Yellowstone supervolcano could blow faster than thought, destroy all of mankind

Arizona State University researchers have analyzed minerals around the supervolcano at Yellowstone National Park and have come to a startling conclusion. It could blow much faster than previously expected, potentially wiping out life as we know it. According to National Geographic, the researchers, Hannah Shamloo and Christy Till, analyzed minerals in fossilized ash from the most recent eruption. What they discovered surprised them – the changes in temperature and composition only took a few decades, much faster than the centuries previously thought. “We expected that there might be processes happening over thousands of years preceding the eruption,” said Till said in an interview with the New York Times. The supervolcano last erupted about 630,000 years ago, according to National Geographic. Prior to that, it was 1.3 million years ago, per a report from ZME Science. If another eruption were to take place, the researchers found that the supervolcano would spare almost nothing in its wrath. It would shoot 2,500 times more material than Mount St. Helens did in 1980 and could cover most of the continguous U.S. in ash, possibly putting the planet into a volcanic winter. The new discovery, which was presented in August after a previous version of the study, comes after another study in 2011 which found the magma reservoir in Yellowstone has moved considerably, gaining about 10 inches in seven years. “It’s an extraordinary uplift, because it covers such a large area and the rates are so high,” the University of Utah’s Bob Smith, an expert in Yellowstone volcanism, told National Geographic six years ago. Despite the concerns about an eruption happening relatively soon, Shamloo told The Times that more research needed to be done before a definite conclusion could be drawn. In June, the supervolcano was hit with more than 400 earthquakes in one week, though researchers cautioned it was nothing nothing to be alarmed about. For its part, NASA is working on a way to prevent the supervolcano from destroying mankind, including trying to cool the magma before it spills over.


Mars once had a lake 10 times larger than the Great Lakes

Scientists have known for some time that Mars once had lots and lots of water — in fact, some of it is still there — but exactly where it existed on the planet has been pretty difficult to figure out thanks to billions of years of surface erosion. Now, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has discovered one place on the red planet that held a whole bunch of the life-giving liquid: an incredibly massive lake that, during its peak, held ten times the amount of water of all the Great Lakes, combined. It’s an incredible discovery, and one that could help inform future exploration of Mars in the hopes of finding evidence that life once existed there. The idea that Mars was one a life-giving planet much like our own is one that has tantalized scientists for a long, long time, and if they ever hope to prove it, they now have a promising lead on where to start looking. But even if Mars never hosted living organisms, its colossal lake could still help inform researchers painting the picture of life’s origins here on Earth. “Even if we never find evidence that there’s been life on Mars, this site can tell us about the type of environment where life may have begun on Earth,” Paul Niles of NASA’s Johnson Space Center explains. “Volcanic activity combined with standing water provided conditions that were likely similar to conditions that existed on Earth at about the same time — when early life was evolving here.” The lake was discovered thanks to the detection of huge mineral deposits hiding underneath the surface. It is believed that those minerals were the byproduct of volcanic underwater vents, much like those that exist deep in Earth’s oceans. On our planet, those hydrothermal vents actually host life, but it’s unclear whether the same was true for ancient Mars. At the moment, the idea of a massive Martian lake with hydrothermal features is incredibly exciting, but we’re still a long way from actually finding anything suggesting the existence of life there. There are no current plans to actually investigate the site, dig, or study the area beyond what is already being done, but that could change.

Let’s hope so!

