Monday, March 31, 2014

The Big Bang

Climate inaction to be 'catastrophe'

Storm surge from typhoon Fitow in China

Scientists fear a growing impact of global warming on humans

The costs of inaction on climate change will be "catastrophic", according to US Secretary of State John Kerry. Mr Kerry was responding to a major report by the UN which described the impacts of global warming as "severe, pervasive and irreversible". He said dramatic and swift action was required to tackle the threats posed by a rapidly changing climate.Our health, homes, food and safety are all likely to be threatened by rising temperatures, the report says. Scientists and officials meeting in Japan say the document is the most comprehensive assessment to date of the impacts of climate change on the world.
In a statement, Mr Kerry said: "Unless we act dramatically and quickly, science tells us our climate and our way of life are literally in jeopardy. Denial of the science is malpractice.
"There are those who say we can't afford to act. But waiting is truly unaffordable. The costs of inaction are catastrophic."
Some will criticize Dr Field for being too upbeat. But many politicians have gone deaf to the old-style warnings. Maybe it's worth a new approach. The report was agreed after almost a week of intense discussions here in Yokohama, which included concerns among some authors about the tone of the evolving document.
This is the second of a series from the UN's climate panel due out this year that outlines the causes, effects and solutions to global warming. This latest Summary for Policymakers document highlights the fact that the amount of scientific evidence on the impacts of warming has almost doubled since the last report in 2007.  Be it the melting of glaciers or warming of permafrost, the summary highlights the fact that on all continents and across the oceans, changes in the climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems in recent decades. In the words of the report, "increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts".
"Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,'' said Mr Pachauri.
Dr Saleemul Huq, a convening lead author on one of the chapters, commented: "Before this we thought we knew this was happening, but now we have overwhelming evidence that it is happening and it is real."
Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization, said the report was based on more than 12,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies. He said this document was "the most solid evidence you can get in any scientific discipline".



The science has clearly spoken. Left unchecked, climate change will impact on many aspects of our society, with far reaching consequences to human health, global food security and economic development.

The report details significant short-term impacts on natural systems in the next 20 to 30 years. It details five reasons for concern that would likely increase as a result of the warming the world is already committed to. Summers are likely to be hotter and drier, but washouts are still on the cards, it adds. The assessment of future weather extremes finds the role of human influence is "detectable" in summer heatwaves and in intense rainfall.
Impacts include threats to unique systems such as Arctic sea ice and coral reefs, where risks are said to increase to "very high" with a 2C rise in temperatures. The summary document outlines impacts on the seas and on freshwater systems as well. The oceans will become more acidic, threatening coral and the many species that they harbor. Many fish species, a critical food source for many, will also move because of warmer waters. In some parts of the tropics and in Antarctica, potential catches could decline by more than 50%.
"This is a sobering assessment," said Prof Neil Adger from the University of Exeter, another IPCC author.
On land, animals, plants and other species will begin to move towards higher ground or towards the poles as the mercury rises. Humans, though, are also increasingly affected as the century goes on.
Food security is highlighted as an area of significant concern. Crop yields for maize, rice and wheat are all hit in the period up to 2050, with around a tenth of projections showing losses over 25%.
After 2050, the risk of more severe yield impacts increases, as boom-and-bust cycles affect many regions. All the while, the demand for food from a population estimated to be around nine billion will rise.

What is the IPCC?
In its own words, the IPCC is there "to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts "The offspring of two UN bodies, the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme, it has issued four heavyweight assessment reports to date on the state of the climate. These are commissioned by the governments of 195 countries, essentially the entire world. These reports are critical in informing the climate policies adopted by these governments. 
The IPCC itself is a small organization, run from Geneva with a full time staff of 12. All the scientists who are involved with it do so on a voluntary basis.

The report states, "Going into the future, the risks only increase, and these are about people, the impacts on crops, on the availability of water and particularly, the extreme events on people's lives and livelihoods."
"People will be affected by flooding and heat related mortality." The report warns of new risks including the threat to those who work outside, such as farmers and construction workers. There are concerns raised over migration linked to climate change, as well as conflict and national security.
Report co-author Maggie Opondo of the University of Nairobi said that in places such as Africa, climate change and extreme events mean "people are going to become more vulnerable to sinking deeper into poverty".
While the poorer countries are likely to suffer more in the short term, the rich won't escape.
"The rich are going to have to think about climate change. We're seeing that in the UK, with the floods they had a few months ago, and the storms we had in the US and the drought in California," said Dr Huq.
IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri said the findings in the report were "profound"
"These are multibillion dollar events that the rich are going to have to pay for, and there's a limit to what they can pay."
But it is not all bad news, as the co-chair of the working group that drew up the report points out.
"I think the really big breakthrough in this report is the new idea of thinking about managing climate change as a problem in managing risks," said Dr Chris Field.


"Climate change is really important but we have a lot of the tools for dealing effectively with it - we just need to be smart about it."
"There is far greater emphasis to adapting to the impacts of climate in this new summary. The problem, as ever, is who foots the bill?"
"It is not up to IPCC to define that," said Dr Jose Marengo, a Brazilian government official who attended the talks.
"It provides the scientific basis to say this is the bill, somebody has to pay, and with the scientific grounds it is relatively easier now to go to the climate negotiations in the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and start making deals about who will pay for adaptation."
So it seems that money is the big hold-up in programs to slow global warming and save our planet. Some things never change.

Do You Think, Maybe, the Piercing Thing Has Gone too Far ???

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Obama and Putin Discuss Possible Diplomatic Solution

President Barack Obama waves to Governor of Riyadh Prince Khalid Bandar bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud and other Saudi officials next to his helicopter in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Friday, March 28, 2014

Barack Obama is visiting Saudi Arabia following a trip to Europe

Russia's Vladimir Putin has telephoned President Obama to discuss the US proposal for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine. Mr Obama suggested that Russia put a concrete response in writing, the White House said in a statement. According to the Kremlin, Mr Putin suggested examining how the situation could be stabilized.

Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine has sparked international condemnation. In the hour-long phone call, the US president urged Mr Putin to avoid the build-up of forces on the Russian border with Ukraine.
President Obama underscored to President Putin that the United States continues to support a diplomatic path... with the aim of de-escalation of the crisis. President Obama made clear that this remains possible only if Russia pulls back its troops and does not take any steps to further violate Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
It does sound like the Russians are backing away from further conflict. The two leaders agreed that their foreign ministers would meet soon to discuss the next steps. The US proposal, developed in consultation with Ukraine and other European countries, includes the deployment of international monitors to protect the rights of Russian speaking people in Crimea, and the return of Russian troops  to their bases.
Mr Obama received Mr Putin's call in Saudi Arabia - the latest leg of a trip which also took the US president to Europe where the Ukraine crisis dominated discussions. The Kremlin said in a statement that the Russian president drew Mr Obama's attention to "the continued rampage of extremists" in Kiev and various regions of Ukraine. It said these individuals were "committing acts of intimidation towards peaceful residents, government authorities and law enforcement agencies... with impunity".

