Monday, April 9, 2012

CELESTIAL CONVERGENCE: Memes of a Second Sun - Astronomers Claim Discovery of a Brown Dwarf Star Just Beyond Pluto?!

The idea of a new planet being discovered in our Solar System is pretty exciting. Even more so because of the many theories about "Planet-X" or "Nibiru" being associated with space aliens and the doomsday prophecies of 2012. Scientists at places like NASA and famous observatories have deflected inquiries about the discovery for a few years now, mainly because they feared being associated with these "fringe" theories. But like it or not -- it has happened. Well... according to a team of Spanish astronomers who call themselves the StarViewer Team. The group made the rounds of all the news web sites in the past two weeks, claiming they discovered something very significant. It's almost twice the size of Jupiter and just beyond our furthest planetoid, Pluto. Although it's not a planet, it appears to have planets or large satellites encircling it. It's what astronomers call a "brown dwarf star" and its official name is "G1.9".

The newly discovered brown dwarf is reported to be located just about 60 to 66 AU (1 AU=the distance from
the Sun to Earth) from us (its parigee), currently in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius. Because of
periodic gravitational disturbances in areas of space further out, specifically in the Oort Cloud, the Spanish
group of astronomers believe G1.9 travels in an elliptical orbit extending possibly hundreds of AU beyond the
furthest known planets (its apogee). Its position just beyond Pluto suggests it is at its closest approach to the
Sun and Earth.
What's a Brown Dwarf Star?  First we'll explain WHAT these astronomers have discovered. Then we'll discuss HOW they discovered it.   At the risk of being scientifically vague, I'll try to explain the current understanding of how stars and planets form in space.   All matter attracts other matter. A larger mass will attract smaller masses towards it. In space this results in growing clouds of matter that tend to clump together and attract more matter. Since most of the matter in space is gaseous, these clouds eventually get so dense that they collapse into dense gaseous spheres. When they do this there is usually some "left over" matter that forms a ring around the sphere.If there is enough matter in a sphere of hydrogen, for example, it can cause so much compression at the shpere's core that the hydrogen atoms begin to fuse together and a fusion-reaction ignites a new born star. In this reaction two hydrogen atoms join together to form one helium atom and release extra energy as radiation.  Scientists believe that the minimum mass needed to ignite a sun is about 13 times the known mass of the planet Jupiter -- written as "13MJ." If the mass is lower than this, the pressure in the core is not enough to ignite and the sphere will be hot ball of gas called a "brown dwarf."  As a new star spins, the disk surrounding it gradually cools and the matter forms heavier elements like metals and minerals. These "rocks" eventually clump together and form solid spheres called planets.  Sometimes a solid sphere will attract some of the gas that is in the disk and this will result in a gaseous giant, like Jupiter and Saturn, which has a solid core but a thick gaseous atmosphere. These "gas giant" planets can be very massive but, because of their solid cores, they will never ignite and become stars.

This newly discovered "brown dwarf" is believed to have formed from the same condensed matter that gave birth to our Sun. It is believed that, after the large planets formed around the Sun, they pushed it to the edge of the Solar system where it formed a sphere about 1.9MJ -- well below the mass needed to ignite it as a "sun."Many suns that we observe in the galaxy are part of binary systems or double stars. There is debate about how two suns form from a single condensed cloud of matter. Some believe that they both form at the same time; others believe they split following the creation of one huge sun.   Sometimes both spheres are capable of fusion and both suns shine brightly, encircling each other around an imaginary point call the barycenter. Sometimes only one sun attains 13MJ and ignites, while its smaller companion, the brown dwarf, glows dimly and radiates heat. Astronomers usually can only see the brightest of the two, but because they both circle around a common barycenter, the wobble reveals the mass of the unseen companion.   We are close to our Sun and within its gravitational influence. So as we are travel through space, it appears to us that the G1.9 is moving in an elipse between our furthest planetoid, Pluto, and the edge of our Solar system, near the Oort Cloud.  - View Zone.

NOTE: Special thanks to Joann Chan-McKeon for contributing to this post.

WORLD WAR III: Countdown to Armageddon - U.S. Navy Deploys 2nd Aircraft to Gulf Amid Rising Nuclear Tensions With Iran!

The U.S. Navy says it has deployed a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf amid rising tensions with Iran over its nuclear program.  Cmdr. Amy Derrick-Frost of the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said on Monday that the deployment of the nuclear-powered USS Enterprise along the Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group marks only the fourth time in the past decade that the Navy has had two aircraft carriers operating at the same time in the region.

