UN report admits solar activity (The SUN) may play significant role in global warming

February 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Sci-Tech

 

The Earth has been getting warmer — but how much of that heat is due to greenhouse gas emissions and how much is due to natural causes?

A leaked report by a United Nations’ group dedicated to climate studies says that heat from the sun may play a larger role than previously thought.

“[Results] do suggest the possibility of a much larger impact of solar variations on the stratosphere than previously thought, and some studies have suggested that this may lead to significant regional impacts on climate,” reads a draft copy of a major, upcoming report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The man who leaked the report, StopGreenSuicide blogger Alec Rawls, told FoxNews.com that the U.N.’s statements on solar activity were his main motivation for leaking the document.

‘The main premises and conclusions of the IPCC story line have been undercut by the IPCC itself.’

- StopGreenSuicide blogger Alec Rawls

“The public needs to know now how the main premises and conclusions of the IPCC story line have been undercut by the IPCC itself,” Rawls wrote on his website in December, when he first leaked the report.

Rawls blames the U.N. for burying its point about the effect of the sun in Chapter 11 of the report.

“Even after the IPCC acknowledges extensive evidence for … solar forcing beyond what they included in their models, they still make no attempt to account for this omission in their predictions. … It’s insane,” he told FoxNews.com.

Some skeptical climatologists say that the statement in the U.N. draft report is important, but not game-changing.

“The solar component is real but not of sufficient magnitude to have driven most of the warming of the late 20th century,” Pat Michaels, the former president of the American Association of State Climatologists, and current director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, told FoxNews.com.

The U.N. report also says that the effect of solar activity will be “much smaller than the warming expected from increases in [man-made] greenhouse gases.”

An estimate from NASA said that solar variations caused 25 percent of the 1.1 degree Fahrenheit warming that has been observed over the past century.

But Michaels said that if the U.N. increases its estimates about how much the sun affects Earth’s temperatures, it might help the U.N. get its prediction models back on track. While the Earth warmed over the last two decades, it did so more slowly than the U.N. had predicted.

“Climate science has the problem of trying to explain why we are now in our 17th year without a significant warming trend. As a result, you are seeing many forecasts of warming for this century being ratcheted down,” he said.

Others say that the focus on solar activity distracts from the big picture — the fact that the Earth is warming.

“I see climate contrarians try this trick almost every time a big new solar study comes out. They somehow tend to neglect mentioning that solar variation is smaller than the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide,” Aaron Huertas of the Union of Concerned Scientists told FoxNews.com.

To back that up, Huertas points to data that show that solar activity and temperature rose together from 1880 until 1960, but that then, solar activity stopped increasing — even as temperatures continued going up.

“The basic evidence is that solar activity has varied a bit while global temperature keeps going up,” Huertas said.

But Rawls said that while solar activity has indeed stopped increasing, the important thing is that it remains at a historically high level.

“The simplest way to put it is: If you put a pot on the stove at the maximum temperature, and leave it on at that temperature — are you telling me that the pot won’t keep warming?”

Rawls worries that if solar activity falls, the effects could be dire.

“Unlike warming, cooling really is dangerous, regularly dropping the planet into hundred-thousand-year-long glacial periods.”

NASA has said that there is evidence that the most recent “Little Ice Age” was caused by a dip in solar activity.

“Almost no sunspots were observed on the sun’s surface during the period from 1650 to 1715. This extended absence of solar activity may have been partly responsible for the Little Ice Age in Europe,” during which temperatures were colder by about 1.8 degrees F than they are today, NASA has reported.

But Huertas said that’s not what we should worry about at a time when the effects of warming are already being felt.

“Climate change is affecting weather all across the planet and when it comes to extreme weather, the strongest links are to coastal flooding [and] heat waves,” Huertas said.

“While climate skeptics are arguing on the Internet about drafts of the report, states like New York and New Jersey are working to help people rebuild their homes in ways that have a better chance of surviving more destructive storms and flooding in the future,” he said.

Read more:  FOX

‘I think they would rather not know. Wouldn’t it be better to have a happy successful flight and die unexpectedly during entry than know there was nothing to be done, until the air ran out?’ How Columbia crew died in ignorance

February 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Sci-Tech

NASA has revealed that the Columbia crew were not told that the shuttle had been damaged and  they might not survive re-entry.

