Month: September 2014 (page 1 of 22)

Rebooting The Cosmos: Is the Universe the Ultimate Computer? Video

Credit: Gary LarsonOne of my favorite subjects; are we living inside a virtual computer simulation? There certainly appears to be evidence of this possibility, and this evidence is growing as humanity strives to understand more of our reality. GregClic...

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European Spacecraft to Make Historic Comet Landing on November 12th, 2014

Europe Unveils Comet Landing Site for Historic Rosetta Mission

 One of the boldest and most dramatic maneuvers in the history of spaceflight is just six weeks away.

On Nov. 12, the European Space Agency's Rosetta probe will try to drop a robotic lander onto the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which Rosetta has been orbiting since early August. No spacecraft has ever attempted a soft landing on a comet before.

The current plan calls for the lander, named Philae, to come down at a location on Comet 67P that the mission team has dubbed Site J.

"Site J was chosen unanimously over four other candidate sites as the primary landing site because the majority of terrain within a square kilometer [0.4 square miles] area has slopes of less than 30 degrees relative to the local vertical and because there are relatively few large boulders," European Space Agency (ESA) officials said in a statement.

"The area also receives sufficient daily illumination to recharge Philae and continue surface science operations beyond the initial 64-hour battery-powered phase," they added.

If all goes according to plan, Rosetta will deploy Philae at 4:35 a.m. EDT (0835 GMT) on Nov. 12, at a distance of 14 miles (22.5 km) from the comet. Philae will spiral down slowly toward 67P, eventually securing itself to the surface with harpoons at Site J around 11:30 a.m. EDT (1530 GMT) that same day.

European Spacecraft to Make Historic Comet Landing on Nov. 12
This image from Europe's Rosetta spacecraft shows the mission's planned landing site on Comet 67P/Churyum

Confirmation of the historic maneuver's success or failure will come 28 minutes and 20 seconds later — the amount of time it takes for signals to travel from Rosetta to its controllers here on the ground.It's also possible that Philae could touch down at a backup location called Site C, ESA officials said. Final confirmation of the landing plan will come on Oct. 14, after a formal review of data gathered by the Rosetta mothership. ESA will also launch a public competition to name Philae's landing site on that date.

The $1.7 billion (1.3 billion euros) Rosetta mission blasted off in March 2004 and finally arrived in orbit around Comet 67P on Aug. 6 of this year. The Rosetta orbiter is studying the 2.5-mile-wide (4 km) comet with 11 different science instruments, and Philae will contribute by photographing 67P's surface and collecting and analyzing samples.

Comet 67P, which takes 6.5 years to complete one lap around the sun, is now getting closer and closer to our star. Rosetta and Philae will continue to observe the comet and study how it changes as it warms up on its trek through the inner solar system.

The goal is to better understand the composition and behavior of comets, which are remnants from the solar system's formation 4.6 billion years ago, ESA officials have said. Rosetta is expected to continue gathering data through December 2015.

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How viewing Earth as an exoplanet can help search for alien life

