Pages: 1 ... 4 5 [6] 7 8 ... 10
 on: Aug 29, 2015, 05:33 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
August 28, 2015

History of galaxies revealed by astronomers for first time

by Chuck Bednar
Red Orbit

For the first time, astronomers have found evidence proving that the structure of a galaxy can change over the course of its lifetime, demonstrating that a large proportion of them have gone through a significant “metamorphosis” after initially being formed.

The study, which has been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, used the Hubble and Herschel telescope to observe roughly 10,000 galaxies and classified each one into two primary types: flat, rotating, disc-shaped galaxies (like the Milky Way); and large, spherical galaxies with a swarm of disordered stars, according to the authors.

As lead author and Cardiff University Professor Steve Eales told redOrbit via email, “The rate at which stars are forming in a galaxy is proportional to the energy output of the galaxy. Essentially we measured the total energy output of all the galaxies in a small region of sky, out in space and therefore back in time, and found that most of the energy output was from disk galaxies.”

“We used this calorimetric measurement to calculate that at least 81 percent of the stars that had ever formed had formed in disk-galaxies like our own,” he added. “However, in the Universe today only 49 percent of the stars are in disk galaxies. Therefore, there must have been a major transformation of disk galaxies into spheroidal galaxies (ellipticals and galaxies with huge stellar bulges) after most of the stars had formed.”

Two main theories to explain this metamorphosis

According to Professor Eales, although experts have previously claimed that this transformation had occurred, he and his colleagues are the first to actually measure its size. They hope that by detecting the first direct evidence of this phenomenon, they will be able to shed new light on the processes responsible for causing these changes to happen in the first place.

Professor Eales told redOrbit that there are two main possible causes for this metamorphosis: “(a) galaxy mergers in which two disk galaxies are scrambled together into a elliptical; or (b) the gradual motion of newly formed stars in a disk into the center of a galaxy, gradually building up a big pile of stars.” He added that the cause may be “something we haven't thought of.”

The first theory proposes that the transformation was caused by a series of cosmic catastrophies in which two disk-dominated galaxies wandered too close to each other, and were forced by the graviational pull to merge into a single entity, which would destroy the disks in the process. The second is a less violent theory in which the stars eventually moved to the galaxy’s center.

Professor Eales also emphasized that the research would not be possible without the Herschel Space Observatory, which is larger than Hubble, has a 3.5m mirror and operates in the infrared part of the spectrum instead of the optical. Herschel, he added, “has made it possible to measure the 50 percent of the energy from galaxies that is obscured by interstellar dust.”

 on: Aug 28, 2015, 11:12 AM 
Started by dudamama - Last post by Gonzalo

"Donde ves que esas caracteristicas a las que aludes se hayan dado "en vidas anteriores" exactamente?"

Esos temas se pueden ver reflejados en la conjunción Urano/Marte/Luna con el Nodo Sur. La serie de nueva de vidas a la vez esta reflejada en que los regentes nodales, Marte y Venus, están en conjunción entre sí, dentro de la fase Nueva, y con los nodos de estos mismos planetas, que también están conjuntos dentro de la fase Nueva.

"Desde que nacio he intentado darle lo mejor, hacemos colecho desde el primer dia, lactancia materna (aunque no exclusiva), porteo, le lleno de besos, contacto fisico, no trabajo para cuidarle al maximo con amor, le he llevado con mi familia para que reciba el amor y besos de todos. Intento que mi bebe sea feliz y tenga un desarrollo armonico. Tambien sigo metodologias como Pikler que espero tengan consecuencias muy positivas en su desarrollo neurologico y psicomotriz. Intento transmitirle vibraciones positivas, cantarle mucho, jugar mucho con el. Y por si fuera poco soy raw vegan asi que me alimento de la manera mas natural y sana posible, mi bebe p ej no ha tenido jamas un colico ni problema alguno de salud. Llevamos una vida super natural alejados de quimicos, etc."

Eso está super bien, sin duda que será de beneficio para el bebé.

"Pero eso no quita que como astrologa aficionada necesite comprender bien su carta y si veo aspectos de tension que pueden ser traumaticos para el o peor aun poner en peligro su vida (pluton cuadra al regente de su asc, y es partil, con luna implicada) haga lo posible por informarme plenamente de que significa y como enfocarlo."

