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Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 25

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2015-12-16 15:41:03 (25 comments; 26 reshares; 251 +1s)Open 

The Mysterious Stone Columns Along Crowley Lake ... "After California’s Crowley Lake reservoir on the upper Owens River in southern Mono County was completed in 1941, strange column-like formations were spotted along the reservoir's eastern shore. These stone columns rose up to 20 feet tall, were ringed at intervals of one feet and were connected by high arches like an ancient Moorish temple. For millions of years these pillars were completely covered by soft rock and hidden from view, and would have remained so, if not for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Once the reservoir was created, the incessant pummeling of the lake's powerful waves eroded the more malleable rock at the base of the cliffs encasing these pillars, exposing them to the world. Even then, the columns were regarded as little more than curiosities until very recently in 2015, when geologists at theU... more »

Most reshares: 26

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2015-12-16 15:41:03 (25 comments; 26 reshares; 251 +1s)Open 

The Mysterious Stone Columns Along Crowley Lake ... "After California’s Crowley Lake reservoir on the upper Owens River in southern Mono County was completed in 1941, strange column-like formations were spotted along the reservoir's eastern shore. These stone columns rose up to 20 feet tall, were ringed at intervals of one feet and were connected by high arches like an ancient Moorish temple. For millions of years these pillars were completely covered by soft rock and hidden from view, and would have remained so, if not for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Once the reservoir was created, the incessant pummeling of the lake's powerful waves eroded the more malleable rock at the base of the cliffs encasing these pillars, exposing them to the world. Even then, the columns were regarded as little more than curiosities until very recently in 2015, when geologists at theU... more »

Most plusones: 251

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2015-12-16 15:41:03 (25 comments; 26 reshares; 251 +1s)Open 

The Mysterious Stone Columns Along Crowley Lake ... "After California’s Crowley Lake reservoir on the upper Owens River in southern Mono County was completed in 1941, strange column-like formations were spotted along the reservoir's eastern shore. These stone columns rose up to 20 feet tall, were ringed at intervals of one feet and were connected by high arches like an ancient Moorish temple. For millions of years these pillars were completely covered by soft rock and hidden from view, and would have remained so, if not for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Once the reservoir was created, the incessant pummeling of the lake's powerful waves eroded the more malleable rock at the base of the cliffs encasing these pillars, exposing them to the world. Even then, the columns were regarded as little more than curiosities until very recently in 2015, when geologists at theU... more »

Latest 50 posts

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2016-02-03 14:50:52 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s)Open 

Lots of rain today in Western North Carolina ... but a lot better than the heavy snow two weeks ago.

Lots of rain today in Western North Carolina ... but a lot better than the heavy snow two weeks ago.___

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2016-01-29 22:00:17 (1 comments; 2 reshares; 10 +1s)Open 

playing with 3D animation, creating a cartoon ladder truck.

playing with 3D animation, creating a cartoon ladder truck.___

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2016-01-23 14:50:38 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 16 +1s)Open 

W5VEmobile still snowbound... about a foot of snow here at the home QTH near Asheville NC.

W5VEmobile still snowbound... about a foot of snow here at the home QTH near Asheville NC.___

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2016-01-23 02:11:07 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 18 +1s)Open 

Taken as I walked over from my office building here on the Bookfarm near Asheville NC. We have over 12 inches of snow and it's still coming down. ... The amazing thing to me about these photos is a) I survived the trek in the snow and b) I shot them using my new LG V10 phone (fantastic camera!) using available light.

Taken as I walked over from my office building here on the Bookfarm near Asheville NC. We have over 12 inches of snow and it's still coming down. ... The amazing thing to me about these photos is a) I survived the trek in the snow and b) I shot them using my new LG V10 phone (fantastic camera!) using available light.___

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2016-01-22 18:02:05 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 8 +1s)Open 

and still coming down here in the mountains of Western North Carolina, about five miles from Asheville.

and still coming down here in the mountains of Western North Carolina, about five miles from Asheville.___

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2016-01-22 15:25:12 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 19 +1s)Open 

scientific snow depth measurement using calibrated boots: deep. 

scientific snow depth measurement using calibrated boots: deep. ___

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2016-01-22 15:00:09 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 20 +1s)Open 

Staying home today next to nice warm computers and ham radios.

Staying home today next to nice warm computers and ham radios.___

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2016-01-20 13:14:43 (2 comments; 1 reshares; 12 +1s)Open 

Snow on the Bookfarm and 23F here near Asheville NC ... snowing harder now.

Snow on the Bookfarm and 23F here near Asheville NC ... snowing harder now.___

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2016-01-19 23:49:01 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 17 +1s)Open 

Leave a mostly-gone cup of Diet Coke(r) in your car overnight during 12-degree F weather and it results in a very cool (yep) Popsicle with a red drinking straw handle. It's not as simple as it looks. Melted ice refrozen adds a winsome complexity you gaze in wonder at whilst trying to get your tongue now frozen to this concoction unstuck. It is, however, not fattening.

Leave a mostly-gone cup of Diet Coke(r) in your car overnight during 12-degree F weather and it results in a very cool (yep) Popsicle with a red drinking straw handle. It's not as simple as it looks. Melted ice refrozen adds a winsome complexity you gaze in wonder at whilst trying to get your tongue now frozen to this concoction unstuck. It is, however, not fattening.___

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2016-01-19 21:13:35 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 7 +1s)Open 

Downloaded a VNC app for my LG V10, Ripple Runner.... here I'm running my Raspberry Pi 2 with it. ... It has a really neat onscreen mouse! Never seen that before. Clever.

Downloaded a VNC app for my LG V10, Ripple Runner.... here I'm running my Raspberry Pi 2 with it. ... It has a really neat onscreen mouse! Never seen that before. Clever.___

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2016-01-18 14:35:38 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 20 +1s)Open 

Cosmic first: Flower blooms in space aboard space station ... Successfully growing the first flower in space brings explorers one step closer to growing fresh produce on long space missions. ... "For the first time ever, a flower has bloomed in space, aboard the International Space Station. This brings cosmic explorers one step closer to growing other flowering plants in space, like tomatoes, which NASA says it hopes to do in 2018.

On Saturday, American astronaut Scott Kelly, who has been working since March 2015 on the space laboratory and has become its resident gardner, gleefully announced on Twitter that he successfully coaxed the brightly colored Zinnia to blossom, a big accomplishment, as less than a month ago, the plants were moldy and shrivelled.

But even the space mold held some interest to researchers, so it was collected and frozen so it can be returned to Earth... more »

Cosmic first: Flower blooms in space aboard space station ... Successfully growing the first flower in space brings explorers one step closer to growing fresh produce on long space missions. ... "For the first time ever, a flower has bloomed in space, aboard the International Space Station. This brings cosmic explorers one step closer to growing other flowering plants in space, like tomatoes, which NASA says it hopes to do in 2018.

On Saturday, American astronaut Scott Kelly, who has been working since March 2015 on the space laboratory and has become its resident gardner, gleefully announced on Twitter that he successfully coaxed the brightly colored Zinnia to blossom, a big accomplishment, as less than a month ago, the plants were moldy and shrivelled.

But even the space mold held some interest to researchers, so it was collected and frozen so it can be returned to Earth for study.

For scientists back on Earth, the flowering experiment, called “Veggie,” will allow them to better understand how plants grow in microgravity. For the astronauts in space, growing the quick-sprouting Zinnias is important practice for growing fresh food on longer space missions in the future.

“I think having this fresh food source available is going to be critical,” Gioia Massa, a project scientist at NASA Kennedy Space Center and the brainchild behind Veggie, told The Christian Science Monitor in a phone interview in November.

Astronauts eat mostly food that has been freeze-dried for long storage. Fresh fruits and vegetables do show up occasionally at the space station with other supply deliveries, but they run out quickly.

"The farther and longer humans go away from Earth, the greater the need to be able to grow plants for food, atmosphere recycling and psychological benefits," Massa said in a NASA announcement. ..."

FULL ARTICLE: http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2016/0117/Cosmic-first-Flower-blooms-in-space-aboard-space-station___

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2016-01-18 14:34:54 (3 comments; 16 reshares; 67 +1s)Open 

Cosmic first: Flower blooms in space aboard space station ... Successfully growing the first flower in space brings explorers one step closer to growing fresh produce on long space missions. ... "For the first time ever, a flower has bloomed in space, aboard the International Space Station. This brings cosmic explorers one step closer to growing other flowering plants in space, like tomatoes, which NASA says it hopes to do in 2018.

On Saturday, American astronaut Scott Kelly, who has been working since March 2015 on the space laboratory and has become its resident gardner, gleefully announced on Twitter that he successfully coaxed the brightly colored Zinnia to blossom, a big accomplishment, as less than a month ago, the plants were moldy and shrivelled.

But even the space mold held some interest to researchers, so it was collected and frozen so it can be returned to Earth... more »

Cosmic first: Flower blooms in space aboard space station ... Successfully growing the first flower in space brings explorers one step closer to growing fresh produce on long space missions. ... "For the first time ever, a flower has bloomed in space, aboard the International Space Station. This brings cosmic explorers one step closer to growing other flowering plants in space, like tomatoes, which NASA says it hopes to do in 2018.

On Saturday, American astronaut Scott Kelly, who has been working since March 2015 on the space laboratory and has become its resident gardner, gleefully announced on Twitter that he successfully coaxed the brightly colored Zinnia to blossom, a big accomplishment, as less than a month ago, the plants were moldy and shrivelled.

But even the space mold held some interest to researchers, so it was collected and frozen so it can be returned to Earth for study.

For scientists back on Earth, the flowering experiment, called “Veggie,” will allow them to better understand how plants grow in microgravity. For the astronauts in space, growing the quick-sprouting Zinnias is important practice for growing fresh food on longer space missions in the future.

“I think having this fresh food source available is going to be critical,” Gioia Massa, a project scientist at NASA Kennedy Space Center and the brainchild behind Veggie, told The Christian Science Monitor in a phone interview in November.

Astronauts eat mostly food that has been freeze-dried for long storage. Fresh fruits and vegetables do show up occasionally at the space station with other supply deliveries, but they run out quickly.

"The farther and longer humans go away from Earth, the greater the need to be able to grow plants for food, atmosphere recycling and psychological benefits," Massa said in a NASA announcement. ..."

