Monthly Archives: November 2013

A rare new microbe has been found in two different clean rooms, one in Florida and the other in South America.

A rare new microbe has been found in two different clean rooms, one in Florida and the other in South America.

This population of berry-shaped bacteria is so different from any other known bacteria, it has been classified as not only a new species, but also a new genus, the next level of classifying the diversity of life. Its discoverers named it Tersicoccus phoenicis. Tersi is from Latin for clean, like the room. Coccus, from Greek for berry, describes the bacterium’s shape. The phoenicis part is for NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander, the spacecraft being prepared for launch in 2007 when the bacterium was first collected by test-swabbing the floor in the Florida clean room.

Some other microbes have been discovered in a spacecraft clean room and found nowhere else, but none previously had been found in two different clean rooms and nowhere else. Home grounds of the new one are about 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) apart, in a NASA facility at Kennedy Space Center and a European Space Agency facility in Kourou, French Guiana.

Unlike the bacteria found on ISS, this microbe does not appear to pose any specific health problem. It does provide biologists with a good example of the kind of life that might survive in hostile environments like Mars.

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The accumulated evidence from the Chelyabinsk meteorite now suggests the risk of large asteroid impacts might be ten times greater than previously estimated.

The accumulated evidence from the Chelyabinsk meteorite now suggests the risk of large asteroid impacts might be ten times greater than previously estimated.

The Chelyabinsk asteroid had approached Earth from a region of the sky that is inaccessible to ground-based telescopes. In the 6 weeks before the impact, it would have been visible above the horizon only during the daytime, when the sky is too bright to see objects of its size, says Borovička.

“The residual impact risk — from asteroids with yet-unknown orbits — is shifting to small-sized objects,” says Peter Brown, a planetary scientist at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, and an author on the Nature papers.

Of the millions of estimated near-Earth asteroids 10–20 metres in diameter, only about 500 have been catalogued. Models suggest that an object the size of the Chelyabinsk asteroid hits Earth once every 150 years on average, Brown says. But the number of observed impacts exceeding 1 kiloton of TNT over the past 20 years alone hints at an actual impact risk that may be an order of magnitude larger than previously assumed,

The data also now suggests that the Chelyabinsk asteroid was twice as big as previously thought, and that it had an almost identical orbit to a much larger already known asteroid.

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A new ligament has just been discovered in the human knee.

A new ligament has just been discovered in the human knee.

[T]he Belgian doctors are the first to identify the previously unknown ligament after a broad cadaver study using macroscopic dissection techniques. Their research shows that the ligament, which was given the name anterolateral ligament (ALL), is present in 97 per cent of all human knees.

This only illustrates once again that as much as we think we know, there is always something new to discover.

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A bacteria that causes urinary tract infections has been found to grow better in zero gravity than it does on Earth.

Shades of science fiction: A bacteria that causes urinary tract infections has been found to grow better in zero gravity than it does on Earth.

It was inevitable that such a bug would be found. The key here is to figure out how to keep it from getting up into space.

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A man in New Mexico was illegally subjected to a cavity search, including a colonoscopy, without his permission and without a legal warrant as the result of a simple traffic stop.

A man in New Mexico was illegally subjected to a cavity search, including a colonoscopy, without his permission and without a legal warrant as the result of a simple traffic stop.

As he was being detained and probed, Kennedy said Eckert never gave doctors his consent to perform the procedures and protested his treatment, which all arose from the simple traffic violation. The entire ordeal lasted for roughly 12 hours. TheBlaze has reached out to the Deming Police Department. This story will be updated should the department respond. ,,,

Kennedy [the man’s lawyer] also said the search warrant — in which there were legal concerns anyway — was carried out illegally because it was only valid in Luna County, N.M. The anal cavity search and other procedures were performed at the Gila Regional Medical Center, in Grant County. Further, she said the search warrant was only good through 10 p.m., but medical records show the preparation for the colonoscopy started at 1 a.m. the next morning. In theory, even if the search warrant were completely legal and compliant, it was no longer valid.

The man is suing the city of Deming, New Mexico, the specific officers who detained him, as well as the medical center and the doctors who performed the procedures against his will. I hope their careers are destroyed by this horrible act.

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A new study suggests that the variation of the cosmic ray flux during the solar cycle has little influence on the climate.

The uncertainty of science: A new study suggests that the variation of the cosmic ray flux during the solar cycle has little influence on the climate.

