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 on: Jul 31, 2015, 04:46 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
July 30, 2015

Beneath the surface: Exploring the composition of Philae’s comet, Part 1

by Chuck Bednar
Red Orbit

When Philae, the lander accompanying the ESA’s Rosetta probe, successfully touched down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and became the first man-made spacecraft ever to pull off such a feat, it captured the public’s imagination – and scored some epic data in the process.

The landing, which took place on November 12, 2014, as well as the in-depth analysis of 67P/C-G that followed, are the focus of several new studies appearing in a special edition of the journal Science on Thursday. In one of those papers, a team of scientists led by Jens Biele of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) detailed the events shortly after Philae’s harrowing landing.

Analyzing Philae’s impact, bounces and eventual touchdown

During its descent, the lander was supposed to activate a cold gas system, which would push it to the surface of the comet, activating a pair of anchoring harpoons to attach it to the ground. As it turns out, however, neither system operated as expected, causing Philae to bounce off the soft designated landing area and ultimately come to rest on a harder surface elsewhere.

Biele’s team analyzed the exact dynamics of those bounces and the compressive strengths of the two different surfaces based on the trajectory of the lander’s bounces. They analyzed the layering and mechanical properties of the comet’s surface, marking the first time that researchers were able to conduct actual, direct observations of the surface.

Based on their analysis of the landing, the authors concluded that Philae’s feet initially came into contact with a soft granular surface known as Agilkia. This particular surface was approximately 0.82 feet (0.25 meters) thick on top, with a harder layer located beneath it.

This layering gave the surface a compressive strength of about one kilopascal. In comparison, the location where the lander finally came to rest, a region known as Abydos, was found to have a compression strength of two megapascals. This could help explain why only one of Philae’s legs was able to find a foothold when it finally came to rest.

Instruments reveal fractured surface, reflective rock structures

In a related study, Jean-Pierre Bibring from the French National Centre for Scientific Research’s Space Astrophysics Institute (CNRS IAS) and his colleagues analyzed the surface of 67P using a series of panoramic images captured by Philae’s Comet Infrared and Visible Analyzer instrument shortly after the lander’s initial bounce and final touchdown.

These images revealed that the comet possessed “a fractured surface with complex structure and a variety of grain scales and albedos” or reflective rock structures “possibly constituting pristine cometary material.” Their work provides new insight into the structure and composition of these cometary constituents, which could reveal the processes and ingredients that form comets, as well as how they evolved to become so diverse.

A third paper looked at descent images captured by the Rosetta Lander Imaging System (ROLIS) instrument to better understand the geography of 67P/C-G. According to the authors, the comet’s surface of the comet is “photometrically uniform” and “covered by regolith composed of debris and blocks ranging in size from centimeters to 5 meters” in size.

Philae’s landing spot covered with porous dust, ice layer

This study, which was led by Stefano Mottola of the DLR Institute of Planetary Research, found boulders on the comet’s surface surrounded by depressions similar to the wind tails found on Earth. Using models, the authors confirmed that these regions were caused by a phenomenon in which soil particles become displaced as the result of an impactor (also known as “splashing”).

Finally, the DLR’s Tilman Spohn and his colleagues analyzed data from Philae’s Multi Purpose Sensors for Surface and Subsurface Science (MUPUS) thermal and penetrating sensors to learn that the comet has a daytime surface temperature of between 90 and 130 degrees Kelvin, and that the surface of its final landing spot is covered with a compact and porous layer of dust and ice.

However, they also reported that the MUPUS thermal probe could not fully penetrate the near-surface layers because the ground in that area was resistant to penetration. More accurately, they believe that the surface had a more than 4 megapascals resistance to penetration equivalent to an approximately two megapascal uniaxial compressive strength.

 on: Jul 31, 2015, 04:45 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
July 30, 2015

Earth’s magnetic field older than previously believed

by Chuck Bednar
Red Orbit

New research published in Thursday’s edition of the journal Science indicates that the Earth’s magnetic shield is far older than previously believed, which could mean that plate tectonics also started earlier and may explain why the planet is still habitable.