Sí, claro, uno sin duda que puede entender eso. Aún así, es aconsejable no crearse expectativas negativas basadas sólo en símbolos astrológicos. La astrología no crea la realidad, sólo la refleja. Si en tu observación tu bebé está bien, entonces no importa que haya una cuadratura de Plutón con Luna/Urano, o lo que sea: la realidad manda.  En este tiempo, lo más importante es el desarrollo del bebé. Si durante su desarrollo el bebé/niño recibe lo que naturalmente necesita de ti, entonces la posibilidad de que se manifiesten los aspectos más difíciles de la configuración planetaria es más reducida. Con el punto de polaridad estando en la Casa V, en Cáncer, el Nodo Norte en la Casa VIII, regido por Venus en Tauro en la Casa II, en conjunción con los nodos de Marte/Venus, y con Marte, el hecho de estar en el centro de tu vida, y el recibir mucho amor y cuidados de tu parte, esto está sirviendo para que el Alma del niño avance en desarrollar una forma nueva de relacionarse consigo misma, desde su propio centro y de formas más estables que en vidas anteriores en que existieron distintas situaciones de trauma. A través de escuchar con mucha atención-el Nodo Norte de Luna en la Casa VIII, en Libra, regido por Venus en la Casa II-las necesidades esenciales, naturales del niño, él también estará aprendiendo a redefinirse a si mismo, su Alma, desde dentro. A través de empoderarlo, y amarlo, él también aprenderá a ser auto-empoderado, y a amarse a si mismo; a través de la dinámica del cuidar, él aprenderá a cuidarse a si mismo. Estas son intenciones evolutivas de fondo que existen en el Alma del niño, de las cuales dependen los demás aspectos de su evolución.

Bendiciones, Gonzalo       

 on: Aug 28, 2015, 07:49 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Here’s the heartbreaking truth about those ‘adorable’ Doodle dogs

Evelyn Nieves, AlterNet
27 Aug 2015 at 13:28 ET   

The family—a couple and their four children, ages 5 to 11—wanted a dog in the worst way. Not just any dog, but the type more popular today than any of the dazzling breeds at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.

They wanted a labradoodle.

With luck and money, they found one not far from where they live in Connecticut. The breeder claimed the dog came from several generations of labradoodles, who in turn were carefully bred from miniature poodles and Labrador retrievers in Australia, where labradoodles were popularized 25 years ago. A ball of chocolate fluff, the puppy cost $2,800. That’s more than it would have cost the family to adopt every single dog at their local shelter. But it was not outlandishly priced for a labradoodle.

The family installed an electric fence inside the house to keep the pup contained, paid for obedience classes from a trainer, and were set.

Only they weren’t. Theirs is a cautionary tale, an increasingly common one, of what can happen when a dog becomes too popular for its own good.

The puppy did not have the docile temperament of a lab, as advertised. He was high-strung, as poodles can be sometimes, especially miniature poodles. He was not good with children; he competed with them as if they were littermates—scolding, wrestling, biting them. He was not, as labradoodles are marketed, low-maintenance. Like both a poodle and a labrador, the puppy craved constant company. Being confined to two rooms by an absurd, zapping, invisible “fence” drove him crazy. So did the children and the nanny, who were inconsistent with their attention and discipline.

Like more and more labradoodles—and their cousins, the golden doodles, a golden retriever-poodle mix—this pup was dumped. He ended up at the Doodle Rescue Collective, Inc., based in Dumont, New Jersey, which fields calls from doodle owners all over the country desperate to dump their dogs.

Since the Doodle Rescue Collective began rescuing doodles in 2006, it has helped over 1,200 dogs and counting. And it is not alone. There are dozens of other poodle-mix rescues, including rescues for cockapoos, or cocker spaniel-poodle mixes; schnoodles, for schnauzer-poodles; chi-poos, for chihuahua poodles; maltipoos, for maltese-poodle mixes; and so on. The rescues often spend thousands of dollars in healthcare and rehabilitation for these so-called designer dogs, mutts actually, whose owners spent months on breeder waiting lists to get them, and thousands of dollars to buy them, only to abandon them within a year or two.

Of course, not all labradoodle breeders run puppy mills. Gail Widman, president of the Australian Labradoodle Club of America, said that all members of the club must adhere to strict breeding standards, using DNA tests as proof, register with the source group in Australia, and guarantee the health and temperament of their dogs.

Given all those qualifications, Widman said, for people who might not be able to have a dog otherwise because of allergies, the true labradoodle, she claimed, “is the perfect dog.”

“You’ll be hard-pressed to find a real Australian labradoodle in a shelter,” Widman said. “They have wonderful temperaments, no smell, no shedding—they’re brilliant dogs and they simply do not get given up.”

But it is true, Widman added, “That a lot of people [breeders] call their dogs Australian labradoodles and they aren’t.”

These dogs have become victims of their hype, rescuers say. It’s a phenomenon that happens to many breeds of dog. Every time a type of dog captures the public’s imagination, the clamor surrounding it creates new backyard breeders, a new product for puppy mills, and new owners swept up by the hype. Dalmatians were all the rage after Disney’s 101 Dalmations was released. Cocker spaniels had their day after Disney’s Lady and the Tramp. Paris Hilton made teacup Chihuahuas dressed up in tutus a fleeting fad.

Each time a breed becomes too popular, it gets inbred and overbred, causing severe health problems or behavioral issues the dogs’ guardians don’t want to pay for or live with. Labradoodles and other poodle mixes are marketed as hypo-allergenic, non-shedding and odor-free, attracting some people who have never lived with a dog before, but like the idea of one that sounds low-maintenance.

Labradoodles attract some people, in short, who probably shouldn’t own dogs.

