Monday, July 28, 2014

Ukraine: Hopeful, but Bloody Patterns

There have been a lot of developments since my last post.  The Ukrainians have been making sold progress in recapturing the Donbass.  It is not without its cost. There are differing maps as to who controls what. The one most common shows the Ukrainians have splitt he rebel territory into two:

Pervomaysk, Torez, the "mountain" of Savur-Mogyla, Snizhne, Shakhtarsk and Lutuhine have been reportedly taken.

The battle for Donetsk, Novosvetlovka, Lugansk and Gorlovka is on.

There are claims in Gorlovka, the rebels are threatening to kill hostages and blow up the chemical factory there if they are not given a 24 hour head start on retreating. The head of the Gorlovka rebels has also reportedly disappeared.

One side or another keeps shelling the residential areas. The Ukrainians claim they are only fighting house by house and using artilery away from the residential areas. The rebels are claiming they are not doing it and the Ukrainians are. The rebels have less credibility, of course, at this point by a long shot.

The Russians sent the largest convoy of equipment yet into Ukraine.  The Pentagon noted it was over 100 vehicles. The russians have likewise continued to bombard the Ukrainian army. There are reports a full Russian army unit (perhaps the convoy above) with Russian soldiers entered the Donetsk Oblast.

The Russians have supplanted almost all the Ukrainians in the rebel upper echelon.  It looks like they have decided to stop pretending this is really Ukrainian run and instigated. 

Worrisome is the fact the Kremenchuk mayor was murdered and someone attempted the same attack on the mayor of Lvov.

China's PandaX Facility is Looking for Dark Matter

The new PandaX facility, located deep underground in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan, hosts a large liquid-xenon detector designed to search for direct evidence of dark matter interactions with the nuclei of xenon and to observe 136Xe double-beta decay.

The detector's central vessel was designed to accommodate a staged target volume increase from an initial 120 kg (stage I) to 0.5 t (stage II) and ultimately to a multi-ton scale.

The technical design of the PandaX facility and detector is outlined in a new paper co-authored by Ji Xiangdong, of the Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics, Astronomy and Cosmology at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and published in the Beijing-based journal SCIENCE CHINA Physics, Mechanics & Astronomy.

While noting that cosmologists generally agree that 80 percent of the matter in the universe is made up of some form of "dark matter," these researchers also acknowledge that so far, no physicist has ever produced experimental data that provides convincing evidence for the existence and structure of dark matter.

"The standard model of particle physics, which has been very successful in explaining the properties of ordinary matter, can neither explain dark matter's existence nor its properties," Professor Ji and co-authors across China and the United States write in the new study. "Yet the discovery and identification of dark matter would have a profound impact on cosmology, astronomy, and particle physics."

"A leading dark matter candidate consistent with all astrophysical data is a weakly interacting massive particle (WIMP)," they add. "WIMPs could be studied in standard particle physics through either observations of ordinary matter particles produced through DM [dark matter] annihilations in the halo of the Milky Way, production of DM particles through high-energy collisions in accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider, or WIMPs could be detected through their interactions with atomic nuclei in specially designed detectors."

Direct detection experiments are deployed in underground laboratories around the world. When WIMPs interact with nucleons in a detection medium, it is predicted they will recoil and generate kinetic motion of atoms (heat), ionization (free electrons) and scintillation (de-excitation of excited electrons).


States Besides New York Deciding on how to Regulate Bitcoin, Other Cryptocurrencies

Now that consumers can use digital currencies like bitcoin to buy rugs from, pay for Peruvian pork sandwiches from a food truck in Washington, D.C. and even make donations to political action committees, states are beginning to explore how to regulate the emerging industry.

Digital currencies — also known as virtual currencies or cash for the Internet —allow people to transfer value over the Internet, but are not legal tender. Because they don’t require third-party intermediaries such as credit card companies or PayPal, merchants and consumers can avoid the fees typically associated with traditional payment systems.

Advocates of virtual currencies also say that because personal information is not tied to transactions, digital currencies are less prone to identity theft.

With about $7.8 billion in circulation, bitcoin is the most widely used digital currency; others include Litecoin and Peercoin. All are examples of cryptocurrencies, a subset of digital currencies that rely on cryptography to function.

Many of the headlines generated by bitcoin and other digital currencies to date have focused on problems with the system. In January, for example, federal prosecutors charged the chief executive officer of BitInstant, a major bitcoin exchange company, with laundering digital currency through Silk Road, an online drug marketplace. Mt. Gox, based in Tokyo and once the largest bitcoin exchange in the world, stopped trading in February and filed for bankruptcy protection, saying it had lost half a billion dollars in virtual money.

Although digital currencies are far from widespread in their acceptance, their growing popularity — and potential for misuse — has prompted states to weigh in on what was previously uncharted territory.

“As far as we know, most state laws are completely silent on this topic,” said David J. Cotney, chairman of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors’ Emerging Payments Task Force, which in March began exploring virtual currency.

Among the questions the task force will consider, Cotney said, is whether bitcoins should be classified as currencies, investment securities or commodities, which could determine which regulators should apply.

Are You Human?

Update on the Cruiser Mock up Being Built at Wuhan & its Extrapolated Warship


US Army Developing 3d Printed Warheads, Artillery Shells

Every technology casts a shadow. In the case of 3D printing, for every potentially benign use —like bioprinting organs—there is an unsettling opposite like printing guns at home. Now, the army is looking to use 3D printing to make the world a more dangerous place in at least one more way: building deadlier warheads.

The army has been developing its 3D printing capabilities for some time now, and has technology already nearly advanced enough to bioprint replacement skin on the battlefield. But the military isn’t just interested in saving lives—more often than not, it takes them. In its latest bid to kill more people, more efficiently, and at less cost, the army is planning to print warhead components, according to the latest issue of Army Technology.

“3D printing of warheads will allow us to have better design control and utilize geometries and patterns that previously could not be produced or manufactured,” James Zunino, a researcher at the Armament Research, Engineering and Design Center (ARDEC) in Picatinny, New Jersey, told Motherboard in an email.

The ability to print parts previously unimaginable using traditional manufacturing methods could radically open up the possibilities when it comes to what a warhead can do. For example, warheads using 3D-printed components could be designed to be more compact in order to pack in additional payloads, sensors, and safety mechanisms. Planning for printed parts in the design process will also allow the army to precisely engineer the blast radiuses of warheads for maximum effect.

Tropical Sea Surface Temperatures may Have Exceeded 40 C During Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum

Extreme warming of tropical waters during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum


Aze et al


The Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), ca. 56 Ma, was a major global environmental perturbation attributed to a rapid rise in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Geochemical records of tropical sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) from the PETM are rare and are typically affected by post-depositional diagenesis. To circumvent this issue, we have analyzed oxygen isotope ratios (δ18O) of single specimens of exceptionally well-preserved planktonic foraminifera from the PETM in Tanzania (∼19°S paleolatitude), which yield extremely low δ18O, down to less than –5‰. After accounting for changes in seawater chemistry and pH, we estimate from the foraminifer δ18O that tropical SSTs rose by greater than 3 °C during the PETM and may have exceeded 40 °C. Calcareous plankton are absent from a large part of the Tanzania PETM record; extreme environmental change may have temporarily caused foraminiferal exclusion.

Do Desiccation Cracks Explain Polygonal Terrain on Mars?

