A Decade’s Old Reminder to Stay Vigilant

According to the Associated Press, part of a landing gear from one of the airplanes that hit the World Trade Center on September 11,2001 may have been found between two building in lower Manhattan on Friday police report. The landing gear was wedged between the rear of 51 Park Place and the rear of the building behind it at 50 Murray Street, the NYPD said in a statement. Paul Browne, New York Police Department spokesman, described the twisted metal part as having levers and cables on it, measuring 3 feet wide by 1.5 feet deep and a visible Boeing Co. identification number. Browne’s not surprised it went undiscovered for a decade given the location saying, “The odds of this being wedged between there is amazing. It had to have fallen just the right way to make it into that space.” Browne confirmed that other wreckage has been found nearby even from the same buildings in years past. Working with the National Transportation Safety Board investigators, the police will determine if the piece is from American Arline or United Arline planes that crashed into the twin towers a decade ago killing thousands of people. The piece according to AP was discovered on Wednesday by surveyors of a planned Islamic community center at the location on behalf of the owners of the building and called 911 when the piece was seen from the roof. The police stated the medical examiner’s office will complete a health and safety evaluation to determine if human remains are present in the soil around the buildings.

The location of the landing gear was found three blocks away from ground zero where a mosque and community center were first announced several years ago. Opponents of the plans see the Muslim facilities as a disrespect to those at ground zero, while supporters cite freedom of religion and point out the site was not too close to where the Islamic extremists attacked on 9/11. The president of Soho Properties who owns 51 Park Place, Sharif El-Gamal, released a statement saying that workers called the city and police after the discovery and will cooperate to make sure the piece is removed with care. Patricia Riley, who lost her sister Lorraine Riley on 9/11 said the discovery was very strange stating,”Twelve years later we are still finding remnants of the attack on our country… For years to come we’ll continue to find things that we didn’t see before. Hopefully they’ll serve as a reminder that we have to stay vigilant.”

 

 

To Infinity and Beyond…

Stephen Hawking Space

Not just a line of Buzz Lightyear, but a dream for the United States since the beginning of the Space Race. With a changing climate, species becoming extinct and the melting of the ice caps, I think it is about time for a back up plan. Have we not learned anything from movies? They are not all pointless drivel as some of the aspects of our favorite sci-fi movies have come to fruition. Stephen Hawking, a man who spent his career decoding the universe has spoken out and urged the continuation of space exploration for humanity’s sake, while others have taken it upon themselves to continue the mission such as the Inspiration Mars Foundation.

The 71 year old British cosmologist said Tuesday, he believes that humans could not survive another 1,000 years “without escaping beyond our fragile planet” the Associated Press reports. He was speaking to an audience of doctors, nurses, and employees at Cedars Sinai Medical Center where he toured a stem cell lab focused on Lou Gehrig’s disease. Diagnosed with the neurological disorder 50 years ago, Hawking commented, “if you understand how the universe operates, you control it in a way.” His Tuesday hour long talk entitled “A Brief History of Mine” was full of nuggets of advice such as look up at the stars not at your feet and be curious. Hawking even said, “However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.”Hawking has survived with Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS which attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control muscles longer than most receiving around the clock care, communicating through twitches and relying on a computer mounted to his wheelchair to convey his thoughts. Hawking has remained active in 2007 he experienced weightlessness by making parabolic dives in an aircraft. Dr. Robert Baloh, director of Cedars Sinai’s ALS programs who invited the cosmologist has no explanation how the physicist has survived for 50 years with the disease where few survive past ten years.

Speaking at the National Space Symposium, members of the Inspiration Mars Foundation described the challenges in launching two people on a 501 day flyby journey to the Red Planet and back in January of 2018 yet remain optimistic. The plan  for the luck two will consist of living in an RV sized space for more than a year, breathe recycled air, eat dehydrated food, drink purified urine and if they die they will be freeze dried in body bags. Even with all of this, application have been rolling in according to Huff Post yet according to Jane Poynter, president of the Paragon Space Development Corp., no show stopping applications yet.

