dtjohnson writes: "Two weeks after a new record was
set in the Arctic Ocean for the least amount of sea ice coverage in the
satellite record, the ice surrounding Antarctica reached
its highest ever level. Sea ice extended over 19.44 million
square kilometers (7.51 million square miles) in 2012, according to the
National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The previous record of
19.39 million kilometers (7.49 million square miles) was set in 2006." Ice extent is reaching an all-time
record high on the bottom of the planet just after ice reached an
record low on the top of the planet. What can it
mean? Either there will soon be more ice at the top or less ice
at the bottom or the planet will become seriously 'bottom heavy.'
Now there is something to worry about...
dtjohnson writes: A developer in Kansas is selling what can be called "Humanity's
Last Holdout." He is converting abandoned Atlas missile silos
into luxury condos that will allow the occupants to hunker down and
withstand war, solar flares, catclysmic weather events, and just about
any of your general apocalyptic events. A condo starts at $1
million for a half-floor unit and will include complex life support
systems for water, power, and unmentionables. So far, brisk sales
have totaled $7 million.
dtjohnson writes: Iran is being
deleted from the world banking system Society for Worldwide
Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT)
computers as of Saturday
at 1600 UTC. Once the SWIFT codes for Iranian banks are
deleted, Iranian banks will no longer be able to transfer funds to and
from other worldwide banks making Iranian international commerce into a
barter operation. SWIFT is taking the action at the request of EU
members to comply with international sanctions against Iran due to its
program to develop nuclear weapons. The effect will be to
drastically hinder Iran's ability to execute international business
transactions. This is serious folks.
dtjohnson writes: The new "Times
Atlas of the World" claims in publicity
for its newest edition that global warming has turned 15 percent of
Greenland's former ice-covered land "green and ice-free." Now,
however, scientists from the Scott Polar Research Institute say
those figures, based on data from the National
Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) are wrong. "Recent satellite
images of Greenland make it clear that there are in fact still numerous
glaciers and permanent ice cover where the new Times Atlas shows
ice-free conditions and the emergence of new lands," they say in a
letter that has been sent to the Times. Others
have pointed out that if 15 percent of Greenland ice cover had been
lost, then sea levels would have risen by 1 meter...which has not
happened. Perhaps yet another climategate is brewing.
dtjohnson writes: A study published today predicts
that solar storms are going to become increasingly disruptive to
satellites and communications in the coming decades as the sun cycles
towards a minimum of activity. "The work, published in Geophysical Research Letters,
predicts that once the Sun shifts toward an era of lower solar
activity, more hazardous radiation will reach Earth. The team
says the Sun is currently at a grand solar maximum. This phase
began in the 1920s — and has lasted throughout the space age....The
evidence seems to indicate that although there are fewer solar storms
once the Sun leaves its grand maximum, they are more powerful, faster
and therefore carry more particles."
dtjohnson writes: Scientists have been looking for anti-matter deep in space but now it
appears that there is a source much closer to home...thunderstorms.
Scientists looking at terrestial gamma ray flashes (TGFs) produced in
thunderstorms have discovered that the gamma ray energy transforms into
a pair of particles...an electron and a positron...which then sprays
out into space as an anti-matter beam. This happens as many as
500 times each day. Perhaps it will not be much longer until
anti-matter is harnesses as a source of energy for interstellar warp
dtjohnson writes: "On August 1, 2010, an entire
hemisphere of the sun erupted. Filaments of magnetism snapped and
exploded, shock waves raced across the stellar surface, billion-ton
clouds of hot gas billowed into space. Astronomers knew they had
witnessed something big. It was so big, it may have shattered old
ideas about solar activity."
Previously, solar scientists had considered solar activity to be
localized and isolated but the August 1 eruption led to the insight
that all localized activity (i.e. 'sunspots') were manifestations of
much bigger interrelated solar magnetic activity lurking below the
surface. This has implications for models of the Earth's climate
which have modeled solar output as a relatively
constant input to the Earth's climate varying only slightly on the
11-year sunspot cycle.
dtjohnson writes: A study published in Nature today
establishes conclusively that living humans carry between 1 and 4
percent of their genes
in common with Neanderthals. Previous studies failed to show
intermixing between us and neanderthals. The new, much more
rigorous study, was done by sequencing DNA from 3 neanderthal
individuals who perished 40,000 years ago and comparing it with DNA
from humans in Africa, France, Papua New Guinea, and China.
The researchers concluded that humans living today carry between 1 and
4 percent of Neanderthal genes and the intermixing must have happened
during a 50,000
year window when neanderthals and humans were living side-by-side
in the Middle East. So, the next time you see a
neanderthal image, keep in mind that it might be your Uncle Fester.
dtjohnson writes: The National Snow and Ice Data
Center (NSIDC) has been at the forefront of predicting doom in the
arctic as ice melts due to global warming. In May, 2008
they went so far as to predict that the North Pole would be ice-free during
the 2008 'melt season' leading to a lively slashdot discussion.
