Points of Information Archive
December 9, 2013 at 3:20 PM
Scientists have published the first 300 days of radiation data from Curiosity on Mars.
The results suggest that while the radiation on Mars requires some shielding, most of the worst radiation a traveler would be exposed to would occur during the journey in space to and from Earth. The graph below illustrates this.
December 9, 2013 at 12:33 PM
Curiosity has succeeded in dating the age of one of its rock samples, the first time this has ever been done remotely on another planet.
The second rock Curiosity drilled for a sample on Mars, which scientists nicknamed “Cumberland,” is the first ever to be dated from an analysis of its mineral ingredients while it sits on another planet. A report by Kenneth Farley of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and co-authors, estimates the age of Cumberland at 3.86 billion to 4.56 billion years old. This is in the range of earlier estimates for rocks in Gale Crater, where Curiosity is working.
This is significant engineering and scientific news. In the past the only way to date the rocks on another world was to bring them back to Earth. This was how the moon’s geology was dated. On Mars, dating has only been done by crater counting, comparing those counts with those on the Moon, and then making a vague guess. To have the ability to date rocks remotely means that geologists can begin to sort out the timeline of Mars’s geology without having to bring back samples.
December 9, 2013 at 12:21 PM
Apropos my comment here, Rand Simberg superbly summarizes the serious threat SpaceX poses for the older space launch companies.
December 9, 2013 at 11:58 AM
Yesterday police in Wisconsin celebrated Pearl Harbor Day by issuing tickets to people waving the American flag.
Video below the fold. Stick around to the end. As the man says, “The cops can’t scare us off, can they?”
December 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM
Does this make you feel safer? Of the 78 times police in Greensboro, North Carolina, fired their pistols in 2012, all but two were to kill someone’s pet.
December 9, 2013 at 11:16 AM
Don’t you feel safer? A TSA agent confiscates the two-inch fake pistol of a monkey sock puppet.
December 9, 2013 at 10:02 AM
Another news report suggests that Republicans are preparing to surrender in budget talks.
Senior aides familiar with the talks say the emerging agreement aims to partially repeal the sequester and raise agency spending to roughly $1.015 trillion in fiscal 2014 and 2015. That would bring agency budgets up to the target already in place for fiscal 2016. To cover the cost, Ryan and Murray are haggling over roughly $65 billion in alternative policies, including cuts to federal worker pensions and higher security fees for the nation’s airline passengers.
Republican leaders are also seeking additional savings to knock a small dent in deficits projected to exceed $6 trillion over the next decade. But the deal would do nothing to trim the debt, which is now larger, as a percentage of the economy, than at any point in U.S. history except during World War II. [emphasis mine]
To me, the biggest disappointment of this surrender is that Paul Ryan is negotiating it, proof that he too is no fiscal conservative and worse is far more stupid than I had thought.
December 9, 2013 at 9:42 AM
No, you can’t keep your medicines either under Obamacare.
The article is long and detailed. It seems a lot of expensive but life-saving drugs might be excluded from many plans because of cost. Worse,
The biggest problem in all of this is that consumers will have a very hard time figuring out where they stand. In many cases, the health plans being offered in the Obamacare exchanges don’t make information about their drug formularies readily available. In some cases, it doesn’t seem to be published anywhere.
The government was supposed to mandate that plans made this information easily accessible. But that never happened.
In fact, state and federal regulators must have approved the health plans without reviewing final drug formularies. Many plans are also not publishing information about their networks of doctors, or when they do; the information is unreliable (listing, for example, doctors who argue that they aren’t part of the plans).
Aren’t you glad those brave Democrats and President Obama shut the government down in October to prevent those evil Republicans from making any changes to Obamacare?
December 9, 2013 at 9:17 AM
Using Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), scientists have finally identified the Sun’s predicted giant jet streams.
These large flows, bigger than any flow structures previously identified, might help explain the Sun’s rotation (which is faster at the equator than at the poles), its magnetic field, and its production of sunspots. Not surprisingly, however, the models and data do not match exactly:
Mark Miesch, a physicist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, says the new study confirms modelling work he and others have done on giant convective cells4. There are, however, some differences between what the models suggest and what Hathaway’s team observed. For instance, the models indicate that giant cells should align themselves from north to south near the Sun’s equator, an arrangement that isn’t seen in the new data. In fact, points out solar physicist Junwei Zhao of Stanford University in California, most of the giant cells were seen at high latitudes, and they need to be spotted at lower latitudes as well. “Whether it will convince the community remains to be seen,” says Zhao.
