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Tesla to unveil 'mystery' life changing product tonight!



Tesla's expected home battery announcement could spark energy revolution. SolarCity has already installed 300 Tesla-made batteries in California homes.


 Excerpt from CBC News  

 
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is set to make an announcement later tonight. There's been speculation that a large-scale battery announcement is expected, but it's not clear if that will be the case.
The man behind the electric car revolution is expected to unveil a large-scale battery capable of powering an entire house, during an announcement at Tesla Motors headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif.
While the battery will likely slash power bills for consumers, some say it's also a move toward democratizing energy systems.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, teased the announcement on Twitter a month ago, saying a major new Tesla product line will be unveiled at Hawthorne Design Studio at 8 p.m. local time Thursday. "Not a car," he wrote, sparking speculation that it may be a home battery.

Musk, who moved to Canada from South Africa and who briefly studied at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania, is also chairman of SolarCity, a solar power provider.

SolarCity has already run a pilot program where it installed 300 home batteries made by Tesla in California homes. Another 130 systems were being installed in early 2015, according to the company's website.

The product will be available again in late summer, the company says, as it's working on "the next phase" of the program.

Tesla is also in the midst of building its gigafactory, which has added to the speculation that the company is unveiling a home battery. Musk says that by 2020, the factory will produce more lithium-ion batteries than all the current factories producing them today. 

A home battery attaches to a home's electrical system and collects energy gathered by solar panels when the sun is out, Michael Ramsey, a Wall Street Journal automotive reporter, told CBC's The Current. That energy can then be used when the sun is no longer out.
'This is this shift away from very large centrally operated plants towards everybody owning their own little power grid or part of a small power grid in a condo building.'-— Warren Mabee, of Queen's University
"The idea is that you purchase this system and it allows you effectively to cut the cord," he says of a consumer's ability to forgo energy from the grid. The consumer's electricity bills would be significantly reduced because they would be paying for less electricity from the grid.

This innovation could move the world toward a future where power is generated where we need it and where we use it, says Warren Mabee, director of the Queen's Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy.

"This is this shift away from very large centrally operated plants towards everybody owning their own little power grid or part of a small power grid in a condo building," Mabee says.

In this system, centralized power generation becomes more of a backup than a driver, he says.

Costs remain high

However, the current systems are still very expensive, says Ramsey. The 300 home batteries installed in California cost upward of $20,000, he says.

"It would take years and years and years to cover the utility costs," he says. "It doesn't make sense unless the costs come down."

Ramsey views businesses as having the highest possible economic advantage from this development. The battery could offer businesses a surge of electricity when they have a high demand for power and cut their bills.

Mabee compares the cost of solar panels to cellphones. Smartphones were once very expensive, but each new generation has brought the cost down, he said.

Each year, solar panels become better and cheaper. Solar panels are getting close to their grid parity moment — when the cost of generating solar power is the same or cheaper than buying energy off the grid.

Another grid parity moment may be close, says Mabee. It won't be long before the cost of a solar panel and battery system will match the cost of purchasing electricity from the grid, he estimates.
"That magic grid parity moment is coming faster and faster," he said.

"Catastrophic end" for out-of-control space cargo ship ~ Video from Spacecraft Cockpit




Excerpt from cbsnews.com


A Russian Progress cargo ship bound for the International Space Station spun out of control Tuesday. Engineers were unable to direct the wayward ship and soon gave up any hope that it would be able to dock to deliver the 3 tons of equipment and supplies it was carrying for the space station crew. Now, it's a waiting game, as the craft tumbles back toward Earth, and specialists on the ground can't say for sure when it will return -- or where it might be heading.

A NASA statement released Thursday said, "...the Progress currently is expected to reenter Earth's atmosphere within the next two weeks. Russian ballistics specialists, working in conjunction with flight controllers in Mission Control Houston and ESA, are continuing to track the vehicle's path and will provide updates on its anticipated reentry date."

Upon reentry, the ship will burn up and come apart, and though there will be no salvaging the cargo on board, some material could survive the trip and reach the ground.






Russia's Progress supply crafts always end their missions with a fiery reentry into the Earth's atmosphere that typically leaves just some remnants of the ship falling to ground. Under normal circumstances, ground control targets the timing of reentry so that debris won't land in populated areas. But in this case, with the ship out of a stable orbit and engineers unable to regain control of its propulsion system, where pieces may end up is almost anyone's guess.

"The Progress is going to come down where it comes down," said CBS News Space Consultant William Harwood. "And while I can't say that the chance of getting hit by debris is zero, it's very close to zero. Remember, the Earth is three-quarters water, so there's a very good chance it's going to land in an ocean somewhere, whatever manages to survive."

He added that given population density, even if material does hit land, the odds of someone being in danger are "extremely low, but they're not zero."

