Natural methane plumes found on the sea floor

The uncertainty of science: Scientists have discovered hundreds of natural methane sea-floor seeps that had not been predicted by theory.

The bubble streams showed up on sonar scans of the sea floor taken between September 2011 and August 2013 during oceanographic expeditions ranging from Cape Hatteras in North Carolina to Georges Bank off Cape Cod. Altogether, researchers analysed data covering a 94,000-square-kilometre arc (an area about the size of Indiana or Hungary) that includes the edge of the continental shelf and the steep slope just seaward of it, says co-author Adam Skarke, a geologist at Mississippi State University in Starkville. Within a distance of about 950 kilometres, the team found about 570 bubble plumes — an astounding number considering that scientists had previously reported only a handful in the region, he notes.

The article’s first two paragraphs breathlessly attempt to link these plumes to human-caused global warming, noting that there is theory that a warming ocean could produce such methane seeps. Worse, the article adds, once this methane is released it will accentuate warming, as methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas.

The article’s last paragraph, however, finally tells us the real story. Hard data gathered by remote robot vehicles that have actually visited these kinds of plumes instead suggests that the plumes have been there for more than a thousand years and thus could have nothing to do with human-caused global warming. In fact, their natural existence is a significant problem for most climate theories, as they now have to account for this additional greenhouse gas, naturally produced.

Russia to continue on ISS past 2020?

A Russian news story today suggests that they are leaning strongly to continuing their partnership with the United States on ISS beyond 2020.

“The issue of Russia’s participation at the ISS after 2020 remains open, but there is a 90-percent chance that the state’s leadership will agree to participate in the project further,” [Izvestia] wrote, citing a source at Russia’s Federal Space Agency Roscosmos.

This report gives a better overview of the debate going on with Russia’s government and space agency. If they abandon ISS the work they have already done on new modules for the station will have to be written off, and it appears assembling their own station from those modules will be too expensive and take too long.

It also looks like NASA offered them a second year long mission if they stuck around.

SpaceX delays commercial launch 24 hours

SpaceX has delayed its next commercial launch one day to Wednesday in order to make sure the issues that caused its Falcon 9R test rocket to self-destruct are irrelevant to the full Falcon 9 rocket.

Seems like a prudent decision that is also not overly timid. If this had been the NASA of the past few decades, they would have generally delayed the launch for far longer.

Rosetta’s comet landing sites

67P/C-G landing sites

The Rosetta science team has narrowed the choices for Philae landing sites on Comet 67P/C-G to five, three on the smaller lobe and two on the larger lobe.

The smaller lobe sites, being on the outside surface of the lobe, don’t provide as good a view of the rest of the comet, while the larger lobe sites are on its inside surface, looking down at the neck and the smaller lobe. In addition, the terrain for the larger lobe sites looks to me more interesting.

Being on the inside surface, however, the larger lobe sites are going to be more difficult to land on.

Crime rate plunges in Chicago as concealed carry applications surge

Surprise, surprise! Since Illinois began issuing concealed carry permits last year, the crime numbers in Chicago have plunged steeply.

Since Illinois started granting concealed carry permits this year, the number of robberies that have led to arrests in Chicago has declined 20 percent from last year, according to police department statistics. Reports of burglary and motor vehicle theft are down 20 percent and 26 percent, respectively. In the first quarter, the city’s homicide rate was at a 56-year low. …

As of July 29 the state had 83,183 applications for concealed carry and had issued 68,549 licenses. By the end of the year, Mr. Pearson estimates, 100,000 Illinois citizens will be packing. When Illinois began processing requests in January, gun training and shooting classes — which are required for the application — were filling up before the rifle association was able to schedule them.

Actually, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. In every single case, when the number of gun-toting law-abiding citizens was allowed to increase because of an easing in gun restrictions, the number of crimes has dropped.

Cooking the climate numbers in Australia

A comparison of the raw climate data with the adjusted numbers released by Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology shows that the adjustments have routinely turned the trends from cooling to warming.

This is the same finding that Steven Goddard and others in the U.S. found when they did the same comparison of NASA and NOAA numbers. In every case the adjustments either cooled the past or warmed the present in order to accentuate the appearance of a warming trend, sometimes in complete contradiction of numbers that had been accepted by scientists for decades.

So, does this mean the climate isn’t warming? No. What it means is we haven’t the slightest idea what’s happening, since the data has now been corrupted so badly that it is almost meaningless.

“Finally, finally, finally! They had come!”

When American forces liberated Paris from Nazi occupation seventy years ago today, one Parisian schoolgirl described what happened.

