Category Archives: Points of Information

Fermi detects beams of antimatter produced above thunderstorms on Earth

More from the AAS meeting: The Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope has detected beams of antimatter produced above Earth’s thunderstorms. Key quote:

Scientists think the antimatter particles were formed in a terrestrial gamma-ray flash, a brief burst produced inside thunderstorms and shown to be associated with lightning. It is estimated that about 500 such flashes occur daily worldwide, but most go undetected. . . . The spacecraft was located immediately above a thunderstorm for most of the observed terrestrial gamma-ray flashes. But, in four cases, storms were far from Fermi. In addition, lightning-generated radio signals detected by a global monitoring network indicated the only lightning at the time was hundreds or more miles away. During one flash, which occurred on Dec. 14, 2009, Fermi was located over Egypt. But the active storm was in Zambia, some 4,500 kilometers (2,800 miles) to the south.

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Preliminary findings suggest that the Arkansas birds died from impact trauma

Preliminary findings from the USGS National Wildlife Health Center suggest that the mass bird die-off that occurred in Arkansas was from impact trauma. Key quote:

The State concluded that such trauma was probably a result of the birds being startled by loud noises on the night of Dec. 31, arousing them and causing them to fly into objects such as houses or trees. Scientists at the USGS NWHC performed necropsies—the animal version of an autopsy—on the birds and found internal hemorrhaging, while the pesticide tests they conducted were negative. Results from further laboratory tests are expected to be completed in 2-3 weeks.

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Hanny’s Voorwerp: evidence of a quasar that has turned off

Hanny’s Voorwerp: a strange object near a galaxy that has baffled astronomers is now seen as a light echo from when the galaxy’s central quasar was still active. More importantly, this is evidence that the quasar went quiescent sometime in the last 70,000 to 200,000 years. For a quasar to turn off so quickly is a surprise for astronomers.

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A look at the U.S. government’s planned budget for climate research

The next time someone begins ranting about how the money from “big oil” is used to attack the science of global warming, tell them to take a look at this post, which outlines in detail the more than $2 billion that the U.S. government plans to spend on climate change research in 2011 alone (too much of which is unfortunately used by partisans like James Hansen to try to prove the Earth is warming).

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