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Why the U.S. Gave Up on the Moon

Moon nearside


Excerpt from spacenews.com


Recently, several space advocacy groups joined forces to form the Alliance for Space Development. Their published objectives include a mention of obvious near-term goals such as supporting the commercial crew program, transitioning from use of the International Space Station to future private space stations and finding ways to reduce the cost of access to space.  What is notably missing from these objectives and those of many other space agencies, companies and advocacy groups is any mention of building a permanent settlement on the moon. It’s as if the lunar surface has become our crazy uncle that we all acknowledge exists but we’d prefer not to mention (or visit).  What made the next logical step in mankind’s progression beyond the bounds of Earth such a taboo subject?  If, as the Alliance for Space Development suggests, our nation wishes to move toward a path of permanent space settlements, the most logical step is our own planet’s satellite.

Lunar base conception
A 2006 NASA conception of a lunar base. Credit: NASA


A base on the lunar surface is a better place to study space settlement than a space station or Mars for many reasons. Unlike a space station, the base does not have to contend with aerodynamic drag, attitude control issues or contamination and impingement from its own thrusters. Unlike a space station, which exists in a total vacuum and resource void, a lunar base has access to at least some surface resources in the forms of minerals, albeit fewer than might be available on Mars.  Many people naturally want to go directly to Mars as our next step. Even SpaceX has publicly stated this as its ultimate goal, with SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell noting that “we’re not moon people.” However, Mars makes sense only if we think the technology is ready to safely support humans on another surface for long periods of time. Furthermore, budget restrictions make an ambitious goal like going immediately to Mars an unlikely prospect. Why are we afraid to take the seemingly necessary baby steps of developing the technology for a long-term base on a surface that can be reached in mere days instead of months?  The tendency to want to skip a lunar settlement is not a new phenomenon. Even before the first landing on the moon, U.S. and NASA political leadership was contemplating the future of manned space, and few of the visions involved a lunar base. The early space program was driven by Cold War competition with Moscow, and the kinds of ideas that circulated at the time involved milestones that seemed novel such as reusable spaceplanes, nuclear-powered rockets, space stations and missions to Mars. 

When the United States was on the verge of a series of landings on the moon, building a permanent base just didn’t seem like much of a new giant leap. NASA's ConstellationNASA’s Constellation program, featuring the Orion manned capsule set atop the Ares 1 launch vehicle, was meant to send astronauts back to the moon. Credit: NASA  The idea of a lunar landing mission was not reintroduced seriously until the George W. Bush administration and the introduction of the Constellation program. This program came at a complex time for NASA: The space shuttle was recovering from the Columbia disaster, the space station was in the midst of construction and the United States found itself with large budget deficits. However, despite its budgetary and schedule problems, which are common in any serious aerospace development project from space programs to jumbo-jet development, it provided NASA with a vision and a goal that were reasonable and sensible as next steps toward a long-term future of exploration beyond Earth. 

Constellation was nevertheless canceled, and we have since returned to a most uncommon sense.  The decision to avoid any sort of lunar activity in current space policy may have been biased by the Obama administration’s desire to move as far away as possible from the policies of the previous administration. 

Regardless of the cause, discussion of returning to the moon is no longer on the table.  Without the moon, the only feasible mission that NASA could come up with that is within reach given the current technology and budget is the Asteroid Redirect Mission.  
Even planetary scientists have spoken out against the mission, finding that it will provide little scientific value. It will also provide limited engineering and technology value, if we assume that our long-term goal is to permanently settle space. The experience gained from this sort of flight has little applicability to planetary resource utilization, long-term life support or other technologies needed for settlement.  

If we are to have a program of manned space exploration, we must decide what the long-term goals of such a program should be, and we should align our actions with those goals. When resources such as funding are limited, space agencies and political leaders should not squander these limited resources on missions that make no sense. Instead, the limited funding should be used to continue toward our long-term goals, accepting a slower pace or slight scale-back in mission scope.  Establishing a permanent human settlement in space is a noble goal, one that will eventually redefine humanity. Like explorers before us, it is also not a goal that will be achieved in a short period of time. We would be wise to keep our eyes on that goal and the road needed to get us there. And the next likely stop on that road is a permanent home just above our heads, on the surface of the brightest light in the night sky.  
   