The project is the brain child of Dennis Tito, the first space tourist in 2001, unveiling the plan called “Mission for American” in February. The hope is to send a man and a women possibly a married couple on the journey in January 2018 the ideal time as Earth and Mars  are positioned for a quick trip  and the next opportunity not until 2031. The date also falls on the 11 year solar minimum where the crew will deal with less solar radiation than other launch windows according to officials.  Tito will bank roll the project for the first two years with private donations covering the rest. The ultimate goal of the mission is to inspire Congress to recommit to long distance space travel Tito explained at the National Space Symposium.

The 501 day mission will not touch down on Mars as that requires addition propulsion equipment and science experiments will be kept to a minimum on board, but will prove that humans can explore deep space. The crew on board will collect biological samples from their own bodies so researchers can study the effects of long term space travel and cosmic radiation exposure. Keeping the crew alive is a whole other challenges according to Taber MacCallum, Inspiration Mars’ chief technology officer, as the two voyagers must be mechanically inclined to fix problems that arise during the mission but will require no spacewalks as everything is fixable from the inside. Psychology of the couple will be important as well as Poynter points out that they must be stable as possible in order to avoid the pitfalls of long term space travel like depression, mood swings and hallucinations.

Engineering the World’s Lightest Material

The implications and applications of the material can be world altering as Chinese scientist have created a material so light that when perched on a flower will not crush it. A cubic centimeter of the substance called carbon aerogel has the mass of o.16 milligrams according to a new study by scientists at Zhejang University which makes the material 12 percent lighter than previous record holders at the same volume such as aerographite. According to Huff Post, if the average human body were made entirely of the material instead of flesh and bones then it would weight 1/40th of a pound. Carbon aerogel can absorb up to 900 times its weight in liquid which means it could clean up events such as oil spills and as a durable as well as elastic material could be rather useful material for advanced electronics reports Huff Post according to Dr. Chao Gao a professor of polymer science and engineering. According to Gao the material is quite easy to make as his team started with semi-solid gel of carbon nanotubes and graphene then used a freeze drying process to convert it to a solid. The study was published online in February in Advanced Materials.

Plague Graves Unearthed: Rail Dig May Shed Light On Black Death Bacteria

 Plague Graves Unearthed: Rail Dig May Shed Light On Black Death Bacteria.

On Friday, archeologists unearthed a graveyard during a rail project excavation in London that could hold the remain of 50,000 or more people who died almost 650 years ago from the “Black Death” Plague. According to Reuters, thirteen skeletons were laid out in two neat rows discovered 8 feet below the road in Farringdon area central London by researching working on the $24 billion Crossrail project. Historical records indicate that the area was a no man’s land where a cemetery was established for bubonic plague victims which killed a third of England’s population following the outbreak in 1348. Jay Carver, Crossrail’s lead archeologist, explains that “At this early stage, the depth of burials, the pottery found with the skeletons and the way the skeletons have been set out, all point towards this being part of the 14th century emergency burial ground.” As Reuters reports, limited records suggest that up to 50,000 victims were buried in less than three years in the cemetery as the plague ravaged the capital. The skeletons have already been taken away for testing as archeologists hope  they will shed light on the DNA signature of the plague and confirm the burial dates. The cemetery is the second significant medieval discovery, the first being last month with the discovery of the remains of King Richard III under a car park in Central England, in England recently.

Meteor Streaks Across Russian Urals, Leaves Nearly 1000 Injured (VIDEO, LIVE UPDATES)

Meteor Streaks Across Russian Urals, Leaves Nearly 1000 Injured (VIDEO, LIVE UPDATES).

Above is a picture of the impact site in Russia where today a large meteor hit leaving many injured and several questions unanswered. We were just lucky this time that the meteor was one of the smaller ones that travel by earth. With a flash and a  booming shock wave, a meteor over Russia’s Ural Mountains Friday exploded with the force of an atomic bomb injuring 1,000 people as it blasted windows and caused panic in Chelyabinsk, a city of 1 million. NASA estimates the size to be that of a bus and weighing 7,000 tons. Videos of the dramatic fireball over the city show streaming contrails arcing toward the horizon just after sunrise. The meteor came just after a 150 foot asteroid passed within 17,000 miles of Earth. The European Space Agency do not believe the two are connected just coincidence.