In the study, University of Rochester geophysicist John Tarduno and his colleagues report that their research has led them to conclude that the Earth’s magnetic field is more than four billion years old, not 3.45 billion years old, as previous estimates calculated in 2010 have claimed.

“A strong magnetic field provides a shield for the atmosphere,” protecting it from solar winds (streams of charged particles originating from the sun), Tarduno explained in a statement. “This is important for the preservation of habitable conditions on Earth,” as the magnetic field keeps the solar wind from stripping away the planet’s atmosphere and surface water.

The magnetic field is generated in the planet’s liquid iron core, and a steady release of heat is required for this “geodynamo” to operate. Today, plate tectonics assist with this heat release by transferring heat from the planet’s deep interior to the surface.

Findings may explain why Earth is still habitable (and Mars is not)

However, Tarduno said, the origins of plate tectonics are disputed, as some scientists believe that Earth did not have a magnetic field early on in its existence. Researchers have been attempting to determine how and when this magnetic field first arose, thus helping experts determine when and how plate tectonics began and how our homeworld was able to remain habitable.

The researchers looked at samples of a mineral known as magnetite, which records the magnetic field at the time they cooled from their molten state. The magnetite was obtained from zircon crystals collected from Western Australia, and they sampled zircon crystals of different ages and found evidence suggesting that the magnetic field is approximately 4.4 billion years old.

The measurements taken by Tarduno’s team reveal that the magnetic field likely helped protect the planet at a time when solar winds were 100 times stronger than they are today. Without it, he said, the protons that make up those solar winds would have ionized the atmosphere and caused the loss of the planet’s water – which may explain what happened to life on Mars.

Experts believe that Mars had an active geodynamo when it was formed, but that four billion years later, it had died off. As a result, the Red Planet lacked a magnetic field that could shelter the atmosphere from the solar winds, Tarduno explained. This could explain why Mars’ atmosphere is so thin, he added, as well as why the planet “was unable to sustain life.”

 on: Jul 31, 2015, 04:43 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
July 30, 2015

Happy hamsters more likely to try new things

by Jonny Lim
Red Oribit

Hamsters aren’t as emotive as some of our other companions, so it can be difficult to tell if they’re happy. Thankfully, a new study out of the United Kingdom is helping put rodent fans to rest.

According to, Researchers Emily Bethell and Nicola Koyama from John Moores University in the U.K. wanted to see if they could determine a hamster’s feelings through how they reacted to cage conditions.

Researchers used what scientists call judgment bias – “where an animal (including humans) will tend to behave more optimistically when they are feeling good emotionally”

This is the first time this concept has been used with hamsters in mind.

Here’s how they tested this idea:

The researchers trained a group of 30 hamsters to feel a certain way about water bottles, some containing sugar-water, which hamsters loved, and others with bitter quinine, which hamsters didn’t enjoy.

The population was split into two groups. One with many “quality of life” provisions considered in their cage (chew toys, nice bedding, hamster wheels, etc.) and the other half receiving livable, but less enjoyable living environments.

The thought here is that happier hamsters would be willing to try these new bottles but the less happy ones, who would simply stick with what they knew. As it turns out, happy hamsters were more receptive to the new bottles and the “presumably” less happy ones simply moped around and stuck with the bottles they were familiar with.

The conclusions this study reaches are fairly basic– treat your hamsters well and they’ll be open to try new things.

 on: Jul 31, 2015, 04:41 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
July 31 2015

What racehorses can teach us about broken bones

by Dr. Charles Price
Red Orbit

Broken bones can be deadly for racehorses and also for people. Approximately 20 percent of women will break a hip and one fourth of them will be dead within a year. Half will never again walk independently, and one in five will live permanently in a long-term care facility. The risk of death after a hip fracture is even worse for men.

It’s also worse for race horses, as they rarely survive a broken leg. The great race horse, Barbaro won the Kentucky Derby in 2006 and two weeks later broke his leg in the Preakness Stakes. Barbaro had surgery the next day but there were complications, more surgery and a long stay in the intensive care unit. Barbaro never recovered and died eight months later because of the complications from a broken leg.

