.

"The fact that the instrument lasted as long as it did is a testament to the tenacity of the instrument teams responsible for designing, building and operating the instrument," said Kevin Bowman of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the TES principal investigator.

Blue Planet

The paradox of Earth's core - it shouldn't exist

earth core centro tierra
© Sputnik/ Alexandr Lyskin
Earth's solid inner core formed about one billion years ago. Researchers are getting closer to figuring out how it happened.
One day, about a billion years ago, Earth's inner core had a growth spurt. The molten ball of liquid metal at the center of our planet rapidly crystallized due to lowering temperatures, growing steadily outward until it reached the roughly 760-mile (1,220 kilometers) diameter to which it's thought to extend today.

That's the conventional story of the inner core's creation, anyway. But according to a new paper published online this week in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, that story is impossible.

In the paper, the researchers argued that the standard model of how the Earth's core formed is missing a crucial detail about how metals crystallize: a mandatory, massive drop in temperature that would be extremely difficult to achieve at core pressures. [6 Visions of Earth's Core]

Comment: In other words, while they've identified their errors, they have no idea how it could have happened. There may be some clues in Electric Universe theory, as well as other 'fringe' areas of scientific research:


Bug

Ants nurse wounded warriors back to health

African Matabele ant
© Erik Frank, AFP
African Matabele ants dress the wounds of injured comrades and nurse them back to health.
African Matabele ants dress the wounds of comrades injured during hunting raids and nurse them back to health, according to an "astonishing" discovery reported Wednesday.

After collecting their wounded from the battlefield and carrying them back home, nestmates become medics, massing around patients for "intense licking" of open wounds, according to a study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

This behaviour reduces the fatality rate from about 80 percent of injured soldiers to a mere 10 percent, researchers observed.

The study claimed to be the first to show such nursing behaviour in any non-human animal.

"This is not conducted through self-medication, as is known in many animals, but rather through treatment by nestmates which, through intense licking of the wound, are likely able to prevent an infection," said study co-author Erik Frank.

He contributed to the research when he was at the Julius Maximilian University of Wuerzburg in Germany, and continues his work at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland.

Frank had also taken part in a previous study, published last year, describing the ants' battleground rescue behaviour.

The new research focused on what happens to the injured back in the nest.