Potential Desiccation Cracks on Mars: A Synthesis from Modeling, Analogue-Field Studies, and Global Observations


El-Maary et al


Potential desiccation polygons (PDPs) are polygonal surface patterns that are a common feature in Noachian-to-Hesperian-aged phyllosilicate- and chloride-bearing terrains and have been observed with size scales that range from cm-wide (by current rovers) to 10s of meters-wide. The global distribution of PDPs shows that they share certain traits in terms of morphology and geologic setting that can aid identification and distinction from fracturing patterns caused by other processes. They are mostly associated with sedimentary deposits that display spectral evidence for the presence of Fe/Mg smectites, Al-rich smectites or less commonly kaolinites, carbonates, and sulfates. In addition, PDPs may indicate paleolacustrine environments, which are of high interest for planetary exploration, and their presence implies that the fractured units are rich in smectite minerals that may have been deposited in a standing body of water. A collective synthesis with new data, particularly from the HiRISE camera suggests that desiccation cracks may be more common on the surface of Mars than previously thought. A review of terrestrial research on desiccation processes with emphasis on the theoretical background, field studies, and modeling constraints is presented here as well and shown to be consistent with and relevant to certain polygonal patterns on Mars.

Human Bone and Tooth Enamel Isotopic Ratios are VERY Different

Investigating inherent differences in isotopic composition between human bone and enamel bioapatite: implications for reconstructing residential histories


Webb et al


In archaeological research, human bone and enamel bioapatite isotopic compositions are commonly used to reconstruct residential and dietary histories. In doing so, enamel and bone bioapatite are implicitly treated as isotopically equivalent, but recent research has determined that carbonate–carbon and –oxygen isotopic compositions of these two tissues may be offset by several per mil. Here, we compare the isotopic compositions of co-forming bone and enamel from juvenile humans. We also assess the impact of a standard pre-treatment procedure for the removal of organic matter and exogenous carbonates on carbon- and oxygen-isotope compositions and on bioapatite crystallinity and carbonate content. Pre-treatment procedures had minimal effect on both enamel and bone carbon and oxygen isotopic compositions (±0.4–±0.9‰) and bioapatite crystallinity, and effectively removed exogenous carbonates. The offset between enamel and bone phosphate–oxygen isotopic compositions is relatively small (±0.7 ± 0.5‰). The offsets for carbonate–oxygen (+1.4 ± 1.0‰) and –carbon (+4.3 ± 1.2‰) are larger, and enamel is consistently 18O- and 13C-enriched relative to bone. Interpreted conservatively, phosphate–oxygen isotopic data from paired enamel and bone remain suitable for determining residential history, whereas the isotopic compositions of carbonate–oxygen and –carbon from enamel and bone bioapatite are inherently different and cannot be compared uncritically.

Itemirus: a Dromaeosaur From Turonian Cretaceous Uzbekistan


Sues et al


Skeletal remains of dromaeosaurid theropods are uncommon in the richly fossiliferous continental strata of the Upper Cretaceous (Turonian) Bissekty Formation of the Kyzylkum Desert in Uzbekistan. The phylogenetic position of the first published specimen, a partial braincase designated as the holotype of Itemirus medullaris Kurzanov, 1976, has long been contentious. Our examination of the specimen supports its attribution to Dromaeosauridae. Additional, mostly well-preserved dromaeosaurid skeletal remains from the Bissekty Formation include cranial bones, teeth, vertebrae, and some podial elements. They are tentatively referred to the same taxon, Itemirus medullaris, and establish the presence of dromaeosaurid paravians in present-day Central Asia during the Turonian.

Leaf Mining Insects Went Extinct at the KT/K-Pg Extinction in Montana

After the asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous period that triggered the dinosaurs' extinction and ushered in the Paleocene, leaf-mining insects in the western United States completely disappeared. Only a million years later, at Mexican Hat, in southeastern Montana, fossil leaves show diverse leaf-mining traces from new insects that were not present during the Cretaceous, according to paleontologists.

"Our results indicate both that leaf-mining diversity at Mexican Hat is even higher than previously recognized, and equally importantly, that none of the Mexican Hat mines can be linked back to the local Cretaceous mining fauna," said Michael Donovan, graduate student in geosciences, Penn State.

Insects that eat leaves produce very specific types of damage. One type is from leaf miners -- insect larvae that live in the leaves and tunnel for food, leaving distinctive feeding paths and patterns of droppings.

Donovan, Peter Wilf, professor of geosciences, Penn State, and colleagues looked at 1,073 leaf fossils from Mexican Hat for mines. They compared these with more than 9,000 leaves from the end of the Cretaceous, 65 million years ago, from the Hell Creek Formation in southwestern North Dakota, and with more than 9,000 Paleocene leaves from the Fort Union Formation in North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. The researchers present their results in today's (July 24) issue of PLOS ONE.

"We decided to focus on leaf miners because they are typically host specific, feeding on only a few plant species each," said Donovan. "Each miner also leaves an identifiable mining pattern."

The researchers found nine different mine-damage types at Mexican Hat attributable to the larvae of moths, wasps and flies, and six of these damage types were unique to the site.

Evidence of a Very Slow Motion Continental Collision Between the Rhycian to Orosirian PaleoProterozoic

Geochronology and geochemistry of the Paleoproterozoic meta-basalts from the Jiao-Liao-Ji Belt, North China Craton: Implications for petrogenesis and tectonic setting


Li et al


Geochronology, geochemical and isotopic studies were carried out on the Paleoproterozoic meta-basalts and related rocks from the Jiao-Liao-Ji Belt, North China Craton, to understand the mantle source characteristics and the geodynamic setting. U-Pb isotopic dating using the LA-ICPMS method on zircons from the metamorphosed volcanic rocks reveals that they formed at ca. 2204 - 2158 Ma and were metamorphosed at ca. 1895 - 1919 Ma, respectively. The meta-basalts are of calc-alkali affinity and have arc-like geochemical compositions. They are enriched in LREEs ((La/Yb)N = 3.5 - 5.1) and LILEs (Sr, Ba, Rb), depleted in HFSEs (Nb, Ta, Zr, Hf, Ti), and show variable high ɛNd(t) values (+2.4 to +4.5). The basaltic rocks experienced significant fractional crystallization and minor crustal contamination during magma evolution. Modeling suggests that the parent magma of the meta-basalts was derived from 20% partial melting of spinel-garnet lherzolites that were previously metasomatized by subduction zone fluids/melts in the Late Archean. Petrological, geochronological and geochemical data suggest that the Paleoproterozoic volcanic rocks formed in an active continental margin setting and were subsequently deformed and metamorphosed to amphibolite facies due to the arc-continental collision at ca. 1.9 Ga, rather than in a continental rifting setting as previously thought by most workers.

The Lake That Burned Down A Forest (Part 2)

Germany Must be the America for Europe

Reluctantly, Germany in Europe has become a bit like America in the world, the indispensable power. It is too big, too successful, to be left on the sidelines. The danger of Russia must be confronted. The euro zone must not be left to fester, and the EU must be reformed so it does not break up. The relationship with America must be prevented from fraying over allegations of spying, and rekindled with a big trade deal.

Having acknowledged its guilt for past aggression, Germany is in danger of committing the opposite sin, inaction. Peace is not just the absence of war, but the defence of hard-won freedom. Many of those who call for “normalisation” argue that Germany must assert its interests. Actually, the burden is even greater: it now has to pursue the interests of all of Europe.

The International Effects of China's Internal Economic Rebalancing

NEAR the centre of Sumatra, an Indonesian island once blanketed by forest, a gash in the ground reveals the wealth that lies just beneath its surface. Large yellow diggers prise out coal and tip it into 60-tonne lorries that huff their way to the top of the open-cast mine in Pauh subdistrict. Five years of constant traffic, propelled by China’s hunger for fuel, has formed deep ruts in the dirt road. Recently, however, the lorries have stopped moving at midday. China’s appetite for coal has plateaued, the coal price has sagged and Minemex, the firm that operates the mine, has given workers longer lunch breaks, without pay. “We have no choice. We must endure,” sighs Demak, a sun-weathered 38-year-old.