In spite of these alarming similarities between horses and people, there have been some helpful developments for both. Race track surfaces are being evaluated for texture and evenness. People can also make their homes safer by adding hand rails, getting rid of uneven carpets, and improving lighting for better visibility. More race horses and people are getting their bones evaluated for bone mineral density and for structure. This allows changes in nutrition and training to improve bone health. People can also improve their exercise and diet to maximize their bone health.

The magic of silicon

One amazing improvement for race horses has been the addition of silicon to their food. Scientists at Texas A&M University conducted a study where one group of horses ate their regular diet while another group of horses had the same diet plus a silicon-rich supplement added to their food (Nielsen BD, et al. J. Equine Vet Sci). This was continued for a year. Then, the horses were evaluated by people who didn’t know which horses had the extra silicon and which did not. After approximately six months of racing and testing, the differences were compared and analyzed. The horses that had the extra silicon had fewer bone-related injuries. They were also able to run faster and train harder than the horses that had the regular food. Silicon supplemented horses also showed greater bone mineral density.

Research studies in other animals have confirmed that bones can become stronger when silicon is added to the diet. Also, men and women who consume more silicon-rich foods have improved bone density. Green beans and whole grains have some silicon. So does beer from the fermentation of barley and hops. In fact, beer-drinking women have better bone mineral density than women who don’t drink any beer. Some mineral waters also have silicon in addition to other minerals.

This doesn’t mean that silicon is the only important nutrient for bone health, but it does mean that a little extra silicon in your diet may be helpful. Calcium and vitamin D are very important for bone health, but research about silicon and other nutrients is showing that you need more than calcium and vitamin D for optimum bone health. When you can’t get everything you need from foods alone, then it’s time to consider a supplement with more than calcium and vitamin D.

Dr. Charles Price is the Medical Director for the Institute of Better Bone Health (, and is rated as one of America’s top doctors. He is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and faculty member of the orthopedic residency program at Orlando Health. He is a Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Florida State University, College of Medicine. Dr. Price has authored or co-authored over 60 scientific research papers. Dr. Price is also a Certified Sports Nutritionist by the American Sports and Fitness Association.


One horse dies every three days on Australian racetracks – animal activists

Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses says data shows 115 have died in the past year, but it believes figure is actually higher as some deaths unreported

Michael Safi
Friday 31 July 2015 04.02 BST

A horse died every three days on Australian racetracks in the past year – a total of 115 fatalities, according to annual figures collected by animal rights activists.

But the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses, which collated the data, said the true figure was likely to be higher because the deaths of animals in track work or after retirement “quite often” went unreported.

Jumps racing had a particularly high loss rate, said Ward Young, from the coalition. “On average about 50% of horses each year will not reappear in jumps racing the next year,” he said.

There was inevitably “some element of risk” in any industry that relied on livestock. “However, our main contention is that a lot of that risk can be averted so that horses don’t have to die in these numbers,” he said.

Restricting the use of whips, ending two-year-old racing and implementing mandatory retirement plans –funded by levies on betting turnover – could all help to address the issue.

“We think that [the industry] should stive to get to as few fatalities in horse racing as possible,” Young said.

The figures – 115 for the year, one every 3.2 days – were collated from stewards’ reports published on racing bodies’ websites, as well as from sources inside stables.

Peter McGauran, the chief executive of Racing Australia, said each racehorse death “breaks the heart of its owner, trainer and strapper”, but the industry’s overall death rate was very low.

The 115 deaths represented just 0.06% of the 196,000 starters each year in Australia.

“And we’re constantly looking at how to predict a catastrophic injury or fatality, because remember, they’re being ridden by jockeys, so we’re equally motivated by jockey safety,” he said.

The “death watch” shows that during the 2014 Melbourne Cup, as well as the two horses which died after the race, another two died in events in other states.

One of those horses, Black Rebel, died in races at Corowa in New South Wales, and yet the gelding’s racing record lists him as “active”, highlighting the difficulties in accounting for the fate of many animals.

Owners are required to fill out a stable return, indicating if a horse had been sold to a knackery, but Young said there was little effort to verify this information.

“The enforceability of that return is bare bones ... They can essentially say whatever they want,” he said.

McGauran said the stable returns were audited at random and owners were unlikely to be doctoring the forms.

