Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions strike Alaska, Japan and the Philippines

[PBS] A series of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have hit the Pacific Rim.
Tuesday morning in the Gulf of Alaska, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake near Kodiak set off early tsunami warnings that extended across the southern coast of the state and into British Columbia. A volcano in a Japanese ski town erupted, killing one soldier and injuring at least a dozen others, according to the Washington Post. Monday afternoon, Mount Mayon, a volcano in the Philippines that has been rumbling since last week, gushed lava and ash, forcing mass evacuations.
The Alaskan earthquake struck around 12:30 a.m. local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, approximately 180 miles southeast of Kodiak Island. Seismologists classified this event as a strike-slip earthquake, which is typically caused when two tectonic plates slide side by side. But the Kodiak earthquake was a rare intraplate earthquake — meaning all the action occurred within a single tectonic plate.
In general, strike-slip earthquakes present less of a tsunami risk. Three hours on, the National Weather Service measured less than a foot of tsunami at the Kodiak Island town of Old Harbor and had cancelled the tsunami warnings for most of Alaska and the West Coast. No immediate damages were reported.
Mount Kusatsu-Shirane is a 7,000 foot volcano located about 120 miles north of Tokyo. It erupted around 10 a.m. local time, triggering avalanches that trapped about a dozen skiers, including six members of Japan’s Ground Self Defense Force. All were rescued, according to Reuters, but one soldier died later. The Washington Post reported four others were injured by falling debris. 
Approximately 56,000 people sought shelter at evacuation camps on Tuesday, about half a day after Mount Mayon erupted multiples times overnight. The first evacuations had begun Jan. 13, after the 8,000-foot volcano produced a mile-and-half high plume of ash that coated nearby towns. Philippines officials have allocated about $100,000 to the disaster effort, but warned if the eruption continue into mid-February, then food, medical and water supplies may be depleted. Reuters reported that the ashfall diverted flights.
A 6.0 magnitude earthquake also struck 100 miles off the coast of Jakarta on Tuesday afternoon, damaging buildings and causing about a half dozen injuries at a schoolSee More

Hope in an unstable climate

[High Country News] We hiked past scrub oak and sumac, a wild bees’ nest humming in the peppertrees along the trail. The air hung heavy with the scent of sage, the purple salvia just starting to bloom. The rock-studded dirt path turned a sharp corner, and the water tower came into view. The tank was brimming, surrounded by spring grasses lush from the generous winter rains. I felt a brief surge of hope, but then remembered — hope is a dangerous emotion in this climate.
When I’d driven through town eight months earlier, I was struck by how perfect it seemed: a hamlet full of parks and citrus groves, surrounded by national forest. Towering oak trees lined the streets, evidence of a historically consistent water source. In the shadow of the Topatopa Mountains, the town bells chimed on the hour, a reminder of just how quickly time passes.
We were ready to start a family, ready to exchange the damp bustle and crowds of Seattle for the peace and community of a small town. I looked around, ticking off items on my dream-town checklist: good food, sunshine, a day’s drive from my parents. I convinced my husband to abandon friends we’d spent the last decade making and the house we’d restored room by room. I had, I assured him, found the perfect place to spend the next chapter of our lives.
Jobs were applied for and miraculously acquired. I took a pregnancy test confirming that, yes, the hoped-for family would be arriving soon. Only as the move drew closer did we began to wonder: Is there enough water to support life there?
There must be, we told ourselves. I grew up in California, my childhood filled with reminders to turn off faucets and let lawns go yellow. Water was scarce, water was precious, but there was always enough.
We rented a house while ogling For Sale signs, thinking about school districts and fenced backyards for the first time. Realtors urged us to buy something soon, because homes were selling for more than they had ever seen. Outsiders were falling in love with the area for the same reasons we had, snatching up every cottage and starter home that came on the market. Yet when the woman from the water company came to read the meter on our rental, we got to talking about all the newcomers. “We keep telling people to get out of town,” she sighed, shaking her head. “But they just keep buying houses.” Read More