NASA said the United States Air Force Joint Functional Component Command for Space's Joint Space Operations Center is tracking Progress as it gets pulled down toward the lower atmosphere and will provide "warning of any potential collisions in space."

Experts still don't know what caused the ship to go haywire as it approached the ISS carrying 3 tons of water, food, fresh air tanks, propellant and supplies including clothing for three new members who will soon join the space station crew. Shortly after the Progress separated from the third stage of the Soyuz booster that rocketed it into space, it seemed some "propulsive event" sent the ship into a strange and unstoppable spin.

NASA has confirmed that crew members will be fine without their expected shipment and that "the break up and reentry of the Progress poses no threat to the ISS crew."

The same can't be said for Progress herself.

Said Harwood, "It will be a catastrophic end for Progress, no doubt about it."

Pluto images reveal intriguing bright spot near pole




Excerpt from  latimes.com


Check out the best images yet of the dwarf planet Pluto.

The moving images of Pluto and its Texas-sized moon Charon you see below were taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, which has spent nine years on a high-speed journey to the outer reaches of the solar system.

They are just marginally better than the previous best images of Pluto collected by the Hubble Space Telescope, but this is the first time that New Horizons has been able to make out distinct features on the surface of this distant body.

"The images you see are my 'Meet Pluto moment,'" said Alan Stern, principal investigator on the mission. "It was actually a little bit emotional, if I'm allowed to say that."

Especially tantalizing to Stern and his team is the highly reflective area around one of the dwarf planet's pole. (It's the bright white area in the 3 o'clock position in the image). 

"We can only say that it is very suspiciously suggestive of a polar cap," Stern said. "That could be very exciting."



He said it will still be a few months until New Horizons flies close enough to Pluto to determine exactly whether it is indeed frozen ices that are causing the bright spot, or whether it is perhaps something else.

As you watch the moving images, it may look a bit as though Pluto is tumbling, and that it is not a perfectly spherical shape. Actually, Pluto is pretty close to a sphere. Hal Weaver, project scientist for New Horizons, explains that what you are seeing is the bright and dark patches rotating into and out of view.

"When the dark patches are in view, it will look like a piece is eaten out of the image and it looks nonspherical," he said.

It should also be noted that the dwarf planet rotates almost on its side, like Uranus or a rotisserie chicken. 

These black and white pictures were collected over four days in mid-April when the spacecraft was still 60 million miles away from its destination. Stern said the quality of the images will get significantly better in the coming weeks. However, the very best pictures of Pluto won't come until the middle of July when New Horizons will fly just 7,700 miles from the surface.

The Messenger of fate: NASA spacecraft smashes into planet Mercury





Excerpt from usatoday.com

Its fuel tanks empty and its options gone, NASA's Messenger spacecraft smashed into planet Mercury on Thursday afternoon after valiantly fighting off the inevitable.

Engineers calculated that the spacecraft, traveling a scorching 8,700 mph, bombed into the planet's heavily pockmarked surface at 3:26 p.m. ET Thursday. It was not a gentle goodbye: The impact was expected to pulverize the car-sized spaceship and gouge out a 50-foot crater -- big enough to accommodate a school bus -- near Mercury's north pole.

Engineers calculated that the spacecraft belly-flopped onto the cratered terrain on the far side of Mercury, when the ship was out of contact with Earth.

They confirmed its death when they could not pick up a signal from the craft.

"We monitored Messenger's beacon signal for about 20 additional minutes," said mission operations manager Andy Calloway of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. "It was strange to think during that time Messenger had already impacted, but we could not confirm it immediately due to the vast distance across space between Mercury and Earth."

"We're really sad to see this, because Messenger has been a fabulous mission," Brown University's James Head, a co-investigator on the mission, said before the impact. "It's an exhilarating time, but also really poignant."

At least Messenger went down with a fight and in a blaze of glory. Edging ever closer to Mercury because of the effects of the sun's gravity, the ship, its fuel tanks dry, was supposed to meet its destiny in March. But creative engineers bought their craft an extra month of life by repurposing Messenger's stockpile of helium, used to pressurize the fuel tanks. Leftover helium was expelled from the spacecraft's thrusters, nudging the ship away from the looming surface.

Hubble's Other Telescope And The Day It Rocked Our World

The Hooker 100-inch reflecting telescope at the Mount Wilson Observatory, just outside Los Angeles. Edwin Hubble's chair, on an elevating platform, is visible at left. A view from this scope first told Hubble our galaxy isn't the only one.
The Hooker 100-inch reflecting telescope at the Mount Wilson Observatory, just outside Los Angeles. Edwin Hubble's chair, on an elevating platform, is visible at left. A view from this scope first told Hubble our galaxy isn't the only one.
Courtesy of The Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science Collection at the Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif.