“It would be a very big risk for an owner or trainer to take, because of the reputational damage,” he said. “It’s not a foolproof system but it’s a very good guide.”

New restrictions on whipping have been recently introduced, and there was merit to ideas such as the mandatory retirement plan.

“We’d certainly consider any of these views,” McGauran said. “We have to meet community expectations. The idea of a competitive animal sport operating in its own bubble is archaic. We operate under a social licence.”

This year’s figure is slightly lower than the same period in 2013-14, which registered 125 racehorse deaths.


Has horse racing lost its way in a changing Australia?

Jonathan Horn

The Melbourne Cup is as popular as ever but the sport seems at odds with an increasingly urbanised and risk averse society

Thursday 30 October 2014 19.49 GMT

Earlier this month, Melbourne motorists pondered a billboard paid for by the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses. It wasn’t up for long. For racing enthusiasts, the image of a dead thoroughbred just a few furlongs from Flemington was sacrilege. As always, there was scant chance of them reaching any sort of middle ground with the animal rights protesters. As far as horse racing folk are concerned, the placard wavers wouldn’t know what a horse was if it trotted into their Centrelink appointment. The protesters, in turn, see racing people as heartless and dollar driven.

Anyone who has witnessed a trainer or strapper tend to an injured thoroughbred knows the folly of this. But the ‘Industry’ – which encompasses everyone from the plummy VRC committeeman to the gobby geezer in the Ladbrokes ads – is harder to defend. Their priorities are fiscal, not equine. As long as Melbourne opens its shoulders and unleashes at the Spring Carnival, everything else is a mere trifle.

Yet if ever the turnstiles told a bald faced lie, it is at the Spring Carnival. More than 100,000 people may pass through on a warm day but the majority are there to be seen, to drink two handed, to talk crap and to get lucky. If you diverted the trains at Flinders St, dropped the hordes in, say, Boort, erected a few giant screens, plied them with Dom Perignon and cantered a Shetland Pony through thrice hourly, most would be none the wiser.

For 11-and-a-half months of the year, racing is at the margins, at the mercy of the wagering industry and increasingly at odds with life in modern Australia. “Change or die” is the mantra in Australia’s hyper-competitive sporting marketplace. Terrified by the potential physical, psychological and legal ramifications of head injuries, the AFL sanitised its core product. Australian soccer, once bedevilled by financial incompetence and occasional violence on the terraces, reinvented itself and is drawing younger fans in droves.

Some of the less conservative racing clubs have heeded the call, scheduling marquee races late in the afternoon, thus guaranteeing maximum exposure for sponsors and ensuring punters consume as much of the sponsor’s product as possible. Many have also diversified their revenue streams with corporate functions, weddings, trade shows and conferences.

But enticing young fans remains a hard sell. In 1880, when a third of Melbourne’s population attended the Melbourne Cup, many would have had some sort of affinity with the thoroughbred and a first-hand knowledge of life on the land. But the realities of horse racing contrast starkly with 21st-century life in Australia’s big cities. Ours is an increasingly urbanised and risk-averse society. In many Australian schools, somersaults, cartwheels, swings and ropes are banned. From this, racing expects are expected to draw the next generation of fans and participants to a sport where the spectre of equine and human fatality looms large. What’s more, 25% of our citizens were born in countries where they don’t have public holidays for horse races and get misty eyed about champion thoroughbreds.

But Australian racing’s problems run deeper than attracting new fans. For too long, jockeys, trainers, owners and racing clubs have been held hostage by the TAB and the breeding industry. There are too many horses and too many tinpot races. No one can convincingly explain what happens to the sizeable percentage of horses that don’t pay their way – the figures on how many are killed and how many are kept are blurry. The industry breeds for speed. The riches on offer in two-year-old racing demand it. Participants are tantalised by the prospect of a quick return on their investment. They throw enough eggs at the wall and hope the occasional one doesn’t break.