Swimming in Snow

[Prepper Journal] In a past life I was involved in the Avalanche Survival Classes The Sierra Club taught. This was back when their ranks were filled with outdoor enthusiasts focused on survival and conservation as opposed to politics. Then the organization understood that hunters and fishermen and mountaineers were among the most aware and responsible of people in the wilderness and left the smallest of carbon footprints. As preppers we may end up in the mountains and snow and the physics of snow are another thing to understand to give ourselves the best chance at survival.
While this was all on-piste skiing, the ski patrol was always dealing with the clown that went off-piste and got into trouble. (A note: the term is loosely used to mean within the bounds of a ski area and outside the bounds of a ski area.) Part of the certification process from the Professional Ski Instructors Association (PSIA) was to recognize avalanche potential, on or near ski resorts. As a scientist, I became very interested in this as it was a real world application of some highly technical textbook stuff – a lot of physics as to the bonding of materials, and a lot of fluid mechanics. Working in that alpine environment gave me my first real world experience on how to be “detectable” when you are off the grid. Being buried under a few feet of snow somewhere, anywhere in maybe 200 acres of avalanche slab run off is one hell of a position to end up in. Of course, there were specially trained dogs, transponders and other technical devices to assist…somewhere. Maybe drinking hot cocoa at the warming hut and seldom less than 5 minutes away. I find this interesting because unlike a SHTF scenario your goal here is “how do I QUICKLY get found when I am buried alive!”
Anyone who lives in an area where snow is something to deal with knows the differences in the construction of the snow crystals caused by temperature and humidity. Colder and dryer makes for lighter snow with limited bonding capabilities. You have all seen this in films of skiers blasting through waist or chest deep “powder” with ease, or in trying to make snowballs. On the other hand warmer and higher humidity give you what we called “Sierra Cement” though it has many names, not all of them as complimentary, especially if YOU are the one who has to shovel the porch, walk and/or driveway. The “average” ratio of snow to water is 1:10 – 1 inch of water produces 10 inches of snow.
Well as you all know sometimes it snows when it is 8 degrees F with a relative humidity below 15% and sometimes it snows when it is 30 degrees F with a relative humidity of 38% or more. (Floridians will shake their heads at these humidity numbers.) What this does is produces layers in any mountain snow pack of dry non-binding snow between layers of wet heavy bonding snow. Now take this snow pack and pitch it on a mountain slope. The steeper the slope, the more likelihood of an avalanche. The reason that a lot of areas that look so tempting around ski areas are “off piste” – closed to resort users. And the exact same reason some idiot is going to chance it to “cut first/fresh/new tracks”. Read More

Winter isn't coming in Alaska

[NY Post] Winter is off to a late start in parts of the nation’s largest — and usually coldest — state.
Months of higher-than-normal temperatures in parts of rural Alaska have opened dangerous gaps in frozen rivers that residents use to travel from village to village and to hunting grounds, since there are no roads.
One troublesome ice highway is the half-mile-wide Kuskokwim River, where a man died New Year’s Eve after he and five family members — traveling on a snowmobile and sled — fell into a gaping hole. The others survived.
Search-and-rescue teams in the southwest Alaska commercial hub of Bethel have been marking holes on the Kuskokwim, but there were so many, they ran out of the $300-a-roll reflective tape. While they wait for more supplies to be shipped, residents in villages along the river and its tributaries have been marking the openings with tree branches.
It’s a role switch of sorts with much of the lower 48, where dangerously cold temperatures have been blamed for dozens of deaths.
The unseasonable warmth in parts of Alaska is a factor in making last month the warmest December on record for the entire state, experts say. The statewide average temperature for the month was 19.4 degrees, far higher than the historical average of 3.7 degrees, according to Rick Thoman, climatologist for the National Weather Service’s Alaska region. Read More

Monday, January 22, 2018

Nasa's Urgent Warning 22th JAN 2018! David Wilcock confirm Planet Hittin...

Earthquake Swarm in U.S. City Has Lasted 7 Days Straight—What's Going On?