Enduring might seem an apt word for Asian economies that had come to rely on ever-stronger exports to China. After averaging 10% annual growth for 30 years, the Chinese economy has managed only 7.5% over the past two years—enviable for most countries but a clear downshift for China. The lull has rippled through the region. Taiwanese machine-tool makers have seen exports to China fall by more than 20% since 2012. Australian iron ore for delivery to China recently hit its lowest price in 21 months. Jewellery sales in Hong Kong have fallen by 40% this year, in part due to China’s crackdown on corruption.

But enduring is not the right word for all those doing business with China. Analysts refer to milk as New Zealand’s “white gold”, such is China’s thirst for it. The number of Chinese visitors to Sri Lanka more than doubled in the first half of the year. Chinese women in their 30s are now the biggest group of foreign buyers on the website of Lotte, a big South Korean retailer, snapping up cosmetics.

These contrasting fortunes stem from profound, if gradual, changes to Chinese growth. Consumption is at last edging out investment as the economy’s main engine. Household consumption has been inching up of late as a proportion of GDP, rising from 34.9% in 2010 to 36.2% last year, according to official data. Some economists think the true share could be ten percentage points higher. This year even with the government’s “mini-stimulus”—a burst of spending on railways and public housing unveiled in April—consumption has still accounted for over half of Chinese growth.

Limited though it has been, this rebalancing is beginning to make itself felt beyond China’s borders.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

2092 3rd Street Design


346 Potrero Rendering


1500 Mission Rendering


New Lumina Rendering


50 First Street Rendering


The Evolution of the Orosirian Paleoproterozoic Arctic Canada

Sedimentological and geochemical basin analysis of the Paleoproterozoic Penrhyn and Piling groups of Arctic Canada

Partin et al


Paleoproterozoic metasedimentary successions on the western Churchill Province record a history of regional tectonic events spanning the breakup and amalgamation of supercontinents. Metasedimentary successions in the northeastern part of the Trans-Hudson orogeny, including the Penrhyn and Piling groups of Melville Peninsula and Baffin Island, respectively, have been understudied with respect to their basin evolution records. We present new sedimentological, geochemical, and geochronological data for the Penrhyn and Piling groups that record deposition on the Rae craton. New detrital zircon U-Pb age data indicates that deposition of the Penrhyn Group started after ∼1897 Ma and post-dates deposition of most of the Piling Group. The new maximum age constraints and stratigraphy of the Penrhyn Group do not support previous lithostratigraphic correlation with the Piling Group. Deposition of the lower Piling Group occurred in an epicontinental basin setting. The occurrence of detritus from the Meta Incognita microcontinent in the upper Piling Group (Bravo Lake and Longstaff Bluff formations) is interpreted to signal the onset of foreland basin deposition. The details of sedimentation in the Piling foreland basin provide an additional constraint to discerning the polarity of subduction between the Rae craton and Meta Incognita microcontinent that closed the Piling basin. We conclude that the Piling foreland system shows characteristics of a pro-foreland basin, implying that the Rae craton was the lower plate in the collision with the Meta Incognita microcontinent. Finally, with new stratigraphic and detrital zircon geochronological data for the Penrhyn and Piling groups, we provide a comparison with other sedimentary successions on the Rae craton whose histories were influenced by similar regional tectonic events.

What Were the Effects of China's 8.5% GDP Expediture on Infrastructure From 1992 to 2011?

SHANGHAI, which already boasts 14 subway lines, a high-speed maglev service, two huge modern airports, some 20 expressways and a bullet-train departure every three minutes, is about to add one more piece of infrastructure—the headquarters of the new BRICS development bank. China is setting up the bank together with the four other members of the BRICS club of big emerging markets: Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa.

Fittingly, the bank will focus on infrastructure lending to poorer countries. China is also pushing to establish another multilateral lender, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which, as its name suggests, will concentrate on the same thing. With these two new banks, China is exporting a central feature of its development model to the rest of the world. It spent 8.5% of its GDP investing in infrastructure from 1992 to 2011, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. That was more than any other country, and well above the developing-country norm of 2-4% of GDP.

Given China’s growth—its economy expanded seven-fold during that time—the wisdom of investing in infrastructure seems self-evident. Research generally turns up a positive relationship between infrastructure investment and growth, especially in poorer countries. According to one broad survey of the literature by the World Bank, making Latin America’s infrastructure as good as East Asia’s would increase annual growth rates by as much as five percentage points in the countries with the worst roads and phones.

Yet it is difficult to isolate the precise effect on growth of any given project. Investment normally gives an immediate lift to GDP, whether it involves a bridge to nowhere or one to a crowded island. What matters is the long-run impact. Over time, infrastructure can gin up growth in two main ways. It can generate a rise in incomes if reduced transaction costs promote trade. And it can raise growth rates if it leads to greater information sharing and thus improved productivity. But these effects are hard to measure because infrastructure investment often coincides with economic growth, casting doubt on causality. Did the new roads boost growth or did faster growth increase demand for them?

Eurozone Still has Headaches, Weakness

AS IN a complex film script, at least two storylines have been in play for the euro zone this year. One is brightly lit, featuring the revival of both consumer and business confidence, the return of investors to the troubled economies in peripheral Europe and the continuing recovery from the double-dip recession. The other is sombre, focusing on the weakness of that upturn, the onset of disturbingly low inflation and the continuing fragility of over-indebted economies and their banks. The past few days have brought a reminder that this second story is not yet fully told.

A crisis at Banco Espírito Santo (BES), one of Portugal’s biggest banks, prompted a plunge in Portugal’s stockmarket and lesser tumbles elsewhere. Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, said that the episode illustrated how swiftly market nerves could return and how fragile the construction of the euro remained.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Ukraine: Patterns of Pause?

Clashes continue but for the most part they are small scale and without a clear victor.  No towns seemed to have traded hands.

The Russians have continued to bombard Ukraine.  They are also preparing to transfer equipment across the border.  Some of this is much larger and heavier bombardment rockets than just the GRADs.  

In Gorlovka, the rebels are digging in.  They have brought in a fair amount of AA and tanks.

The Russians have been claiming the Ukrainians are routinely shelling the Russian side of the border and they are getting threatening over it.  The Ukrainians have been stating its army is NOT shooting at the Russians, even to return fire, and the attackers are really the rebels trying to act as a provocation for invading.

Along those lines, there have been some ominous movements (as if the shellings have not been) on the border with Russian army units coming right up to the border before turning and some claim the Russians are drilling to invade.  It remains to be seen.  The cost may be too high for that.  OTOH, if the fighting continues as is, the rebels are going to lose.  The Ukrainians are not going to accept a frozen conflict.

Japan is now threatening sanctions against Russia, fwiw.

There is a new video on youtube which is claimed to be the rebels as flight mh17 which states the rebels knew it was a large, single plane and not a fighter.  The question is whether or not the tape is from June or July.

The political situation seems to be chaotic in Kiev.  The intent apparently was not to have Yatsenyuk resign when the government collapsed.  That was his own decision.  Apparently, the Rada will vote on whether or not accept his resignation on Thursday as part of a no confidence vote.  I am guessing he was mad because he views the election as not being appropriately timed for the war.  Then again, I could be wrong.

Memristers Finally Here? HP to Ship in 2016?

A replacement for the ordinary transistor may make it to market by the end of this decade, an event that will herald a radical redesign of traditional computer architectures. The memristor, the subject of much study over the last six years, could become the basic building block for an array of new devices—from the sensors and memory chips being built into the "Internet of Things" (connected, sensor-embedded devices) to the giant computers used for big data applications by scientists, engineers and Wall Street.