Report: Renewable Energy Is Bigger ‘Scam’ than Bernie Madoff and Enron

The greatest scam being perpetrated against taxpayers and consumers is renewable energy, according to a new analysis published by the Australian, greater even than Ponzi, Madoff and Enron. While sinking enormous financial resources into propping up renewable energy prospectors, national governments are providing no perceptible benefits to their citizens, writes Judith Sloan, a renowned Australian economist who has served on the Australian government’s Productivity Commission. “With very few exceptions, governments all over the world have fallen into the trap of paying renewable energy scammers on the basis that it is necessary, at least politically, to be seen to be doing something about climate change,” Sloan writes, before providing readers with an avalanche of economic data to back up her assertion. In Australia, more than 2 billion taxpayer dollars a year are funneled to renewable energy handlers by virtue of the operation of the renewable energy target and the associated renewable energy certificates, Sloan observes. At the same time, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency “shovels out hundreds of millions of dollars annually to subsidise renewable energy companies, many of which are overseas-owned,” she states, and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation was given $10 billion in equity by the Gillard Labor government “to lend or grant money to renewable energy companies.” Despite this enormous taxpayer “investment,” so-called renewable energy has yet to pay any dividends or to suggest it will be economically viable for the foreseeable future. Sloan’s grim analysis of the state of renewable energy as a financial sinkhole in Australia is mirrored by other countries such as the United States. According to Forbes, on a total dollar basis, wind and solar together get more from the federal government than all other energy sources combined, despite the fact that neither is anywhere close to self-supporting. Wind has received the greatest amount of federal subsidies. Solar is second. Based on production (subsidies per kWh of electricity produced), however, solar energy “has gotten over ten times the subsidies of all other forms of energy sources combined, including wind,” writes energy expert and planetary geologist Dr. James Conca. During the Obama years from 2010 through 2013, federal renewable energy subsidies increased by 54 percent—from $8.6 billion to $13.2 billion—despite the fact that total federal energy subsidies declined by 23 percent during the same period, from $38 billion to $29 billion. In absolute terms, between 2010 and 2013 solar energy alone saw a 500 percent increase in federal subsidies from $1.1 billion to $5.3 billion. In this same period, subsidies for fossil fuels decreased by 15 percent. from $4.0 billion to $3.4 billion, and subsidies for nuclear energy fell by 12 percent, from $1.9 billion to $1.7 billion. One of the more pernicious side-effects of the enormous government subsidies for renewable energy, Conca found, is that they actually increase the cost of energy. This cost, however, is transferred from the energy consumer to the taxpayer, “and so goes unnoticed by most Americans,” he stated. While during the period between 2010 and 2014 nuclear energy cost about 4¢ and 5¢ per kWh to produce, solar energy cost between 80¢ and 100¢ per kWh, or 20 times as much to produce. This despite the fact that nuclear energy is “as renewable as wind” but doesn’t enjoy the same star status among environmental activists. Returning to the case of Australia, Sloan argues that if one were to sum up all the taxpayer-funded subsidies, grants, concessional loans, guarantees and the like the aggregate amount “dwarfs any other government industry assistance aid.” Something similar has happened in Germany, Sloan states, where Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to shut down all the country’s nuclear power plants, to be replaced with “renewable energy.” The target for 2030 is for 50 percent of the nation’s power to come from renewables. The ill-fated Energie­wende, the country’s program for energy transition, has hit serious hurdles, Sloan notes, not least the extraordinary cost that now totals some €650 billion. In an odd twist of fate, late last year the wind simply didn’t blow for several days and a thick fog surrounded many parts of Germany, and thus the output from renewables fell to just 4 percent of total demand. It was Poland, “with its black coal-fired electricity plants,” that came to rescue Germany from its self-induced energy crisis. The best approach for the future, Sloan concludes, entails “acknowledging that enough is enough when it comes to subsidising renewable energy.” The sector has been showered with favors with little to show for it, she observes, and it is high time “it stood on its own two feet without any preferential treatment or financial assistance.”

Agreed!!  And it’s about time someone actually said all of this.  This outstanding analytical op/ed was written by Dr. Thomas D. Williams, PhD.  Excellent!!    🙂