The odd freak sprinter aside, Australian horses seem to get slower every year. European second stringers have been competitive in our major staying races in recent times. Potential superstars invariably rupture tendons, jar up on the hard tracks or are shuffled off to the breeding shed. Our most esteemed race, the Cox Plate, was last year won by a maiden, the equivalent of a schoolboy winning the Brownlow Medal. On Melbourne Cup Day, as the Aga Khan’s horse lay dying in the Flemington straight, Damien Oliver, a man who has damaged racing’s reputation, was making his victory speech. As the horse was being euthanised, the host broadcaster was interviewing a mixologist in a corporate marquee.

Neville Penton, the author of A Racing Heart, once wrote that the sport “elevates a chosen few and dumps its rejects into life’s big tip”. Australian racing remains the sandpit of former casino bosses, ad men, mining magnates, bookmaking dynasties and the landed gentry. But those at the coalface do it tough. Being a jockey, in particular, is a perilous pursuit. A recent Medical Journal of Australia study found that being a jockey in Australia was more dangerous than being a professional boxer, skydiver or motorcyclist. In just over 12 months, four female jockeys have died on Australian racetracks. Training horses is also increasingly fraught and invariably a one-way ticket to the poor house. Lee Freedman, arguably the most successful trainer of his generation, recently relinquished control of his stable because he couldn’t turn a buck.

The Spring Carnival still has much going for it. A glorious spring day at Flemington still feels like an entire city emerging from its winter burrow. And racing still taps into some very Australian traits – our fatalism, our harsh humour, our love of an opinion. As the ABC’s Michael Hutak wrote last year, “the turf encapsulates this country’s will to risk, to transgress, to straighten and to punish.”

But when the booze-hounds catch the last train home, the marquees come down, the horses are sent to the spelling paddock and the celebrities stumble back to the D List, reality sets in. All we’re left with is empty racetracks, dead jockeys and a nagging question – save for a month of manufactured mayhem, is all this hullaballoo economically viable and in any way justifiable?

 on: Jul 30, 2015, 09:00 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Ocean found underneath China’s largest basin

International Business Times
30 Jul 2015 at 09:49 ET

Chinese scientists have discovered what could potentially be a massive hidden ocean underneath the Tarim basin in northwestern Xinjiang, China, the South China Morning Post reported. The basin is one of the driest places on Earth, but the amount of salt water hidden underneath could equal 10 times the amount of water found in all five of the Great Lakes located in the U.S.

Scientists have suspected that the water is a result from high, nearby mountains, and that melt water from those mountains had sipped beneath the basin. “This is a terrifying amount of water,” said professor Li Yan, who led the study at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography in Urumqi, the Xinjiang capital, the South China Morning Post reported. “Never before have people dared to imagine so much water under the sand. Our definition of desert may have to change.”

The Tarim Basin is the world’s largest landlocked basins and also home to China’s biggest desert, the Takla Makan Desert, which is situated in the middle of the basin and is presumed to be the world’s second largest-shifting desert.

Li’s team had accidentally discovered the water; they had actually been looking for carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide can be absorbed in certain regions called “carbon sinks,” and scientists study those “carbon sinks” to better understand climate change. Li’s team had discovered 10 years that carbon dioxide had been disappearing into the basin, but could not understand why. 

    There could be ocean hidden under arid #Xinjiang #China holding "terrifying amount of water"

    — Kristine Servando (@tinssoldier) July 30, 2015

The team collected over 200 underground water samples from different areas in the desert, and by comparing the amount of carbon dioxide in the samples with the amount of carbon dioxide in the melt water, they estimated the amount of water that had flown into the basin. 

Li said his team would work with other research teams to find out if similar “oceans” could potentially exist underneath other large deserts. He said that it is likely large amounts of water will be found underneath the deserts, because according to his team’s calculations, the amount of carbon the “oceans” have the potential to carry can reach a trillion tonnes, which is the same amount of “missing carbon” on the planet.

 on: Jul 30, 2015, 06:56 AM 
Started by Sabrina - Last post by Dav
Hi Linda, also wanted to give a big thanks for linking all of those threads. Fantastic. Have happily been reading over the past couple of days! Thanks again.

 on: Jul 30, 2015, 06:52 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Global population set to hit 9.7 billion people by 2050 despite fall in fertility

Predicted increase of 2.4 billion will complicate efforts to stamp out poverty, inequality and hunger and place further strain on health and education systems

Sam Jones and Mark Anderson
Wednesday 29 July 2015 17.31 BST

Despite a continuing slowdown in the rate of population growth, it is “almost inevitable” that the number of people on the planet will rise from 7.3 billion today to 9.7 billion in 2050, according to the latest UN projections.