[Newsweek] In the past month, parts of Reno, Nevada, have experienced a total of 274 known earthquakes. But if you're surprised you haven't heard about them by now, consider that the vast majority of those have been truly tiny tremors—just five of those quakes have been stronger than a magnitude 2.0, which means they've mostly been too gentle to feel. Some have even been so tiny that seismological networks haven't even alerted scientists there has been a quake. Instead, they've pored through data to identify the small quivers.
According to Ken Smith, an earth scientist at the University of Nevada Reno's Nevada Seismological Laboratory, the swarm kicked off on December 18, then quieted down until January 12. Then seismological activity picked back up and has continued since, although in the past day or so the tremors have slowed down again. "Things are starting to cool off a little bit, so that's good news," Smith told Newsweek.
Smith said that the area around Reno is used to seeing swarms of small earthquakes—similar clusters happened in 2013 and 2015. Nevada as a whole is seismically extremely active, with the third highest tally of large quakes in the past 150 years. That's of a piece with the American West at large. "We see swarms like this from time to time, so it's not an unusual occurrence," John Bellini, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey, told Newsweek. "Swarms sometimes can go on for months."
And along the corridor between Reno and Carson City to the south, scientists are especially well equipped to notice even very small quakes, Smith says, thanks to a particularly dense network of seismographs. Read More

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Meteor in Michigan 2018: Fireball in sky video

These companies claim blockchain could help fight climate change

[Popular Science] Bitcoin, the much-hyped cryptocurrency, made headlines recently for driving a surge in power use. Around the globe, digital entrepreneurs are ‘mining’ Bitcoins by solving complex math problems, using supercomputers to get the job done. Those supercomputers use a ton of power, which largely comes form coal- and gas-fired power plants spewing gobs of carbon pollution.
But, while hackers wreak havoc on the climate, blockchain, the bleeding-edge technology behind Bitcoin, could one day help clean up the mess. Climate wonks say blockchain has a role to play in the clean-energy economy, helping homeowners sell electricity, allowing businesses to trade carbon credits, and making it easier for governments to track greenhouse gas emissions.
To understand how it all works, let’s start with a quick explanation of blockchain.
Typically, if you want to send someone money over the internet, you need a third party to validate that transaction. That party, typically a bank, certifies you are not trying to send the same money to two different parties simultaneously, or otherwise trying to deceive the system. Blockchain allows users to do business directly with each other without involving a central authority like a bank.
In this instance, blockchain acts like a digital ledger that simultaneously exists on every computer belonging to the same network, and the ledger is updated with every transaction. Because the ledger exists everywhere all at once, it is incredibly difficult to hack. Because it belongs to everyone, all the information is verifiable, though the privacy of individual users is preserved.
Since users don’t need a bank to validate their transactions, they can do business faster. Additionally, there’s no need to staff up and maintain all the personnel and infrastructure costs associated with a bank. These are the chief appeals of blockchain — security, speed and savings. The exciting part is that blockchain can be used to authenticate transactions of any kind. That’s where climate change comes in. Read More

Monday, January 15, 2018

3 Signs You Could Be Using Spirituality To Avoid Reality & How To Check Back In

[Elite Daily] I make a living writing articles about astrology, spirituality, crystal healing, meditation, affirmations, and tarot cards, so I'll be the first to admit that I came to learn about these healing techniques during the most difficult time periods of my life. I love new age spirituality, and I think it's great, as long as it isn't being used as a tool to bypass your emotional life. There are signs you could be using spirituality to avoid reality, and when that happens, spirituality becomes a facade. After all, one way to suppress the emotions that are an integral part of the human experience is to pretend to be too "enlightened" to feel them.
Here's a personal example from my own life. A few years ago I was completely out of money, and I spent 30 bucks on credit to buy a crystal that promised to attract more money in my life. The second I bought it, I was 30 dollars poorer. I mean there was absolutely nothing logically sound about that purchase. I was a modern Jack and the Beanstalk; I was not OK. It wasn't until after I bought that crystal that I realized I didn't even have enough money for a Metrocard to get home. This is the kind of subtle power that new age spirituality has over a ton of people, and unfortunately, often the people who fall prey to this kind of magical thinking are really going through a tough time. Here are some signs that you could be using spirituality as a way to escape your real life, and some pointers on how to avoid it.
A long time ago a book came out called The Secret, which caused an absolute frenzy of interest along the lines of new age spirituality in America. The book essentially spoke about how the secret to anything you want being right in your fingertips. From a parking space to a brand new Mustang convertible.
It was basically a watered down version of quantum physics, and the idea behind it was that all you had to do was ask the universe for something, and like Santa, it would just create it for you. You didn't even have to lift a finger! This is pure delusion. I mean millions of adults around America were essentially believing in Santa again, and calling it "The Universe." No.
Spiritual experience is actually inextricably linked to our human experience, because they're the same thing. Spiritual wisdom is not the same thing as the mind and body rush you experience from time to time in a meditation. "Enlightenment," as it's often described in our capitalist society's obsession with Eastern religion, is not what we think it is, or what we've been taught it is.
I like to compare it to the difference between love in the movies and love in real life. Love in the movies is a constant high, lasting for the rest of our lives; in truth, loving someone else is harder work than any other task I've ever been called to do. It involves remaining patient to the best of our ability, a willingness to be honest and open without hiding in fear or foisting hurtful truths onto another person, not to mention dealing with their inability to do the f*cking dishes. The same goes for spiritual wisdom. It's more grounded and, based in real life, and real work, than anything we are taught. One time, I fainted in yoga and I thought I'd "caught The Lord." Turns out I just have low blood sugar and stood up too quickly. Read More