No life needed: Organic compound forms at comet and baby star system

Organic molecules once thought to be produced only by life-forms have been found in two separate regions of space: a nearby comet and the debris around a pair of forming stars. Previous studies on exoplanets have considered a substance, called chloromethane, to be a biomarker molecule, which means it indicates the potential existence of life. Before now, it was known to becreated by some tropical plants on Earth as well as industrial processes, where it is known as Freon-40. However, the new findings, detailed Oct. 2 in the journal Nature Astronomy, indicate that the chemical can also form without the help of life. Edith Fayolle, the study’s lead author, cautions against drawing too quick a conclusion, though. “It’s not a negative, ‘no it’s not a biomarker,'” Fayolle told, but “it’s not a direct biomarker, I would say.” It could still suggest the presence of life, but it is no longer considered a definitive sign. At the time, Fayolle was a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (she is now at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory). Fayolle’s team identified the chloromethane on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as well as around a pair of protostars in the early stages of forming a binary star system. The discovery was “a bit of an accident,” Fayolle said. “I wasn’t particularly looking for it.” Fayolle was curious about the origin of chloromethane on Mars. NASA’s Curiosity rover discovered the compound on the Red Planet, but there’s been debate over its origins. Some scientists suggested that the compound could have formed when chlorine compounds, called perchlorates, on the surface reacted with carbon carried by the rover itself as it was analyzing samples. Scientists later confirmed that the carbon and hydrogen in Mars’ chloromethane matches that found in meteorites. Therefore, impacts could be one source of the planet’s chloromethane, but it could also have formed from smaller molecules on the planet’s surface. Fayolle said the origin is far from settled. Fayolle’s group first found chloromethane around the binary star system using data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), in northern Chile. The telescope was surveying the binary stars to determine the system’s chemical complexity. The ALMA team was also collaborating with scientists on the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, which led Fayolle to examine that data, too. Rosetta orbited comet 67P/Churyumov-—Gerasimenko for two years until it was steered into the comet in September 2016 at the end of its mission. Measurements sent back by the spacecraft allowed the team to identify chloromethane in the comet as well. Combined, the two discoveries shed light on the progression of chemistry in solar system formation. The results from the protostar system suggest that compounds like chloromethane can form efficiently as stars coalesce, according to a statement by Nature Astronomy. Meanwhile, the data from the comet indicate that these compounds can survive the formation of planets. This supports a continuous model of solar system formation, Fayolle said, rather than one where the heat of star formation causes chemicals to recombine, leaving few compounds unchanged and resetting the system’s chemistry.”Based on our discovery, organohalogens are likely to be a constituent of the so-called ‘primordial soup,’ both on the young Earth and on nascent rocky exoplanets,” co-author Karin Öberg said in a statement. This suggests that, in addition to forming in the presence of life, compounds like chloromethane may have contributed to its development.


Water ice mystery found at Martian equator

A new examination of old data suggests that there might be ice hiding in the Martian equator, even though scientists previously thought that the substance couldn’t exist there. Scientists uncovered an unexpected amount of hydrogen when looking at older data from NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft dating back to between 2002 and 2009. At higher latitudes, hydrogen generally indicates buried water ice, but this was not believed possible at the equator, according to a statement from NASA. If there is indeed water there, this would help with a future human mission to Mars, because it could mean the astronauts wouldn’t need to bring the substance with them for drinking, cooling equipment or watering plants, researchers said in the statement. Instead, the astronauts could live off the land to an extent, reducing the number of resources that need to be trucked (at higher cost) from Earth. Mars Odyssey’s first major discovery, in 2002, was also linked to water; the spacecraft found buried hydrogen at high latitudes, and the 2008 landing of the Phoenix Mars lander confirmed that there was water ice. However, at lower latitudes, measurements of hydrogen were explained as hydrated minerals (which other spacecraft have also observed). Researchers didn’t think water ice was thermodynamically stable in those areas. For this new study, the researchers analyzed data collected using Mars Odyssey’s neutron spectrometer. The instrument is not designed to directly detect water, but by measuring neutrons, it can detect signatures of hydrogen, which can mark the presence of water or other hydrogen-bearing substances. The science team reduced the blurring or “noise” in Odyssey’s data using image-reconstruction techniques based on those used for other spacecraft and for medicine, according to the statement. This improved the spatial resolution of the data to 180 miles (290 kilometers), twice the previous resolution of 320 miles (520 km). “It was as if we’d cut the spacecraft’s orbital altitude in half, and it gave us a much better view of what’s happening on the surface,” Jack Wilson, the study’s principal investigator and a postdoctoral researcher at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, said in the statement. Using those closer views, the researchers saw even higher levels of hydrogen, suggestive of water. Their work focused on equatorial areas, particularly in zones around the Medusae Fossae formation, an area that includes material that is easy to erode. Previous observations from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter suggested there might be volcanic deposits or water ice just below the surface. Scientists, however, were skeptical that it was water ice, because “if the detected hydrogen were buried ice within the top meter [3.3 feet] of the surface, there would be more than would fit into pore space in soil,” Wilson said. The study’s scientists emphasized that more evidence is needed to conclude that the signature indeed comes from water ice. They’re not too sure how the water was preserved, they said; perhaps ice and dust flowing from the poles moved through the atmosphere when Mars had a steeper axis tilt than today. However, it’s been at least hundreds of thousands of years since those conditions existed, and the water ice deposited back then shouldn’t be around anymore, the researchers said. (This would be true even if, somehow, dust or a crust at the surface trapped the humidity underground, the scientists added.) “Perhaps the signature could be explained in terms of extensive deposits of hydrated salts, but how these hydrated salts came to be in the formation is also difficult to explain,” Wilson said. “So, for now, the signature remains a mystery worthy of further study, and Mars continues to surprise us.” The new work was detailed Sept. 28 in the journal Icarus.

