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+ - NASA Appoints New Chief Scientist ->

Submitted by SchrodingerZ
SchrodingerZ (2576405) writes "Planetary Geologist Ellen Stofan, expert in the terrains of Venus, Mars, and Titan, has recently been appointed the Chief Scientist for the space agency. Stofan will act as the top adviser for Charles Bolden, NASA's current administer. Beginning August 25th, Stofan will be Bolden's head adviser for NASA's project planning and investments. She will replace former chief scientist Dr. Waleed Abdalati, who left his position to be the director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado. Stofan has both a masters and doctoral degree of geological sciences from Brown University, and is known for her involvement in the Applied Science Laboratory's project to put a boat on Saturn's moon Titan, as well as a member of the radar team for the Cassini spacecraft . Though joining in a time of large budget cuts, Bolden explains, that '[Stofan's] breadth of experience and familiarity with the agency will allow her to hit the ground running. We're fortunate to have her on our team.'"
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+ - Alpha Centauri Bb Given a Name-> 1

Submitted by SchrodingerZ
SchrodingerZ (2576405) writes "The nearest planet outside our solar system has recently been named Albertus Alauda. Originally named Alpha Centauri Bb, the planet is the closest known planet not orbiting the Sun, being a mere 4.3 light years away. The name comes from Jay Lark, who won the naming contest held by Uwingu starting last month and ending on April 22. Lark remarks that the name comes from the Latin name of his late grandfather, stating, "My grandfather passed away after a lengthy and valiant battle with cancer; his name in Latin means noble or bright and to praise or extol." The competition for naming the planet came from Uwing, a company which used the buying of name proposals and votes to fund grants for future space exploration ventures. Albertus Alauda won the competition with 751 votes, followed by Rakhat with 684 votes, and Caleo, with 622 votes."
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+ - United States Navy Cancels Blue Angels Shows Due to Budget Cuts->

Submitted by SchrodingerZ
SchrodingerZ (2576405) writes "The Blue Angels squadron, known for their intricate and death-defying aerial demonstrations, has canceled all scheduled air shows for the rest of the year. The United States Navy, which controls the Blue Angels, has reported that the grounding comes for the massive rollbacks in spending, due to the 85 billion dollar sequestration given by the federal government. In a statement from the office of the Commander Naval Air Forces in San Diego, the Navy, 'Recognizing budget realities, current Defense policy states that outreach events can only be supported with local assets at no cost to the government,' currently the cost of an air show is above 100,000 dollars. This story came just a week after the announcement by the Air Force that their Thunderbird shows will also be canceled."
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Sci-Fi

+ - Doctor Who's Dalek Designer Dies at 84->

Submitted by
SchrodingerZ
SchrodingerZ writes "Raymond Cusick, a production designer for the BBC show Doctor Who from 1963 to 1966, has died from illness. 'Terry Nation, who died in 1997, wrote the 1963 story The Daleks, in which the "satanic pepperpots" first appeared, but it was Cusick who came up with the machines' distinctive look, including the bobble-like sensors, eyestalk, sucker and exterminator weapons.' His horrid creation has remained a prime enemy in Doctor Who for over 50 years, and have remained relatively unchanged. His tireless work however was never fully awarded, as his only pay for the project was about £100. Cusick also worked on such shows as Z Cars, Dr Finlay's Casebook and The Forsyte Saga to The Duchess of Duke Street, When the Boat Comes In and Rentaghost. He officially retired in 1987. Claire Heawood, Cusick's daughter has said that her father was 'suffering from an illness and died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday.'"
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Earth

+ - Six of Hanford's Nuclear Waste Tanks Badly Leaking ->

Submitted by
SchrodingerZ
SchrodingerZ writes "Recent review of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state (where the bulk of Cold War nuclear material was created) has found that six of its underground storage tanks are badly leaking. Estimations say each tank is leaking 'anywhere from a few gallons to a few hundred gallons of radioactive material a year'. Washington's governor, Jay Inslee said in a statement on Friday that 'Energy officials recently figured out they had been inaccurately measuring the 56 million gallons of waste in Hanford’s tanks.' The Hanford cleanup project has been one of the most expensive American projects for nuclear cleanup. Plans are in place to create a treatment plant to turn the hazardous material into less hazardous glass (proposed to cost $13.4 billion), but for now officials are trying just to stop the leaking from the corroded tanks. Today the leaks do not have an immediate threat on the environment, but 'there is [only] 150 to 200 feet of dry soil between the tanks and the groundwater', and are just five miles from the Colombia River."
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Games

+ - Swedish School Makes Minecraft Lessons Compulsory ->

Submitted by
SchrodingerZ
SchrodingerZ writes "The Viktor Rydberg school in Stockholm, Sweden, has announced that they have included Minecraft into the curriculum for their 13-year-old students. The program is not meant to teach children about math or language, but rather as a tool to inspire creativity in the classroom. ''They learn about city planning, environmental issues, getting things done, and even how to plan for the future,' Viktor Rydberg teacher Monica Ekman told English-language newspaper The Local. 'It's not any different from arts or woodcraft,' she added.'

Minecraft has been widely viewed as a tool to inspire at let people create their own cubic world. Whether it will hold up as part of a school curriculum will be an interesting test. This news also comes after the announcement for a free version of Minecraft set for the 'Raspberry Pi computer, itself an educational tool with enormous potential.'"