Derrick-Frost says the two carriers will support the American military operations in Afghanistan and anti-piracy efforts off Somalia's coast and in the Gulf of Aden. The battleships will also patrol the Gulf's strategic oil routes that Iran has threatened to shut down in retaliation for economic sanctions. The deployment of the second aircraft carrier is 'routine and not specific to any threat,' Derrick-Frost added. She did say how long the Navy will keep the increased military presence in region. It was in June 2010 that the U.S. had two carriers operating in the region. Before then, the carriers were deployed in March 2003 during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and in February 2007 in support of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Enterprise is based in Norfolk, Va. It is the Navy's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that is now on its last mission. The Enterprise was commissioned in November 1961 and is scheduled to be deactivated this fall. In mid-February the US Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier passed through the Strait of Hormuz by Tehran closely shadowed by Iranian patrol boats and aircraft. The small but important strait, jointly controlled by Iran and Oman, is only about 30miles across at its narrowest point.

Two American warships, one in front and one in the rear, escorted the Abraham Lincoln on its midday journey through the strait and into the Arabian Sea after nearly three weeks in the Gulf, an area which is frequently visited by U.S. warships and includes the headquarters of the U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain. Iranian forces paid full attention to the carrier as it made its passage with gunners in red jerseys manned the 50-caliber machine guns as the ships moved out of the Gulf. An Iranian patrol boat pulled nearby. Rear Admiral Troy Shoemaker, commander of the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Force said the U.S would be similarly cautious. 'We would do the same things off the coast of the United States... It's more than reasonable. We're operating in their backyard. We've been doing it for years,' he said. Several U.S. choppers flanked the carrier group throughout the transit, watching out for potentially hostile vessels and relaying real-time pictures back to the Lincoln's crew.The last time an American carrier left the Gulf - the USS John C Stennis in late December - Iran's army chief warned the U.S. it should never return.
The Abraham Lincoln was the centrepiece of a flotilla that entered the Gulf in January along with British and French warships in a display of Western unity against Iranian threats. Iran's Revolutionary Guard has said it plans its own naval exercises near the strait, the route for a fifth of the world's oil supply, but Iran's military has made no attempts to disrupt oil tanker traffic. The U.S. and allies fear Iran's uranium enrichment program could eventually lead to the production of weapons-grade nuclear material. Iran claims it only seeks reactors for energy and medical research. - Daily Mail.


EXTREME WEATHER ANOMALIES: United States Heat Records Have Been Shattered and "Deep-Fried" in March - Meteorologists Are Alarmed by the Unusual Magnitude?!

"Everybody has this uneasy feeling. This is weird. This is not good," said Jerry Meehl, a climate scientist...

It's been so warm in the United States this year, especially in March, that national records weren't just broken, they were deep-fried.  Temperatures in the lower 48 states were 8.6 degrees above normal for March and 6 degrees higher than average for the first three months of the year, according to calculations by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That far exceeds the old records.

The magnitude of how unusual the year has been in the U.S. has alarmed some meteorologists who have warned about global warming. One climate scientist said it's the weather equivalent of a baseball player on steroids, with old records obliterated.  "Everybody has this uneasy feeling. This is weird. This is not good," said Jerry Meehl, a climate scientist who specializes in extreme weather at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. "It's a guilty pleasure. You're out enjoying this nice March weather, but you know it's not a good thing."  It's not just March.  "It's been ongoing for several months," said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Ashville, N.C.  Meteorologists say an unusual confluence of several weather patterns, including La Nina, was the direct cause of the warm start to 2012. While individual events can't be blamed on global warming, Couch said this is like the extremes that are supposed to get more frequent because of manmade climate change from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil.  It's important to note that this unusual winter heat is mostly a North America phenomenon. Much of the rest of the Northern Hemisphere has been cold, said NOAA meteorologist Martin Hoerling.  The first quarter of 2012 broke the January-March record by 1.4 degrees. Usually records are broken by just one- or two-tenths of a degree. U.S. temperature records date to 1895.  The atypical heat goes back even further. The U.S. winter of 2010-2011 was slightly cooler than normal and one of the snowiest in recent years, but after that things started heating up.