Excerpt from hnpr.org

The Hubble Space Telescope this week celebrates 25 years in Earth's orbit. In that time the telescope has studied distant galaxies, star nurseries, planets in our solar system and planets orbiting other stars.

But, even with all that, you could argue that the astronomer for whom the telescope is named made even more important discoveries — with far less sophisticated equipment.

A young Edwin Hubble at Mount Wilson's 100-inch telescope circa 1922, ready to make history. i
A young Edwin Hubble at Mount Wilson's 100-inch telescope circa 1922, ready to make history.
Edwin Hubble Papers/Courtesy of Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif.


In the 1920s, Edwin Hubble was working with the 100-inch Hooker telescope on Mount Wilson, just outside Los Angeles. At the time, it was the largest telescope in the world.

On a chilly evening, I climb up to the dome of that telescope with operator Nik Arkimovich and ask him to show me where Hubble would sit when he was using the telescope. Arkimovich points to a platform near the top of the telescope frame.

"He's got an eyepiece with crosshairs on it," Arkimovich explains. The telescope has gears and motors that let it track a star as it moves across the sky. "He's got a paddle that allows him to make minor adjustments. And his job is to keep the star in the crosshairs for maybe eight hours."

"It's certainly much, much easier today," says John Mulchaey, acting director of the observatories at Carnegie Institution of Science. "Now we sit in control rooms. The telescopes operate brilliantly on their own, so we don't have to worry about tracking and things like this."
Today, astronomers use digital cameras to catch the light from stars and other celestial objects. In Hubble's day, Mulchaey says, they used glass plates.
"At the focus of the telescope you would put a glass plate that has an emulsion layer on it that is actually sensitive to light," he says. At the end of an observing run, the plates would be developed, much like the film in a camera.

The headquarters of the Carnegie observatories is at the foot of Mount Wilson, in the city of Pasadena. It's where Hubble worked during the day.

A century's worth of plates are stored here in the basement. Mulchaey opens a large steel door and ushers me into a room filled with dozens of file cabinets.

"Why don't we go take a look at Hubble's famous Andromeda plates," Mulchaey suggests.

The plates are famous for a reason: They completely changed our view of the universe. Mulchaey points to a plate mounted on a light stand.

"This is a rare treat for you," he says. "This plate doesn't see the light of day very often."


This glass side of a photographic plate shows where Hubble marked novas. The red VAR! in the upper right corner marks his discovery of the first Cepheid variable star — a star that told him the Andromeda galaxy isn't part of our Milky Way. i
This glass side of a photographic plate shows where Hubble marked novas. The red VAR! in the upper right corner marks his discovery of the first Cepheid variable star — a star that told him the Andromeda galaxy isn't part of our Milky Way.
Courtesy of the Carnegie Observatories 
 
 
To the untrained eye, there's nothing terribly remarkable about the plate. But Mulchaey says what it represents is the most important discovery in astronomy since Galileo.

The plate shows the spiral shape of the Andromeda galaxy. Hubble was looking for exploding stars called novas in Andromeda. Hubble marked these on the plate with the letter "N."

"The really interesting thing here," Mulchaey says, "is there's one with the N crossed out in red — and he's changed the N to VAR with an exclamation point."

Hubble had realized that what he was seeing wasn't a nova. VAR stands for a type of star known as a Cepheid variable. It's a kind of star that allows you to make an accurate determination of how far away something is. This Cepheid variable showed that the Andromeda galaxy isn't a part of our galaxy.

At the time, most people thought the Milky Way was it — the only galaxy in existence.

"And what this really shows is that the universe is much, much bigger than anybody realizes," Mulchaey says.
It was another blow to our human conceit that we are the center of the universe.

Hubble went on to use the Mount Wilson telescope to show the universe was expanding, a discovery so astonishing that Hubble had a hard time believing it himself.

If Hubble could make such important discoveries with century-old equipment, it makes you wonder what he might have turned up if he'd had a chance to use the space telescope that bears his name.

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Do We Live In A Hologram? It's More Likely Than You Might Think




Excerpt from forbes.com
By Eric Mack

Everything in our universe might be a lot flatter than it seems, at least, if you do the math.

If you’ve got a credit card in your wallet that has one of those little 3D holograms on it — a two-dimensional  image that uses some tricks of light to appear three-dimensional — you can get a sense of how new research out of Vienna suggests that we might be able to describe our universe.

In other words, the mind-melting notion that sometimes floats around in theoretical physics and science fiction circles that the universe might actually be a hologram continues to be worth further investigation.

It’s an idea that’s been around at least since 1994 when Leonard Susskind published a paper describing how the merging of the quantum and relativistic descriptions of the universe yielded a three-dimensional world that could actually be “an image of data that can be stored on a two dimensional projection much like a holographic image.”