FULL ARTICLE: http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2016/0117/Cosmic-first-Flower-blooms-in-space-aboard-space-station___

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2016-01-18 12:16:08 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 7 +1s)Open 

not sure how the cup knows I'm hot but appreciate the compliment.

not sure how the cup knows I'm hot but appreciate the compliment.___

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2016-01-12 13:18:50 (6 comments; 0 reshares; 22 +1s)Open 

Walking over to my office building here on the bookfarm this morning in 19 degree F weather. The amazing thing about this phone? I shot it with my new LG V10 phone into the sun! An it came out this well. Wow. My old Galaxy 5 would've been whited out.

Walking over to my office building here on the bookfarm this morning in 19 degree F weather. The amazing thing about this phone? I shot it with my new LG V10 phone into the sun! An it came out this well. Wow. My old Galaxy 5 would've been whited out.___

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2016-01-08 13:06:28 (1 comments; 1 reshares; 8 +1s)Open 

NASA’s New VASIMR Plasma Engine Could Reach Mars in 39 days ... "NASA recently provided $10 million in funding to Ad Astra Rocket Company of Texas for further development of its Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR), an electromagnetic thruster capable of propelling a spaceship to Mars in just 39 days. NASA’s funding was part of the “12 Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnership.” Ad Astra’s rocket will travel ten times faster than today’s chemical rockets while using one-tenth the amount of fuel.

The VASIMR system would cut the trip to Mars by months according to Franklin Chang Diaz, a former MIT student, NASA astronaut, and now CEO of Ad Astra.

According to Diaz, “this is like no other rocket that you may have seen in the past. It is a plasma rocket. The VASIMR Rocket is not used for launching things; it is used for things alreadyin orbit. Thi... more »

NASA’s New VASIMR Plasma Engine Could Reach Mars in 39 days ... "NASA recently provided $10 million in funding to Ad Astra Rocket Company of Texas for further development of its Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR), an electromagnetic thruster capable of propelling a spaceship to Mars in just 39 days. NASA’s funding was part of the “12 Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnership.” Ad Astra’s rocket will travel ten times faster than today’s chemical rockets while using one-tenth the amount of fuel.

The VASIMR system would cut the trip to Mars by months according to Franklin Chang Diaz, a former MIT student, NASA astronaut, and now CEO of Ad Astra.

According to Diaz, “this is like no other rocket that you may have seen in the past. It is a plasma rocket. The VASIMR Rocket is not used for launching things; it is used for things already in orbit. This is called “in-space propulsion.”

VASIMR heats plasma, an electrically charged gas, to extremely high temperatures using radio waves. The system then provides thrust by funneling the hot plasma out of the back of the engine. According to Diaz, VASIMR will save thousands of gallons of rocket fuel and tens of millions of dollars a year. ..."

MORE: http://www.industrytap.com/nasas-new-vasimr-plasma-engine-reach-mars-39-days/33646___

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2016-01-08 13:06:01 (24 comments; 25 reshares; 48 +1s)Open 

NASA’s New VASIMR Plasma Engine Could Reach Mars in 39 days ... "NASA recently provided $10 million in funding to Ad Astra Rocket Company of Texas for further development of its Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR), an electromagnetic thruster capable of propelling a spaceship to Mars in just 39 days. NASA’s funding was part of the “12 Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnership.” Ad Astra’s rocket will travel ten times faster than today’s chemical rockets while using one-tenth the amount of fuel.

The VASIMR system would cut the trip to Mars by months according to Franklin Chang Diaz, a former MIT student, NASA astronaut, and now CEO of Ad Astra.

According to Diaz, “this is like no other rocket that you may have seen in the past. It is a plasma rocket. The VASIMR Rocket is not used for launching things; it is used for things alreadyin orbit. Thi... more »

NASA’s New VASIMR Plasma Engine Could Reach Mars in 39 days ... "NASA recently provided $10 million in funding to Ad Astra Rocket Company of Texas for further development of its Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR), an electromagnetic thruster capable of propelling a spaceship to Mars in just 39 days. NASA’s funding was part of the “12 Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnership.” Ad Astra’s rocket will travel ten times faster than today’s chemical rockets while using one-tenth the amount of fuel.

The VASIMR system would cut the trip to Mars by months according to Franklin Chang Diaz, a former MIT student, NASA astronaut, and now CEO of Ad Astra.

According to Diaz, “this is like no other rocket that you may have seen in the past. It is a plasma rocket. The VASIMR Rocket is not used for launching things; it is used for things already in orbit. This is called “in-space propulsion.”

VASIMR heats plasma, an electrically charged gas, to extremely high temperatures using radio waves. The system then provides thrust by funneling the hot plasma out of the back of the engine. According to Diaz, VASIMR will save thousands of gallons of rocket fuel and tens of millions of dollars a year. ..."

MORE: http://www.industrytap.com/nasas-new-vasimr-plasma-engine-reach-mars-39-days/33646___

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2016-01-06 14:35:12 (6 comments; 1 reshares; 7 +1s)Open 

my latest cover design for a novel we're releasing this month ... comments appreciated.

my latest cover design for a novel we're releasing this month ... comments appreciated.___

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2015-12-29 17:21:28 (0 comments; 2 reshares; 12 +1s)Open 

The Painted Cliffs of Maria Island ... "The beautifully patterned sandstone rocks of Painted Cliffs are one of Maria island’s most popular attraction. The mountainous island located in the Tasman Sea, off the east coast of Tasmania, Australia, was once a penal colony for convicts who committed offences against the French colonists. Today, the entire island and the ocean around is a national park full of birds, animals and marine life.

The Painted Cliffs are located at the end of Hopground beach. The wonderful patterns on the exposed rocks along the shore were caused by ground water percolating down through the porous sandstone rocks and leaving traces of iron oxides, which have stained the rock formation. The regular patterns of red, orange and yellow bands and rings are due to fractures, joints and layers present within the sandstone.

The iron in the groundwater probablyc... more »

The Painted Cliffs of Maria Island ... "The beautifully patterned sandstone rocks of Painted Cliffs are one of Maria island’s most popular attraction. The mountainous island located in the Tasman Sea, off the east coast of Tasmania, Australia, was once a penal colony for convicts who committed offences against the French colonists. Today, the entire island and the ocean around is a national park full of birds, animals and marine life.

The Painted Cliffs are located at the end of Hopground beach. The wonderful patterns on the exposed rocks along the shore were caused by ground water percolating down through the porous sandstone rocks and leaving traces of iron oxides, which have stained the rock formation. The regular patterns of red, orange and yellow bands and rings are due to fractures, joints and layers present within the sandstone.

The iron in the groundwater probably came from two prominent hills known as Bishop and Clerk and Mt. Maria, located at the highest point of Maria island. These peaks are composed of iron-rich dolerite rocks that weathered over millions of years ago when the climate was monsoonal, contributing to the iron-oxide staining on the Painted Cliffs.

Aside from the painted patterns, weathering of the rocks by salt crystal from sea spray have created a beautiful honeycomb pattern. Rock fragments moved around by the water have gradually worn small potholes and notches into the cliff face, eventually resulting in the undercutting of the cliff. ..."

MORE GORGEOUS PHOTOS: http://www.amusingplanet.com/2015/12/the-painted-cliffs-of-maria-island.html___

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2015-12-29 16:59:00 (0 comments; 2 reshares; 31 +1s)Open 

Why we’re going back to the Moon—with or without NASA ... The discovery of lunar water has changed everything for human exploration ... "It was time for the spent rocket to die. So the 2,000kg Centaur upper stage, about the size of a yellow school bus, detached from its spacecraft and began falling toward the Moon six years ago. Soon lunar gravity took hold, tugging the Centaur ever faster toward the Moon’s inky black South Pole. An hour after separation, the rocket slammed into terra incognita at 9,000kph (or roughly 5,600mph).
Named for a mythical creature with the upper body of a human and lower body of a horse, the empty Centaur burrowed several meters into a crater that had not seen the Sun’s light for billions of years. The impact kicked a plume of Moon dust as high as 20 km into space. The detached spacecraft followed just minutes later, sampling the plume. “We knew withinhours tha... more »

Why we’re going back to the Moon—with or without NASA ... The discovery of lunar water has changed everything for human exploration ... "It was time for the spent rocket to die. So the 2,000kg Centaur upper stage, about the size of a yellow school bus, detached from its spacecraft and began falling toward the Moon six years ago. Soon lunar gravity took hold, tugging the Centaur ever faster toward the Moon’s inky black South Pole. An hour after separation, the rocket slammed into terra incognita at 9,000kph (or roughly 5,600mph).
Named for a mythical creature with the upper body of a human and lower body of a horse, the empty Centaur burrowed several meters into a crater that had not seen the Sun’s light for billions of years. The impact kicked a plume of Moon dust as high as 20 km into space. The detached spacecraft followed just minutes later, sampling the plume. “We knew within hours that we had measured something really interesting,” recalled Anthony Colaprete, the mission’s principal investigator.

Interesting indeed. After more than a decade of speculation and intriguing findings, the Centaur had blasted up grains of pure ice. It provided dazzling confirmation that a world once thought entirely barren and desiccated harbors the most valuable commodity for human exploration—water. Yet even as Colaprete and other scientists announced their findings in the fall of 2009, NASA’s lunar program was dying.

The Constellation plan to return humans to the Moon had by then become bloated and fallen desperately behind schedule. Less than four months after the Centaur slammed into the Moon in October 2009, the White House formally canceled Constellation. Ironically, almost from the very moment scientists found a compelling reason to go back, NASA had forsaken the Moon.

Yet the ever-shadowed poles of the Moon, some of the coldest places in the Solar System, are nonetheless some of its hottest frontiers yet again. Since the Centaur impact, a number of US companies started drawing business plans to unlock the Moon’s water ice for everything from powering spacecraft with liquid hydrogen and oxygen to accessing a wealth of rare metals or building a space-based solar power network.

America’s largest rocket company, United Launch Alliance, has noticed. With an eye on its future, the company is doing critical research on storing and transferring hydrogen and oxygen propellants in space. Many European countries, as well as China and Russia, have also made clear their interest. And just last month, the US Congress signaled its approval, too, by legalizing the mining of lunar resources. More than five years after abandoning it, the space industry appears headed for the Moon all over again.

“We’ve been there before”

NASA turned away from the Moon at the very place where America’s Apollo journeys began. In April 2010, President Obama visited Kennedy Space Center in Florida to deliver his single space policy speech. As Buzz Aldrin looked on, Obama said of the Moon, “I just have to say pretty bluntly here, we’ve been there before. Buzz has been there before.”