The asteroids most likely to hit Earth

[Salon] Like earthquakes and volcanoes, the most frightening thing about asteroid strikes is their inevitability. Our solar system formed from a planetary nebula of dust and gas that slowly coalesced into rocks, planets, moons, and the Sun. And there are plenty of rocks still floating around. Astronomers estimate that between 37,000 and 78,000 tons of solar system debris hit Earth every year, though luckily these usually rain down in tiny pieces that burn up in the atmosphere — rather than large chunks that explode on the ground. (Although those hit us too.)As a result, our planet is littered with little geologic memento mori that foreshadow what is to come. The Chesapeake Bay looks the way it does because of a massive impact of a three- to five-kilometer-wide asteroid that hit about 35 million years ago; even today, the region’s freshwater aquifer is at risk of being contaminated by an adjacent salty underground reservoir that was created in the wake of the impact. Oil drillers and water management agencies in the region must mitigate for a 35-million-year-old natural disaster.
Unsurprisingly given how often we get hit with space debris, meteors rank high on the list of existential horrors; some of our civilization’s most popular books and films are about the fear of a meteor impact–related disaster. Likewise, scientists periodically sound the alarm bells over the lack of resources being devoted to hazardous asteroid detection and — perhaps someday — diversion. Luckily, NASA, the California Institute of Technology and other agencies have done a fair bit of sky-scouring to track and monitor nearby hazardous space rocks of varying sizes.
Unsurprisingly given how often we get hit with space debris, meteors rank high on the list of existential horrors; some of our civilization’s most popular books and films are about the fear of a meteor impact–related disaster. Likewise, scientists periodically sound the alarm bells over the lack of resources being devoted to hazardous asteroid detection and — perhaps someday — diversion. Luckily, NASA, the California Institute of Technology and other agencies have done a fair bit of sky-scouring to track and monitor nearby hazardous space rocks of varying sizes. Read More

Homestead 1839: Putting down roots for community

[QCOnline] For years, Tobin and Mollie Krell dreamed of building an organization centered around food, restoration and giving back to the community. Their vision became a reality in 2016 when they incorporated Homestead 1839 in West Burlington, Iowa, on land Mollie’s family homesteaded in 1839.
Homestead 1839’s mission: Growing community capacity through service learning and food security for sustainable, equitable outcomes.
Tobin and Mollie, both 37, grew up in Iowa, and moved to Portland, Ore., together to attend college. They had been living in Portland for 10 years when Mollie’s grandmother, the matriarch of the family, fell ill. The couple, who have a 13-year-old son, decided to move back to Iowa to help support their family. They moved into the family’s 100-year-old, foursquare farmhouse, bringing together four generations under one roof.
Farming the 28-acre land is the main component of Homestead 1839. The Krells work 19 acres that had conventionally been farmed for a number of years. They are transitioning 5 acres to organic production, and converting 14 acres to a pollinator habitat. A portion of the food they raise goes back to the community through food banks, referral and distribution at the farm. They sell the rest on-site, to local restaurants and a local hospital. They also collect the hospital’s food waste for compost, helping to further reduce the food system’s carbon footprint.
Service learning is another main component of Homestead 1839. The Krells work with a variety of organizations, including vocational and drug and alcohol rehabilitation, to provide opportunities for adults and youth to build job skills and give back to the community by helping on the farm.
Homestead 1839 also provides a space for community to gather and grow stronger. “We have folks who often come by to get away from hustle and youth who come for relief from the family and peer pressure,” Mollie says.
Youth and volunteers come out to start seeds, transplant, compost, plant and harvest. They do a variety of other tasks, too, such as painting and generally stepping up to help wherever they are needed, the Krells say.
“We have had youth who come out (to the farm) who say, ‘I don’t get dirty’ or ‘I don’t eat vegetables,’ and by the time they leave, they are dirty and popping cherry tomatoes in their mouth straight off the vine,” Tobin says.
“These experiences are crucial to their connection with the natural world as they grow and as they become more engaged in their community.”
No one goes home hungry after working at the farm, the Krells say. “The group we had out yesterday, many youth were eating raw okra off the stalk, and some wanted to take some of the fruits of their labor home,” Mollie says. “This is the least we could do for their service. We love to feed people.” Read More