December 9, 2013 at 9:06 AM
The competition heats up: Russia’s deputy prime minister is pushing to accelerate the completion of Russia’s new spaceport in Vostochny.
The first scheduled launch is now planned for 2015, but this article suggests they are trying to make it happen by the fall of 2014.
December 9, 2013 at 9:00 AM
A Brazilian earth research satellite was lost today when a Chinese Long March rocket failed to put it into orbit.
The cause of the failure is not yet known. This failure, however, is a strong boost for SpaceX, as China is its strongest competitor in terms of price.
December 9, 2013 at 12:38 AM
The latest IRS power grab.
Why is the IRS regulating political activity at all?
The answer is that many Democratic politicians and progressive activists think new rules limiting political speech by nonprofits will benefit Democrats politically. Stymied by judicial decisions restricting direct government regulation of political speech, and by a Federal Election Commission whose bipartisan makeup prevents Democratic commissioners from forcing through partisan rules on a party-line vote, these politicians and activists have decided to dragoon the IRS into doing their work.
More precise terms to describe this kind of behavior are fascists and jack-booted thugs.
December 8, 2013 at 8:16 PM
Finding out what’s not in it: Obamacare insurance plans are routinely excluding the world’s top hospitals.
Amid a drive by insurers to limit costs, the majority of insurance plans being sold on the new healthcare exchanges in New York, Texas, and California, for example, will not offer patients’ access to Memorial Sloan Kettering in Manhattan or MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, two top cancer centres, or Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, one of the top research and teaching hospitals in the country.
You pay more for the plan, pay higher co-pays and deductibles, and for these higher expenses you get fewer benefits and excess to fewer good doctors. Why is anyone complaining? Aren’t we all glad the Democrats and Obama are standing firm to defend this law?
December 8, 2013 at 4:44 PM
Obamacare, where the liberal dream crashes and burns.
The botched website was an unforced catastrophe. But that’s not the real problem with Obamacare. The real problem, as dozens of thoughtful commentators have concluded, is the law itself. Obamacare is a massive policy experiment that seeks to remake one-sixth of the U.S. economy – a body that’s so fantastically complex, with so many players and so many moving parts, that nobody can possibly understand how they all interact. Tweak one part, and other parts will behave in unpredictable ways. Pull on a thread and half the sweater may unravel. Even Max Baucus, the Democratic Senate finance chairman, has warned that implementing a law so complicated could be a “train wreck.”
Generally, the way leftists and liberals have succeeded in gaining power is to work incrementally, in very small steps. This way, the link between their actions and the problems those actions have caused is easily hidden. They can then point to these new problems and demand another small incremental increase in their control and power in order to solve those problems, which in turn causes new problems that they can then use to justify another incremental step. And so forth.
Obamacare, however, broke this pattern. Rather than being incremental, it tried to do it all in one big massive attack. The result is that the policy is very clearly the cause of the disaster, the left can’t hide it, and their entire agenda for the past century now stands exposed as the fraud it is. The only way I can see them surviving this disaster is to try to seize power illegally, another typical leftwing technique that they use often when reality starts to go against them.
December 8, 2013 at 9:07 AM
Tbe competition heats up: International Launch Services ((ILS) has successfully launched its Russian Proton rocket to put another commercial communications satellite into orbit.
This launch solidifies the recovery of the Proton rocket since the disastrous July launch. With the Russian government forcing a consolidation of all Russian aerospace companies into one government owned cooperation, however, it is unclear what will happen to ILS and Khrunichev (the Russian company that makes the Proton).
December 8, 2013 at 9:01 AM
Welcome to the movies: The head of India’s research team at its Antarctica base has been recalled after he ordered the shut down of power at the station.
From October 7 to 12, ISRO’s satellite ground station at Antarctica, lost all transmission when its power supply was allegedly shut down by the team leader of the 32nd winter expedition to Bharati. The scientist, whose name was not revealed, has since been suspended and brought back to Goa. On October 14, NCAOR had also filed a police complaint against the scientist for the ‘wanton act of shutting down power’, said a statement released by the Ministry of Earth Sciences on Saturday.