With this one line, Obama had transformed the Moon into a taboo subject within the halls of the NASA administration in Washington DC. Instead of the Moon, Obama said, NASA would send astronauts to an asteroid and then, one day, Mars. ..."

READ THE REST OF THE STORY: http://arstechnica.com/science/2015/12/why-were-going-back-to-the-moon-with-or-without-nasa/?mbid=synd_moz_newssci1___

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2015-12-29 16:58:26 (13 comments; 4 reshares; 13 +1s)Open 

Why we’re going back to the Moon—with or without NASA ... The discovery of lunar water has changed everything for human exploration ... "It was time for the spent rocket to die. So the 2,000kg Centaur upper stage, about the size of a yellow school bus, detached from its spacecraft and began falling toward the Moon six years ago. Soon lunar gravity took hold, tugging the Centaur ever faster toward the Moon’s inky black South Pole. An hour after separation, the rocket slammed into terra incognita at 9,000kph (or roughly 5,600mph).
Named for a mythical creature with the upper body of a human and lower body of a horse, the empty Centaur burrowed several meters into a crater that had not seen the Sun’s light for billions of years. The impact kicked a plume of Moon dust as high as 20 km into space. The detached spacecraft followed just minutes later, sampling the plume. “We knew withinhours tha... more »

Why we’re going back to the Moon—with or without NASA ... The discovery of lunar water has changed everything for human exploration ... "It was time for the spent rocket to die. So the 2,000kg Centaur upper stage, about the size of a yellow school bus, detached from its spacecraft and began falling toward the Moon six years ago. Soon lunar gravity took hold, tugging the Centaur ever faster toward the Moon’s inky black South Pole. An hour after separation, the rocket slammed into terra incognita at 9,000kph (or roughly 5,600mph).
Named for a mythical creature with the upper body of a human and lower body of a horse, the empty Centaur burrowed several meters into a crater that had not seen the Sun’s light for billions of years. The impact kicked a plume of Moon dust as high as 20 km into space. The detached spacecraft followed just minutes later, sampling the plume. “We knew within hours that we had measured something really interesting,” recalled Anthony Colaprete, the mission’s principal investigator.

Interesting indeed. After more than a decade of speculation and intriguing findings, the Centaur had blasted up grains of pure ice. It provided dazzling confirmation that a world once thought entirely barren and desiccated harbors the most valuable commodity for human exploration—water. Yet even as Colaprete and other scientists announced their findings in the fall of 2009, NASA’s lunar program was dying.

The Constellation plan to return humans to the Moon had by then become bloated and fallen desperately behind schedule. Less than four months after the Centaur slammed into the Moon in October 2009, the White House formally canceled Constellation. Ironically, almost from the very moment scientists found a compelling reason to go back, NASA had forsaken the Moon.

Yet the ever-shadowed poles of the Moon, some of the coldest places in the Solar System, are nonetheless some of its hottest frontiers yet again. Since the Centaur impact, a number of US companies started drawing business plans to unlock the Moon’s water ice for everything from powering spacecraft with liquid hydrogen and oxygen to accessing a wealth of rare metals or building a space-based solar power network.

America’s largest rocket company, United Launch Alliance, has noticed. With an eye on its future, the company is doing critical research on storing and transferring hydrogen and oxygen propellants in space. Many European countries, as well as China and Russia, have also made clear their interest. And just last month, the US Congress signaled its approval, too, by legalizing the mining of lunar resources. More than five years after abandoning it, the space industry appears headed for the Moon all over again.

“We’ve been there before”

NASA turned away from the Moon at the very place where America’s Apollo journeys began. In April 2010, President Obama visited Kennedy Space Center in Florida to deliver his single space policy speech. As Buzz Aldrin looked on, Obama said of the Moon, “I just have to say pretty bluntly here, we’ve been there before. Buzz has been there before.”

With this one line, Obama had transformed the Moon into a taboo subject within the halls of the NASA administration in Washington DC. Instead of the Moon, Obama said, NASA would send astronauts to an asteroid and then, one day, Mars. ..."

READ THE REST OF THE STORY: http://arstechnica.com/science/2015/12/why-were-going-back-to-the-moon-with-or-without-nasa/?mbid=synd_moz_newssci1___

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2015-12-27 16:02:36 (9 comments; 0 reshares; 50 +1s)Open 

Good morning, G+.

Good morning, G+.___

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2015-12-26 12:52:36 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 10 +1s)Open 

Playing with my new LG V10 smartphone calculating Pi to one million places in just over 1.7 seconds.

Playing with my new LG V10 smartphone calculating Pi to one million places in just over 1.7 seconds.___

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2015-12-25 20:05:10 (1 comments; 2 reshares; 11 +1s)Open 

First amateur radio in geosynchronous orbit will aid disaster communications ... ""Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, a new ham band will be available for the Americas," said Robert McGwier, a research professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Hume Center's director of research. "It will allow rapid deployment to disaster areas and support long-haul communications for first responders."

This would be the first amateur or "ham" radio payload in a geosynchronous orbit, and would significantly enhance communications capabilities for amateur radio operators, in particular following natural disasters or other emergency situations. The Hume Center team met with Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate in September to discuss the project.

There are more than 2 million... more »

First amateur radio in geosynchronous orbit will aid disaster communications ... ""Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, a new ham band will be available for the Americas," said Robert McGwier, a research professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Hume Center's director of research. "It will allow rapid deployment to disaster areas and support long-haul communications for first responders."

This would be the first amateur or "ham" radio payload in a geosynchronous orbit, and would significantly enhance communications capabilities for amateur radio operators, in particular following natural disasters or other emergency situations. The Hume Center team met with Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate in September to discuss the project.

There are more than 2 million amateur radio operators around the world, and the community has a long history of assisting with emergency communications when traditional communications networks collapse, because they typically rely on cell towers and the Internet. Ham radio signals require only compact, mobile equipment that can be easily transported to an emergency site.

"Hams show up at every disaster, no matter what," said McGwier, referring to amateur radio operators. After events like Hurricane Katrina and the Indian Ocean tsunami, "for days, the only way that people communicated out of those communities was amateur radio."

In fact, the Federal Emergency Management Agency signed an agreement in 2014 with the American Radio Relay League, also known as ARRL, that describes how the two organizations will work together to provide disaster relief, and the Federal Communications Commission has specific regulations authorizing the use of amateur radio in situations which threaten life or property.

But even amateur radio isn't always available.

Currently, most amateur radio operators communicate by bouncing their signals off the ionosphere. Solar flares, geomagnetic storms, and other events that change the condition of the ionosphere can affect the efficiency of radio signal propagation, making it unpredictable.

Sending radio signals to a satellite, instead, would be much more dependable, allowing radio operators to help emergency personnel reliably access supplies, logistical support, and medical assistance. They key is to ensure that the satellite would always be accessible to the radio operators—which is why the geosynchronous orbit is critical.

A geosynchronous orbit has the same period as the Earth's rotation—just under 24 hours. A satellite in such an orbit is easy to locate and access. In this case, the satellite will always be within a band of longitudes over the Americas, continually accessible to any amateur radio operator there, including the students and researchers at the Virginia Tech Ground Station.

The satellite itself will be operated by Millennium Space Systems on behalf of the United States Air Force; the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, also known as AMSAT, will operate the radio, which will be designed and built by Virginia Tech students—making this project a unique collaboration among the university, nonprofit organizations, private companies, and the federal government.

The Hume Center team is also engineering a ground terminal that emergency personnel could use to relay their own existing communications channels through the satellite. This setup could be deployed through the American Radio Relay League and the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation as a key part of a robust national emergency response system, allowing trained operators to reliably mobilize to disaster areas in the first critical hours after a devastating event.


Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-12-amateur-radio-geosynchronous-orbit-aid.html
___

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2015-12-24 11:38:40 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 9 +1s)Open 

All the best, whatever holiday flavor you like and the heck with political correctness. Good will to all!

Merry Christmas from the SantaRalph
he comes year-round, bringing interesting posts!
wouldn't it be nice to leave out some cookies for him?
bless you all, all my many friends on Google+___All the best, whatever holiday flavor you like and the heck with political correctness. Good will to all!

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2015-12-22 11:18:19 (1 comments; 1 reshares; 27 +1s)Open 

SpaceX launches rocket 6 months after accident, then lands ... "paceX sent a Falcon rocket soaring toward orbit Monday night with 11 small satellites, its first mission since an accident last summer. Then in an even more amazing feat, it landed the 15-story leftover booster back on Earth safely.

It was the first time an unmanned rocket returned to land vertically at Cape Canaveral, Florida, and represented a tremendous success for SpaceX. The company led by billionaire Elon Musk is striving for reusability to drive launch costs down and open up space to more people.

SpaceX employees broke into cheers and chants, some of them jumping up and down, following the smooth touchdown nine minutes after liftoff. Previous landing attempts ended in fiery blasts, but those aimed for an ocean platform.

"The Falcon has landed," SpaceX TV commentators announced.... more »

SpaceX launches rocket 6 months after accident, then lands ... "paceX sent a Falcon rocket soaring toward orbit Monday night with 11 small satellites, its first mission since an accident last summer. Then in an even more amazing feat, it landed the 15-story leftover booster back on Earth safely.

It was the first time an unmanned rocket returned to land vertically at Cape Canaveral, Florida, and represented a tremendous success for SpaceX. The company led by billionaire Elon Musk is striving for reusability to drive launch costs down and open up space to more people.

SpaceX employees broke into cheers and chants, some of them jumping up and down, following the smooth touchdown nine minutes after liftoff. Previous landing attempts ended in fiery blasts, but those aimed for an ocean platform.

"The Falcon has landed," SpaceX TV commentators announced.

The top officer at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, noted that the returning booster "placed the exclamation mark on 2015."

"This was a first for us at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and I can't even begin to describe the excitement the team feels right now having been a part of this historic first-stage rocket landing," Monteith said in a statement.

Across the country, SpaceX employees jammed company headquarters in Hawthorne, California, anxiously awaiting success outside Mission Control. They cheered at full throttle when the first stage separated cleanly two minutes into flight and reoriented itself for an unprecedented return to Cape Canaveral. Then the roar became deafening, as TV cameras showed the first-stage booster landing on extended legs at its new, dedicated landing zone. SpaceX commentators called it "incredibly exciting" and were visibly moved by the feat. ..."