Ten years ago, the world population was growing by 1.24% annually; today, the percentage has dropped to 1.18% – or roughly another 83 million people a year. The overall growth rate, which peaked in the late 1960s, has been falling steadily since the 1970s.

The UN report attributes the slowdown to the near-global decline in fertility rates – measured as the average number of children born to a woman over her lifetime – even in Africa, where the rates remain the highest.

However, that fall is being offset by countries in which populations are already large, or where high numbers of children are born. According to the study, nine countries will account for half the world’s population growth between now and 2050: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, the US, Indonesia and Uganda.

“Continued population growth until 2050 is almost inevitable, even if the decline of fertility accelerates,” says the report, World Population Prospects: the 2015 revision.

“There is an 80% probability that the population of the world will be between 8.4 and 8.6 billion in 2030, between 9.4 and 10 billion in 2050 and between 10 and 12.5 billion in 2100.”

By 2050, six countries – China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and the US – are expected to have populations of more than 300 million.

The report suggests that Africa alone will drive more than half of the world’s population growth over the next 35 years, during which time the population of 28 of the continent’s countries will more than double. It is predicted that by 2050, Nigeria’s population will surpass that of the US, making the west African nation the third most populous country in the world.

If current birthrate trends persist, Africa, which contains 27 of the world’s 48 least developed countries, will be the only major area still experiencing substantial population growth after 2050. Consequently, its share of the global population is forecast to rise to 25% in 2050 and 39% by 2100. Asia’s share, meanwhile, will fall to 54% in 2050 and 44% in 2100.

“Regardless of the uncertainty surrounding future trends in fertility in Africa, the large number of young people currently on the continent who will reach adulthood in the coming years and have children of their own, ensures that the region will play a central role in shaping the size and distribution of the world’s population over the coming decades,” says the report.

John Wilmoth, director of the population division in the UN’s department of economic and social affairs, said the new projections laid bare the scale of the task facing the world as it prepares to agree the development framework for the next 15 years.

“The concentration of population growth in the poorest countries presents its own set of challenges, making it more difficult to eradicate poverty and inequality, to combat hunger and malnutrition, and to expand educational enrolment and health systems, all of which are crucial to the success of the new sustainable development agenda,” he said.

Wilmoth explained that although population growth rate had declined “gradually but steadily” since the 1970s, it had done so at different speeds in different parts of the world.

“Africa is currently the region of the world where population growth is still rather rapid due to continued high levels of fertility, but even there we see the sorts of changes that were predicted and expected in the sense that, once populations start to have a higher level of life expectancy, they also come to realise that there’s not the same need to produce as many children,” he said.

“With increasing child survival, it just doesn’t make as much sense to have such large families as it did in the past.”

China, the world’s most populous country with 1.4 billion people, is expected to be overtaken by India (1.3 billion) within the next seven years. From 2030, when its population is projected to reach 1.5 billion, India is likely to experience several decades of growth. China, on the other hand, is set to experience a slight decrease after the 2030s.

Of all the world’s major regions, only Europe can expect a steady decline in its population over the remainder of this century, with its total inhabitants expected to shrink from 738 million people now to 646 million in 2100.

Almost half the people in the world (46%) live in countries with low levels of fertility, where women have fewer than 2.1 children on average during their lifetimes. Such countries include all of Europe and northern America, 20 Asian countries, 17 Latin American or Caribbean ones, three in Oceania and one in Africa.

Another 46% live in “intermediate fertility” countries – such as India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mexico and the Philippines – where women have on average between 2.1 and five children.

The remainder live in “high-fertility” countries, where fertility declines have been only limited and where the average woman has five or more children over her lifetime. All but two of the 21 “high-fertility” countries are in Africa; the largest are Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Uganda and Afghanistan.

The slowdown in population growth provoked by the overall fall in fertility will also cause the proportion of older people to increase over time: the number of older people in the world is projected to be 1.4 billion by 2030, 2.1 billion by 2050, and could rise to 3.2 billion by the turn of the next century.