The study seems statistical in nature, which leaves me skeptical. Nonetheless, the link between cosmic rays and climate change remains tenuous, with only one study at CERN providing any evidence that cosmic rays might have an influence.

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President Obama publicly promised that “If you like your plan you can keep your plan.” at least 36 times.

President Obama publicly promised that “If you like your plan you can keep your plan.” at least 36 times.

The compilation video at the link and below the fold also includes yesterday’s lie where Obama tried to make believe that all those other statements never happened.
» Read more

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The sun goes boom!

It is always best to admit when you are wrong as soon as you find out. Last month, in reporting NOAA’s monthly update of the solar cycle, I unequivocally stated that

My interpretation of this data tells me that almost certainly the solar maximum has ended. We might see some later fluctuations whereby the sunspot number jumps, but the Sun is clearly beginning its ramp down to solar minimum.

Well, I spoke too soon. Last night NOAA posted the newest update of the solar cycle, and it shows that in October the Sun was more active then it has been in two years. In fact, for only the second time this entire solar cycle the Sun’s sunspot activity actually came close to matching the predictions of scientists. This month’s graph is posted below the fold, with annotations.
» Read more

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Obama now just learning that he is President!

Heh. Obama now just learning that he is President!

“I mean, I knew I was in a position of high importance, but not like THE President and all. I’m just as shocked as you all!” said the President to reporters in the White House’s Rose Garden, Monday. “…A lot of people have been wondering how all these scandals and things could be happening under my watch and I not know about it…” Obama said. “Well, when you don’t know you’re in charge of all these agencies and people, how can you? Think about it. It’s not my fault.”

Read it all. I especially like his response to a gentle and supportive question from a CNN reporter.

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‘This thing has legs.’”

“‘This thing has legs.’”

“One thing that politicians caught in a firestorm such as the current one swirling around the president’s health-care plan can hope for is that the thing will quickly die down once the news value is exhausted,” Hume said. “Unfortunately for the president, that does not seem to be happening. First came the website fiasco, then the stories of hundreds of thousands of policy cancellations. That’s now followed by reports of people losing their doctors as well. Incidents are now beginning to surface of people who managed to log on to the Obamacare website, being shocked at the prices of available health plans or the size of deductibles, or both.”

In the last few days I have been reminded increasingly of the problems Nixon had during his Watergate scandal. Instead of hitting the news in one big swoop, Watergate dribbled out over years, and that slow dribble was what kept it in the news long enough for the entire population to eventually get educated about it. More than anything else, that was what destroyed Richard Nixon.

Obama has had numerous scandals during his five years in office. None has damaged him seriously, because each popped up quickly and than faded as fast (mostly due to the willingness of a loyal press to protect him). With Obamacare, however, that can’t happen. Step-by-step, this disaster of a law is going to impose itself badly on Americans, and every time it does, the lies Obama and the Democrats told to get it passed are going to once again be highlighted. This is Nixon all over again, and it is going to do incredible damage to the Democratic Party come election time.

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An analysis across 49 states reveals that Obamacare cause premiums to rise by 41%.

Finding out what’s in it: An analysis across 49 states reveals that Obamacare cause premiums to rise by 41%.

Interestingly, a handful of blue states, where insurance is already the most heavily regulated, benefit from Obamacare, with their rates dropping. Most everyone else, however, gets creamed with higher costs.

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Obama lies again, claiming that he never really said “If you like your plan you can keep your plan. Period.” dozens of times.

Obama lies again, claiming in a speech yesterday that he never really said “If you like your plan you can keep your plan. Period.” dozens of times.

The dishonesty is breath-taking. Worse is the willingness of so many people to accept it.

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Students crash rockets into the ground on purpose! With video.

Students crash rockets into the ground on purpose! With video.

In what at first glance seems like a terrible sense of direction, in March students from the University of Washington fired rockets from kites and balloons at an altitude of 3,000 ft (914 m) straight into the ground at Black Rock, Nevada: a dry lake bed in the desert 100 mi (160 km) north of Reno. This may seem like the ultimate in larking about, but it’s actually a serious effort to develop new ways of collecting samples from asteroids.

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At the same time announcing that a third powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo will occur in about a month, Virgin Galactic has now admitted that commercial flights will not occur in 2013.

At the same time announcing that a third powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo will occur in about a month, Virgin Galactic has now admitted that commercial flights will not occur in 2013.

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For its next science mission the European Space Agency (ESA) has now decided to give first priority to an X-ray space telescope.