MORE: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2015/12/21/spacex-launches-rocket-6-months-after-accident-then-lands.html?intcmp=hplnws___

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2015-12-19 12:07:14 (2 comments; 1 reshares; 30 +1s)Open 

SpaceX Will Soon Launch Its Most Powerful Rocket Yet ... "Six months after a rocket exploded in June, SpaceX is on the verge of taking to the sky again—with a souped up Falcon 9 booster more powerful than anything the commercial spaceflight company has ever launched.

On Sunday, SpaceX is tentatively scheduled to launch a new Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The rocket will ferry 11 OG2 satellites into orbit for telecommunications company Orbcomm Inc. Whether the launch proceeds as scheduled is unclear at this point, as SpaceX has not yet completed the pre-launch static engine test fire expected to occur Thursday. The static fire involves briefly blasting the rocket’s nine first stage Merlin engines while bolted to the ground at Space Launch Complex 40.

SpaceX has already made several failed attempts to land Falcon 9 boosters on ocean barges thisyea... more »

SpaceX Will Soon Launch Its Most Powerful Rocket Yet ... "Six months after a rocket exploded in June, SpaceX is on the verge of taking to the sky again—with a souped up Falcon 9 booster more powerful than anything the commercial spaceflight company has ever launched.

On Sunday, SpaceX is tentatively scheduled to launch a new Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The rocket will ferry 11 OG2 satellites into orbit for telecommunications company Orbcomm Inc. Whether the launch proceeds as scheduled is unclear at this point, as SpaceX has not yet completed the pre-launch static engine test fire expected to occur Thursday. The static fire involves briefly blasting the rocket’s nine first stage Merlin engines while bolted to the ground at Space Launch Complex 40.

SpaceX has already made several failed attempts to land Falcon 9 boosters on ocean barges this year, as part of the company’s long-term goal of creating a reusable rocket system that would significantly reduce the cost of launching payloads into orbit.

The rocket company has been unusually tight-lipped about the details of the upcoming launch—including whether it’ll be attempting to land the upgraded Falcon 9 booster after ferrying its payload into orbit.

In November, Blue Origin stole a little of SpaceX’s reusable rocket thunder, by sending a New Shepherd rocket to the edge of space and successfully landing it back on solid turf—a first in the history of spaceflight. ..."

MORE: http://gizmodo.com/spacex-will-soon-launch-its-most-powerful-rocket-yet-1748722712___

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2015-12-19 12:06:14 (15 comments; 8 reshares; 91 +1s)Open 

SpaceX Will Soon Launch Its Most Powerful Rocket Yet ... "Six months after a rocket exploded in June, SpaceX is on the verge of taking to the sky again—with a souped up Falcon 9 booster more powerful than anything the commercial spaceflight company has ever launched.

On Sunday, SpaceX is tentatively scheduled to launch a new Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The rocket will ferry 11 OG2 satellites into orbit for telecommunications company Orbcomm Inc. Whether the launch proceeds as scheduled is unclear at this point, as SpaceX has not yet completed the pre-launch static engine test fire expected to occur Thursday. The static fire involves briefly blasting the rocket’s nine first stage Merlin engines while bolted to the ground at Space Launch Complex 40.

SpaceX has already made several failed attempts to land Falcon 9 boosters on ocean barges thisyea... more »

SpaceX Will Soon Launch Its Most Powerful Rocket Yet ... "Six months after a rocket exploded in June, SpaceX is on the verge of taking to the sky again—with a souped up Falcon 9 booster more powerful than anything the commercial spaceflight company has ever launched.

On Sunday, SpaceX is tentatively scheduled to launch a new Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The rocket will ferry 11 OG2 satellites into orbit for telecommunications company Orbcomm Inc. Whether the launch proceeds as scheduled is unclear at this point, as SpaceX has not yet completed the pre-launch static engine test fire expected to occur Thursday. The static fire involves briefly blasting the rocket’s nine first stage Merlin engines while bolted to the ground at Space Launch Complex 40.

SpaceX has already made several failed attempts to land Falcon 9 boosters on ocean barges this year, as part of the company’s long-term goal of creating a reusable rocket system that would significantly reduce the cost of launching payloads into orbit.

The rocket company has been unusually tight-lipped about the details of the upcoming launch—including whether it’ll be attempting to land the upgraded Falcon 9 booster after ferrying its payload into orbit.

In November, Blue Origin stole a little of SpaceX’s reusable rocket thunder, by sending a New Shepherd rocket to the edge of space and successfully landing it back on solid turf—a first in the history of spaceflight. ..."

MORE: http://gizmodo.com/spacex-will-soon-launch-its-most-powerful-rocket-yet-1748722712___

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2015-12-17 18:50:41 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 35 +1s)Open 

They left me alone in the conference room while they got paperwork together that should have been ready when I got there. They SHOULD have know I would get bored and take a selfie. It's all on their heads.

They left me alone in the conference room while they got paperwork together that should have been ready when I got there. They SHOULD have know I would get bored and take a selfie. It's all on their heads.___

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2015-12-16 15:41:03 (25 comments; 26 reshares; 251 +1s)Open 

The Mysterious Stone Columns Along Crowley Lake ... "After California’s Crowley Lake reservoir on the upper Owens River in southern Mono County was completed in 1941, strange column-like formations were spotted along the reservoir's eastern shore. These stone columns rose up to 20 feet tall, were ringed at intervals of one feet and were connected by high arches like an ancient Moorish temple. For millions of years these pillars were completely covered by soft rock and hidden from view, and would have remained so, if not for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Once the reservoir was created, the incessant pummeling of the lake's powerful waves eroded the more malleable rock at the base of the cliffs encasing these pillars, exposing them to the world. Even then, the columns were regarded as little more than curiosities until very recently in 2015, when geologists at theU... more »

The Mysterious Stone Columns Along Crowley Lake ... "After California’s Crowley Lake reservoir on the upper Owens River in southern Mono County was completed in 1941, strange column-like formations were spotted along the reservoir's eastern shore. These stone columns rose up to 20 feet tall, were ringed at intervals of one feet and were connected by high arches like an ancient Moorish temple. For millions of years these pillars were completely covered by soft rock and hidden from view, and would have remained so, if not for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Once the reservoir was created, the incessant pummeling of the lake's powerful waves eroded the more malleable rock at the base of the cliffs encasing these pillars, exposing them to the world. Even then, the columns were regarded as little more than curiosities until very recently in 2015, when geologists at the University of California, Berkeley, decided to conduct serious studies.

Using a slew of different methods and equipment, including X-ray analysis and electronic microscopes, geologists determined that the columns were created by frigid water from melting snow seeping down into hot volcanic ash that was spewed by a cataclysmic explosion 760,000 years ago. The details are a bit sketchy, but the researchers said that as the water boiled, it created evenly spaced convection cells similar to heat pipes. These convection pipes were literally bonded into place by minerals that were able to resist the corrosive force of the lake's waves.

Researchers estimate that there may be nearly 5,000 of these pillars, which appear in groups and vary widely in shape, size and color over an area of 4000 acres, with some of the columns standing as erect as towering pylons and sporting ringed apertures approximately a foot apart. Others are bent or leaning at various angles, while some are still half-submerged and is said to look like fossils to an untrained eye.

Using a slew of different methods and equipment, including X-ray analysis and electronic microscopes, geologists determined that the columns were created by frigid water from melting snow seeping down into hot volcanic ash that was spewed by a cataclysmic explosion 760,000 years ago. The details are a bit sketchy, but the researchers said that as the water boiled, it created evenly spaced convection cells similar to heat pipes. These convection pipes were literally bonded into place by minerals that were able to resist the corrosive force of the lake's waves.

Researchers estimate that there may be nearly 5,000 of these pillars, which appear in groups and vary widely in shape, size and color over an area of 4000 acres, with some of the columns standing as erect as towering pylons and sporting ringed apertures approximately a foot apart. Others are bent or leaning at various angles, while some are still half-submerged and is said to look like fossils to an untrained eye. ..."

MORE PHOTOS: http://www.amusingplanet.com/2015/12/the-mysterious-stone-columns-along.html___

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2015-12-16 15:37:14 (1 comments; 3 reshares; 20 +1s)Open 

The Black Eggs of Owakudani ... "Owakudani or “the Great Boiling Valley” in Hakone, Japan, is hardly the ideal tourist spot. It’s a large volcanic caldera formed around 3,000 years ago following a large eruption of Mount Hakone. Owakudani is still active with boiling pools of sulphur-rich water and huge vents spewing forth steam and volcanic fumes of hydrogen sulphide and sulphur dioxide. The entire area has a strong smell of rotten eggs, but it’s the eggs the tourists who visit the Great Boiling Valley are seeking for.

The Owakudani black eggs or “Kuro-tamago” are regular chicken eggs that are hard-boiled in the naturally hot water pools. The sulphur in the water renders the eggs’ shell black while also imparting a peculiar smell to it. Locals say that taking one can prolong one’s life by seven years. Take two, and you’ll get 14 extra years added to your life.
The eggs ... more »

The Black Eggs of Owakudani ... "Owakudani or “the Great Boiling Valley” in Hakone, Japan, is hardly the ideal tourist spot. It’s a large volcanic caldera formed around 3,000 years ago following a large eruption of Mount Hakone. Owakudani is still active with boiling pools of sulphur-rich water and huge vents spewing forth steam and volcanic fumes of hydrogen sulphide and sulphur dioxide. The entire area has a strong smell of rotten eggs, but it’s the eggs the tourists who visit the Great Boiling Valley are seeking for.

The Owakudani black eggs or “Kuro-tamago” are regular chicken eggs that are hard-boiled in the naturally hot water pools. The sulphur in the water renders the eggs’ shell black while also imparting a peculiar smell to it. Locals say that taking one can prolong one’s life by seven years. Take two, and you’ll get 14 extra years added to your life.

The eggs are boiled on top of a hill which visitors can reach by a kilometer long hike or by taking the Hakone Ropeway. From this vantage point one can have a magnificent view of Mt. Fuji, that lies next door. The eggs are eaten right there, besides the spring where they are boiled and sold. Small wooden tables are laid out in the open for visitors to peel the blackened shells and enjoy the soft sulphur tinged flesh inside. The black eggs are famous throughout Hakone and one need not always visit Owakudani to eat them. They are sold in many shops around the town in small bags of six for 500 Yen.

There is nothing wrong about eating sulphur boiled eggs, actually. If you think they are gross, you should see how the Chinese like their eggs. ..."