Mr Putin suggested examining possible steps the global community could take to help stabilize the situation, the Kremlin statement said. He also expressed concern at an "effective blockade" of Moldova's separatist region of Trans-Dniester, where Russia has troops. Pro-Russian politicians there have sent a request asking to join the Russian Federation.
Nato fears Russia could use its forces in Trans-Dniester to invade the breakaway region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Head of the Russian Interior Ministry's branch in the North Caucasus Kazimir Botashev at the presentation ceremony of the top military brass in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 28, 2014.

President Putin welcomed military leaders to the Kremlin on Friday

Meanwhile in New York, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he had been assured by President Putin that the Russian leader "had no intention to make any military move" into Ukraine.

Russia's reported troop movements near Ukraine's eastern border - described as a "huge military build-up" by Nato - has triggered fears that Mr Putin's interest in Ukraine is not limited to Crimea.
 Friday night's phone call could indicate tentative progress towards a diplomatic solution - just when fears were growing in the West that Russia could be about to stage an invasion of eastern Ukraine.
The US and its allies have imposed sanctions on members of Mr Putin's inner circle, and threatened to take action to target the Russian economy, in response to Moscow's actions in Crimea.
Moscow formally annexed Crimea after the predominantly ethnic Russian region held a referendum which backed joining Russia. Kiev and the West condemned the vote as "illegal". The move followed months of street protests, which led to the overthrow of pro-Kremlin Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February.

Map of Crimea

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dramatic, Revealing Letter by Titanic Survivor... Bought at Auction

What little is known from the night the Titanic sank has been recounted in tragic, heartbreaking detail by survivors. But a recently unearthed letter that appears to have been penned by a French maid who survived the tragedy may offer a new glimpse into those harrowing hours before the ship went under.
The unverified letter recently appeared on Reddit by a user who said he or she purchased it at an auction and wanted help translating its contents from French to English. Rose Amelie Icard, who was said to be “the last French survivor of the Titanic," is believed to be the author of the 10-page letter dated Aug. 8, 1955.
Icard was a maid accompanying wealthy American passenger Mrs. George Nelson Stone, a widow of a prominent Cincinnati Bell Telephone Company president, on the ship's journey to New York, archives note. Icard's haunting first-hand account, written some 43 years after the event, was addressed to the daughter of another survivor, who had recently passed away, according to a Reddit translation verified by The Huffington Post.
(Story continues below)

If real, Icard's letter provides chilling details about the moments passengers learned the ship was ill-fated. We’ve scoured through the letter and pulled some of the most moving passages:
From page 5, Icard describes passengers flocking to lifeboats:
At this moment we witnessed unforgettable scenes where horror mixed with the most sublime heroism. Women, still in evening gowns, some just out of bed, barely clothed, disheveled, distraught, scrambled for the boats.
Commander Smith yelled, "Women and children first."
From page 6, Icard describes a couple refusing to separate:
Near me were two handsome elderly [people], Mr. and Mrs. Straus, proprietors of the great store Macy's of New York, she refused to go into the boat after having helped in her maid.
She put her arms around the neck of her husband, telling him, "We have been married 50 years, we have never left each other, I want to die with you."
From page 8, Icard describes the scene once onboard a lifeboat:
Suddenly, there was darkness, whole and inscrutable, shouts, horrible yells, rose in the middle of the creaks of the boat, then that was it.
Sometimes, 43 years after the tragedy, I still dream about it.
Icard is believed to have died in July 1964 near Grenoble, France.
Read the whole letter translated here, and see the original copy in French here.

Thanx to the World Post...Huffington...Copied verbatim

UN condemns Crimea vote as illegal.... IMF and US back loans

 Russian marines march at a military base in Sevastopol, Crimea, on 24 March 2014

Russian forces seized Crimea's remaining military bases after Ukrainian servicemen withdrew this week 

The UN General Assembly has approved a resolution describing the Moscow-backed referendum that led to Russia's annexation of Crimea as illegal. It comes after the  International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed to a loan deal with Ukraine worth $14-18bn.The US Congress also passed legislation on Thursday backing a $1bn loan guarantee for Ukraine.

Tensions are high between Russia and the West after pro-Russian troops annexed Ukraine's southern peninsula. The West has widely condemned the move, with President Obama warning on Wednesday of "deeper" EU and US sanctions against Russia if it carried out further incursions in Ukraine.

One hundred countries voted in favour of approving a UN General Assembly resolution declaring the Crimean referendum on March 16th illegal and affirming Ukraine's territorial integrity. Eleven nations voted against, with 58 abstentions.

"This support has come from all corners of the world which shows that this (is) not only a regional matter but a global one,'' Ukraine's Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia told reporters after the vote. But Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said "the fact that almost half" of the UN General Assembly members had not supported the resolution was "a very encouraging trend and I think this trend will become stronger and stronger".

Given that the resolution was non-binding, the vote was largely symbolic. But Ukraine hopes the resolution will act as a deterrent and dissuade Moscow from making further incursions into its territory, he adds.

Diplomats leave their seats to photograph an electronic monitors showing a vote count, as the UN General Assembly voted and approved a draft resolution on the territorial integrity of the Ukraine,on 27 March 2014 at UN Headquarters.
Diplomats left their seats to photograph electronic monitors displaying the General Assembly vote count

President Obama said the IMF announcement, which would unlock a further $10bn in loans for Ukraine, was a "major step forward" to help stabilize the country's economy and meet the long-term needs of its people. Speaking after talks with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Rome on Thursday, Mr Obama said it was a "concrete signal" that the world stood united with Ukraine at a difficult time. A bill was also passed in the US Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday providing $1bn in loan guarantees aimed at stabilizing Ukraine's economy. The measure still needs to be signed into law by President Obama. He made it clear that he believes the West is on the right side of history - but it is not going to war over Ukraine”
Ukraine's interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk had earlier told parliament the country was on the ""on the edge of economic and financial bankruptcy".
On Thursday evening, some 2,000 protesters belonging to the far-right nationalist group, Right
Sector, gathered outside the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev demanding the resignation of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov. They blame Mr Avakov for the death of one of the group's leaders, Oleksandr Muzychko, in an arrest operation earlier this week. The crowd's mood was aggressive, with MPs urging them to move away from the premises through loudspeakers.