Meanwhile, dogs—or cats—that might be a better fit languish in shelters, or are euthanized for lack of space. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) estimates that out of the six to eight million dogs and cats animal shelters care for each year, three to four million healthy, adoptable animals are euthanized.

Puppy mill rescue teams are finding more and more designer dogs in farms where dogs are kept in misery— in cages, usually in filthy conditions, in every state in the country. Such dogs are often in poor health. Breeding females are treated like puppy factories, pregnant at every heat for years on end. A breeder may use the same miniature poodle—or cockapoo, which looks like a miniature poodle—to breed labradoodles, maltipoos, schnoodles, affenpoos (affenpinscher-poodles) or jackipoos (Jack Russell terrier-poodles).

Last week, the HSUS announced it had investigated a large suspected puppy mill in Arkansas on Thursday, and posted a picture of one of the 121 dogs it rescued, a severely matted goldendoodle.

Kathleen Summers, director of outreach and research for the Humane Society’s Stop Puppy Mills Campaign, said the HSUS is finding designer dogs in half of all the puppy mills it investigates.

“The hybrid breeds are very attractive for the puppy mills to produce,” Summers said. “They really cash in on the whole ‘hypoallergenic’ sales pitch that there are some dogs that don’t shed and that won’t aggravate some people’s allergies. Puppy mill breeders try to sell the notion that anything mixed with poodle is going to be hypoallergenic.”

While people research their breeders on the Internet, what they don’t know, Summers said, is the amount of false advertising presented in the marketing of the dogs.

“Most of the websites for puppy mills that we’ve shut down for horrific conditions,” Summers said, “say things on their site like ‘We don’t support puppy mills.'”

No one has lamented the popularity of the doodles more urgently than Wally Conron, who created the first labradoodle. As the puppy-breeding manager at the Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia, Conron was trying to fulfill the need for a guide dog from a woman in Hawaii whose husband was allergic to dogs. He bred a standard poodle with a Labrador retriever for this couple. But there was more than one puppy in the litter, and no one on his three- to six-month waiting list for guide dogs wanted a crossbreed. So, “We came up with the name labradoodle,” Conron said in a recent interview with the Associated Press. “We told people we had a new dog and all of a sudden, people wanted this wonder dog.”

With all the breeds and crossbreeds in the world, Conron says, he is horrified at the proliferation of labradoodles and the other poodle mixes. He blames himself for “creating a Frankenstein.” Instead of breeding out problems, he said, clueless and unscrupulous breeders are breeding them in.

“For every perfect one,” he says, “you’re going to find a lot of crazy ones.”

The gold standard for labradoodles remains the Rutland Manor Labradoodle Breeding and Research Center in Australia, which now calls its dogs “cobberdogs.” Rutland Manor claims the true Australian labradoodle has developed over two decades of careful breeding into a breed in its own right. Its hallmarks, the Rutland Manor website says, “are a highly developed intuitive nature, a love of training and a yearning for eye contact. It has a 98 percent record for allergy friendliness, a reliably non-shedding coat and is sociable and non-aggressive.

But at the Carolina Poodle Rescue, outside Spartanberg, S.C., Donna Ezell, who has been rescuing poodles for 15 years, said that labradoodles and other poodle mixes she sees are not only unpredictable in size, shape and looks, but also in temperament.

“If you have a purebred poodle or a purebred boxer from a reputable breeder,” she said, “you know what you’re going to get. You know what it’s going to look like. You have a pretty good idea of its temperament. With the doodles and maltipoos and all these others, they don’t breed true. You can’t predict what they’ll be. They all look different. They have different temperaments. And some are non-shedding, some are not.”

Jacqueline Yorke of the Doodle Rescue Collective, said poodle-mix owners are often surprised to find that they are still allergic to their “hypoallergenic” dogs. “They may be allergic to the dog’s saliva, or the skin it sheds or the fur it does shed,” she said. “And they’ve also found out that non-shedding does not mean no work. If the fur doesn’t shed, it grows and grows. They need to be mowed down and groomed every six to eight weeks.”

Yorke said the rescue has taken in dogs with fur so matted the dogs were unable to relieve themselves; their feces were stuck in their fur.

Time and again, the rescue has fostered dogs with the same health conditions, including hip dysplasia, cataracts, torn anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, injuries which require expensive surgery, and megaesophagus, a potentially life-threatening disease which causes the dog to choke on its food.

But the primary reason doodles end up in the rescue, Yorke said, are issues with children.”We just got three more,” she said. “Every one listed ‘aggressive with children.'”

The poor dog featured at the beginning of this article ended up being euthanized after he attacked and bit Yorke and was evaluated by veterinarians and trainers who deemed him dangerous. But that kind of extreme situation, Yorke said, is rare.

One bit of good news, Yorke said, is that doodles and other designer dogs are so popular rescues have long waiting lists of potential adopters.

“We have hundreds on our list,” Yorke said. Most will not make the cut when vetted by the group. The rescue will not adopt out doodles to families with small children, for example. The goal is to provide the dogs a permanent home, Yorke said, and not see them back at the rescue.