Paul Brower is an aerospace systems engineer on the operations team for the O3b Networks satellite fleet. He previously worked in mission control at NASA for 10 years.
Recently, several space advocacy groups joined forces to form the Alliance for Space Development. Their published objectives include a mention of obvious near-term goals such as supporting the commercial crew program, transitioning from use of the International Space Station to future private space stations and finding ways to reduce the cost of access to space.
What is notably missing from these objectives and those of many other space agencies, companies and advocacy groups is any mention of building a permanent settlement on the moon. It’s as if the lunar surface has become our crazy uncle that we all acknowledge exists but we’d prefer not to mention (or visit).
What made the next logical step in mankind’s progression beyond the bounds of Earth such a taboo subject?
If, as the Alliance for Space Development suggests, our nation wishes to move toward a path of permanent space settlements, the most logical step is our own planet’s satellite.
Lunar base conception
A 2006 NASA conception of a lunar base. Credit: NASA
A base on the lunar surface is a better place to study space settlement than a space station or Mars for many reasons. Unlike a space station, the base does not have to contend with aerodynamic drag, attitude control issues or contamination and impingement from its own thrusters. Unlike a space station, which exists in a total vacuum and resource void, a lunar base has access to at least some surface resources in the forms of minerals, albeit fewer than might be available on Mars.
Many people naturally want to go directly to Mars as our next step. Even SpaceX has publicly stated this as its ultimate goal, with SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell noting that “we’re not moon people.” However, Mars makes sense only if we think the technology is ready to safely support humans on another surface for long periods of time. Furthermore, budget restrictions make an ambitious goal like going immediately to Mars an unlikely prospect. Why are we afraid to take the seemingly necessary baby steps of developing the technology for a long-term base on a surface that can be reached in mere days instead of months?
The tendency to want to skip a lunar settlement is not a new phenomenon. Even before the first landing on the moon, U.S. and NASA political leadership was contemplating the future of manned space, and few of the visions involved a lunar base. The early space program was driven by Cold War competition with Moscow, and the kinds of ideas that circulated at the time involved milestones that seemed novel such as reusable spaceplanes, nuclear-powered rockets, space stations and missions to Mars. When the United States was on the verge of a series of landings on the moon, building a permanent base just didn’t seem like much of a new giant leap.
NASA's Constellation
NASA’s Constellation program, featuring the Orion manned capsule set atop the Ares 1 launch vehicle, was meant to send astronauts back to the moon. Credit: NASA
The idea of a lunar landing mission was not reintroduced seriously until the George W. Bush administration and the introduction of the Constellation program. This program came at a complex time for NASA: The space shuttle was recovering from the Columbia disaster, the space station was in the midst of construction and the United States found itself with large budget deficits. However, despite its budgetary and schedule problems, which are common in any serious aerospace development project from space programs to jumbo-jet development, it provided NASA with a vision and a goal that were reasonable and sensible as next steps toward a long-term future of exploration beyond Earth.
Constellation was nevertheless canceled, and we have since returned to a most uncommon sense.
The decision to avoid any sort of lunar activity in current space policy may have been biased by the Obama administration’s desire to move as far away as possible from the policies of the previous administration. Regardless of the cause, discussion of returning to the moon is no longer on the table.
Without the moon, the only feasible mission that NASA could come up with that is within reach given the current technology and budget is the Asteroid Redirect Mission.
Even planetary scientists have spoken out against the mission, finding that it will provide little scientific value. It will also provide limited engineering and technology value, if we assume that our long-term goal is to permanently settle space. The experience gained from this sort of flight has little applicability to planetary resource utilization, long-term life support or other technologies needed for settlement.
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If we are to have a program of manned space exploration, we must decide what the long-term goals of such a program should be, and we should align our actions with those goals. When resources such as funding are limited, space agencies and political leaders should not squander these limited resources on missions that make no sense. Instead, the limited funding should be used to continue toward our long-term goals, accepting a slower pace or slight scale-back in mission scope.
Establishing a permanent human settlement in space is a noble goal, one that will eventually redefine humanity. Like explorers before us, it is also not a goal that will be achieved in a short period of time. We would be wise to keep our eyes on that goal and the road needed to get us there. And the next likely stop on that road is a permanent home just above our heads, on the surface of the brightest light in the night sky.

Paul Brower is an aerospace systems engineer on the operations team for the O3b Networks satellite fleet. He previously worked in mission control at NASA for 10 years.
- See more at: http://spacenews.com/op-ed-why-the-u-s-gave-up-on-the-moon/#sthash.czfTscvg.dpuf

How To Fall Asleep By Not Trying




Excerpt from huffingtonpost.com
By Melissa Dahl
 

Late at night, when you've been trying and failing for hours to fall asleep, perhaps the thing to do is to try not trying. According to a 2003 study recently highlighted by University of Hertfortshire psychologist Richard Wiseman in his "59 Seconds" video series, when insomniacs tried to force themselves to stay awake, they were able to fall asleep. 

University of Glasgow researchers recruited 34 people with a history of insomnia for their research project and instructed one group to sleep, or try to, as they normally did. The other group was instructed to try to stay awake as long as they could; they were to lie in bed, eyes open (though they were allowed to blink). The catch: All they could do was lie there -- they were told not to move around or get up or watch TV or use a computer. (Smartphones didn't exist then the way they do now, but surely smartphones would've been banned, too.) 

After a 14-day trial, the insomniacs who tried not trying -- an approach called paradoxical intention -- fell asleep more quickly than the group that kept to their usual sleep habits. Few things are more exhausting than forcing yourself to stay awake.

MRSA superbug killed by 1,100-year-old home remedy, researchers say


MRSA attacks a human cell. The bacteria shown is the strain MRSA 252, a leading cause of hospital-associated infections. (Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH)


 

Even in the age of AIDS, avian flu and Ebola, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA, is terrifying.

The superbug, which is resistant to conventional antibiotics because of their overuse, shrugs at even the deadliest weapons modern medicine offers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated MRSA contributed to the deaths of more than 5,000 people in the United States in 2013. It even attacked the NFL, and some say it could eventually kill more people than cancer. And presidential commissions have advised that technological progress is the only way to fight MRSA.

But researchers in the United Kingdom now report that the superbug proved vulnerable to an ancient remedy. The ingredients? Just a bit of garlic, some onion or leek, copper, wine and oxgall — a florid name for cow’s bile.