Activists of the Right Sector movement and their supporters gather outside the parliament building to demand the immediate resignation of Internal Affairs Minister Arsen Avakov, in Kiev on 27 March 27, 2014.  
Far-right protesters rallied outside Kiev's parliament building on Thursday evening

Security guards block the doors of the parliament building as activists of the Right Sector movement and their supporters gather outside the building to demand the immediate resignation of Internal Affairs Minister Arsen Avakov in Kiev on 27 March 2014.
Security guards block the doors of the parliament building in Kiev as Right Sector activists gather outside

Men climb onto the parliament building as activists of the Right Sector movement and their supporters gather to demand the immediate resignation of Internal Affairs Minister Arsen Avakov, in Kiev March 27, 2014.
Angered by the death of a Right Sector leader, protesters are demanding the interior minister's resignation

The protesters smashed several windows and vowed to return on Friday morning before retreating, the AFP news agency reports. Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko earlier announced she planned to run for president of Ukraine in the elections expected to take place in May.
Ms Tymoshenko, who has already served twice as prime minister and ran for president in 2010, said she would stand as "a candidate for Ukrainian unity". She was released after serving three years in jail on corruption charges, following the ousting of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in February.

More than 100 people were killed during protests which overthrew pro-Kremlin President Yanukovych in February.

Yulia Tymoshenko: "I dream about victory... victory for Ukraine"

They followed months of street protests sparked by Mr Yanukovych's decision to reject a planned EU trade deal in favour of closer ties with Moscow. Since then, Russia has annexed the Crimean peninsula, which last week voted to become part of the Russian federation. Mr Obama said on Thursday that the US hoped Russia would "walk through the door of diplomacy" and resolve the issue in a peaceful way.

Cows graze near a tank and servicemen, believed to be Russian, outside a military base in Perevalnoye, near the Crimean city of Simferopol, on 27 March 2014.
Ukraine hopes the UN General Assembly resolution will deter Russia from any future incursion
In other Ukraine developments:

  • Six Ukrainian military officers detained by Russian troops in Crimea have been released, but five remain in custody; those released include Col Yuli Mamchur, the commander of Belbek base which fell on Saturday
  • Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk says the price Ukraine pays for Russian gas will increase by 79% from 1 April
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin announces plans for a new domestic payment system to circumvent financial sanctions imposed by Western nations over the Crimea issue.
Putin is going to hold Ukraine to ransom to get even with the world for the sanctions. And he will scoff at diplomacy and do whatever he damn well pleases. The whole world knows this, including Mr Obama.

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
My husband and I moved to Florida  30 years ago  and raised our children here . Some friends  recently retired  and moved to our area . Florida is a large state  and we were  surprised  that both  of these  couples (who don't know each other)  chose to purchase  homes  within a 20-mile radius of us . My husband and I are being pressured  to resume these friendships but frankly, we are not interested  . When these couples  email I keep making excuses and I don't answer the phone when they call . It's been months  and none of them  has figured  it out . They persist .
One of these women was a childhood friend but she is boastful and competitive and her husband is worse . I don't have it in me to level with them . How can we stop  them from calling without creating  hurt  feelings ?
Needs Advice
Dear Needs  Advice ,
Has it occurred  to you that  these couples  may have moved to this location  because they thought they had at least one friend  in this area ? It means they will persist  until they develop  new friends  who occupy  their time . If  you are likely to run into them  at shops  or social events, it may be in your best interests to allow  a limited  friendship  so you are on speaking terms . That means, you answer every fifth call or  email  and arrange  a social  engagement  every few months  . As they become more acclimated  to  their new digs, you can cut back  until you reach the amount  of contact  you can handle . By then your absence  will be  less important  to them .

Dear Maxy ,
My boyfriend  will be  67 in two weeks  and for the third  year in a row I will probably  watch his heart break because  his 90-year-old mother  will not  acknowledge  his  birthday .
He has done nothing to make her feel this way. She lives in our  city  but he has  not  seen her in more than three years . I am so afraid  she will pass  on before they reconcile . What would  cause a woman to  have no feeling  for her own son ?
Dear Baffled ,
I don't  know but if they haven't seen each other  since  she was 87, there is a possibility  of a decline  in her mental faculties  . Did she acknowledge  his  birthday  before . Was  she OK  the last time he saw her ? Is there a sibling, relative  or  friend  who could  intercede on his behalf ? Some children  call their parents on their birthdays  for giving  birth to them . Your boyfriend  might try  this to see whether  it breaks the ice . But if  nothing works, do something for his birthday  that he enjoys  and that will take his mind off of Mom, but remember, she is ninety and should be relieved of family obligations. You and your husband could take the burden off her and assume responsibilty for keeping in touch.

Dear Maxy ,
I love my husband . He is a wonderful man , but when it  comes to his cooking, I would rather  he not step in my kitchen again . Last Saturday, my husband  took the initiative  to make  breakfast; he made pancakes, scrambled eggs  and turkey sausage .
His  goal was to put a smile on my face. Sadly, I threw out  the food he made  because it was terrible . He was upset  because I threw  out the cooked  food  and made breakfast  the right way . I think I could  have  handled  the situation  differently.
Shaky Ground .
Dear Shaky Ground ,
You are tough. It would  have been  far nicer for you to thank your husband  for trying  and to eat what you could . You insulted  him  and surely hurt his feelings. Instead, encourage him to spend  time in the kitchen with you .
You can still thank him  for his efforts  and invite him to make a special meal  with you . Teach him how to make eggs  to your liking, or  choose  another dish . As a couple, you can have fun  learning  about  anything together.  
Attitude is everything ! And  you my dear need an attitude adjustment .

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Icy celestial body found orbiting far from Sun

2012 VP113

 Three different images taken two hours apart and overlaid to reveal 2012 VP113's movement (coloured dots )

Scientists have identified a new dwarf planet in the distant reaches of our Solar System. It is being called 2012 VP113 for the time being, is about 450km across and is very likely icy in composition. To date, only one other such object has been seen orbiting beyond the major planets in its region of space referred to as the inner Oort Cloud. That previous object, called Sedna, is about 1,000km across, and was found 10 years ago. But researchers believe there are hundreds more such objects awaiting detection."We've been using a large camera on a four-metre telescope in Chile, and it's a very powerful facility," said Scott Sheppard from the Carnegie Institution of Science in Washington DC.

"Our survey covered just a very small area of the sky - about 220 full Moons of sky. So, there's a lot more sky out there, and we predict, based on this one object, that across the whole sky we could expect to find 900 objects of 1,000km or bigger in size".