The summer of 2011 was the second warmest summer on record.  The winter that just ended, which in some places was called the year without winter, was the fourth warmest on record. Since last April, it's been the hottest 12-month stretch on record, Crouch said.  But the month where the warmth turned especially weird was March.  Normally, March averages 42.5 degrees across the country. This year, the average was 51.1, which is closer to the average for April. Only one other time -- in January 2006 -- was the country as a whole that much hotter than normal for an entire month.  The "icebox of America," International Falls, Minn., saw temperatures in the 70s for five days in March, and there were only three days of below zero temperatures all month.  In March, at least 7,775 weather stations across the nation broke daily high temperature records and another 7,517 broke records for night-time heat. Combined, that's more high temperature records broken in one month than ever before, Crouch said.  "When you look at what's happened in March this year, it's beyond unbelievable," said University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver.  NOAA climate scientist Gabriel Vecchi compared the increase in weather extremes to baseball players on steroids: You can't say an individual homer is because of steroids, but they are hit more often and the long-held records for home runs fall.  They seem to be falling far more often because of global warming, said NASA top climate scientist James Hansen. In a paper he submitted to the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and posted on a physics research archive, Hansen shows that heat extremes aren't just increasing but happening far more often than scientists thought.  What used to be a 1-in-400 hot temperature record is now a 1 in 10 occurrence, essentially 40 times more likely, said Hansen. The warmth in March is an ideal illustration of this, said Hansen, who also has become an activist in fighting fossil fuels.  Weaver, who reviewed the Hansen paper and called it "one of the most stunning examples of evidence of global warming."  - FOX News.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Increase in Seismic Activity of Tungurahua Volcano - Intense Roaring Sounds, High Energy With Ash Emissions!

A new increase in the seismic activity of Tungurahua Volcano, in Ecuador, began early Monday with a constant sign of high energy tremor linked with ash emissions.

Eruptive column above Tungurahua volcano reaching about 2 km height,
heading towards the northeast. March 26, 2012.  - IGEPN
According to the report of the Geophysics Institute of the National Polytechnic School, the increase of the seismic activity in this crater started with a column of smoke that reached 3 kilometers high along with low intensity roaring and sounds. The first explosions caused minor thunders or crashes due to the rolling of blocks through the side walls of the volcano.

Shortly after, the falling of black and fine ashes on populations in the south-southwest regions, such as Palitahua, Capil, and Toctes, was reported. According to the last report, the area surrounding the volcano remains highly cloudy, and with seismic activity. - Prensa Latina.


RATTLE & HUM: "The Sounds of the Apocalypse" - Clintonville Administrator Said That She Heard Large Exploding Boom Coming From Underground, And They Are Still Occurring?!

The town of Clintonville has recently been in the media spotlight due to a series of “mystery booms” that have been heard by hundreds of residents. According to Clintonville Administrator Lisa Kuss, the USGS officially ruled within 5 minutes that the loud booms were caused by earthquakes. However, some local residents have continued to show their skepticism in regards to this official explanation.

Kuss went on to claim that the booms, on a somewhat less intense basis, are still occurring, with residents continuing to phone the local police department in fear. Calls are still being received by the local police department about the strange booms. Lisa described the sounds in the neighborhood she was investigating with the following statement;
“I was standing on a cement sidewalk and heard a large exploding boom noise coming from underground and the earth definitely shook. It was more of a jolt where it shook the ground. The second night we were in our utility building in that neighborhood and it was incredibly loud, like a bang or explosion. The entire floor shook below you.”
This statement seems to signify an underground explosion as the culprit rather than an earthquake. Originally, 2 seismograph devices owned by the USGS were reported to have recorded the “quake” as it has been dubbed, however the booms are ongoing as openly admitted by the towns Administrator. Once a second large event happened in Clintonville, independent experts were brought in through a company named Iris (notice the Illuminati reference). 6 portable devises were in the area as well according to Kuss.
Kuss says;
“They call it a swarm, a series of earthquakes”.
Residents claim that this was no earthquake. It appears that Kuss could be shilling or covering up something sinister as she seems to appear to know much more than she is letting on. The residents of this once peaceful town have been left wondering why would this only happen in a small neighborhood or controlled area. The way that Kuss described the noises was interesting. She talks as if the booms slowly got more distant, almost as if it was a subterranean covert black operation or possible underground base and or tunnel construction activity. - The Intel Hub.
WATCH: Interview with Kuss.



GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Red Alert Raised in Colombia - Authorities Fear Possible Eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz Volcano!