The industry has several goals in making the shift. Memristors can vastly improve energy efficiency of electronic components, and are better able to cope with the floods of data expected from the Internet of Things, which monitor or control equipment or systems in factories, office buildings or homes. Essential to their development is a continuation of the exponential growth in computing power and storage density that has seen prices plunge over the past 40 years. For similar reasons, IBM has just announced it will spend $3 billion to pursue experimental "post-silicon" architectures and chips, predicting a fundamental revamping of existing systems in 10 years.

These changes will produce a fundamental overhaul of computer operating systems to accommodate hardware that no longer differentiates between dynamic memory and long-term storage. Bresniker sees the change as an opportunity to jettison layers of cumbersome operating system code that was previously adopted to accommodate the limitations of older hardware.

HP's current development timetable has memristors going into the earliest stage of production in 2015 and launching as DIMMs (dual in-line memory modules) for computer memory in 2016. The operating system for “The Machine” will go into wider public beta testing in 2017, and the new architecture is intended to be integrated into actual products in 2019. Even if none of this pans out, Bresniker believes the attempt is worth it: "Each of the elements is interesting…[on its own]. Pulling out that copper and dropping in that piece of fiber will be more efficient, even with a traditional computing and memory regime all around it…. We need a replacement memory technology. If it does nothing else than drop in where my DIMMs drop in today, that will be a useful thing."

WSJ: 10 THings Bitcoin Won't Tell you


The Robopocalypse has Arrived for Parking Attendants

Travelers at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany don’t even have to park their cars anymore. Last week the airport begin a using self-driving robot that resembles a forklift to deliver some cars to and from an appropriate parking space.

The idea is to get business travelers in and out of an airport as quickly and easily as possible. A driver can pull into a transfer station at the parking lot entrance and leave their car after checking in on a digital touchscreen. Sensors in the station measure the dimensions of the vehicle, and send that information to one of the robots. The robot, called Ray, adjusts its arms to fit the new vehicle, then drives to the transfer station and slides its arms around the tires to lift the vehicle off the ground.

US Army is Testing Black Hornet Pocket-sized Micro Drone

U.S. Army researchers are developing a pocket-sized aerial surveillance drone for soldiers and small units operating on unfamiliar ground.

“The Cargo Pocket Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance program, or CP-ISR, seeks to develop a mobile soldier sensor to increase the situational awareness of dismounted soldiers by providing real-time video surveillance of threat areas within their immediate operational environment,” officials at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center maintain.

Larger systems have been used to provide over-the-hill ISR capabilities on the battlefield for almost a decade, but none of those have delivered it directly to the squad level, where soldiers need the ability to see around the corner or into the next room during combat missions.

“The Cargo Pocket ISR is a true example of an applied systems approach for developing new soldier capabilities,” said Dr. Laurel Allender, acting NSRDEC technical director. “It provides an integrated capability for the soldier and small unit for increased situational awareness and understanding with negligible impact on Soldier load and agility.”

NSRDEC engineers investigated existing commercial off-the-shelf technologies to identify a surrogate CP-ISR system.

Prox Dynamics’ PD-100 Black Hornet, a palm-sized miniature helicopter weighing only 16 grams, has the ability to fly up to 20 minutes while providing real-time video via a digital data link from one of the three embedded cameras and operates remotely with GPS navigation. Tiny, electric propellers and motors make the device virtually undetectable to subjects under surveillance.

The size, weight and image-gathering capabilities of the system are promising advancements that fulfill the burgeoning requirement for an organic, squad-level ISR capability, but more work still needs to be done, Army officials maintain.

Several efforts are underway to develop three different aspects of the technology to ensure it is ready for the soldier and small unit.


China Tests Anti Satellite Missile on 7/23/2014

The U.S. says China has tested a missile designed to destroy satellites and is urging Beijing to refrain from destabilizing actions.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the "non-destructive" test occurred Wednesday. She said a previous destructive test of the system in 2007 created thousands of pieces of dangerous debris in space.

Harf said Friday that the continued development and testing of destructive anti-satellite systems threaten the long-term security and sustainability of the outer-space environment that all nations depend upon.

China's state-run Xinhua (shihn-wah) news agency, citing a Defense Ministry statement, reported a successful missile interception test conducted from land within Chinese territory late Wednesday.

Understanding Supervolcanoes Like Yellowstone

Linking rapid magma reservoir assembly and eruption trigger mechanisms at evolved Yellowstone-type supervolcanoes


Wotzlaw et al


The geological record contains evidence of volcanic eruptions that were as much as two orders of magnitude larger than the most voluminous eruption experienced by modern civilizations, the A.D. 1815 Tambora (Indonesia) eruption. Perhaps nowhere on Earth are deposits of such supereruptions more prominent than in the Snake River Plain–Yellowstone Plateau (SRP-YP) volcanic province (northwest United States). While magmatic activity at Yellowstone is still ongoing, the Heise volcanic field in eastern Idaho represents the youngest complete caldera cycle in the SRP-YP, and thus is particularly instructive for current and future volcanic activity at Yellowstone. The Heise caldera cycle culminated 4.5 Ma ago in the eruption of the ∼1800 km3 Kilgore Tuff. Accessory zircons in the Kilgore Tuff display significant intercrystalline and intracrystalline oxygen isotopic heterogeneity, and the vast majority are 18O depleted. This suggests that zircons crystallized from isotopically distinct magma batches that were generated by remelting of subcaldera silicic rocks previously altered by low-δ18O meteoric-hydrothermal fluids. Prior to eruption these magma batches were assembled and homogenized into a single voluminous reservoir. U-Pb geochronology of isotopically diverse zircons using chemical abrasion–isotope dilution–thermal ionization mass spectrometry yielded indistinguishable crystallization ages with a weighted mean 206Pb/238U date of 4.4876 ± 0.0023 Ma (MSWD = 1.5; n = 24). These zircon crystallization ages are also indistinguishable from the sanidine 40Ar/39Ar dates, and thus zircons crystallized close to eruption. This requires that shallow crustal melting, assembly of isolated batches into a supervolcanic magma reservoir, homogenization, and eruption occurred extremely rapidly, within the resolution of our geochronology (103–104 yr). The crystal-scale image of the reservoir configuration, with several isolated magma batches, is very similar to the reservoir configurations inferred from seismic data at active supervolcanoes. The connection of magma batches vertically distributed over several kilometers in the upper crust would cause a substantial increase of buoyancy overpressure, providing an eruption trigger mechanism that is the direct consequence of the reservoir assembly process.

Exolance Mission to Look for Life on Mars

To find life on Mars, some scientists believe you might want to look underground for microbes that may be hiding from the harsh radiation that bathes the red planet’s surface. Various NASA rovers have scraped away a few inches at a time, but the real paydirt may lie a meter or two below the surface.

New concepts for Mars-probing rovers would use Martian wind to move around the planet. James Williams gets a look at two of the designs.
NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Bell (Cornell University), and M. Wolff (Space Science Institute, Boulder)

That’s too deep for existing instruments, so a team of space enthusiasts has launched a more ambitious idea: dropping arrow-like probes from the Martian atmosphere to pierce the soil like bunker-busting bug catchers.

The “ExoLance” project aims to drop ground-penetrating devices, each of which would carry a small chemical sampling test to find signs of life.