Magnitude 7.1 Earthquake Strikes Peru

[Gizmodo] A “strong magnitude 7.1 earthquake” struck the southern coast of Peru on Sunday morning, leaving at least one dead, several missing, and dozens injured, CNBC reported.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake struck roughly 22.4 miles (36 kilometers) offshore centered about 25 miles (40 km) into the Pacific Ocean from the town of Acari.
CNBC reported that local officials said one man was killed by a rock in Yauca. Beyond that, there were some indications that the damage may not be as grim as originally reported. Per the BBC, Health Minister Abel Salinas disputed reports that 17 miners had gone missing inside a collapsed shaft. Reports of another death in Bella Union were also disputed by local officials.
Per CNN, the National Civil Defense Institute reported at least 65 additional injuries “in the cities of Arequipa, Ica and Ayacucho.” The casualty count is likely to rise as emergency personnel continue to look through rubble. Though the U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center warned that a wall of water could come crashing onto the shoreline, fortunately no such tsunami actually occurred and the center later advised that the threat had passed.
Earthquakes of magnitude 7 and higher are considered major events with the possibility of serious damage or casualties; only an estimated 20 or so occur each year. A magnitude 8.0 quake in 2007 off the central coast of Peru was estimated to have killed well over 500 people and destroyed tens of thousands of buildings. Read More

Friday, January 12, 2018

Tsunami Spotted After Earthquake in the Caribbean

[Live Trading News] A 7.6 magnitude earthquake has struck in the Caribbean Sea north of Honduras, triggering multiple tsunami warnings in the area, including for the coasts of Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake, initially reported as a magnitude 7.8, was centered 125 miles (202 km)northeast of Barra Patuca in Honduras and 191 miles (307 km)southwest of George Town in the Cayman Islands.
The powerful quake, which was felt in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa, struck some 36km northeast of Great Swan Island around 2:51am GMT, according to US Geological Survey.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued multiple tsunami advisories for the shoreline of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, where it said there are threats of “fluctuations and strong ocean currents that could be a hazard along coasts … beaches … in harbors … and in coastal waters.”
Waves up to one meter above tide level are also possible in Cuba, Mexico, Honduras, Belize and Jamaica, the PTWC warned, adding that earthquakes of this size are “known to generate tsunamis dangerous to shorelines near the source.”
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said a tsunami advisory was in effect for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands after the earthquake and warned of possible waves up to 1 meter (3 feet) above tide level.
The quake was very shallow, at only 6.2 miles (10 km), which would have amplified its effect.
It was also lightly felt in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo north of Honduras, according to Mexico’s civil protection director. Read More

Extraterrestrial rock found in Egypt looks like nothing found in our solar system before, scientists say