Authorities declared a red alert in areas downstream the central Colombia Nevado del Ruiz volcano Sunday amid growing concerns an eruption is imminent.

According to Colombia's meteorological institute IDEAM, the highest alert was justified "for the rivers close to the Nevado del Ruiz volcano because of a change in eruption threat and the heavy rains that have presented themselves in this area." Increased seismic activity forced local vulcanologists to maintain an orange alert for the past ten days which was heightened by the national authorities on Sunday after a further increase in measured activity.

According to IDEAM, the red alert is "preventive" and the volcano may decrease its seismic activity without coming to an eruption. However, the red alert allows authorities to increase monitoring of the areas under threat of avalanches if the Nevado del Ruiz comes to erupt. The city of Manizales, the capital of the Caldas department, falls under the area where the red alert was declared. The most tragic eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz took place in 1985 when 25,000 were killed.
- Colombia Reports.


GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Massive Landslide Hits Nairobi Slum Mathare in Kenya - Killing 6 People, Destroying Over 40 Homes!

Massive boulders crashed onto houses Wednesday in Mathare, a Nairobi slum, killing at least six people and trapping many underground after a night of heavy rains, police and the Kenyan Red Cross said. 

"Two other bodies have further been retrieved now bringing the number of those who have lost their lives in the Mathare tragedy to six people," the Red Cross said in a statement.  "The main challenge at the moment is accessibility. The appropriate machinery for rescue cannot access the scene of the tragedy," it said.  Police chief Mathew Iteere had earlier put the death toll at four. Families at the scene told AFP several people were still missing.  The Red Cross said more than 40 houses were destroyed in the sprawling slums in the north of the capital when huge boulders came crashing onto them early Wednesday morning, the Kenya Red Cross said. 

Teams of rescue workers used hoes and axes in an attempt to break up boulders that towered over their heads as crowds of onlookers stood perilously close.  "The rescue efforts have been hampered by heavy rains, lack of access and appropriate machinery and crowds of people who are slowing down the whole process," the Red Cross said.  Teams from the military joined in the rescue effort in early afternoon.  "It's by God's grace that we are alive with my family," said Rose Okoth, a mother of three who managed to run out of her house in time.  "I heard a loud thud. I thought it was a thunderstorm then I heard screams and that is when I ran out to safety with my children. A few minutes later another rock fell on our house. It could have killed us," she told AFP.  An AFP reporters said the cries from under the rubble that had been heard earlier in the day had subsided by early afternoon.  Heavy rains have begun pounding several Kenyan regions at the start of the main rainy season, which often causes floods and massive displacement. - Ahram Online.
WATCH: Killer landslide in Nairobi's Mathare slum.



EXOPLANETARY DISCLOSURE: Nine Exoplanets Discovered in Solar System's 'Twin'!

In 2010, a star 127 light-years away stunned the world -- it had become the largest star system beyond our own, playing host to five, possibly seven, alien worlds. Now, the star (called HD 10180) is back in the headlines; it may actually have nine exoplanets orbiting it.