Understanding Prismatic Blades and Bladelets From Pinson Mounds

Functional analysis of prismatic blades and bladelets from Pinson Mounds, Tennessee


Kay et al


Hopewell prismatic blade industries are a standardized technology but not a specialized one. Exactly why they are ubiquitous and synonymous with Hopewell is a puzzle. That Hopewell prismatic blade technology satisfied basic tool needs concurrent with efficient usage of toolstone are beyond dispute. Prismatic blades from Pinson Mounds and other Hopewell sites in the Midwest and Southeast United States were simple, easily repaired, modular tool forms of variable usage. This functional evaluation of 125 artifacts documents far distant preferential exploitation of prismatic blade toolstone sources within the Ohio River valley and its tributaries, reveals statistically significant differences among seven technological types, explicates a production chain model for burins, and argues that prismatic blade technology had an equal or greater social meaning and identity as a quintessential symbol of the Hopewell Interaction Sphere.

Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus: a Feathered & Scaled Ornithischian Dinosaur From Jurassic Siberia

A Jurassic ornithischian dinosaur from Siberia with both feathers and scales


Godefriot et al


Middle Jurassic to Early Cretaceous deposits from northeastern China have yielded varied theropod dinosaurs bearing feathers. Filamentous integumentary structures have also been described in ornithischian dinosaurs, but whether these filaments can be regarded as part of the evolutionary lineage toward feathers remains controversial. Here we describe a new basal neornithischian dinosaur from the Jurassic of Siberia with small scales around the distal hindlimb, larger imbricated scales around the tail, monofilaments around the head and the thorax, and more complex featherlike structures around the humerus, the femur, and the tibia. The discovery of these branched integumentary structures outside theropods suggests that featherlike structures coexisted with scales and were potentially widespread among the entire dinosaur clade; feathers may thus have been present in the earliest dinosaurs.

some great pictures @ Archosaur Musings. Also at Lost Worlds.

Evidence of Paleoclimate Change in Early Triassic Iran

87Sr/86Sr stratigraphy from the Early Triassic of Zal, Iran: Linking temperature to weathering rates and the tempo of ecosystem recovery


Sedlack et al


Recovery from the Late Permian mass extinction was slowed by continued environmental perturbations during the Early Triassic. Rapid fluctuations of the Early Triassic marine carbonate carbon isotope record indicate instability in the global carbon cycle, and recent δ18Oapatite studies link elevated temperatures to the prolonged biotic recovery. High temperatures potentially caused enhanced continental weathering that was detrimental to marine ecosystems, but linking weathering rates to temperature has proven difficult. One proxy for weathering is the 87Sr/86Sr of marine carbonate; we present here an 87Sr/86Sr record from an upper Permian–lower Triassic succession near Zal, Iran, that is coupled to a δ13Ccarbonate record. An increase in the rate of 87Sr/86Sr rise from the Dienerian to the Smithian may be linked to elevated continental weathering rates caused by warming during the Smithian.

Geochronology of Meso/NeoProterozoic Carbonate Platforms in Brazil

Meso-Neoproterozoic isotope stratigraphy on carbonates platforms in the Brasilia Belt of Brazil


Alvarenga et al


Carbonate platforms were present worldwide during the Proterozoic Eon, and variations in their C and Sr isotope ratios are commonly used as a correlation tool particularly through the Neoproterozoic, when rapid secular change in marine C and Sr isotope values permit distinction between Cryogenian glacial events. In central Brazil, the late Mesoproterozoic and Neoproterozoic eras are represented by a thick succession of sedimentary rocks that were deposited, and later deformed, along the eastern margin of the São Francisco Craton. These strata are divided into the three major groups: (1) the Paranoá Group, which consists of a succession of sandstone, siltstone, rhythmite, and selected intervals of carbonate, (2) the Macaúbas Group, which consists of a glacial diamictite (Jequitaí Formation), and (3) the Bambuí Group with an important carbonate-bearing succession that includes characteristic “cap carbonate” facies in its lower strata. Carbonate facies of Paranoá and Bambuí Groups typically occur in unconformable contact, and when the diamictite of Jequitaí Formation is absent, it can be difficult to determine the stratigraphic position of these lithological similar groups. Furthermore, uncertainties in the age of the Bambuí Group has lead to several distinct interpretations regarding the age of the Jequitaí glacial diamictites.

We investigated the C, O, and Sr isotopes and chemical composition of carbonate rocks in five measured sections, including both pre- and post-glaciation carbonate successions. The δ13C (‰ pdb) values in the upper Paranoá Group occur in a narrow interval between +0.6 and +3.6, whereas the post-glacial Bambuí Group begins with substantially negative values (as low as −5.7‰) in cap dolomite facies and rises to values up to +11 permil in limestone of the upper Sete Lagoas Formation. Similarly, carbonate rocks of the Paranoá and Bambuí groups are distinct in terms of their 87Sr/86Sr ratio. Generally non-radiogenic ratios between 0.7056 and 0.7068 are recorded in the upper Paranoá Group, and ratios between 0.7074 and 0.7080, occurring within the Bambuí Group.

The stratigraphic pattern of the C and Sr ratios indicates distinctive isotopic characteristics for these two carbonate successions. The isotopic data for the cabonates in the Paranoá Group are consistent with a sedimentation age in upper Mesoproterozoic or lowermost Neoproterozoic, preceding the first Cryogenian glaciation. Carbonate facies and the isotopic data for the lower Bambuí Group suggest a relationship with the second Cryogenian glaciation.

The Lake That Burned Down A Forest (Part 1)

China Builds Unmanned Ground Vehicle Facility

The China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO Group) has set up in Beijing a facility to develop unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) for the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

The facility, formally established in late June, is the country's first dedicated UGV research and development centre, according to a report by state-run newspaper China Daily on 23 July.

The UGV development centre was established as part of the NORINCO Group's subsidiary, the China North Vehicle Research Institute. This subsidiary has close links with the NORINCO Group's primary military land-systems production company, the similarly-named China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO).

The NORINCO Group has stated that the new UGV facility will serve the PLA, paramilitary, and civilian customers, as well as explore opportunities for exports.

California Arrest Warrant Issued for Eduardo Rosas Cruz: Carrier of Highly Infectious, Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

Prosecutors in California have obtained an arrest warrant for a tuberculosis patient who they say is contagious and has refused treatment.

Deputy District Attorney Stephen Taylor said Thursday that police are looking for 25-year-old Eduardo Rosas Cruz, a transient who comes from a part of Mexico known for a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis spreads through the air when infected people cough, sneeze, or otherwise expel air from their lungs. The disease can be deadly.

Prosecutors say Rosas Cruz was diagnosed in March when he went to the hospital for treatment of a severe cough. He was supposed to stay in a motel room, where a health worker would deliver his medication and watch him take it. But prosecutors say he took off.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ukraine: Grinding Patterns

Today was a strange one for Ukraine.

First off, the ruling coalition for Ukraine collapsed when the Udar and Svobada parties withdrew from the government. Yatsenyuk has resigned. The reason for this was to force new elections and to get try to force out the members of the Rada seen as obstructionist and 'traitors.' I sincerely hope Yatsenyuk regains his position after the election. Volodymyr Groysman was appointed as PM in his place.

Secondly, the Rada is has a bill before it to renew its nuclear status: 4351a.

The Ukrainians have taken Lysychansk.This is just across the river from Severodonetsk which the Ukrainians had just taken in the past few days in Lugansk Oblast.  The Ukrainians also took Verkhniokamenskiy in the Donetsk Oblast.

The rebels keep blowing up bridges. More in Donetsk Oblast especially. One in Gorlovka again and another with a train. Multiple sites have been blown for the railroad tracks.

The Russians have been increasing the # of shellings from their territory. One Ukrainian brigade (79th) got hit hard. This reminds me of the fights between the separatists and Georgians. I think the Ukrainians are aware of the danger and are trying to avoid the same outcome.  The US government has acknowledged this...finally.

There is an interesting video this morning (yesterday if you are a Ukrainian reading this) from a car-camera driving through Lugansk at 9:30 am.  There is not a soul in sight.