An extraterrestrial spacecraft lurking in a satellite's orbit near Earth would be able to see city lights and pollution in our atmosphere. But what if it searched for signs of life on Earth from afar?
This question has great pertinence to those searching for other Earths outside of our solar system. NASA's Kepler space telescope is among a fleet of telescopes and spacecraft searching for rocky planets similar to our own. Once the size and location of these worlds are plotted, the next step is examining the chemical composition of their atmospheres.
From afar, Earth-like worlds appear as tiny points of light, making it hard to imagine ever finding out much about them. The best we can do with telescope technology at the moment is to examine some atmospheric components of worlds that are larger than Jupiter. But that doesn't mean we should discount the possibility of ever finding a planet similar in size to our own, researchers say. Telescopes are only getting more powerful. 
"We’re trying to think about how to use observations of the Earth itself to understand the kinds of things we’ll be able to do in the future with possibly the next generation of telescopes," said Robert Fosbury, an emeritus astronomer with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) who participated in the research.
Fosbury and leading researcher Fei Yan, an astronomer with ESO and the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, examined the shadow of the Earth during a lunar eclipse. While there is no facility at ESO that is dedicated to astrobiology, Fosbury said the researchers are thinking closely about the implications for life beyond Earth.
The paper, "High resolution transmission spectrum of the Earth’s atmosphere: Seeing Earth as an exoplanet using a lunar eclipse," is available on the pre-publishing site Arxiv and has been accepted in the International Journal of Astrobiology.
Shadow glance
Observations took place during a total lunar eclipse on Dec. 10, 2011. A lunar eclipse appears as the Earth moves between the moon and the sun, and is visible anywhere the sky is dark and clear with the moon above the horizon.
A lunar eclipse is easier to observe than a total solar eclipse, which appears when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun. During a solar eclipse, the moon's shadow is so small that it creates a brief few minutes of totality and a small "track" of shadow visible from the Earth's surface.
In this study, the researchers made observations with the High Resolution Spectrograph mounted on a 2.16-meter telescope at Xinglong Station, China, and focused the telescope near the moon's Tycho Crater because that is where the moon has high reflectivity.
The researchers hoped to learn more about the Earth's spectrum, which is shown in the moon's reflection. A spectrum is the band of colors that makes up visible light, and is most readily recognized in a rainbow. Certain elements preferentially emit certain wavelengths of light, and absorb others. By using a spectrograph to examine another planet, for example, you can see what atoms or molecules are present in its atmosphere or surface.
Watching the Earth's light reflected by the moon is similar to watching an exoplanet transit across the face of its parent star, the astronomers said. In both cases, finding the absorbing molecules in the atmosphere is a process of subtraction. In the case of an exoplanet, astronomers compare the molecular absorptions in the starlight during and after the transit. In the case of the moon, astronomers compared the elements found in the Earth's shadow, and when the moon was clear of the shadow.
During the eclipse, the science team took spectra when the moon was in the shadow (umbra) of the Earth. The moon turns red during this time because most of the light you see is a refraction of sunlight through the Earth's atmosphere (it's all the sunsets and sunrises on the Earth seen at once). The scientists also compared the spectrum of the moon when it was completely out of the shadow.
Water and pollution
After removing some effects generated by the local atmosphere, the researchers examined the spectrum of colors to see what molecules were visible. A few surprises popped up.
For example, they didn't see as much water vapor in the signature as observers saw in a 2009 eclipse that encompassed much of the Northern Hemisphere. (That paper, "Earth’s transmission spectrum from lunar eclipse observations," was published in the journal Nature.)
Researchers in the newer study concluded that the absence of water vapor was because the "path" of the 2011 transit in the Earth's atmosphere included the Antarctic, where much of the water is presumed to be frozen out of the atmosphere.
Another surprise was the abundance of nitrogen dioxide. Normally the nitrogen dioxide is regarded as a pollutant produced by human activities. The Antarctic, however, is quite a barren location — but it did have a volcano.
"We found that the track we observed is close to a volcano, and this volcano can potentially produce nitrogen dioxide," Yan said. 
He added that other explanations could be possible. In this case, the volcano (Mount Erabus) may not be active enough to produce large amount of nitrogen dioxide. Further investigation found that the nitrogen dioxide was a bio-product of nitrous oxide (which is produced naturally by microbes) that then lingered in the atmosphere and reacted with ozone, creating nitrogen dioxide.
"This was during the spring, and the ice melted in the spring, and according to the vulcanologists this melt releases a lot of nitrous oxide," Fosbury said.

Ozone on other planets
If we were to look at Earth as an exoplanet, could the nitrogen dioxide be interpreted as a sign of pollution, of microbial life or of a volcano? Fosbury said it depends on context. If the planet had an abundance of volcanoes on its surface, you would assume it was likely, principally, from the volcanoes. If those weren't easily visible, it would be harder to draw conclusions about life, but it would be possible.
He pointed out that nitrogen dioxide is normally associated with pollution.
"It's over Los Angeles and Beijing and all of those places because of how the catalysis of exhaust [from cars] works," Fosbury said.
When looking for an extraterrestrial civilization, pollution chemicals should be included on the list of "signs" of life, he added.
Ozone might also be visible. Fosbury pointed out that at higher latitudes, at the edge of the umbra on the moon, you can see blue.
"It's one of the indicators that there's a lot of ozone," he said.
Ozone is also the reason that the sky looks blue during twilight at dusk dawn. (Daylight blue is because of a phenomenon called Rayleigh scattering, which preferentially scatters blue light from the sun through the air.)
"Ozone actually is a very prominent and very important marker for Earth-like planets," Fosbury said.
ESO, whose astronomical facilities are based in Chile, also has at least two major contributions to exoplanet research.  The High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) at the ESO La Silla 11.8-feet telescope measures small variations in stellar velocities as planets orbit them. This instrument was used for the first-ever detection of an exoplanet.
Also under construction is the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), a 128-feet beast that will not only do these velocity measurements, but also image some planets and possibly characterize their atmospheres. This research will come in handy when the E-ELT and NASA's James Webb Space Telescope are working.
"This will be quite an investment over a long period of time," Fosbury added. "As we learn more about the practicalities of doing these observations, we'll be in a better position to not only perform the observations, but design the kinds of instruments that will be needed."