“We get hate mail all the time from people mad at us for not handing them a dog. They’ll say, ‘Well, I’m going to a breeder.'”

Her response? Buyer beware.

 on: Aug 28, 2015, 06:42 AM 
Started by Rose Marcus - Last post by Rad
Józef Wesołowski, defendant in Vatican's first child abuse trial, dies

The Holy See’s former ambassador to the Dominican Republic was due to go on trial last month, but hearing was postponed after he was taken ill

Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Rome
Friday 28 August 2015 10.01 BST

The former Vatican ambassador Józef Wesołowski has died before he was due to go on trial for paedophilia, dealing a significant blow to Pope Francis’s efforts to tackle child sex abuse within the Catholic church.

Wesołowski was found dead at his Vatican residence early on Friday morning, the Holy See said in a statement. He is believed to have died from natural causes and a postmortem examination will be carried out on Friday to confirm the cause of death.

The Polish former archbishop was to be the first Vatican official to be tried within the walls of the Holy See for allegedly sexually abusing children while ambassador to the Dominican Republic.
First Vatican child abuse trial places former nuncio in dock
Read more

The trial was scheduled to start on 11 July but was postponed after Wesołowski was taken to hospital after falling ill. Court proceedings were suspended indefinitely and were due to recommence once the accused’s health had improved.

Wesołowski, 67, returned to the Vatican two years ago amid reports that he had abused shoeshine boys plucked from the promenade in Santo Domingo. He was defrocked and arrested in 2014 and lived under house arrest while awaiting trial. In addition to the charges relating to his time as ambassador, Wesołowski was also accused of possessing child pornography at the Vatican.

His trial was due to combine evidence gathered by the Holy See and the Dominican authorities. The case had been highly anticipated as a test of the Vatican’s willingness to investigate paedophilia and, if Wesołowski had been found guilty, hand down a punishment befitting the crimes.

The failure to bring the ex-nuncio to trial marks a significant setback in Francis’s efforts to tackle sexual abuse within the Catholic church. The pontiff has won praise for his efforts to reform the way the Vatican handles paedophilia within its ranks, attempting to overhaul a culture of cover-ups that has marred the church’s reputation in recent years.
George Pell criticised by Catholic bishop as 'destroyer of unity' on child sex abuse
Read more

In June, the pope set up a tribunal to specifically investigate bishops accused of failing to protect children and adults from abuse, aiming to hold clergy complicit in paedophilia to account. The tribunal was established following a recommendation by the Vatican’s commission for the protection of minors, a body including two survivors of clerical abuse which was formed to advise the Holy See.

While such reforms have been welcomed, one of the Vatican’s highest-ranking officials has recently come under criticism for his handling of paedophilia cases. Cardinal George Pell, brought to the Vatican to revamp its murky finances, was this week accused of being a “destroyer of unity” on child sex abuse in his native Australia.

The accusation was made at the country’s royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse by bishop Geoffrey Robinson, where Pell is due to give evidence in November. Robinson also said the pope had failed to show strong leadership on paedophilia and one of his predecessors, John Paul II, “handled the abuse poorly”.

 on: Aug 28, 2015, 06:40 AM 
Started by Rose Marcus - Last post by Rad
Pope Francis sends letter praising gay children's book

Italian book that explores different family types including same sex was banned by mayor of Venice, but pontiff becomes unlikely supporter

Rosie Scammell in Rome
Friday 28 August 2015 13.14 BST

The hippos, kangaroos and penguins adorning the cover of Piccolo Uovo (Little Egg) give little hint of the political and religious storm the children’s book has caused. While following the adventures of an egg may seem harmless enough, its discovery of different family types – including same sex – has prompted a backlash by conservatives who accuse Italian author Francesca Pardi of promoting a pro-homosexuality gender theory.

In the book, the egg encounters a pair of gay penguins, lesbian rabbits successfully bringing up a family, as well as other family models, including a single parent hippo, a mixed race dog couple, and kangaroos that have adopted polar bear cubs.

The book, however, was met with disapproval by Venice’s new mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, who in June banned Piccolo Uovo and about 50 other titles from schools. The decision led more than 250 Italian authors to demand their own books be removed from the city’s shelves, a move one writer described as a “protest against an appalling gesture of censorship and ignorance”.

Now Pardi has found an unlikely supporter in Pope Francis, who through his staff has written to the author praising her work. “His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values,” wrote Peter B Wells, a senior official at the Vatican secretariat of state.

The letter, dated 9 July and recently seen by the Guardian, was a response to a parcel of children’s books sent by Pardi to the pontiff in June. The collection from her publisher, Lo Stampatello, including seven or eight books which deal with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues (LGBT), was accompanied by a heartfelt letter from the author describing the attacks she has come under in recent months.

“Many parishes across the country are in this period sullying our name and telling falsehoods about our work which deeply offends us,” she wrote. “We have respect for Catholics ... A lot of Catholics give back the same respect, why can’t we have the whole hierarchy of the church behind us?”