The seven astronauts who died will be remembered at a public memorial service on the 10th anniversary of the disaster this Friday at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

The shuttle was headed home from a 16-day science mission when it broke apart over Texas on February 1, 2003, because of damage to its left wing.

Ten years ago, experts at NASA’s mission control faced the terrible decision over whether to let the astronauts know that they may die on re-entry or face orbiting in space until the oxygen ran out.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2271525/It-better-die-unexpectedly-Columbia-Shuttle-Crew-Not-Told-Possible-Problem-With-Reentry.html#ixzz2JlVSnkgZ
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South Korean officials: North Korean rocket could hit U.S. mainland

December 24, 2012 by  
Filed under World

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) — The rocket launched earlier this month by North Korea had the capability to travel more than 6,000 miles, meaning this type of rocket could strike the United States, South Korean defense officials said.

In remarks to reporters Friday, which were embargoed until Sunday, three officials with South Korea’s defense ministry offered their observations about the December 12 launch based on a recovered oxidizer tank that had been part of one of the rocket’s boosters. According to NASA, an oxidizer tank contains oxygen compounds that allow rocket fuel to burn in the atmosphere and outside of it, in space.

Full Article

2 Small Asteroids Give Earth a Close Shave

March 27, 2012 by  
Filed under World

 

Asteroid Could Threaten the Earth in 2182
 

This montage of images from several different observations and missions shows asteroids and comets visited by spacecraft from Earth. Courtesy of Ted Stryk/Emily Lakdawalla
CREDIT:

SPACE.com

Two tiny asteroids zipped close by Earth today (March 26), passing between our planet and the orbit of the moon, but posed no threat of impacting our world, NASA scientists say.

The two space rocks flew by Earth in rapid fire; one zoomed by early in the day while the second buzzed the planet at 1:09 p.m. EDT (1709 GMT), according to astronomers with NASA’s Asteroid Watch program.

“Both are very small (under 10 meters) and pose no risk,” the scientists wrote in a Twitter update.

The first object, called asteroid 2012 FP35, came within 96,000 miles (154,000 km) of the Earth when it passed by earlier today, the scientists wrote. Asteroid 2012 FP35 is just under 30 feet (9 meters) wide, making it about the size of a tour bus.

The second asteroid is dubbed 2012 FS35 and crept even closer to Earth, coming within 36,000 miles (58,000 km) when it whipped by the planet. Asteroid 2012 FS35 is even smaller than its predecessor; at nearly 10 feet (3 meters) wide, it’s only the size of a small car.

The paths of both asteroids brought them well inside the orbit of the moon, which typically circles Earth at a distance of about 238,000 miles (382,900 km). Asteroid 2012 FP35 — the farther of the two space rocks — passed within 0.4 lunar distances to Earth, while asteroid 2012 FS35 came within 0.17 lunar distances,  NASA scientists said.

The two asteroids were first detected over the weekend and quickly dismissed as potential impact threats to Earth. Their small size means they would likely not survive the fiery trip through Earth’s atmosphere to reach the surface.

NASA’s Asteroid Watch project is part of the agency’s Near-Earth Objects program based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. NASA scientists and other teams of astronomers regularly scan the sky for larger, potentially dangerous asteroids in order to determine if they pose a risk of impacting the Earth.

You can follow SPACE.com Managing Editor Tariq Malik on Twitter @tariqjmalikFollow SPACE.com for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

Astronauts scramble for escape pods as space junk threat gets serious

March 27, 2012 by  
Filed under World

 

Some 22,000 chunks of space junk zip around the earth. On Saturday, six International Space Station astronauts scrambled for safety as a piece of a Russian satellite whizzed by.

By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer / March 24, 2012

The International Space Station as it orbits the Earth. A discarded chunk of a Russian rocket forced six space station astronauts to seek shelter in escape capsules early Saturday.

NASA/AP

The six earthlings – three Russians, two Americans, and a Dutchman – aboard the International Space Station were stirred from their slumber Saturday morning to jump into emergency escape pods, once again drawing into focus the growing dangers of hurtling space junk.

The astronauts, orbiting 200 miles above the planet, were told by ground control to scramble into two docked Soyuz spacecrafts in case a piece of a wrecked Russian satellite should smash into the ISS, which could have heavily damaged the platform as both objects were traveling at orbital speeds – 17,500 miles per hour. The emergency was called off after the chunk passed by at an approximate distance of nine miles – which in space terms is a near-miss.