This medicine sounds yucky, but it’s definitely better than the bug it may be able to kill.

“We were absolutely blown away by just how effective the combination of ingredients was,” Freya Harrison of the University of Nottingham, who worked on the research, told the BBC.

The oxgall remedy, billed as an eye salve, was found in a manuscript written in Old English from the 10th century called “Bald’s Leechbook” — a sort of pre-Magna Carta physician’s desk reference. Garlic and copper are commonly thought to have antibiotic or antimicrobial properties, but seeing such ingredients in a home remedy at Whole Foods is a far cry from researchers killing a superbug with it.

According to Christina Lee, an associate professor in Viking studies at Nottingham, the MRSA research was the product of conversations among academics of many stripes interested in infectious disease and how people fought it before antibiotics.

“We were talking about the specter of antibiotic resistance,” she told The Washington Post in a phone interview. The medical researchers involved in the discussions said to the medievalists: “In your period, you guys must have had something.”

Not every recipe in Bald’s Leechbook is a gem. Other advice, via a translation from the Eastern Algo-Saxonist: “Against a woman’s chatter; taste at night fasting a root of radish, that day the chatter cannot harm thee.” And: “In case a man be a lunatic; take skin of a mereswine or porpoise, work it into a whip, swinge the man therewith, soon he will be well. Amen.”

Though the Leechbook may include misses, it may help doctors find a solution to a problem that only seems to be getting worse.

If the oxgall remedy proves effective against MRSA outside of the lab — which researchers caution it may not — it would be a godsend. Case studies of MRSA’s impact from the CDC’s charmingly named Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report seem medieval.

In July 1997, a 7-year-old black girl from urban Minnesota was admitted to a tertiary-care hospital with a temperature of 103 F.” Result: Death from pulmonary hemorrhage after five weeks of hospitalization.

In January 1998, a 16-month-old American Indian girl from rural North Dakota was taken to a local hospital in shock and with a temperature of 105.2 F.” Result: After respiratory failure and cardiac arrest, death within two hours of hospital admission.

In January 1999, a 13-year-old white girl from rural Minnesota was brought to a local hospital with fever, hemoptysis” — that’s coughing up blood — “and respiratory distress.” The result: Death from multiple organ failure after seven days in the hospital.

“We believe modern research into disease can benefit from past responses and knowledge, which is largely contained in non-scientific writings,” Lee told the Telegraph. “But the potential of these texts to contribute to addressing the challenges cannot be understood without the combined expertise of both the arts and science.”

Lee stressed that it was the combination of ingredients that proved effective against MRSA — which shows that people living in medieval times were not as barbaric as popularly thought. Even 1,000 years ago, when people got sick, other people tried to figure out how to help.

“We associate ‘medieval’ with dark, barbaric,” Lee said. “… It’s not. I’ve always believed in the pragmatic medieval ages.”
The research will be presented at the Annual Conference of the Society for General Microbiology in Birmingham. In an abstract for the conference, the team cautioned oxgall was no cure-all.

“Antibacterial activity of a substance in laboratory trials does not necessarily mean the historical remedy it was taken from actually worked in toto,” they wrote.

Lee said researchers hope to turn to other remedies in Bald’s Leechbook — including purported cures for headaches and ulcers — to see what other wisdom the ancients have to offer.

“At a time when you don’t have microscope, medicine would have included things we find rather odd,” she said. “In 200 years, people will judge us.”

Discovered: A 'Treasure Chest' of Ancient Galaxies


full sky planck
The full visible sky as seen by the Planck space observatory. The band running through the middle corresponds to dust in our Milky Way galaxy. The black dots indicate the location of the proto-cluster candidates identified by Planck and subsequently observed by the Herschel space telescope. (Photo : ESA and the Planck Collaboration)


Excerpt from natureworldnews.com

Treasure seekers have found the haul of a lifetime, but it wasn't in some ancient temple or mysterious island. Instead, it was in the sky. Researcher using two of the European Space Agency's (ESA) impressive space telescopes have successfully identified what they are calling a "treasure chest" of ancient galaxy clusters, which could help explain how the Universe came to be the way it is today.

That's at least according to a study recently published (PDF) in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, which details how cosmologists used the ESA's Planck space observatory to identify the distant precursor galaxy clusters, and then poured over data from the Herschel telescope for a closer look.

"Finding so many intensely star-forming, dust galaxies in such concentrated groups was a huge surprise," Hervé Dole, lead author of the report from the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale in France, said in a statement. "We think this is a missing piece of cosmological structure formation."

So what does he mean by that? Let's turn back to the treasure chest metaphor for this one.  While Planck was the space observatory to dig up the chest, it was the Herschel data that allowed experts to look closely at each and every gold coin (galaxy cluster) inside. Now they are able to learn more about each coin's make, mint, and ultimately, its origins.

And that's a big step in better understanding the early Universe. Expects believe that it took a great deal of time after star and galaxies first sprung to life for them to assemble into large clusters. 