[Independent] Mysterious extraterrestrial rocks are unlike anything ever found on Earth, according to scientists.
The Hypatia stone – pebbles found in Egypt, which once came from a huge rock that was several metres wide – have long been known to have come to Earth from somewhere else. But new research shows they are even more alien than we thought, having been formed outside of our solar system and even before our sun existed.
That's the conclusion of new research that looked at how the strange rocks were formed, by exploring what minerals can be found inside them.
In 2013, the rocks were found not to have come from Earth, and two years later scientists confirmed that they had not come down to Earth as part of any known meteor or comet. The new work aimed to look at the minerals found inside and find how they were made up.
"When Hypatia was first found to be extraterrestrial, it was a sensation, but these latest results are opening up even bigger questions about its origins," said Dr Marco Andreoli, a research fellow at the School of Geosciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, and a researcher on the study.
Jan Kramers, the professor who undertook the new study, said that the internal structure of the rock was something like a fruitcake that had fallen and broken across. By looking at the various bits of fruits that are found inside, they can try and understand how the rock was formed and where ti came from.
"We can think of the badly mixed dough of a fruit cake representing the bulk of the Hypatia pebble, what we called two mixed 'matrices' in geology terms," said Professor Kramers. "The glace cherries and nuts in the cake represent the mineral grains found in Hypatia 'inclusions'. And the flour dusting the cracks of the fallen cake represent the 'secondary materials' we found in the fractures in Hypatia, which are from Earth," he says.
The mixture of that dough looks like nothing ever before seen on Earth. Usually, scientists would expect to see a little bit of carbon and lots of silicon – but the rock is made up the complete opposite way around.
Not only is that mix unlike anything ever seen on Earth, the individual materials that make it up appear to have been formed in the pre-solar time. That means it was formed before our own sun or solar system, opening up further questions about where it came from. Read More

This Is What Parts Of California Look Like After A Huge Mudslide

[BuzzFeed] At least 15 people have died, with emergency services warning that a number of people are missing and that they expect the death toll may rise.
The mudslide started shortly after 4 a.m. on Tuesday after torrential rain indundated the state, which is only just recovering from the wildfires of last month. Emergency officials said that they responded to more than 600 calls in the space of three hours, as people woke to the deluge coming through their front doors.
Although officials ordered an estimated 30,000 people to evacuate, many stayed, saying they were frustrated by official evacuation efforts during December's wildfires.
The hardest-hit homes, officials said, were those not in the evacuation zone. The worst damage was in the community of Montecito, Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said, where some homes were knocked off their foundations by the strength of the mudslide. View Photographs

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Bats Are Boiling Alive in Australia's Heat Wave

[National Geographic] While the Northern Hemisphere has been visited by a low-hanging polar vortex, blizzards, and wintry cyclones, the Southern Hemisphere is feeling some very different extremes. Australia is experiencing nearly record high temperatures reaching just over 116 degrees Fahrenheit. It's been so hot that asphalt melted on a stretch of highway, and local news outlets reported a surge in attendance at Australian beaches as residents struggle to escape dangers like heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Australian wildlife has also been impacted by the intense heat. According to conservation group Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown, which operates just south of Sydney, more than 400 flying foxes from a local bat colony were found dead, possibly due to the heat. Pictures show rows of flying fox bodies collected from trees or where they were found after dropping to the ground. Flying foxes are a type of large bat, and six species can be found in Australia. The Australian government officially lists one of those species as critically endangered and two others as vulnerable, while some species can be found in abundance and have at times been labeled a nuisance. As a species, flying foxes help maintain a healthy ecosystem, because they are one of the country's most active pollinators. It's unclear if the die-off will impact their populations overall. But speaking with Australian TV station Sky News, a spokesperson from the Campbelltown group predicted that thousands could succumb to the heat before the summer's end. Kate Ryan, a Campbelltown flying fox colony manager, told local outlet Macarthur Advertiser that the heat has deadly impacts on the animals' brains. “It would be like standing in the middle of a sandpit with no shade," she said of being a flying fox roosting in a tree. Scott Heinrich, director of the Flying Fox Conservation Fund, says many flying foxes drop from trees because of dehydration. In 2014, the last time Australia experienced comparable temperatures, more than 45,000 flying foxes are estimated to have died from the heat. "They can't cool their body down at that point," Heinrich says. "In a way, they're kind of boiling in their bodies." Read More

Nearly four decades after Mt. St. Helens erupted, a resort in the blast zone faces a different kind of danger