Both Canada and Europe added more sanctions.

China to Build Colossal Particle Collider to Dwarf Large Hadron Collider

For decades, Europe and the United States have led the way when it comes to high-energy particle colliders. But a proposal by China that is quietly gathering momentum has raised the possibility that the country could soon position itself at the forefront of particle physics.

Scientists at the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) in Beijing, working with international collaborators, are planning to build a ‘Higgs factory’ by 2028 — a 52-kilometre underground ring that would smash together electrons and positrons. Collisions of these fundamental particles would allow the Higgs boson to be studied with greater precision than at the much smaller Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Europe’s particle-physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland.

Physicists say that the proposed US$3-billion machine is within technological grasp and is considered conservative in scope and cost. But China hopes that it would also be a stepping stone to a next-generation collider — a super proton–proton collider — in the same tunnel.

European and US teams have both shown interest in building their own super collider (see Nature 503, 177; 2013), but the huge amount of research needed before such a machine could be built means that the earliest date either can aim for is 2035. China would like to build its electron–positron collider in the meantime, unaided by international funding if needs be, and follow it up as fast as technologically possible with the super proton collider. Because only one super collider is likely to be built, China’s momentum puts it firmly in the driving seat.



The Backlash Against the New York Bitcoin Regulations

As New York takes its first stab at regulating the shady online currency Bitcoin, Massachusetts innovators say that such regulations could permanently stifle innovation and even push it overseas.

Bitcoin purchases are currently anonymous. Proponents say that fosters innovation and speedy transactions. Others say it harbors drug deals and even hitmen for hire.

The New York Department of Financial Services last week proposed a plan aimed at raising the curtain that now shrouds bitcoin sales, thereby making online currency trading far more transparent and accountable.

If accepted, the regulations would make New York the first state to have virtual currency legislation on the books, according to TIME.

The proposed regulations would require any company that wants to peddle bitcoin to obtain a licence to do so. They would also force the company to keep detailed books and adhere to rules intended to prevent fraud and money laundering.

“We have sought to strike an appropriate balance that helps protect consumers and root out illegal activity—without stifling beneficial innovation,” wrote Benjamin Lawsky, the superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services, on Reddit last week.

Boston entrepreneurs disagree, saying that such regulations if adopted elsewhere, such as in Massachusetts, would reverse the strides the state has taken to encourage innovation.

“The proposed NYDFS regulations would absolutely stifle innovation with this emerging technology, or at the very least, ensure that the innovation takes place overseas,” says Dan Elitzer, founder and president of the MIT Bitcoin Club. “Students and entrepreneurs would be prevented from even tinkering with basic applications and services that touch Bitcoin in any way.”

Robopocalypse of the Sea! Wave Glider Easily Weathers Typhoon Rammasun

It was a storm that would terrify the bravest of mariners, but a California robot swam through it without blinking.

The Wave Glider robot has weathered a direct onslaught by Typhoon Rammasun, battling 9-meter waves and gusts up to 216 kilometers per hour while gathering data on sea surface conditions, maker Liquid Robotics said Tuesday.

The surface robot, which slowly bobs through ocean waves at about walking speed, was remotely piloted through the storm on the South China Sea. The robot has a propulsion system that uses the motion of waves to move it forward.

Rammasun, the strongest typhoon to batter the region in decades, has left over 150 people dead in the Philippines, Vietnam and China, as well as hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars in damage. Typhoons, hurricanes and cyclones refer to the same kind of ocean storm depending on its location in the Pacific, Atlantic or Indian oceans.

"To our knowledge, this is the most powerful storm that a Wave Glider or any other sea robotic system has weathered successfully at the sea surface," Graham Hine, senior vice president at Sunnyvale-based Liquid Robotics, said in an interview.

"Interestingly, the telemetry shows no degradation of the system, so all of the sensing systems and vehicle performance seem to be nominal."

The robot in question will be recovered in about a week and was deployed for a corporate customer of Liquid Robotics, which has over 250 Wave Gliders deployed around the world.

HMS Queen Elizabeth Launched


Australia Takes Delivery of First of 100 F-35As

Australia will take delivery of its first F-35 Lightning II on [today] from Lockheed Martin in Texas, according to an Australian Defence Force spokesman.

Australia — which plans to buy 72 F-35s — is among several close allies, including the United Kingdom and Japan, which plan to purchase the advanced combat jet despite a string of safety issues, including a recent engine fire that forced the plane to skip this month’s Farnborough Airshow in southern England.

The United States is supposed to build almost 2,500 of the jets. Nine partner countries, including Australia, are involved in its production.

On Monday, the Australian Defence Force released a draft statement on the likely environmental impact of F-35 flight operations and invited members of the community to comment.

The draft statement compares expected impact of the F-35s to that of the F-18 Hornets already in service with the Royal Australian Air Force, according to a defense force statement.

The Australian F-35s will fly out of RAAF bases Williamtown in New South Wales state and Tindal in the Northern Territory. The aircraft will visit other RAAF bases in Darwin, Pearce, Amberley, Townsville and Edinburgh for training.

The first F-35 will arrive in Australia in late 2018, the statement said, adding that new facilities and infrastructure worth $1.5 billion will be built to support the jets at Williamtown and Tindal.

The defense force’s website says Australia will form three operational F-35A squadrons, one at Tindal and two at Williamtown, which will also host a training squadron. The first F-35 squadron will be operational in 2021, and all 72 aircraft are expected to be fully operational by 2023.

In the future, a fourth operational squadron will be considered for Amberley, for a total of about 100 F-35A’s, the website states.


Miocene Neogene Tibetan Plateau Uplift Drove Chinese Floral Diversity

Late Miocene southwestern Chinese floristic diversity shaped by the southeastern uplift of the Tibetan Plateau


Jacques et al


In southwestern China and Southeast Asia modern geology and topography have been influenced strongly by the collision between the Indian and Eurasian plates. The southeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau is well known for its high biodiversity and diverse vegetation types. While the present diversity is explained by the geological history of this region, to date no study has looked at how past vegetation was shaped by geological and topographical history. In this study, we focus on three coeval late Miocene leaf assemblages from Yunnan: Lincang, Xiaolongtan and Xianfeng. The palaeoelevation of these three sites is reconstructed using enthalpy as a palaeoaltimeter. Enthalpy at the fossil site is reconstructed based on leaf physiognomy; the difference between this enthalpy and enthalpy at sea-level is used as a proxy for altitude. The palaeoaltitudes are resolved as 214 ± 901 m asl for Lincang, 530 ± 901 m asl for Xiaolongtan, and 1936 ± 901 m asl for Xianfeng. The floristic components of these floras are analysed for their geographical elements. There is a gradient in the percentage of tropical genera between the three floras from Lincang, at the lowest elevation, to Xianfeng, at the highest level. For Lincang, this percentage exceeds the threshold used to define present day tropical regions. Our results demonstrate that there was already a floristic differentiation in Yunnan during the late Miocene. Floras with tropical affinities were at low altitude, whereas floras with temperate affinities were at high altitude. With the later uplift of southern Yunnan, floras with tropical affinities retreated to the south where they are still present. The uplift framework reconstructed in this paper gives a tectonic context for further studies on the impact of uplift on biodiversity.