A summary of the 14 billion years out Universe has been in existence, as seen by the Plank space telescop. Light coming from some of the oldest parts of the Universe are just reaching the observatory now, allowing for experts to see the incredible uniformity of the early structure, compared to the chaotic beautify of star, galaxy, and cluster formation that crowd space today.
(Photo : ESA – C. Carreau) A summary of the 14 billion years out Universe has been in existence, as seen by the Plank space telescope. Light coming from some of the oldest parts of the Universe are just reaching the observatory now, allowing for experts to see the incredible uniformity of the early matter, compared to the chaotic beautify of star, galaxy, and cluster formation that crowds space today.
 
 
Once the clusters formed, their gravitational influence triggered the creation of new stars and galaxies. Dark matter - which is theorized to account for a great deal of each cluster's mass and influence - helped usher along the process of creating stars. But how these large clusters were ultimately assembled and grew is still a mystery.
That's why looking at some of the oldest 'coins' ever made - estimated to date back to up-to 11 billion light-years ago - could be exceptionally helpful.

"We still have a lot to learn about this new population," Dole said in an ESA release. "Hints of these kinds of objects had been found earlier in data from Herschel and other telescopes, but the all-sky capability of Planck revealed many more candidates for us to study."

"Even when we combined the powerful capabilities of Planck and Herschel, we were only scratching the surface of the phenomena taking place at this critical era in the history of our universe, when stars, galaxies and clusters seem to be forming simultaneously," 
added George Helou, director of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "That's one of the reasons this finding is exciting. It shows us that there is so much more to be learned.

Google's Self-Driving Car Test


la-google-car-jpg-20140117

GOOGLE: We announced our self-driving car project in 2010 to make driving safer, more enjoyable, and more efficient. Having safely completed over 200,000 miles of computer-led driving, we wanted to share one of our favorite moments. Here's Steve, who joined us for a special drive on a carefully programmed route to experience being behind the wheel in a whole new way. We organized this test as a technical experiment, but we think it's also a promising look at what autonomous technology may one day deliver if rigorous technology and safety standards can be met.

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What FACEBOOK And GOOGLE Are Hiding From The World ~ The Filter Bubble ~ TED Talks



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Will Our Universe Ever Run Out Of Energy?



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Why Luke Skywalker's binary sunset may be real after all






Excerpt from csmonitor.com

Researchers have found Jupiter-scale gas giants orbiting binary stars and estimate that Earth-like planets orbiting binary stars could be as numerous as rocky planets orbiting single-star systems.


For all the sci-fi charm of watching a pair of suns sink below a distant horizon on a planet in a galaxy far, far away, conventional wisdom has held that binary-star systems can't host Earth-scale rocky planets.

As the two stars orbit each other like square-dance partners swinging arm in arm, regular variations in their gravitational tug would disrupt planet formation at the relatively close distances where rocky planets tend to appear.

Not so fast, say two astrophysicists. They argue that only are Tatooine-like planets likely to be out there. They could be as numerous as rocky planets orbiting single-star systems – which is to say, there could be large number of them.

Building rocky planets in a binary system not only is possible, it's "not even that hard," says Scott Kenyon, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., who along with University of Utah astrophysicist Benjamin Bromley performed the calculations.
Researchers have found Jupiter-scale gas giants orbiting binary stars and have estimated that such gas giants are likely to be as common in binary systems as they are in systems with a single star.
"If that's true, then Earth-like planets around binaries are just as common as Earth-like planets around single stars," Dr. Kenyon says. "If they're not common, that tells you something about how they form or how they interact with the star over billions of years."

The modeling study grew out of work the two researchers were undertaking to figure out how the dwarf planet Pluto and its largest moon Charon manage to share space with four smaller moons that orbit the two larger objects. 

Pluto and Charon form a binary system that early in its history saw the two objects graze each other to generate a ring of dust that would become the additional moons.

The gravity the surrounding dust felt as Pluto and Charon swung about their shared center of mass would vary with clock-like precision.

Conventional wisdom held that this variable tug would trigger collisions at speeds too fast to allow the dust and larger chunks to merge into ever larger objects.

Kenyon and Dr. Bromley found that, in fact, the velocities would be smaller than people thought – no greater than the speeds would be around a single central object, where velocities are slow enough to allow the debris to bump gently and merge to build ever-larger objects.

They recognized that binary stars hosting planets are essentially scaled-up versions of the Pluto-Charon system. So they applied their calculations to a hypothetical binary star system with a circumstellar disk of dust and debris.

"The modest jostling in these orbits is the same modest jostling you'd get around a single star," Kenyon says, allowing rocky inner planets to form.

As for the Jupiter- or Neptune-scale planets found around binary stars, they would have formed farther out and migrated in over time, the researchers say, since there is too little material within the inner reaches of a circumstellar disk to build giant planets.

The duo's calculations imply that as more planets are discovered orbiting binary stars, a rising number of Tatooines will be among them. 

Tatooine "was science fiction," Kenyon says. But "it's not so far from science reality."

NASA puts Mars on back shelf, sets sight on asteroid mission




Excerpt from newsmaine.net

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has always given priority to Mars mission but an announcement that NASA made showed that the agency will first begin work on an asteroid mission before it plans for Mars mission. 

NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot said that the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) is going to give a first demonstration of various spaceflight abilities that will be required to send astronauts deeper into space and also finally to planet Mars.
"The option to retrieve a boulder from an asteroid will have a direct impact on planning for future human missions to deep space and begin a new era of spaceflight", said Lightfoot.