For its next science mission the European Space Agency (ESA) has now decided to give first priority to an X-ray space telescope.

They have demoted a space-based gravity wave detector to second place. As is typical for ESA, the pace here is quite slow, as both missions are now scheduled for launch in 2028 and 2034, decades away.

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India successfully launched its first probe to Mars today.

The competition heats up: India successfully launched its first probe to Mars today.

The mission, also known in India as Mangalyaan (which means “Mars-craft”), has at the moment only reached Earth orbit. To get to Mars, it must still complete an additional engine firing on November 30.

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Some minor news on the “If you like your healthcare plan, you get to keep your healthcare plan” front:

Some minor news on the “If you like your healthcare plan, you get to keep your healthcare plan” front:

I am sure all those people are thrilled by this news.

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Scientists now estimate that one in five sunlike stars have Earthlike planets in the habitable zone.

Scientists now estimate that one in five sunlike stars have Earthlike planets in the habitable zone.

This conclusion is entirely statistically based, and should be treated with some skepticism. Still, it seems reasonable, and I think it is likely to be a close approximation of the truth, when we finally begin to gather some real data.

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“The biggest failure of Obamacare: Increasing the number of uninsured.”

“The biggest failure of Obamacare: Increasing the number of uninsured.

The author outlines in great detail the numerous failures of the law before noting how it will only increase the numbers who don’t have insurance rather than decrease those numbers as touted by Democrats. And it will do so just before the 2014 elections.

He obviously must be a racist!

And in related news, another expert estimates that only 129 million people will lose their health insurance plans because of Obamacare.

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“This whole experience has converted a lifelong Democrat into a foot soldier for the Republican Party.”

“This whole experience has converted a lifelong Democrat into a foot soldier for the Republican Party.”

The quote comes from an article in a mainstream newspaper, not a conservative new media website, which suggests that those low information Democratic voters might actually be rethinking their voting habits because of Obamacare. That article itself, a reasonably detailed, accurate, and generally negative description of Obamacare, suggests that even the mainstream leftwing press is recognizing the truth of the situation.

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Twitter has repeatedly suspended @mycancellation, an account critical of Obamacare that is gathering images of insurance cancellation letters.

Leftwing tolerance: Twitter has repeatedly suspended @mycancellation, an account critical of Obamacare that is gathering images of insurance cancellation letters.

Higgins speculated about why the account was canceled on the website Ricochet.com. “Since we haven’t abused any of Twitter’s (seemingly quite subjective) standards, either someone at Twitter objects to the real cost of these ‘liked insurance I wanted to keep’ cancellations being given a human face,” Higgins wrote, “or there is an organized campaign by Obamacare-reality-deniers to spam Twitter with false claims of abuse. Either way, keep those photos coming!”

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India has begun the countdown for the November 5 launch of its first Mars orbiter.

India has begun the countdown for the November 5 launch of its first Mars orbiter.

Just today, spacetoday.com lists fourteen different stories in the Indian press about this mission, all enthusiastic, thus indicating the excitement in that country over space exploration and this mission in particular. Nor is this event unusual. I’ve noted before how space happy India is. They not only want to catch up and pass their neighbor China, they want to catch up with the United States and Russia. Should be fun to watch.

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You also can’t keep your doctor.

You also can’t keep your doctor.

Everyone now is clamoring about Affordable Care Act winners and losers. I am one of the losers.

My grievance is not political; all my energies are directed to enjoying life and staying alive, and I have no time for politics. For almost seven years I have fought and survived stage-4 gallbladder cancer, with a five-year survival rate of less than 2% after diagnosis. I am a determined fighter and extremely lucky. But this luck may have just run out: My affordable, lifesaving medical insurance policy has been canceled effective Dec. 31.

This fact must be repeated endlessly: None of this should be a surprise to anyone. Conservatives and tea party activists were saying that Obamacare would destroy the health insurance system for years, right from the beginning of the debate. They said that, as written, it would mean most people would lose their health insurance plans. They said that, as written, it would mean that many people would lose their doctors. And they said that, as written, it was going to force many doctors to retire or pull out of the insurance pool. All these things are happening. No one should be surprised by it.

What people have to do now is assign responsibility for this disaster on the people who caused it. And those people are the politicians in the Democratic Party, from President Obama down to every elected Democrat in Congress. They wouldn’t negotiate, they wouldn’t compromise. All they were willing to do was to force this piece of crap down our throats, whether we wanted it or not.

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