[LA Times] When Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980, killing 57 people, destroying homes, evaporating lakes and rearranging landmarks, Mark Smith and his family were thankful to have survived.
Their lakeside resort did not. The blast blew away the top 1,300 feet of the mountain, burying nearby Spirit Lake Lodge under at least 300 feet of mud and debris.
Smith, who was 20 years old at the time, watched the destruction from afar with his family. “It was exciting,” he told a reporter back then, before realizing that everything was gone.
He returned to the mountain in 1992 to start a tour company and three years later built the Eco Park Resort on 80 acres in the old blast zone.
Now the new resort is under threat too.
The problem is Spirit Lake. Buried in the eruption, it reformed 200 feet higher and much larger than before, and without any natural drainage. The lake could push through the ash, rock and soil around it — especially in the event of a major earthquake — threatening highways and bridges and 50,000 residents below with catastrophic flooding, according to a recent report commissioned by the U.S. Forest Service.
The 250-page study, conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, concluded that the chances of a breach were “relatively low” but that the potential consequences were so severe that costly protective measures deserved serious consideration.
Far more likely is chronic flooding along the Toutle and Cowlitz rivers caused by a steady flow of sediment, the study found.
The eruption of Mt. St. Helens is best known for its immediate impacts: thousands of trees obliterated; an ash cloud that darkened the skies of 11 states; and tens of thousands of elk, deer, hares and bears killed.
Tall forest, blue lakes, birds and other wildlife have since returned to the mountain, which now stands 8,363 feet above sea level. In 1982, Congress designated the 110,000-acre Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument for research, education and recreation. More than a million people visit each year to see the blast zone, some of them staying at Eco Park, which Smith runs with his wife.
But the rearrangement of the landscape has caused some long-term problems.
In 1985, the government provided some drainage for Spirit Lake by boring an 11-foot-wide overflow tunnel through 1.6 miles of rock.
A dam more than 180 feet high and 1,800 feet across was built on the north fork of the Toutle River in 1989 to trap sediment washed down from the mountain.
But those attempts to control nature with engineering have their limits.
The tunnel has required millions of dollars in emergency repairs over the last several years to prevent it from collapsing. The sediment dam has been nearing its capacity, allowing more sediment to get through and clog the rivers. The government spends millions of dollars a year dredging the riverbeds to prevent flooding. Read More


2018 Could Bring Increase in Severe Worldwide Earthquakes

[Newsweek] The new year could bring an increase in massive and devastating earthquakes, research from October suggested. But as our prediction of earthquakes becomes better, so does our ability to prepare for these natural disasters.
About four years ago, the Earth’s rotation slowed slightly. Although the decrease was not enough to notice, the Earth’s slower rotation may spark an increase in severe earthquakes for 2018, researchers from University of Colorado Boulder predicted in the fall.
According to the team’s research, which they presented at the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Seattle this October, there may be a trend between slower Earth rotations and more global earthquakes. Over the past 100 years, there was a 25 to 30 percent increase in the number of significant earthquakes associated with a slowdown in the Earth’s rotation.
According to Science Mag, Earth’s rotation began to slow nearly five years ago, which means that if this theory is true, 2018 could bring two to five more magnitude 7 earthquakes than usual. While this theory may predict how many earthquakes we can expect in 2018, it can’t help us identify where on the globe these earthquakes may occur, Newsweek reported.
Earthquakes are measured on the Richter scale, which categorizes the natural event on a scale of one to 10. The Richter scale measures the vibrations caused by the earthquake using a tool called a seismometer. While smaller earthquakes are very common, larger ones are less frequent, and significantly more devastating. There has never been a category 10 earthquake in recorded history, but those of 7 or 8 can cause significant damage and loss of life, BBC reported. Read More

Monday, January 08, 2018

The secret to creativity – according to science

[PBS] Whether you get mesmerised by Vincent van Gogh’s painting The Starry Night or Albert Einstein’s theories about spacetime, you’ll probably agree that both pieces of work are products of mindblowing creativity. Imagination is what propels us forward as a species – it expands our worlds and brings us new ideas, inventions and discoveries.
But why do we seem to differ so dramatically in our ability to imagine? And can you train yourself to become more imaginative? Science has come up with some answers, based on three different but interlinked types of imagination.
Creative imagination” is what we normally consider to be creativity with a large C – composing an opera or discovering something groundbreaking. This is different from everyday creativity, such as coming up with imaginative solutions to household problems or making crafts.
Creative inspiration is notoriously elusive. Being able to train creativity or induce a state of creativity has therefore long been the aim of many artists and scientists.
But is it possible? We know that some individuals have a more creative personality than others. Yet research has suggested that creative imagination can also be boosted through our environment or simply putting in lots of hard work. For example, experimental studies have shown that when children engage with creative content or watch others be highly creative, they become more creative themselves.
There are two phases to creative imagination. “Divergent thinking” is the ability to think of a wide variety of ideas, all somehow connected to a main problem or topic. It tends to be supported by intuitive thinking, which is fast and automatic. You then need “convergent thinking” to help you evaluate the ideas for usefulness within the main problem or topic. This process is supported by analytical thinking – which is slow and deliberate – allowing us to select the right idea.
So if you want to write that masterpiece, having lots of brainstorming sessions with friends or taking a course in creative thinking or writing may help you come up with new ideas.
However, that doesn’t necessarily help you select a good one. For that, research suggests that the first requirement is actually exposure and experience. The longer you have worked and thought in a field and learned about a matter – and importantly, dared to make many mistakes – the better you are at intuitively coming up with ideas and analytically selecting the right one.
Creative success is therefore not so much about finding a muse. As microbiologist Louis Pasteur said: “Fortune favours the prepared mind.” This also applies to art, with Pablo Picasso advising: “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” Read More

