Archive for December, 2011

Satellite Photo Shows New Island Rising from Earth’s Red Sea

Posted in News on December 30, 2011 by 2eyeswatching

Satellite Photo Shows New Island Rising from Earth’s Red Sea

By Brett Israel, OurAmazingPlanet Staff Writer Space.com | SPACE.com – 18 hrs ago

A plume rises from a new island in the Red Sea on Dec. 23, 2011 in this satellite view. The smoke plume and new island were created in a volcanic eruption in December 2011. CREDIT: NASA Earth Observatory

The Red Sea has a new inhabitant: a smoking island.

The island was created by a wild eruption that occurred in the Red Sea earlier this month. It is made of loose volcanic debris from theeruption, so it may not stick around long.

According to news reports, fishermen witnessed lava fountains reaching up to 90 feet (30 meters) tall on Dec. 19, which is probably the day the eruption began, said Erik Klemetti, a volcanologist at Denison University in Granville, Ohio.

Ash plumes were seen emanating from the spot  Dec. 20 and Dec. 22 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. The Ozone Monitoring Instrument  on NASA’s Aura satellite detected elevated levels of sulfur dioxide, further indicating an eruption. By Dec. 23, what looked like a new island had appeared in the Red Sea off the west coast of Yemen.

“I am surprised about how quickly the island has grown,” Klemetti, who writes Wired’s Eruptions Blog, told OurAmazingPlanet.

The volcanic activity occurred along the Zubair Group, a collection of small islands that run in a roughly northwest-southeast line. The islands rise from a shield volcano (a kind of volcano built from fluid lava flows) and poke above the sea surface.

Scientists will keep a close eye on the new island to see if it has staying power.

“Many times the islands are ephemeral as they are usually made of loose volcanic debris, so they get destroyed by wave action quite quickly,” Klemetti said. But the volcanic activity could outpace the erosion due to the wave action.

Newly emerging islands aren’t unheard of. Other newly emerged islands include Surtsey off of Iceland, Anak Krakatau in the caldera of Krakatoa in Indonesia, and Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha`apai in Tonga in the South Pacific.

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NASA probes to arrive at the moon over New Year’s

Posted in THE UNIVERSE & SPACE SCIENCE on December 30, 2011 by 2eyeswatching

NASA probes to arrive at the moon over New Year’s

Associated PressBy ALICIA CHANG | AP – 21 hrs ago

Click image for more photos

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The New Year’s countdown to the moon has begun.

NASA said Wednesday that its twin spacecraft were on course to arrive back-to-back at the moon after a 3½-month journey.

“We’re on our way there,” said project manager David Lehman of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the $496 million mission.

The Grail probes — short for Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory — won’t land on the lunar surface. Instead, they were poised to slip into orbit to study the uneven lunar gravity field.

Grail-A was scheduled to arrive on New Year’s Eve, followed by Grail-B on New Year’s Day.

Lehman said team members won’t celebrate until both probes are safely in orbit.

It’s been a long voyage for the near-identical Grail spacecraft, which traveled more than 2½ million miles (3.22 million kilometers) since launching in September. Though the moon is relatively close at about 250,000 miles (402317.35 kilometers)away, Grail took a roundabout way to save on costs by launching on a small rocket.

Once at the moon, the probes will spend the next two months tweaking their positions before they start collecting data in March. The pair will fly in formation at an altitude of 34 miles (54.72 kilometers) above the surface, with an average separation of 124 miles (199.55 kilometers).

In this undated image provided by NASA on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011, shows two sides of the moon. Twin NASA probes traveling for the past 3 1/2 months are scheduled to arrive at the moon during the New

In this undated image provided by NASA on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011, shows two sides of the moon. Twin NASA probes traveling for the past 3 1/2 months are scheduled to arrive at the moon during the New Year’s weekend to study lunar gravity. (AP Photo/NASA)

The mission’s chief scientist, Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said many aspects of the moon remain a mystery despite being well studied.

“We actually know more about Mars … than we do about our own moon,” Zuber said.

One puzzle scientists hope to solve is why the moon’s far side is more hilly than the side that always faces Earth. Research published earlier this year suggested that Earth once had dual moons that collided and formed the moon that people gaze at today.

Despite the wealth of new knowledge expected from the mission, NASA has no near-term plans to send astronauts back to the moon. The Obama administration last year nixed the idea in favor of landing astronauts on an asteroid and eventually Mars.

Can You Predict How the Story Ends in This Stunning Photo?

