Tag: University of Michigan

Gas falling under $3 per gallon nationwide

NEW YORK (AP) — The sight is so surprising that Americans are sharing photos of it, along with all those cute Halloween costumes, sweeping vistas and special meals: The gas station sign, with a price under $3 a gallon.
"It's stunning what's happening here," says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service. "I'm a little bit shocked."
The national average price of gasoline has fallen 33 cents in October, landing Friday at $3.00, according to AAA. Kloza said the average will fall under $3 by early Saturday morning for the first time in four years.
When the national average crossed above $3 a gallon in December of 2010, drivers weren't sure they'd ever see $2.99 again. Global demand for oil and gasoline was rising as people in developing countries bought cars by the tens of millions and turmoil was brewing in the oil-rich Middle East.
Now demand isn't rising as fast as expected, drillers have learned to tap vast new sources of oil, particularly in the U.S., and crude continues to flow out of the Middle East.
Seasonal swings and other factors will likely send gas back over $3 sooner than drivers would like, but the U.S. is on track for the lowest annual average since 2010 — and the 2015 average is expected to be lower even still.
Trisha Pena of Hermitage, Tenn., recently paid $2.57 a gallon to fill up her Honda CRV. Like many around the country these days, she was so surprised and delighted by the price she took a photo and posted it on social media for her friends to see. "I can't remember the last time it cost under $30 to put 10 or 11 gallons in my tank," she said in an interview. "A month ago it was in the $3.50 range, and that's where it had been for a very long time."
Here are a few things to know about cheap gas:
— Crude prices came off the boil. Oil fell from $107 a barrel in June to near $81 because there's a lot of supply and weak demand. U.S. output has increased 70 percent since 2008, and supplies from Iraq and Canada have also increased. At the same time, demand is weaker than expected because of a sluggish global economy.
— In the past, a stronger economy in the U.S., the world's biggest consumer of oil and gasoline, typically meant rising fuel demand. No longer. Americans are driving more efficient vehicles and our driving habits are changing. Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute calculates that the number of miles traveled per household and gallons of fuel consumed per household peaked in 2004.
— The drop from last year's average of $3.51 per gallon will save the typical U.S. household about $50 a month.
— The drop will save the U.S. economy $187 million a day, and also boost the profits of shippers, airlines, and any company that sends employees out on sales calls or for deliveries.
— It will take an extra 1.5 years to make purchasing a higher-priced, better-mileage Toyota Prius instead of a Toyota Corolla pay off.
— New York's average of $3.37 is the highest in the continental U.S. South Carolina and Tennessee are the lowest, with an average of $2.75.
— Politicians are either going to take the credit for lower gasoline prices or blame the other party for not helping them fall further. Don't listen. There are small things politicians can do over long time horizons, like implement fuel economy standards or ease drilling regulations, but the decline in prices is mainly due to market forces.

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Do human bodies contain mega-ancient interstellar water?

This image shows water through time in the formation of the solar system, as scientists have revealed that water filling the Earth's oceans pre-date the formation of the sun

"Our findings show that a significant fraction of our Solar System’s water, the most-fundamental ingredient to fostering life, is older than the Sun," said Conel Alexander.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- If you took a dip at the beach this summer, chances are you bumped up against some truly ancient water molecules -- water older than the sun. In fact, there's probably interstellar water hanging out inside all of us -- we are 60 percent water, after all.

A new study suggests as much as a third of Earth's ocean water was likely formed prior to the birth of the sun and sourced from deep space ice.

Like all planets in our solar system, most of the Earth and much of its water was formed from the debris floating around our young sun -- a hot cloud of gas and other cosmic material known as the solar nebula. Included in this nebula were ices, but we know there are also ices floating in interstellar space -- as evidenced by meteorite samples.

What scientists haven't been sure of, however, is exactly how much of our water is made of interstellar ice, and how much was formed locally in the solar nebula. To solve that quandary, a team of scientists led by L. Ilsedore Cleeves from the University of Michigan built a model to predict the answer. The model was based on the scientists' understanding of the chemical circumstances that enable the formation of "heavy" water molecules -- a molecule with a deuterium atom instead of a hydrogen atom.

About 1 in every 3,000 water molecules has a deuterium atom. The scientists' model, part chemistry part mathematics, showed that the solar nebula wasn't capable of forming all of Earth's heavy water on its own, and thus suggested roughly a third of Earth's water is really alien water.

"Our findings show that a significant fraction of our Solar System's water, the most-fundamental ingredient to fostering life, is older than the Sun, which indicates that abundant, organic-rich interstellar ices should probably be found in all young planetary systems," said Conel Alexander, a researcher at Carnegie Science institute in Washington.

As Alexander explained, the revelation suggests the materials necessary for life are probably not as rare as scientists previously thought.

"If water in the early Solar System was primarily inherited as ice from interstellar space, then it is likely that similar ices, along with the prebiotic organic matter that they contain, are abundant in most or all protoplanetary disks around forming stars," Alexander added.
The study was published this week in the journal Science.