“Everything went by the book and as expected, the small piece of cosmos satellite debris passed the international space station without incident,” said a NASA spokesman.

Ground controllers did not believe the ISS was in extreme danger, but ordered the emergency maneuver after determining that the trajectories could intersect.

NASA says there are about 22,000 pieces of sizable space junk – primarily bits of old satellites – orbiting the earth and has in the past ordered the ISS crew to adjust the craft’s path to avoid collisions. In all, NASA tracks nearly half a million pieces of space junk.

The piece that threatened the ISS Saturday morning came from the 2009 collision of the Iridium communications satellite and the Russian Cosmos 2251.

NASA spotted the latest threat too late for the crew to move the ISS safely out of the way. It was the third time in 12 years that astronauts were ordered to scramble for safety. Last June, a piece of debris came within 1,100 feet of the craft.

NASA said it followed a “precautionary and conservative” approach by ordering the astronauts to enter the escape pods. The astronauts – Russians Anton Shkaplerov, Anatoly Ivanishin, and Oleg Kononenko, Americans Dan Pettit and Dan Burbank, and Dutchman Andre Kuipers – were awakened about an hour early on what was to have been their day off to get into the Soyuz’ crafts and close the hatches.

The spacefarers watched through the portholes to see if they could catch a glimpse of the zooming debris. “Nichevo … Nothing,” one of the Russian cosmonauts said.

If the 450-ton ISS had been hit and disabled, the astronauts were prepared to detach and descend back to earth in the capsules. Instead, they climbed back into the ISS and “resumed a normal and relaxing weekend,” NASA spokesman Rob Navias told MSNBC.

In response to concerns from the National Research Council that space junk is posing an increased threat to the earth’s critical satellite network and the ISS, spacefaring nations have signed compacts to adopt best practices to better control expired space craft and their inevitable return to earth. About one large piece of space junk falls to earth each year. Just this week, villagers in Siberia reported a large “UFO fragment” falling to earth, even as space experts struggled to confirm its origin.

Researchers are also working on ways to corral space junk while in orbit. One idea, in theory, resembles a sort of space shrimp boat that would use a net to trawl for debris. Other ideas include using lasers to obliterate the pieces, and a Swiss company last month said they are developing a sort of “janitor satellite” to clean up the trash strewn skies.

Revolving Door: Darpa director leaving the Pentagon for…. Google

March 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Sci-Tech

In 2010 we reported that Google was moving its headquarters to NASA… Which came first? Google, or the DARPA idea to own a search engine to track and trace everything you think and do?

Reuters / Krishnendu Halder

Reuters / Krishnendu Halder

RT

One of the most top-secret Pentagon departments — the same that spawned America’s drones, military robots, electromagnetic guns and other sci-fi weaponry — is about to lose its top officer to Google.

Regina Dugan oversaw the development of some of the US military’s most marvelous high tech accomplishments as director of Darpa, but the head of the DoD’s research lab is parting ways with the Pentagon to take on a role with Google. Not even three years after she took on the role as the first female director of the America’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, Regina Dugan is now walking away to join the ranks of America’s other innovative powerhouse. Dugan will be relinquishing her top roll at the Defense Department’s Darpa program and trading in the Potomac River for Silicon Valley, and says it is a natural decision to move somewhere where the possibilities seem endless. Apparently within the cogs of the war machine, there is only so much left to explore.

Confirming the move to a “senior executive position” with Google, Darpa spokesman Eric Mazzacone tells Wired that Dugan couldn’t refuse an offer with such an “innovative company” as the search engine giant. Until the latest news broke, however, Darpa had been touted as a creative — yet controversial — research lab for space-age technology only once imaginable. Darpa has developed technologies used across the globe that can take away lives and, as seen with cutting-edge robotic limbs, practically create them.

With the Defense Department scaling back on many operations and Google seemingly only growing, Dugan’s departure only makes sense given the timing. Both US President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have thrown their weight behind a shift in the Pentagon’s budget in an effort to save billions over the next few years. Google, on the other hand, has only increased its outreach, operating countless new endeavors and taking on new mediums.