An idea took hold – we needed flags; a collective idea, as if everyone had the same thought at the same time. We would make the flags and hang them at the windows. But how were we going to do it? Quick, tea towels, old sheets cut in strips. A piece of luck, there was a shop that sold dyes in the courtyard. We ran down and started boiling water in the tubs. Some red dye. Some blue dye. The red didn’t work very well, the material came out pinkish red, not the flamboyant red we had hoped for. Too bad. How many stars are there on the American flag? But never mind, we’ll have to just put some on, and that will be good enough.

Read it all. It is important to note that this has been the kind of reaction of practically every oppressed nation when American troops have arrived.

Picking a comet landing site

67P/C-G on August 22, 2014
Comet 67P/C-G as seen on August 22, 2014
from 40 miles. Click on image for full resolution.

Engineers have begun the landing site selection for Rosetta’s Philae lander.

This week, up to ten possible sites are being laid on the table for a first round of dedicated discussions and for the LCC and the SONC to carry out a technical analysis on each site, ready to be presented at the weekend meeting. Participants of the LSSG will then review the results from the technical analysis and discuss the scientific merits of the candidate sites. By the end of the weekend meeting, as many as five sites could be selected for further detailed investigation.

They will announce the five finalist sites on Monday.

Europe’s continuing problems with Galileo GPS

A look at this week’s failed Soyuz launch and the continuing problems Europe has had building its Galileo GPS satellite constellation.

The program has had a series of problems and failures, which this most recent launch only helps highlight.

Confirmed: Life in buried Antarctic lake

American scientists have confirmed that water samples from the buried Antarctic Lake Whillans, first obtained in January 2013, contained almost 4,000 different species of life.

Samples from the lake show that life has survived there without energy from the Sun for the past 120,000 years, and possibly for as long as 1 million years. And they offer the first look at what may be the largest unexplored ecosystem on Earth — making up 9% of the world’s land area. “There’s a thriving ecosystem down there,” says David Pearce, a microbiologist at Northumbria University, UK, who was part of a team that tried, unsuccessfully, to drill into a different subglacial body, Lake Ellsworth, in 2013.

Curiosity cancels drilling and moves on

Adventures on Mars: After finding that a candidate rock for drilling was not stable enough, Curiosity engineers have canceled the drilling and instead decided to continue the rover’s journey towards Mount Sharp, having chosen a new route that bypasses Hidden Valley, which was found to be too slippery.

Soyuz puts two satellites in wrong orbit

A Russian-made Soyuz rocket launched from French Guiana for Arianespace has placed two European Galileo GPS satellites into the wrong orbit.

Russianspaceweb suggests that the problem was caused by the rocket’s Russian Fregat upper stage. (Scroll down about halfway to read their report on this launch.)

Multiple independent sources analyzing the situation suggested that the Fregat upper stage had fired its engine for the right duration, however the stage’s orientation in space during the second or both maneuvers had probably been wrong. According to Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and a veteran space historian, the Fregat’s angular orientation error during engine firing could reach as much as 145 degrees.

This failure is a triple whammy. It hits both Arianespace and Russia since the Soyuz was part of a partnership between the two. It also hits Europe’s Galileo GPS satellite, which after many years of development was beginning to move towards full operation.

Sea Launch has suspended all operations until 2015

Russian competition cools down: The mostly Russian-owned rocket company Sea Launch has suspended all operations until mid-2015.

I suspect that the Russian government, now in control of almost all Russian aerospace efforts, is not interested in building this company up as the rocket it uses is partly made in Ukraine and is a competitor to Russia’s new Angara rocket. Everything the Russian government has done for the past year has indicated a desire to shut down all cooperative efforts with other countries and focus everything towards all-Russian efforts.

Thus, Sea Launch dies.

Falcon 9R destroyed during failed test flight

In a test flight today of SpaceX’s Falcon 9R vertical take off and landing rocket the rocket was destroyed when ground controllers detected an “anomaly.”

Falcon 9R is a three engine version of the Falcon 9 first stage, designed to test designs for making that first stage capable of landing vertically. It has flown successfully a number of previous times, but this time it appears something was not quite right during the flight and ground controllers had to destroy it for safety reasons.

Is this a set back? Of course. Is it a failure? Not really, as it was a test flight of very cutting edge technology and even failures will teach you something to improve the engineering.

Use a smart phone? Google knows where you’ve been

If you use a smart phone or tablet, Google is very likely tracking all your movements.

Go to this website with your smart phone and you will see your travels for up to the past month. Which is why I don’t use a smart phone, and my own tablet has as few identification settings activated as possible. This information is no one else’s business, unless I say so.

Surprise! TSA lied!

Does this make you feel safer? The TSA has now admitted that it had allowed illegal immigrants to fly without valid identification, something it had strongly denied when news sources revealed it last month.