Posted in News on December 30, 2011 by 2eyeswatching

Can You Predict How the Story Ends in This Stunning Photo?

The BlazeThe Blaze – Wed, Dec 28, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/predict-story-ends-stunning-photo-000306739.html

This photo shows what looks like the beginning of a sad ending for a young doe, but would you believe that the golden eagle was the one left disappointed?

Doe and Golden Eagle_Milan Krasula

(Photo: Milan Krasula/Solent News & Photo Agency via The Telegraph)

The Telegraph reports that Milan Krasula, who snapped the exchange between eagle and doe, said the doe narrowly escaped by scurrying under a fence. According to the Telegraph, Krasula had been holding out for a good photograph at the annual eagle hunt for four days before he captured this one:

He said: “You have to be very lucky to get a good shot, as you cannot predict where the prey will be hiding.

“I found an area that I thought it would be good for a photo and where some smaller animals might be hiding.

“I was waiting there around an hour or so, when all of a sudden there was a young little doe running out from the forest.

“One keeper then released his eagle, who was about 200 metres away from me.

“He did not see the little doe running and had actually released the eagle to get another animal.

“Of course, the eagle went for the doe instead of the other prey.”

After the doe slipped under a fence, The Telegraph reports, it scampered into the woods and the eagle abandoned the chase and returned to its owner. Krasula is reported being happy the doe got away.

BBC reported earlier this month that the annual eagle hunt held in Kazakhstan is an ancient tradition conducted in modern times to help preserve the saker  falcon population. BBC reports that the hunt is entertainment for the wealthy and revenue helps them breed more saker  falcons which are dropping in numbers.

ROMANIA’S ICE HOTEL

Posted in Relaxing Corner on December 30, 2011 by 2eyeswatching

ROMANIA’S ICE HOTEL

http://news.yahoo.com/photos/romania-s-ice-hotel-1325184251-slideshow/ice-hotel-photo-1325184066.html

The Balea Lac Hotel of Ice is located in the Fagaras mountains, 184 miles northwest of Bucharest, Romania. Entirely made of ice, the hotel offers accommodation in ten double rooms with king size beds, where the temperature is between -2 and +2 degrees Celsius, at a price of 35 Euro ($45.73) per person.

Ice hotel

Tourists have dinner inside the Balea Lac Hotel of Ice in the Fagaras mountains, 300km (184 miles) northwest of Bucharest December 28, 2011. Entirely made of ice, the hotel offers accommodation in 10 double rooms with king size beds, where the temperature is between -2 and 2 degrees Celsius, at a price of 35 Euro ($45.73) per person. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti

Ice hotel

A worker cuts ice inside a room at the Balea Lac Hotel of Ice in the Fagaras mountains, 300km (184 miles) northwest of Bucharest December 28, 2011. Entirely made of ice, the hotel offers accommodation in 10 double rooms with king size beds, where the temperature is between -2 and 2 degrees Celsius, at a price of 35 Euro ($45.73) per person. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti

Ice hotel

Tourists visit a room inside the Balea Lac Hotel of Ice in the Fagaras mountains, 300km (184 miles) northwest of Bucharest December 28, 2011. Entirely made of ice, the hotel offers accommodation in 10 double rooms with king size beds, where the temperature is between -2 and 2 degrees Celsius, at a price of 35 Euro ($45.73) per person. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti

Ice hotel

Workers cut ice bricks for the Balea Lac Hotel of Ice in the Fagaras mountains, 300km (184 miles) northwest of Bucharest December 28, 2011. Entirely made of ice, the hotel offers accommodation in 10 double rooms with king size beds, where the temperature is between -2 and 2 degrees Celsius, at a price of 35 Euro ($45.73) per person. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti

Ice hotel

A  tourist licks the outside wall of the Balea Lac Hotel of Ice in the Fagaras mountains, 300km (184 miles) northwest of Bucharest December 28, 2011. Entirely made of ice, the hotel offers accommodation in 10 double rooms with king size beds, where the temperature is between -2 and 2 degrees Celsius, at a price of 35 Euro ($45.73) per person. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti

Ice hotel

A child touches the outside wall of the Balea Lac Hotel of Ice in the Fagaras mountains, 300km (184 miles) northwest of Bucharest December 28, 2011. Entirely made of ice, the hotel offers accommodation in 10 double rooms with king size beds, where the temperature is between -2 and 2 degrees Celsius, at a price of 35 Euro ($45.73) per person. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti

Ice hotel

A bartender arranges ice glasses inside the Balea Lac Hotel of Ice in the Fagaras mountains, 300km (184 miles) northwest of Bucharest December 28, 2011. Entirely made of ice, the hotel offers accommodation in 10 double rooms with king size beds, where the temperature is between -2 and 2 degrees Celsius, at a price of 35 Euro ($45.73) per person. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti (ROMANIA – Tags: SOCIETY TRAVEL)

Ice hotel

A  waiter serves dinner to tourists inside the Balea Lac Hotel of Ice in the Fagaras mountains, 300km (184 miles) northwest of Bucharest December 28, 2011. Entirely made of ice, the hotel offers accommodation in 10 double rooms with king size beds, where the temperature is between -2 and 2 degrees Celsius, at a price of 35 Euro ($45.73) per person. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti

Ice hotel

Tourists walk in the snow outside the Balea Lac Hotel of Ice in the Fagaras mountains, 300km (184 miles) northwest of Bucharest December 28, 2011. Entirely made of ice the hotel offers accomodation in 10 double rooms with king size beds, where the temperature is between -2 and 2 degrees Celsius, at a price of 35 Euro ($45.73) per person. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti

Ice hotel

Tourists visit the Balea Lac Hotel of Ice in the Fagaras mountains, 300km (184 miles) northwest of Bucharest December 28, 2011. Entirely made of ice, the hotel offers accommodation in 10 double rooms with king size beds, where the temperature is between -2 and 2 degrees Celsius, at a price of 35 Euro ($45.73) per person. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti

Ice hotel

A hand print is seen on the outside wall of the Balea Lac Hotel of Ice in the Fagaras mountains, 300km (184 miles) northwest of Bucharest December 28, 2011. Entirely made of ice, the hotel offers accommodation in 10 double rooms with king size beds, where the temperature is between -2 and 2 degrees Celsius, at a price of 35 Euro ($45.73) per person. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti (ROMANIA – Tags: SOCIETY TRAVEL)

Ice hotel

Tourists have dinner inside the Balea Lac Hotel of Ice in the Fagaras mountains, 300km (184 miles) northwest of Bucharest December 28, 2011. Entirely made of ice, the hotel offers accommodation in 10 double rooms with king size beds, where the temperature is between -2 and 2 degrees Celsius, at a price of 35 Euro ($45.73) per person. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti

Ice hotel

A general view of the Balea Lac Hotel of Ice (C) in the Fagaras mountains, 300km (184 miles) northwest of Bucharest December 28, 2011. Entirely made of ice, the hotel offers accommodation in 10 double rooms with king size beds, where the temperature is between -2 and 2 degrees Celsius, at a price of 35 Euro ($45.73) per person. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti

PYTHON ATTACKS AUSTRALIAN INFANT

Posted in News on December 30, 2011 by 2eyeswatching

PYTHON ATTACKS AUSTRALIAN INFANT

AFP – Wed, Dec 28, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/python-attacks-australian-infant-

Pythons can grow to several metres in length and are usually active in the tropics between October and April

An Australian infant was attacked by a python which wrapped itself around his body and attempted to suffocate him, his terrified mother said Thursday, recalling his “blood-curdling scream”.

The two-year-old boy was chasing a ball around his Port Douglas backyard in Australia’s tropical north when the snake struck, biting his leg before looping itself around his body, his mother told the local Cairns Post newspaper.

“I heard this blood-curdling scream,” she said.

“The snake was biting his leg and was wrapped around his whole body, to his chest. It started constricting.”

She was unable to pull the snake from her son but neighbours who heard her distressed cries came to his rescue and managed to lift the snake off.

The boy suffered four bite wounds but the snake was not poisonous and he was released from hospital after 24 hours’ observation.

Pythons can grow to several metres in length and are usually active in the tropics between October and April, but local veterinarian Rod Gilbert told the paper it was the first time he had heard of one trying to eat a child.

“I suppose a two-year-old boy is not much different from a wallaby, it could definitely happen,” Gilbert said, referring to the native marsupials that are a more typical part of a python’s diet.