Interestingly, HD 10180 is a yellow dwarf star very much like the sun, so this discovery has drawn many parallels with our own Solar System. It is a multi-planetary system surrounding a sun-like star. But it is also a very alien place with an assortment of worlds spread over wildly different orbits. It is believed that one of HD 10180's exoplanets is small -- although astronomers only know the planets' masses, not their physical size or composition. The smallest world weighs-in at 1.4 times the mass of Earth, making it a "super-Earth." When it was first revealed that HD 10180 was a multi-planetary system, astronomers of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) detected six exoplanets gravitationally "tugging" on their host star. Using the "radial velocity" exoplanet detection method, the astronomers watched the star's wobble to decipher up to seven worlds measuring between 1.4 to 65 times the mass of Earth. Five exoplanets were found to be 12-to-25 times the mass of Earth -- "Neptune-like" masses -- while another was detected orbiting in the outermost reaches of the system with a mass of 65 Earth masses (a "Saturn-like" world), taking around 2,200 days to complete one orbit. But now, in addition to verifying the signal of the small 1.4 Earth-mass world, there appears to be another two small alien worlds. "In addition to these seven signals, we report two additional periodic signals that are, according to our model probabilities ... statistically significant and unlikely to be caused by noise or data sampling or poor phasecoverage of the observations," Mikko Tuomi, of the University of Hertfordshire, reports in a new research paper (PDF) accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. This basically means that Tuomi has reanalyzed the data from previous observations made by the HARPS spectrograph (attached to the ESO's 3.6-meter telescope at La Silla, Chile), confirmed signals relating to the seven exoplanets discovered in 2010 and uncovered two new worlds in the process.
What's more, these two new signals represent another two super-Earths, says Tuomi. One is 1.9 times more massive than Earth and the other is 5.1 Earth-masses. Although these may be "super-Earths," the only similarity to Earth is their mass, so don't go getting excited that we may have spotted the much sought-after Earth analogs. The 1.4 Earth-mass exoplanet has an orbital period of only 1.2 days. The two new super-Earths also have very tight orbits, where their "years" last only 10 and 68 days. Therefore, any question of life (as we know it) existing on these worlds is moot -- they will likely be hellishly hot, with no chance of liquid water existing on their surfaces. It's debatable whether these worlds could hold onto any kind of atmosphere as they would be constantly sandblasted by intense stellar winds. As we continue hunting for exoplanets, it's only a matter of time until we make the groundbreaking discovery of an Earth-mass world orbiting its sun-like star within the habitable zone -- the distance from a star where water may exist in a liquid state. Unfortunately, even if planet-hunting projects -- like NASA's Kepler space telescope -- detect such an "Earth-like" world, we'd need an even more powerful means of detecting whether or not such a world even has an atmosphere, let alone whether it has a solid surface with oceans of liquid water. And as for detecting any kind of life, we may actually have to physically go there. But in the case of HD 10180, 127 light-years is one long trek. - Discovery News.

TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise of the Machines - Robot With Human Skeleton Steps Toward Artificial Intelligence!

I’ve written about a lot of creepy robots in my day but this one might be the creepiest. It is an anthropomimetic robot which, apparently, means it “imitates not just the human form, but also the biological structures and functions that enable and constrain perception and action.”

In other words, it’s got lots of synthetic human parts like bones, muscles and tendons. Its name is ECCEROBOT (short for Embodied Cognition in a Compliantly Engineered Robot) and it’s being developed by Owen Holland at the University of Sussex. The idea of biomimetic robots is not new — scientists have been building robots based on animals like fish and birds for a while now. The audacity of this project is try to mimic the internal structures of an animal — in this case, us — all in pursuit of an even more audacious and absurd goal: artificial intelligence.
As human beings, our physical interactions with the world informs our mental interactions. That is to say, you can’t separate the mind and body into totally separate spheres. So it makes sense that if you want to create advanced artificial intelligence, you also need to factor in an advanced artificial body. Luckily for us, right now ECCEROBOT is only capable of minor interactions like shaking hands and staring at people with its creepy giant eye. - Techland.
WATCH: FET11-ECCE Human Robot presented by Hugo Gravato Marques.


BIG BROTHER NOW: U.S. Department of Defense Preparing Large Scale Biometrics Tests - Using Iris Scans, Facial Recognition and Fingerprints For "Building Security"!

The Defense Department is preparing two large scale tests to prove whether biometrics can control who enters military facilities without impeding the flow of traffic. For more than a decade, DoD has used fingerprints, iris scans and facial recognition technology to detect terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq and in other countries. But as an approach to physical access, the military has only in a limited way put their Common Access Cards (CACs) with biometric data on them to full use.

"There are some quick wins happening in DoD around physical access," said Brian Hunt, the Army's chief of the future applications branch in the Biometrics Identity Management Agency, during the FOSE conference in Washington Thursday. "The Pentagon Force Protection Agency … has developed a system that is in place at the Mark Center in [Alexandria,] Virginia. It is not yet turned on, but they have gone through phase one, which is the enrollment of the workforce population, several thousand. It uses the DoD CAC and the application is when you come to work you put your CAC card down on a little entry turnstile and then you have a choice of either putting your index finger down or looking straight ahead at an iris scanner. In about six seconds, the system validates a couple of things, that your biometric matches what's on the card and then it matches to the database. It raises the security posture beyond what a normal swipe card would do."
Hunt said the Mark Center database includes about 6,100 people, which is more than actually work at the facility. He said many of the DoD personnel who visit the Mark Center often also have enrolled. The Pentagon Force Protection Agency is getting ready to turn on the physical access control system using biometrics in the coming months. In about a year, the Pentagon will implement a similar physical access control system. Hunt said there are about 25,000 people who come into the building each day. "This will be a shining example and it will become an accepted means for further projects across the department," he said. Hunt said the technology on the CAC has been ahead of the policy and ability to use the technology. But over the last five-to-seven years, DoD and large private sector organizations have shown the value biometrics could bring. - Federal News Radio.