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Jupiter and Mars conjunction: Earth's planetary siblings coming together for rare celestial reunion

[IBI Times] After the biggest supermoon of 2018, Earth's planetary siblings, Jupiter and Mars, will make a glaring appearance as part of a rare celestial conjunction.
The planets will appear together in the early hours of Sunday (7 January, 3:40am in the UK) and shine brighter than normal in the southern night sky, the Independent reports.
Though separated by several hundred million miles in the cosmos, the two planets will appear to come extremely close for a relatively short period.
The duo will form a straight line, with Jupiter above and Mars underneath but slowly that line will turn diagonal as they continue with their respective orbital routines – Jupiter moving to the left and Mars to the right.The event will last for about five hours but for best views, the 6-7am local time slot would be the best. During this time, the planetary duo will appear 20 degrees above the horizon, offering picture-perfect views to sky-gazers, Royal Observatory astronomer Tom Kerss told The Independent.
"They should remain clearly visible even as the dawn twilight begins to emerge," he added. Sky-watchers should pick an open spot with few buildings and minimum light pollution for stunning views.
Viewers do not need any kind of telescope to view the conjunction. The planets will appear super bright to the naked eye and will not be mistaken for common stars due to their colours. Mars will sport an orange hue, while Jupiter will appear as a pale yellow-white star and will be 20 times brighter than normal.
"At just a fraction of a degree apart in the sky, you'll be able to cover both of them easily using the tip of your little finger on an outstretched arm," Kerss noted, highlighting the uniqueness of the celestial event. Read More

Climate Change Has Quadrupled Ocean ‘Dead Zones,’ Researchers Warn



[Huffington Post] The size of oxygen-starved ocean “dead zones,” where plants and animals struggle to survive, has increased fourfold around the world, according to a new scientific analysis.
The growth of the zones is yet another consequence of global warming — including increasing ocean temperatures — triggered by greenhouse gases and, closer to the coasts, contamination by agricultural runoff and sewage.
“Rising nutrient loads coupled with climate change — each resulting from human activities — are changing ocean biogeochemistry and increasing oxygen consumption,” says the study published in the journal Science. Ultimately, such changes are “unsustainable and may result in ecosystem collapses, which ultimately will cause societal and economic harm.”
The analysis of the oxygen-starved zones was conducted by a team of scientists from the Global Oxygen Network (GO2NE),  created in 2016 by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations. 
Researchers determined that open-ocean “oxygen-minimum” zones have expanded since 1950 by an area roughy equivalent to the size of the European Union. The volume of ocean water completely devoid of oxygen has more than quadrupled in that time, the study found. The number of hypoxic, or oxygen depleted, zones along coasts has increased up to 10 times, from less than 50 to 500.
Denise Breitburg, a marine ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and lead author of the study, called the plunge in ocean oxygen “among the most serious effects of human activities on the Earth’s environment.” Oxygen is “fundamental to life in the oceans,” she said in a statement.
“If you can’t breathe, nothing else matters,” Breitburg told The Associated Press. “As seas are losing oxygen, those areas are no longer habitable by many organisms.”
But the threat isn’t just to life in the oceans, which account for about half of the oxygen on the planet.
Major extinction events in Earth’s history have been associated with warm climates and oxygen-deficient oceans,” the study warns.
Consequences for ocean life can be significant even in areas where oxygen is merely low. Sea life may be stunted and immune responses impaired in such areas, resulting in poor survival rates and a decrease in healthy diversity, scientists warn. Read More