"Some of these could be bigger than Pluto; some could even be bigger than Mars or the Earth. The problem is they're just so distant, especially when they're in the far parts of their orbits, that they're just too faint to detect."
The observations of 2012 VP113 are reported in the journal Nature. They indicate that the object gets no closer than about 12 billion kilometres to the Sun, and at the farthest point in its eccentric orbit is a staggering 67 billion km from our star. To put that in some context, the Earth is 149 million km from the Sun, and even the most distant major planet - Neptune - seems close at 4.5 billion km, by these standards. Sheppard and his colleague Chad Trujillo, from the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii, have calculated that 2012 VP113 takes 4,000 years to go around the Sun. The big question is: how did it and Sedna come to be where they are?
Astronomers have made great progress in mapping the close-in parts of the Solar System. Even surveys in the region just beyond Neptune referred to as the Kuiper Belt have thrown up many hundreds of detections, some of which rival the zone's best known inhabitant - Pluto. But it is the Oort Cloud - the region even further out - that has proven very difficult to study.

Models for Solar System formation suggest that it is highly unlikely 2012 VP113 was created in its present location. Its orbit is just too eccentric. One explanation is that it was perturbed gravitationally and pulled out of the Kuiper Belt by a passing planet that was expelled from our Solar System early in its history. Another idea is that it was pulled out of the Kuiper Belt by a star passing very close by in our part of the galaxy. A third, tantalizing possibility is that it is actually an object stolen from a star that formed from the same "nursery" of gas and dust as our Sun billions of years ago.
Additional detections would help narrow possibilities. In the meantime, more precise information on 2012 VP113's orbit is being sought. Astronomy's nomenclature authority, the International Astronomical Union, requires such data before it will sanction a catchier name.
"Based on 2012 VP113's reddish colour and what we know about other objects in the Solar System, and where this object is, we believe it's probably made mostly of water-ice, and probably some methane ice and carbon dioxide ice, with a little rock thrown in. And it's so cold that the ice would be harder than the rock on Earth," explained Dr Sheppard.
"If you could stand on the object and look towards the Sun, you'd be so far away it would look little more than just a bright star in the sky."


    Diagram gives a sense of the huge orbits of some objects
    • The Sun and inner planets are at the centre and too small to see
    • Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are shown by purple solid circles
    • Pluto is in a region of space called the Kuiper Belt, shown in light blue
    • Sedna's orbit is shown in orange; 2012 VP113's orbit is shown in red

10 Unexplained phenomenoms

Monday, March 24, 2014

Aging Baby Boomers...Bored Tubby Mild

"I'm Scared of you Sometimes".......Reeva Steenkamp's Message

Reeva Steenkamp and Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius' girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp sent him a text message saying: "I'm scared of you sometimes," the court has heard. The message was sent after the couple had a row when he accused her of flirting with another man - weeks before he shot her dead. A police captain has been testifying about the couple's mobile phones and read the message to the court.
Mr Pistorius denies deliberately killing his girlfriend of three months, saying he thought she was an intruder.The trial has now entered is fourth week, with the prosecution expected to wrap up its case before Friday.

Oscar Pistorius murder trial mobile phone messages:

  • "I was not flirting with anyone today I feel sick that you suggested that" (Reeva Steenkamp,  January 27/ 2013)
  • "I'm scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me and how you will react to me" (Reeva Steenkamp,  January 27/2013 )
  • "I do everything to make you happy and to not say anything to rock the boat with you" (Reeva Steenkamp, January 27)
  • "I cant be attacked by outsiders for dating you and be attacked by you - the one person I deserve protection from" (Reeva Steenkamp, 8 February)
  • The court heard the couple called each other "Angel" and "Baba"
  • "Angel please don't say a thing to anyone…Darren told everyone it was his fault. I can't afford for that to come out" (Oscar Pistorius, January 11/2013 following alleged shooting incident)

Capt Francois Moller said he had been able to extract some 35,000 pages' worth of messages from Ms Steenkamp's phone. He told the court on Monday that 90% of the messages between the couple were loving, but he had picked out exceptions.
Mr Pistorius has said he has forgotten the password to his iPhone and investigators went to the US shortly before the trial began to meet Apple officials to try and gain access to it. In one message sent on 27 January 2013, Ms Steenkamp wrote: "I'm scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me and of how you react to me."

June Steenkamp, mother of Reeva Steenkamp, left, with unidentified woman leaves the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, 24 March 2014.
Reeva Steenkamp's mother, June Steenkamp, has been in court to hear the prosecution's evidence
Oscar Pistorius leaves after his trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, in Pretoria, on 24 March 2014 
There is intense media interest in the case due to Mr Pistorius' status as a sports hero in South Africa
The couple had attended a friend's engagement dinner and left abruptly. In another message written a week before her death, she said: "I can't be attacked by outsiders for dating you and be attacked by you - the one person I deserve protection from."

Valentine's Day 2013. Anette Stipp, whose husband gave evidence earlier in the trial, said she heard the screams and gunshots at the verified time of the shooting. She said she heard two groups of gunshots with a woman screaming in between. Her testimony has closely matched that of other neighbours and witnesses, including her husband. The defence has previously claimed that Mr Pistorius screams like a woman and that neighbours had confused his screams with those of Ms Steenkamp.
"It was a definitely a woman screaming," said Mrs Stipp.

She also said that the light was on in the bathroom cubicle, where Ms Steenkamp was when she was shot. This contradicts evidence given by Mr Pistorius, who said that it was "pitch dark" where the shooting took place.
On Sunday the trial was extended and will now run until the middle of May. It had been due to end this week.The prosecution says it will call upon four more witnesses before closing its case. The defence team, led by Barry Roux, will then call upon its own witnesses, including Mr Pistorius himself. Last week the trial heard evidence from ballistics experts and computer forensic teams who described the sequence and timing of the shots that killed Ms Steenkamp.

Mr Pistorius is a double amputee who holds six Paralympic medals and competed in the 2012 Olympic Games. The prosecution accuses him of intentionally shooting Ms Steenkamp - a model, reality TV celebrity and law graduate - after an argument. But the athlete maintains he believed his girlfriend was in bed and that an intruder had entered the bathroom when he shot at the toilet door in the early hours of February 14/2013.
There are no juries at trials in South Africa, and his fate will ultimately be decided by the judge, assisted by two assessors. If found guilty, the 27-year-old - dubbed the "blade runner" because of the prosthetic limbs he wore to race - could face life imprisonment.

Hey, What about that bloody cricket bat?? It had her blood on it, so did he hit her before she ran in the bathroom or after he shot her, to make sure she was dead??

Flight MH370 'crashed in south Indian Ocean' ....Confirmed

Standing sombre before the world's media, Malaysia's prime minister ended weeks of limbo with a brief statement

Malaysia's prime minister has announced that missing flight MH370 crashed in the southern Indian Ocean. Najib Razak said this was the conclusion of fresh analysis of satellite data tracking the flight. Malaysia Airlines had told the families of the 239 people on board, he said. 