In Europe, 34% of the population is predicted to be over 60 by 2050 (up from 24% today); in Latin America and the Caribbean, the proportion of people in the same age group will more than double to reach 25% by the middle of the century. The population of Africa, which has the youngest age distribution of any area, will age rapidly, with the proportion of people aged over 60 increasing from 5% today to 9% by 2050.

Although the report predicts that the global population will reach 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, the UN acknowledges that its predictions could be skewed by slower-than-projected declines in fertility.

It currently estimates that global fertility will fall from 2.5 children a woman in 2010-2015 to 2.4 in 2025-2030 and 2.0 in 2095-2100. Steep declines are also projected for the world’s least-developed countries, with the average dropping from 4.3 in 2010-2015 to 3.5 in 2025-2030, and 2.1 in 2095-2100.

However, should fertility rates not decline along the predicted lines – if, for example, all countries had a rate that was half a child above the medium variant – the global population in 2100 could swell to 16.6 billion people, more than five billion more than the current estimate.

“To realise the substantial reductions in fertility projected … it is essential to invest in reproductive health and family planning, particularly in the least-developed countries, so that women and couples can achieve their desired family size,” says the report.

“In 2015, the use of modern contraceptive methods in the least-developed countries was estimated at around 34% among women of reproductive age who were married or in union, and a further 22% of such women had an unmet need for family planning, meaning that they were not using any method of contraception despite a stated desire or intention to avoid or delay childbearing.”

The latest projections are based on the previous report, the 2010 round of national population censuses and recent demographic and health surveys.

 on: Jul 30, 2015, 06:11 AM 
Started by Linda - Last post by Rad
Hi Linda, Skywalker, Pallas, and Kristin

With Pluto transiting it's own S.Node this correlates, in all Souls, to all the dynamics that it has created for itself in order to affect it's on ongoing evolutionary journey. All these dynamics are reflected upon, Capricorn, in order to determine which dynamics need to be brought to culmination, which are meant to be sustained yet evolved in new ways that will reflect the ongoing evolutionary journey of the Soul itself.

The individual and specific nature of the Soul dynamics are of course symbolized and reflected in the entire Pluto paradigm, the EA paradigm, in all birth charts. Within this we also want to focus on the house location of the S.Node of Pluto which will of course be in the sign Capricorn for all Souls on Earth. And, for the vast majority of Soul on the Earth, the S.Node of Pluto is also conjunct the S.Nodes of Jupiter and Saturn.

Thus, it is important to understand and examine the house and sign location of Saturn itself, and all the aspects that it is making to the other planets. All of this in combination correlate to the structural nature of the Soul itself. Thus, with the Pluto transit on it's own S.Node, and through extension the S.Nodes of Saturn and Jupiter, the Soul reflects on these existing structural dynamics that define itself in order to determine what dynamics are no longer needed for it's own ongoing evolution, and those that are meant to be sustained yet evolved in new ways in order for the Soul to continue it's evolution.

A key to understanding the individual evolution of the dynamics being sustained yet evolving is symbolized by the N.Node of Pluto which of course is in Cancer for all Souls on Earth now. And, of course, the house position of that N.Node and the location of it's ruler, the Moon, by it's own house and sign location and all aspects to it. It is these symbols that create the ongoing inner awareness within the Soul of how and why the dynamics that need to culminate occurs, and also of how to use and take forwards the existing dynamics that need to be evolved in order to affect the ongoing evolutionary journey of the Soul itself.

This is the essence of this transit that we can example in any of you wish. Please let me know if you have any questions at this time.

God Bless, Rad

 on: Jul 30, 2015, 05:48 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
CS Monitor

Lithium found in exploding star clears up stellar mystery

Astronomers looking out at Nova Centauri have spotted lithium for the first time in a stellar explosion.

By Michelle Toh, Staff writer July 29, 2015   

Astronomers peering through two telescopes in Chile at the brightest nova of the century so far have found something that could help clear up a longstanding mystery in astrophysics: How much lithium exists in stars.