That’s not to say, of course, that Dugan avoided trouble while with Darpa. She has been the subject of an investigation after awarding pricey contracts to a defense research company she partially owns, a deal which prompted the Pentagon’s Office of the Inspector General to open a probe. Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan, a spokesperson for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, says that the change in command and ongoing investigation into Dugan’s RedX Defense company are unrelated, but aside that there is little known about her career change. On their part, a Google rep tells PC Mag, “Regina is a technical pioneer who brought the future of technology to the military during her time at DARPA,” adding, “She will be a real asset to Google, and we are thrilled she is joining the team.”

In a statement from the Pentagon, Frank Kendall for Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, adds, “Regina Dugan’s leadership at Darpa has been extraordinary and she will be missed throughout the Department.

“We are all very grateful for the many contributions she has made in advancing the technologies that our war fighters depend on.”

Dugan, however, had blasted Darpa for not doing enough only a year earlier. “There is a time and a place for daydreaming. But it is not at Darpa,” she told a congressional panel in March 2011. “Darpa is not the place of dreamlike musings or fantasies, not a place for self-indulging in wishes and hopes. Darpa is a place of doing.”

The transition also raises further questions about what relationship the federal government has with Google. As RT reported yesterday, an advocacy group will be taking the US National Security Agency to court later this month in hopes of finding details on what ties, if any, the NSA has with Google. The NSA has refused to disclose any details in the past that discuss a relationship, despite a series of Freedom of Information Act requests.

Blast it or paint it: Asteroid to threaten Earth in 2013

March 4, 2012 by  
Filed under World

 

A dangerous asteroid heading to the Earth was spotted by stargazers three years after it had got onto its current orbit

RT

A dangerous asteroid heading to the Earth was spotted by stargazers three years after it had got onto its current orbit

To avert a possible catastrophe – this time set for February 2013 – scientists suggest confronting asteroid 2012 DA14 with either paint or big guns. The stickler is that time has long run out to build a spaceship to carry out the operation.

­NASA’s data shows the 60-meter asteroid, spotted by Spanish stargazers in February, will whistle by Earth in 11 months. Its trajectory will bring it within a hair’s breadth of our planet, raising fears of a possible collision.

The asteroid, known as DA14, will pass by our planet in February 2013 at a distance of under 27,000 km (16,700 miles). This is closer than the geosynchronous orbit of some satellites.

There is a possibility the asteroid will collide with Earth, but further calculation is required to estimate the potential threat and work out how to avert possible disaster, NASA expert Dr. David Dunham told students at Russia’s University of Electronics and Mathematics.

“The Earth’s gravitational field will alter the asteroid’s path significantly. Further scrupulous calculation is required to estimate the threat of collision,” said Dr. Dunham, as transcribed by Russia’s Izvestia. “The asteroid may break into dozens of small pieces, or several large lumps may split from it and burn up in the atmosphere. The type of the asteroid and its mineral structure can be determined by spectral analysis. This will help predict its behavior in the atmosphere and what should be done to prevent the potential threat,” said Dr. Dunham.

In the event of a collision, scientists have calculated that the energy released would equate to the destructive power of a thermo-nuclear bomb.

In response to the threat, scientists have come up with some ingenious methods to avert a potential disaster.

­Fireworks and watercolors

With the asteroid zooming that low, it will be too late to do anything with it besides trying to predict its final destination and the consequences of impact.

 

A spaceship is needed, experts agree. It could shoot the rock down or just crash into it, either breaking the asteroid into debris or throwing it off course.

We could paint it,” says NASA expert David Dunham.

Paint would affect the asteroid’s ability to reflect sunlight, changing its temperature and altering its spin. The asteroid would stalk off its current course, but this could also make the boulder even more dangerous when it comes back in 2056, Aleksandr Devaytkin, the head of the observatory in Russia’s Pulkovo, told Izvestia.

2012 DA14 orbit diagram
2012 DA14 orbit diagram

Spaceship impossible?

Whatever the mission, building a spaceship to deal with 2012 DA14 will take two years – at least.

The asteroid has proven a bitter discovery. It has been circling in orbit for three years already, crossing Earth’s path several times, says space analyst Sergey Naroenkov from the Russian Academy of Sciences. It seems that spotting danger from outer space is still the area where mere chance reigns, while asteroid defense systems exist only in drafts.

Still, prospects of meeting 2012 DA14 are not all doom and gloom.

The asteroid may split into pieces entering the atmosphere. In this case, most part of it will never reach the planet’s surface,” remarks Dunham.