Asteroid will be selected by the agency with an aim to study. It will be placed into a stable orbit around the moon. According to NASA, asteroid is expected to be selected by 2019. Up to know the main candidates are asteroids Itokawa, Bennu and 2008 EV5.

The agency put efforts to find and select the best asteroid for the mission and the researchers are going to study the candidate asteroids regarding their size, rotation, shape and precise orbit. NASA notified that ARM robotic spacecraft is going to test various capabilities that will be needed for a long term human mission. For instance, the advanced Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) technology will be tested. 

Basically, SEP is going to be used to harness sunlight power and convert it to electrical power using solar arrays. Then, the energy that is converted will be used to propel spacecraft engine. 

According to experts, this technology is slower to work than making use of traditional propulsion. The cost is the difference because SEP doesn't need large amounts of propellant. 

According to experts, if the mission will be the long that needs long journey such as mission to Mars then large amount of propellant will be needed in order to keep the craft moving and it is something that is going to cost millions of dollars more to make it work.

There is an Urgent Need to Rewrite the ‘Erroneous’ Books About Human Evolution, study says





Excerpt from esbtrib.com

It is very interesting to know how, we, humans developed from our ancient forms  into our present state today. Of how great that transformation would have been. If only there are answers that can satisfy our thirst for facts on how we really evolved.


Until today, one of the most prevailing theories about our evolution claimed that our genus, Homo, had evolved from smaller early humans who, eventually, became  taller, heavier and longer-legged. This process in progression resulted in Homo erectus, who migrated out of Africa and colonized Eurasia.

While we know that small-bodied H. erectus, in average measured less than 5 feet tall and weighed below 50 kilograms and were living in southern Europe  at about 1.77 million years ago, the origin of the larger body size associated with modern humans has been evasive.

The fewness or scarcity of the knowledge about the origin of larger members of the Homo genus is basically the outcome of the lack of evidence. Prior estimates of body size had been based on well-preserved specimens which were easy to assign a species to. 
Considering the rarity and the inequality of these samples both in terms of space and time, little is known about the geographical and chronological variation in the body sizes of the early Homo.
The Universities of Cambridge and Tübingen conducted a joint study and the result  showed that increases in body size occurred thousands of years after H. erectus left Africa; this growth in Homo body sizes primarily took place in the Koobi Fora region in modern Kenya.

Manuel Will, co-author of the study which has been published in the Journal of Human Evolution, then concluded that, “The evolution of larger bodies and longer legs can thus no longer be assumed to be the main driving factor behind the earliest excursions of our genus to Eurasia.

The team were able to estimate our earliest ancestors’ height and body mass by using tiny fragments of fossil. Their findings, rather surprisingly, indicate a huge diversity in body size; this is particularly surprising for the obvious reason that the wide variation we see in humans today is thought to be a relatively recent development.

Dr Jay Stock, co-author of the study, in a statement said, “If someone would ask you ‘are modern humans 6 foot tall and weigh 70kg?’ you’d probably answer,‘well some are, but many people are not,’ so what we’re starting to show is that this diversification happened really early in human evolution.”

Stock and Will, both co-authors of the study, are the first scientists in 2 decades to compare the body size of humans from between 1.5 and 2.5 million years ago. They are also the first to use fragmentary fossils – many as small as toes, none longer than 5cm – to estimate body sizes.

The researchers have also revealed substantial regional variation in the size of early humans by comparing measurements of fossils from sites in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Georgia. Those groups who lived in South African caves, for example, were 4.8 feet tall on average. Some of the skeletons found in Kenya’s Koobi Fora region would have stood nearly 6 feet tall, a height comparable to the average height of modern British males.

In addition, Stock said,“Basically every textbook on human evolution gives the perspective that one lineage of humans evolved larger bodies before spreading beyond Africa. But the evidence for this story about our origins and the dispersal out of Africa is just no longer fitting.

It is apparent that Stock and Will have rewritten the history of the development of early humans; diversity has deep roots amongst the Homo genus.

Who Wrote Genesis?




Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism Reality




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How a Bill Becomes a Law in the U.S. ~ Crash Course Government and Politics #9




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Bigfoot, Giants & Elongated Skulls on Coast To Coast Radio



Jupiter May Be Behind The Mysterious 'Gaping Hole' In Our Solar System




Excerpt from huffingtonpost.com

When astronomers began studying other solar systems in the Milky Way galaxy back in the 1990s, they noticed something peculiar: most of these systems have big planets that circle their host stars in tight orbits, a finding that makes our solar system a bit of a cosmic oddball. 

Now researchers at Caltech and the University of California, Santa Cruz, say they've figured out why our solar system is devoid of planets within Mercury's orbit -- and pose that Jupiter may be to blame for this strange "gaping hole." 

Their research suggests that the gas giant acted "like a wrecking ball" in the early solar system, obliterating several big, rocky "super-Earths."

"It appears that the solar system today is not the common representative of the galactic planetary census," Dr. Konstantin Batygin, an assistant professor of planetary science at Caltech and one of the researchers responsible for the new finding, said in a written statement. "But there is no reason to think that the dominant mode of planet formation throughout the galaxy should not have occurred here. It is more likely that subsequent changes have altered its original makeup."

orbits solar system
This diagram shows the orbital distribution of extrasolar planets smaller than Jupiter that have been detected, in comparison to the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.