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China

+ - On a Scale of 0 to 500, Beijing's Air Pollution is 755->

Submitted by
SchrodingerZ
SchrodingerZ writes "Beijing, the capital of China, is well known for its horrible pollution and murky smog clouds, but today the air pollution in the city reached an incredible 755, on a standard scale of 500. In comparison the same rating scale in New York city at 6 a.m. on Saturday rated the air at 19. The reading was taken from the U.S embassy, which uses machinery that complies with the Air Quality Index standards, as used by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. 'The municipal government reported levels as high as 500 on Saturday evening from some monitoring stations. The Chinese system does not report numbers beyond 500.' On an average day the air quality sits around 300, 301 and over is considered hazardous. Even so many locals report online that the air quality is 'postapocalyptic,' 'terrifying' and 'beyond belief. Internet commentator Zhao Jing (known under the pen name Michael Anti) posted on twitter this week that 'I’ve closed the doors and windows; the air purifiers are all running automatically at full power.' Many credit the pollution to the many factories in nearby Hebei Province province, while others put the blame on the exponential rise in car sales within the city. China has condemned the embassy's twitter feed which has released the information in the past. With the rising scare of pollutants however, perhaps the Chinese government should put more thought into their findings."
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Science

+ - Cobalt Can Act as Catalyst in Hydrogen Production-> 2

Submitted by
SchrodingerZ
SchrodingerZ writes "Many people consider Hydrogen (The lightest element in existence), as the energy source of the future. However, the means for creating cheap hydrogen are few and far between. Platinum has been used before as a catalyst for Hydrogen production, but Platinum, with a current price of around 1640 USD per ounce, is difficult to come by cheaply. Fossil fuels also act as Hydrogen producers, but release harmful CO2 as a result. Recently a group of scientists at the University of Cambridge have discovered that the element Cobalt can act as a catalyst for hydrogen from pH neutral water at room temperature. Cobalt, relative to Platinum, is a fairly abundant and cheap element. ‘’Until now, no inexpensive molecular catalyst was known to evolve H2 efficiently in water and under aerobic conditions,’ explains Dr. Erwin Reisner, head of the Christian Doppler Laboratory at the University of Cambridge Department of Chemistry. ‘However, such conditions are essential for use in developing green hydrogen as a future energy source under industrially relevant conditions.’’ The future of Cobalt Hydrogen cells however is murky, as problems still arise from Cobalt’s poor stability, but scientists are optimistic this find will lead the way to greener Hydrogen production and overall world power."
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Space

+ - Scientists Discover Universe's Largest Structure->

Submitted by
astroengine
astroengine writes "What’s the biggest thing in the universe? That would be a cluster of quasars so large it would take a vehicle traveling at the speed of light 4 billion years to cross. The structure, known as a Large Quasar Group, or LQG, is so massive scientists say it may challenge a fundamental principle of cosmology, laid out by Albert Einstein, which states that when viewed on a sufficiently large scale, the properties of the universe are the same for all observers."
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Moon

+ - GRAIL Mission Video Released->

Submitted by
SchrodingerZ
SchrodingerZ writes "A new video was released today by NASA from the GRAIL mission probes, which ended their mission last month, as they impacted the lunar surface. 'Dramatic' footage was captured by the probe Ebb on December 14th. The video was taken from the 'MoonKAM (Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school Students) cameras, it shows the view of Ebb flying at an altitude of 6 miles (10 km) above the Moon’s northern hemisphere in the vicinity of Jackson crater (22.4N 163.1W).' Two videos were released, one from the fore and one from the aft of the probe, showing a forwards and backwards time lapse containing 931 and 1,489 pictures each of the lunar terrain. The footage was part of the probes final systems check before they shut down and were sent into a controlled impact to a predetermined location."
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Space

+ - Previously Unseen Stage of Planet Formation Observed->

Submitted by
SchrodingerZ
SchrodingerZ writes "Seen from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile; scientists have detected a gas giant planet focusing material from a gas cloud towards a main star. The star, HD 142527, is a young 2 million years old, and is 450 light-years from Earth. The system has 'A disk of spinning dust and gas left over from its formation... and from this material, planets are being created'. The planetesimals, are drawing material from the dust cloud inward, effectively fueling the expansion of the parent star, currently twice the size of our own Sun. 'Theoretical simulations have predicted such bridges between outer and inner portions of disks surrounding stars, but none have been directly observed until now.' Simon Casassus, lead scientist at the University of Chile, stated that 'Currently, the only mechanism known to produce such gap-crossing dense molecular flows, with residual carbon monoxide gas more diffusely spread out inside the gap, is planetary formation.' While the planets currently are not visible, their presence is very noticeable, more examination of the dust cloud is needed to precisely pinpoint the planet(s)."
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Moon

+ - Origin of Neil Armstrong's 'One Small Step' Line Revealed ->

Submitted by
SchrodingerZ
SchrodingerZ writes "In an upcoming BBC Documentary, Dean Armstrong, the brother of astronaut Neil Armstrong, reveals when the world famous 'one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind' line originated. For years, people have argued over when Armstrong came up with the line, whether it was on the spot or planned years ahead. Also debated is whether Armstrong meant to include 'a' before man, making the indefinite article 'man', which alludes to mankind, into a singular, 'a man', himself. According to Dean Armstrong, the quote was shared to him over a board game, months before the mission began. He says, 'We started playing Risk and then he [Neil] slipped me a piece of paper and said 'read that’. I did. On that piece of paper there was 'That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’. He says 'what do you think about that?’ I said 'fabulous’. He said 'I thought you might like that, but I wanted you to read it’. He then added: 'It was 'that is one small step for A man’'. Armstrong had always insisted that he had said 'a', that that it was lost in communication static. This new story however conflicts with what Neil told James Hansen for his biography, stating he came up with the quote on the lunar surface. More on the historic moon landing and the life of Neil Armstrong in the new documentary Neil Armstrong- First Man on the Moon, on BBC."
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"Though a program be but three lines long, someday it will have to be maintained." -- The Tao of Programming

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