A text message was sent to families by the airline saying it had to be assumed "beyond reasonable doubt" that the plane was lost and there were no survivors. There were 227 passengers on flight MH370, many of them Chinese. Relatives of those on board who watched the announcement at a Beijing hotel wept with grief, and some were taken away on stretchers by medical teams.

Grieving Chinese relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 console each other after being told of their deaths 24/03/2014 
Passengers' relatives in China took in the news with a mixture of deep anguish and some anger

China has demanded that the Malaysian authorities make available the evidence on which they based their announcement about the jet's fate. And some relatives of Chinese passengers expressed scepticism about their conclusion, as the plane has not been found yet.

Flight MH370 disappeared after taking off on 8 March from Kuala Lumpur. A big international search operation has been taking place in the southern Indian Ocean, along the southern arc or corridor of the plane's possible route, more than 1,500 miles (2,500km) off the south-west coast of Australia.

However, the search had to be suspended on Tuesday due to bad weather, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) said. The news that the Malaysian authorities had now given up hope of finding anyone alive was met by the families with a mixture of deep anguish and some anger, at the hotel where many are staying. As they emerged in front of the world's media some people collapsed.
One woman, falling on the floor, said that her only son, her daughter-in-law and only grandson were on the flight, and that her family had been destroyed. A number were taken from the room on stretchers. It is more than likely that the families' mistrust and suspicion about the message they have been given will linger. Many of the relatives here will want to see pieces of wreckage.
One woman said after the briefing: "If my daughter is alive, I want to meet her. If my daughter is dead, I want to see her body."
In the past day, both Australian and Chinese air force crews have reported spotting debris. The unidentified objects have been seen in separate parts of the vast search area, in some of the world's most treacherous and remote waters.
The announcement by Prime Minister Najib Razak came at a late-night news conference in Kuala Lumpur. It was based on new analysis by British satellite firm Inmarsat, which provided satellite data, and the UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).
The firms "have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor, and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth," Mr Razak said.
"This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites. It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean."
Mr Razak appealed to the media to respect the privacy of the families of the passengers and crew, saying the wait for information had been heartbreaking and this latest news harder still.

Footage from an Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orion aircraft shows a smoke marker where an object was spotted

Malaysia Airlines later said it informed the majority of the families in advance of the prime minister's statement in person and by telephone, and that text messages "were used only as an additional means of communicating with the families".
The text messages read: "Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived... we must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean."
Selamat Omar, the father of a 29-year-old aviation engineer who was on the flight, said some family members of other passengers broke down in tears at the news.
"We accept the news of the tragedy. It is fate," Selamat told the Associated Press in Kuala Lumpur.
Inmarsat had already revealed that it did indeed receive signals - automated "pings" - from the plane over its satellite network after the aircraft ceased radio and radar contact. Sources said that flight MH370 continued to ping for at least five hours after the aircraft left Malaysian airspace - which indicated the plane was intact and powered. And initial analysis showed the location of the final "ping" was probably along one of two vast arcs running north and south.
Monday was the fifth day of operations to search remote areas of the southern Indian Ocean

On Monday, the Malaysian prime minister said Inmarsat had been able to shed further light on the plane's flight path by performing further calculations on the MH370 data "using a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort".
According to Inmarsat, this involved a totally new way of modeling, which was why it took time. The company told journalists the new calculation involved crunching far more data and that engineers spent all weekend looking back at previous Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flights. They compared the satellite data from those flights with flight MH370 and were able to work out that it went south. As far as the engineers could tell, the plane was flying at a cruising height above 30,000 ft, but its final position could not be pinpointed more clearly. Inmarsat gave the AAIB the new data on Sunday, it said, which had to be checked before it could be made public.

Map of search zone for flight MH370

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I Kept My Promise

Clearing in the woods
 I Kept My Promise

I welcome the embrace of the cool, emerald green.
Rustling trees surround me with lacy ferns between,
And mossy stones enclose the glade in the woodland ravine,
Where yellow blossoms nod their heads, so gentle, so serene.

 I knew I'd sense your presence; your love was always strong.
You've been waiting for me here and the winter was so long.
Now, rest among the flowers in the sunshine and birdsong.
This enchanted, gilded circle is just where you belong.

 The day is warm and tranquil; I'll spend it here with you,
And contemplate the artistry of the sky's cerulean blue,
Watch sunlight on the petals make jewels of morning dew,
 And on the rainbow wings of dragonflies, darting into view.

 We'll discuss philosophy; your wisdom was so true.
I'll ask you why you went away, you left us all too soon.
You had a vital spirit, and still had life, unlived.
So many words were left unsaid and you had so much more to give.

 I see the sun is waning, I must say adieu.
The peaceful green has cast it's spell and I am renewed.
I have kept my promise to you, to come here and commune.
Each spring, I shall remember you when the daffodils bloom.

 From the Genie her father

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Rare Type of Meteorite Lands in Southern Ontario

Canadian and NASA researchers believe one or more fragments of a rare and valuable meteorite may have landed near St. Thomas, Ont., after a fireball streaked across the sky in southern Ontario Tuesday night.

"This is very exciting for us," said Western University meteor physicist Peter Brown at a news conference Friday, where he appealed to the public for help in finding the meteorite fragment or fragments.
Meteors are fragments of asteroids or comets that fall through the Earth's atmosphere, where they burn up, producing a bright light. Fireballs are meteors that appear brighter than the planet Venus, and are typically from larger space rocks.
Tuesday night's fireball first appeared in the sky at 10:45 p.m. about 75 kilometres above Port Dover, Ont., and headed almost due west before vanishing at an altitude of 32 kilometres between Aylmer and St. Thomas. It widely seen in Toronto, Hamilton, London and other parts of southern Ontario, where skies were clear.
Brown, director of Western's Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration, estimated the space rock was originally the size of a basketball. His colleague, Western University meteorite curator Phil McCausland, said one or more fragments "about the size of a golf ball or baseball" likely landed about five kilometres north or northwest of St. Thomas.
The meteorite from this event is particularly rare and valuable to science because the fireball was captured by seven all-sky cameras of Western's Southern Ontario Meteor Network, allowing researchers to calculate its orbit – something that has only been possible for about 20 other meteorites in the past.
"Each one of those is like a Rosetta stone," Brown said, referring to a famous Egyptian artifact that was a key to deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Not only was there good data on the space rock's orbit, but that orbit itself was special. It turns out the rock has spent most of its recent past circling closer to the sun than the Earth, having left its original orbit in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter long ago.
Bill Cooke, head of NASA's meteoroid environment office, said only one other meteorite known to have come from that kind of orbit has ever been recorded.
"This is not your run-of-the-mill meteor fall," he said at the news conference. "This is a very unusual orbit. We're really interested in knowing what type of object was in this … We won't know that until we find a piece of it."
Brown said the meteorite is a piece of the early solar system.
"This is like a poor man's space probe. It comes to us," he said. "It's going to tell us … what made the Earth, what made the other planets."
Brown is asking for the public to help look for the meteorite – described as a rock that looks like it was painted black – and contact the researchers if they find it.
The researchers are also interested in hearing accounts from anyone who may have heard a whistling sound "like artillery coming in" or a thud after witnessing the fireball, indicating that it may have landed within a few hundred metres. That may help narrow down the area for the search.
Brown noted that it's the first time in five years that such a meteor fall has taken place in southern Ontario. The last time researchers issued a callout like this, the meteorite was recovered days later by a member of the public near Grimsby, Ont., where it had crashed through the windshield of an SUV.

