Category Archives: Points of Information

Iranian blogger sentenced to 20 years

So, how does this prove that Islam is the religion of peace? In Iran today a blogger was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Key quote:

Hossein Derakhshan was “convicted of cooperating with enemy states, making propaganda against the Islamic system of government, promoting small anti-revolutionary groups, managing obscene web sites and insulting Islamic sanctities,”

It appears that Derakhshan’s worst crime might have been to visit Israel, though speaking freely in an Islamic state might also have been considered blasphemous.

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Results from Hayabusa delayed till next year

We won’t know if the Japanese probe Hayabusa actually brought asteroid materials back to Earth until spring 2011. Key quote from the project scientist:

Kawaguchi said his science team found “tens of particles” in Chamber A of the canister. The tiny particles are being removed one-by-one in an extraction process that is stretching longer than anticipated.

Note that they still have not opened Chamber B, which is thought to have had a better chance of capturing asteroid material because it was the chamber in contact with the asteroid Itokawa.

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One third of so-called extinct species have turned up alive

Back from the dead! A new study has found that scientists are significantly over-estimating the number of animal extinctions, with approximately one third of the so-called “extinct” species turning up alive. This quote makes one wonder if politics have been a factor:

The mistakes cannot be blamed on primitive technology or old fashioned scientific methods. “Mammals missing in the 20th century were nearly three times as likely to be rediscovered as those that disappeared in the 19th century.”

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House will vote on Senate NASA plan

The space war appears to be over. Based on several news reports, the House will vote this week on the Senate plan for NASA, not on the House plan.

Despite this agreement in Congress, the future of NASA remains murky, at best. As written, this plan forces NASA to continue construction of some form of heavy lift rocket similar to the Ares I and Ares V it was building under Constellation, but gives the agency less money and time to do it. It also hands out a lot of money to commercial companies for so-called launch services, but outlines few details about how that money should be spent.

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Dangerous asteroid discovered by new telescope

A new survey telescope, designed to scan the entire available sky approximately three times every month, has discovered its first potentially hazardous asteroid (PHO) , 150 feet in diameter and set to speed past the Earth at a distance of 4 million miles in mid-October. Key quote:

Most of the largest PHOs have already been catalogued, but scientists suspect that there are many more under a mile across that have not yet been discovered. These could cause devastation on a regional scale if they ever hit our planet. Such impacts are estimated to occur once every few thousand years.

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