Archive for August 30th, 2011
Michele Bachmann is in the news again, this time for claiming that last week’s earthquakes and Hurricane Irene are all messages from God.
Reuters reports that Bachmann told senior citizens in Poinciana, Florida on Saturday that Hurricane Irene was an “act of God.”
Bachmann said, “Washington, D.C., you’d think by now they’d get the message. An earthquake, a hurricane. Are you listening? The American people have done everything they can, and now it’s time for an act of God and we’re getting it.”
NASA says astronauts may need to abandon the International Space Station this fall.
If Russian Soyuz rockets remain grounded beyond mid-November, there will be no way to launch new crews before the current residents are supposed to leave.
A Russian supply ship was destroyed during liftoff last week. The rocket is similar to what’s used to launch astronauts.
Three of the six space station astronauts, meanwhile, will remain in orbit for at least an extra week. They were supposed to return to Earth on Sept. 8. And the late September launch of a fresh crew has been delayed as well.
NASA space station program manager Mike Suffredini said Monday that flight controllers could keep a deserted space station operating indefinitely.
ASTRONOMERS HAVE DISCOVERED the closest known infant star to our planet, and it wasn’t born until 25 million years after the extinction of the dinosaurs.
The star, called AP Columbae, is closer to Earth than previously thought and is around 40 million years old – a stellar newborn when compared to our own Sun which was created 4.6 billion years ago.
“The star has been known about and studied for the past 15 years, but it wasn’t realised it was so young and so close, until now,” says co-author Simon Murphy, a PhD student from the Australian National University in Canberra. He says that highly accurate measurements from telescopes in Coonabarabran, NSW, and Chile, Hawaii and California, allowed the international team to build a much better picture of the star.
How to measure a star
AP Columbae is classed as a red-dwarf star because it is relatively small – about a third the size of the Sun – and comparatively cool, with a surface temperature of about 3500ºC as opposed to the Sun’s 6000ºC.
To measure the distance of the young star to Earth was relatively simple, Simon told Australian Geographic. As the Earth moved around in its natural orbit, the team observed how the position of AP Columbae changed in relation to stars in the background. “It’s similar to when you’re in a car, and the trees you see on the side of the road move at a different rate to the mountains in the background, depending on how far away they are,” he says. “So with enough observations you can tie down the distance to a nearby star very accurately. But measuring the age is a little more tricky.”
It will cost $15 to ask Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) a question in person during the August congressional recess.
The House Budget Committee chairman isn’t holding any face-to-face open-to-the-public town hall meetings during the recess, but like several of his colleagues he will speak only for residents willing to open their wallets.
Ryan, who took substantial criticism from his southeast Wisconsin constituents in April after he introduced the Republicans’ budget proposal, isn’t the only member of congress whose August recess town hall-style meetings are strictly pay-per-view.
Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) is scheduled to appear Aug. 23 at a luncheon gathering of the Arizona Republican Lawyers Association. For $35, attendees can question Quayle and enjoy a catered lunch at the Phoenix office of the Snell & Wilmer law firm.
Actress Daryl Hannah has joined the over 500 people who have been arrested since August 20 for a sit-in protest outside the White House.
The “Splash” and “Wall Street” star was one of nearly 100 people who were arrested on Tuesday for protesting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, according to a press release from Rainforest Action Network.
The Associated Press reports that Hannah sat by the White House sidewalk and refused to move under orders from U.S. Park Police.
According to Financial Post, Hannah shouted, “No to the Keystone pipeline” as she was being handcuffed.
The planned pipeline will run from the Canadian tar sands in Alberta to refineries on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. It is currently waiting on approval from the White House.
In a HuffPost blog piece, Philip Radford and Daryl Hannah wrote:
This week, President Obama will find hundreds more people in front of the White House — us included — willing to go to jail for peacefully protesting the President’s short-sighted decision to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama’s decision on this enormous fossil fuel project will not be a quiet deal with oil industry lobbyists; it will be witnessed by millions of voters who had hoped that President Obama would have the vision to get America off of oil with a moonshot program for oil-free cars by the next decade. Instead, oil profits have been pitted against the world that our children will live in, hooking America to some of the highest polluting oil without moving America quickly to a foreign oil-free future.
The closest nuclear power plant to tornado-ravaged Joplin, Mo., was singled out weeks before the storm for being vulnerable to twisters. The Wolf Creek Nuclear power plant near New Strawn, Kan., went online in 1985. Inspections triggered by Japan’s nuclear crisis found that some emergency equipment and storage sites at the Wolf Creek nuclear plant in southeastern Kansas might not survive a tornado.Specifically, plant operators and federal inspectors said Wolf Creek did not secure equipment and vehicles needed to fight fires, retrieve fuel for emergency generators and resupply water to keep nuclear fuel cool as it’s being moved.Despite these findings, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission concluded that the plant met requirements put in place after the Sept. 11 attacks that are designed to keep the nuclear fuel cool and containment structures intact during an emergency.
Artist Andrew Kolb turned David Bowie’s classic scifi song, Space Oddity, into a children’s book. For himself, anyway. I’m assuming that Kolb, who was inspired by the song’s strong storyline and imagery, didn’t want to go through the hassle of getting the rights to the lyrics and so he isn’t selling copies.
He has published the book on his website for free!
It’s interesting that Kolb’s vision of the song is very different from mine. I’ve always seen Space Oddity as not a tragedy or the tale of a space accident but rather of an astronaut who, once he gets far beyond the Earth, has a shift in consciousness.