FIRE IN THE SKY: Solar System Disturbances - Fireball Spotted Over Lake Michigan?!

A call that brought out search and rescue crews off the Lake Michigan shore Tuesday night may have been sparked by a falling meteor.

© John Chumack/FILE PHOTO
The U.S. Coast Guard Canal Station in Sturgeon Bay responded to a sighting of an off-shore white flare near Jacksonport Tuesday night.  "We had a call at approximately 9:15 p.m. local time of one white flare an undetermined distance off the shore" near Jacksonport, said BMC Justin Longval, executive petty officer at the station.  A white flare does not necessarily mean distress - a distress flare is red - but the Coast Guard launched its 45-foot response boat and called in an aircraft from the Air Station in Traverse City, Mich., for the search. 

The Coast Guard searched by air and water for two hours without finding anything or anyone, Longval said.  A helicopter from Traverse City conducted a first-light search Wednesday morning. It found nothing.  "It's always better to report it" and make sure there is nothing there, he said.  The Coast Guard has received no reports of missing persons or vessels and concluded the sighting may not have been flare.  "Meteorite, falling star, whatever you want to call it," Longval said. There is no way to know. - Green Bay Press Gazette.


MASS MAMMAL DIE-OFF: Massive Dolphin Die-Off in Peru May Remains a Mystery?!

Thousands of dead or dying dolphins have washed ashore in Peru since January, a marine mystery potentially caused by a combination of stress, pollution and disease.

When a retired fisherman called to report that about 1,500 dolphins had washed up dead on Peru's northern coast, veterinarian Carlos Yaipén's first reaction was, "That's impossible." But when Yaipén traveled up the coast last week, he counted 615 dead dolphins along a 135-kilometer stretch of coastline. Now, the death toll could be as high as 2,800, based on volunteers' counts. Peru's massive dolphin die-off is among the largest ever reported worldwide. The strandings, which began in January, are a marine mystery that may never be unraveled. Experts say the causes could be acoustic impact from testing for oil or perhaps an unknown virus or other pathogen.

Little marine research takes place in Peru, and even in the United States, of 55 marine mammal strandings since 1991, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has classified 29 as "undetermined." All of the 20 or so animals Yaipén has examined showed middle-ear hemorrhage and fracture of the ear's periotic bone, lung lesions and bubbles in the blood. To him, that suggests that a major acoustic impact caused injury, but not immediate death. Most of the dolphins apparently were alive when they beached, or had died very recently. "The animal would become disoriented, would have intense pain, and would have to make a great effort to breathe," he said of the injuries. Other experts say there is not enough evidence to draw a conclusion. - Scientific American.
WATCH: Dolphin die-off in Peru.


EXTREME WEATHER: The Season of the Winds - Death Toll Rises to 15 as Buenos Aires Recovers From Heavy Storm!

Death toll rises to fifteen in Buenos Aires City and Province as the region recovers from a heavy storm that hit the area on Wednesday night taking porteños by surprise after an unusual warm day for the season.

People try to get past a tree that fell during a storm in Buenos Aires. Estimates of
the damage caused suggested a figure of several million pesos’ worth.
Intense rain and hail storms caused death and destruction throughout the country and mainly in the Buenos Aires province and Capital area. Over 500 people had to be evacuated. Estimates of the damage caused suggested a figure of several million pesos' worth.  According to officials, four people died in Buenos Aires City. One person was killed when a wall collapsed, while three others were perished after a roof collapsed in Villa 21 shantytown. The ten victims died in the province: four in Moreno, one in Quilmes, one in Florencio Varela, one in Isidro Casanova, one in Gonnet, one in Flores and another in Avellaneda.  Most of the victims were crushed by toppled walls, fallen roofs or blown trees.  Victim number fifteen was confirmed this morning at Villa Soldati neibourhood. Bertilio Alarcón worked for the gendarmerie when his station was hit and dragged by the strong winds.  Another victim was a 19-year-old young man and his dog, who were electrocuted in Santa Fe city, after stepping on an electricity cable. 