Pardi said she had not expected a reply and was surprised to receive the letter at her Milan home. “It’s not that I think that he’s for gay families, because there’s the Catholic doctrine, but we mustn’t think that we don’t have rights,” she said.

The Vatican deems homosexual relationships “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to natural law”, preaching that gay people must live a life of chastity in order to be good Catholics. While such a doctrine has effectively excluded people in same-sex relationships from the church, Pope Francis has adopted a more welcoming approach during his papacy.

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” he said in 2013. The same year, a gay man in France told his local newspaper he had received a reassuring phone call from the pope – a claim the Vatican denied.

The pope’s more inclusive approach has been countered by those within the Vatican. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, said Ireland’s decision to legalise gay marriage in May was a “defeat for humanity”.

Despite the pope’s praise of Pardi’s work, a significant shift in the Vatican’s view of gay relationships is unlikely. The pontiff will next month head to the World Meeting of Families, gathering Catholics from across the globe in Philadelphia in the US, but LGBT groups have not been invited to air their views.

Catholics worldwide have started campaigning against the pope’s openness, with more than half a million signing a petition calling on Francis to reaffirm church teachings on gay people and divorcees.

Signatories of the Filial appeal aim to have an impact on the Vatican’s synod on the family in October, when church teachings will be discussed by the world’s leading churchmen. The petition has notably been signed by traditionalist Cardinal Raymond Burke, who was demoted by the pope last year.

Catholicism has a strong influence on Italian society, and Pardi’s letter to the pope also took aim at the country’s “we defend our children” committee, which in June brought hundreds of thousands of people to Rome to protest against gay parenting.

But attitudes in Italy are changing, with recent polls showing the majority of voters are in favour of giving rights to gay couples. Pardi is herself in a same-sex relationship with her business partner, Maria Silvia Fiengo, but the pair had to travel to Spain to be legally married. Granted no legal rights to have a family in Italy, they had their four children in the Netherlands.

Although gay marriage and adoption are off the government agenda, Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi, has pledged to legislate for same-sex unions this year. He has come under growing pressure to fulfil the promise following a decision by the European court of human rights, which ruled that Italy failed to protect same-sex couples.

 on: Aug 28, 2015, 06:34 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Plastic fishing in the Southern Ocean

In one of the remotest places on Earth, a scientist is measuring for the first time the concentration of plastic particles that can float on the sea surface for hundreds or even thousands of years

Alok Jha, Southern Ocean

Erik van Sebille is looking for something very much out of the ordinary in the Southern Ocean: plastic. He has come to one of the most remote parts of the world – as far as it is possible to go from major concentrations of people – to look for the stuff humans throw away.

Van Sebille, an oceanographer at the University of New South Wales and one of the research leaders on the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, was one of the first to start his scientific work aboard the Shokalskiy. In the morning on our first full day at sea, he threw a two-metre-long plankton net, with a pint-sized jar attached to one end, overboard. After five minutes dragging the assembly behind the ship, he fished out the jar and held in his hands something that looked a bit like pea soup – seawater filled with plankton, krill and, perhaps, bits of plastic. For his research, he will take many more seawater samples at different latitudes, sieving each one to identify the constituent parts.

The plastic he is looking for is the stuff that starts off as consumer goods and ends up in the sea as waste. The plastic is broken down over time, by sunlight, into fragments no more than a millimetre across. These particles can float for hundreds to thousands of years on the surface of the sea. Scientists have identified huge areas of the North Atlantic and Pacific oceans, for example, where the water currents force the plastic particles to accumulate. In some of these places, there seems to be more plastic than plankton on the surface. The particles can attract algae, absorb toxic chemicals and have major impacts on the entire marine food chain.

So far no one has carried out measurements of plastic in the Southern Ocean, partly because it is so remote but also because oceanographers have assumed that the prevailing surface currents would limit any plastic build-up there. Van Sebille is aiming to fill that knowledge gap.

“We want to find out, in a systematic way, how much plastic there is,” he tells me. “Especially if, as we go from relatively close to New Zealand and further south, how quickly the amount of plastic actually decreases.”

General measurements of the sea also began last night: one of the science teams attached a half-metre-long metal tube, bristling with electronic sensors, to a long rope and plunged it into the sea. Dragged along behind the boat for the duration of the trip to Antarctica, the $25,000 “Exoprobe” will record a range of variables – sea temperature, salinity, pH – every few seconds to build a detailed picture of the Southern Ocean along our route.

On the 1911-14 expedition that Douglas Mawson led, his team pulled up buckets of sea water a few times and used a thermometer to measure its temperature. The 2013 version can measure the sea's features almost continuously day and night, providing thousands of data points every day. In recent decades, Earth-observation satellites have measured the surface temperature of the ocean from space, but no one has directly probed it in this way for more than a century.

By lunchtime, the researchers had reeled in the Exoprobe to download its first 12 hours of measurements and, more importantly, to ensure that it was still in one piece and hadn't been bitten by any inquisitive sharks.