(credit: Vienna University of Technology)

 
Testing this idea in a space similar to what we experience in the universe is difficult, but an international team led by Daniel Grumiller at the Vienna University of Technology has spent the last few years trying to calculate whether or not the “holographic principle,” as it’s called, could hold in our universe.

This week they published their findings in the journal Physical Review Letters that the idea of a holographic universe is feasible using both the quantum and relativistic theories.

“This calculation affirms our assumption that the holographic principle can also be realized in flat spaces. It is evidence for the validity of this correspondence in our universe”, says team member Max Riegler, also from the Vienna University of Technology.


“That we are now able to use this as a tool to test the validity of the holographic principle, and that this test works out, is quite remarkable,” adds Grumiller in a release.


The team explains that their findings are not yet proof we are living in a hologram. However, an experiment currently running at the Fermilab could help shed a little light on the matter. 

The lab’s Holometer is currently examining the characteristics of space itself in an attempt to observe whether or not the space-time of our universe is steady, or if it “jitters” a bit. This “holographic noise” could represent further evidence that our three-dimensional world is a little less “deep” than it seems.

IBM advances bring quantum computing closer to reality



ibm research jerry chow
 
Research scientist Jerry Chow performs a quantum computing experiment at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. Jon Simon/IBM


Excerpt from computerworld.com
By Sharon Gaudin

IBM scientists say they have made two critical advances in an industrywide effort to build a practical quantum computer, shaving years off the time expected to have a working system.

"This is critical," said Jay Gambetta, IBM's manager of theory of quantum computing. "The field has got a lot more competitive. You could say the [quantum computing] race is just starting to begin… This is a small step on the journey but it's an important one."

Gambetta told Computerworld that IBM's scientists have created a square quantum bit circuit design, which could be scaled to much larger dimensions. This new two-dimensional design also helped the researchers figure out a way to detect and measure errors.
Quantum computing is a fragile process and can be easily thrown off by vibrations, light and temperature variations. Computer scientists doubt they'll ever get the error rate down to that in a classical computer.


Because of the complexity and sensitivity of quantum computing, scientists need to be able to detect errors, figure out where and why they're happening and prevent them from recurring.

IBM says its advancement takes the first step in that process.
"It tells us what errors are happening," Gambetta said. "As you make the square [circuit design] bigger, you'll get more information so you can see where the error was and you can correct for it. We're showing now that we have the ability to detect, and we're working toward the next step, which would allow you to see where and why the problem is happening so you can stop it from happening."

Quantum computing is widely thought to be the next great step in the field of computing, potentially surpassing classical supercomputers in large-scale, complex calculations. 

Quantum computing would be used to cull big data, searching for patterns. It's hoped that these computers will take on questions that would lead to finding cures for cancer or discovering distant planets – jobs that might take today's supercomputers hundreds of years to calculate.

IBM's announcement is significant in the worlds of both computing and physics, where quantum theory first found a foothold.

Quantum computing, still a rather mysterious technology, combines both computing and quantum mechanics, which is one of the most complex, and baffling, areas of physics. This branch of physics evolved out of an effort to explain things that traditional physics is unable to.
With quantum mechanics, something can be in two states at the same time. It can be simultaneously positive and negative, which isn't possible in the world as we commonly know it. 

For instance, each bit, also known as a qubit, in a quantum machine can be a one and a zero at the same time. When a qubit is built, it can't be predicted whether it will be a one or a zero. A qubit has the possibility of being positive in one calculation and negative in another. Each qubit changes based on its interaction with other qubits.

Because of all of these possibilities, quantum computers don't work like classical computers, which are linear in their calculations. A classical computer performs one step and then another. A quantum machine can calculate all of the possibilities at one time, dramatically speeding up the calculation.

However, that speed will be irrelevant if users can't be sure that the calculations are accurate.

That's where IBM's advances come into play.

"This is absolutely key," said Jim Tully, an analyst with Gartner. "You do the computation but then you need to read the results and know they're accurate. If you can't do that, it's kind of meaningless. Without being able to detect errors, they have no way of knowing if the calculations have any validity."

If scientists can first detect and then correct these errors, it's a major step in the right direction to building a working quantum computing system capable of doing enormous calculations. 

"Quantum computing is a hard concept for most to understand, but it holds great promise," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "If we can tame it, it can compute certain problems orders of magnitude more quickly than existing computers. The more organizations that are working on unlocking the potential of quantum computing, the better. It means that we'll see something real that much sooner."
However, there's still debate over whether a quantum computer already exists.

A year ago, D-Wave Systems Inc. announced that it had built a quantum system, and that NASA, Google and Lockheed Martin had been testing them.

Many in the computer and physics communities doubt that D-Wave has built a real quantum computer. Vern Brownell, CEO of the company, avows that they have.

