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Posted on Sunday, April 29 - 2007

Two hundred seventy thousand feet above the ground, higher than 99.9 percent of the earth’s air, clouds still float around — thin, iridescent wisps of electric blue. NASA is launching a small satellite to take a closer look at these clouds at the edge of outer space and to try to understand why, in recent years, they are appearing more often over more parts of the world. They are also becoming brighter.The clouds are called noctilucent or “night shining,” because from the ground they can be seen only at night as they float about 50 miles above the surface, illuminated by light from a Sun that has already set below the horizon. (That is essentially the same effect that makesmoonlight.)The clouds form in the polar regions from mid-May to mid-August in the Northern Hemisphere, mid-November to mid-February in the Southern Hemisphere.“They’re beautiful,” said James M.

Russell III, co-director of the Center for Atmospheric Sciences at Hampton University in Virginia and principal investigator of the NASA mission. “The pictures do a good job, but it’s not like seeing them.”A British sky watcher named Thomas William Backhouse was perhaps the first to notice the odd blue wisps in 1885, and many scientists thought that the phenomenon was an atmospheric effect caused by ash thrown up by the gigantic volcanic eruption of Krakatoa in Indonesia two years earlier.Although the ash settled out of the air, the noctilucent clouds persisted and spread.At first they were seen onlyat higher latitudes in places like Norway, Russia and England. Now they can be seen as far south as Colorado, at about 40 degrees latitude.The essential ingredients are temperatures from minus 225 to minus 190 degrees Fahrenheit, water vapor and particles of dust that serve as seeds for the ice crystals that form the clouds.Since 1980, when regular space-based observations of noctilucent clouds began, their number has increased about 28 percent per decade, and they are reflecting more light, because the ice crystals are bigger.

View: Full Article | Source: New York Times

Views : 12314

Posted on Sunday, August 04 - 2013

A talking humanoid robot has blasted off on board the unmanned Konotori 4 space cargo transporter.The unique robot is designed as an experimental social companion to astronaut Koichi Wakata who is already aboard the International Space Station. Known as Kiribo, the 34cm tall robot is capable of communicating in Japanese, recording conversations, relaying messages from mission control and is able toexhibit a wide range of physical motions.Kiribo"s primary goal is to see how a robotic companion can provide emotional support to astronauts during a long mission in space.

A precursor to the Artificial Intelligence HAL in "2001: A Space Odyssey", research of this kind could one day provide astronauts with a fully responsive robotic assistant that can perform tasks, record information and offer social companionship. "The first talkinghumanoid robot, Kirobo, has taken off from a Japanese space centre for the International Space Station."  

View: Full article |  Source: Sky News  

Views : 529

Posted on Thursday, August 01 - 2013

Some of Egypt"s most important archaeological treasures are at risk of being stolen by grave robbers.The country"s recent political chaos has left many sites unprotected and in danger of being looted by opportunistic thieves. Some sites, undisturbed for thousands of years, are being excavated by amateurs who hope to cash in on timeless relics lying beneath thesands.

Authorities admit that there is little they can do to stop it and remain concerned that some of Egypt"s most valuable treasures could be lost forever."Antiquities theft is a very profitable business," said Professor Nur el-Din. "The government must make it a priority to stop the illegal excavations." "Egypt"s cultural heritage is in danger. Grave robbers, sometimes heavily armed, are takingadvantage of political chaos to plunder its poorly guarded archaeological sites."  

View: Full article |  Source:  

Views : 514

Posted on Sunday, July 07 - 2013

Scammers pretending to be spiritual healers have conned vulnerable people out of millions in New York.The scam typically involves members of the public being approached by individuals claiming to be spiritualists or fortune tellers. Details vary, but most frequently the victim is told that a loved one is possessed by an evil spirit or is going to die. To safeguard them, the con-artist requests valuables such as jewelry or money which they then "bless" and return to thevictim in an envelope with instructions not to open it for a set time period.

When the victim does finally open the envelope the valuables are missing - replaced instead with rocks or some other valueless object."They know the culture, they know how to talk to these victims to get them to listen," said New York police spokesman Paul Browne. "One person"s spirituality is another"s superstition, and they prey on that distinction." "Detectives say there has been a rash in New York of what"s known as an evil spirit orblessing scam, where older immigrant women, mostly Chinese, are swindled out of their valuables by clever scammers arriving from China who prey on superstition and fear."  

View: Full article |  Source: Huffington Post  

Views : 496
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