This story had this tidbit:
It is believed the probe was ordered after the team leader allegedly ordered for the station’s power supply, which is obtained from diesel generators, to be cut off. A former chairman of ISRO, on the condition of anonymity, said: “If shortage of fuel was the issue, why would the ISRO station not take stock of fuel two months before it was to get exhausted and make arrangements for additional supply from South Africa? It is the most obvious thing to do. Unless there is some confusion or some issues, such a thing in Antarctica is unheard of. If power is switched off, people inside will freeze. So why was the power ordered to be cut off and why wait for diesel to get over?”
It also appears that three people are involved in this story, though details remain scant.
December 7, 2013 at 8:31 AM
O joy. Without permission California’s Obamacare exchange distributed the contact information of tens of thousands of people who had visited their website.
I love this quote from the guy in charge:
Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, acknowledged that these consumers did not ask to be contacted by the state or its certified insurance agents. But he said the outreach program still complies with privacy laws and it was reviewed by the exchange’s legal counsel. “I can imagine some people may be upset,” Lee said in an interview Friday. “But I can see a lot of people will be comforted and relieved at getting the help they need to navigate a confusing process.”
To be so cavalier about handing out people’s contact information without permission suggests that they are likely to be as cavalier about poking into people’s confidential medical information without permission.
December 6, 2013 at 8:30 PM
The stupid party strikes again! Rumors suggest that Republicans are moving to accept a budget deal that would end sequestration.
At issue are efforts to craft a compromise that would ease across-the-board spending cuts due to take effect in January, known as the sequester, and replace them with a mix of increased fees and cuts in mandatory spending programs.
As de Rugy notes:
The sequester, no matter how imperfect a policy, is arguably the only victory for fiscal conservatives in a very long time. Their victory is also president Obama’s biggest defeat (outside of the self-inflicted disastrous Obamacare rollout). It is also another opportunity to remind the American people that the alarmist predictions that we were all subjected to about the devastating impact sequestration would have on our economy didn’t materialize.
So let’s sum this up: a massive and unnecessary surrender on the sequester, some tax hikes, and more unemployment benefits. It seems to me that the Republicans are learning their moves from the French army.
Not only do most Democrats have to be replaced, so do a significant number of Republicans. Too many of these politicians have no interest in serving the citizenry being crushed by this out-of-control federal government. Instead they serve that government instead.
December 6, 2013 at 2:52 PM
China’s lunar probe has entered lunar orbit.
The rover Yutu is scheduled to descend to the surface on December 14.
December 6, 2013 at 2:02 PM
O joy: Seven out of ten doctors in California are refusing to participate in Obamacare.
It isn’t surprising the doctors are rebelling. California refuses to pay them realistic fees. The factoid, however, that is really startling from this article is this:
[The doctors] also pointing out that Covered California’s website lists many doctors as participants when they aren’t. “Some physicians have been put in the network and they were included basically without their permission,” Lisa Folberg said. She is a CMA’s vice president of medical and regulatory Policy. “They may be listed as actually participating, but not of their own volition,” said Donald Waters, executive director of the Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Association. [emphasis mine]
Par for the course. Everything about Obamacare has been fraud and deception. This just adds another layer to that dishonesty.
December 6, 2013 at 10:35 AM
Nelson Mandala: Getting the facts of his life right.
Like countless post-colonial African despots, Mandela could have bought off his supporters by stealing the resources of those he replaced to enrich himself and his followers. He could have done what almost all men who have nearly unlimited political power have done with it…kept it and ruthlessly used it.
But he didn’t.
In the end the story of Mandela is that he wasn’t like almost all men. He wasn’t perfect and he wasn’t without sin (almost no one in South Africa was). However, he changed and grew. When he lacked the power to change his country he used violent means to attempt to get it. But once he had the power, he eschewed violence. That is not the typical tale of history. He did not crush those who had crushed him and his people. Instead he recognized that no one would benefit from that and more to the point, it was morally reprehensible to him to do so.
With Mandala gone, I fear for civilization in South Africa. Mandala is no longer there to hold back the thugs there on the left.