But if the entire asteroid is to crash into the planet, the impact will be as hard as in the Tunguska blast, which in 1908 knocked down trees over a total area of 2,150 sq km (830 sq miles) in Siberia. This is almost the size of Luxembourg. In today’s case, the destination of the asteroid is yet to be determined.

The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?

February 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Sci-Tech

We have seen this work. Its amazing!

 

(CBS)  In the world of energy, the Holy Grail is a power source that’s inexpensive and clean, with no emissions. Well over 100 start-ups in Silicon Valley are working on it, and one of them, Bloom Energy, is about to make public its invention: a little power plant-in-a-box they want to put literally in your backyard.

You’ll generate your own electricity with the box and it’ll be wireless. The idea is to one day replace the big power plants and transmission line grid, the way the laptop moved in on the desktop and cell phones supplanted landlines.

It has a lot of smart people believing and buzzing, even though the company has been unusually secretive – until now.

Full Segment: The Bloom Box
Web Extra: The Magic Box
Web Extra: Plug-In Power Plant
Web Extra: Naming The Bloom Box
Web Extra: A Skeptic’s View

K.R. Sridhar invited “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl for a first look at the innards of the Bloom box that he has been toiling on for nearly a decade.

Looking at one of the boxes, Sridhar told Stahl it could power an average U.S. home.

“The way we make it is in two blocks. This is a European home. The two put together is a U.S. home,” he explained.

“‘Cause we use twice as much energy, is that what you’re saying?” Stahl asked.

“Yeah, and this’ll power four Asian homes,” he replied.

“So four homes in India, your native country?” Stahl asked.

“Four to six homes in our country,” Sridhar replied.

“It sounds awfully dazzling,” Stahl remarked.

“It is real. It works,” he replied.

He says he knows it works because he originally invented a similar device for NASA. He really is a rocket scientist.

“This invention, working on Mars, would have allowed the NASA administrator to pick up a phone and say, ‘Mr. President, we know how to produce oxygen on Mars,’” Sridhar told Stahl.

“So this was going to produce oxygen so people could actually live on Mars?” she asked.

“Absolutely,” Sridhar replied.

When NASA scrapped that Mars mission, Sridhar had an idea: he reversed his Mars machine. Instead of it making oxygen, he pumped oxygen in.

He invented a new kind of fuel cell, which is like a very skinny battery that always runs. Sridhar feeds oxygen to it on one side, and fuel on the other. The two combine within the cell to create a chemical reaction that produces electricity. There’s no need for burning or combustion, and no need for power lines from an outside source.

In October 2001 he managed to get a meeting with John Doerr from the big Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins.

“How much do you think, ‘I need to come up with the next big thing’?” Stahl asked Doerr.

“Oh, that’s my job,” he replied. “To find entrepreneurs who are going to change the world and then help them.”

Doerr has certainly changed our world: he’s the one who discovered and funded Netscape, Amazon and Google. When he listened to Sridhar, the idea seemed just as transformative: efficient, inexpensive, clean energy out of a box.

“But Google: $25 million. This man said, ‘How much money?’” Stahl asked.

“At the time he said over a hundred million dollars,” Doerr replied.

But according to Doerr that was okay.

“So nothing he said scared you?” Stahl asked.

“Oh, I wasn’t at all sure it could be done,” he replied.

READ THE REST

RELATED:

The Bloom Box: What All the Fuss Is About

Deadline Live – June 10 2010

June 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Archive

Thursday – Hour One: Jack uncovers breaking news and much more.

Hour Two: Jack’s Special Guest is Steve Wolf. Director James Cameron has offered the use of his deep water exploration teams and equipment to help in the Gulf oil spill, saying “Those morons don’t know what they’re doing.” Hollywood special effect pro Steve Wolf has worked extensively in underwater operations and agrees. “We possess the knowledge and skill to cap this leak quickly. BP need only provide us the X-Rays, photos, video and schematics, and the use of their crew and gear, and we’d have this sewn up in a week. Movie people know how to get stuff done, do it quickly, and make it work.” Wolf adds, “Remember it was James Cameron’s underwater movie team that found, entered and filmed the Titanic, not the government or a large slow corporation. The skills of a multidisciplinary engineering team are needed here, not the pencil pusher types they have working on this.” While rooted in movie special effects, Wolf’s company, Special FX International, has helped solve complex problems for NASA, the McDonald Observatory, the Secret Service, military contractors in Saudi Arabia, and underwater law enforcement agencies.

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