MORE PHOTOS: http://www.amusingplanet.com/2015/12/the-black-eggs-of-owakudani.html___

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2015-12-15 16:59:16 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 9 +1s)Open 

Next generation 'Air Dominance' fighter jet revealed ... Northrop Grumman says concept is known as NG Air Dominance and will
feature laser weapons capable of tracking multiple targets ... "Northrop Grumman has revealed a tantalising image of a new stealth 'superjet' capable of firing laser weapons.

The so called 'sixth generation fighter' is rumored to fly at supersonic speeds, although Northrop Grumman, who are developing it, say the specifications are still secret.

The stealth craft is expected to use advanced cooling systems to help disguise its laser systems.

Chris Hernandez, Northrop's vice president for research, technology and advanced design, told BreakingDefence the sixth-gem fighter will be long range because it won't have many bases to operate from overseas; it must 'carry a lot of weapons;' survivability... more »

Next generation 'Air Dominance' fighter jet revealed ... Northrop Grumman says concept is known as NG Air Dominance and will
feature laser weapons capable of tracking multiple targets ... "Northrop Grumman has revealed a tantalising image of a new stealth 'superjet' capable of firing laser weapons.

The so called 'sixth generation fighter' is rumored to fly at supersonic speeds, although Northrop Grumman, who are developing it, say the specifications are still secret.

The stealth craft is expected to use advanced cooling systems to help disguise its laser systems.

Chris Hernandez, Northrop's vice president for research, technology and advanced design, told BreakingDefence the sixth-gem fighter will be long range because it won't have many bases to operate from overseas; it must 'carry a lot of weapons;' survivability will be key.
What do those requirements and physics lead you to? 
'This looks a lot like a baby B-2 and this is really getting into our sweet spot,' Hernandez said.

Northrop Grumman has two design teams working on the new aircraft.

However, the firm would not discuss the plane's speed, saying that would have to wait for clearer direction from the Pentagon in the future.

It is expected to use laser weapons - and this has caused major problems around heat. 

As Northrop president for aerospace Tom Vice said, managing heat will be key.

'Add in all the aircraft's power and thrust systems, and you have an enormous heat challenge,' said Hernandez.

The craft is expected to be used in 2030. ..."

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3359934/The-stealth-superwing-generation-Air-Dominance-fighter-jet-built-laser-weapons-revealed.html___

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2015-12-15 15:10:55 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 12 +1s)Open 

Hole N' The Rock, Utah ... "Some dads build their kids tree houses, but in the treeless desert of southeastern Utah, Albert Christensen’s only possible alternative was a cave. A badass dad that he was, Christensen blasted the rocks off a sandstone cliff face near U.S. Highway 191, so that his sons could sleep at night. He continued drilling and expanding the cave for 12 years until it was large enough for both him and his wife to move in in 1952. The 5,000 square foot subterranean home is equipped with 14 rooms arranged around huge pillars, a fireplace with a 65-foot tall chimney and a deep bathtub built into the rock. Albert was building a 100-foot tall staircase when he died. The stairs would have cut up to the top of the rock, where his wife would have arranged a rock garden. After her husband’s death, Gladys continued to develop the property, opening a gift shop and giving tours ofher... more »

Hole N' The Rock, Utah ... "Some dads build their kids tree houses, but in the treeless desert of southeastern Utah, Albert Christensen’s only possible alternative was a cave. A badass dad that he was, Christensen blasted the rocks off a sandstone cliff face near U.S. Highway 191, so that his sons could sleep at night. He continued drilling and expanding the cave for 12 years until it was large enough for both him and his wife to move in in 1952. The 5,000 square foot subterranean home is equipped with 14 rooms arranged around huge pillars, a fireplace with a 65-foot tall chimney and a deep bathtub built into the rock. Albert was building a 100-foot tall staircase when he died. The stairs would have cut up to the top of the rock, where his wife would have arranged a rock garden. After her husband’s death, Gladys continued to develop the property, opening a gift shop and giving tours of her home until she passed away in 1974.

Today, the Christensen family home welcomes travelers along U.S. Highway 191 with huge painted white letters on the cliff face that scream "Hole N' The Rock". The sculpture of Franklin D. Roosevelt on the face of the rock above his home was also made by Albert. Most of the original furnishings, Alberta's paintings and Gladys's doll collection, along with Albert’s taxidermy specimens —two stuffed horses and a donkey— are left untouched as a memorial. Also displayed are many of the tools used to create this home. Albert and Gladys’ graves are located in an alcove a short walk from the entrance.

Hole N' The Rock was purchased by Erik and Wyndee Hansen from Gladys' son, Hub Davis, in 2000. They've added a trading post, an outdoor petting zoo, a giant cactus made of bowling balls, and a 2-story outhouse. ..."

MORE PHOTOS: http://www.amusingplanet.com/2015/12/hole-n-rock-utah.html___

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2015-12-15 14:58:35 (4 comments; 0 reshares; 44 +1s)Open 

Liftoff! New Space Station Crew Launch Includes a First for the UK ... by Sarah Lewin -- "Two experienced fliers and a space newbie — the first British astronaut to visit the International Space Station — launched spaceward on a Russian rocket today (Dec. 15) to begin a six-month science mission on the laboratory in orbit.

At 6:03 a.m. EST (1103 GMT) today, American astronaut Tim Kopra of NASA, British astronaut Tim Peake (of the European Space Agency) and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a 6-hour journey to the space station. Malenchenko, a veteran of six spaceflights (including trips to the station as well as to Russia's Mir space station), is commanding the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft. The crewmembers are part of Expedition 46 mission to the International Space Station, and will remain onboard for Expedition 47. ... more »

Liftoff! New Space Station Crew Launch Includes a First for the UK ... by Sarah Lewin -- "Two experienced fliers and a space newbie — the first British astronaut to visit the International Space Station — launched spaceward on a Russian rocket today (Dec. 15) to begin a six-month science mission on the laboratory in orbit.

At 6:03 a.m. EST (1103 GMT) today, American astronaut Tim Kopra of NASA, British astronaut Tim Peake (of the European Space Agency) and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a 6-hour journey to the space station. Malenchenko, a veteran of six spaceflights (including trips to the station as well as to Russia's Mir space station), is commanding the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft. The crewmembers are part of Expedition 46 mission to the International Space Station, and will remain onboard for Expedition 47.
"A flawless flight into orbit today," NASA spokesman Dan Hout said during live launch commentary.

When they arrive, they will join current space station commander and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov. Kelly and Kornienko are a few short months away from the end of their one-year space mission. When the trio departs in March, Kopra, a veteran of one previous space mission, will take over as commander.

The craft is expected to rendezvous and dock on the Russian segment at approximately 12:24 p.m. EST (1724 GMT). The hatches will open between the Soyuz and space station are expected to be opened by 2:25 p.m EST (1925 GMT). ..."

MORE: http://www.space.com/31375-british-astronaut-launches-space-station-crew.html___

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2015-12-15 14:58:18 (1 comments; 2 reshares; 8 +1s)Open 

Liftoff! New Space Station Crew Launch Includes a First for the UK ... by Sarah Lewin -- "Two experienced fliers and a space newbie — the first British astronaut to visit the International Space Station — launched spaceward on a Russian rocket today (Dec. 15) to begin a six-month science mission on the laboratory in orbit.

At 6:03 a.m. EST (1103 GMT) today, American astronaut Tim Kopra of NASA, British astronaut Tim Peake (of the European Space Agency) and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a 6-hour journey to the space station. Malenchenko, a veteran of six spaceflights (including trips to the station as well as to Russia's Mir space station), is commanding the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft. The crewmembers are part of Expedition 46 mission to the International Space Station, and will remain onboard for Expedition 47. ... more »

Liftoff! New Space Station Crew Launch Includes a First for the UK ... by Sarah Lewin -- "Two experienced fliers and a space newbie — the first British astronaut to visit the International Space Station — launched spaceward on a Russian rocket today (Dec. 15) to begin a six-month science mission on the laboratory in orbit.

At 6:03 a.m. EST (1103 GMT) today, American astronaut Tim Kopra of NASA, British astronaut Tim Peake (of the European Space Agency) and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a 6-hour journey to the space station. Malenchenko, a veteran of six spaceflights (including trips to the station as well as to Russia's Mir space station), is commanding the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft. The crewmembers are part of Expedition 46 mission to the International Space Station, and will remain onboard for Expedition 47.
"A flawless flight into orbit today," NASA spokesman Dan Hout said during live launch commentary.

When they arrive, they will join current space station commander and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov. Kelly and Kornienko are a few short months away from the end of their one-year space mission. When the trio departs in March, Kopra, a veteran of one previous space mission, will take over as commander.

The craft is expected to rendezvous and dock on the Russian segment at approximately 12:24 p.m. EST (1724 GMT). The hatches will open between the Soyuz and space station are expected to be opened by 2:25 p.m EST (1925 GMT). ..."

MORE: http://www.space.com/31375-british-astronaut-launches-space-station-crew.html___

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2015-12-15 14:50:12 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 8 +1s)Open 

The Accidental Bombing of Boise City ... "The United States Army has its fair share of embarrassments, like losing nuclear bombs and accidentally dropping one on the backyard of a South Carolina home.  [Actually, losing the nuke was the Air Force, long after the Army Air Corps had been spun out into a separate service.] One such incident, involving conventional bombs, occurred on the night of July 5, 1943. A 10-member crew had taken off from the Dalhart Army Air Base in Texas in four B-17 bombers for a nighttime practice bomb run. They were supposed to proceed to Conlen, also in Texas, 20 miles to the northeast where the target range was located. The square target was to be marked by four lights at each corner creating the illusion of an 'X'. The mission was supposed to be routine, but somehow the young, inexperienced navigator, took the formation 40 miles north to Boise City in... more »

The Accidental Bombing of Boise City ... "The United States Army has its fair share of embarrassments, like losing nuclear bombs and accidentally dropping one on the backyard of a South Carolina home.  [Actually, losing the nuke was the Air Force, long after the Army Air Corps had been spun out into a separate service.] One such incident, involving conventional bombs, occurred on the night of July 5, 1943. A 10-member crew had taken off from the Dalhart Army Air Base in Texas in four B-17 bombers for a nighttime practice bomb run. They were supposed to proceed to Conlen, also in Texas, 20 miles to the northeast where the target range was located. The square target was to be marked by four lights at each corner creating the illusion of an 'X'. The mission was supposed to be routine, but somehow the young, inexperienced navigator, took the formation 40 miles north to Boise City in Oklahoma instead.