"I think that quantum computing shows promise, but it's going to be quite a while before we see systems for sale," said Olds.
IBM's Gambetta declined to speculate on whether D-Wave has built a quantum computing but said the industry is still years away from building a viable quantum system.

"Quantum computing could be potentially transformative, enabling us to solve problems that are impossible or impractical to solve today," said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director of IBM Research, in a statement.

IBM's research was published in Wednesday's issue of the journal Nature Communications.

quantum computing infographics ibm

This revolutionary discovery could help scientists see black holes for the first time


supermassive black hole
Artist's concept of the black hole.



Excerpt from finance.yahoo.com
Of all the bizarre quirks of nature, supermassive black holes are some of the most mysterious because they're completely invisible.
But that could soon change.
Black holes are deep wells in the fabric of space-time that eternally trap anything that dares too close, and supermassive black holes have the deepest wells of all. These hollows are generated by extremely dense objects thousands to billions of times more massive than our sun.
Not even light can escape black holes, which means they're invisible to any of the instruments astrophysicists currently use. Although they don't emit light, black holes will, under the right conditions, emit large amounts of gravitational waves — ripples in spacetime that propagate through the universe like ripples across a pond's surface.
And although no one has ever detected a gravitational wave, there are a handful of instruments around the world waiting to catch one.

Game-changing gravitational waves



.
black hole
This illustration shows two spiral galaxies - each with supermassive black holes at their center - as they are about to collide. 

Albert Einstein first predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916. According to his theory of general relativity, black holes will emit these waves when they accelerate to high speeds, which happens when two black holes encounter one another in the universe.  

As two galaxies collide, for example, the supermassive black holes at their centers will also collide. But first, they enter into a deadly cosmic dance where the smaller black hole spirals into the larger black hole, moving increasingly faster as it inches toward it's inevitable doom. As it accelerates, it emits gravitational waves.
Astrophysicists are out to observe these waves generated by two merging black holes with instruments like the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory.
"The detection of gravitational waves would be a game changer for astronomers in the field," Clifford Will, a distinguished profess of physics at the University of Florida who studied under famed astrophysicist Kip Thorne told Business Insider. "We would be able to test aspects of general relativity that have not been tested."
Because these waves have never been detected, astrophysicists are still trying to figure out how to find them. To do this, they build computer simulations to predict what kinds of gravitational waves a black hole merger will produce. 

Learn by listening

In the simulation below, made by Steve Drasco at California Polytechnic State University (also known as Cal Poly), a black hole gets consumed by a supermassive black hole about 30,000 times as heavy.
You'll want to turn up the volume.
What you're seeing and hearing are two different things.
The black lines you're seeing are the orbits of the tiny black hole traced out as it falls into the supermassive black hole. What you're hearing are gravitational waves.
"The motion makes gravitational waves, and you are hearing the waves," Drasco wrote in a blog post describing his work.
Of course, there is no real sound in space, so if you somehow managed to encounter this rare cataclysmic event, you would not likely hear anything. However, what Drasco has done will help astrophysicists track down these illusive waves.

Just a little fine tuning 

Gravitational waves are similar to radio waves in that both have specific frequencies. On the radio, for example, the number corresponding to the station you're listening to represents the frequency at which that station transmits.


.
gwaves
3D visualization of gravitational waves produced by 2 orbiting black holes. Right now, astrophysicists only have an idea of what frequencies two merging black holes transmit because they’re rare and hard to find. In fact, the first ever detection of an event of this kind was only announced this month. 

Therefore, astrophysicists are basically toying with their instruments like you sometimes toy with your radio to find the right station, except they don’t know what station will give them the signal they’re looking for.
What Drasco has done in his simulation is estimate the frequency at which an event like this would produce and then see how that frequency changes, so astrophysicists have a better idea of how to fine tune their instruments to search for these waves.
Detecting gravitational waves would revolutionize the field of astronomy because it would give observers an entirely new way to see the universe. Armed with this new tool, they will be able to test general relativity in ways never before made possible.

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The Secret To A Meaningful Life In Just 7 'Magic' Words



BEDTIME STORIES



Excerpt from huffingtonpost.com

Sometimes, it's the most fantastical, fictional characters that do the best job of teaching us about reality.

New York Times bestselling author T.A. Barron spent decades creating the magical image of Merlin the wizard and sharing his wisdom with children and young adults through the beloved 12-book Merlin Saga series. Now, he's bringing back his recognized (and revered) character to answer a question anyone experiencing a dramatic change in his or her life wants, on some level, to ask.

"I have written so many books about Merlin that sometimes, I feel like I've actually met the great wizard -- and who knows, maybe I have," said Barron in one of his YouTube videos. "If I met Merlin in his crystal cave, I'd ask him just one question: What is the meaning of life? And if there is any meaning, how can I find it?"

