My Bookmarks on Science & Technology, Climate Change, Astrobiology, Genetics, Evolution

Changes measured by the Swarm satellite over the past 6 months shows that Earth’s magnetic field is changing. Shades of red show areas where it is strengthening, and shades of blue show areas that are weakening. Credit: ESA/DTU

“Earth’s magnetic field, which protects the planet from huge blasts of deadly solar radiation, has been weakening over the past six months, according to data collected by a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite array called Swarm.

The biggest weak spots in the magnetic field — which extends 370,000 miles (600,000 kilometers) above the planet’s surface — have sprung up over the Western Hemisphere, while the field has strengthened over areas like the southern Indian Ocean, according to the magnetometers onboard the Swarm satellites — three separate satellites floating in tandem.

The scientists who conducted the study are still unsure why the magnetic field is weakening, but one likely reason is that Earth’s magnetic poles are getting ready to flip, said Rune Floberghagen, the ESA’s Swarm mission manager. …”Such a flip is not instantaneous, but would take many hundred if not a few thousand years,” Floberghagen told Live Science. “They have happened many times in the past.””

July 8, 2014

“Climate change may be far worse than scientists thought, causing global temperatures to rise by at least 4 degrees Celsius by 2100, or about 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal Nature, takes a fresh look at clouds’ effect on the planet, according to a report by The Guardian. The research found that as the planet heats, fewer sunlight-reflecting clouds form, causing temperatures to rise further in an upward spiral.

That number is double what many governments agree is the threshold for dangerous warming. Aside from dramatic environmental shifts like melting sea ice, many of the ills of the modern world — starvation, poverty, war and disease — are likely to get worse as the planet warms.

“4C would likely be catastrophic rather than simply dangerous,” lead researcher Steven Sherwood told the Guardian. “For example, it would make life difficult, if not impossible, in much of the tropics, and would guarantee the eventual melting of the Greenland ice sheet and some of the Antarctic ice sheet.”

Another report released earlier this month said the abrupt changes caused by rapid warming should be cause for concern, as many of climate change’s biggest threats are those we aren’t ready for.”

“We human beings are not only the beneficiaries but also the stewards of other creatures. Thanks to our bodies, God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement. Let us not leave in our wake a swatch of destruction and death which will affect our own lives and those of future generations.

The culture of selfishness and individualism that often prevails in our society is not, I repeat, not what builds up and leads to a more habitable world: rather, it is the culture of solidarity that does so; the culture of solidarity means seeing others not as rivals or statistics, but brothers and sisters. And we are all brothers and sisters!

Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.

People occasionally forgive, but nature never does. If we don’t take care of the environment, there’s no way of getting around it.”

“DARPA recently revealed information on its ARGUS-IS (Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System), a surveillance camera that uses hundreds of smartphone image sensors to record a 1.8 gigapixel image. Designed for use in an unmanned drone (probably an MQ-1 Predator), from an altitude of 20,000 ft (6,100 m) ARGUS can keep a real-time video eye on an area 4.5 miles (7.2 km) across down to a resolution of about six inches (15 cm).”

Below appears part of an ARGUS-IS image of Quantico Naval Base in Virginia, while above appear two targeted areas that suggest the six inch resolution of the camera (Image: DARPA)

Graphic of ARGUS-IS watching ground activities (Image: DARPA)


“Looking to take advantage of sperm’s awesome swimming ability, researchers have cyborg-ized bull semen by positioning them inside tiny metal cylinders that can be steered with magnets. This means we now have a way to control a cell’s direction inside the body — a breakthrough that could lead to efficient microscopic robots.

With the mobility aspect taken care of, the researchers were able to orient the microtubes using external magnetic fields. The process works similarly to how a compass needle aligns with Earth’s magnetic field. …biohybrid micro-robots are harmless to the human body, they provide their own power, and they can swim through viscous liquids”

The Army used a vehicle-mounted high-energy laser for the first time to successfully engage more than 90 mortar rounds and several unmanned aerial vehicles in flight. 

This was the first full-up demonstration of the HEL MD in the configuration that included the laser and beam director mounted in the vehicle, according to officials of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command. They said a surrogate radar, the Enhanced Multi Mode Radar, supported the engagement by queuing the laser.

The demonstration and testing confirms the capability of a mobile solid-state laser weapon system to counter mortars, UAVs, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors mounted on the UAVs, officials said.

The recent testing utilized a 10-kilowatt class laser.”

The HEL MD that took out mortars and UAVs in flight using its vehicle-mounted 10-kW laser (Photo: Boeing)

“Climate change is causing the North Pole’s location to drift, owing to subtle changes in Earth’s rotation that result from the melting of glaciers and ice sheets.

Computer simulations had suggested that the melting of ice sheets and the consequent rise in sea level could affect the distribution of mass on the Earth’s surface. This would in turn cause the Earth’s axis to shift, an effect that has been confirmed by measurements of the positions of the poles.

Jianli Chen of the University of Texas at Austin and colleagues have shown that melting due to our greenhouse-gas emissions is making its own contribution to the shift. …”Ice melting and sea level change can explain 90 per cent of the [eastward shift],” says Chen. “The driving force for the sudden change is climate change.””

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