Curiosity Spots Metal Meteorite on Mars


A new Construction Chronology for the Great Serpent Mound

A new multistage construction chronology for the Great Serpent Mound, USA


Hermann et al


Effigy mounds occur across the midcontinent of North America but their cultural purposes and construction chronologies are rarely known and often controversial. Determining the age and construction history of monuments is important to relate religious symbolism, scientific knowledge, and cultural continuity to groups within a region. Based mainly on circumstantial evidence, researchers have long held that Serpent Mound in Ohio, USA, was constructed 2000–3000 years ago during the Early Woodland (Adena) or Middle Woodland (Hopewell) periods. Excavations in 1991 recovered charcoal buried at shallow depths (35–45 cm) in fill units of the mound and the 14C ages from two of these units indicated that Serpent Mound was built ∼900 years ago, during the Late Prehistoric (Fort Ancient) period, much later than originally thought. Our recent multidisciplinary work provides a more complex, robust construction history of Serpent Mound. We used geophysics to map the mound, and solid-earth cores to provide accurate stratigraphy and organic samples for 14C age estimates from the base of the mound. Bayesian statistical analyses of the seven 14C ages from Serpent Mound suggest that it was first constructed ∼2300 years ago during the Early Woodland (Adena) period but was renovated 1400 years later during the Late Prehistoric (Fort Ancient) period, probably to repair eroded portions of the mound. Modification of the mound is also indicated by a possible abandoned coil that is located near the head of the Serpent and visible only in the magnetometer survey.

Giant Mosasaurus hoffmanni From Maastrichtian Cretaceous Russia

Giant Mosasaurus hoffmanni (Squamata, Mosasauridae) from the Late Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) of Penza, Russia.




This study provides a morphological description of the fragmentary skull of a mosasaur discovered in 1927 in the Upper Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) deposits in the city of Penza (Russia). Some bones from the original material had been lost since their discovery; their
description is based on plaster casts. The Penza mosasaur displays characteristic features of Mosasaurus hoffmanni such as the posterior carina that shifts from a somewhat lateral position in the anterior teeth to a posterior position further along the tooth row, a frontal
with convex lateral margins, and a powerfully built dentary. This is the first unequivocal record of this taxon from Russia. M. hoffmanni from the Penza is one of the largest mosasaurs ever known with an overall length of the body about 17 m.

How Marine Molluscs Recovered From the KT/K-Pg Mass Extinction in Patagonia

Rebuilding Biodiversity of Patagonian Marine Molluscs after the End-Cretaceous Mass Extinction


Aberhan et al


We analysed field-collected quantitative data of benthic marine molluscs across the Cretaceous–Palaeogene boundary in Patagonia to identify patterns and processes of biodiversity reconstruction after the end-Cretaceous mass extinction. We contrast diversity dynamics from nearshore environments with those from offshore environments. In both settings, Early Palaeogene (Danian) assemblages are strongly dominated by surviving lineages, many of which changed their relative abundance from being rare before the extinction event to becoming the new dominant forms. Only a few of the species in the Danian assemblages were newly evolved. In offshore environments, however, two newly evolved Danian bivalve species attained ecological dominance by replacing two ecologically equivalent species that disappeared at the end of the Cretaceous. In both settings, the total number of Danian genera at a locality remained below the total number of late Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) genera at that locality. We suggest that biotic interactions, in particular incumbency effects, suppressed post-extinction diversity and prevented the compensation of diversity loss by originating and invading taxa. Contrary to the total number of genera at localities, diversity at the level of individual fossiliferous horizons before and after the boundary is indistinguishable in offshore environments. This indicates an evolutionary rapid rebound to pre-extinction values within less than ca 0.5 million years. In nearshore environments, by contrast, diversity of fossiliferous horizons was reduced in the Danian, and this lowered diversity lasted for the entire studied post-extinction interval. In this heterogeneous environment, low connectivity among populations may have retarded the recolonisation of nearshore habitats by survivors.

Banded Iron Formations From North China

Neoarchean Algoma-type banded iron formations from Eastern Hebei, North China Craton: SHRIMP U-Pb age, origin and tectonic setting


Han et al


Algoma-type BIF-hosted iron deposits occur in the Shirengou, Xingshan, Erma, Lingshan and Sijiaying areas of Eastern Hebei. The deposits are hosted in Archean rocks, and their formation was related to volcanic and sedimentary processes in small volcano-sedimentary basins. Supracrustal rocks of the Qianxi and Dantazi Groups were metamorphosed from granulite facies to amphibolites facies. Available data indicate that these BIF deposits mainly formed during Paleoarchean and Neoarchean times. The Paleoarchean BIF-hosted iron deposits are represented by the Xingshan deposit that yielded a SHRIMP U-Pb zircon age of 3389.5 ± 7.6 Ma. The other BIF-hosted iron deposits formed in the late Neoarchean, represented by the Shirengou, Shuichang, Lingshan, Erma and Sijiaying deposits that formed between 2605 Ma and 2503 Ma. The late Neoarchean BIF iron deposits are considered to have formed under a mantle plume environment. The Eu anomalies of the ore samples from Eastern Hebei show that the BIF ores formed in a hydrothermal related volcanic submarine environment, where submarine hydrothermal effluents associated with volcanic activities may have supplied both the iron and silica for the BIFs from Eastern Hebei.

The Impact of Climate Change on Antarctic fur Seals

Genetic analysis of Antarctic fur seals, alongside decades of in-depth monitoring, has provided unique insights into the effect of climate change on a population of top-predators. Published in Nature this week, the findings show that the seals have significantly altered in accordance with changes in food availability that are associated with climate conditions. Despite a shift in the population towards 'fitter' individuals, this fitness is not passing down through generations, leaving the population in decline.

Environmental change is expected to affect many species and biological systems throughout the world. To understand these changes long-term monitoring is required. The British Antarctic Survey's unique Long Term Monitoring and Survey programme has given researchers a rare opportunity to explore how fur seal life histories have changed over time in relation to the climate and food availability.

Researchers from the British Antarctic Survey and Bielefeld University in Germany analysed data gathered from as far back as 1981 to assess changes over generations of female fur seals on South Georgia, in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Japan to Build two new Aegis Destroyers

The government will start building two Aegis-equipped destroyers with the latest missile defense systems starting next fiscal year, in light of the progress seen in missile development by North Korea, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The Defense Ministry will include related expenses in its budgetary requests, informed sources said. The government will start building one destroyer in the next fiscal year and the other in fiscal 2016, aiming at reinforcing the defense system by increasing Aegis-equipped vessels from the current six to eight in fiscal 2020, sources said.

The government had unveiled its policy of introducing two more Aegis-equipped destroyers within 10 years in the National Defense Program Guidelines, adopted by the Cabinet late last year.

Earlier this year, North Korea continually test-fired what were believed to be short- and mid-range missiles.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera recently said, “While the deployment of missiles in readiness for battle proceeds (in North Korea), the country is carrying out exercises to further improve the capability (of its missile system),” leading the government to conclude that the number of Aegis-equipped destroyers should be increased as soon as possible.

Top Sierra Leone Doctor Fighting Ebola Contracts Disease After 3 Nurses Die

The head doctor fighting the deadly tropical virus Ebola in Sierra Leone has himself caught the disease, the government said.

The 39-year-old Sheik Umar Khan, hailed as a "national hero" by the health ministry, was leading the fight to control an outbreak that has killed 206 people in the West African country. Ebola kills up to 90 percent of those infected and there is no cure or vaccine.

Across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, more than 600 people have died from the illness, according to the World Health Organisation, placing great strain on the health systems of some of Africa's poorest countries.

Khan, a Sierra Leonean virologist credited with treating more than 100 Ebola victims, has been transferred to a treatment ward run by medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, according to the statement released late on Tuesday by the president's office.

Health Minister Miatta Kargbo called Khan a national hero and said she would "do anything and everything in my power to ensure he survives".

Khan told Reuters in late June that he was worried about contracting Ebola. "I am afraid for my life, I must say, because I cherish my life," he said in an interview, showing no signs of ill health at the time.

"Health workers are prone to the disease because we are the first port of call for somebody who is sickened by disease. Even with the full protective clothing you put on, you are at risk."