December 6, 2013 at 10:15 AM
One person describes the experience she and her mother had under Obamacare.
Beside the fact that the doctor hardly looked at them (consumed as he was entering data on his laptop as required by the law), the mother was deemed “too old [for an MRI] and ObamaCare will not approve payment” and their prescriptions were not ready at the pharmacy at the time promised. Her conclusion:
ObamaCare is not just very expensive insurance that most of us cannot and will not afford without drastic changes in lifestyle. It delivers lousy service, uncaring and poorly paid doctors, inadequate reimbursement, longer wait times, and selective rationing.
She also notes Obamacare’s requirement that all medical records be digital results in a complete loss of privacy.
As all these computers communicate with each other through the various electronic portals, do not expect any medical privacy or cyber security of any kind. Your entire life’s history, health, meds, warts, skin lesions, bunions, surgeries, hospitalizations, Social Security numbers, income, addresses, smoking history, salt intake, soda drinking and fat-eating habits, sexual preferences, gun ownership, and biometric data are up for grabs for all to see and use. All your private medical history and information will be sent to a clearing house with or without your permission in January 2014.
Aren’t you glad the Democratic Party and Obama insisted on shutting down the government in October to prevent any changes to this law?
December 6, 2013 at 9:48 AM
The uncertainty of science: Astronomers discover an exoplanet that their theories say shouldn’t exist.
December 6, 2013 at 9:27 AM
Finding out what’s in it: Obamacare threatens to destroy volunteer fire departments.
It seems the law requires that volunteers be considered employees who must be covered by their organization. The money quote that sums up the entire law: “Welcome to federal regulations.”
December 6, 2013 at 9:16 AM
The lawsuit by a doctor against Obamacare.
Though the law has harmed him and his business directly, what is interesting and important about his lawsuit is that it is demanding that Obama enforce the law as written.
December 6, 2013 at 9:07 AM
Obama tells Chris Matthews what he really thinks of the IRS harassment of conservatives.
[Y]ou’ve got an office in Cincinnati, in the IRS office that — I think, for bureaucratic reasons, is trying to streamline what is a difficult law to interpret about whether a nonprofit is actually a political organization deserves a tax exempt agency. And they’ve got a list, and suddenly everybody’s outraged.
I seem to remember Obama himself expressing outrage to the press soon after the scandal broke and promising an investigation. Obviously, he lied about his outrage. He also lied about the investigation, since it is now more than six months later and the so-called investigation has yet to contact any of the victims of the IRS harassment.
Gee, he seems to lie a lot, doesn’t he? I also wonder if he has any outrage over the IRS’s auditing of that cancer patient and his insurance agent soon after the patient appeared on Fox criticizing Obamacare. I suspect not.
December 5, 2013 at 11:11 PM
Sacrilege! No alcoholic beverages for the Russian astronauts to drink on ISS on New Year’s Eve.
December 5, 2013 at 11:08 PM
Here’s another report on the planetary sciences/NASA dispute this week over funding and grant scheduling.
From this report it appears that the complaints by the planetary science community might have been a bit overstated. It doesn’t appear that NASA is cutting the planetary sciences grant program in any significant way.
I suspect that the reason the planetary scientists are so touchy is because they do not trust the Obama administration, based on its previous efforts to eliminate the planetary program entirely. (It is also possible that they are right.)
December 5, 2013 at 10:49 PM
Does this make you feel safer? When a man denied the police entry into his house because they didn’t have a warrant, one officer threatened to come back with a warrant and “shoot and kill” the man’s dogs.
[When the] police asked to search his house, Crinnian refused multiple times. He said they needed a warrant. Then he said one police officer started threatening him saying, “If we have to get a warrant, we’re going to come back when you’re not expecting it, we’re going to park in front of your house, where all your neighbors can see, we’re gonna bust in your door with a battering ram, we’re gonna shoot and kill your dogs, who are my family, and then we’re going to ransack your house looking for these people.”
December 5, 2013 at 4:38 PM
Google Lunar X-Prize competitor Moon Express has unveiled its lunar lander, scheduled to soft land on the Moon in 2015.
Moon Express is generally considered the leader in this lunar landing X-Prize competition, and this story adds weight to that consensus.