This thought exercise inspired a celebrated speech at Oxford University in 2013, which in turn inspired a new book, The Wisdom of Merlin: 7 Magical Words for a Meaningful Life. Inside, Barron uses Merlin's voice to explain how each person can find and travel along his or her own unique path in life. He reveals how magic surrounds and lives within each and every person -- we just have to be willing to search for it. 

Based on excerpts from Barron's book, here are seven moving words that hold the key to a meaningful life -- plus one more that empowers them all.

Gratitude
gratitude

To be wholly alive is to be grateful -- for every breath we take, every song we sing, every person we love, every day we discover. Just being grateful helps us to notice and appreciate all the blessings and opportunities around us.

Each day, take a moment to just be. To love a person, a place, or an idea that has touched your heart. Cherish those blessings through all the seasons of a year -- and all the seasons of your life. Excerpted from The Wisdom of Merlin by T.A. Barron (Philomel Books)

Courage
courage

You see, life can have great meaning -- but only if we discover that meaning for ourselves. Meaning can't be bought at any store. And it can't be handed down like a coat that someone tells you will fit perfectly before you've even tried it on. Meaning must be sought and earned and made one's own. All of which requires courage.
Be bold with your life! Live vigorously and gently, mindfully and sensuously. Explore whatever calls to you. Love fully and freely. Run as fast as you can; walk as slow as you can.

Excerpted from The Wisdom of Merlin by T.A. Barron (Philomel Books)

Knowledge
international travel books

Knowledge, surprising as it sounds, begins with the unknown. With accepting how little you know. A few drops of humility, I've learned, can save me from an ocean of arrogance! Then, with a touch of curiosity... a person can learn and grow endlessly.
There are two universes to explore -- one inside yourself and one outside. And here's the best part: How far you travel in each, and what you discover, is entirely up to you. 

Excerpted from The Wisdom of Merlin by T.A. Barron (Philomel Books)

Belief
belief

Follow your faith, as a river flows to the sea -- and you will find yourself lapped by the gentle waves of the spiritual ocean that surrounds us all. To swim in that sea is to join with a greater power, a deeper awareness, a higher truth. And also... a quiet, enduring joy.
Just remember: For your belief to be right, the beliefs of others need not be wrong! If you are truly secure in your own faith, truly touched by its wisdom and strength -- then you don't need to convert anyone else. 

Excerpted from The Wisdom of Merlin by T.A. Barron (Philomel Books)

Wonder
meaning

Wonder is the elemental wisdom of a child, a wisdom that is wide open to awe. For children see the world afresh, in all its beauty and strangeness, mystery and delight. 

To wonder is to open the doorway to imagination. And that leads to other doorways -- appreciation, creativity, and fulfillment. 

At the core of wonder is openness -- being present, with all your senses alive. If you set out on a mission seeking wonder, you won't find it. Instead, take off your shoes, walk barefoot in the world... and allow it to happen.

Excerpted from The Wisdom of Merlin by T.A. Barron (Philomel Books)

Generosity
giving

Generosity is not giving others what they want. Rather, it's giving away what you yourself want. Sharing requires empathy. So the physical act of making a gift is only part of what happens. It's the visible result of an earlier, invisible gift from the heart.

Plant some generous seeds in the soil of your life. Yes -- seeds that could grow into trees you may never see, in whose shade will gather people and creatures you may never meet. They will find joy and safety and solace under those boughs... and they will thank the person who made it possible.

Excerpted from The Wisdom of Merlin by T.A. Barron (Philomel Books)

Hope
showring gratitude

Hope requires courage. Especially in our troubled world, with so much darkened by the shadow of despair, hope can seem elusive. Or even impossible. Yet hope can return, on silent wings, when most needed.

Cynicism is the enemy of hope, always doubting that improvement (or even virtue) is possible. But fresh thinking is the ally of hope, reminding us of ways we can do better.

Blow on the embers of hope in yourself. Strengthen them into flames, For those are the fires where new worlds are born. Excerpted from The Wisdom of Merlin by T.A. Barron (Philomel Books)

Love
candle

Love is an invitation, not a command. But if you truly open yourself to its power, you will be swept away as if you had plunged into a mighty river. Where that river may carry you, no one can predict. 

The paradox of love is that it beckons us to go deep within ourselves to find a soul-level understanding of another person. But once that understanding is found -- we are bonded with that person so that we expand far beyond ourselves. We are, at once, deeper within and further without.

Excerpted from The Wisdom of Merlin by T.A. Barron (Philomel Books)

For the complete collection of life wisdom from Merlin and his creator, check out The Wisdom of Merlin by T.A. Barron.

Air Force to Test Futuristic 'Hall Thruster' on X-37B Space Plane



Vandenberg Air Force Base
The X-37B before its first trip to space.