Very cool!!

NASA and Russia reveal plan to build SPACE STATION orbiting the MOON

Moscow and Washington have agreed to build the station called Deep Space Gateway – finally bringing a long standing concept into reality. Russia’s space agency Roscosmos announced the ambitious project today in a speech at International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia. Following in the footsteps of the International Space Station, the moon ship would be open to astronauts and cosmonauts from around the world. Space bosses hope the Deep Space Gateway will allow mankind to stage space flights to Mars and elsewhere in the Solar System. It comes after US President Donald Trump announced in his debut speech on Capitol Hill he wanted astronauts to arrive on “distant worlds” within the next ten years. NASA and Roscosmos hope the space station’s first modules would be completed by 2026 – the 250th anniversary of the United States. “We have agreed to join the project to build a new international Deep Space Gateway station in the moon’s orbit,” Russian space chief Igor Komarov said. The space station could provide a staging point for the proposed Deep Space Transport vessel – which would ferry astronauts around the solar system. It is hoped technology developed for the Deep Space Gateway could be implemented into surface bases on the Moon and Mars. In a mission statement for the project, NASA said: “NASA is leading the next steps into deep space near the moon, where astronauts will build and begin testing the systems needed for challenging missions to deep space destinations including Mars. “The area of space near the moon offers a true deep space environment to gain experience for human missions that push farther into the solar system, access the lunar surface for robotic missions but with the ability to return to Earth if needed in days rather than weeks or months.” The space agency added: “The gateway and transport could potentially support mission after mission as a hub of activity in deep space near the moon, representing multiple countries and agencies with partners from both government and private industry. “NASA is open to new ideas of both a technical and programmatic nature suggestions as we develop, mature and implement this plan.” Speaking in March, Trump said, “American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream” and added all was possible if, “we set free the dreams of our people.”


Doomsday is not on Saturday after all, writer says after predicting end of the world

The end is still nigh — just not as nigh as it was earlier this week, a Doomsday writer says. David Meade, who claimed the world is ending Saturday when a mysterious planet collides with Earth, is now backtracking on the calamitous claim. Meade said the world won’t end on Sept. 23 after all, but instead Saturday will only mark the beginning of a series of catastrophic events to occur over several weeks. “The world is not ending, but the world as we know it is ending,” he told the Washington Post. “A major part of the world will not be the same the beginning of October.” Meade said his prediction is based on verses and numerical codes found in the Bible, specifically in the apocalyptic Book of Revelation. He said recent events, such as the solar eclipse and Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, are omens of the approaching apocalypse. The significant number is 33, according to Meade. “Jesus lived for 33 years. The name Elohim, which is the name of God for the Jews, was mentioned 33 times [in the Bible],” he said. “It’s a very biblically significant, numerologically significant number. I’m talking astronomy. I’m talking the Bible…and merging the two.” Sept. 23 is also 33 days since the Aug. 21 solar eclipse. Meade has also built his theory on the so-called Planet X, which is also known as Nibiru, which he believes will pass Earth on Sept. 23. This will cause volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and earthquakes, he claims. NASA has repeatedly said Planet X does not exist. Meade’s prediction has been dismissed by people of faith including the Roman Catholic and Protestant branches of Christianity. Ed Stetzer, a professor and executive director of Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, slammed Meade’s theory on Friday, calling it “fake news” and asked Christians to be critical. “It’s simply fake news that a lot of Christians believe the world will end on September 23,” Stetzer wrote in Christianity Today. “Yet, it is still a reminder that we need to think critically about all the news.”

Agreed..  Well, Mr. Meade’s prediction about today has been a total bust.  And, this hail Mary mea culpa isn’t likely help him any.  Why on Earth would anyone listen to this idiot?