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How Dreaming Can Lead to Amazing Creative Breakthroughs

Dr. Kelly Neff, The Mind UnleashedSometimes people spontaneously generate creative solutions to difficult problems through non-traditional methods, such as through epiphanies, intuitions or dreams. Psychologists use the term Eureka! Effect to describe the process in problem solving when a previously unsolvable puzzle becomes suddenly clear and obvious.While these types of Aha! moments do happen during conscious waking states, the ones that occur in dreams are particular [...]

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Disney Corporation: Making Evil Look Good?

David Gardner, GuestDisney is seen around the world as a source of wholesome entertainment for children, but is there a darker side to its productions hidden in plain sight? This article investigates occult references in Disney productions, how society’s values and perception of good and evil are under threat, and the effect this could have on the future of spirituality.Question for you: What has black wings, black horns and is associated with darkness? If the first thi [...]

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Bizarre Time Anomaly Is Sweeping The Planet!

by Gregg Prescott, M.S. Editor, In5D.comHave you noticed a strange anomaly in how time is perceived recently?  According to numerous testimonies, a bizarre time phenomena is sweeping the planet!Lately, my perception of time has been wayyyyy off.  The other evening, around 9PM, it felt like it was much later, as though it was after midnight.  That night, I went to bed around 10:30 PM and woke up around midnight, feeling like I had slept all night.One thing I've noticed l [...]

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The Substitute Reality

The Substitute RealityEpisode

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Stargazing: The Moon Joins Mars and Antares Over the weekend, the waxing crescent moon traveled east through Virgo and Libra. It passed the ring world Saturn on Saturday night and will meet up with two "red stars" in Scorpius tonight. Look for the celestial trio of th...

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Is Mount Saint Helens about to wake up and throw a tantrum?

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) marks the 10th anniversary of the last eruption at Mount Saint Helens. USGS suggests it can take decades before the volcano erupts again.techtimes.comScientists are marking the 10th anniversary since Mount Saint Hel...

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Cultivating Consciousness in an Unconscious World

By RICHARD SMOLEY—Politicians constantly evade the truth. Why can they get away with it? According to a recent study conducted at Harvard University, it’s because people have such terrible attention spans.Behavioural scientist Todd Rogers of the Harvard Kennedy School and Michael I. Norton of the Harvard Business School conducted a simple experiment to see when and whether people can detect a dodge. They recorded a speaker answering a question about universal health care (a co [...]

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Shifting Realities, Feedback Loops and Truly Getting Free

Zen Gardner, GuestIt appears things change more than we think – way more, and in more ways. Even when we’re aware of the underlying reality of constant change, we reference new changes by our memory and perception of old changes. And those were based on previous reference points.We seem to often judge change by points of previous attachment, even though they continually shift. That cannot be very accurate no matter how real they were at the time. Things have shifted. And will c [...]

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The Production Of The Story Of A Course In Miracles Workbook Lessons 193 – 194

The Production Of The Story Of A Course In Miracles Workbook Lessons 193 - 194Workbook Lessons 193 -

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Have you lived before? Are you curious about past lives and reincarnation?Understanding the connection between past lives and present reality leads to profound personal benefits, both spiritual and practical.

Only recently here in the West have children's past life memories been researched and documented. These memories have long been accepted in other cultures. Now we know that these memories happen naturally to young children in all countries of the world, regardless of the beliefs of their parents. They can happen any time to any very young child, but parents often don't notice because they don't know it's possible or don't know what to look for.

The vividness and emotional maturity with which toddlers relate facts from adult lives—and even tell of their deaths—signals that something extraorindary is happening here. These children have much to teach us. Children's past life memories is a phenomenon with far-reaching implications for every person who is curious about the truth of reincarnation and wonders about their own past lives.

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