For the first time, lithium has been detected in material ejected by a nova, a type of stellar explosion displaying a sudden burst of brightness. In this case, the scientists had been observing Nova Centauri, which exploded in 2013, according to the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

“This new finding fills in a long-missing piece in the puzzle representing our galaxy's chemical evolution, and is a big step forward for astronomers trying to understand the amounts of different chemical elements in stars in the Milky Way,” the ESO reported Wednesday.
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While models of the Big Bang at the birth of the universe 13.8 billion years ago allow astronomers to make reasonably accurate calculations about the amount of lithium that should be present, scientists have found that older stars do not have as much lithium as the models suggest, and younger ones have more.

“Lithium has now become an important quantitative test of stellar evolution,” wrote Verne V. Smith in a 2010 National Optical Astronomy Observatory study that looked at the amount of lithium in red giant stars.

In 2012, astronomers looking at the universe watched in awe as a planet was devoured by a red giant – one that contained an abnormally high abundance of lithium, The Christian Science Monitor reported.

Astronomers have long suggested that the lower lithium levels in younger stars “could be explained by novae expelling the element, ‘seeding’ space with lithium, and enriching the interstellar medium from which new stars are born,” according to Reuters.

But they couldn’t find any clear evidence of lithium in novae to prove this hypothesis.

The latest discovery, of lithium being expelled at some 1.24 million miles per hour in Nova Centauri, could – when extrapolated to the billions of other novae that have exploded in the Milky Way's history – explain the unexpectedly large amount of lithium in our galaxy, the ESO said.

“If we imagine the history of the chemical evolution of the Milky Way as a big jigsaw, then lithium from novae was one of the most important and puzzling missing pieces,” said Massimo Della Valle, a coauthor of the study that has been published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The disparity between the observed amount of lithium in older stars and the abundance estimated from Big Bang models, however, still remains a question without answers, according to Professor Della Valle and team leader Luca Izzo.

 on: Jul 30, 2015, 05:46 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
The most polluted US national parks

Air pollution in many national parks, from Yosemite to Joshua Tree and Kings Canyon, means a hike in the ‘fresh air’ is not as healthy as it seems, reports Mother Jones

Julia Lurie for Mother Jones, part of the Guardian Environment Network
Thursday 30 July 2015 12.14 BST

It’s late summer, and Americans are flocking to the country’s national parks for some recreation and fresh air.

But a study released this week by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) found that air in some of the country’s most popular parks is not so fresh – and it’s potentially hazardous. The report rated the country’s 48 parks in three categories: levels of ozone (a pollutant that can irritate or damage lungs), haziness, and the impacts of climate change on the park. Here are the 12 worst contenders (full list available here):

Ozone is a pollutant common in smog, and it’s particularly prevalent on hot summer days. Seventy-five percent of the parks had ozone levels between 2008 and 2012 that were “moderate” or worse, according to the federal government’s Air Quality Index. Four national parks – Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Joshua Tree, and Yosemite – regularly have “unhealthy” ozone levels, meaning that the average hiker should reduce strenuous activity and those with asthma should avoid it altogether. (You can see the air quality in your area here.)

Jobs at Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, including those indoors, come with pollution warnings saying that at times the air quality “may pose human health problems due to air pollution,” according to the report.

Pollution doesn’t just make visitors and employees sick; it also ruins one of the parks’ main attractions: the views. Smog affects vistas in all of the parks; on average, air pollution obstructs 50 miles from view. Here are some examples of how far visitors can see in miles today compared to “natural” levels, when air isn’t affected by human activity.

The NPCA didn’t look into specific causes of air pollution in each location, but generally, the report attributes it to the usual suspects: coal-fired power plants, cars, and industrial and agricultural emissions. Under the regional haze program, developed by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1999, states are required to implement air quality protection plans that reduce human-caused pollution in national parks. The NPCA contends that loopholes prevent power plants and other big polluters from being affected by the rules.

Ulla Reeves, the manager of the NPCA’s clean air campaign, maintains that if enforcement for the regional haze program isn’t improved, only 10% of the national parks will have clean air in 50 years. “It’s surprising and disappointing that parks don’t have the clean air that we assume them to have and that they must have under the law.”

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