On board, the mood was bright. The sun unexpectedly warmed the decks and the wind was light. On the observation deck above the bridge, it was so peaceful that, at times, it would have been possible to believe we were on a tropical cruise rather than aboard a working scientific research vessel. The wave of sea sickness had, thankfully, calmed and many of my fellow passengers had recovered enough to start getting involved with the research projects.

Some identified and counted birds from vantage points at the bridge of the ship. Others looked on at the stern deck as expedition leader Chris Fogwill, a glaciologist at the University of New South Wales, began his collection of plankton from the sea surface, using the same set-up of jars and nets that van Sebille was using to find plastic.

“The Southern Ocean, at this time of year, really starts to bloom with huge amounts of biological productivity going on,” says Fogwill. “What we're going to do is sieve it and then we'll see what forms of plankton we have in there once we have it all cleaned up and ready to go. We'll do this every day to get the latitudinal variability as we go down.”

The data Fogwill collects will provide a baseline of information for scientists who want to study the variability of the Earth's climate over millions of years.

“The plankton on the floor of the ocean, you can compare it with tree rings,” says van Sebille. “There's layers being formed over millions of years.”

As the plankton that lives at the surface of the sea dies, it sinks down to the bottom - what oceanographers call “marine snow”. In some places, this can be hundreds of metres deep on the sea bed. Studying what species are present in the different layers can provide insights into past climate. “Sometimes you have tropical species, sometimes sub-tropical,” van Sebille. “To interpret that data you need to have a baseline, you need to know what's at the surface of the ocean right now.”

Other scientific research projects – including surveying sea mammals and taking cores of mud and ice – will begin in the coming days. And, very soon, we'll see our first penguins. Meanwhile, as the sun went down (though it never went dark) on the second day, a few passengers reported seeing something equally beguiling: a pod of dolphins at the bow of the Shokalskiy, leaping and racing our lumbering ship.

 on: Aug 28, 2015, 06:28 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
The microscopic magic of plankton

Plankton are the tiny enablers of life on Earth, but their fragile ecosystems are under attack from climate change. A three-year study is helping marine experts understand them for the first time

The beauty of plankton – in pictures:

John Vidal
Aug 28 2015

In the astonishing world of plankton, bright pink, micron-sized dinoflagellates looking like spaceships glide slowly over the surface of the sea; beautiful, flute-like tintinnids exchange genes temporarily with each other; and slender chaetognatha, or arrow worms, bristle with hairs and become cannibals as they gobble up their relatives.

These and a million other mostly microscopic planktonic species of viruses, microbes, larvae and eukaryotes are the largely invisible origins of life, the very bottom of the food chain and the enablers of all existence. Together, these tiny, single-cell life forms that drift on the upper layer of the oceans produce half our oxygen, act as carbon sinks, influence our weather and serve as the base of the ocean food web.

But while they may transform the ocean, the atmosphere and the terrestrial environment, they inhabit a world that is barely known and which has only recently been understood to be as complex and diverse as anything found in the rainforests.

Thanks to new photographic techniques derived from medical imagery and the ocean schooner Tara, which has spent years plying the oceans collecting plankton, we can now see the astonishing richness of what is known as the “drifting world”. It is, says Christian Sardet, co-founder of the Laboratory of Cell Biology at the marine station of Villefranche-sur-Mer, even more extraordinary because this world of plankton represents all branches of the tree of life.

Sardet was a scientific co-ordinator of the Tara Oceans expedition, a three-year global voyage to all the world’s oceans to study plankton. “My friend Eric Karsenti, a molecular biologist, suggested we should do a study of plankton. But I did not want to do hard science. I had to learn about plankton. For me, Tara was more of an exploration than a hard scientific expedition. Plankton have not really been explored,” he says.

He spent many weeks at sea, concentrating on filming and recording, but together the teams of zoologists, marine biologists and other scientists on the Tara took more than 35,000 samples from 200 locations.

Using different types of net they collected and sequenced nearly a billion genetic barcodes and discovered, at depths of up to 1,000 metres, unknown worlds of viruses, bacteria, worms, gelatinous creatures and strange photosynthetic organisms. Many had never been seen before or even imagined and the Tara expeditions have transformed the study of our oceans.

“Plankton are a huge range of sizes. They are very fragile. You have to collect them and photograph them in a day,” says Sardet. “I had a small laboratory on the Tara. New submersible cameras with micro lenses made it possible to film ocean life for the first time. I decided to film everything on black film to bring out the natural colours.

“Just as on land you have hotspots, places that are particularly rich and diverse. You may have a huge number of plankton in the Arctic, but the diversity there may be quite small and be dominated by a few species. In equatorial areas, just as on land, you have a huge diversity.”

Sardet’s book, called Plankton, merges science with art and illustrates what he calls “the irreplaceable beauty and diversity of planktonic life forms”, but it comes with a warning that the world’s oceans are being changed by climate change and acidification.

