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Submission + - New Horizons team picks its next Kuiper Belt target

schwit1 writes: The New Horizons science team has picked its next Kuiper Belt fly-by target beyond Pluto.

New Horizons will perform a series of four maneuvers in late October and early November to set its course toward 2014 MU69 — nicknamed "PT1" (for "Potential Target 1") — which it expects to reach on January 1, 2019. Any delays from those dates would cost precious fuel and add mission risk. "2014 MU69 is a great choice because it is just the kind of ancient KBO, formed where it orbits now, that the Decadal Survey desired us to fly by," said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. "Moreover, this KBO costs less fuel to reach [than other candidate targets], leaving more fuel for the flyby, for ancillary science, and greater fuel reserves to protect against the unforeseen."

The fly-by itself will be really exciting, because this object will truly be the most unusual we will have ever gotten a close look at, as it has spent its entire existence far out in the dim reaches of the solar system.

Submission + - Porn-Sniffing Dog Helped Bring Down Subway Star Jared Fogle->

schwit1 writes:

A rambunctious black Labrador named Bear — one of only five dogs in the nation trained to sniff out electronic data devices — played a key role in the arrest of former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle on child-porn charges.

Bear's dog whisperer, Todd Jordan, gave NBC News a demonstration of how he works his magic, walking him through an apartment while repeatedly giving him the command "Seek!"

According to Bear's trainer, the dog was trained to smell the chemicals used in the manufacture of the devices, in this case a thumb drive. And it he substance of the article is true, it works as the dog found a thumb drive that otherwise eluded detection.

No, dogs cannot smell porn. Not kiddie porn. Not adult porn. Not lawful or unlawful porn. Not porn at all. A $5 footlong, sure, but pretty much anyone can smell that, not that they necessarily want to unless they've made millions off them.

The 2-year-old rescue pooch nosed out a thumb drive that humans had failed to find during a search of Fogle's Indiana house in July, several weeks before he agreed to plead guilty to having X-rated images of minors and paying to have sex with teenage girls.

The dog zeroed in on a kitchen drawer, which Jordan opened to reveal a device. "Good boy!" he told Bear, giving him a handful of food.

While the question of whether dogs can and should be used as a proxy for probable cause, whether to search directly or to obtain a warrant to search, is one of grave concerns, as it's fraught with substantial failings, plus its efficacy is little different than a coin toss, the âoeporn sniffing dogâ presents a very different picture.

Yet, apparently, dogs (Labradors in particular) can be trained to sniff out data storage devices. Whoda thunk?

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Carbon Offsets May Have Dramatically Increased Emissions->

schwit1 writes: That's the finding of a new report from the Stockholm Environment Institute, which investigated carbon credits used to offset greenhouse gas emissions under a UN scheme. As one of the co-authors of the report put it, issuing these credits "was like printing money."

As a result of political horse trading at UN negotiations on climate change, countries like Russia and the Ukraine were allowed to create carbon credits from activities like curbing coal waste fires, or restricting gas emissions from petroleum production. Under the UN scheme, called Joint Implementation, they then were able to sell those credits to the European Union's carbon market. Companies bought the offsets rather than making their own more expensive, emissions cuts.

But this study, from the Stockholm Environment Institute, says the vast majority of Russian and Ukrainian credits were in fact, "hot air" — no actual emissions were reduced.


Link to Original Source

Comment Re:Judging by the story so far... (Score 1) 367

Unless you mean that in the sense of 'research, heh, nudge-nudge-wink-wink, say no more', I'd be very surprised. Any ethics committee that approves such an experiment would be seriously derelict in their duty (anonymity and informed consent? What are they?).

I don't know if he's telling the truth or not, but at least one semi-well known guy is claiming that was what he was doing.

Submission + - EPA withholds Colorado disaster documents demanded by Congress 2

schwit1 writes: The EPA, when ordered by Congress to release documents describing that agency's planning prior to the toxic waste disaster it caused in Colorado, has failed to meet the deadline set by Congress for turning over those documents.

"It is disappointing, but not surprising, that the EPA failed to meet the House Science Committee's reasonable deadline in turning over documents pertaining to the Gold King Mine spill," said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). "These documents are essential to the Committee's ongoing investigation and our upcoming hearing on Sept. 9. But more importantly, this information matters to the many Americans directly affected in western states, who are still waiting for answers from the EPA."

Smith — who frequently spars with the EPA — is chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. EPA director Gina McCarthy has been asked to appear and answer questions about the agency's role in creating a 3-million-gallon toxic spill into Colorado's Animas River on Aug. 5. Critics say McCarthy and the EPA have been unresponsive, secretive and unsympathetic toward millions of people who live in three states bordering the river.

The word "coverup" comes to mind, though how could anyone believe that the Obama administration (the most transparent in history!) would do such a thing baffles the mind.

Comment Re:That's all that consumer-oriented businesses do (Score 1) 254

I'm unconvinced. You addressed partial instances while ignoring all the others. What's reliable food labeling? Are you sure what we have now is reliable, even with the government continuously changing it's food guidelines? You can say that it's based on science, but the science is always at odds with itself. There was an article on /. not too long ago about what a miserable failure food science has been.

What's ridiculous is comparing growing food to manufacturing automobiles, and you totally ignored the part about farmer's markets. Many people can & do grow their own food, others have community gardens, and farmer's markets are available in almost every town & city in the country. So are natural/organic stores.

And your seat belt argument isn't even close to correct. Seat belts were in place in automobiles well before seat belt laws were created. You may be thinking of laws making the wearing of seat belts compulsory, but the belts were in place by the manufacturers well before any laws came into effect.

Submission + - A breakthrough in creating fusion power?

An anonymous reader writes: A privately funded company has successfully kept a ball of superheated gas stable for a record time, 5 milliseconds, putting them closer to producing fusion power.

"They've succeeded finally in achieving a lifetime limited only by the power available to the system," says particle physicist Burton Richter of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who sits on a board of advisers to Tri Alpha. If the company's scientists can scale the technique up to longer times and higher temperatures, they will reach a stage at which atomic nuclei in the gas collide forcefully enough to fuse together, releasing energy.

Although other startup companies are also trying to achieve fusion using similar methods, the main efforts in this field are huge government-funded projects such as the $20 billion International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), under construction in France by an international collaboration, and the U.S. Department of Energy's $4 billion National Ignition Facility (NIF) in Livermore, California. But the burgeoning cost and complexity of such projects are causing many to doubt they will ever produce plants that can generate energy at an affordable cost.

Tri Alpha's and similar efforts take a different approach, which promises simpler, cheaper machines that can be developed more quickly. Importantly, the Tri Alpha machine may be able to operate with a different fuel than most other fusion reactors. This fuel-a mix of hydrogen and boron-is harder to react, but Tri Alpha researchers say it avoids many of the problems likely to confront conventional fusion power plants. "They are where they are because people are able to believe they can get a [hydrogen-boron] reactor to work," says plasma physicist David Hammer of Cornell University, also a Tri Alpha adviser.

The article does not say how much this success cost the privately-funded Tri Alpha, but it certainly wasn't in the billions of dollars. Yet, it appears that in less than a decade they have accomplished more than all these big government-funded projects have in the past half century, and for less money.

To be or not to be, that is the bottom line.

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