Excerpt from nbcnews.com


After years of silence on all but the most prosaic aspects of the secretive X-37B space plane program, the Defense Department has revealed that the mysterious, truck-sized craft's next mission will host an experimental new thrust system that could greatly improve the shelf life of satellites. 

The X-37B program has sent its shuttle-like Orbital Test Vehicle craft into space three times for a total time in orbit of almost four years. What the spacecraft has been doing up there is anybody's guess — its creators have declined to comment except to say that everything is working properly. But a news release this week from the Air Force says in no uncertain terms that the next flight of the X-37B, set to begin next month, will be the platform for testing a Hall thruster.

Hall thrusters combine electricity and a noble gas like xenon to produce a miniscule amount of direct force — weak in comparison with thrusters that use ordinary solid fuel, but at a far lesser cost of fuel. Trading power for fuel efficiency would allow satellites and probes to make course adjustments for much longer, extending their lives and versatility. Spaceflight Now has more details on how the system works. 

Of course, this sheds no light on what the last three X-37B missions were — but in light of this new information it seems more likely that it's a test bed for high-tech space experiments, and not an orbital bomber or elite spy satellite. But you never know.

NASA application grants general public the opportunity to explore the surface of Vesta


NASA's Dawn spacecraft visited Vesta for a year before continuing on to Ceres (Image: NASA...

NASA's Dawn spacecraft visited Vesta for a year before continuing on to Ceres (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)





Excerpt from gizmag.com

NASA has released a browser-based application that allows citizen scientists to explore the surface of the asteroid Vesta. The 3D model was created from data harvested by the agency's Dawn spacecraft over the course of its year-long stay in orbit around the asteroid between July 2011 and September 2012. The application allows users a rare opportunity to make detailed observations of one of the lesser-known bodies in our solar system in an engaging, easy-to-use format.

The surprisingly in-depth option bar features a quick-start tutorial, allowing you to interact with and observe the surface of Vesta above and beyond the capabilities afforded by a standard interactive map. The app can be viewed either in 2D, with viewing options including global, north pole, or south pole, or via a 3D representation of the asteroid.

The "My Data" tab allows you to select a number of overlays such as mineral ratio, geology, and for the more scientifically minded, high-energy gamma-ray count rate, all of which come with an easy-to-understand color legend.

Artist's impression of Dawn orbiting Vesta (Image: NASA)
 
 
Artist's impression of Dawn orbiting Vesta (Image: NASA)
The "Line" tools allows you to drop a line onto the surface of the asteroid and manipulate it to your liking, after which the application will display data regarding the distance between the beginning and end of your chosen path, as well as the elevation covered covered along the way. The function allows for a sense of perspective as you soak in the awesome detail of the cratered alien landscape.

"There's nothing like seeing something with your own eyes, but these types of detailed data-visualizations are the next best thing," states Kristen Erickson, Director, Science Engagement and Partnerships at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "We're thrilled to release Vesta Trek to the citizen science community and the public, not only as a scientific tool, but as a portal to an immersive experience that, just by the nature of it, will allow a deeper understanding of Vesta and asteroids in general."

Finally, for those of you out there lucky enough to have access to a 3D printer, the application allows you to download and print your own model of Vesta, or a topographically accurate section of terrain of your choosing, because frankly who wouldn't want that on the mantelpiece?

Those hoping to explore the desolate beauty of Vesta's landscape for themselves can find a link to the application via the project website.

Astrophysicists create most complete 3-D map of the universe






Excerpt from thespacereporter.com


A team of scientists has created a detailed map of our cosmic “neighborhood” extending nearly two billion lights years in every direction. This 3-D map showing galaxies in their superclusters will aid astrophysicists in better understanding how matter, including dark matter, is distributed in the universe.

According to a Science Daily report, the map indicates the relative concentration of galaxies in different areas, including the largest nearby supercluster called the Shapely Concentration, as well as less explored areas. The scientists found no sign of any pattern in the distribution of matter.

“The galaxy distribution isn’t uniform and has no pattern. It has peaks and valleys much like a mountain range. This is what we expect if the large-scale structure originates from quantum fluctuations in the early universe,” Mike Hudson of the University of Waterloo said in a statement.

 

The researchers hope that a more complete view of the placement and movement of matter will aid in forming predictions about the expansion of the universe. In particular, the team hopes to gain insight into the phenomenon of peculiar velocity – the differences in galactic movement caused by the unevenness in the expansion of the universe. It is thought that the non-uniform movement of galaxies is influenced by dark matter – a form of matter only indirectly detectable through its gravitational influence on light and visible matter.