“Some data suggest phytoplankton have significantly declined in the world’s oceans over the past century,” he says. “On the other hand, some warm water predators such as jellyfish are thriving. Whether we are witnessing an actual global decline or massive changes in planktonic distribution will require more study. Certainly many species will be forced to adapt.

“We have modified the ecosystems by diminishing the big predators. No one knows if what man has done is reversible. We are closer to the start than to the end of what there is to know.”

Plankton: Wonders of the Drifting World is published by University of Chicago Press. Click here to order a copy for £31.50

 on: Aug 28, 2015, 06:23 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
CS Monitor

Butterflies in space? Hubble beams back specular image of iridescent 'wings'

Two stars, dust, and luck creates the phenomenon, according to NASA, but how exactly that occurs is 'one of the great classic problems of modern astrophysics.'

By Kelsey Warner, Staff August 27, 2015   

In space, stardust can mimic familiar Earthly shapes. An example of this was recently beamed back from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope: stunning images of a butterfly nebula.

The butterfly in the cosmos is actually called the Twin Jet Nebula, as well as the much less descriptive (to non-astronomers) PN M2-9.

The phenomenon is created through a bit of good fortune, NASA acknowledges, as well as a large amount of dust surrounding a slowly dying larger star, accompanied by a smaller star, in this case a small white dwarf, which come together with the effect of two shimmering wings. Both "wings" stretch from the central two-star system. The winged shape is believed to be created from the binary stars orbiting a common mass and fueled by two enormous gas jets speeding through space at 621,400 mph, each jet on a trajectory that is curved with the orbit paths of the two stars. The expansion has been measured, according to NASA, and scientists estimate the nebula was created a relatively short 1,200 years ago.
Recommended: Could you pass Astronomy 101? Take the quiz!

The glowing and expanding shells of gas clearly visible in the image represent the final stages of life for an old star of low to intermediate mass according to NASA. "Astronomers have found that the two stars in this pair each have around the same mass as the sun, ranging from 0.6 to 1.0 solar masses for the smaller star, and from 1.0 to 1.4 solar masses for its larger companion," NASA reports.

The multitude of colors captured by the Hubble image demonstrates the complexity of the so-called Twin Jet Nebula, which glows because the larger dying star has shed its outer layers, with help from the white dwarf's orbit, revealing a core that illuminates the surrounding action. The image highlights the nebula’s twin shells and tendrils of expanding gas in great detail. Hubble has captured many butterfly nebulae before, and this one in particular was imaged previously in 1997, but Hubble captured PN M2-9 in June of 2015 using newer technology, and therefore capturing greater detail.

PN-M2 9 is in fact descriptively named. The M refers to Rudolph Minkowski, a German-American astronomer who first discovered the nebula in 1947. The PN references the fact that M2-9 is a planetary nebula.

Another research team at the European Southern Observatory in Chile also captured images, released in June, of another butterfly nebula; this one believed to be much earlier in its formation, and therefore that much more important to observe, according to the research team. A lead researcher in its study, Pierre Kervella, called the origin of butterfly nebula "one of the great classic problems of modern astrophysics."

Mr. Kervella said his team is trying to track the evolution of this butterfly nebula. He hopes to determine "how, exactly, stars return their valuable payload of metals back into space – an important process, because it is this material that will be used to produce later generations of planetary systems."

 on: Aug 28, 2015, 06:20 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Ocean warming and acidification needs more attention, argues US

    Concern growing over climate change-induced warming on marine life
    US to raise issue in Paris climate talks and call for more research

Oliver Milman in Seattle
Thursday 27 August 2015 14.37 BST

The US government has urged the international community to focus more on the impact of climate change on the oceans, amid growing concern over changes affecting corals, shellfish and other marine life.
Naomi Klein on climate change: 'I thought it best to write about my own raw terror'
Read more

The US will raise the issue at United Nations climate talks in Paris later this year. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will be asked to devote more research to the issue.

“We are asking the IPCC in their next series of reports to focus more on ocean and cryosphere [ice ecosystem] issues,” David Balton, deputy assistant secretary for oceans and fisheries at the US State Department, said.

“In my judgment, more attention needs to be paid to the climate change effects upon the ocean areas of the world,” Balton said. “We need to keep pushing up until the Paris conference and beyond.

“Ultimately, we need to change the way we live if we’re to keep the planet in the safe zone.”

Around half of all greenhouse gases produced by the burning of fossil fuels and other activities are absorbed by the world’s oceans, which are warming steadily.

This has caused sea levels to rise and the oceans to become around 30% more acidic than in pre-industrial times. In acidic water, corals and shellfish struggle to form skeletons and shells.

An Australian-led study released this week, which examined the impact of climate change on 13,000 marine species, found that while some fish may be able to move into cooler areas, others face extinction due to warming waters. Species on the Great Barrier Reef are considered to be at particular risk.

US government scientists have voiced their concern over recent signals that marine life is under pressure. An enormous toxic algal bloom nicknamed the “blob”, stretching from the Gulf of Alaska to the coast of Mexico, has been linked to the deaths of 30 large whales washed up on Alaskan coasts.