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Space station detector reports more hints of dark matter—or not

New reports of further evidence for dark matter have been greatly exaggerated. Yesterday, researchers working with the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), a $2 billion cosmic ray detector attached to the International Space Station, reported their latest data on a supposed excess of high-energy positrons from space. They contended—at least in a press release—that the new results could offer new hints that they’ve detected particles of dark matter, the mysterious stuff whose gravity binds the galaxies. But several cosmic ray physicists say that the AMS data are still perfectly consistent with much more mundane explanations of the excess. And they doubt AMS alone will resolve the issue.
The leader of the AMS team, Nobel laureate Samuel Ting of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, takes care to say that the new results do not prove that AMS has detected dark matter. But he also says the data lend more support to that interpretation than to some others. "The key statement is that we have not found a contradiction with the dark matter explanation," he says.
The controversy centers on AMS's measurement of a key ratio, the number of antimatter positrons to the sum of positrons and electrons. In April 2013, AMS confirmed early reports that as the energy of the particles increased above about 8 gigaelectron Volts (GeV), that ratio, or "positron fraction," increased, even as the individual fluxes of electrons and positrons were falling. That increase in the relative abundance of positrons could signal the presence of dark matter particles. According to many theories, if those particles collide, they would annihilate each other to produce electron-positron pairs. That would alter the balance of electrons and positrons among cosmic rays, as the usual source such as the cloudlike remnants of supernova explosions produce far more electrons than positrons.
However, that interpretation was hardly certain. Even before AMS released its measurement of the ratio, astrophysicists had argued that the excess positrons could potentially emanate from an undetected nearby pulsar. In November 2013, Eli Waxman, a theoretical astrophysicist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and colleagues went even further. They argued that the excess positrons could come simply from the interactions of "primary" cosmic rays from supernova remnants with the interstellar medium. If so, then the positrons were just "secondary" rays and nothing to write home about.
However, AMS team researchers see two new features that are consistent with the dark matter interpretation, they reported online yesterday in Physical Review Letters. First, the AMS team now sees that after rising with energy, the positron fraction seems to level off and may begin to fall at an energy of 275 GeV, as would be expected if the excess were produced by colliding dark matter particles, as the original particles' mass would put an upper limit on the energy of the positron they spawned. AMS researchers say the leveling off would be consistent with a dark matter particle with a mass of 1 teraelectron volt (TeV). (Thanks to Albert Einstein’s famous equivalence of mass and energy, the two can be measured in the same units.)
Second, the AMS team measured the spectra of electrons and positrons individually. They found that the spectra have different shapes as energy increases. "It's really surprising that the electrons and positrons are so different," Ting says. And, he argues, the difference suggests that the positrons cannot be secondary cosmic rays produced by primary cosmic ray electrons, as such production should lead to similar spectra.
But some cosmic ray physicists aren't convinced. For example, in AMS's graph of the electron fraction, the error bars at the highest energies are large because the high-energy particles are so rare. And those uncertainties make it unclear whether the positron fraction really starts to drop, says Stéphane Coutu, a cosmic ray physicist at Pennsylvania State University, University Park. And even if the positron fraction does fall at energies higher than AMS reported, that wouldn't prove the positrons come from dark matter annihilations, Coutu says. Such a "cutoff" could easily arise in positrons from a pulsar, he says, if the spatial region in which the pulsar accelerates particles is of limited size. All told, the new results are "probably consistent with anything," Coutu says.
Similarly, Waxman questions Ting's claim that the new data suggest the positrons aren't simply secondary cosmic rays. If that were the case, then the electrons and positrons would be coming from different places and there would be no reason to expect their spectra to be similar, Waxman says. Moreover, he notes, AMS's measurement of the positron fraction seems to level out just at the limit that he and colleagues predicted would be the maximum achievable through secondary cosmic rays. So, in fact, the new data support the interpretation that the positrons are simply secondary cosmic rays, he says. "To me this is a very strong indication that we are seeing cosmic ray interactions.”
Will the argument ever end? AMS is scheduled to take data for 10 more years, which should enable scientists to whittle down the uncertainties and extend their reach toward higher energies, Ting says. "I think we should be able to reach 1 TeV with good statistics," he says, and that should be enough to eventually settle the dispute. But Gregory Tarlé, an astrophysicist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, says, "I don't think that's a legitimate claim." Higher energy cosmic rays arrive at such a low rate that even quadrupling the data set would leave large statistical uncertainties, he says. So, Tarlé suspects, years from now the AMS results will likely look about as ambiguous they do now.

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Seven ways to end joint pain, arthritis and gout using cherries


by JB Bardot See all articles by this author Email this author

(NaturalNews) Gout and arthritis have two things in common. Each condition makes the body hurt, and they respond to the powerful nutrients found in cherries th...

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Your Brain is NOT a Computer!


© 2011 By Gary Vey of ViewZone.com

Your Brain is NOT a Computer!

It is common to think of the human brain as a kind of super-computer. Certainly there are many analogies. Computers have the ability t...

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Human Immortality: A Scientific Reality?


 If you're alive in 20 years, you may be able to live forever.

by Gary Vey for Viewzone

Also see Blood Cancer Stopped By Shortening Chromosomes

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Meditation linked to happiness and positive behavior

by Carolanne Wright, citizen journalist See all articles by this author Email this author

(NaturalNews) A study at the University of Wisconsin confirms meditation can alter the structure of the brain, fostering a brighter outlook and increas...

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Organs on Demand

From Longevity News

November 09, 2010  

Dear Future Centenarian,

Need a new organ? If not, and I hope not, there's a good chance you may one of these days. Why transplant an organ when you can grow yourself a new one?J...

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