[A newly discovered TSA] letter confirms that illegal aliens are being allowed to board planes using a Notice to Appear form (also known as I-862), as [union border patrol official] Darby revealed in July. Hector Garza, a spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) told Darby that Notice to Appear forms can “easily be reproduced or manipulated on any home computer. The Notice to Appear form has no photo, anyone can make one and manipulate one. They do not have any security features, no watermark, nothing. They are simply printed on standard copy paper based on the information the illegal alien says is the truth.”

So, while the TSA routinely sexually abuses American citizens while demanding they provide photo id, the agency has had policies that would allow an illegal immigrant, with unknown background and who has come from outside the country, to board planes using a simple form that anyone can photocopy.

Does anyone but me see something significantly wrong with this picture? Didn’t Congress originally create the TSA to prevent foreign nationals from boarding planes to hijack them?

Actually, my questions above are merely snark. The TSA is a joke imposed on us by our elected officials and approved of by too many Americans because it allows them to make believe we are doing something about terrorism. Other elected officials and TSA managers and employees than use the agency as a weapon to obtain power and crush the freedom of Americans. In that context, these actions by the TSA, including lying about their policies, make complete sense.

A problem with drilling on Mars

In drilling a new hole while scientists considered Curiosity’s future route to Mount Sharp, the drill cut off operations prematurely.

Engineers think that the rock might have shifted during drilling, causing the robot rover to abort. They have ordered the rover to take a lot of pictures of the situation so they can figure out what happened.

I should note that engineers take a large risk every time they use Curiosity’s drill, as the design of the rover’s electrical system is such that the drill might short everything out while it operates. Thus, when I see a story about a problem with any drilling operation, I become very concerned. In this case, however, it appears to not be a problem with the rover itself.

Air Force requests info for new engine

Corporate welfare: The Air Force on Thursday issued a request for information from industry for the replacement of the Russian-made engines used by ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket.

Companies are being asked to respond by Sept. 19 to 35 questions. Among them: “What solution would you recommend to replace the capability currently provided by the RD-180 engine?” Air Force officials have told Congress they only have a broad idea of how to replace the RD-180. Estimates of the investment in money and time necessary to field an American-built alternative vary widely. Congress, meanwhile, is preparing bills that would fund a full-scale engine development program starting next year; the White House is advocating a more deliberate approach that begins with an examination of applicable technologies.

In the request for information, the Air Force says it is open to a variety of options including an RD-180 facsimile, a new design, and alternative configurations featuring multiple engines, and even a brand new rocket. The Air Force is also trying to decide on the best acquisition approach. Options include a traditional acquisition or a shared investment as part of a public-private partnership. [emphasis mine]

The Atlas 5 is built by Lockheed Martin. This is really their problem, not the Air Force or ULA. In addition, the Air Force has other options, both from Boeing’s Delta rocket family as well as SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. For the government to fund this new engine is nothing more than corporate welfare, at a time when the federal government is swimming in debt and is essentially bankrupt.

Pause in global temperature rise to continue for another decade?

The uncertainty of science: A new study suggests that the pause in global temperature rise for the past eighteen years will continue for another decade.

Don’t bet on it. Not only do scientists not really understand why the temperature stopped rising, they really have no way of predicting what will happen next.

Judge orders release of documents withheld by DOJ in Fast-and-Furious

A federal judge has ordered the Obama administration and the Justice Department to hand over some of the documents demanded by Congress in its investigation of the government’s gun-smuggling operation dubbed Fast and Furious.

The judge also ordered the Justice Department to provide Congress a list of withheld documents so that they will have a better idea of what documents should be made available.

High school student arrested for writing he killed his neighbor’s dinosaur with a gun

Madness: A South Carolina high school student was arrested for writing — in a “What-I-did-during-summer-vacation” school assignment — that he killed his neighbor’s dinosaur with a gun.

Investigators say the teacher contacted school officials after seeing the message containing the words “gun” and “take care of business,” and police were then notified on Tuesday. Summerville police officials say Stone’s book bag and locker were searched on Tuesday, and a gun was not found. According to police, when Stone was asked by school officials about the comment written on the assignment, he became “very irate” and said it was a joke. A Summerville Police Department report states that Stone continued to be disruptive and was placed in handcuffs, and was told that he was being detained for disturbing schools.

The police are claiming that he was arrested because of his behavior when questioned. I don’t blame him. I think the teacher who reported him and the school officials who called the police should be fired immediately for downright stupidity. Such people are not competent to teach the young.

A new map of the Middle East

Link here. The wide extent of Islamic State control is scary. It is also interesting that all of the U.S. airstrikes are outside those areas. At first glance it appears that we have terrible aim and are missing our targets. It is more likely that these are areas of dispute and we are supporting Iraqi and Kurdish efforts to regain the initiative.

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