Three days ago, three nurses working in the same Ebola treatment centre alongside Khan died from the disease.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ukraine: Not a Positive Pattern

First a moment of silence for the victims of MH17.
They are being transported in the Netherlands to forensics very respectfully.

Today was not a good day for Ukraine, especially for the Ukrainian armed forces.

Two Su-25s were shot down today. Ukrainians state the missile came from Russian soil. The Russians deny this.

Shelling continues from Russia into Ukraine. Ukraine cannot respond.

A brawl broke out in the Rada over raising more troops to fight the war in the Donbass.

There are reports Poroshenko is banning the communist party.

On a we-knew-that-already note, one of the leaders of the rebellion/invasion has admitted they had the BUK. 

On the positive side, Popasne in the Lugansk Oblast was also taken by the Ukrainian forces.

I would expect the Ukrainians are driving on the M04 highway.

Gorgeous New Mexico: Duality of Dark & Light


Using CRISPR to Genetically Engineer an Entire Ecosystem

Genome engineering technologies have revolutionized genetics, biotechnology, and medical research. We may soon be able to alter not just domesticated species, but entire wild populations and ecosystems. Why, when and how might we use these novel methods to reshape our environment?

The story begins with a new technology that has made the precise editing of genes in many different organisms much easier than ever before. The so-called “CRISPR” system naturally protects bacteria from viruses by storing fragments of viral DNA sequence and cutting any sequences that exactly match the fragment. By changing the fragments and delivering the altered system into other organisms, we can cut any given gene. If we also supply a DNA sequence that the cell can use to repair the damage, it will incorporate this new DNA, precisely editing the genome. When performed in the cells that give rise to eggs or sperm, these changes will be inherited by future generations. Because most altered traits don’t improve and may even decrease the organism’s ability to survive and reproduce, they generally can’t spread through wild populations.

Will India, Japan Drive Bitcoin Higher?

With many traders remaining on the sidelines looking for a price trigger, Bitcoin is witnessing yet another uninspired trading day, devoid of any major directional move or even a sign of breaking out of the narrow range it has formed. BTC/USD edged lower to $620.95 following a steady climb from $615 to $625, but once again failing to make any move beyond the support and resistance levels.

Technically, the price is still above the support level of $615 and buying is recommended at current prices with a stop-loss (closing basis) placed just below $615 for a target of $630. Short positions are still a big NO, given that there are no visible signs of a breakdown. While it may appear that the range has continued for far too long, trading should be avoided in anticipation of a major move.

It seems that investors are opening up to the idea of more Bitcoin-based exchanges in Japan following the terrible failure of Mt. Gox, which could possibly act as an important trigger, at least for a while. This had helped push the price down from a near $1200 to $340.

Currently, Yuzo Kano, an ex- Goldman Sachs employee, has raised $1.6 million in funds to fill the void left after the Mt. Gox collapse through another Japan-based Bitcoin exchange called bitFlyer. This development follows a similar announcement earlier this month by the China-based ATM manufacturer BitOcean and the New York-based Atlas ATS to launch an exchange in the Japanese market.

Meanwhile, in India Bitcoin supporters have ramped up their efforts to re-launch the cryptocurrency, following the red flag given by the Reserve Bank of India. Bitcoin start-ups such as Coinsecure and Unocoin, are working towards placing Bitcoin as a recognized currency and are confident that eventually, things will turn in favour of the cryptocurrency.

Robopocalypse Comes to Photographic Lighting

Lighting is crucial to the art of photography. But lights are cumbersome and time-consuming to set up, and outside the studio, it can be prohibitively difficult to position them where, ideally, they ought to go.

Researchers at MIT and Cornell University hope to change that by providing photographers with squadrons of small, light-equipped autonomous robots that automatically assume the positions necessary to produce lighting effects specified through a simple, intuitive, camera-mounted interface.

At the International Symposium on Computational Aesthetics in Graphics, Visualization, and Imaging in August, they take the first step toward realizing this vision, presenting a prototype system that uses an autonomous helicopter to produce a difficult effect called "rim lighting," in which only the edge of the photographer's subject is strongly lit.

Based only on the specification of the "rim width" — the desired width, from the camera's perspective, of the subject's illuminated border — the helicopter not only assumes the right initial position but readjusts in real time as the subject moves, enabling delicate rim lighting of action shots.

According to Manohar Srikanth, who worked on the system as a graduate student and postdoc at MIT and is now a senior researcher at Nokia, he and his coauthors —MIT professor of computer science and engineering Frédo Durand and Cornell's Kavita Bala, who also did her PhD at MIT — chose rim lighting for their initial experiments precisely because it's a difficult effect.

"It's very sensitive to the position of the light," Srikanth says. "If you move the light, say, by a foot, your appearance changes dramatically."

Saab Quits Danish Fighter Competition

Saab has formally withdrawn its Saab JAS 39 Gripen E/F from Denmark's next-generation fighter aircraft competition, Denmark's Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 21 July. The MoD had set a deadline of 21 July for competing companies to submit their responses to a request for binding information issued on 10 April.

The decision means there are just three aircraft remaining in contention: the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the Eurofighter Typhoon, and the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.

Denmark is hoping to bring a new fighter to replace its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcons into service by 2020. The aircraft are then expected to remain in service for at least 30 years.

Russia's Chirok: an Amphibious UAV in Development

United Instrument Corporation is working on an amphibious unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) named Chirok, parent company Rostec State Corporation has disclosed.

A scale model of the Chirok was displayed at the Innoprom 2014 Industrial Trade Fair in Ekaterinburg, central Russia, from 9 to 12 July. This model showed Chirok's hovercraft chassis, which enables it to operate from unprepared surfaces.

Design and development of this aircraft is believed to have started in the late 1990s.

The scale model has completed testing at the Central Aero-hydrodynamic Institute in the city of Zhukovsky, and a full-scale UAV will be presented next year at the MAKS International Aviation and Space Show in Moscow, according to Rostec literature.

The full-scale Chirok will feature a 10 m wingspan, a maximum take-off weight of up to 700 kg, and a payload capacity of 300 kg. It will have a nearly 20,000 ft service ceiling, and a range of up to 2,500 km.

Evidence of Late Aptian Cretaceous Cold Snaps

Expression of the late Aptian cold snaps and the OAE1b in a highly subsiding carbonate platform (Aralar, northern Spain)


Millan et al


Cretaceous climate records provide evidence that major volcanic pulses with duration of 103 to several 105 yr triggered changes in climate and oceanography. Black shales of Oceanic Anoxic Event 1b (ca. 113–109 Ma) are regarded as signatures of late Aptian greenhouse pulses associated with volcanic episodes. New TEX86 paleotemperature record indicates that warm Aptian climate was interrupted by repeated cold snaps alternating with described greenhouse pulses. An extraordinary thick shallow-water carbonate succession of the Aralar Platform from the southeastern Basque–Cantabrian Basin in Spain provides a unique opportunity to test the hypothesis that cold phases interrupted warm climate in the Aptian. Platform evolution is traced through time of the proposed Aptian cold snaps alternating with greenhouse episodes. New high-resolution C-isotope records established in the studied upper Aptian platform carbonates serve as chemostratigraphic tool providing a link between carbonate-platform evolution, basinal black-shale formation and associated changes in open ocean palaeotemperatures. The late Aptian cold snaps find their expression in a remarkably reduced neritic succession, punctuated by several emersion horizons formed during sea-level lowstands. The studied section bears evidence for several episodes of choked carbonate production related to increased runoff at times of sea-level rise, during which orbitolinids bloomed in a sediment-loaden lagoonal setting. These intervals coincide with the deposition time of organic-rich Kilian and Leenhardt levels belonging to OAE1b.