Top Science Journal Retractions of 2011

Posted in SCIENCE, GEOLOGY,HEALTH, INVIRONMENT, TECHNOLOGY,ANTHROPOLOGY, ARCHAEOLOGY, on December 29, 2011 by 2eyeswatching

Top Science Journal Retractions of 2011

Christopher Wanjek, LiveScience Bad Medicine Columnist
Date: 26 December 2011 Time: 01:48 PM ET
Every year hundreds of science papers are retracted, most involving no blatant malfeasance, but others are due to cooked data. And 2011 was no different.
CREDIT: Alexander Raths | Shutterstock 

Bad science papers can have lasting effects. Consider the 1998 paper in the journal the Lancet that linked autism to the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. That paper was fully retracted in 2010 upon evidence that senior author Andrew Wakefield had manipulated data and breached several proper ethical codes of conduct.

Nevertheless the erroneous paper continues to undermine public confidence in vaccines. After the Lancet article, MMR vaccination rates dipped sharply and haven’t fully rebounded. This decline in the MMR vaccine has been tied to a rise in measles cases resulting in permanent injury and death.

Each year hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific articles are retracted. Most involve no blatant malfeasance; the authors themselves often detect errors and retract the paper. Some retractions, however, as documented on the blog Retraction Watch, entail plagiarism, false authorship or cooked data.

No journal is safe from retractions, from the mighty “single-word-title” journals such as Nature, Science and Cell, to the myriad minor, esoteric ones.

Yet as astronomer Carl Sagan once said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Below are five science results retracted in 2011, pulled permanently off the books in part for falling far short of meeting the Sagan standard.

#5: Los Angeles marijuana dispensaries lead to drop in crime.

Keep smoking. The RAND Corporation retracted its own report in October after realizing its sloppy data collection.

Crime data compiled from neighborhoods with these highly contentious medical marijuana dispensaries supposedly revealed slightly lower crime rates. The authors attributed this decline not to marijuana itself but rather the presence of security cameras and guards in and around the dispensaries, having a positive effect on the neighborhood. [The History of 8 Hallucinogens]

The L.A. city attorney’s office was incensed with the report, having argued the opposite — that the dispensaries breed crime. The city’s lawyers soon found critical flaws in RAND’s data collection, largely stemming from RAND’s reliance on data from CrimeReports.com, which did not include data from the L.A. Police Department. RAND blamed itself for the error, not CrimeReports.com, which had made no claims of having a complete set of data, and, in fact, didn’t even know about the study.

#4 — Butterfly meets worm, falls in love, and has caterpillars.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) published a fantastic claim in 2009 by zoologist Donald Williamson, which was delightfully reported in the science news media. Williamson claimed that ancestors of modern butterflies mistakenly fertilized their eggs with sperm from velvet worms. The result was the necessity for the caterpillar stage of the butterfly life cycle.

The PNAS paper got a few laughs among evolutionary scientists, but it hasn’t yet been retracted. Williamson’s follow-up 2011 paper in the journal Symbiosis, however, has been retracted.

Researchers Michael Hart and Richard Grosberg at the University of Texas, Austin, systematically refuted all of Williamson’s claims in the pages of PNAS by the end of 2009. They based their arguments entirely on well-known concepts of both basic evolution and the genetics of modern worms and butterflies. When Symbiosis published its butterfly-meets-worm article in January 2011, Hart raised questions with the editor. As of November the paper is no longer available.

#3: Treat appendicitis with antibiotics, not surgery.

The Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery published an article in 2009 by Indian researchers titled “Conservative management of acute appendicitis.” The gist was that antibiotics might be a safe alternative to an appendectomy, the surgical removal of the appendix.

Well, maybe not. The journal retracted the paper in October. Italian surgeons had raised a red flag with the study in a lengthy letter published in 2010 in the same journal, politely citing a multitude of problems with the study’s methodology. The Indian researchers responded a month later with their own two-paragraph letter defending the methodology and calling for a larger study to establish the superiority of antibiotic treatment over surgery.

There’s no word whether that larger study is pending, but the journal’s editors retracted the original article for reasons of alleged plagiarism, stating that “significant portions of the article were published earlier” by other researchers in 2000 and 1995.

#2: Litter breeds crime and discrimination.

It sounded so reasonable: Graffiti and litter in urban settings can trigger changes in the brain that can lead to crime, hatred and discrimination. Alas, the senior author of this April 2011 paper in Science, Dutch social psychologist Diederik Stapel, might have fabricated much of the data.

The journal Science retracted the paper in November upon realization that Stapel, a media darling whose name frequented the New York Times, may have faked data in at least 30 papers, according to a report from Stapel’s university, Tilburg University in the Netherlands. Stapel has since been suspended from Tilburg pending further investigation.