A cross-section of the cosmic map detailing accumulations of massive clusters. The dark red region is the famous Shapley Concentration, the largest collection of galaxies in the nearby universe.
Hudson et al./University of Waterloo








“A better understanding of dark matter is central to understanding the formation of galaxies and the structures they live in, such as galaxy clusters, superclusters and voids,” said Hudson.

The team plans to continue expanding and detailing the map in collaboration with additional researchers. The team’s work was published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Local Lick Observatory Astronomers Discover ‘Supersized Earths’ Surrounding Relatively Nearby Star


A telescope at Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton. (CBS)
A telescope at Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton. (CBS)


Excerpt from cbslocal.com
 

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – Astronomers at the Lick Observatory atop Mount Hamilton have confirmed the existence of three planets described as “supersized Earths” orbiting a star 54 light years away.
Researchers from the University of California, University of Hawaii, the University of California Observatories and Tennessee State University have been working for years to confirm the planets were there.

The planets orbit a star called HD 7924. They orbit at a distance closer than Mercury orbits our sun (35.9 million miles), and complete their orbits in five, 15 and 24 days, respectively.
“The three planets are unlike anything in our solar system, with masses seven to eight times the mass of Earth and orbits very close to their host star,” UC Berkeley graduate student Lauren Weiss said in a written statement.

The researchers used a robotic telescope called the “Automated Planet Finder,” which searches for planets around nearby stars that could be suitable for life. Most distant planets discovered by astronomers so far are gas giants like Jupiter.

Astronomers first found evidence of planets surrounding HD 7924 six years ago. The planets are not visible to the naked eye.

Source of Antarctica's Eerie 'Bleeding Glacier' Found



Blood Falls, Antartica



Excerpt from livescience.com



Antarctica's Dry Valleys are the most arid places on Earth, but underneath their icy soils lies a vast and ancient network of salty, liquid water filled with life, a new study finds.

The Dry Valleys are almost entirely ice-free, except for a few isolated glaciers. The only surface water is a handful of small lakes. Inside the canyons, the climate is extremely dry, cold and windy; researchers have stumbled upon mummified seals in these gorges that are thousands of years old.
Yet there is life in this extreme landscape. For instance, bacteria living under Taylor Glacier stain its snout a deep blood red. The rust-colored brine, called Blood Falls, pours into Lake Bonney in the southernmost of the three largest Dry Valleys. The dramatic colors offer shocking relief to senses overwhelmed by the glaring white ice and dull brown rocks. 

Now, for the first time, scientists have traced the water underneath Taylor Glacier to learn more about the mysterious Blood Falls. In the process, the researchers discovered that briny water underlies much of Taylor Valley. The subsurface network connects the valley's scattered lakes, revealing that they're not as isolated as scientists once thought. The findings were published today (April 28) in the journal Nature Communications.
"We've learned so much about the dry valleys in Antarctica just by looking at this curiosity," said lead study author Jill Mikucki, a microbiologist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. "Blood Falls is not just an anomaly, it's a portal to this subglacial world."
Mikucki led an international research team that tested a newly developed airborne electromagnetic sensor in Taylor Valley. The flying contraption is a large, six-sided transmitter suspended beneath a helicopter. The instrument creates a magnetic field that picks up conductivity differences in the ground to a depth of about 1,000 feet (300 meters). 
"Salty water shone like a beacon," Mikucki said.


SkyTEM
A helicopter flies a transmitter across Lake Frxyell, Antarctica.
Credit: L. Jansan


The researchers found liquid water underneath the icy soil in Taylor Valley, stretching from the coast to at least 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) inland. The water is twice as salty as seawater, the scientists reported. There is also briny water underneath Taylor Glacier as far back as the instrument could detect, about 3 miles (5 km) up the glacier, the researchers said. Eventually, the ice was too thick for the magnetic field to penetrate.

"This study shows Blood Falls isn't just a weird little seep," Mikucki told Live Science. "It may be representative of a much larger hydrologic network."

Water underneath Taylor Valley could have turned extremely salty in two ways: The brines could be due to freezing and evaporation of larger lakes that once filled the valley. Or, ocean water may have once flooded the canyons, leaving remnants behind as it retreated. The new findings will help researchers pin down the valley's aquatic history.

"I find it a very interesting and exciting study because the hydrology of the Dry Valleys has a complicated history and there's been very little data abut what's happening in the subsurface," said Dawn Sumner, a geobiologist at the University of California, Davis, who was not involved in the study.

Scientists are also intrigued by the new results because the Dry Valleys are considered one of the closest analogs to Mars that are located on Earth. Similar briny groundwater could have formed on Mars when the planet transitioned from having liquid water to a dry environment, Sumner said.

Finally, the findings may change views of Antarctica's coastal margins, Mikucki said. Now that scientists know Taylor Valley's groundwater seeps into the ocean, further research may reveal that coastal regions are important nutrient sources for Antarctica's iron-depleted seas, she said.