For the research, Batygin and his colleague Dr. Gregory Laughlin, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, conducted a series of simulations based on a theory that was first put forward by astronomers in 2011. The "Grand Tack" theory holds that Jupiter got ensnared in a disk of gas and dust, and was pulled inward toward the Sun, before Saturn formed and pulled it back out again. 

The simulations suggest that as Jupiter migrated inward, its gravity perturbed the orbits of asteroids and planetary building blocks, called planetesimals, in the inner solar system. This likely triggered a cascade of collisions that violently broke apart our solar system's first generation of planets and drove them into the sun.

"It's the same thing we worry about if satellites were to be destroyed in low-Earth orbit," Laughlin said in a statement from UC Santa Cruz. "Their fragments would start smashing into other satellites and you'd risk a chain reaction of collisions. Our work indicates that Jupiter would have created just such a collisional cascade in the inner solar system."

jupiter simulation
Snapshot from one of the simulations. Jupiter's orbit around the sun (center) is represented by the thick white circle. As Jupiter moved inward, it picked up planetesimals and drove them into eccentric orbits (turquoise) that overlapped the area of the inner solar system where new planets were in orbit (yellow).

The debris left over from the collisions ultimate coalesced into our solar system's familiar inner planets -- Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.
An article describing the findings was published online March 24 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

How wearable technology will change our lives




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The Story of Human Evolution Now Challenged



Story of Human Evolution Challenged


Excerpt from newhistorian.com

The history of the evolution of early humans has been challenged.
Until now, one of the most dominant theories about our evolution claimed that our genus, Homo, had evolved from smaller early humans becoming taller, heavier and longer-legged. This process eventually resulted in Homo erectus, which was able to migrate out of Africa and colonise Eurasia.

Whilst we know that small-bodied H. erectus, averaging less than five feet tall and weighing under 50 kilograms, were living in southern Europe by 1.77 million years ago, the origin of the larger body size associated with modern humans has been elusive.

The paucity of knowledge about the origins of larger members of the Homo genus is primarily a result of a lack of evidence. Previous estimates of body size had been based on well-preserved specimens which were easy to assign a species to. Since these samples are rare and disparate in terms of both space and time, little is known about geographical and chronological variation in the body sizes of the early Homo.

A joint study between the Universities of Cambridge and Tübingen has shown that increases in body size occurred thousands of years after H. erectus left Africa; this growth in Homo body sizes primarily took place in the Koobi Fora region in modern Kenya.

“The evolution of larger bodies and longer legs can thus no longer be assumed to be the main driving factor behind the earliest excursions of our genus to Eurasia,” said Manuel Will, co-author of the study which has been published in the Journal of Human Evolution.

By using tiny fragments of fossil, the team were able to estimate our earliest ancestors’ height and body mass. Their findings, rather surprisingly, indicate a huge diversity in body size; this is particularly surprising as the wide variation we see in humans today was thought to be a relatively recent development.

“If someone asked you ‘are modern humans 6 foot tall and 70kg?’ you’d say ‘well some are, but many people aren’t,’ and what we’re starting to show is that this diversification happened really early in human evolution,” said Dr Jay Stock, co-author of the study.

Stock and Will are the first scientists in 20 years to compare the body size of humans from between 2.5 and 1.5 million years ago. They are also the first to use fragmentary fossils – many as small as toes, none longer than 5cm – to estimate body sizes.

By comparing measurements of fossils from sites in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Georgia, the researchers have revealed substantial regional variation in the size of early humans. Groups who lived in South African caves, for example, were 4.8 feet tall on average. Some of the skeletons found in Kenya’s Koobi Fora region would have stood nearly 6 feet tall, a height comparable to the average height of modern British males.
“Basically every textbook on human evolution gives the perspective that one lineage of humans evolved larger bodies before spreading beyond Africa. But the evidence for this story about our origins and the dispersal out of Africa just no longer really fits,” said Stock.

It appears that Stock and Will have rewritten the history of the development of early humans; diversity has deep roots amongst the Homo genus.

Boeing to Create a Star Wars-like Forcefield (Yes, an actual forcefield) ~ Video


Excerpt from usatoday.com

Star Wars jokes aside, Boeing actually just patented a force field that would use energy to deflect explosions. For real; it's called, "method and system for shockwave attenuation via electromagnetic arc."
According to the patent, which was granted earlier this month, the field would employ a sensor that detects the direction of shockwaves. Next, it deploys an "anti-shockwave" laser that creates a field between the explosion and the target, effectively shielding an object from explosive force by reflecting and absorbing it. This protective energetic layer could be used to insulate not just airplanes but also buildings, military vehicles, and ships.

Here's a quick video providing greater detail of how the field works:






If this is all sounding very space age, that's because it is. The airline manufacturer has actually yet to bring said forcefield to fruition, but that's not to say the force won't be with them in the future.

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Was Roswell UFO Crash A Secret Nazi Aircraft?


 naziufo bell


Excerpt from  huffingtonpost.com


The Roswell, New Mexico, UFO crash of 1947 was the result of -- here it comes, wait for it -- top secret Nazi technology. No alien spacecraft, no alien bodies, but an aircraft called the "Bell" (depicted above from a 2008 Discovery Channel documentary)...