In Concert "Bee Gees" One Night Only

How Earth Avoided a Solar Catastrophe

In the summer of 2012, when all the hype about the supposed Dec. 21 Mayan Apocalypse was really starting to kick into high-gear, it seems that we only barely avoided a real catastrophe, when three solar eruptions in late July combined to produce a solar storm that could have caused chaos if it had hit Earth.

As scientists monitor the sun for any potentially-dangerous space weather events, it's typically the most powerful solar flares — the X-class flares — that get the most attention. These are the ones that throw off powerful blasts of high-energy particles, as well as immense coronal mass ejections which can cause intense geomagnetic storms when they impact on Earth's magnetic field. Both of these effects can take a toll on our technologies, especially on orbiting satellites and spacecraft, but also on power grids and electronics on the Earth's surface.

One of the most famous of these events, known as the Carrington Event, happened in early September 1859, when a solar flare blasted out from the sun that scientists estimate was an X45-class (when the scale of the different levels, C, M and X are typically ranked from 0-9). It was the most powerful solar flare ever recorded. It caused highly-active auroras that extended much farther away from the polar regions than they they usually do, and it disrupted telegraph service across Europe and North America, with some telegraph operators actually getting shocks from their equipment due to the charge the solar storm induced along the telegraph lines.

However, although these really big flares are definitely a threat to us, a new study is saying that we have to start looking at smaller solar flares as potentially being bigger threats, because their effects can combine together to produce something approaching a Carrington-level event. This isn't just speculation or modeling on the researcher's part, though. Such an event happened in July 2012, but it managed to miss Earth by 9 days. That may seem like a pretty wide margin, but 9 days represents only 2.5 per cent of our year, which is cutting it really close.
"Had it hit Earth, it probably would have been like the big one in 1859, but the effect today, with our modern technologies, would have been tremendous," said study co-author Janet Luhmann, a UC Berkeley physicist who is part of the team that works with the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory that detects these eruptions, in a statement.
A study from 2011 estimated that if a similar event were to happen today, the total cost of the damages could reach between $1 trillion and $2 trillion, and the effects of the satellite losses and power grid failures could be felt for years after.
It all started on July 19, 2012, when an M7.7-class flare blasted out from the sun's surface, just as the sunspot where it originated from passed beyond our view of it, as seen in this video from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.

The coronal mass ejection (CME) that resulted from this flare blasted out from the sun, sweeping a wide swath of the inner solar system clear of particles and matter from the solar wind that typically acts to slow these eruptions down as they travel through space.
Then, before that space could fill up again, two more solar flares went off on July 23rd, just 10 to 15 minutes apart from one another, as shown in this video:

The coronal mass ejections from these two flares weren't too powerful when each was taken on its own, but being so close together, they slammed into one another and merged to form one, much more intense, CME. Thanks to the effect of the one from July 19, this combined CME became one of the fastest ever recorded, travelling at over 10.5 million kilometres per hour (a simulation of this is shown at 23 seconds into the video).
The STEREO-A satellite, which circles the sun in the same orbit as Earth, but leading us by an ever-increasing amount of time, was in the direct path of this CME and recorded its effects:

The 'snow storm' seen at the end of the video is due to the camera being hit by high-energy particles from the solar eruption.
The threat here comes from the fact that, although X-class flares only happen once in a while (even during solar maximum), these M-class flares happen much more often. This increases the chance that we'll be hit by these combined CMEs.
"People keep saying that these are rare natural hazards, but they are happening in the solar system even though we don’t always see them," Luhmann said in the statement. "It's like with earthquakes — it is hard to impress upon people the importance of preparing unless you suffer a magnitude 9 earthquake."
Other researchers agree with her. Back in December of last year, Daniel Baker, the director of the University of Colorado-Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, said in a press release that this event should be taken as a new best estimate of a worst case scenario, but he and his colleagues believe that policymakers are not going to pay attention to these events until we're hit by a really big one.
"The Carrington storm and the 2012 event show that extreme space weather events can happen even during a modest solar cycle like the one presently underway," he said in the statement. "Rather than wait and pick up the pieces, we ought to take lessons from these events to prepare ourselves for inevitable future solar storms."
How can we protect ourselves from these storms? There's no way to avoid one if it's on the way towards us, but we can manage things here on the ground to lessen or avoid the impact, mainly by strengthening our power grid and developing effective forecasting systems that would let us take vulnerable 'nodes' of a grid offline until the storm passed. NASA's 'Solar Shield' project has been looking at this for a few years, and other scientists have been researching how the Earth itself protects us from these effects.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Pope Francis denounces 'evil, blood-stained' mafia

Pope Francis after leading an audience with the family members of victims of the mafia at the San Gregorio VII church in Rome (21 March 2014)

The pope was uncompromising in his criticism of the mafia as he met family members bereaved by organized crime 

Pope Francis has launched a stinging attack on the mafia, warning gangsters that they will go to hell unless they repent and stop doing evil.

"Blood-stained money, blood-stained power, you can't bring it with you to your next life. Repent," he said.
He was speaking at a prayer vigil for relatives of those killed by the mafia.The Pope has spoken out frequently about the evils of corruption and wrote a booklet on the subject in 2005 when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires.
The meeting near Rome on Friday - organized by a citizens' group called Libera - was aimed at demonstrating the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to organized crime, rejecting historic ties with mafia bosses claiming to be good Catholics.