The meteor enter the atmosphere at 9:20 am local time at 33,000 mph and broke into pieces about 18-32 in the sky according to The Russian Academy of Science. NASA said that the energy released was in hundreds of kilotons. The shock wave from the blast blew in 1 million square feet of glass according to city officials and 3,000 buildings in Chelyabinsk were damaged. Most of the injuries were from flying glass as an estimated 1,100 people sought medical attentions and 48 were hospitalized. There no immediate words on deaths or anyone struck by fragments of the meteor.

President Vladimir Putin summoned the nation’s emergency minister and ordered repairs. Some fragments fell into a reservoir outside the town of Chebarkul according to the Interior Ministry leaving a 26 foot hole in the ice. Injury from the sonic booms when meteors enter the atmosphere are extraordinarily rare. The many broken windows leave residents exposed to the cold as temperatures are expected to drop to minus 20 degrees Celsius or minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit overnight. The regional governor has asked anyone who can repair windows please help. Social media including Twitter was flooded with videos from dashboard cameras that Russians mount on their cars in case of corrupt traffic police or accident disputes. Strong reactions from many prominent Russian leaders also surfaced calling for more research and funding from World Powers to come up with a way to prevent falling space objects from causing devastation. NASA said the fireball was the largest since 1908, when a meteor hit Tunguska, Siberia about 3,000 miles away from Chelyabinsk and destroyed 80 million trees.

The 150 foot space rock that passed Earth on Friday was dubbed Asteroid 2012 DA14. The asteroid was invisible to U.S. astronomers, but Australian astronomers used binoculars and telescopes to watch it across the night sky. According to Jim Green, NASA’s director of planetary science, called the event rare and historic since usually the fireballs are not seen because they fall over oceans  or remote areas.

 

The Russian meteor could of led to a serious problem in the area hosting nuclear and chemical weapons disposal facilities. The meteor struck only 60 miles from the Mayak nuclear storage and disposal facility where dozens of tons of weapons grade plutonium is held noted Vladimir Chuprov of Greenpeace Russia. A chemical weapons disposal facility at Shchuchye also has 6,000 tons of nerve agents including sarin and VX about 14 percent of the chemical weapons Russia has committed to destroy.

 

 

 

 

According to the Huffington Post article, one of the most popular jokes was that the meteorite was supposed to fall on Dec. 21, 2012 – when many believed the Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world – but was delivered late by Russia’s notoriously inefficient postal service.

Confederate Submarine’s Spar Holds Clues To Ship’s Sinking

 Confederate Submarine’s Spar Holds Clues To Ship’s Sinking.

In North Charleston, South Carolina, scientist may have pieced together the mystery behind the confederate sub H.L. Hunley that sank with its crew and never resurfaced. The historical significance is not only related to the Civil war but was the first sub in history to sink an enemy warship. Scientist believe that the Hunley was less than 20 feet ways from the Housatonic when the torpedo the crew ignited sank the Union blockade off South Caroline in 1864. The explosion was close enough to knock the crew unconscious long enough to cause them to drown before awakening. The discovery was based on an examination of the iron pole in front of the hand crank sub that held the torpedo. The sub was finally found in 1995, raised five years later and taken to North Charleston to be conserved. The copper metal sleeve found on the spar is an indication according to the conservator Mardikian that the torpedo was attached to the end of the spar which showed signs of deformities indicating an explosion. The crew was found seated in the sub when it was raised adding to the theory that the crew had been knocked out by a concussion of an explosion near by according to Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, a member of the South Carolina Hunley Commission. The final answer will come when the encrustation from the outer hull is removed. Scientist will arrange for a computer simulation and small models to be used to recreate the attack and more importantly tell what effects the explosion had on the sub.