The objective reader must now question other pet theories from Stapel. These include his “findings” that beauty-advertising works because it makes women feel worse about themselves, and that conservative politics leads to hypocrisy.

#1: Chronic fatigue syndrome is caused by a virus.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a disorder of unknown origin. Some researchers, in fact, consider this a psychological disorder largely confined to wealthier countries, affecting women more than men.

Then came a study published in Science in October 2009 by researchers from the Whittemore Peterson Institute in Reno, Nevada. The researchers associated CFS with something called xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV), which they said they found in blood samples of patients with CFS.

CFS advocates were elated. At last there was proof that their disease was real, they said. Retrovirus experts, on the other hand, were skeptical. Maybe the blood samples were contaminated. It turns out that the paper is likely wrong. No other lab could reproduce the results.

Science issued an “Editorial Expression of Concern” in July after the authors themselves refused to retract their paper. The Science editorial states bluntly that the study purported “to show that … XMRV was present in the blood of 67 percent of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome compared with 3.7 percent of healthy controls. Since then, at least 10 studies conducted by other investigators and published elsewhere have reported a failure to detect XMRV in independent populations of CFS patients.”

The authors finally issued a partial retraction in September, removing data now known to be from contaminated samples. Science followed with a full retraction on Dec. 23. Meanwhile, in a disturbing twist, senior author Judy Mikovits was fired from the Whittemore Peterson Institute in September and arrested in California in November over charges for possession of stolen property and unlawful taking of computer data, equipment and supplies. Science is investigating whether the data were manipulated.

Following the history of this paper is enough to make you fatigued.

The Top 10 Words of 2011

Posted in SCIENCE, GEOLOGY,HEALTH, INVIRONMENT, TECHNOLOGY,ANTHROPOLOGY, ARCHAEOLOGY, on December 29, 2011 by 2eyeswatching

The Top 10 Words of 2011

Life’s Little Mysteries Staff
Date: 21 December 2011 Time: 10:40 AM ET
x47b-02
The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System flew with its landing gear up for the first time on Sept. 7 during a test flight at Edwards AFB, Calif.
CREDIT: Northrop Grumman

How would you summarize the year 2011 in just 10 words?

Each year, an organization called the Global Language Monitor produces just such a summary. Employing a technology known as NarrativeTracker, it analyzes English language usage on social media, the Internet, the blogosphere and in the top 75,000 print and electronic global media sources in order to select the 10 most tossed-around terms of the times.

“Our selections this year to a large extent reflect the ongoing political and economic uncertainty that seems to be affecting much of the developed world — with notable exceptions such as the Royal wedding and the continuing rise of China,” said Paul J.J. Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor.

Without further ado, here are the Global Language Monitor’s top 10 words of 2011:

1. Occupy — The preferred verb of protesters occupies the top spot this year. Not only has “occupy” risen to fame because of the Occupy Movement (Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Oakland, etc.), it is also used in the context of the occupation of Iraq and the so-called “Occupied Territories.”

2. Deficit — Fiscal deficits are a growing and possibly intractable problem for many economies in the developed world, and have become a frequent topic of discussion.

3. Fracking — Hydraulic fracturing, a controversial method of extracting fossil fuels from otherwiseunreachable places , has turned into a hot-button issue dividing ultra-capitalists and environmentalists.

4. Drone — An ever-increasing number of remotely piloted aircraft are being used for reconnaissance and attack purposes, especially to target wanted terrorists .

5. Non-veg — A meal served with meat. The term originated in India (where “veg” is the norm), and is now catching on worldwide.

6. Kummerspeck — This German word, which literally translates as “grief bacon,” refers to excess weight gained from emotional overeating. This year, it worked its way into the English-speaking world.

7. Haboob — A name imported from Arabic that has been used to describe the massive sandstorms in the American Southwest this year.

8. 3Q — This texting shorthand for “thank you” may have arisen as a combination of the Mandarin and Japanese word for the number three, which is “san,” and Q; put together, they sound like “thank you.” The slang has been banned from official Chinese dictionaries, but is commonly found elsewhere.

9. Trustafarians — These are well-to-do youths (also sometimes called “trust-funders” or “trust fund babies”) who adopt faux-Bohemian lifestyles. A play on Rastafarians, the term first became popular as a reference to wealthy kids who took part in the London Riots .

10. (The Other) 99 — A reference to the majority of those living in Western democracies who have been left out of the dramatic rise in earnings associated with “the top 1 percent” — itself, another frequently uttered phrase. [5 Facts about the Wealthiest 1 Percent ]