The four B-17 bombers reached Boise City shortly before half past midnight. By then most of the 1,200 residents of the town had already gone to bed. Most of the lights of the small town had been shut off. Only the lights surrounding the Cimarron County Courthouse was glowing. Once the bomb crew saw the four lights around the courthouse, they believed that they had reached their target.

The first bomb thundered through the roof of a garage and exploded, creating a four-foot deep hole in the floor. The town butcher Hurlie Reed and his wife Hazel, who were sleeping at that time, were jolted out of their bed by the loud explosion. They hurried outside and watched in stupefaction and horror as the airplane swept around the sky in a wide circle and came again for the second drop.

The second bomb fell a foot short of the Baptist church, breaking out several windows and creating another crater three feet deep. The third bomb struck between the sidewalk and curb, and by sheer luck, missed a gasoline tanker. The fourth bomb also came narrowly close to striking a parked fuel transport truck.

The county sheriff knew immediately that Dalhart trainees had somehow gotten off course. He raced down the street to the telephone office and began calling the base. After the crew dropped three bombs, Dalhart tower called the plane’s radio operator and asked him to check with the navigator and bombardier to see if they knew where they were. His colleagues replied that they were positive. Several minutes of confusion ensued with Dalhart tower insisting that the crew was on the wrong target.

Finally, an employee of the electric company, realizing where the crew had erred, shut down the power engulfing the entire town in darkness. Up above, the B-17 officers thought they had hit the main switch when the lights went out. In any case, the bombing came to an end but not before the misguided bomber crew had dropped six 100-pound bombs over the stupefied townsfolk. Fortunately, the bombs were specially designed for practice and were filled with only 4 pounds of explosive and 96 pounds of sand. Although they made plenty of noise and left craters all over the town, no significant damage was made. Incidentally, none of them hit the courthouse the rookies were targeting.

The blundering crew were hurriedly called back to Dalhart and an investigation was held. The plane’s navigator was sacked the next morning, while the rest of the crew were given the choice of heading directly into combat or facing court martial. The crew chose combat. All of them survived the war and went on to become one of America's most highly decorated outfits in World War II. Less than a year after the Boise City debacle, the same crew members were chosen to lead 800 planes on a daylight bombing raid of Berlin in March 1944.

Fifty years after the incident, bemused Boise City residents erected, or rather dug out, a memorial consisting of a concrete replica of a crater with a real WW2-era 100-pound bomb sticking out of it. On the memorial’s dedication ceremony all surviving crew members of the ill-fated training mission were invited. None of them showed up. They were still too embarrassed. ..."

MORE PHOTOS: http://www.amusingplanet.com/2015/12/the-accidental-bombing-of-boise-city.html___

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2015-12-14 18:54:12 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 2 +1s)Open 

Have you heard? New studies have been looking into the mystery behind the bright spots on dwarf planet Ceres. See what they’ve learned: http://nasa.tumblr.com/post/134943136399/what-are-the-bright-spots-on-ceres

Have you heard? New studies have been looking into the mystery behind the bright spots on dwarf planet Ceres. See what they’ve learned: http://nasa.tumblr.com/post/134943136399/what-are-the-bright-spots-on-ceres___

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2015-12-13 15:46:47 (1 comments; 6 reshares; 17 +1s)Open 

The World’s Largest Pipe Organ at Boardwalk Hall ... "he historic Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, is the city’s most important convention center. All big events in Atlantic City are held there. The Boardwalk Hall has held sporting events (boxing, ice hokey, basketball, soccer, wrestling, figure skating, etc.), music concerts (featuring The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, and Lady Gaga, to name a few), political rallies and is also the home of the Miss America Pageant. This self-contained entertainment facility occupies 7 acres of land and is equipped with its own direct electric power station, radio station, kitchens and telephone system. When the hall was opened in 1929, it was the largest enclosed free span arch in the world with trusses spanning 310 feet in width, a floor to ceiling height of 137 feet and a total interior length of 456 feet. Building the hall was aninc... more »

The World’s Largest Pipe Organ at Boardwalk Hall ... "he historic Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, is the city’s most important convention center. All big events in Atlantic City are held there. The Boardwalk Hall has held sporting events (boxing, ice hokey, basketball, soccer, wrestling, figure skating, etc.), music concerts (featuring The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, and Lady Gaga, to name a few), political rallies and is also the home of the Miss America Pageant. This self-contained entertainment facility occupies 7 acres of land and is equipped with its own direct electric power station, radio station, kitchens and telephone system. When the hall was opened in 1929, it was the largest enclosed free span arch in the world with trusses spanning 310 feet in width, a floor to ceiling height of 137 feet and a total interior length of 456 feet. Building the hall was an incredible feat of engineering.

At the time the building was constructed, organs were provided as standard stage equipment for any entertainment facility, especially to accompany motion pictures because the technology for sound film had not arrived yet. In those times, an average theater could accommodate 2,000 to 3,000 people. But Boardwalk Hall’s original seating capacity was 42,000. The enclosed space was almost 5.5 million cubic feet. To fill this immense volume of air with music represented an immense engineering and musical challenge.
The task of building the organ was given to Midmer-Losh Inc. of Merrick, Long Island, New York. What resulted was a giant of an instrument that broke every record in the 2,500 plus year history of the instrument. The Boardwalk Hall is now the proud owner of the largest pipe organ in the world, which is also the largest and the most powerful musical instrument on earth. Made of a staggering 33,000 pipes, this mammoth instrument can thunder into the 5.5 million cubic feet of air space in the main arena with a volume six times that of the loudest train whistle. To generate such ear-splitting sound, the organ utilizes 600 horsepower electric blowers that are capable of blowing 36,400 cubic feet of air per minute through the pipes, generating wind pressure up to 100 inches, or about 30 times that of a normal organ. The organ's main console is also the biggest in the world, with more than 1,200 stop tabs, and the only organ to have seven keyboards (called manuals). The organ took three years to build and was so large that it had to be constructed within the building. The tallest pipe measures 64 feet. It would have been impossible to construct the pipes elsewhere and move them into the building.

Unfortunately, the organ has not functioned fully since the great Atlantic hurricane of 1944, although it still continued to play for conventions, such as the Miss America Pageant, political rallies and sports events. Extended years of disuse had deteriorated the organ so much that only 15-20% of the instrument was playable. The organ was further damaged when careless workmen renovating the hall during 2000-2001 removed, bent and crushed several pipes. The organ is now undergoing restoration. The restoration work is expected to take another 8 years at least. ..."

MORE: http://www.amusingplanet.com/2015/12/the-worlds-largest-pipe-organ-at.html___

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2015-12-13 15:37:13 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 6 +1s)Open 

Wuzhen: The Ancient Chinese Water Town ... "Located in the center of the six ancient water towns south of Yangtze River, in the Chinese province of Zhejiang, Wuzhen is the most beautiful with over thirteen hundred years of history displayed through its ancient stone bridges, stone pathways and delicate wood carvings. The town lies on the Hangzhou-Jiaxing-Huzhou Alluvial Plain on the banks of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, an elaborate waterway built and expanded over a thousand years to facilitate exchange of produced goods and culture between the northern and southern regions of eastern China, before the invention of railroads. The river and canals that crisscross across the town are flanked with ancient residential houses, workshops and shops, built on raised platforms of wood and stone pillars. Most of these riverside houses were built during the 14th century Ming.

A UNESCO... more »

Wuzhen: The Ancient Chinese Water Town ... "Located in the center of the six ancient water towns south of Yangtze River, in the Chinese province of Zhejiang, Wuzhen is the most beautiful with over thirteen hundred years of history displayed through its ancient stone bridges, stone pathways and delicate wood carvings. The town lies on the Hangzhou-Jiaxing-Huzhou Alluvial Plain on the banks of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, an elaborate waterway built and expanded over a thousand years to facilitate exchange of produced goods and culture between the northern and southern regions of eastern China, before the invention of railroads. The river and canals that crisscross across the town are flanked with ancient residential houses, workshops and shops, built on raised platforms of wood and stone pillars. Most of these riverside houses were built during the 14th century Ming.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Wuzhen was established in the late 9th century, although the first settlers here were the New Stone Age people, 7,000 years ago. Over more than 1,000 years, Wuzhen has never changed its name, water system or lifestyle. The traditional buildings, railings and arch bridges, arched gates across the street, imposing dwellings and spacious courtyards, river banks and verandas are all well preserved. Within the town, there are now more than 40 hectares of late 19th century buildings, and more than 100 ancient stone bridges of different shapes.

The numerous canals that run across Wuzhen divide the town into four scenic sections, which are respectively called as Dongzha, Nanzha, Xizha, and Beizha by the locals. Tourists prefer to visit Dongzha and Xizha because they are relatively developed. Dongzha maintains the basic original layout while Xizha has been reconstructed to reproduce the ancient appearance of the water town. Xizha has few local residents and has instead given over to accommodation for tourists.

Wuzhen came recently in the limelight when it was chosen to host the World Internet Conference. The second edition of the conference will also be held here and is scheduled to begin on December 16. ..."

MORE: http://www.amusingplanet.com/2015/12/wuzhen-ancient-chinese-water-town.html___

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2015-12-13 15:30:19 (5 comments; 5 reshares; 58 +1s)Open 

US Air Force's X-37B Space Plane Wings Past 200 Days in Orbit ... "um's the word: The U.S. Air Force's secretive X-37B space plane has winged its way past the 200 day mark, carrying out a classified agenda for the American military.

The unmanned X-37B space plane rocketed into orbit on May 20 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launching from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station back. The reusable robotic space plane mission, also dubbed OTV-4 (short for Orbital Test Vehicle-4), is the fourth spacecraft of its kind for the U.S. Air Force.

OTV-4 also marks the second flight of the second X-37B vehicle built for the Air Force by Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems. Only two reusable X-37B vehicles have been confirmed as constituting the fleet. ..."

MORE: http://www.space.com/31308-air-force-space-plane-200-days-orbit.html

US Air Force's X-37B Space Plane Wings Past 200 Days in Orbit ... "um's the word: The U.S. Air Force's secretive X-37B space plane has winged its way past the 200 day mark, carrying out a classified agenda for the American military.