Pope Francis (right) leaves the church in Rome with Father Luigi Ciotti of the Catholic Libera association
The vigil is held every year, but this was the first time that it was attended by the pope

Pope Francis delivers his speech during a meeting with relatives of innocent mafia victims
The pope told told Italy's mobsters to relinquish their 'blood-stained money' which 'cannot be taken into paradise'

Pope Francis greets the faithful as he leaves at the end of a meeting with relatives of innocent mafia victims
More than 1,000 people attended prayers with the pope at a church near the Vatican

Pope Francis (centre right) attends the service

 The meeting was an attempt to draw a line under the church's historic ties with mafia dons claiming to be God-fearing Roman Catholics. The vigil was filled with those who have suffered at the hands of the mafia, including people whose family members and loved ones had been killed. As the names of those murdered were read out, the Pope listened, deep in sombre thought.
After expressing solidarity with the 842 people at the vigil, he said that he could not leave the service without addressing those not present: The "protagonists" of mafia violence.
"This life that you live now won't give you pleasure. It won't give you joy or happiness," he said.
"There's still time to not end up in hell, which is what awaits you if you continue on this path."
 There is a long list of brave priests in Italy who have stood up to the mafia, and some have paid with lives. But the broader  institute of the Vatican has been accused of not doing enough to confront the gangsters. Anti-mafia activists hope that the Pope's words are a signal that he is on their side and perhaps the Vatican will play a bigger role in the future. Bravo, Pope Francis, for speaking out

New Dinosaur Species Discovered...Chicken From Hell

US scientists have announced the discovery of a new species of dinosaur. Its fossils offer further clues to how the dinosaurs became extinct 66 million years ago. Anzu wyliei is a strange, bird-like creature that has a bony crest on top of a beaky head and a long tail like a lizard. The animal was identified from the partial remains of three skeletons collected in North and South Dakota. It is reported in PLoS ONE journal.

 "We had inklings that there might be such a creature out there, but now with these bones we have 80% of the skeleton and can really look in detail at the structure of this animal and make inferences about its biology," says Hans Sues, curator of vertebrate palaeontology in the department of palaeobiology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

"Anzu is really bizarre, even by dinosaur standards. The skull has this extraordinarily tall and thin crest with a snout and a huge beak with sharp edges and a strange sliding jaw joint, that could be used to cut up vegetation and meat".
The size of a small car, the dinosaur also had claws and feathers on its upper arms. It belongs to a group of dinosaurs known as Oviraptorosauria. Most evidence of their existence comes from fossils discovered in Central and East Asia. The Anzu bones are the first detailed evidence that oviraptorosaurs also lived in North America.
The specimens were found in a geological formation known as Hell Creek, which has been extensively explored and is the source of many dinosaur fossils discovered in North America.

Scientists have nicknamed it "the chicken from Hell" because of its appearance and where it was found.
The site is important because it was formed in the last two million years of the Cretaceous Period, just before dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid strike. Many researchers have argued that the dinosaurs were already in decline because of climate change. But according to Dr Sues and his team, the discovery of Anzu offers further proof that many species were still evolving and dinosaur communities were diverse and flourishing.

The Anzu wyliei skull, shown in a reconstruction, featured a bony crest
"This is consistent with the idea that a mass extinction was caused by the great asteroid impact 66 million years ago. It's clear that dinosaurs were still quite diverse until the very end," says Dr Sues.

A thousand species of dinosaurs have been discovered so far. Scientists believe there are many thousands more waiting to be identified, even in heavily excavated formations such as Hell Creek.
The discovery of another species from the site was announced in December last year - a small raptor called Acheroraptor temertyorum. And scientists have only begun to explore potential dinosaur graves in Central Asia. 
But there's no magic formula for discovery, according to Tyler Lyson, who found one of the Anzu skeletons in 2009 on his uncle's ranch in North Dakota.

"We were just walking along when we saw some dinosaur bones poking out of the ground," he recalls.
"I knew right away that they belonged to a meat-eating dinosaur because meat-eating dinosaurs have hollow bones, and these bones were hollow. We carefully made a plaster jacket to wrap the specimen and get it back to the lab. After several hours cleaning it, we knew we had found something new. It was unlike anything else we had ever seen before."
Dr Lyson is part of the Smithsonian team and the founder of the Marmarth Research Foundation, which promotes the study of fossils. He discovered his first dinosaur bone when he was just six years old.
The other two Anzu skeletons, which include a skull, were discovered by private collectors.
"You just have to spend time out there," he says. "The bones come to the surface and then break up into little pieces. You get a trail of broken bits of bone which you follow, and if you're lucky you'll see bones sticking out of the side of the hill - and that's exactly what we found here."

Although the Anzu skeletons were discovered several years ago, scientists work in "deep time", says
Dr Lyson. Bones have to be catalogued and compared with other specimens while scientific evidence has to be peer-reviewed. It can take a decade before any official announcement is made. All three Anzu skeletons are housed at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, which collaborated with the Smithsonian to identify the new species.

Definitive Proof of the Big Bang and Inflation of the Universe

The measurements were taken using the BICEP2 instrument at the South Pole Telescope facility

 Scientists say they have extraordinary new evidence to support a Big Bang Theory for the origin of the Universe. Researchers believe they have found the signal left in the sky by the super-rapid expansion of space that must have occurred just fractions of a second after everything came into being. It takes the form of a distinctive twist in the oldest light detectable with telescopes. The work will be scrutinized carefully, but already there is talk of a Nobel.

"This is spectacular," commented Prof Marc Kamionkowski, from Johns Hopkins University."I've seen the research; the arguments are persuasive, and the scientists involved are among the most careful and conservative people I know," he said.
The breakthrough was announced by an American team working on a project known as BICEP2.

This has been using a telescope at the South Pole to make detailed observations of a small patch of sky. The aim has been to try to find a residual marker for "inflation" - the idea that the cosmos experienced an exponential growth spurt in its first trillionth, of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second.

BICEP data
  Gravitational waves from inflation put a distinctive twist pattern in the polarisation of the CMB (Cosmic Microwave Background)

Theory holds that this would have taken the infant Universe from something unimaginably small to something about the size of a marble. Space has continued to expand for the nearly 14 billion years since.

Inflation was first proposed in the early 1980s to explain some aspects of Big Bang Theory that appeared to not quite add up, such as why deep space looks broadly the same on all sides of the sky.The contention was that a very rapid expansion early on could have smoothed out any unevenness.
But inflation came with a very specific prediction - that it would be associated with waves of gravitational energy, and that these ripples in the fabric of space would leave an indelible mark on the oldest light in the sky - The CMB,  the famous Cosmic Microwave Background.
The BICEP2 team says it has now identified that signal. Scientists call it B-mode polarization. It is a characteristic twist in the directional properties of the CMB. Only the gravitational waves moving through the Universe in its inflationary phase could have produced such a marker. It is a true "smoking gun".