To be sure, it's questionable what actually happened in the outskirts of that small town 67 years ago. But it's also questionable if this film will ever see the light of day. 

At least, here's the most truthful thing known about the incident: Something came out of the sky in July 1947 and crashed on a ranch near Roswell. But what that "something" was has become a nearly 70-year-old legend.

Everything from extraterrestrial spacecraft to weather balloon to military high altitude device for spying on Soviet nuclear testing has been offered for the identity of the crashed object.

And now, the film, supposedly called "UFOs and the Third Reich," is promoting another theory: A 10-foot-wide, 12-foot-high, anti-gravity, bell-shaped craft, combining rocket and helicopter technology, created by Nazi Germany, fell into the hands of the U.S. in 1943, who further developed the project. An alleged test of the Bell resulted in its crash, which became the event that started the Roswell UFO saga.

Stories about the Nazi Bell have cropped up in the UFO literature for many years, including Discovery Channel's 2008 "Nazi UFO Conspiracy." 

Watch Discovery Channel's "Nazi UFO Conspiracy" below: 

"This is what I saw, with my own eyes -- a Nazi UFO," German aeronautical engineer Georg Klein is reputed to say in "UFOs and the Third Reich." "I don't consider myself a crackpot or eccentric or someone given to fantasies."

The new film is also rumored to focus on German engineer, Joseph Andreas Epp, who reportedly worked on a UFO project which resulted in several saucer-shaped vehicles that supposedly included dome-shaped cabins and a rotating rim.

"The wing blades would be allowed to rotate freely as the saucer moved forward, as in an auto-gyrocopter," Epp said. "In all probability, the wing blades speed -- and so, their lifting value -- could also be increased by directing the adjustable horizontal jets slightly upwards to engage the blades, thus spinning them faster at the digression [sic] of the pilot."

If the so-called Bell UFO is what actually crashed outside of Roswell in 1947, it would contradict the many military eyewitnesses who eventually came forward and described the physical appearance and otherworldy characteristics of the object that fell out of the New Mexico sky -- not to mention their descriptions of several small humanoid occupants of the craft.
This isn't the first time we've looked at the so-called Nazi-UFO-Alien connection.

Back in 2011, investigative reporter Annie Jacobsen raised a controversial question in her book about the top secret Nevada military base, known as Area 51: Did former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin recruit Josef Mengele, the Nazi "Angel of Death," to surgically alter children to look like aliens in 1947, and did they place these malformed adolescents on board a Soviet spy plane to be part of the Roswell UFO crash?

At the beginning of 2014, we examined a wild story that suggested the U.S. government has been under the control of a shadow government overseen by extraterrestrials who helped Nazi Germany's rise in the 1930s.

The current German documentary certainly won't bring more answers to the Roswell debate. At the very least, it offers further questions about who and what to believe of the biggest UFO controversy in history.

And, oh, there's one other thing about this "new" film. Whoever the producers of it are, they don't seem too interested in releasing any promotional clips, trailers or still images from it. An extensive Internet search hasn't turned up anything -- yet.

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Cleaning Up Old Satellites And Space Junk Could Soon Be Done With Giant Fishing Nets



netting a satellite


Excerpt from techtimes.com

Spacecraft are all shiny and new when they leave Earth but being up in space can do a number on them, resulting into bits and pieces of junk flying around. The European Space Agency's Clean Space initiative is looking to lessen the amount of space junk and it's turning to fishing nets to get the job done.
Nets in space? Given their structure, a net does good work trapping anything it targets. In the case of Clean Space, it's coming after old satellites and other spacecraft debris flying in space. Kjetil Wormnes and colleagues at the ESA recently tested how nets would fare in cleaning up space and found that the method is highly effective.
To observe how nets would behave in orbit, the ESA launched an aircraft and had it fly parabolic arcs to simulate short periods of weightlessness. Nets were then shot out of a compressed-air ejector, aimed at a scale model of a satellite. Twenty nets were shot out at varying speeds over the course of two days through 21 parabolas. The nets were packaged inside paper cartons, with each corner weighted to facilitate entanglement around the model satellite.
"The good news is they worked extremely well - so much so that the nets usually had to be cut away with a knife before we could shoot again," said Wormnes.
To recreate weightlessness, the Falcon 20 aircraft used in the experiment was flown in such a way that, for 20 seconds, it falls through the sky and effectively cancels out gravity within the aircraft.
The experiments were recorded using four high-speed HD cameras, allowing the ESA to observe the net tests thoroughly to assess the simulation tool developed by the agency. Information gleaned from the tests will aid in the development of full-sized nets for debris-removal missions.
According to the tests, nets with thinner, spun designs were more effective than their thicker, woven counterparts.
The e.Deorbit mission is set to launch in 2021 to test how feasible it is to remove large debris in space, helping control the amount of flying objects present in busy orbits.
The ESA has not decided yet on a method of removal but the Clean Space initiative is considering the use of harpoons, ion beams and robotic arms, on top of nets, to lessen debris in space. One advantage nets have over other methods is that they are capable of handling a wider range of rotation rates and shapes in targets.