The unmanned X-37B space plane rocketed into orbit on May 20 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launching from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station back. The reusable robotic space plane mission, also dubbed OTV-4 (short for Orbital Test Vehicle-4), is the fourth spacecraft of its kind for the U.S. Air Force.

OTV-4 also marks the second flight of the second X-37B vehicle built for the Air Force by Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems. Only two reusable X-37B vehicles have been confirmed as constituting the fleet. ..."

MORE: http://www.space.com/31308-air-force-space-plane-200-days-orbit.html___

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2015-12-13 15:29:57 (11 comments; 15 reshares; 84 +1s)Open 

US Air Force's X-37B Space Plane Wings Past 200 Days in Orbit ... "um's the word: The U.S. Air Force's secretive X-37B space plane has winged its way past the 200 day mark, carrying out a classified agenda for the American military.

The unmanned X-37B space plane rocketed into orbit on May 20 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launching from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station back. The reusable robotic space plane mission, also dubbed OTV-4 (short for Orbital Test Vehicle-4), is the fourth spacecraft of its kind for the U.S. Air Force.

OTV-4 also marks the second flight of the second X-37B vehicle built for the Air Force by Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems. Only two reusable X-37B vehicles have been confirmed as constituting the fleet. ..."

MORE: http://www.space.com/31308-air-force-space-plane-200-days-orbit.html

US Air Force's X-37B Space Plane Wings Past 200 Days in Orbit ... "um's the word: The U.S. Air Force's secretive X-37B space plane has winged its way past the 200 day mark, carrying out a classified agenda for the American military.

The unmanned X-37B space plane rocketed into orbit on May 20 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launching from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station back. The reusable robotic space plane mission, also dubbed OTV-4 (short for Orbital Test Vehicle-4), is the fourth spacecraft of its kind for the U.S. Air Force.

OTV-4 also marks the second flight of the second X-37B vehicle built for the Air Force by Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems. Only two reusable X-37B vehicles have been confirmed as constituting the fleet. ..."

MORE: http://www.space.com/31308-air-force-space-plane-200-days-orbit.html___

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2015-12-13 13:47:06 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 10 +1s)Open 

A Second Mona Lisa? ... Experts examine claims a version of the da Vinci masterpiece is held in a private Russian collection ... "Art experts are examining a painting held in a private collection in St Petersburg they believe might be a second version of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

And leading Mona Lisa scholars say the similarities in colours, which are being examined using infra-red technology, hold the key to determining if the Russian painting is in fact another da Vinci.

'There are many indicators pointing to the Tuscan artistic genius,' research coordinator Silvano Vinceti told ANSA.

'But of course it's only a hypothesis.'

There are numerous theories that da Vinci painted more than one version and there are conflicting dates about when the painting was commissioned and finished.

New art analysis software,... more »

A Second Mona Lisa? ... Experts examine claims a version of the da Vinci masterpiece is held in a private Russian collection ... "Art experts are examining a painting held in a private collection in St Petersburg they believe might be a second version of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

And leading Mona Lisa scholars say the similarities in colours, which are being examined using infra-red technology, hold the key to determining if the Russian painting is in fact another da Vinci.

'There are many indicators pointing to the Tuscan artistic genius,' research coordinator Silvano Vinceti told ANSA.

'But of course it's only a hypothesis.'

There are numerous theories that da Vinci painted more than one version and there are conflicting dates about when the painting was commissioned and finished.

New art analysis software, developed by leading da Vinci scholar Carlo Pedretti, has shown that the same artist may have created both the Mona Lisa and the painting in Russia.

'When comparing the preparatory study from the Louvre and the Russian painting, the overlap between the two was clear to see,' Mr Pedretti said.

'[It's clear from] the columns, present in the Russian painting and in the preparatory study, but also in the perfect resemblance between the upper lip in the preparatory study, the Russian painting and the Mona Lisa in the Louvre.'

Expert restorer of da Vinci's work Paulo De Serra told Italian press that there is a 'possibility the painting could be the work of Leonardo or one of his pupils'. ..."

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3357224/Is-SECOND-Mona-Lisa-Experts-examine-claims-version-da-Vinci-masterpiece-held-private-Russian-collection.html#ixzz3uCzBvWVR
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2015-12-11 15:36:15 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 7 +1s)Open 

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2015-12-10 17:09:47 (1 comments; 1 reshares; 9 +1s)Open 

Google’s new quantum computer is '100 million times faster than your PC' ... Google and Nasa have been working on a lightning-fast quantum computer that is 3,600 times faster than a supercomputer at solving complex problems ... "Has Google won the race to build the world’s first commercial quantum computer?

The technology company’s artificial intelligence lab believe they may finally have proof that their opinion-dividing quantum computer actually works.
Google and Nasa announced they were collaborating on the D-Wave X2 quantum computer, which they say is 100 million times faster than a conventional computer chip, in 2013. It can answer certain algorithms in seconds rather than years.

Google director of engineering, Hartmut Neven, said: “For a specific, carefully crafted proof-of-concept problem we achieve a 100-million-fold speed-up.”

In ablog post... more »

Google’s new quantum computer is '100 million times faster than your PC' ... Google and Nasa have been working on a lightning-fast quantum computer that is 3,600 times faster than a supercomputer at solving complex problems ... "Has Google won the race to build the world’s first commercial quantum computer?

The technology company’s artificial intelligence lab believe they may finally have proof that their opinion-dividing quantum computer actually works.
Google and Nasa announced they were collaborating on the D-Wave X2 quantum computer, which they say is 100 million times faster than a conventional computer chip, in 2013. It can answer certain algorithms in seconds rather than years.

Google director of engineering, Hartmut Neven, said: “For a specific, carefully crafted proof-of-concept problem we achieve a 100-million-fold speed-up.”

In a blog post he added: “We found that for problem instances involving nearly 1,000 binary variables, quantum annealing significantly outperforms its classical counterpart, simulated annealing. It is more than 108 times faster than simulated annealing running on a single core.

“We also compared the quantum hardware to another algorithm called Quantum Monte Carlo. This is a method designed to emulate the behaviour of quantum systems, but it runs on conventional processors.

“While the scaling with size between these two methods is comparable, they are again separated by a large factor sometimes as high as 108.”

However, Matthias Troyer of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich said he wasn’t convinced.
“You need to read the fine print,” he told New Scientist. “This is 108 times faster than some specific classical algorithm on problems designed to be very hard for that algorithm but easy for D-Wave.”
Hemet does admit in his blog post that other algorithms can currently beat D-wave but says Google expect “those methods will soon become ineffective”. ..."

MORE: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/12042781/Google-D-Wave-quantum-computer-is-100-million-times-faster-than-your-PC.html___

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2015-12-09 19:08:36 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 11 +1s)Open 

Cheap Tennessee Gas ... I was over in Greeneville TN on business today. When I saw the$170.9 for gas (it's about 20 cents higher in the Asheville area) I hit the brakes. As luck would have it, I was under a quarter of a tank, so got a cheap fill up!

Cheap Tennessee Gas ... I was over in Greeneville TN on business today. When I saw the$170.9 for gas (it's about 20 cents higher in the Asheville area) I hit the brakes. As luck would have it, I was under a quarter of a tank, so got a cheap fill up!___

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2015-12-09 03:32:25 (0 comments; 2 reshares; 16 +1s)Open 

LIZZIE SHOWS OFF My best animation to date -- created using Adobe Fuse, Photoshop, and Adobe Premiere. Music by Dannosongs.

LIZZIE SHOWS OFF My best animation to date -- created using Adobe Fuse, Photoshop, and Adobe Premiere. Music by Dannosongs.___

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2015-12-08 16:19:41 (3 comments; 2 reshares; 16 +1s)Open 

Huge Thunderbird ... friend of mine visited in this beautifully restored 1972 Thunderbird. Never knew they made them that big! Nice car, though.

Huge Thunderbird ... friend of mine visited in this beautifully restored 1972 Thunderbird. Never knew they made them that big! Nice car, though.___

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2015-12-07 17:16:06 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 21 +1s)Open 

The Marina Towers Observatory in Swansea is Shaped Like a Spaceship ... "This peculiar shaped building resembling a spaceship on its launch pad is located at the end of the promenade in the Maritime Quarter of Swansea, on the coast of southern Wales. This building was once an observatory called the Marina Towers Observatory, also known as the Swansea Observatory and Tower of the Ecliptic, of the Swansea Astronomical Society, but is now abandoned. The sea-facing white tower with a domed roof contained the actual observatory, and once housed the largest optical astronomical telescope in Wales. The cylindrical orange tower on the north is the access tower and contains a spiral staircase with open walkways linking the structures at each upper level.

The Marina Towers Observatory was commissioned and built by the Swansea City Council in 1988. It was leased to the Swansea Astronomical... more »

The Marina Towers Observatory in Swansea is Shaped Like a Spaceship ... "This peculiar shaped building resembling a spaceship on its launch pad is located at the end of the promenade in the Maritime Quarter of Swansea, on the coast of southern Wales. This building was once an observatory called the Marina Towers Observatory, also known as the Swansea Observatory and Tower of the Ecliptic, of the Swansea Astronomical Society, but is now abandoned. The sea-facing white tower with a domed roof contained the actual observatory, and once housed the largest optical astronomical telescope in Wales. The cylindrical orange tower on the north is the access tower and contains a spiral staircase with open walkways linking the structures at each upper level.

The Marina Towers Observatory was commissioned and built by the Swansea City Council in 1988. It was leased to the Swansea Astronomical Society who had the observatory fitted with a fine 20" Shafer-Maksutov telescope, which was the largest in Wales and the second largest of its kind in the world. The telescope rotated about a 15-feet diameter fiberglass dome of the observatory, which was placed on a trough of saline water and oil enabling the dome to be rotated effortlessly with a single finger.

The building’s unique shape is due to the intention of the builders to keep the staircase separate from the observatory building to prevent vibration, from people using the staircase, to be transferred to the observatory building. The bridges are connected to the observatory building but physically detached from the staircase building by a small gap.

The staircase building houses a model of the solar system suspended from a wire in the center stairwell. Each step on the stairwell represents a distance of 46 million miles on the journey from the sun’s disk at the ground level to Pluto at the entrance to the observatory dome at the top of the building, which is capped by a magnificent stained glass roof designed by internationally-renowned artist David Pearl. Information on each of the planet is engraved on the wall plats and can be read as one ascended the staircase.