Today, however, they say that they have been the victims of 'sensor drift' that lead
to an underestimation of arctic ice extent by as much as 500,000 square
kilometers. The problem was discovered after they received
emails from puzzled readers, asking why obviously sea-ice-covered
regions were showing up as ice free open ocean. It turns
out that the NSIDC relys on an older, less-reliable method of tracking
sea ice extent called SSM/I that does not agree with a newer method
called AMSR-E. So why doesn't NSIDC use the newer AMSR-E
data? "We do not use AMSR-E data in our analysis because it
is not consistent with our historical data." Turns out that the
AMSR-E data only goes back to 2002 which is probably not long enough
for the NSIDC to make sweeping conclusions about melting.
The AMSR-E data is updated daily and is available to the public.
Thus far, sea ice
extent in 2009 is tracking ahead of 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 so
the predictions of an ice free north pole might be premature.
dtjohnson writes: A Harvard law school professor has submitted arguments on behalf of
Joel Tenenbaum in RIAA v. Tenenbaum in which Professor Charles
Neeson claims that the underlying law that the RIAA uses is actually a
criminal, rather than civil, statute and is therefore
unconstitutional. According to this article, "Neeson
charges that the federal law is essentially a criminal statute
in that it seeks to punish violators with minimum statutory penalties
far in excess of actual damages. The market value of a song is 99 cents
on iTunes; of seven songs, $6.93. Yet the statutory damages are a
minimum of $750 per song, escalating to as much as $150,000 per song
for infringement "committed willfully."" If the law is a criminal
statute, Neeson then claims that it violates the 5th
amendments and is therefore unconstitutional. Litigation will
take a while but this may be the end for RIAA litigation, at least
until they can persuade
Congress to pass a new law.
dtjohnson writes: Data from the United Kingdom Metereological Office suggests that 2008 will
be an unusually cold year due to the La Nina effect in the western
Pacific ocean. Not to worry, though, as the La Nina effect has
faded recently so its effect on next years temperatures will be
reduced. However, another natural cycle, the Atlantic
Multidecadal Oscillation, is predicted to hold global temperatures
steady for the next decade before global warming takes our planet into
new warmth. If these predictions are correct, there must be
a lot of planetary heat being stored away somewhere...unless the heat
output from the sun
rather than increasing
or the heat being absorbed by the earth is decreasing due to changes in
the earth's albedo.
dtjohnson writes: Microsft released their fiscal 3rd
quarter earnings yesterday and they are a shocker. Sales of
the Windows Client tumbled 24 percent from a year ago, sales of
Microsoft Office were down 2 percent, but sales of Xbox360 gear were up
68 percent. Unfortunately for Microsoft, though, the
'Entertainment' Division is still just a break-even business and most
of their profit comes from selling Windows and Office. Other
interesting stuff: they repurchased $5 billion less stock in 3Q08
than 3Q07 and they are carrying $10 billion on their books now as
'goodwill' versus only $5 billion in the year ago period.
Looks like all of those stories about problems with Windows Vista
were...right. What should Microsoft do now to fix the mess?
Rush out a new and improved Windows update or keep pushing on
dtjohnson writes: How much gas do you use to get to work?
A) Zero. I roller-skate.
B) Less than 1/4 gallon. Two wheels and a motor are all anyone should need.
C) 1/4 to 1/2 gallon. My carpool complains about my gas.
D) 1/2 to 1 gallon. My car sips gas like it's fine champagne.
E) 1 to 2 gallons. My job and I are at opposite ends of a space-time paradox.
F) More than 2 gallons. My carbon footprint looks like Sasquatch so I own stock in Exxon Mobil.
dtjohnson writes: A new treatment
is being tested for people with Alzheimer's
disease in which the brain is bathed with infra-red radiation to
stimulate the growth of brain cells. Tests in mice have been very
promising at improving the learning ability of the mice. In tests
with people, 8 out of 9 have showed improvement. The treatment
requires that an infra-red emitting helmet be worn for 10 minutes a
day. From the article: "Currently all you can do with
dementia is to slow down the rate of decay — this new process will not
only stop that rate of decay but partially reverse it."
It's estimated by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
that the incidence of Alzheimer's will increase from the current 1 in
200 people to 1 out of 85 people worldwide by 2050 so any new potential
treatment is welcome news.
dtjohnson writes: Google has just gone live with
stuff like groups or images from the Google front page without having
sites. Google was in trouble not long ago for their search
logging. Now, you'll have to let Google in through your
they do with that?