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New spin on Saturn's peculiar, err, spin




 


Excerpt from spacedaily.com



According to the new method, Saturn's day is 10 hours, 32 minutes and 44 seconds long.
Tracking the rotation speed of solid planets, like the Earth and Mars, is a relatively simple task: Just measure the time it takes for a surface feature to roll into view again. But giant gas planets Jupiter and Saturn are more problematic for planetary scientists, as they both lack measureable solid surfaces and are covered by thick layers of clouds, foiling direct visual measurements by space probes.
Saturn has presented an even greater challenge to scientists, as different parts of this sweltering ball of hydrogen and helium are known to rotate at different speeds, whereas its rotation axis and magnetic pole are aligned.

A new method devised by Tel Aviv University researcher Dr. Ravit Helled, published recently in Nature, proposes a new determination of Saturn's rotation period and offers insight into the internal structure of the planet, its weather patterns, and the way it formed.

The method, by Dr. Helled of the Department of Geosciences at TAU's Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences and Drs. Eli Galanti and Yohai Kaspi of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the Weizmann Institute of Science, is based on Saturn's measured gravitational field and the unique fact that its east-west axis is shorter than its north-south axis.

According to the new method, Saturn's day is 10 hours, 32 minutes and 44 seconds long. When the researchers applied their method to Jupiter, whose rotation period is already well known, the results were identical to the conventional measurement, reflecting the consistency and accuracy of the method.

Between sunup and sundown on Saturn

For years, scientists have had difficulty coming up with a precise measurement of Saturn's rotation. "In the last two decades, the standard rotation period of Saturn was accepted as that measured by Voyager 2 in the 1980s: 10 hours, 39 minutes, and 22 seconds," said Dr. Helled.


"But when the Cassini spacecraft arrived at Saturn 30 years later, the rotation period was measured as eight minutes longer. It was then understood that Saturn's rotation period could not be inferred from the fluctuations in radio radiation measurements linked to Saturn's magnetic field, and was in fact still unknown." The Cassini spacecraft had measured a signal linked to Saturn's magnetic field with a periodicity of 10 hours, 47 minutes and 6 seconds long -- slower than previous recordings.

"Since then, there has been this big open question concerning Saturn's rotation period," said Dr. Helled.

"In the last few years, there have been different theoretical attempts to pin down an answer. We came up with an answer based on the shape and gravitational field of the planet. We were able to look at the big picture, and harness the physical properties of the planet to determine its rotational period."

Helled's method is based on a statistical optimization method that involved several solutions. First, the solutions had to reproduce Saturn's observed properties (within their uncertainties): its mass and gravitational field. Then the researchers harnessed this information to search for the rotation period on which the most solutions converged.

Narrowing the margin of error

The derived mass of the planet's core and the mass of the heavy elements that make up its composition, such as rocks and water, are affected by the rotation period of the planet.


"We cannot fully understand Saturn's internal structure without an accurate determination of its rotation period," said Dr. Helled. Knowledge of Saturn's composition provides information on giant planet formation in general and on the physical and chemical properties of the solar nebula from which the solar system was formed.

"The rotation period of a giant planet is a fundamental physical property, and its value affects many aspects of the physics of these planets, including their interior structure and atmospheric dynamics," said Dr. Helled. "We were determined to make as few assumptions as possible to get the rotational period. If you improve your measurement of Saturn's gravitational field, you narrow the error margin."

The researchers hope to apply their method to other gaseous planets in the solar system such as Uranus and Neptune. Their new technique could also be applied in the future to study gaseous planets orbiting other stars.

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NASA video illustrates 'X-ray wind' blasting from a black hole


This artist's illustration shows interstellar gas, the raw material of star formation, being blown away.

Excerpt from cnet.com

It takes a mighty wind to keep stars from forming. Researchers have found one in a galaxy far, far away -- and NASA made a short movie about it.

In a study published in the journal Nature this week, a researcher shows a link between the X-ray wind created by a supermassive black hole in the center of a galaxy and the broader dispersal of raw material that could have formed stars. A new NASA video (below) provides an easy-to-understand visualization of the process.

Using the Herschel Space Observatory and the X-ray Imaging Spectrometer attached to the Suzaku astronomy satellite, the researchers looked at galaxy F11119+3257, located an extremely far 2.3 billion light-years away. At the center of that galaxy is a black hole as massive as 16 million of our suns.

"Scientists think ultraluminous infrared galaxies like F11119 represent an early phase in the evolution of quasars, a type of black-hole-powered galaxy with extreme luminosity across a broad wavelength range," NASA says in a report about the research.

Emanating from the center of the black hole, the researchers found gas racing outward at a speed of 170 million mph, creating what's known as an X-ray wind. The wind arises because the voracious black hole is devouring the gas around it in the area known as the accretion disk, which leads to superheated conditions. This happens relatively close to the black hole, but the wind stirs a larger molecular outflow and the heat gives rise to a shock wave that ultimately clears out dust and gas in a much larger area. The study estimates that the outflow from this particular black hole extends up to 1,000 light-years from the galaxy's center.

In other words, while busily feeding, a black hole is also "pushing away the dinner plate," the report says. This finding provides astronomers with another piece of the puzzle regarding how black holes are connected to star formation in the galaxies that swirl around them.

"These connections suggested the black hole was providing some form of feedback that modulated star formation in the wider galaxy, but it was difficult to see how," said research team member Sylvain Veilleux, an astronomy professor at University of Maryland. "With the discovery of powerful molecular outflows of cold gas in galaxies with active black holes, we began to uncover the connection."

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