More than 250,000 Pacific salmon have died or are dying, meanwhile, due to warm temperatures in the Columbia river. Scientists predict that up to 80% of the sockeye salmon population, which swim up the river from the ocean to spawn, could ultimately be wiped out.

Warming water causes outbreaks of disease among some fish, as well as triggering problems high up the food chain by reducing the number of small prey fish.

“This year is looking an awful lot like what climate-change predictions for the future look like,” said Toby Kock, a scientist at the US Geological Survey.

Another government scientist, Dr John Stein, science and research director at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, said people were “having to change the way they do things right now” because of changes to the oceans, citing the decision by some US shellfish farmers to move their operations.

Stein, who is based in Seattle, added that there was a “fair amount of political challenge” in talking about climate change.

“On this coast you can talk about climate change, in certain parts of the country you cannot,” he said, in reference to a reported ban by the Florida governor of any reference to climate change by public officials.

“We have a very diverse Congress and there are some of them that are true deniers and I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to reach them,” Stein said. “But you can talk to a broader section of Congress about severe drought and flood and they will listen.

“Sometimes you have to craft your message in a way that gets resonance.”

Michael Gravitz, director of policy at the Marine Conservation Institute, a US-based nonprofit, said: “It’s likely the IPCC has done less on oceans than the general atmosphere and we hope that will change.”

Gravitz said overfishing was another blight on ocean ecosystems, with just 10% of the world’s fish populations not under significant stress.

 on: Aug 28, 2015, 06:18 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Slashing household solar subsides will kill off industry, government told

Renewable energy sector condemns proposal to cut feed-in-tariff for small-scale solar installations by almost 90% from 1 January

Terry Macalister
Thursday 27 August 2015 17.48 BST

The government wants to slash by 87% subsidies for householders who install solar panels on their rooftops, in a move that renewable energy experts warn could kill off a promising industry.

The potential reductions in the level of feed-in tariff (FIT), contained in a long-awaited consultation document released by the Department of Energy & Climate Change (Decc), and are far larger than expected.

The assault on solar power comes after ministerial decisions to remove financial aid from new onshore wind farms and slash home energy efficiency measures. There is even speculation that Decc could be wound up as a standalone department.

From 1 January, ministers are proposing reducing the feed-in tariff for smaller scale solar installations from 12.47p per kilowatt hour to 1.63p with large standalone units eligible for subsidies of 1.03p per kWh, compared with 4.28p today.

The government has blamed concerns that the £7.6bn budget for renewables will be drastically overspent, and argues that solar and onshore wind should be able to largely support themselves.

“We are taking urgent action to get a grip of this overspend and protect hardworking bill payers. Our support has driven down the cost of renewable energy significantly,” said a Decc spokeswoman. “As costs continue to fall and we move towards sustainable electricity investment, it becomes easier for parts of the renewables industry to survive without subsidies.”

But Decc documents include admissions that the proposed cuts in the solar tariff could lead to many fewer installations.

“There is a risk that these changes – combined with the separate consultation proposals to remove pre-accreditation – may result in significantly reduced rates of deployment,” it says in an impact assessment.

The Solar Trade Association reacted angrily to the move. “We regret that proposals to suddenly cut tariffs combined with the threat of closure of the scheme next January will spark a massive market rush,” said Mike Landy, its head of policy.

“This is the antithesis of a sensible policy for achieving better public value for money while safeguarding the British solar industry.”

Colin Calder, chief executive of a solar supply firm PassivSystems, put it more strongly, saying: “It is extremely disappointing to see the government once more targeting the rooftop solar PV [photovoltaics] market with tariff changes that are so extreme they will destroy an entire industry overnight, putting thousands of jobs and many businesses at risk.”

Juliet Davenport, chief executive of leading green power supplier Good Energy, hoped ministers would change their minds. “The feed-in tariff has transformed the way the UK generates its power over the last three years, with over 21% of the UK’s power coming from renewables in the early part of 2015, and over 700,000 homes generating their own power,” she said.

Environmental campaigners at Friends of the Earth said the move further undermined David Cameron’s credibility on tackling climate change in the runup to key talks in Paris later this year.

“These absurd solar cuts will send UK energy policy massively in the wrong direction and prevent almost a million homes, schools and hospitals from plugging in to clean, renewable energy,” said Alasdair Cameron at Friends of the Earth.

Samir Brikho, chief executive of engineering group Amec Foster Wheeler, warned that constant changes of policy were undermining confidence of the supply sector. “Uncertainty in the market is not helpful when you are trying to create a stable business,” he said.

But the government consultation, which is open to comments until 23 October, received support from the EEF manufacturers federation which has long expressed concern about high energy prices and the expense of aid going to renewable energy.

“With the costs of government energy policy surpassing previous projections and the … budget already looking like it’s been maxed out, government is right to be getting to grips with the issue,” said EEF’s Richard Warren.

Pages: 1 ... 4 5 [6] 7 8 ... 10