The Marina Towers Observatory was officially opened on 24 September 1993, and the building was named “The Tower of the Ecliptic”. The observatory building housed a craft workshop, exhibition space, lecture halls and a public viewing gallery. The Swansea Astronomical Society ran public events and observation sessions, and the tower became a focal point of educational activity and opportunity for Swansea’s residents. Unfortunately, when the City Council increased rent of the building in 2009, the Astronomical Society packed their bags and left.

In 2013, local businessman Noah Redfern bought the property with the intention of turning it into a tourist attraction. The plan is to turn the ground floor and first floor of the observatory into a café, while the top two floors will be used for holiday accommodation. The building will also be extended as part of the renovation.

MORE: The Marina Towers Observatory was officially opened on 24 September 1993, and the building was named “The Tower of the Ecliptic”. The observatory building housed a craft workshop, exhibition space, lecture halls and a public viewing gallery. The Swansea Astronomical Society ran public events and observation sessions, and the tower became a focal point of educational activity and opportunity for Swansea’s residents. Unfortunately, when the City Council increased rent of the building in 2009, the Astronomical Society packed their bags and left.

In 2013, local businessman Noah Redfern bought the property with the intention of turning it into a tourist attraction. The plan is to turn the ground floor and first floor of the observatory into a café, while the top two floors will be used for holiday accommodation. The building will also be extended as part of the renovation.

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2015-12-07 17:15:34 (1 comments; 2 reshares; 9 +1s)Open 

The Marina Towers Observatory in Swansea is Shaped Like a Spaceship ... "This peculiar shaped building resembling a spaceship on its launch pad is located at the end of the promenade in the Maritime Quarter of Swansea, on the coast of southern Wales. This building was once an observatory called the Marina Towers Observatory, also known as the Swansea Observatory and Tower of the Ecliptic, of the Swansea Astronomical Society, but is now abandoned. The sea-facing white tower with a domed roof contained the actual observatory, and once housed the largest optical astronomical telescope in Wales. The cylindrical orange tower on the north is the access tower and contains a spiral staircase with open walkways linking the structures at each upper level.

The Marina Towers Observatory was commissioned and built by the Swansea City Council in 1988. It was leased to the Swansea Astronomical... more »

The Marina Towers Observatory in Swansea is Shaped Like a Spaceship ... "This peculiar shaped building resembling a spaceship on its launch pad is located at the end of the promenade in the Maritime Quarter of Swansea, on the coast of southern Wales. This building was once an observatory called the Marina Towers Observatory, also known as the Swansea Observatory and Tower of the Ecliptic, of the Swansea Astronomical Society, but is now abandoned. The sea-facing white tower with a domed roof contained the actual observatory, and once housed the largest optical astronomical telescope in Wales. The cylindrical orange tower on the north is the access tower and contains a spiral staircase with open walkways linking the structures at each upper level.

The Marina Towers Observatory was commissioned and built by the Swansea City Council in 1988. It was leased to the Swansea Astronomical Society who had the observatory fitted with a fine 20" Shafer-Maksutov telescope, which was the largest in Wales and the second largest of its kind in the world. The telescope rotated about a 15-feet diameter fiberglass dome of the observatory, which was placed on a trough of saline water and oil enabling the dome to be rotated effortlessly with a single finger.

The building’s unique shape is due to the intention of the builders to keep the staircase separate from the observatory building to prevent vibration, from people using the staircase, to be transferred to the observatory building. The bridges are connected to the observatory building but physically detached from the staircase building by a small gap.

The staircase building houses a model of the solar system suspended from a wire in the center stairwell. Each step on the stairwell represents a distance of 46 million miles on the journey from the sun’s disk at the ground level to Pluto at the entrance to the observatory dome at the top of the building, which is capped by a magnificent stained glass roof designed by internationally-renowned artist David Pearl. Information on each of the planet is engraved on the wall plats and can be read as one ascended the staircase.

The Marina Towers Observatory was officially opened on 24 September 1993, and the building was named “The Tower of the Ecliptic”. The observatory building housed a craft workshop, exhibition space, lecture halls and a public viewing gallery. The Swansea Astronomical Society ran public events and observation sessions, and the tower became a focal point of educational activity and opportunity for Swansea’s residents. Unfortunately, when the City Council increased rent of the building in 2009, the Astronomical Society packed their bags and left.

In 2013, local businessman Noah Redfern bought the property with the intention of turning it into a tourist attraction. The plan is to turn the ground floor and first floor of the observatory into a café, while the top two floors will be used for holiday accommodation. The building will also be extended as part of the renovation.

MORE: The Marina Towers Observatory was officially opened on 24 September 1993, and the building was named “The Tower of the Ecliptic”. The observatory building housed a craft workshop, exhibition space, lecture halls and a public viewing gallery. The Swansea Astronomical Society ran public events and observation sessions, and the tower became a focal point of educational activity and opportunity for Swansea’s residents. Unfortunately, when the City Council increased rent of the building in 2009, the Astronomical Society packed their bags and left.

In 2013, local businessman Noah Redfern bought the property with the intention of turning it into a tourist attraction. The plan is to turn the ground floor and first floor of the observatory into a café, while the top two floors will be used for holiday accommodation. The building will also be extended as part of the renovation.

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2015-12-07 17:11:59 (1 comments; 5 reshares; 15 +1s)Open 

The World’s Oldest Bird is 64, And She Just Laid an Egg ... "Meet Wisdom, the world’s oldest known banded bird in the wild. She is 64 years old. Wisdom is a Laysan albatross, a large seabird that ranges across the North Pacific and have unusually long lives, but not as long as Wisdom’s. Most Laysan albatrosses are typically dead by forty.

Wisdom was first banded in 1956 by noted author and now retired senior scientist at the United States Geological Survey, Chandler Robbins. Many birds lose their bands before they can be replaced. Wisdom’s bands, however, were continuously replaced and because of meticulous record keeping associated with bird banding, ornithologists can verify that she is at least 64 years old, but she could be older. Last month, she returned to Midway Atoll in north-west of Hawaii, after exactly one year, with her current partner Mr. Goo, with whom she hasbeen go... more »

The World’s Oldest Bird is 64, And She Just Laid an Egg ... "Meet Wisdom, the world’s oldest known banded bird in the wild. She is 64 years old. Wisdom is a Laysan albatross, a large seabird that ranges across the North Pacific and have unusually long lives, but not as long as Wisdom’s. Most Laysan albatrosses are typically dead by forty.

Wisdom was first banded in 1956 by noted author and now retired senior scientist at the United States Geological Survey, Chandler Robbins. Many birds lose their bands before they can be replaced. Wisdom’s bands, however, were continuously replaced and because of meticulous record keeping associated with bird banding, ornithologists can verify that she is at least 64 years old, but she could be older. Last month, she returned to Midway Atoll in north-west of Hawaii, after exactly one year, with her current partner Mr. Goo, with whom she has been going out since at least December 2012. The Midway Islands are home to 99.7% of the albatross population.

Shortly after her arrival, Wisdom laid an egg.

Laysan albatrosses typically mate for life, and Wisdom has had more than one mate. Researchers estimate that Wisdom has raised as many as 36 chicks in her lifetime. Laying only one egg per year, a breeding albatross and their mate will spend approximately six months rearing and feeding their young. When not tending to their chicks, albatross forage hundreds of miles out at sea periodically returning with meals of squid or flying fish eggs. It’s thought that Wisdom has clocked over six million ocean miles of flight time. That’s more than fifteen times the distance between the earth and the moon.

“In the face of dramatic seabird population decreases worldwide –70% drop since the 1950’s when Wisdom was first banded–Wisdom has become a symbol of hope and inspiration,” said Refuge Manager, Dan Clark.” We are a part of the fate of Wisdom and it is gratifying to see her return because of the decades of hard work conducted to manage and protect albatross nesting habitat.”

“It is very humbling to think that she has been visiting Midway for at least 64 years,” said Deputy Refuge Manager, Bret Wolfe. “Navy sailors and their families likely walked by her not knowing she could possibly be rearing a chick over 50 years later. She represents a connection to Midway’s past as well as embodying our hope for the future.”

MORE: http://www.amusingplanet.com/2015/12/the-worlds-oldest-bird-is-64-and-she.html___

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2015-12-07 17:07:38 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 10 +1s)Open 

The Crack in The Ground ... "The bluntly named “Crack in the Ground” is a volcanic fissure over two miles long and up to 70 feet deep in Lake County, central Oregon, United States. The fissure stretches diagonally from the southwest edge of the Four Craters Lava Field to the north shoreline of the prehistoric Christmas Lake. About a thousand years ago, the eruption of the Four Craters Lava and the subsequent lava flow caused the basalt rocks to crack, forming the “Crack in the Ground” or “The Crack”, as it called by the locals. With a width of just 10-15 feet at its widest, it looks like a slot canyon, even though its origin is volcanic.

Normally, fissures like this one are filled in with soil and rock by the processes of erosion and sedimentation, but because Crack in the Ground is located in such an arid region, very little filling has occurred, although at some placesrocks has s... more »

The Crack in The Ground ... "The bluntly named “Crack in the Ground” is a volcanic fissure over two miles long and up to 70 feet deep in Lake County, central Oregon, United States. The fissure stretches diagonally from the southwest edge of the Four Craters Lava Field to the north shoreline of the prehistoric Christmas Lake. About a thousand years ago, the eruption of the Four Craters Lava and the subsequent lava flow caused the basalt rocks to crack, forming the “Crack in the Ground” or “The Crack”, as it called by the locals. With a width of just 10-15 feet at its widest, it looks like a slot canyon, even though its origin is volcanic.

Normally, fissures like this one are filled in with soil and rock by the processes of erosion and sedimentation, but because Crack in the Ground is located in such an arid region, very little filling has occurred, although at some places rocks has sloughed off the walls and sand has blown or washed in to fill the bottom. At several places the walls have slumped, thus bridging the gap and allowing access to the deeper parts of the fissure. Other than some filling, the crack is relatively fresh and exists today nearly as it did shortly after its formation.

The bottom of the crack is about twenty degrees cooler than the surface, and homesteaders in the area used to go there to hold picnics. Sometimes in the deeper, more cavernous places where cold air is trapped, winter ice can still be found during the summer. The locals used to collect the ice to make ice cream.

Today, the entire length of the fissure can be hiked and there is an established trail along the fissure's bottom.

MORE: http://www.amusingplanet.com/2015/12/the-crack-in-ground-lake-county.html___

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