Boca Juniors' training ground Casa Amarilla suffered extensive damage during the storm. Also, San Lorenzo and Huracán, whose sporting headquarters are located in the neighbourhoods of Boedo and Parque Patricios, also reported damage to their training and social facilities.Later, other clubs reported similar damages to their sporting facilities.  In the province, the districts that were affected the most were: Moreno, Ituzaingó, Ensenada, General Rodríguez, Lanús, Morón, La Matanza, Florencio Varela and Suipacha. Besides, the storm also affected Malvinas Argentinas, San Miguel, La Plata, Lezama, Pergamino, 25 de Mayo, Pilar, Brandsen, Chascomús, San Isidro, Navarro, Villa Gesell, General Viamonte, General La Madrid, Coronel Dorrego, Ramallo, Carlos Tejedor and Castelli.  "We have an enormous task ahead of us. Almost 110 trees have fallen," said the City government's Deputy Mayor María Eugenia Vidal, yesterday.  A total of 600 Border Guards were sent yesterday to towns in western Greater Buenos Aires to coordinate preventions actions and provide relief for the zone, according to a statement released yesterday by the national Security Ministry. - Buenos Aires Herald.


SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: The Antarctic Moon Halo - The Spectacular Atmospheric Display!

In the icy lands around the south pole, ordinary things take on an exotic quality. Count moon haloes among them. On April 5th, Sam Burrell photographed this specimen rising above the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica:

"Around midnight, the air on the Brunt Ice Shelf the air was filled with diamond dust," says Burrell. "As the moon rose, we caught this show."

Diamond dust is the atmospheric optics term for tiny, jewel-like crystals of ice. They form on cold days in the air near ground level. When they catch the rays of the low-hanging sun or moon, the results can be spectacular. "In this single display, we could see a moon halo, moondogs, and hints of a moon pillar," says Burrell.


More Images:  From Mohamad Soltanolkotabi of Cameron high lands, Perak, Malaysia; from Pamm Reynolds of Deming, New Mexico; from Phil Loarie of Berkeley, California; from Grover Schrayer of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Space Weather.


EXTREME WEATHER: Deadly Storms Kill 17 People in Bangladesh!

News reports say storms with heavy rains and strong winds have killed at least 17 people and injured dozens more in Bangladesh.

Dhaka's Prothom Alo and Janakantha newspapers say Friday's storms damaged mud-and-straw huts and felled trees in 10 of the country's 64 districts.
The reports say most of the deaths occurred from lightning. Some victims were buried under their collapsed houses.
Official confirmation of the reports was not immediately available. Rainstorms are common in Bangladesh, a tropical delta nation of 160 million people. - Yahoo.


EARTH CHANGES: Scientists Find Three Glaciers in Toyama Prefecture - The First Recognized in Japan and SE Asia!

Scientists have found three glaciers in Toyama Prefecture, the first recognized in Japan and the southernmost in East Asia. Tateyama Caldera Sabo Museum discovered the three slow-moving chunks of ice in the Hida Mountain Range, otherwise known as the Northern Alps.  Their research paper submitted to the Japanese Society of Snow and Ice was accepted Tuesday, the museum said.

Coup de glacier: An ice gorge near Tateyama, Toyama Prefecture, that has been recognized as one
of the three first glaciers found in Japan is shown last June. All three are in the Northern Alps.
A glacier is defined as a large mass of ice that over many years "flows" owing to its great weight, according to the Japanese Society of Snow and Ice. They are often found on high mountains, such as the Himalayas, and have even been found on Mount Kilimanjaro, which is almost on the equator. Until now, the southernmost glaciers in East Asia were on Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula. "We have known something similar to glaciers existed, so we checked to see if the masses of ice are moving," said Hajime Lida, a researcher for the museum.

Between 2009 and 2011, Iida's team used "ice radar" to find two glaciers on Mount Tsurugi and one on Mount Tateyama. Ice radar sends electronic waves into the ice to measure how thick it is. Using GPS, the team confirmed that the masses of ice are moving between 10 and 30 cm a month. The masses are 27 to 30 meters deep and 400 to 1,200 meters long. The Japanese Society of Snow and Ice will publish the research paper in its journal Seppyou (Snow and Ice) in May, the museum said in a news release. "The group used the latest equipment to research the movement of ice chunks very concretely. The value of this research is high," said Keishi Ishimoto, the journal's chief editor. There is no international organization that officially recognizes glaciers. Therefore, unless researchers abroad express opposition to the group's paper, it would be fair to say that the three masses of ice are indeed glaciers, Lida said. Information from Kyodo added. - Japan Times.