Speaking at the press conference to announce the results, Prof John Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and a leader of the BICEP2 collaboration, said: "This is opening a window on what we believe to be a new regime of physics - the physics of what happened in the first unbelievably tiny fraction of a second in the Universe."
The signal is reported to be quite a bit stronger than many scientists had dared hope. This simplifies matters, say experts. It means the more exotic models for how inflation worked are no longer tenable.

The results also constrain the energies involved - at 10,000 trillion gigaelectronvolts. This is consistent with ideas for what is termed Grand Unified Theory, the realm where particle physicists believe three of the four fundamental forces in nature can be tied together.

Prof Alan Guth: "Experiment is Nobel Prize worthy"

But by associating gravitational waves with the Big Bang and universal inflation, scientists are improving their prospects of one day pulling the fourth force - gravity itself - into a Theory of Everything.

The sensational nature of the discovery means the BICEP2 data will be subjected to intense peer review. It is possible for the interaction of CMB light with dust in our galaxy to produce a similar effect, but the BICEP2 group says it has carefully checked its data over the past three years to rule out such a possibility.

Other experiments will now race to try to replicate the findings. Prof Andrew Jaffe from Imperial College London, UK, works on a rival telescope called POLARBEAR. He commented: "A lot of this is technology driven. And the next generation of experiments, like the next generation of POLARBEAR, SPIDER and EBEX, will have far more detectors and will go after this signal and hopefully drag out much more detail."

Assuming the BICEP2 results are confirmed, a Nobel Prize seems assured. Who this would go to is difficult to say, but leading figures on the BICEP2 project and the people who first formulated inflationary theory would be in the running. One of those pioneers, Prof Alan Guth from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said "I have been completely astounded. I never believed when we started that anybody would ever measure the non-uniformities of the CMB, let alone the polarization, which is now what we are seeing.

"I think it is absolutely amazing that it can be measured and also absolutely amazing that it can agree so well with inflation and also the simplest models of inflation - nature did not have to be so kind and the theory didn't have to be right, but it was."

Scientist Dr Jo Dunkley, who has been searching through data from the European Planck space telescope for a B-mode signal, commented: "I can't tell you how exciting this is. Inflation sounds like a crazy idea, but everything that is important, everything we see today - the galaxies, the stars, the planets - was imprinted at that moment, in less than a trillionth of a second. If this is confirmed, it's huge."

Big Bang Theory conceptual artwork
"Everything we see today - the galaxies, the stars, the planets - was imprinted at that moment"

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Women Only Buses in Pakistan

Will Pakistan's women-only bus service reduce harassment?

Authorities in Pakistan have launched a minibus service exclusively for women travelling between the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
Women in Pakistan often run the risk of being physically and verbally abused while travelling on public transport - but previous attempts to introduce women-only buses in other cities in Pakistan have failed. Ridiculous situation in a supposedly enlightened age.

Malaysia Airlines plane: 'Credible sightings' of debris

20 March 2014
There have been "credible sightings" of possible debris from Malaysia Airlines Boeing-777 aircraft, according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
AMSA General Manager John Young said the objects were a "reasonable size" but "relatively indistinct".

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy,
I've considered  writing  every time  I read  about some one who thinks  their spouse  is having an affair . Facebook and other social media have opened the door  to secret  connections . I didn't  fully understand  the issue  until  I found that my husband  was  communicating with various other women this way .
I never  expected  this . My husband  was an upstanding 
professional  and we had been married  25 years  . When  someone  gets caught  communicating with another and protests  that "nothing  happened," what they mean is  that they aren't  yet sexually  involved . But a lot  has happened . It's  a betrayal . Once a husband  or wife  closes a window  to the  spouse  and opens  it to  another person, it creates  an intimacy .
A better  definition  of an affair  is that  it's something that  violates  trust . My husband  and I now  work every day to keep those windows  open . He finally understands  that  it's not  sex that makes the affair. It's taking your emotional  passion  and giving  it to someone else  other than  your  spouse .
Trusting again
Dear Trusting ,
I agree  that trust  is the bottom line  of  any relationship, providing  the security  and  confidence  that allow  it to survive  for the long haul . I am glad  that you and  your husband  managed  to work  on this  together  and repair  your marriage .
Well done,
Dear  Maxy ,
I am 60-years-old  and feel  that I have accomplished next to nothing . The only worthwhile  things are my husband, two children  and a lovely granddaughter. They are the  lights  of my life .
I was let  go from  a previous job . My current  job  is awful  and it  stresses me out . But I have no computer training so a job change  is not in the cards . Because  my job pays  next to nothing , I began charging things on credit  . I'm now in deep credit-card  debt  and am desperate  to find the funds  to pay  it off.
I'm a hard worker, but feel like a useless failure . Don't tell  me to see a counselor, because there is no money  to pay for it . If my car dies on me, I'll be walking 6 miles to work .
At this time, I thought I'd be  better off . Please tell me I can do it .
End of The  Line
Dear End,
The quality of your life  should  not be based  solely on your financial  situation. Can your husband  help pay off this debt ? Surely he would want to be supportive . Also try Debtors Anonymous ( . For  a  job, contact  your local city hall  or state  government offices  for help .  Then Try AARP ( , which  offers  information  and resources  for senior-friendly companies .
But also, please don't disregard  your depression. There is free  and low-cost  counseling  available  through  your local county services, the YWCA and any graduate  school counseling department  or  medical school psychology department, United Way, the Samaritan Institute ( and the Abraham Low Self-Help Systems ( .
 You are appreciated and loved by your family and you will find  your way. Don't lose heart.

Dear Maxy,
I am a college senior  and I am concerned  about my upcoming journey into the real world . I am preparing  myself  to apply for jobs but I am very shy . I have attended  job fairs on campus, but  when I go, I just briefly greet the recruiter, put my  resume on the table  and run away . What are some networking tips shy people should keep in mind  when approaching  recruiters ?
Shy Senior
Dear Shy Senior ,
Keep your focus on your goal . Be clear  about the type of job you want . Make sure your resume  expresses your interest and your experience . Do your research  to find out  which recruiters  represent jobs in your area  of interest . Seek those particular people out as you move  through the  job fair . It will be easier  for you to go to each targeted recruiter  rather  than feeling  like you have to search  through  an endless sea of people .
When  you approach  a recruiter, make eye contact  and offer a firm handshake . State your name  and say that you have  looked him /or her up  and believe  that  you  might be a good  fit  for the  company .
Having done research in advance shows that  you are a strategic  thinker  and a planner . The recruiter will probably  appreciate that and  invite you to talk . When you talk, stick to the facts at first . Answer  any questions  you are asked . As  you loosen  up share things about yourself  that reveal your uniqueness . Follow up with a thank-you note expressing  gratitude  for the opportunity  to meet  the recruiter . State  that you hope  to be considered  for the position  you discussed . You can do this.